The next step…any ideas?

I’ve spent the morning reading some great blogs (anyone read The Happy Hausfrau? Puts a smile on my face every week!) and reading many of your blogs/posts. Some days I’m very productive…whether its for my kids, myself or propelling myself forward on this path toward divorce. Other days I want to just sip coffee and gain knowledge and insight from all of you. I look at this time as time well spent, focusing on myself and how I can be the best version of me. I am fortunate I still can do this right now. I know what’s coming and I know it’s going to be hard. So the days when I sit here and read or write are precious to me.

Alot of things are precious to me now…

Quality time spent with my kids, whether its an outing to dinner or a mini vacation to reconnect.
Quality time with my good friends just spending an hour over coffee or a nice lunch.
The abilty to get in the car and drive long distances without worrying about the price of gas.
The ability to buy that expensive face cream or get my hair cut and colored at the salon.

I know the money is going to get very tight when we sign on the dotted line. I’m aware that there will be less time spent with family and friends in the future when I’m (hopefully) working and earning an income.

For all of this and more I am truly grateful. But looking to the future, I can’t help but be nervous and scared. One minute I’m charging forth looking for jobs online and the next I’m putting a halt on all of it, telling myself to enjoy the short time I have left. Instructing myself to use my free time wisely to get my affairs in order.

Does anyone have advice for this? Charge forth or slow down?

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for so long that I’m not sure what direction to take. I’ve been volunteering steadily for the few years to get back in the swing of things, but I’m pretty sure I hide behind volunteering because I can come and go as I please when something comes up with the girls schedules. I’ve been thinking about going back to school but have this fear that I’ll spend the only years I may have some alimony studying to gain employment only to find out most companies would rather hire younger folks. I worry ALOT about retirement, and if you’ve read my older posts you can understand why. I’d love to hear some of your stories about how you handled these issues…

THX

Advertisements

Is there such a thing as too much praise???

Good morning fellow bloggers.

I’m up rather early this morning due to the fact that I fell asleep before the sun set last night. I drove 7 hours yesterday to pick up my boys from college. X bailed on the job he agreed to earlier this week citing he was too tired from starting a new contract job (yeah?). So I decided I wouldn’t try to kill myself driving to Boston and back in a day, rented an SUV and booked myself a hotel room for the night (using hotel points, of course). Woo Hoo! Yeah, me!! Of course, the boys have been too busy to see me as they are making the last minute rounds to say goodbye to their school friends for the summer. I try not to whine to myself that they should at least say hello to me … or answer my texts. You see, they’ve done this to me the last two times I’ve stopped in Boston and I’m starting to get a complex. Maybe this whole impending divorce thing is just too much for them. But hey, it’s not like they’ve been living it day to day like the girls and I have…

Where am I going with this you may ask? I am once again, at 4am, trying to ask myself if I expect too much. Do I deserve to be treated better? Am I making something that may be normal teenage behavior about me instead? And if I am, why do I do that?

I’ve gained 50lbs over the past year of separation and I was already overweight. Actually, I had been doing great and lost 40lbs prior to X walking out on me, and kept it off until right before the holidays when I returned to “feel sorry for me” mode. So now I’m at the most I’ve ever weighed. I talk to X from around corners or the top of the stairs. I don’t want him to see me…to judge me…especially when he’s been hanging with 20 year old hotties over the last year. And all of his Match.com women are at least half my size. Where am I going with this? Praise.

I try to figure out why a person like me that gets so much praise from others can eat her way into a numbing oblivion. My close friends are constantly telling me I’m strong, I’ll get through this, I am the best mother they know, I’m a good friend, a hard worker, so kind and caring. I’ll go through great lengths for my kids. My MIL (God bless her as she is kind) has been throwing praise my way for the last 23 years, reminding me what a fantastic job I’m doing raising my kids. Letting me know how thankful I should be for her son, my wonderful husband, and all that he can provide for us. How blessed we should feel that he works so hard so I can stay home with the kids (did I ever mention that what he can contractually charge in 1 hour is equivalent to what I would make working in a full week of work?). Throughout our separation I’ve gotten calls from my MIL, telling me how hard X is working to make things right with me (she doesn’t know half of whats going on and…whoah…where did she get the info that X was working on ANYTHING because I hadnt gotten that memo…) She tells me that he’s trying to get better and that he’s making every effort to get out of his job and move back to be closer to the kids (flash forwrd 6 months where he loses his job and gets forced out of his apartment and back home). What a wonderful man! What a wonderful Father! I’ve heard it all.

