What Do I Want To Reflect?

One of the nice things (if you can call ANYTHING about divorce nice) is that I get to start over, While moving is usually exciting to me this time I find everything seems muted, Colors, sound, views…all different than before. Almost like seeing everything in black and white instead of in beautiful vibrant color.

One of the things I am starting over on is my home. What do I want it to reflect when someone steps inside? How does it identify who and what I believe? After 32 years of marriage who am I ALONE? What do I want people to glean about me when they enter my domain? And so I have been working on this the past week and would like to show you a few of the results….starting with the kitchen.

I paired an antique french table with these modern chairs. I think it says a lot about who I amIMG_3893

Next is the formal living room. Since I left my beautiful baby grand piano back in Texas I find the room has doubled in size! I have a corner to fill but other than that it is done.

First I went on Craig’s list and found this old desk which I brought home and painted. I paired it with a chair from Ross Dress For Less which cost under $50.

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Remember the Persian Rugs that I bought and that B hated well I think this one looks really good with the sofa. I found the modern chair to pair with my art deco cabinet as a floor sample and swept it up for under $175. Yes, I bought that beautiful velvet Green sofa off of Wayfair and I LOVE it. So tired of the former all brown “Family”  look.

 

I have had this large scroll painting since I went to China the last time but had no where to hang it. With that big boring blank wall hogging up the space I decided the Giant Tibetan Mastiff and his girl really needed a home there. I love this picture because it reminds me so much of Tibet…the kids with smudges of dirt all over their faces no matter where you went.

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Finally, I had this other picture from Ethiopia and have never done anything with it. The dimensions were such that it could not be framed so I solved that problem by filling the landing wall with it.

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I hope through these pictures you get a glimpse of who I am.

Today, I also got off my ass and went for a three mile walk. Here are a few pictures of what I saw:

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Funny The Things We “Think” When We Leave

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I arrived back in California early in the morning. I had nothing at my home. No beds, no chairs, no spoons…no nothing… except lots of memories and heartache. This is the house where I first separated from B and the place I would leave in order to “rekindle” my hopes and dreams about our marriage. And it hurts to know that soon I will return as single person after 32 years of togetherness tricked into believing in a carefully crafted mirage. But I digress…

The only thing that was open at 12:30 a.m.  was a Walmart in a town about an hour away from my house.  I stopped. If you have ever been to a Walmart at that time of the day it is depressing. The buzz of the automatic floor cleaners greeted me while nary a person could be found. Silence permeated a place that usually roars during the hours of 8 a.m.- 10 p.m. It reminded me of the hours that teens spend locked away in their rooms avoiding their parents.

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I wandered through the aisles in a daze…on a autopilot…aware…but not really…of what I was doing. It was as if I was looking through glass…seeing the light shining through but what was behind the glass was GONE. There was nothing to look back on and no future to look towards. Just a vast empty place…the place where my heart once beat rapidly whenever I saw B. A place of comfort and security. A place that no longer existed except inside my head.

Soon I came to the aisle loaded with dishes, cups, and silverware of every shape and color. I picked up one of each thing to put in my cart and then, just as quickly, put them back onto the shelf. I just couldn’t commit to anything permanent. The bowl in my left hand seemed too weighty, too purposeful. Even though this is what I needed…TO BE GONE…it didn’t seem real and I wasn’t even sure that I wanted it to be true yet. It felt like a commitment to being forever single and baking lots of bread that I cold never consume all by myself.

“Maybe living back in my fantasy of how it once was is better than how it is now,” I thought as I fought back tears.

So I headed over to the paper goods with a mission. It’s a place full of throwaways…things to dispose of…items not to be kept forever… just like my marriage. It felt comfortable but sad. Cheap plastic cutlery, paper plates, and red DiXIE SOLO cups stared me down. I picked them up, the weight of them almost bringing me to my knees. I went to the self-check out (a very lonely place at 1 a.m.) and scanned each item checking my cart for any items left behind. All I saw was my heart, lifeless and barely pulsating….  according to B it wasn’t worth much… so I left it there at checkout #8 quivering on the conveyor belt. After bagging my necessities, I headed out the door with my twin-sized blow up mattress. It sat high in my cart advertising my new single status like a Vegas neon sign to the homeless man and his dog sitting at the cart return.

Two days later I felt stronger and headed down the mountain to Goodwill. There I found some 1980’s juice glasses, a variety of mis-matched silverware, and a nice set of four matching bowls. This I could do. It made my departure a little more real but not so real as to overwhelm me. This GONE thing was becoming more doable. Yet, I am homesick…missing my children and feeling guilty for “Abandoning” them…when I really haven’t.

