…AND THAT’S OKAY…WORDS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

If you are like me, being non-judgmental towards yourself has probably been next to impossible for most of your life. If you are like me, I suspect you were often unable to rid yourself of those pesky “transgressions” that go unnoticed by others but somehow managed to become a spotlight on your “perceived” flaws…all 1,137 of them!

In the past, it didn’t seem to matter how full my day was, somehow I would find that the one thing I didn’t accomplish and it would rise to the top of my “why I am such a loser” list.. and once discovered…I would hang it out on the line for the world to see and judge. Unfortunately, for many of us, we fail to be kind and cut ourselves just a little slack.

So that’s why, when I saw this idea online, I swooned. Finally, a way out of my self-imposed “SHOULD’S” and onto a more carefree way of thinking.

It is my hope that you benefit from this wonderful phrase as much as I have. It might even be my next tattoo.

Empathy and Tattoos

 

and that's okay

Letting Yourself Alone Or Self-Acceptance

download-3

I sometimes wonder why it takes so long for most of us to get to the place where we just let ourselves alone in peace. Finally, we get to the place were we no longer pick ourselves apart, engage in negative self-talk, worry so much about what others think, or put so much emphasis on “what we should be” but instead accept ourselves for just what/who we really are.

I don’t know if it takes age to know you are tired of feeling crappy about yourself or if it is finally coming to an understanding that you are done with letting others treat you in ways that you don’t deserve. I am unsure if it is a greater self awareness or just the desire to experience positive change that finally allows us to say ENOUGH! I WANT MORE! I DESERVE MORE! But I do know that as I get closer to 60 that I have come to realize exactly that…that accepting myself is one of the most important things that I can do before I punch out on life’s time clock for the final time.

download-4

Acceptance. It’s easy to say we should accept ourselves…yet it’s hard to put that belief into practice. But I am finally learning that self acceptance involves being realistic about my good qualities and playing them up. It means giving those best parts of me the respect that they deserve. By honoring them and giving these positive attributes the opportunity to expand and grow, it is making me a better friend to myself and a better person in general.

download-1

Acceptance also means that I reexamine my “flaws” by asking myself how they have helped me in the past. Then I look for ways to challenge my old notions and accept those parts of myself that I am less than comfortable with by giving them the opportunity to change and not by regulating them to a distant corner of my life. I let these “fixers” out so that others can see them and help me find the good in them too. Just like I accept my friends good and bad qualities it was wonderful when I began to grant that same grace to myself. Sometimes I find it helps to ask myself “Would I say to a friend what I am saying to myself? ” If the answer is no, I try to gently remind myself that negativity directed inward is not helpful, and then I find something positive to focus on instead. This is exactly how a good friend would act… they would talk you up not down. I deserve nothing less.

Another thing that has come to the forefront for me is that the concept that “Trying” to accept myself will not work. That is like “trying” to diet…I will fail miserably. It is only when I practice “seeing” myself with kindness and compassion that self acceptance can occur. And then, finally, one day I suddenly realized that my “bad” parts were okay and I finally embraced them.

Rituals can help promote self acceptance. Every morning I have taken to looking in the mirror and saying out loud, “You are wonderful just the way you are.” Somehow putting those words out in the universe makes me accountable to them and encourages me to find small ways throughout the day that make that statement true.

screen-shot-2013-07-08-at-8.36.11-pm

I wish self acceptance came easier. I wish it came earlier. I envy those for whom self acceptance is just a natural part of their being. Yet, I am glad that this feeling of acceptance is working itself into my life now. I enjoy the freedom it brings. Freedom from pain. Freedom from so many worries. Freedom to be myself. But instead of concentrating on the “I should haves” I am now just being thankful for the “better late than nevers” no matter when they are discovered and put into practice in my life.

download-2

 

 

 

 

And…The First Fire-Related Lawsuit Is Filed. Compassion Is Needed.

images-1

Tonight six more individuals were added to the list one never wants to be on…deceased. Dead due to a fast burning out of control wildfire. This brings the number killed to 48 with hundreds still missing. It is a sad day for our state but especially for the towns of Paradise and Concow where most of the victims resided.

Paradise is not a compact city. There were many folks living down miles and miles of long country roads. People spread out far and wide surrounded by tinder dry forests. As I read over the list of the missing I couldn’t help but notice that about 90% of them were over 70 years-old. Grandparents who couldn’t run fast enough, couldn’t drive, or maybe even hear any warnings that might have come their way.