So I started to wonder if too much praise could be damaging. I googled it (thank God for google) and you know what popped up? Article upon article of how too much praise for children leads to narcissistic behavior. Now friends, I’m all for giving and receiving praise. But can too much in our youth shape us into self-centered a-holes?? I was not on the receiving end of too much praise growing up. I was the textbook middle child who had to do everything on her own, constantly trying to prove to the world she could stand on her own two feet…and I’m still very much that way. I’m quite self deprecating and almost shy away from praise. X, on the other hand, was and still is showered with love and praise by his mother. Don’t get me wrong, I revel in the glow of her showering of me also. It feels somewhat good…something I never had before. That said, my upbringing still causes me to take a step back and view praise with wonder and awe.

Could too much praise lead to self-centeredness?
self-entitlement?
shallowness?

Can lack of praise lead to the inability to accept praise?
self-deprecation?
self-numbing?

Lord, we are a pair…X and I. We both have alot of work to do. The difference is that X doesn’t see that he has anything to work on. That’s narcissism. I, on the other hand, have got to get out of this victimization stage I keep wandering back into and stay on the path that I want for myself. It’s hard when X is right under my nose. But that’s not an excuse.

I’ve got to change my stars…

It’s a ME day <3

It’s my birthday today. 49 years old…woo hoo! Today’s post will be less about X and more about me…as it should be on our birthdays.

I go through these random moments of wondering if this is really my life, etc..and it can happen at any time, like in the middle of the movies with my daughter the other day. I was trying to concentrate on the plot but my thoughts kept returning to my inner commentary… “Is this really your life?” “Can you really be going through all of this right now and be sitting at the movies with your daughter?” “Maybe I just need to wake myself up?…”

Wake up call…life will never be as it was. That said, it could be same or it could be better. Life is what we make of it, right? “Out of suffering comes transformation”, right?? I follow a great website called The Betrayed Wives Club. Today’s post was about having compassion for yourself and it was a perfect gift for me on my birthday. All of your blogs and posts are a perfect gift to me. I get so many nuggests of wisdom this way and they always seem to come at the exact time for the exact feeling I’m feeling. How do you all do that? (haha!) I know why….It’s because we all go through the same emotions for different reasons every day.

So back to the compassion thing….

I’ve never been given much attention by my husband for my birthday. Well, in his defense it’s so close to Mothers Day he was usually able to group the two days together and run to the store at the last minute. He’d sit me down while he and the kids took the cake and a scented candle out of the grocery bag and stand over me beaming, waiting for me to give him the proverbial pat on the back he needed for a job well done (note of thanks to MIL for that one)….and I did it, because I thought that I should be thankful…I should feel blessed…I’d been given this wonderful life to stay at home and take care of my children. Every year on my birthday I drew more and more inward and I didn’t know why. I told myself that I hated the attention… that I didn’t need praise like he did. I guess I was resentful…or getting there.

Part of my transformation through this blip in my big, wonderful life is to honor my birthday. The day I was born. The day I was blessed to be put on this earth to live my life to the fullest. I guess it’s part of the whole “being grateful” thing I’ve got going. I’m ONLY 49! I’ve got alot of life in me left to live so why not start living it?

First things first…

I made sure my kids knew my birthday was this week …
(whereas in the past I went the entire day without a mention…codependant, anyone?)

I gave said kids a gentle reminder that Mothers Day was coming up…
(they need to understand that this is THEIR day to honor me, not necessarily their Dad’s)

I made plans to go out to lunch with a girlfriend and booked myself a 1.5hr massage…
(you bet I did!)