Three days later I was feeling even stronger and more sure of my decision then ever. I was contemplating buying a matching set of dishes at a store a step up from Goodwill. The fact that a complete set of dishes is now a thought although not yet a reality is encouraging. For picking out a set of dishes signifies permanence to me and I have not felt quite ready to admit defeat. But each day I am stepping out and dipping my big toe a little deeper into my new life. It is a re-birth and it takes time. And this time around I want to craft a life for myself that is purposeful and meaningful in all areas of my existence…emotional, physical and spiritual. And while Goodwill is a good place to start this adventure… I know I do not want to begin with the left-overs of others. This time I will choose exactly what I need and want to nurture myself and my new beginning. I deserve to give this time to myself and I will. For I am worth it.

 

GONE

If I had to name all the occasions that lead up to the moment of my leaving last week; it seems as though the list from the past five years might be endless.  A small part of it might look like this:

Maybe it was the fact that you told our tour guide (TG) the second day you met her that “you will be my second wife” contributed to the demise of our marriage. For you have worked very hard to make that statement come true by putting TG on a pedestal while you wiped your feet on me as you dusted and shined your Vietnamese FANTASY. You know, the fantasy whom you have spent five whole days with over the past five years. Maybe that led to my leaving.

Or maybe it was the fact that you sent her so much money that it was the equivalent of 20 years salary in Vietnam. With that much money she began living high on the hog…fancy dinners, beautiful clothes, fixing her father’s home… while I bought shirts at TJ Maxx for $14.99 to which you would comment, “When did you get that?” as if I had done something wrong.

Perhaps it was all the time and care you took into ensuring her needs were met and picking out gifts for her. Necklaces, perfume and oh yeah,,,that engagement ring that she wears on her wedding band finger.

Maybe it was all the lies…thinking that you had ended it so many times after your assurance that you did…only you didn’t. The phone call you had me witness and participate in telling her it was over. The letter you wrote to her saying the relationship could never be.

Although it might have been the daily “I love you’s”, the hugs, the great sex, and the kisses that were so faked (according to what TG told me) that you could have made Vivian Lee swoon.

Maybe it was making me feel “less than” while you struggled to choose who your heart would belong to….a competition that I could never win. Making me feel as though I could never do enough…and I couldn’t… because in your mind TG would always do more. Or the fact that you were hiding a quarter of your take home pay in a private account and couldn’t understand why I would wonder if you were sending money to TG and then getting upset when I mentioned her name.

Yet, another fact could be the day that I opened an envelope from J.P. Morgan stating that you changed your beneficiary of your investments with it going half to your sister instead of taking care of your kids. You said it was so she could divide it among your siblings because they had been left out of your father’s will 15 years ago but if that were true why not divide it with 33 1/3% going to each?  Instead I believe that she was instructed to give it to TG. Frankly, doing things like this without discussion with your partner seems kind of suspicious and slimy to me.

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But it really boils down to was a few days in which clarity arrived like a freight train as it plowed into my ears through my mind…its horn loud and piercing my heart until all the blood from my body seeped out of itself, spilling onto the tracks, along with all of the love that I once had for you. And like a bullet train, my love was here one minute and gone the next and I was left standing, suitcase in hand, on the platform of life deciding which direction I wanted to take. And now I am here ….alone….without my children….my heart breaking. Yet, I have been wise enough to put that suitcase down along side  those tracks and refuse to drag it along behind me for the rest of my life. For you and your lies are packed in that suitcase and it is has been a heavy load to carry around with me the past five years. Now, I never want to open that suitcase again.

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But really what drove me to leave were these few things that all happened within the past ten days. The first was the night that I told you how I had been working with my therapist to come up with what a needed to feel that we were working towards healing and that our new life together was on track. You know, that night I told you, “Honey, I need a new symbol of our commitment and would like for us to go on Sunday to pick out new rings and re-new our vows on our anniversary.” And you said something along the line of “I am not sure that I can do that because I don’t know that you can change to love, honor and OBEY me. ” That was definitely the beginning of the end because if you loved me you would have said, “Whatever you need to make you feel safe in this relationship. I will do whatever it takes.” Yet, you had never, once, throughout these two years of me knowing about the affair been willing to do whatever it takes. And you should have. I deserved no less.

 

Finding the love letters between the two of you and the naked pictures of your time in Singapore didn’t help the situation especially as I ran through my head the number of times you told me that you had nothing left from the affair.

But really it was the butt-dialed conversation I heard between you and your sister that drove me away. Hearing the distain you have for me in your voice just about did me in. Hearing the two of you laughing at and about me was one of the most painful things I have ever heard. You know that conversation:

“…I asked her what she was seeing her therapist for and she said PTSD.”

“…from my affair?”