Tonight it was also announced that the very first lawsuit was filed in court with the fire still raging and fault not yet determined by fire investigators.  The defendant in the lawsuit is PG&E, the local electrical utility. Right before the fire became an inferno, the utility emailed an individual requesting access to their property as the PG&E’s transmission wire was sparking. This is most likely just the beginning of a long list of suits that will surely follow.

While I realize that many will want to see someone held responsible for the deadliest fire in California history; I am hoping people will not turn on those who did their best during a chaotic situation…the first responders. Having lived through several emergencies, I can only believe that everyone did their best to save lives while a fire was swallowing up land the size of 8 football fields every minute. With hot embers flying through the air driven by radically changing winds which were being pushed faster than a person can drive, it seems to me that to try to point fingers is a game in futility and one that degrades our collective humanity. Yes, looking back we always find things that could have been done better and faster but when calamity strikes we all do what we can and  we do what we can to the best of our ability and with the knowledge we have at the time.

Unfortunately, we all have noble ideas of how we THINK we would react in certain situations, often playing those scenarios out in our minds at different points in our lives. But life isn’t that simple. We often find in an emergency that our previously good ideas no longer work. Trees fall, lines are long, folks stay behind for one last thing, we fail to heed the warnings soon enough or we don’t have enough gas in our car.

Unfortunately, I suspect that there will many people who will go to their graves second guessing themselves for failing to act in ways that were impossible to implement when there are so many lives to save in a cataclysmic event. It is truly one of those moments that you can never totally prepare for. The notions and ideas that survivors had about themselves and how they would react in life changing events can often snare them. Then the “if only’s” may begin to slowly eat away at them until they are but shells of their former selves.

I hope this does not happen. I hope people will look at one another and not point fingers but will show compassion and understanding. Perhaps one of the greatest things folks can do for themselves and others in this type of situation  is to stop, breathe, and say:

“I know you are suffering. That is why I am here for you.”

images-2

The “end” of an emergency is really just the “beginning” of a new normal. It isn’t easy. Anger appears out of nowhere and despair can rob us of moments we formally enjoyed. Yet, compassion and forgiveness (a blame free environment) can go a long way towards bringing a community back together and re-building it in such a way that it creates a long-lasting atmosphere of vibrancy, restoration, and love. May everyone impacted by this fire remember that blame creates suffering which only causes further suffering for ourselves. And may those involved look for the best in each and every person and not assume the worst; so that seeds of compassion planted now will flourish in the future creating Paradise once again in this amazing mountain town.

Unknown-3

View of the area around my home

 

 

LIFE CHANGING MOMENTS

images

Even though we are still together, that doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been a lot of sorrow and pain over the last nine months. Pain that sometimes has cut so deep that I felt that I could feed the universe with the blood/tears that have been spilled as a result of the affair and B’s sister’s involvement with it. There were times that I felt so empty of a once-vibrant life-force living within me that I felt that a transfusion was the only option left.

To say that the past three years were difficult is an understatement of gigantic proportions..

Yet, over the past nine months life has improved.. There have been moments of deep distrust alternating with moments of trust coming like scattered drops of rain on the parched desert floor. There have been moments of joy mixed with an even greater number of episodes of sadness. The laughter has been increasing while the angry words and accusations have been decreasing. The balance of the scales once tipped towards the negative are increasingly moving and staying on the positive side. Often it is a dance of three steps forward and two steps back. In truth, the two steps back have often involved said sister. She has caused many issues that have often impeded healing of the relationship. It’s often feels like the band-aid keeps getting ripped off by her hand.

But the other day something happened concerning said sister and after B took action on his own I thought to myself “I think he might actually love me again.” In fact, it was such a profound act of sacrifice on his part that I wrote a note to myself which read:

“It was at that moment when my sorrow turned to song.”

And for me it really was.

It was one of those rare “life-changing, perception-changing, Ah-ha moments” that make such a huge impact on you and your relationship that you know you can never go back to what was. It was a moment that forces you to move forward because that is truly the only way you were meant to go. It was a moment which allowed me to move closer to true forgiveness and understanding. A moment which encouraged me to let go of the hurt and embrace what is now happening now with greater clarity. It was a moment in which B showed me great love, compassion, understanding and did what I needed and not what he wanted.

So today… I sing… and the sorrow drifts by quickly like clouds on a windy day. I will sing tomorrow too and the day after that. Because sometimes moments actually are life-changing and they deserve to be celebrated in song.

