Starting Over… What Is Possible?

Starting over is not easy.

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In fact, I think it’s one of the hardest things we have to do as an adult. Far too often we get stagnant in life. Sometimes even in our own misery. It’s safe. Easy. It’s why people stay in a bad relationship or a bad job. Change is scary for most of us. And as we grow older we tend to resist change. At least some folks do, not all. I suppose it’s the element of risk that rattles us. The unknown is a mystery and the familiar is comfortable.

But sometimes you have no choice. I would not have chosen the last two years of my life, if you talked to me 12 months ago. But ask me now and you will get a different answer. I have come so far in life in what seems to be such a short period of time.

Nashville flood victims would not choose the last two weeks either. Given the devastation of the flood, it is quite possibly the most difficult thing that some have ever faced. Even if you didn’t lose everything, it is still very frustrating to deal with paperwork, insurance adjusters, policies, agencies, and on and on. If you did lose everything, it is even worse. Where will I go? What will I do? When will the assistance come? What if I lose my job? Certainly, with all of this it may not be possible to look at the future with joy and anticipation.

So how do you keep up your spirits and not get sucked in to the exhausting daily struggles?

Ask yourself “What is possible now?”

My journey after the divorce was based on one premise: Who am I beyond Jacob & Emma’s mommy? (Beyond JEMS) What else was there to me besides being a stay at home mom.

  • What was I capable of doing?
  • Where would I go?
  • Who was I as a woman?
  • How would I support my kids?
  • What did I dream of doing?
  • When would I get my life back in order?

Many folks did not understand my journey. Many scowled, visually and verbally, at my choices. But there was only one thing I knew to be true…. I knew that this was my opportunity to start over. I was facing the second half of my life and I wanted to it mean more, be MORE! I had to discover what was possible.

Not many folks have the choice to start over. It can be a blessing, even if it is forced upon you by circumstances beyond your control. You have a choice to dwell in the negative or try to see what is possible.

Trust me, I’m not suggesting, it’s all wine and roses and happy-go-lucky, cheery, positivity. It can be hard. Very hard. But it can be done. I recall someone saying that if you are not growing, you are dead. And we all know that growing pains hurt.

Take the moments of reprieve to dream.

  • Dream about possibilities.
  • Dream about what if’s.
  • Think about when.
  • Think about how.
  • Think about why not now.

Believe in yourself., believe in God and dream. If only for moments a day. It’s a start.

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Who Is The Best Father?

Many of you have read my Tweets and my other Post on my daughter’s challenge to process the fact her father is not around. At times it has been more than heartbreaking for me. So I can’t imagine the hurt she feels. I’ve diligently relied on God to take the place of her biological father. It was a stretch for me to grasp this as an adult, let alone a child. But I’ve tried to be consistent in encouraging her in her time of need, sadness, or joy to look to God as her father.

Well…. It’s starting to pay off and I can not be more thrilled!!! Slowly, she has started talking about God more specifically, not just in general terms or on Sundays after church. Here’s what Emma’s shared with me in the last week:

  • While watching some movie on TV (clueless as to what now) she announces,

Mom, I love God for 4 reasons:
1. Because He loves me.
2. Because He sends angels to protect me.
3. Because He gives me hugs.
4. Because He’s always there for me.

  • John, Emma, and I were sitting at the table eating dinner. Jacob was in time out for yelling at me and semi-punching me in the arm. This is not typical behavior for him, but unacceptable nonetheless. John initiated the time out, also very unusual. But he wanted to talk to him about the respect and treatment of women, especially me. At the table I told John, this was an example of why he needed a father-figure in his life. Time out was different coming from John versus me in that particular situation. Surprisingly, Emma jumped in on the conversation.

“Do you guys know who the best father is? [long pause, as John & I stared at her, then each other] God is. He’s the best Father we have.”

  • In another conversation this week, Emma and John were discussing a visit we made to The Carter House. John was giving a tour, so Emma & Jacob walked up on the porch to get his attention. John told Emma he was so happy to see her that day. She leaned in and whispered in his ear,

“Did you see the angel on my shoulder?”