“and she said yes.” (chuckle, chuckle, laugh. laugh)

“…oh that is the new diagnosis. Everyone has it. But if anyone should have PTSD it should be YOU from living with her!” (chuckle, chuckle, laugh, laugh)

Or maybe it was hearing her say you were lucky to be living in Texas now… for the divorce and hearing your answer. Your words made me finally realize that there was a strong possibility that you had brought me to Texas with you in order to get the kids with you (since they were with me in CA) so you wouldn’t have to pay child support nor spousal support. If that was your plan it was so deliberate and cunning that it sacred me and shook me to my very core. It was that moment that I also realized just why you didn’t want me to come to CA to work on my house until after the 30th. Texas law required that you be a resident six months to file and in just a few more weeks you could file against me for divorce and try to get the jurisdiction of our pending CA divorce changed to the  State of Texas; a more favorable state for you. My heart started bleeding with that realization because my intensions to start over and be with you and our family were true while yours were not.

Hearing how you made yourself out to be the victim of the housecleaning wars was also interesting as was when you asked your sister how the TG was doing and it became obvious that your sister was in contact with her for you.

But it is conceivable that what really sealed the deal was how, when the next day arrived and I asked you if you had talked to your sister you said, “No, I haven’t talked to her in at least a week” while looking directly into my eyes.

“Really, you haven’t talked to her?”

“No, not at all.”

“Stop lying to me I know you talked to her yesterday.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“You butt-dialed me (or did he…maybe it was intensional?). I heard every word!”

“No, I didn’t.”

How…how can you stare into my eyes and continue lying? And at the moment I realized the price I was paying was too high and I didn’t want to pay it anymore. That my sanity was worth more than I could ever lose remaining with you.

So I have left your fantasy land. Mine too. Our “trial” reunification in Texas is done.  I have been stripped of everything I thought was true about you, about me, and about our life together. I no longer know what was true the past five years and what you made up to appease me and to protect your guilty self. In fact, upon reflection, I don’t know what was true EVER. And that makes me angry. I am angry that I was so stupid and trusting. I am angry that you set me up. I am angry that you and your girlfriend fucked up our lives and that now I am left alone…our kids living with you because I loved them enough not to just take them with me.

Why?

Well, Paul is in his senior year of high school. He will graduate in four months and is finally doing well in school. His high school has worked hard to help him succeed and feel good about himself despite all the challenges his disabilities present. No…I could not pull him away from that because of my own needs. And Gracie? Well, she has two more years of high school and loves her new coach. Finally, she is getting great coaching which is paramount for a kid wanting to go to college on an athletic scholarship. No, I couldn’t do that to her either.  And Andre…well autism serves him well. He doesn’t care if we divorce or who he lives with as long as he gets to remain in his room.

I am back in my house in CA. It had not sold while I was in Texas. Unfortunately, about six weeks ago it also flooded due to a sump pump failure which insurance would not cover. So I am spending close to $50,000 to repair this house and living in at at the same time. This week I am going to try my hand at tiling a bathroom floor as well as get back to studying my textbooks so I can have a “career” again after I divorce at 59 years old. (I mean who starts a career at almost 60…let’s be real…it won’t be a career like you have had rather it will just be a job). And with it my lifestyle will go from vacations and having to worry much about money to cutting coupons and shopping at Good Will while you wine and dine your fantasy.

We haven’t talked since I left except for 40 seconds about a crisis occurring at the rental house.  Thirty-two years of marriage and we have sent less than a half dozen texts. And while I hurt like I have never hurt before it is also incredibly freeing not to be living with a narcissistic liar anymore. Knowing that what I see and what I hear everyday is the truth is calming my brain and helping me to experience a sense of peace that I have not known in many years.

My friends are concerned. They are afraid that I will go back. But this time I won’t for it is done. I am done. Forever. Just hearing his laughter and distain did more to drive me away than the past five years that he deliberately tried to get me to leave. And because of his warped thinking he can now tell himself the story that he is innocent….that I left him…that I am the bad one….in order to feel good about himself. Yes, B, you’ve won but so have I in a way that I never imagined…I am acting with a sense of purpose and Dignity and Grave. I am treating myself well.

In fact, the other day I bought myself something very nurturing for my re-birth. It makes be feel very safe and cocooned-like. It also brings relief to my set on “high alert”  sensory system has been under attack for the past many years. This gift to myself is contributing to my sense of feeling grateful, peaceful, and calm.

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So friends….don’t worry about me… I am cocooned…I am safe… And B can no longer touch me or my heart. I am GONE. And one day I will feel safe and happy again. It can only get better…and it will….one day at a time. Wish me luck.

 

 

 

 

 

Ying/Yang… Life Flows

Good and bad. Joy and sorrow. It often seems as if one goes with the other. One minute you are at the pinnacle looking down into life’s pleasant valley and the next minute you find yourself on a frantic ride down the slopes of hell into the snowy abyss.

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That sums up my life this past week.