Moving

 

So about a month and 1/2 ago I told B that I could not move with him or our children if he was still in love with HER. I told him I was tired of his ever-so-quiet pining for her and that I was done and leaving if that was the way it was going to be. I was tired of being silently compared and tired of

AND FOR HEAVEN SAKES NEVER SAY AGAIN THAT SHE WAS A GOOD WOMAN like he said when the affair was discovered. As I told him, “Good women don’t try to take another woman’s husband. Period. A good woman doesn’t try to remove a man from a family of children whose special needs are significant. A good woman doesn’t take $20,000 from a man who has a family.”

A good woman? Well, I could go on and on about what a good woman is and isn’t.

And so my words were like a slap. I told him that I thought he should go to Vietnam and see what in the hell he wanted. I also said I would most likely not be here when he returned.

“I don’t want to go.”

“I bought you a ticket. You leave on Friday.”

“I love you. Not her.”

Later that day, we took all this to the therapist who told B that this fantasy he has lived was only that…just a fantasy and that he was going to lose the things he loved most…me and his children if he continued to put HER on a pedestal and ignore the goodness that was right in front of him. I think it shook him to the core.

That evening, he cried and apologized for all the pain that he has caused. He admitted that he was being stubborn and wrong and that he loved me, not her, to which I said well you had better start showing it…and he has. It is like the blinders are off and he is seeing me for me and not who he needed to see me as so he could conduct his affair. For the past 6 weeks we have been so much closer and he acts like I am his one and only, is being honest in all those little ways that count, and is stepping up to the plate to really work on himself and our marriage.

Last week I decided that I would move with him. I am happy with this decision. I was deeply in love with this man for almost 30 years until his affair started three years ago and he changed into someone unrecognizable. I am not going into this blind. I know that there is still a lot of work to do. I know that moving away does not solve all your problems. I know that moving with children is a major stressor and that our lives might implode.  I am aware of all of this and yet, I have made the decision to go with him because I do still love him. Always have.  Always will. But most of all, I love myself again. And…I also know this:

“Fool me once, shame on YOU. Fool me twice shame on me.”

Unknown

images-1

work-quote-not-gonna-happen-anymore-i-will-never-let-you-fool-me-again-with-your-fake-ass-s

B’s affair was horrid. Awful and he destroyed a part of myself that still needs for me to build it back up into something so strong it can never be leveled again…YES, ME…because I allowed myself to let go of who I was in an attempt to please him. My therapist believes I will never do that again. I believe so too.

So, while the affair and its aftermath has been the most painful thing I have ever experienced I am looking at it in this way…it was the first and only affair he has had in over 30 +years. He deserves another chance. As I do. As does our marriage and our children. And so we are giving that chance to each other and our family.

Will he contact her again or have another affair? I truly believe not because of all the devastation that his affair has left behind. He lost just about everything because of it including his health. And if it ever happens again I will take action immediately and leave. My therapist believes this to be true because I have found myself again and plan on never letting go of who I am in an attempt to please him. Another affair will not be tolerated. Period.

So…he goes. I am jumping off the deep end but this time I am holding his hand as I do it. If he let’s go, I will survive, but if we continue to keep our fingers intertwined I think we will have something to hold on to for the next 30 years.

Unknown-1

 

30 + YEARS ANNIVERSARY

It has been a long while since I have blogged. I just couldn’t do it. The pain of B’s infidelity stung… morning, noon, and night. I felt stupid, angry and flogged myself way too often for my contributions to where we had gotten. Mostly, I just felt numb. Numb, not depressed numb, but numb to the point where love slips away and its existence becomes a distant memory. You know the kind. It’s like when you sit the wrong way and you try to stand up and almost fall down because your foot is all tingly and numb. The tingle hurts and the numb hurts worse…that is how I felt the first month of knowing.

The second month has gotten better. More tingle and less numb. B finally confessed all to his therapist and we have been seeing our joint one often. In addition, I see my therapist at least once a week…she helps keep my head above water when I feel like I have no more energy to keep kicking.

One of our son’s mental health has deteriorated after the discovery. It has been a very fine tightrope we have been walking keeping him on track and it has become obvious that just one of us alone could not cope with all the facets that unstable mental health brings to a family. I weep for this child of mine and hope that we can get him stable again because as a couple we are strong and steady against the storm that mental illness  inflicts on all involved.

B has been trying hard. Very hard. He is doing all the things he should have been doing for the past three years that he was cultivating his relationship with her. He has also come to see what that relationship for what it was…a woman who obtained a lot of money from a guy who had created the perfect woman in a delusional and illusional affair that was mostly conducted in his head. To me she remains a very expensive blow-up doll with a face painted on in whatever way it needed to be in order to convince B that she was his soul mate.

