dating, faith, Going Solo: Single Parenthood, life lessons, Uncategorized

things fall apart.

This morning I woke up and the sun was coming in my windows. I smiled and was so excited to start my day. Not only was it Friday, but I also had time to go for a good long run along the river after I dropped Bella off at school. I went downstairs, made coffee, and sat for a few minutes to meditate. I closed my eyes and thought about how good things are in life right now. I am going through a lot of changes and dealing with my past, so I can move forward. This work has been life changing and, at 41, I feel like I am finally figuring it all out. I was looking forward to a great weekend with friends and I felt genuinely good. I did my morning stretches and then made Bella’s breakfast and packed her lunch. I woke her up with the help of the Dixie Chicks and we both did a little dance as she got dressed and cleaned up. Once she was all set with breakfast, I decided to jump in the shower for a couple minutes. The nice hot water felt great on my aching shoulder and once again, I closed my eyes and gave thanks for the gift of hot water and time to enjoy it.

My peace was suddenly interrupted with Bella screaming, “Mommy! Come quick! We have a huge problem!!”

Since I know Bella can be dramatic and often freaks out even if the cat is just looking at her funny, I replied, “Ok, I’ll be out of the shower in a minute.”

She screamed again,”You need to come NOW! The shower is pouring out of the ceiling!”

“What?!” I yelled back as I turned the water off and jumped out of the shower, slipped on a bath toy, and fell flat on my face. Then, my cat appeared from nowhere and began licking my wet naked legs. Lovely. This is exactly how I imagine my life will eventually end, so it seems fitting.

“There is a waterfall coming out of our ceiling!” Bella exclaimed with a little chuckle as she ran into the bathroom and saw me scrambling to recover.

Wet and wrapped in a towel, I went downstairs and saw the damage. Bella’s toys and my rug were soaked and water continued to leak from the ceiling. This was not ideal, but I wasn’t going to let it ruin my zen. I put my running clothes on, got Bella in the car, and we headed off for our day. Two blocks into our journey a large plumbing truck backed into our car at a stop sign. His truck was untouched, but my poor little car folded like paper and was nearly totaled. We both got out of our cars and exchanged information and I saw that he was a plumber. Naturally, I began telling him about the waterfall in my dining room and started laughing and told him it was pretty funny that I happened to have an accident with a plumber. He wasn’t amused.

Despite the fact that the front of my car was hanging on by a thread, I was determined to get Bella to school on time, so I decided to drive the one mile to her school. After I got her safely to school, I called both insurance companies and took the car to the closest body shop. While waiting for someone to look at my car, and to hear back from the insurance companies, I sat in the waiting room for two hours drinking the complimentary coffee and wishing I had eaten more than just a banana. The body shop informed me that my car was not ok to drive and that repairs would be three times my insurance deductible and would take at least two weeks to complete. They called the rental company and said I would be picked up in 15 min.

An hour later, I sat waiting and stressing out about the fact that I had $54 in my checking account and my deductible was $1,000. Not to mention I had an unplanned indoor pool in my dining room that needed to be addressed. It was now past noon, I was stressing about money, the rental company still wasn’t there to pick me up, and I had been awake for 7 hours and had consumed nothing but a banana and about 32 ounces of black coffee.

By the time the rental ride came and took me to pick up my car, it had been 5 hours since my accident. I was told on the ride that I was a VIP customer since my insurance company called in the request and that I would be in my rental car in 10 min. When I arrived at the rental company, there were about 20 people in the waiting room and I was told I would be helped right away and to stand by the front desk. So, there I stood hugging Bella’s car seat and my purse for the next 45 min. When they were ready to help me, my phone was dead, I was tired, hangry, worried, without my pain meds, and had started to feel very alone in all of this. I feel it is important for you to know all of this so you understand where my head was when following situation  happened.

As the car rental associate was checking me in, he went over all of my contact information, took my deposit, and then asked me for 3 references of people who could vouch for me. Looking back, I have no idea why they do this, but at the time, I just wanted to get my car and get out of there. I gave him my mom’s name and number, my boss’s name and number, and then, without a beat, I gave him my ex’s name and number. As he had done with the others, he looked at me and said, “relationship to you?”