The joys: A new grandson was born this week. I was suppose to be there but he made his debut a little early so I am here now, in the south, getting my grandma fill. You forget how little but mighty newborns are. All it takes is one little squeak and the world comes running to their beck and call. Oh, the power they wield is immense. Of course,  when you are that small there are the people who are content to just hold you all day long as they stare into your soft innocent face and say silent prayers for your safety as you begin your life journey. So my, Grandson, as I have held you today, these are the thoughts that have been running through my mind as I contemplate all that I hope for you.

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May your life be not too easy that you never know the satisfaction of a job well done but never too hard that you are weary. May you be honest with others but mostly with yourself because it causes the least amount of pain in life when you can do your life’s work from a place of clarity about who you are and what you want. I hope that you explore and find great adventures in the little things. Yet, I hope that you are not afraid to take those big chances in life that bring the vast emotional rewards that promote faith in yourself  coupling themselves with an “I CAN DO IT”  attitude. Further, I hope you realize that even if everything doesn’t turn out the way you planned that you quickly come to the conclusion that it is not the end of the world.

My Dear One: please go outside and spend time admiring the handiwork of Mother Nature instead of sitting indoors playing with electronics. The beauty you see will still your soul. Try your best. Be a good friend, Promote good. Look for opportunities to help others which, in the end, will only end up helping your self. Take time out everyday for giving thanks and expressing gratitude. Don’t yell. Take time to meditate or pray…whichever trips your trigger. Be gentle with yourself and others. Cut yourself some slack when need be but don’t give yourself so much rope that you hang yourself with it. Try your best. Smile, then, smile some more.  Belly laugh often and so hard that you almost wet your pants…but not quite. (now that is a fine line to walk) Treat women well and with respect…opening the door for them is a lost art but practice it anyway. Listen instead of talking and then think before you speak…if you can manage to do these two things you will go far indeed. Finally, know that your parents and your grandparents are there for you and that we will always be your biggest fans. And if you are ever in trouble…don’t be afraid to call. For our love for you is steady and can weather whatever storms come your way. We are your rocks and your mooring as you sail down your chosen path. We will always be there for you.

On sorrow: Last week I told B that I was concerned that we were backsliding on the promises we made about spending quality time together and honoring our relationship by going out on date nights together.  I suggested that if he truly felt our relationship was important he would do something about it because it was time he stepped up and showed me that…. ME or that WE as a couple…. are of the utmost importance to him and I was tired of doing all of the care taking of this union.  And so, on Thursday, he informed me that he had made dinner reservations to be followed by tickets to the ballet and asked if I would like to go on a date with him. My heart leaped with joy…he had listened but more importantly he had acted.

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The big night arrived and I got all dressed up. Frankly, this almost 60 yo body was rockin’ it.  As we were driving downtown, I received all call from my real estate agent. When I saw her number I was giddy.

“Finally,” I thought, “I had an offer.”

My excitement was short-lived. Instead, she was calling to inform me that the inside of my house had been flooded when the sump pump failed. All of the carpet would need to be removed, along with the cabinets and built-in bookcases. And god only knows what else would be needed to be done. As difficult as it was to digest this news I decided to try to put on a happy face for our date. After all, the damage was already done and there was nothing I could do from 1,800 miles away.

At this point I am unsure if my insurance will cover the damage which may cost upward of $50,000 to fix. Needless to say, this has been difficult to contemplate as I look at having to sink my retirement money into fixing a home that I had no plans of keeping.  And then of course, I begin to doubt my decisions…”If I hadn’t gone to Texas I would have been there and none of this would have happened.”

You know, the kind of thoughts that get you no where really fast and are totally counterproductive.

Yet, through all this disappointment and despair, a sense of unexpected healing has occurred. It happened the day after I received the bad news. If you have been reading this blog you know that this house is mine as a result of the ALMOST DIVORCE and as I result I, alone, am responsible for its upkeep and expenses. Frankly, the possible enormity of the costs of repair could wipe me out. And yet…as I sat quietly with my thoughts churning, my husband.. the former.cheater B… reached out to me and said, “if you need money to fix the house you can use the money in in rental account or I can give you mine. After all, its only money.”

And with those words, I finally felt my heart shift and move towards his. Finally, it felt as if he had my back. Finally, it felt as if he was in it for the long haul and as if he wanted to do what he could to make things right.

Tears filled my eyes as I told him, “No, it is my responsibility but your offer means the world to me.”

And it does. Because the offer he made was more than economic. It was from the heart. A heart that he had closed off from mine when he started the affair and kept it closed for five long years in order to justify it. And now, it felt as if he was finally opening it up again to me. It felt like finding that one small perfect present under the Christmas tree that you didn’t know was there…. and even better….it has your name on it. And inside you find a promise ring wrapped up in all the hopes and dreams that you share for the future. A symbol of the all possibility of good to come. Perhaps, even the start of true forgiveness which as seemed so elusive this time around.