We have had our ups and downs. I have finally come to a place where I don’t ask a question or ask for clarification numerous times a day. One of these days I hope to be able to find a container to put all this painful crap in but I am not sure there is one that is big enough to hold it all. Or for that matter, find a container that is strong enough to hold all the toxins that have been leaching out of marriage. It feels dangerous… like nuclear waste seeping from those old storage barrels buried deep underground.

A little over two months ago I took off my wedding rings and returned the “committment” ring to B. It has been strange looking down and not seeing what I has been on my finder for the past 30+ years especially while his remains attached to him. This void remains a constant reminder of all that has been lost for so long. Trying to “repair” it has been like searching for buried treasure and getting suffocated by sand which keeps falling back into the hole.

ONE MONTH LATER

IMG_0431

Well, things are getting better with a lot of hard work and hard listening. It’s painful but necessary if we are going to be able to keep this marriage going for both our sakes and our children. Can we climb this mountain and reach the top? I am not 100% sure but the odds are improving slowly but surely.

Today is our 30+ Wedding Anniversary. We are alone (daughter Nicole has the kids…thanks sweetheart!) on an island off the coast of Honduras. It is fun discovering ourselves as a couple again and I am enjoying B more than I have in a long time. I think he feels that same about me too. Laughing together so much is akin to a knitting needle stitching together those frayed ends of our marriage but this time we are using bright colors that match in order to shake up what remains of the threads of our lives. With my permission, tonight at dinner B put my wedding ring back on my finger as the sun sank below the horizon.I think it will serve as a good reminder to me to keep putting into place those things we are practicing in order to strengthen our relationship. It was a lovely evening sitting at our own private table about two-feet away from the water’s edge.  It defininately was A Once In A Lifetime kind of evening.

Of course, an island getaway does not guarantee a future together but with the changes we are both trying to incorporate into our lives there is once again hope, which is so badly needed, if any sort of permanent repair is to be made. I am just hoping that we can bring back with us some of the playfulness and admiration that we have found for one another over the past month.

Since this all began almost three years ago I have been in more pain than I ever thought I could endure. Forget global warming…I have personally made the water level of our oceans rise with all the tears I have shed. But, I have also come a long way working on myself and those parts which have needed my attention. I have learned that I am stronger than I ever knew I was and braver than Braveheart himself.  I am proud of who I have become,who I am yet to discover, and I am finally learning to sit with my emotions rather than let them control me. The only consistent thing that has happened is that I have loved B throughout all of this; even when I didn’t like him very much. In my mind the tenacity to keep putting one foot in front of the other when I could have thrown in the towel is something to be admired. While I know many will not agree I have to say that, for me, I know I have no regrets because I have taken the time to hang on rather than turn and run prematurely as I had done in my first marriage. Now I know that no matter what, I will have no regrets because it isn’t about B so much anymore…it’s mostly about me!

So hello from Honduras. May the remainder of my days resemble this one and may my love for myself stay strong!IMG_0365

 

 

Understanding

images

If you have read this blog before you know that I have been struggling with B’s decision to take a “business” trip to Asia without me. For the past several years we had gone together to try to build closeness in our fragile relationship. I appreciated those times together, the shared experiences and, of course, time away from the kids. So I was hurt when he said he was going alone. Then when I asked about something that seemed odd he admitted he was going somewhere else too. I fretted and wondered if he would have even told me about this new itinerary and I felt betrayed because it brought back past business travels in which odd things had happened. But it was more than that, this anxiety I was feeling, anxiety that felt all consuming and I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. Until one night I realized it was rooted in fear from the past. Fear because the last time we were apart for 10 days, when I arrived home he wanted a divorce and it brought me back to two years ago when I lost my rudder. I can only imagine this is what PTSD feels like. Bleak, scary and uncertain.  And while I knew that our relationship wasn’t in the same place it was back then my raw emotions couldn’t process that fact for emotions are funny things and whether accurate or not they pull at the soul and can stretch you out of shape.

So now he is away on “business”and not a “vacation” as I insist it is. And B didn’t bother to tell me that even though he would arrive in the wee hours of the morning on Saturday, he wouldn’t actually be engaging in any sort of business activity until Tuesday. I’m sorry, in my mind that is a vacation. Now I could be really upset about this. Not that he wasn’t really doing the business that he insisted he was but upset because once again the pattern of 1/2 truths has appeared to prevail. But this time I am working on really trying to see this in a different light…I hope I can succeed.