  • Each night when we pray, I ask God to send His angels to help comfort her when she wakes at night. It’s been a struggle for her to stay in her bed at night for a few months. She wakes up frightened and comes to me in the middle of the night wanting to sleep with me. It was happening even when she shared a bed with Jacob. We’ve tried several things to help her sleep through the night, including eating a bit later to make sure she has a full belly. Since praying for the angels, she has stayed in her bed more often than not.However, when I tucked her in last night I was caught off guard as she told me her angel was sitting on her side table. According to Emma, her angel is purple and small. But she is very powerful and can protect her against anything. She likes the same hand lotion as Emma and she goes to sleep when Emma goes to sleep, but she stays all night long. Even better, we all have an angel in our room to protect us. At the end of our prayers, she asked if we could pray to the angels. I said, “No, we don’t pray to angels Emma. We only pray to God.” Her reply….

“Oh right. I forgot. We don’t put anything in front of God.”

I was shocked and asked her where she learned that. Her reply….

“You taught me Mama.”

Wow! My sweet girl gets it!

Thank you Father.

When Missing Daddy, Call On Your Father

“I miss my daddy,” Emma cried.

I’ve heard this more and more over the last month. I guess it is a matter of timing. They haven’t seen him since our trip to Hungary in July. Well, except for about 10 minutes mid-October when he Skyped with them.

The last time he spoke to them was the 3rd week in November. He called mid-December, but the kids were with my dad. He said he would call there, but I’m not sure he did.

That has to weigh heavy on a little one’s heart. Most of the time, I’m sure they just go about their business of life – going to school, church, play dates, family movies, etc. But it’s in the quiet times or times when they get hurt that his absence seems to be more than apparent. This is when they cry out to a father that does not listen.

It’s especially rough during the holiday season. We get photo Christmas cards depicting bright, smiling families – complete with a daddy. They also know they are going to spend time with their daddy at Christmas. And I remind them so it will relieve some of the tension of ‘when’. Then you get questions like this:

“Is daddy coming back to marry us mommy?” Emma asks with such innocent hope in her eyes.

It burns me up! I flood with emotion: anger, frustration, resentment, sadness. I hurt for them. Still. You would think this gets easier over time. But it doesn’t. When your child is hurting it really doesn’t matter if they are 4 or 40, you hurt with them.

For a long time, I didn’t know what to say to the “missing daddy” statement. My standard answer was “I know”. What else is there to say?

“He was a crappy husband and is even a crappier father.”
“What else is to be expected from such a self-centered, ego maniac.”
“It sucks to be you!”
“You’ll be missing him the rest of your life, get used to it.”

There are no words.
At least I thought not.

Then I remember the wonderful book of Isaiah and some of the lessons I have learned this past year and a half. Painful but reassuring lessons that have given me a peace like I have never known. So now, I have a new reply.

“I know. I know you miss your daddy. And I know that sometimes you feel sad and confused. Sometimes the people we love make choices that we don’t understand. It is confusing and sometimes it hurts us. But I know your daddy loves you very much. And you know what else? God loves you even more. God is our Father in heaven. He is my Father and your Father. He is our Father because He created us and loves us more than anyone else ever, ever will. He will always take care of you and be there for you to talk to or ask for help anytime you need it. He is with you always in your heart.”

I often go on to talk about how Mommy loves her and is always here. We talk about Mr. John and Papa, my dad, being there for her too. But I guess that thing that I want her to get, that I never did as a child, is that she is not alone. God is our Father in heaven and He is with us always. She doesn’t have to long for the love of a father because she has it already. Maybe it’s not in the way other kids have it or that she expects it, but it is there.

Always Emmanuel

The Unwritten Blog

writingYes, I’m writing about not writing. I figured it was a good place to start. Writing again, that is.

Let’s face it, I’m not a famous blogger with a huge expectant audience nor am I a mommy blogger with a cult following of close friends and family. And as I have discovered I am not a prolific writer with an ever ending need to put pen to paper. At least, I’m not anymore. Here’s the breakdown of my blog post stats, so you can judge for yourself.

Beyond JEMS Posts

  • 181 – Since I started blogging March 08
  • 38 – Since January 09
  • 5 – Since May 09

I started out strong. Blogging daily, sometimes more than once a day in fact. But I never considered myself a real writer. At least not as much as I wanted to be one. Writing for me was an outlet. A release of pent up emotions and a wild roller coaster ride in the life of a woman, wife and mother of 2 year old twins who had just been served divorce papers.