I looked up at him, and in complete exasperation, I said, “Oh, he’s my ex. I mean I got scared, so I asked him for a break, so maybe we are just on a break. But, I think we actually broke up because we haven’t really talked that much since then. But he texted me back the other day, so that’s a good sign right? God. I really messed everything up, didn’t I?” Rental guy looks at me silently and slightly confused with his eyes bugged out and I keep going. “It’s ok though. He’s known me most of my life because we were friends before, so he can vouch for me if you need him to. He doesn’t think I’m a bad person or anything, you know? I mean I don’t think he does. I think we will be friends again, right?”

The rental guy laughs and says, “That. Was. Awesome! So, what should I put as relationship?”

“Can you just put ‘It’s complicated?’”

“I’ll just put ‘friend,’” he said as he shrugged, laughed a little, and typed god knows what in his computer.

I left my pride at the rental company and went directly to Bella’s aftercare to pick her up. I still hadn’t eaten. I still hadn’t gone for my run. I had now missed an entire day of work and my morning zen had been replaced with more caffeine than any person should ever consume.

When we got home I told Bella that I needed to be alone in my room for a few minutes. I closed my door, sat on my bed, and just sobbed. My house, my car, and my relationship status all just felt like a huge question mark and I had absolutely no answers for any of them. I try so hard to be strong for Bella’s sake, but today I just felt so alone in all of this. The house is my responsibility, the car is my responsibility, and this kid is my responsibility. I don’t usually whine about being a solo parent, but today is one of those days that I really felt it and it sucked.

After a few minutes, Bella came into my room, took my hand, and said, “Please don’t cry mommy. You can call the plumber and we will save up money and get a new car. Let’s eat pizza and have a dance party in the living room.” And that is exactly what we did.

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I always try to stay positive and pretend everything is ok, but sometimes it just isn’t. Sometimes things fall apart. Sometimes 

it’s just not funny anymore. Sometimes you end up with a broken car, a broken house, and a broken heart all in one day. Sometimes that is just the way life goes. Today it felt like life was slowly crushing my spirit in a vice. Then, a smiling little 5-year old reminded me that things will get better and dancing always fixes the spirit. And after 20 minutes of laughing and dancing around our living room, for at least a moment, my zen was restored.

“When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.” -Buddha

written on February 22, 2019

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belonging, Going Solo: Single Parenthood, life lessons, loss, parenting, shame, Uncategorized

shame and belonging

Lately I have been feeling so unsettled. I walk around my house and it doesn’t feel like home. It doesn’t feel like it fits. It feels like I am in someone else’s house. I used to come home and feel so good here, but I lost that feeling a couple of months ago and I haven’t been able to get it back. Every room feels off somehow. I look at my body and I feel like it is not mine. I feel like I am in the wrong skin. I don’t recognize the medical issues I am dealing with as my own. It’s as if they belong to someone else entirely. I drive or walk around my city and I feel like a visitor. I feel like I don’t belong here. I’m grasping at things from my past thinking if I could get them back, make different decisions, or get another chance to replay the last year of my life, but do it differently, I would feel ok again. We can’t do that though, can we? We can’t undo our decisions and we rarely get second chances. The last six months play over and over in my head  like Groundhog Day on repeat. As torturous as that seems, I have never been one who can leave a puzzle unfinished. So, if the puzzle is my life, I will replay every conversation and moment in hopes that I will find the solution or the missing piece.

Belonging is something that I have struggled with for most of my life. I moved to different towns and states several times in my childhood and beyond. I always felt like the outsider looking in. I would find things I liked in each house, friends I connected with, and value in each experience. Still, I never quite felt like I truly belonged or that I was truly home. That was always something I thought would come sometime in the future or was simply something that existed somewhere else.

The thing that is different now is that for the first time in a long time I love who I am and all I have been through and done to get to this very uncomfortable place. Until recently, I was ashamed of being a single mother. This meant being ashamed of who I was from the moment I woke up in the morning and looked into my daughter’s smiling eyes. The shame began at sunrise and continued through the two or more glasses of wine I used to drink every night. I was ashamed that my house was small, cluttered, and filled completely with secondhand mismatched furniture because that is all I could afford and that my car was old and beat up. I was ashamed every time I picked up the phone and asked for another loan from my mom to cover another cost so I could stay afloat. I was ashamed that at 41, I had a job that paid me less than the average undergrad makes right out of college, even though the work of that job made me happy and gave me the time I need to be a mom. I was ashamed that I had reached midlife without ever having a healthy or successful relationship with a man.