Yes, this year Christmas has come early for me. It may not be a perfect one but it is damn close. Because, in all honesty, it isn’t the tons of tinsel and glitter that make the holidays bright. It is really all about your attitude and how you CHOOSE to perceive things. And this holiday season I choose to be grateful for the abundance that I have been blessed with and not to worry about those things over which I have no control. For a sense of peace has descended upon me and it feels damn good.

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No Longer Living In Fear

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I have had many of you write and ask what is going on in my life. Thank you for that.

I have not written about what has been going on with me and B because…I have been afraid…afraid that I look weak…that I appear small…worried that I appear to be less of a feminist than I once believed myself to be and didn’t want to be a bad example for my daughters. I have had my doubts…afraid that what I have done was not the right thing, the smart thing, or the best thing. Afraid that I am a poor role model. But now that I have gotten my bearings and some time has passed; I know how I feel about the choices I have made for myself and my family. For many women it would not be the right decision, and I get that…but for me, at this time in my life, my choices have been the right thing for me to do as I enter my sixties.

A RECAP

After separating and filing for divorce for four months, an unexpected job offer came B’s way which entailed moving to Texas. He walked the Pacific Coast Trail trying to decide what he wanted in life…his family or HER. Of course, I had no idea that was what he was doing. Therefore, I found it interesting, that when he returned from the great walk, he appeared to be a changed man. He sat me down, apologized over and over again, admitted his mistakes, came clean, and told me that he wanted to make me and our family the foremost thing in his life once more. After proclaiming all of this, he immediately called HER with me sitting beside him and he told her together that we were staying together as a couple while explaining her that the five year affair was over. Well, her stripes came out for him to see in full glory. This woman, who had told him numerous times that she wanted to see us together, began sending me conversations that they had had in which he was not overly kind in his assessment of me and our relationship. It was painful to say the least but also very eye opening for both me and B to read these texts and  it gave me some insight that I so desperately needed.

And so it was in the month of August when I literally found myself with the shoe on the other foot after all this time and I was the one choosing whether B and I would be together again. Being together is what I thought I wanted for the past year-and one-half,  yet, faced with this unexpected change of his heart, I found I was unsure what I really wanted for myself. Did I want to start a new journey on an entirely different path or did I want to try again with a man who broke me into little pieces but also knew where the glue went to help put them back in place? Would I be making a decision out of fear or would it be because whatever decision was truly the best for me?

Confession time: Soon after separating, I joined a dating service…not so much because I was ready to date (I knew I was not) but because I felt that it would help me find me again and what I wanted or did not want in my life. And after much discussion with my therapist, we found that for me, it was the right thing to do. Frankly, I was surprised at the number of men who found me funny, sexy, beautiful and more importantly just plain interesting. And it felt good to have my worth acknowledged even though we all know the person who had to acknowledge that worth was really only me. I also rapidly found that I knew after a few emails that certain qualities in a man no longer interested me. In truth, I only met one of these men in person but I have never laughed so much in my life. He helped me to view myself in a way that was more realistic with who I actually am and it felt lovely. No, he was not who I would want in my life on a permanent basis but he was a lovely and wise diversion and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to give that up for B.

So I debated and wrestled with myself. I worried and fretted. I witnessed the pain the upcoming divorce was having on my kids and one of my teens was given a diagnosis of schizophrenia which brought me to this truth: I knew I did not want to traverse that diagnosis alone.  So I went to my lawyer and tried to protect myself to the best of my ability…and we moved as a family.

Of course, moving has not released me of all the distrust and pain I have felt over the past five years, but then again, I knew that it would not when I made the decision to try and rebuild our relationship and our lives again. At times, it has been a deep and dark struggle but I also know that it would be an skirmish if I was with ANYBODY because betrayal is a difficult thing to overcome. I think the worst thing about being betrayed is that you stop trusting your own perceptions and have to re-learn how to trust yourself  again which takes guts, time, and determination.  In addition, I knew that when I made this choice that trust would not come easily…and it hasn’t because…. TRUST=consistency/time …. and I have not had enough of either to let go of the hyper-vigilance that the affair has instilled in me.  And yet…happiness and joy has arrived again. My ruminating about the affair has decreased. The trust still has to be earned but with each act of love, each moment that we carve our for our relationship, and each time we have a deep conversation, I little smidge of it arrives to take the place of doubt.

So we have been here for over two months and so far it has been pretty darn good.  We have done a lot of traveling to local sites as a family and B and I have had many date nights…some good and some not so good…but we are trying hard to listen to one another again. Yes, it is early and with the chaos of a move comes a time where real life and true feelings are suspended and now comes the hard part…day to day living without the excitement of a move impinging on our daily lives.  But for the most part, I am happy with the decision that I made and if I made the wrong one I guess I will have to live with the painful consequences. But if I made the right one…I see a better life together before us that will sustain us in our old age. Don’t get me wrong an affair is a horrible thing… but maybe… just maybe… it has been the catalyst for changes that needed to be made in order for our relationship to survive and flourish over the next 30+ years. We shall see… but in the meantime I am determined to become my true and best self, let go of the anger and disappointment and if B doesn’t like it, frankly, he doesn’t have to live with it. For I am no longer living in fear and never will again.

Radical Acceptance

I have been reading a book called Radical Acceptance-Embracing Your Life With The Heart of a Buddha by Tara Branch, Ph.D. It has amazed me.

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One of my issues over these last four years of heartbreak and betrayal has been resisting the experience I have had. I have wanted the situation to be something other than what it has been and have denied what was in front of me in order to give the benefit of the doubt or see B in the way he used to be but refused to view him for who he has become. I thought I was doing myself a favor trying to save my family the trauma of divorce when all I really did was just delay it.

And herein lies the problem. Resistance to what IS causes trouble for your body, heart and soul. It creates misery, health problems, and unnecessary suffering. It has made me physically ill. The last four years have probably taken ten years off my life and one reason centers around resisting what was in front of me instead of accepting what was. Given enough time I believed… I could change it…I could minimize it… and I could make B love me again…but of course, I couldn’t.

In her book, Branch advocates using guided meditation techniques and in this case something she calls exploring the POWER OF YES. During this exercise the author suggestions sitting in a quiet place, breathing deeply and closing your eyes. Then she asks you to bring to mind something in your life or a situation that produces strong reactions like sadness, anger or fear. She then asks you to access what it is about the situation that provokes the strongest feelings and be mindful of how that feeling feels in throughout your body…your chest or your stomach of any other place that you may feel tighten or get hard.

Then, and I quote from her book:

“In order to see firsthand what happens when you resist experience, begin experimenting with saying NO. As you connect with the pain you feel in the situation you have chosen, mentally direct a stream of no at the feelings….as you say no, notice what this resistance feels like in your body.” p87

So I followed her instructions  and immediately began to feel so stressed that I began to feel ill. My stomach clenched so hard that I felt nauseous. My head started pounding and my chest felt tight making the air flow to my lungs decrease. It was awful now that I was really paying attention to the reactions my feelings were provoking. How I had lived for all these years saying NO to my grief, NO to my anger and NO to my sadness? More importantly did I want to feel this NO for four more years, four more months, or even four more days? Obviously, the answer was NO.  Now that I was aware of and could really feel the impact that this denial or resistance to my emotions was having on my physical body I knew I could no longer live this way.

This now lead me to the second part of the authors meditation. After directing NO at your emotions she asks you to once again think about that painful situation and to remember the words, beliefs, and feelings that are associated with it. But this time stream the word YES. Say YES to the words, the thoughts and the beliefs that come forward.

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Upon doing this part of the mediation I immediately felt a shift… a lightness and lifting of the unpleasantness that I was feeling. My chest loosened, my nauseau disappeared and my mind became quiet… no longer racked in pain. And with this YES to the experience came an acceptance. It was not an acceptance that what B did to me was okay. It was an acceptance of this is what has happened. You can’t change it nor can you fight it and more importantly I didn’t need to rally against it anymore. As I allowed these non-judgmental YESES to come forth, I felt a release of some of the burdens, anger, anxiety and fears that I had been living with begin diminish as a gentle form of acceptance began to soothe those less than pleasant emotions. I found I could just BE and did not have to react both physically and mentally to all the emotions that I was feeling about the affair or my impending divorce. Finally, I felt a sense of peace.

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So this is how I start my day. Saying YES. Accepting what is. Finding understanding where I could not before and I feel good. My chronic pain has decreased and I find more joy. Sure I am still struggling but the struggle doesn’t defeat me. It has just become a small part of my life instead of the epic saga it once was. And for that I am thankful.

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Mish-Mash

Today’s post is going to be a little like how my brain is reacting these days…a total mish-mash of ideas, art, photos and whatever else happens to come along.

I wanted to share this from last year. It was taken near Yosemite National Park. Sometimes the majesty of a creature just stops you dead in your tracks.

In other areas of my life…my garden is just lovely. The hummingbirds are going crazy as the flit from flower to flower. While I love the flowers I have to confess I hate the weeding and unfortunately doing it in 90+ degree weather doesn’t motivate me in the least.

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In other news, I went to pick up one of my kids and saw this

A Ford Econoline Van. That sure brought back memories. The year was 1977 and my first husband and I were traveling across country from Florida to California. I was so young I didn’t drive yet so he did it all. Just as we crossed into Ca on a foggy mountain pass he started hallucinating due to lack of sleep. We were almost killed by a semi but it was enough for him to get his shit together and keep driving. These were my hippie days and I was with him for seven years.  Several years later I met B and that is when this oddessy of 31 + years of a marriage began and is now ending.

One thing: B and I sat down to discuss splitting our assets. He told me he will not be going to try to get his father’s inheritance returned to him and that we will split everything 50-50. I hope this is the one thing he is telling the truth about but I am reluctant to believe him after these four years of lies. Frankly, I don’t know if he even knows how to tell the truth anymore. Yesterday, I told him that after he moves out that we should maybe have one night as family night where we all get together and eat but other than that I am no longer feeding him. He is trying to stay close to me and I know that it is not in my best interest. Last night I said I was going for a walk and he asked to join me. I told him NO and that I thought it would be best if I began to not rely on his presence so much and that he didn’t need to call me during the day anymore either. I think it will be for the best but it seems to be hard for him to do…too bad.

This is my latest piece of artwork that I did for my therapist. I tell you I am amazed how doing this allows my feelings to be felt and bypass the possible sting of my words.

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And this I call temptation

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Well, that is it for today. Hope you have a great day filled with joy and many blessings.

 

 

 

Finding Positive Ways Of Letting Go Of My Marriage

No one said it would be easy letting go of a 30+ year marriage. It isn’t. It is fucking hard. The most difficult thing I have ever done.

B was my best friend.  We had a fabulous history for most of our marriage. He was the father of my children. A talented lover (I WILL take credit for training him well in that department)

I miss the closeness we once shared.  Not hearing his voice is a painful reminder of all that has gone wrong over the past several years. Not hearing his soft breath at night and and meditating with him in the morning are things that I hate about the rabbit hole that my life has slid down into.

Yet, I am trying to find the good in life and since this weekend was my birthday, coupled with the fact there was no where for him to go; I came to my sacred spot while he stayed in my home with the kids.. (Seriously, there is no place for him to go…remember the huge fire in November it left 40,000 people displaced…there is nothing to rent and housing prices have increased 40% since the fire in our area)

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So for the past few days I have spent walking the cliffs to the tune of 3-5 miles every morning. It has been a great way to clear the mind and see the beauty that life has to offer once again. And as I walk I work on letting go of this marriage of mine.

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One of the things I have been doing is to say a prayer or affirmation. It goes like this and is from Angela Montano’s course, 21 Days of Prayer To Change Your Life, found on the Daily OM.

https://secure.dailyom.com/cgi-bin/courses/displaycourselesson.cgi?clid=13708&aff=0

“I am willing, to be willing, to let go. And so it is. Amen.”

When I first started walking this is what I began with. After six days it has morphed into this:

“I am willing to let go of B and any illusions that I can control the outcome of this situation. And so it is. Amen.”

I must have said this 500 times and I can feel it making a change for the good in my brain. Letting Go doesn’t feel so scary or painful now. It feels empowering and gives me a sense of hope and relief.

Another thing I have been doing is leaving pieces of my relationship behind as I walk which looks like this:

 

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It helps to leave a tangible reminder of my grief and at the same time know that I am giving that past life/love and that grief  away.

I have also been working on my art. Frankly, I am a terrible artist but my therapist says it doesn’t matter…just get the images out…so I have. It is amazing how putting the images to paper helps to reduce the intensity of the emotions.x7RN2U48RBuX9NbMb0zXVA

So this is what I have been up to and it has calmed my soul while taking me slowly to a place of acceptance. I want to leave this marriage as I came to it: optimistic, excited … full of compassion and love.  While it was not my choice to end the marriage it is my choice how I choose to act as it enters its final lap.  Above all, I am trying to choose love. I am working on forgiveness and finding meaning in what I had and what I am left with . I don’t always succeed but I am trying. Thinking bitter thoughts will only poison my own well and when this ends I want to be able to drink clear, refreshing, life-giving water not something stagnant and polluted with negativity.

So, from you my dear reader, I could use a few positive thoughts sent my way in order help me feel the good vibes when the going gets rough. And thanks for hanging there in with me as my life as I have known it changes into something not yet revealed.

My Faith In Humanity Restored Through Ballet (Stories Of The Camp Fire)

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Last night I had the privilege of attending the ballet and what an evening it was! Sure, the story was slightly delayed for the season but out of the ashes the most famous ballet in the world arose in all its glory, tradition, and pageantry in a borrowed theatre here in Northern California. And the story of how this production came to be is perhaps better than the beloved Nutcracker itself… because in this story my faith in humanity was restored.

Now I am not a huge fan of ballet. I don’t often attend performances.  Since I am a writer, I am a lover of words, and without those sometimes my attention strays making ballet somewhat problematic. Needless to say, attending what I thought was going to be an “amateur” performance; I suspected the night might be filled with pokes and prods to keep me awake. Was I ever wrong.

Last night I discovered the Northern California Ballet. Since 1983 it has been producing full-length classic ballets such as Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and A Midsummer’s Nights Dream. Besides production, the studio has also taught hundreds of children dance skills that have led some to professional dance careers. It is a mighty place full of hope, dreams, and plain old hard work. There are no slackers, slouches or amateurs here!

As the holiday season was fast approaching Northern California Ballet was rehearsing their version of The Nutcracker when disaster hit. On November 9, 2018 the Camp Fire swooped through the town of Paradise killing 85 and wiping out the majority of this close-knit community. It goes on record as the deadliest fire in California history. But that is just the beginning of the horror. In addition to all the lives lost, almost 14,000 homes went up in smoke and so did the studio and storage shed belonging to the Northern California Ballet. With such a fast-moving fire no one had time to save anything. NOTHING. The kids no longer had clothes, school supplies, or a warm bed. They no longer had the comfort nor the routine of dance. Gone were their ballet costumes and their dreams of dancing on stage…or so they thought. Yet, when hardship and devastating circumstances arise somehow folks find the strength to fight back and find a way to turn tragedy into triumph which is exactly what Northern California Ballet did. And last night it showed. The dancers were talented, elegant and polished. They danced with real joy radiating from their faces. The world was their oyster and they were the pearls.

How did they accomplish so much in so little time? Just plain dedication and hard work. But an even more important ingredient was the global ballet community in general. As it turns out companies from all over the world donated costumes, backdrops and props. The Eugene Ballet Company, dancer Angela V Carter’s costumes from Ballet New England’s productions, and both large and small studios from Iowa to Florida found ways to give to their sister in need while volunteers sewed and stitched late into the night. And so, a vital community resource went from a studio of smoke and ashes to an on-stage performance in just a little over two months. Now that is what I call dedication. I also call it a miracle.

In addition to the dance itself music was provided by a live orchestra hiding out in the orchestra pit. These musicians were also from Paradise and many had lost their homes in the fire and their precious instruments as well. Yet, somehow they managed to come together (borrowed instruments and all) and play magnificently. Watching a ballet performed to live music instead of tape is an honor these days and I felt blessed to do so.

By coincidence I went to Paradise last week. It was my first trip up there since the fire. The devastation is immense. Unless you have survived living in a war zone you have probably never seen anything like it. It is shocking. It is horrific. It is incredibly sad.

 

Yet, after tonight’s performance by Northern California Ballet, I have hope for this world. People are amazing. Their resilience astounds me. Their fight to rise again gives me hope. Kids who dedicate themselves to their craft no matter what are inspiring. And the generosity of an arts community to their sister in need are exactly the kinds of acts of compassion and love that the world needs to see.

So fear not and have hope. There are heroes walking amongst us and tonight they were all on stage at The Nutcracker for the world to see. I wish you could see them too.

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Please visit the Northern California Ballet site to learn more. http://www.northerncaliforniaballet.com/?page_id=33

Also, they could use your financial help. Here is their GO FUND ME page. I hope you will give generously.

https://www.gofundme.com/small-ballet-studio-destroyed-in-paradise-fire?member=&utm_source=sendgrid&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=contacts-v2-invite-to-donate

 

The Importance of Taking Action

Sometimes showing up just the way you are in the moment is freeing. Other times it is difficult and scary. But ultimately if we want to experience life in a different manner and see ourselves in a different way; we have to do things differently… which means we have to be willing to take action.

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It is easy to show up, accept yourself, and get on with life when you are feeling: curious, happy, and have no expectations of how something you are engaged in will turn out.  When we try something new IF we allow our minds to stay open and curious, we often find there is a full-range of possibilities available to us; especially if we just accept ourselves and strive for being immersed in the momentary experience instead of seeking perfection our first time out of the box.

Let’s face it…it is harder to show up just the way we are when we are feeling: anxious, have ruminating negative thoughts, are sad, worried, afraid, ashamed and angry. But sometimes we must do it anyway.

When our lives have fallen apart one of the most important things we can do for ourselves is take simple action. It may be as easy as trying something that we have always wanted to do… like… going to a new restaurant and experiencing a new food. It may involve learning something new by taking a class of some sort or even attending a lecture on a topic that we have always been interested in. Or it may involve going to one of those social mixers that sends our guts into spasm just thinking about it or making that phone call we have been putting off for weeks

In order to stretch ourselves it helps to remember that we don’t have to be fearless… experiencing uncertainty is just a normal part of life. For if we allow ourselves to consider that every time we take a chance to reveal ourselves further, there is less to be hidden and fearful of in the future; then taking action provides a much needed sense of purpose to our lives. When we give up hiding parts of ourselves in the shadows, it gives us the opportunity to show up as our true and wondrous selves. And it is indeed a glorious day when we finally realize that even if we fail to catch the fly-ball, sing off-key, or spill the paint, there is nothing inherently bad with whatever happens even if it involves perceived “failure.”  Just showing up and putting ourselves out there will give us  the useful information  that we need (I like this…I don’t like that) to take us further down the path that we want to end up on.

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So today…Take Action! Take A Chance! Today just might just be the day that changes the rest your life!

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