What baffles me at times is looking back on it all. I mean, just do the math. Last year in less than 10 months, I wrote 143 posts. That’s approximately a post every other day. In the midst of my crisis called life which included going through a divorce, being a single mom, moving 3 times, training to run my first half marathon, starting a new career, and the infamous breaking of my right arm, I still managed to find the time and the where with all to write. How did I find the time?

Honestly, I neglected a lot. A lot of things got pushed to the way side, including cooking and cleaning and more often than not my kids. “Want to watch another movie? OK” to “Please go watch TV” Not something I am very proud of, but it is the truth. My house, as well as my life. was in shambles and more importantly, I really didn’t care. Step over the laundry, do the dishes another day, none of it really mattered. It can wait. I have to write. I have to dive in to these emotions right now or I will burst. That’s how I did it. Again, nothing I am really proud of writing about now, but it is the truth.

Healing is an all consuming process at times. Did my kids suffer? Yes, superficially, temporarily. But permanent, long term effects? Maybe. I’m not sure. My therapist says no. But he can discuss it with them when they’re 20, deep in their own life crises and blaming some of it on me I’m sure. But it was all that I could do at the time. It was cathartic. It was my way of keeping me sane. In fact, I defended it to the nth degree when challenged at times. I remember a conversation with my sister, when she was lovingly telling me she didn’t understand why I did A, B, and C, instead of X, Y and Z. My reply was something to the effect of “Well, the last time I checked your husband didn’t divorce you and move to Europe leaving you to raise two small children alone. But if that happens, be sure to let me know how to deal with it the RIGHT way. You seem to be an expert all ready.” I’m sure you can hear the words dripping with sarcasm as you read. Oh, and they were. I was horrified by most people telling me I was doing it all wrong, when they had never come close to my circumstances. So I kept writing.

Then life changed. Things slowed down a bit. I started some freelance web design work, bought a house and settled in, kind of. The kids started doing better in school and having fewer nightmares. I started feeling whole again. And that’s when my need to write started to dwindle. Partly because life had taken on a new schedule with work and soccer and single mama madness. And partly because I was no longer in the midst of a crisis trying to find my way out and using blogging as a way to do it. I just had less to say because there was less drama I suppose.

To further the distance between my writing and me, I started a new relationship with an old high school friend. That’s when my muse left me for good it seemed. Not only did I write much less, I twittered less too per my Twitter friends. As I ventured in to this new long distance relationship, I didn’t feel the urge to write as much. I didn’t have as much to say to just anyone who should stop by my blog. Instead I talked to him. John became my new best friend. The one who I poured my heart and soul out to on a nightly basis, sometimes for 3 to 4 hours at a time. My writing muse had turned in to a talking muse. Poor guy! But seriously, we loved it! There is nothing like a long distance relationship to really encourage volumes of oral communication.

Sure there have been plenty of times I have felt like writing or had something to write, but they were just pushed to the wayside. Now I had to clean the house, make dinner and do the dishes. Ok, that’s a joke, I cook dinner, John does the dishes. But I felt myself staying more in touch with daily life and family stuff. Now my nights and spare time are spent with John and the kids. We sit down at the table every night for dinner. I enjoy cooking again. When the kids go to bed, I don’t turn on my laptop to occupy myself. More often than not, John and I watch a movie or do crossword puzzles. Yes, we’re geeky crossword puzzle freaks.

But I think I miss writing. I wish I felt like I had more to say or time to say it. In fact, the only reason I’m writing right now is because the kids are out of town at my dad’s and I felt inspired at 2:30 am. So knowing I won’t be up at the crack of dawn with little ones wanting waffles, I decided why not just bite the bullet and go write.

As I sit outside on my deck writing and listening to the crickets sing their late night song, I am enjoying myself. It feels good. John constantly tells me I have to take more time for myself to do the things that I love to do just for me. And I think he is right. I’ll let you know when I post again.

Take care my friends!

I Don’t Want To Be A Mom

My Loves

My Loves

The feeling of panic creeped in as the day progressed. I tried my best to shove it down and ignore it. But it reared it’s ugly head with a vengeful force as I grabbed the keys off the counter top and got in to my car to go pick my kids.