It has taken me a while to realize that not everyone loves us in the way we think we need or in the way we would like. Often, they just love us in the way that they are capable of loving us often to our disappointment or dismay. If life were ideal I would have complete and utter honesty but that is uncomfortable for B because he grew up not being allowed to express his feelings and he doesn’t feel he can express his feelings to me.This hurts though I have brought some of it on myself. B feels that to express his needs is shameful or selfish and as a result he hides them to himself and from others. So while I would have loved for him to be honest and say “I don’t have any meetings until Tuesday but I have decided that I need a few days to relax and have a few days of ME time,” he couldn’t allow himself to do that even though I asked him to just be honest and admit he wanted time alone.

imgres

So instead of being upset about the fact that he was a little less than honest I am trying to see his actions as those of a man who cannot ask for what he needs. A man who does not believe he deserves time alone. A man who believes anything he wants that does not involve his family is selfish on his part. Sure, I wish he had just been 100% honest but if I look through into his soul I know he is incapable of focusing on himself. And so I am trying to let go of the fact that he cannot love me as I wish but instead loves me as he can. It is flawed and sometimes it hurts but at this point in life this is how he loves. So I can choose to be angry or I can choose to accept knowing he is doing the best he can at this point in time. Today I choose acceptance…I hope I will choose it tomorrow too! For I deserve it and so does he.

images-1

On Giving Love When You Have None Left To Give

images-6

Sometimes my house is pure 100% chaos. Sometimes it is as quiet as a lamb. Most of the time it is somewhere in between. But then there THOSE TIMES; the times when Andre digs in and NOTHING I can do will change the trajectory that we are about to embark on.

Change for Andre is difficult. It often is for those on the autistic spectrum. Sometimes that change is as small as using grape jelly as opposed to strawberry on Andre’s PB&J. But more often it is something along the lines of telling him to do his chore.

“Andre you need to empty the dishwasher!” (for the third time)

“I dun’t want to”

“There are lots of things I don’t want to do either but they must be done so empty the dishwasher. NOW”

“I dun’t want to”

This I dun’t want to would go on 100 times if I permitted it. Usually at this point the conversation will escalate to one more warning. Then I head upstairs (with him trying to stop me…pulling on me or poking at me) and take all of his electronics and tell him that he can have them back when his chore is done.  This is followed by ten minutes of attempted manipulation, threats (I’ll put your phone in the sink if you don’t give me back  my stuff) and flat out increased defiance. Finally, Andre will realize that he has gone too far and then resorts to such things as:

“Tell me you love me mom”

“I need love. Give me a hug NOW.”

I want a kiss NOW”

Along with all the demands he begins hanging all over me DEMANDING a hug or a kiss by clawing at me.

Of course, by this time I am worn out and tired of the CRAP. I try to remember where this is coming from inside his head (fear of abandonment/fear of being unlovable/anxiety) and react accordingly. But there are times when giving him what he needs (a hug) feels so ugly and disingenuous after all the chaos and manipulation that I find it hard to wrap my arms around him. I find it hard to find a place in my heart to grant him the grace that he needs. Most of the time I manage to dig it up from G** knows where but there are times it is almost impossible to find and it is at those moments when I feel like I have been swallowed whole, the best parts of me ripped out and flung far and wide. It is at these times when I start crucifying myself for not being able to give my son what he needs because it is such a little thing that feels so big.

Luckily, most of the time I do not get to this place of self torture because as I start to fall down the rabbit hole; I get ensnarled in the tree roots and find a foot hold to make my way up again. But there are times that I would like to keep falling down that rabbit hole just to feel the impact upon landing. To feel the brokenness that results. And when that happens it makes me realize that is probably what Andre is feeling (the impact) and then I find I can go over and give him that hug. A hug that will ultimately mend us both. A hug that that tells him that I love him and he loves me and that we are in this thing called autism together. Forever.

images-1

 

 

B’s List Of What He Wants

images

Yesterday I posted what I wanted/needed in my second half of life. Today I am posting B’s.

First of all, just so you know, I asked B if it was okay to post this. To my surprise he said yes. This is his list of what he wants in the second part of his life with me. It won’t come as a surprise to those who know us that his list is very different than mine. Much more compact. Remember, I’m the one with the words. Yet, what he wrote touched me deeply because I knew it was from his heart and soul. All of it.

The morning we were to go to breakfast to discuss our relationship; I got into the car and our wedding picture was there along with some flowers. B said that before we went to breakfast he wanted to read what he had written and so with tears in his eyes and a catch in his throat this is what he read: