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.

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.

 

 

 

Nightmare-A 10 Minute Poem Challenge

Not today

Will things go your way

For I stand strong

After so many wrongs

You think you know me

But you don’t know my:

Resolve

Spirit

Truth

You don’t know:

Who you have forced me to become

Who I am finding again

And the beauty of all I possess

You think that forgiveness is the answer

But forgiveness lies in:

Truth and

Consistency

Over Time

You have not proved yourself to me

I am not sure that you ever can

Because until you take full responsibility

For the havoc you have wrought

For the pain you have caused

For the tranquility you have shattered

And stop blaming me for reasons

You use to justify your affair

Until you look at yourself

Your past

And who you really are

vs. who you think you should be

You are living a fantasy

While I am living your nightmare

I want to wake up

Please, someone wake me up

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How Can I Ever Trust Again?

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One of my biggest fears in regards to the end of my marriage is that I worry that I may never trust again. Frankly, I don’t even know how or where to begin to even attempt such a feat which feels on par with climbing Mt. Everest without oxygen. For up here in Betrayal Land the oxygen is so thin that my guts often feel as if they are on fire and an ever persistent stress headache looms as vast as when the wheels hit the ground in the Himalayan Mountains.

Here’s the thing. I wasn’t just betrayed in four major ways by my husband over the past several years…that alone I could probably deal with. No, I was also betrayed by:

  1. The mistress whose house I visited in Vietnam. I met her parents, siblings and had lunch with them. Upon returning home I sent her father books, I sent her money many times and I tried to find a way to get her father over here for a visit as he had been in Texas during the Vietnam War and wanted to return before he died.
  2. My husband’s sister who began her own relationship with the mistress. They emailed and she commented on mistress’ FB page telling her she was “So pretty.” This is a woman whose crack-head daughter came to live with me and i got her clean. The woman who I supported emotionally for years.

So two of the most important people in my life betrayed me and mistress’ whole family that I was trying to help. How does one get over that? EVER?

I have tried asking for help in forgiving. I have tried to let go of the hurts of the past year. I meditate. I read books about joy, letting go, and the like. I pray. I beg. I plead. I bargain….nothing helps.

For quite a while i was doing okay but in the last week I have gotten angry. I mean really angry and all of a sudden all these betrayals feel like I am dancing on hot coals…my feet and soul being scorched and burnt black as the earth itself. And with all that anger comes feels of disbelief and distrust that feels so vast, so tall, and so unending I do not know how I will ever cross it or get over it.

I want to trust again because I think it is so much healthier for you. Living in a cloud of distrust slowly strangles you. As a result our soul becomes parched and drier than the Sahara Desert until it is so dried out it just blows away like the dust that you have become.

I want to trust again. I want to trust men, women and most of all myself because with betrayal I have lost the ability to trust my own perceptions and all aspects of my reality. I have lost my ability to discern, to see clearly, and to read between the lines. I no longer trust what I see or feel is genuine or meaningful. I have become damaged in a way that I wonder if I can ever come back from. Does BETRAYAL=BLACK HOLE?

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I want to trust again and I know that it starts in some way with forgiveness…but how? How does one do it successfully and let go in ways that are not detrimental to oneself?

I wish I knew the answer.

 

After The Affair

I was talking with my therapist today. It was exhausting. Almost 60 years of life to look at…some of it not pretty but a lot of it brilliantly played and enjoyed.

After the three years of B’s affair and the “almost” demise of my marriage it has been difficult at times to believe that B has changed and that our life together is stronger too.  The doubts that plague me have swirled fast and furious especially in the first six months after the storm.  The calm surety I have been searching for has been more elusive and more difficult to trust when I see it. Sometimes it appears to me that my life is only an illusion and I am always checking to make sure what I see is real. That process is exhausting and life-robbing. It is not life affirming nor is it increasing my sense of stability.

As I come upon 11 months of “knowing” about the affair I do feel hope and real joy again. The anguish and pain are slowly diminishing. Parts of me have been re-born and parts re-shaped into a better part of my whole. I have grown, explored and examined parts of my life that I saved until “LATER.” Yet, conveniently, LATER never came… until the affair… when I was forced to pick up the pieces and try to rebuild myself and my marriage. And now, believe it or not, at times I am even thankful for B’s affair because it has allowed both of us to evolve and create something different within ourselves and within our relationship. We are rebuilding on something that resembles bedrock and our foundation is no longer sinking in quicksand.

Another tidbit. For years I have not dreamed. Not once. EVER. But in the last month I have had three vivid dreams about B and “the other woman.” All involved water. In the last one, right before I woke up, an image of a goddess came to me and she held her hand out and said, ” Stop looking, It will come to you if needed.” The imagine was vivid, profound and unlike anything I have ever expeirenced before.

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My therapist tells me this is a good thing. That my psyche is clearing things out and washing them away.

I have also been busy creating my therapist provoked artwork. A recent picture is of a bird’s nest filled with various objects along with the words: LEARN, REST and FAITH interwoven into it. She says these are important words for me to concentrate on.

“What is faith?” she asks.

ANSWER

“It is the essence of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Can you see the wind? No? But you can see or hear the evidence of it in the sound of the wind chime or the rustling of the leaves. So REST in the hope that you have for your marriage and have FAITH in the evidence that you are seeing that things are changing for the better. Believe your goddess who is telling you to stop looking for trouble. and to believe that you can LEARN from your past, REST in the comfort of now, and have  FAITH in your future.

AND THEN SHE SAYS

“What if you get the stability you have been searching for your entire life? Will you see it and embrace it or will you run from it?”

GOOD QUESTION…AND FOR NOW…I DON’T HAVE AN ANSWER.

I would like to think that I have matured suffienctly to embrace all that has come and will come my way. Yet, at other times, I am just not sure. Sometimes I still want to just slide down the rabbit hole into another time and place.

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Yet, no matter what I choose I know that I am strong enough and wise enough to handle it because I have lived through the worst year of my life and not just survived but thrived!

 

Envision

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Tomorrow starts Gracie’s 5th competitive diving season. This afternoon, B took her to down to the city where it is being held. She competes at 8 a.m. which, if you ask me, is an ungodly hour to expect anyone to do anything well… especially a sport. Heck, I can’t even root her on before nine because the caffeine hasn’t kicked in yet.

This year Gracie moved up a level and she is getting to be at the top of her division. Only one level to go and she goes into elite. At 13 yo it is a heavy load to carry. She goes to school all day, the final bell rings at 3:15 p.m. and by 4 p.m. she is in the pool working until 8 p.m. five days per week.  But she loves it. Added bonus: I consider it good birth control….there are no boys around this little lady EVER.

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I rarely go to watch her workout anymore. The dives she is doing scare me and I’ve noticed that the kids who cry and get upset all the time are the ones whose mothers are always there watching.  I believe that she doesn’t need the added pressure of doing good for her mom. I want her to do good for herself. That is enough. And if she’s off… who cares… in a week we won’t even remember her scores. This is my part of her sport…trying to walk the line between letting her know that I care but that it is never the end of the world if you struggle or end up last. Sometimes you just do what you do for the fun of it and because YOU LOVE to do it. That has worth in of itself.

Tomorrow Gracie will compete doing a dive that has been giving her a lot of trouble lately. Before she left with her dad I reminded her to ENVISION herself doing the dive perfectly and to BELIEVE that she will do it. I will call her in the morning and play the song from ROCKY (Fly) which is a tradition in which she rolls her eyes and says “please, not again.” That is what I will miss seeing. And then whatever happens will happen. It is all good. Either way she gains confidence, learns to strive for what she wants and starts to trust herself which will carry over for the rest of her life.

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So…. GO, GRACIE, GO! Envision! Believe! And go for it! You have nothing to lose. In my book you are hard-working, dedicated young lady and I will always be proud of you no matter how you do!

Love,

Your Number One Fan (who is already missing you!)

 

P.S. She earned a 1st place, a 2nd place and a 7th. She amazes me!

 

 

 

Dance

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Tonight I chaperoned a high school dance. The girls were glitzed and glammed, each out doing one another in the hair, makeup, and dress department.  The boys….well they were typical  teenage boys…nerdy, sweet, and 100 years behind the girls in just about every way imaginable. Most of them sat together and played video games while the girls stood around whispering to each other, laughing, and talking the talk. Meanwhile the boys who weren’t gaming, looked somewhat green around the gills, as if they were in intense pain trying to outdo one another to impress the girls with puffy-chest macho displays. Frankly, it’s a wonder that the two sexes ever come together at all.

After spending the first half of the evening checking the kids in (what do you mean you forgot your parental permission slip) I decided to head over to the dance floor in hopes picking up some new steps. Unfortunately, watching teenage boys move to the grove is like watching an elephant attempt to play the kazoo while dancing the lead in Swan Lake…there is NOTHING that can make it look pretty. Hips go one way while butts go another and I swear I saw a couple of heads do a 360 while sitting squarely on their shoulders. But the worst thing was the fact that not one of them could keep tempo to the music. It was like watching a little old man crossing the street using a walker…one speed only… with head bent and body stooped their bellies almost dragging on the ground. The ones still moving upright were sweating like Trump’s Communication Director when the President is in front of a microphone… never sure what ungodly thing might happen to destroy all their carefully laid plans.

Yet, with all the hormones on high alert things stayed sweaty but calm and everyone was having a good time, chaperones included. Something about the unchanging ways of nervous teens brings you back to your own school dance and you realize just how far you have come!

Of course, there is always some sort of drama. At our school dance this is the End Of The Night Song. It is the one and only slow dance that the deejay plays the entire night. Stomachs tense and butterflies alight and the girls begin to giggle as the time draws near. If the truth be told no one wants to dance the last dance and everyone is crushed if they don’t. As the first notes of Fade Into You began, I was surprised to feel a tap on my shoulder. When I turned around Paul was standing there.

“Would you like to dance, Mom?” he asked strong and sure in his choice.

“Me?” I asked.

“Sure. You’re the prettiest girl here.”

And as I stepped into his arms I knew without a doubt that all those years of hard work raising two children with autism had paid off.  I was obviously doing something right in this life and was finally reeping the rewards.

 

 

Deepest Darkest Secrets

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We all have them. We guard them, we make light of them, analyze them and minimize them. They are our deepest darkest secrets.

I’ve always been pretty much of an open book. A what you see is what you get kind of girl. No pretenses. No airs. I often spoke without thinking in the name of being honest and open.  Unfortunately, it took me a while to learn that everyone didn’t have to know my business and that being honest doesn’t matter to those who do not know you intimately.

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When I met B, within three dates I told him my deepest darkest secret. In looking back I am not sure if it was because I felt I had to be “honest” in all aspects of my life or if I felt he was safe enough to share the burden, maybe even lighten the load. Whatever the reason, I never heard about it again until this weekend when he told me he felt that he needed to discuss it with our new therapist.

My first thought was anger….how dare he!!!!

My second thought was that he was trying to obtain some sort of psychological advantage with the therapist.

My third thought was that maybe, just maybe, he had to work this out for himself. That my deepest secret had effected him too. Exposed rawness in places that a boy off the farm was unfamiliar with and he hadn’t known how to deal with it 30 years ago and was angry at himself now because he had not handled it in a way that was helpful to him.

Secrets are a funny thing. They eat at you. They can paralyze you.  Or they can be used to motivate and do good in this world. But whenever you have one; you become vulnerable if you let it be known.  You give someone power over you and I can honestly say I always felt save with B knowing it. Until now.

But the fact is also that I no longer care. My secret is no longer relevant to me or this life I lead. I have overcome it and so much more. I have used it to do good things and I gave up its power over me so long ago. So if B has to discuss it, discuss it I will. For I am no longer that young girl without a voice and I can roar now if I have to.