Thoughts flooded my brain and my heart all at the same time and I couldn’t stop them from coming. Like a dam releasing water, the alarm had been sounded so you know it’s coming but you have no control over it whatsoever.  ‘I don’t want to go. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to be a mom. I don’t want to what…..? What is wrong with me? How can I feel this way after all we have been through? I’m horrible. This is so bad.’ Rewind. Repeat.

Seriously, I wasn’t sure who was driving to pick up the kids from preschool. I didn’t know her. The woman behind the wheel hysterically crying with an aching pit in her stomach that grew as the miles between her car and the preschool shrank. Yet, those were my hands on the wheel. And those were my swollen empty eyes staring back at me in the rear view mirror. Looking at me as a stranger would, with disgust and disdain.

Of course, there had been days before when certain thoughts flashed in to my head. ‘I don’t want to do this RIGHT NOW. I don’t want to have to be a mom TODAY.’ Those are typical right? Most moms feel this way at some point. Maybe it’s postpartum or sleep deprivation or raising a teenage daughter that triggers them. They are normal and on occasion may come or go. But this time was different.

The thoughts did not have qualifiers attached to them, such as: right now, today, in these circumstances. No, they were distinct with no end point. It seemed pretty cut and dry. I don’t want to be a mom. Plain and simple.  And it was that simplicity that scared the hell out of me and brought me to hot burning tears I had not felt for a while.

Doing the only thing I knew to do I reached out to my best friend and fellow mom, Michele. As a mother of 4 whose oldest is 22, she’s done it all. I often rely on her for mom advice. I was so relieved to hear her say hello and I immediately poured my heart out. The beauty of a friend like Michele is the honesty that permeates our friendship. She knows all my secrets and can take anything I dish out regardless how ugly it may be. And she still loves me anyway. It is one of the true friendships I have that is completely non-judgmental.

I tell you all this so you will know that I held nothing back, didn’t sugar coat it or glaze over it as a mere venting session. No, this was I am in major trouble and I don’t know how to handle this. And her response, “Amy, that’s normal. I’ve done the same thing.” What? This was not the response I was expecting at all. Seriously? Maybe I didn’t explain myself well enough. I was just coming back from vacation. I had been gone for 6 days and didn’t want to go pick up my kids. I didn’t want to see them. I didn’t miss them.  That’s far from normal.

But apparently not far from normal given my circumstances according to my friend and my life coach. As a single mom, my life revolves around them. I’m the sole caregiver. I’ve discussed it here many times before that it can be hard and lonely and frustrating. Especially knowing that their father is gallivanting all over Europe with his new girlfriend living a life of leisurely freedom. Please know before you send the hate mail that I do realize my life comes with amazing good times and many rewards that he will never know. But although we’ve hit a great stride in our new life, it is still quite lonely at times. As my coach put it, it is a life of deprivation.  Not always, not completely, but in general.

I had just went from a life of deprivation to the extreme opposite on vacation: a life of abundance. My holiday entailed complete freedom with adult friends and activities to pick and choose at will. I had anything I wanted and no one required a single thing from me. WOW! Talk about a stark contrast in life.  Here I was walking back in to deprivation and all that it entailed. No wonder I was having a moment of panic.

Michele told me to forget about it, get over the guilt, dry my eyes and go in to get my kids. So I did. And you know what happened. The minute I saw them running up to me yelling, “Mama, Mama!”, my heart filled and I was back. Back to my life of deprivation and thankful for it. Thankful for them. Their smiles, their eyes, their hearts and little hands. Oh every ounce of it was so precious.

I guess sometimes it’s hard to make a transition especially in extremes. Like going from Antarctica to the Sarah Desert, it requires a degree of mental preparation and transition time.  I analyzed the thoughts and feeling too much through the lens of mommy guilt and the impact was exponential. My self-confidence and my love for them was falsely shaken by ME.

Reality is I love being their mom. I’m a good mom. I’m a hip mom. And I’m proud of that. I had just forgotten it for a moment.

Depression is Not Cured with Prayer – Though it Doesn’t Hurt ;)

Walk by the light you have so darkness doesn’t destroy you.” John 12:35 (The Message)

A dear friend sent me this today. She knows I’m having a hard time. And I was so grateful for it. 

Oddly enough, I believe that prayer can solve a multitude of things. Prayers can be answered for anything and miracles can happen as God sees fit. But there is a misconception that prayer can cure clinical depression. I’m not saying that it can’t, but many times medical intervention is needed. Whether that’s via a therapist or pharmaceuticals – many people need help to get over the hump. I’m one of those people and I don’t think there is any shame in that. 

My depression is a unique combination of a hard year, a really bad holiday, hormones and chemicals floating around in my brain. There’s not much on this list that I can impact just by trying harder or just by forgetting the past and looking to the future. If that was the case, I’d be set. Unfortunately, much of what I’m experiencing is not about my divorce, but triggered by it. That’s why therapy and drugs come in to play. 

My marriage counselor turned in to my personal therapist because, frankly, I didn’t want to repeat the story over again. It was too long, confusing and painful. I meet with him weekly. There’s been work on my past, my transition through the divorce and help with my kids. We focus mainly on my personal and spiritual growth right now. He’s really good at helping you frame what you want for the future and working to getting it. There are always little diversions about the divorce or the kids that come in to our chats, but primarily he is my life coach. I also find it a bit odd that some people think having a life coach is a positive strategy, but having a therapist is a sign of weakness. I’m thinking I’m getting a great deal because my guy has a Ph.D. and insurance pays for it. 🙂 

As for the drugs, well, they help. They thin the fog & help you see the road. Even though you know the road is there and that this too shall pass, it’s the ongoing battle of depression that makes it very difficult to move forward on your own. It’s a personal choice. There are things that can help besides drugs, such as sleep, a balanced diet and regular exercise. Gee, there’s no surprises there. Like those things don’t help with life in general.  But not all the time are they enough. 

And then there’s prayer. I’m not meaning to blow it off as a non-solution. I think that lifting it up to God is very critical in helping. I felt better today just going to church, lifting my hands and being fully absorbed in worship. I shed some tears and felt touch by God today. That’s helped carry me through most of the day. Enough in fact to help me devise a plan of action for the week. Because I know exercise and being intentional with my time and my days will help me through this speed bump on the road, I spent time today at the church coming up with a plan for the week. It was something I prayed about, thought through. 

So now I’m set for the week. Maybe I’ll make it through tomorrow doing everything on my list. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll spend some of it in bed. Sometimes that’s what’s needed on a particular day. Either way, I will start my day with prayer and a little white pill. And I know that with both of these things helping me out, I will get through this. I will find my road again. And it will be a nice ride.

Stuck in the Middle With You

stuck 

 Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you,
Yes I’m stuck in the middle with you,
Stuck in the middle with you.

 

  – Stealers Wheel

 

This is me. Stuck. Sometimes it feels like I’m more underneath it all versus stuck in the middle. But nevertheless, it’s not on top or above. Heck, I’d even settle for beside at this point. 

What is the middle like? It’s like purgatory, not heaven, but not quite hell. Like being a tween – the perfect descriptor for no longer a child, yet not a teen.  It’s like being 9.5 months pregnant & past your due date, not yet a mother, but so over being pregnant you’re screaming just get this kid out of me already. Shall I go on? No? Ok, I guess you get the picture. In essence, it blows. I’m not married, yet I’m not single. I’m stuck.  

This entire journey began what will be a year ago, next week. It started with a dialogue. An internet chat among strangers. Someone who would play a brief pivotal role in my life. This is where I took the first steps to becoming free from the oppression and abuse I suffered in my marriage. For me it was like a veil had been lifted from my eyes. An awesome awakening of the spirit inside me. Something I thought had died years before. For quite some time I had been living under a dark cloud, amidst a grey, putrid fog that wafted around me, in and out of me. I was a shell of my former self, pretending to do life, to be happy. But even pretending became too much and those days were far and few between. 

But as I said, the veil was lifted. I began to see a new life of wondrous possibilities. The fog rolled away. The clouds dissipated and on the horizon was a long and winding road. I could foresee some mountains and a few valleys along the way. But the miraculous discovery was actually seeing the road. I did have a future. My spirit rebounded from the slow suffocating death and began to breath this new life in. The sweet smell of adventure was all around me. 

Fast forward to now…

The clouds are back and I’m missing my view. I can remember how beautiful it was, my view. How it felt standing on the edge of possibility, with my mind and heart racing in anticipation. But even these memories are becoming hazy as the murky fog grows dense. Where was I going again?  My road fades. Where is my road? 

Is it a surprise to anyone that I’ve been diagnosed as clinically depressed? Well, it is to me. Sure there have been a few warning signs.

  • I sleep a lot more. Like today while the kids were in school and then when they got back home. Sleep. It seems like that’s all I want to do. Just pull the covers over my head. 
  • Then there’s the fact that I don’t want to go out anymore. It pains me to leave the house. Oh how I long for a Merridee’s latte. But I can’t seem to get there. I’ve forced myself to get out a few times. But I tend to go where I won’t see anyone I know and there’s very few people around. 
  • There’s also the general lack of appetite cohabitating with a constant hunger or thirst. Someone explain that one please. 
  • In summation of several symptoms, let’s just call them the “I really don’t give a shit” or apathy symptoms. They’re too numerous to mention individually.

This is no surprise the doctor says. It’s normal. It’s part of the process of divorce, the doctor says. The holidays were hard. You’re not making any progress towards reconciliation nor dissolution of your marriage. You’re stuck, the doctor says. 

I’m stuck.

I want my road back.

No Doubts – Living with Addiction

Red WineTonight I walked past the stacks of dirty dishes piled in the sink. Glancing their way and dismissing them at the same time. Tomorrow, I tell myself; trying not to think about the fact that I said the same thing yesterday. Thus, here they are. Still dirty. Still taking up space. Still cluttering my kitchen symbolic of the chaos that clutters my life. 

As I poured a glass of wine I wondered why it was so easy for me to walk away from this mess. I hated the mess. I wanted to be the woman with the drive to have a spotless kitchen that Martha would be proud of, or at least not scared to eat in. I know the mess makes me feel less of… Take your pick, fill in the blank. Yet I don’t take care of it, I simply turn a blind eye.

That is a part of what happened in my marriage. We all have things that we don’t care for in a partner or spouse. Little habits, ticks, hobbies. Things that just don’t align with you. In the beginning, when he does “it” it’s cute and you tell your friends about it. After 5 years together it becomes annoying, but you make peace with it all in the name of compromise. After all, you’re adult enough to realize that you have your own annoying quirks. But what happens when the habit is a bad one, one that has a very negative impact on your life? What do you do then? I’m sure there are many reasonable answers and some sound psychological ones as well. But all I know is what I did in my case, for whatever reason, was to turn a blind eye to my ex-husband’s drinking. 

In the beginning of our courtship, we were career-driven singles employed by Generous Motors. We had plenty of disposable income with which to entertain ourselves. And so we did. He was the life of the party, always the one to get a laugh, always the last to leave – that is if he could walk. Looking back I’m amazed that I actually dated a guy who would drop his pants in the middle of a bar and stand around drinking in his boxers.

Yes, I tried to address it. And I tried to fix it. And I whined, moaned, negotiated, begged and bitched about it. To no avail. And I stayed – for 10 years. And I proceeded to have children with him. And I did all this knowing he was an alcoholic. Well, he was an extremely high-functioning alcoholic. But I still considered it just a phase. What was more of a concern for me was his little narcotic habit of smoking pot. So that had my attention front and center. This I did not turn a blind eye to for whatever reason. I realize there are many people who are educated, highly-functioning potheads that do right by society in this world. But it’s just not something I can condone. So upon marrying me, he ended up quitting. Can you guess what happened then? 

Yes, as he stopped smoking pot, his alcohol consumption increased and his anger became explosive. That first year was a total nightmare. It was also marked by the period in which I was introduced to his little problem of waking up in the middle of the night, still drunk, to relieve himself anywhere but the bathroom. It became so bad that I couldn’t sleep soundly because I didn’t know what he would do. There was the buffet table, my family photos, the closet, the corner of the bedroom, the spare room, the living room and even me. Yes, I actually woke up in the line of fire. But I continued to tell myself it was a phase, he’d grow up, we’d work through it, IT WILL CHANGE WHEN WE HAVE KIDS! 

Naivety, desperation and hope all played a factor. As anyone involved with an addict can tell you it cycles. They will be ‘good’ and things get better, until they act out again and fall off the wagon. Then it gets worse. Each time the promises come and go. When you’re not taking the blame for it, you’re  waiting for the other shoe to drop or cleaning up after it. Trying to hide the truth from friends and family. Playing like it’s all ok and turning a blind eye. It just becomes what you do. It becomes automatic. 