The thing about shame is that it imprisons you. You cannot move forward and you cannot open yourself up to other people or experiences. It causes you to live in the deceptive state of never being good enough for anyone or anything. It is not being embarrassed about something you did. It is literally thinking that407268_10150449280357005_1610035080_n who you are is wrong. Once shame takes over your life, it becomes your belonging. You can never fully belong to anything or anyone else, because you belong only to your shame. There is a twisted comfort in all of it as it becomes your self imposed identity. You never give yourself fully in any relationship, romantic or otherwise, because you already have one foot out the door ready to run in the other direction.

With the help of a professional, I recently did work on this shame to overcome it. I don’t feel the way I did before. I now recognize that I am managing a house on my own, raising a child on my own, directing a whole department at my job, all while training for a half marathon. None of these are easy tasks and there is no shame in them. Have I made poor decisions in relationships and in finances, and other areas of my life? Yes! We all have. We have all, at least once, royally fucked up. That is what it means to be human and that is where the real growth happens. It does not in any way make us less than anyone else nor does it make us any less worthy of receiving love.

So, in this place of discomfort and this feeling of unease, there is an excitement. Perhaps it is this post-shame world where I truly belong. It feels wrong and strange and it feels like I am an observer in someone else’s world. The pull to go back to where things were comfortable is strong, but there is no growth there. The push to be present and take it all in is scary and the unknown makes my skin crawl, but that is the place we often find ourselves before something truly great begins.

True belonging is not passive. It’s not the belonging that comes with just joining a group. It’s not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it’s safer. It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable and learn how to be present with people — without sacrificing who we are. We want true belonging, but it takes tremendous courage to knowingly walk into hard moments.– Brené Brown

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dating, life lessons, Uncategorized

dating advice

I don’t have a lot of experience with dating. At 41 I have been in 4 relationships: Two were short, one was long, and one was a summer fling that resulted in a child and months of failed co-parenting before it was over. All four were men who I knew as friends for months or years before simply changing our status from friend to relationship virtually overnight. I moved to my high school town in tenth grade. It was a small town where everyone knew everyone else. Even though I was welcomed and people were very sweet there, I still felt like an outsider. While I had crushes, I never dated or pursued anyone seriously.

College was fun and I hung out with a few guys, had my first real kiss(along with a few other good make out sessions), but I was never serious about anyone there either. After college, I barely had interest in dating. I wanted to travel and meet people from different cultures and continents. I willingly went into a Guatemalan prison and was surrounded by violent tattoo covered gang members, but the idea of getting married and having kids was terrifying to me. There was no hope chest or scrapbook filled with wedding ideas stashed away in my closet. I was happy living with a wide variety of roommates in an even wider variety of apartments and houses. Each living environment and trip to IMG_3491another country or state was an adventure in itself. When you are hanging out the roof of a Land Rover flying through an animal reserve in Kenya in pursuit of the perfect photo of a giraffe or hippo, it doesn’t occur to you that you are a 28 year old childless virgin. I wasn’t thinking about the fact that I wasn’t settled down and that I lived in an apartment with a bunch of other people and  mismatched furniture.

My first three relationships happened in my 30’s. They were all fun, but complete failures. I spent the entire decade thinking that somewhere along the way, everyone was given a guidebook to dating and relationships, but I somehow missed it. I mean, it was possible. I moved a lot when I was growing up. Going from school to school means you sometimes never have certain subjects. I somehow managed to graduate without calculus or physics, so maybe I missed the course on dating too. My friends seemed to know what they were doing and my siblings definitely got it.  So, while I am a confident person when it comes to education and career, I have never felt comfortable with my abilities when relating to the opposite sex.

So, with my most recent relationship, like many single women I know, I decided to use google as a sage experienced girlfriend who could give me advice and guide me in the right way. I soon found out that there is an entire industry dedicated to guiding people through the dating world. There are hundreds of gurus out there who wanted to help me navigate the world of my new relationship. Just like some beauty products tailor to insecurities about our looks, dating experts tailor to, and make millions of dollars from those who have insecurities about dating. The majority of their clients are women because surely we can’t possibly know what to do on our own, right?  I am one of them. I even paid for some of this advice. So, if you are considering paying that $39.95 or more to get advice, let me save you some money and let you learn from my experience.