My breaking point, as I have written about before, was the need to protect the kids. This divorce, this year, this mess that has become my life has not been easy. And it’s during those really hard times in the last several months that I have wondered if I should consider his offer of reconciliation. After all, it is biblical, right? Factor in the inherent guilt that motherhood brings and the guilt that living with an addict brings. 

  • I should try to save my family.
  • My kids need their dad.
  • Divorce is wrong.
  • If only I would have tried harder.
  • If only I wasn’t so selfish. 

Ahhh, they play like a broken record over and over in my head. And with each spin at the turntable, I begin to wonder if I should try to do this again. And then, the addict teaches me another lesson. One I’ve had to learn many times over. 

  • I can’t fix him.
  • I can’t make it better.
  • I’m not in control.
  • It is not my fault.
  • My kids are better off not living in it. 

The morning after Emma & Jacob returned to me, I woke up to find a puddle of urine in my kitchen floor. See, their father needed a place to stay for the night and he wanted to spend his last hours in the States with his kids. They wanted him to stay. How could I say no? But I wish I had. Especially as Jacob stood at the edge of the door asking, “Mommy, why is my batman car all wet?”  Jacob, go ask your father – ran through my head, yet I refrained. I discovered the origination point of the stream was a large box of the kids Christmas presents including clothes and toys, things that could not be washed. 

I had to wake up the alcoholic on the couch and tell him to clean up his mess. He didn’t argue, nor did he apologize. In fact, he never said a word. I finished getting the kids breakfast and set up in the living room with a movie. After all was settled, I went back to my bedroom and cried. I cried for them, cried for me and cried for all of us as I realized that I had no doubts. No longer would I question reconciliation. No longer would I wonder if they would be better off with their father. No longer would I imagine what it would be like if I gave it another shot. If there is one thing I have learned over the years of living with an addict, there is no doubt they will let you down.

Confessions, Perseverance & Faith: My Full Circle Moment – PART 1

This blog is about my life. The new life I am creating moment by moment. There are posts reflecting my optimistic views of the future and my fears of the same. Some posts have been about my hobbies both new and old like running and cooking.  There is also a sprinkling of editorials filled with sarcasm and innuendo, as well as the occasional humorous fodder intended as nothing more than brain candy. 

But this post, this one is intended to accomplish one thing and one thing only: It is about setting the record straight.  It is about me letting go of the fear that I have held on to for years and getting naked in front of the world. It is about drawing a line in the sand for myself. It is about confession and perseverance and faith.  Let me begin.

Confession

Confession

CONFESSION:  I have a problem with men. Let me clarify this statement before your mind wanders. My first boyfriend ‘quit me’, as the local vernacular described it, as I was entering high school. Trauma ensued. My insecurities and self doubt exploded. This coupled with genetic predisposition for OCD set in motion a very unhealthy pattern in my future relationships. I’d date someone for 3 years, it would end and typically I’d be in the next relationship within a couple of months if not weeks. Many of these unions were dysfunctional in one form or another, especially as I was grew older. Let’s suffice it to say that at the end of each relationship, I honestly believed I had grown, changed and would not make the same mistakes again.

This divorce proved me wrong.  Many hours of marriage counseling, personal therapy and soul-searching have led me to one very simple conclusion… I have made men my higher power.  Whether it was my  alcoholic boyfriend in college or my dysfunctional abusive ex-husband; I eventually let them become my source of validation, at least partially. The result was always the same. I end up oppressed, verbally abused and emotionally orphaned leaving me raw and so not ready for the next relationship. But that was where I sought my comfort. Thus the cycle. 

The hardest part of this has been realizing the cycle is perpetuated by my own inability to see my contribution to it.  Let me explain that better.  In business, I’m very confident and pride myself on being top of it all. I’m the one people seek to solve their problems, define the new vision or execute the impossible.  However, in my personal life, I am quite the schmuck. In fact, it is almost the total opposite. Figuring out how that came to be is a therapist’s monetary dream, but pointless.  It all boils down to this…

  • The Problem:  I make men my higher power.
  • The Result:  Emotional bondage and failed relationships.
  • The Root Cause:  (Here’s the kicker)  I have never fully believed or accepted that GOD IS ENOUGH. 