The following list is advice I got from these experts. I put my commentary in italics:

  1. Don’t text too much and don’t ever text or call first. Always wait for him. What is this? 1950?
  2. If you feel like texting him or calling him, text him or call him. Be confident! But you just said not to call or text him. I’m so confused.
  3. Be available but don’t be too available. Can you just tell me where the line is? I’ll do my best not to cross it.
  4. If he doesn’t text you x number of times a day, he is not interested anymore. Well, that’s just stupid. Most of the guys I know are my age. We didn’t even have texting capabilities till we were almost 30. This is still new for us. I’d be more excited if he passed me a note in class anyway.
  5. Be vulnerable with him, but don’t share too much about yourself or your problems. God forbid I am a real person with real problems.
  6. Be a strong woman, but ask him to do stuff for you so he can feel still feel like a man. Honestly, if I have to ask him to do stuff for me just so he can “feel like a man,” he’s probably not man enough for me in the first place.
  7. Be there for him when he needs you, but don’t sacrifice anything about your own life for him like your time, money, etc. Wait, how can I be there for him then? Don’t all good relationships require some level of sacrifice on both sides?
  8. Men are like toddlers, so take away their toy once in a while so they will beg for it again. He will lose interest if he’s not constantly chasing you. What am I, 15? Why would I want a man who is like a toddler anyway? Gross.
  9. Don’t plan anything. Make him decide what you are doing and where you are going. I like planning things. Call me crazy, but it seems like it would be more fun to plan and decide  things together anyway?
  10. Be yourself. I just spent $40 for you to tell me to be anything but myself. Make up your mind.

This is only a taste of what I read or heard. There is one “guru” who does nothing but tell you exactly what to text a guy and another who does nothing but tell you exactly how to kiss a man and claims that kiss will make him yours forever! I am a single mom in my 40’s. The man I was dating was a divorced dad in his late 30’s. Someone I have known for 25 years. The advice given to a 21 year old girl dating a guy she met on tinder is the same as the advice sold to me. All of the advice assumes every man is the same and will react the same. If some of these experts helped you, great! I am glad you and your situation fit the mold so they could help you find happiness. As for me, I say bullshit on all of it.

I am not someone who is bound and determined to get married and settle down. I’m just a girl who wants what I have wanted since I was a kid: to find someone who has my back, makes me laugh, and calls me on my shit. I want someone who is honest and kind. I want someone who sometimes makes me forget that everyone else exists when I am with him.

I don’t have a lot of experience. In fact, there are high school students who have more experience than I do. I don’t know a lot about dating, especially in today’s world. What I do know, however, is that I had a guy who made me feel like I was home. When I started to get scared I would lose that feeling, I listened to a lot of crappy advice and changed into someone I didn’t even recognize. Instead of making me feel better, the advice just made me feel more paranoid and insecure. I don’t know if my relationship would have panned out differently if I had just followed my gut and I probably never will.  

So, here is what I’ve learned: Be yourself. Don’t get so deep in the dating advice wormhole that you start acting like someone you aren’t. We are all awkward and have baggage, and we all have insecurities when it comes to dating and relationships. When those come up, don’t search for answers online or elsewhere. Talk to the person you are in the relationship with and be honest about it. If they are the right person for you, they will embrace those parts of you that make you unique. There is no one in the world like you and there is no one in the world like your partner or person you are dating. In the end, you are the only two people who will know what works best for your situation.  A real relationship isn’t built on who plans what or what texts are exchanged. A real relationship is built on laughter, sacrifice, trust, honesty, and a genuine respect and support for one another. The other stuff will all fall into place when the time is right. If I am naive for believing that, then let me be naive.

“The truth is none of us are easy to date, deal with, or please all the time. We all have our vices, attitudes, and way of doing things that make us who we are. You won’t like everything about somebody, it’s impossible. This is life, and it isn’t about finding the perfect person, it isn’t about living some fairy tale. It’s about finding someone you’re willing to work for, and who is willing to work for you.” -Rob Hill, Sr.

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