Just saying it scares me and forever it has confused me.  How on earth is that even remotely possible? Jesus’s second coming is not about being physically present here to comfort me.  Putting His arms around me at night, when I’m alone and crying and holding me til I fall asleep – not going to happen. Calling me on the cell phone or even sending me a text or a Tweet with an “ATTA GIRL!”- not going to happen.  Taking the twins off my hands because it’s been a long week and I need some repreave to go run or just be still with myself – not going to happen.  So how can anyone tell me the God is enough?

This is Part 1 of a 4 Part Series.  Please check back for the next segment on PERSEVERANCE.

This is a part of Watercooler Wednesday by Ethos.

Fathers and Daughters

I called him up on the phone.

Me: Hey Dad.

Dad: Well, hello. How’s it goin’?

Me: OK. It’s been crazy as usual. Umm, do you think you can come down and help me move this week? 

Dad: Well, sure when do you need me?

I was 39. This was a month ago after my husband served me with divorce papers.

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He was sitting in the rocking chair in the living room. I curled up in a ball on his lap with my head on his chest and my arms around his neck.

Me: Dad will you rock me?

Dad: Well, ok. (with a slight chuckle) What’s goin’ on? What’s wrong?

Me: I’m just really sad.

Dad: Well that’s ok. (putting his arms around me) We all get really sad sometimes.

I was 22. In college when I was having a hard time in school.

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We were standing outside in the yard staring at the family car I had just totaled because I fell asleep at the wheel driving, after he told me if I was too tired to drive that I should pull over.

Me: Oh Dad! I’m sorry! Mom is going to be so mad at me.

Dad: Amy. It’s just a car. We can get a new one. It doesn’t mean anything. The important thing is is that you are ok.

I was 16. I was driving home from taking my college placement tests.

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I could go on and on with stories of our interactions. But I don’t want to mislead you. Because as a daughter I have disappointed my father, as all children do. I am a sinner and far from saint. Many of those stories are far too personal. But regardless of what ‘stage’ I was going through in my life or what ‘dead beat’ I brought home, I was still his little girl.

I guess my point is that no matter how old I am, no matter what kind of trouble I am in, I can still go to him when I need help or need comfort or need advise or just need to be rocked.  

The very first time I met Randy Elrod, I told him that my father was the best example of Christ’s love that I knew.  He was surprised that I said that and thought that was so refreshing because you just don’t hear that anymore. But to me, it was normal. It was just what I knew. I didn’t appreciate it growing up. As I got older I’m sure I took advantage of it.

It was not until I had my daughter did I realize that how important that bond really is.  When I was in the hospital on bed rest, I remember my mother-in-law arguing with me about how I intended to raise my daughter. (Yes, odd that I’m in the hospital in critical condition and she is fighting with me.) I remember telling her that I wanted my daughter to fall in love with my husband. He should be her first ‘romance’, because he would then set the standard for all other men to follow.  

The love and respect that a father shows his daughter, and also shows his wife, is so integral to her emotional and mental development.  The way a child will handle adult conflict, relationships, stress, etc is largely formed in the first 8 years. They don’t call them the formative years for nothing.  But there is an even greater stage of imprinting, for lack of a better word, that occurs in the first 4 years of life.  I’m sure there are arguments for and against all of these theories of childhood development and the development of the psyche and how we learn to love.

I’m not a trained professional. But I have talked to a couple of them since my husband took to cursing out the children as an acceptable form of communication at the age of 2. When we were living with him and he would scream and cuss at her and she would run to me and cry. My dear Jacob would just turn inward and shut down; you could see it in his eyes. My heart would break.  But it also broke the first three days in the new house, when Emma had sleepless nights and fits of crying, “I want my daddy to come live with us.”  She just didn’t understand.  Now, they both just get upset if they haven’t seen him in a couple of days.

And now, now… This past week he tells me that he is moving to Hungary. Yes, the country. He’ll be gone for four years. For four years he will see his kids a week at Christmas, a week at Spring Break and 2 weeks during the summer.  They will not know their father.

How will they ever experience that unconditional, unwavering love from a father that is so integral for them to be whole?

I pray about this often and the only thing I can do is ask God to help me love like that, help me show them love the way my father showed me, the way that Christ shows me.  I often fail, but I keep asking.