I will honor this day I was born and my contributions that I’ve made to my life, my family’s lives and this world I live in…

Then I will get in the car and pick up the kids…

and drive to soccer practice…
and drive to yoga…
and help my daughter study for her Chem test…
and curl my other one’s hair for school tomorrow…

– and I’ll cherish every minute of it.

Socia Media…a Blessing & a Curse

Social media. It can be a wonderful way to learn, create, connect, etc.. But if used incorrectly can cause quite alot of damage. We all have heard about celebrities tweeting out harsh words only to retract them after public backlash. How about those pictures and videos one thinks would never make it to the internet? There is a reason why elementary schools teach kids about internet safety. Now can someone teach the parents??!

I’ve dealt with my share of X’s internet mishaps, and unfortunately so have my daughters. It’s one thing to learn about your spouse’s affinity for internet porn and late night sex-cam websites. It’s another to have your spouse forget to turn it off before your kid decides to use Dad’s computer to print out her English assignment. Kids these days are very computer literate. They know how to use Google history to find the school website they used the day before, so if you’re not internet savvy enough to hit the DELETE button after your searchs for “escort services” and “college aged companions”, then maybe you should learn!

I say this after a tough week. X spent a few days at the house at the beginning of the week and then this last weekend before heading back to empty out the apartment he was court-ordered to leave. In those days he slept late, attempted to find contract work (remember he lost his job?) and make dates with the (pseudo) age-appropriate women he is attempting to meet on Match.com. He went on three dates this last week, and for some reason didn’t think it would bother the girls to mention where he was going. In fact, I think the words were “Sorry I can’t drop you at a friends because I don’t want to be late for my dinner & movie plans.” OK, maybe that’s harsh of me….but it would have been better if we’d actually discussed dating rules and how they affect the kids BEFORE they occurred. My bad…I guess I didn’t realize he couldn’t wait a week before feeling the need to find someone else to take care of him. Did I mention he’s living at home? How does that work? Do you tell your date you’re still living with your wife and kids on the 2nd? 3rd date?

Little bit of bitchin’…back to my story…
Said spouse decided to get a Facebook account a few weeks ago, and right beofre heading out to one of his dates our daughter sees a “do you know this person?” on her FB. Click on it… and she sees her 56 year old Dad’s 15 friends, all 20 year old strippers, bartenders, bouncers, etc.. Now I’m not putting down any profession…let me be clear. But when a 56 year old CMO’s only friends are 20-somethings he met at “the club” the red flag goes up. And did I mention he’d also friended the actual strip club and a few late night adult sex groups to boot?

OK, I blew up with this one…

Did he know that his kids would see this?
Did he know our family would see this?
Did he know potential employers would see this?
His Match.com ladies?
Heck, how about my mom that has a habit of stalking people on FB?!

No, of course he didn’t know because he didn’t understand how Facebook worked. It wasn’t one of his late night sex websites, closely guarded with fake user names and passwords. It is used to CONNECT & SHARE! He was appologetic and told me he deleted everything. Funny thing was, the following night my boys and their cousins had to find out what their Dad was up to as apparently he didn’t believe me and left things as is. The boys shut him down.

My son once asked my why, if I know his Dad is sick, won’t I do everything to help him. I’m finding that all the talking, yelling, begging, pleading, educating won’t help someone with addiction. They have to hit their own rock-bottom. And their rock bottom might be alot lower than what you may think it is. There comes a time when, after trying your hardest you have to let the chips fall. The hardest thing is watching it affect the kids. I continue to do everything I can to protect them but I realize that there was a reason he lived so far away for the last year. It was the only way he could hide his addictions. Now that he’s home (temporarily) mistakes are going to happen, chips are going to fall….and all I can do is be ready with the broom & dustpan.

…in response

Hello world…

I received a very nice comment from soapmepretty and thought instead of replying directly I’d blog some thoughts… I’m finding when I write I go into my thoughts deeply and I may need a day or two to recover. You see, my best coping mechanism is my kids. I have to find a way to get through these feelings to what lies beyond – which is usually my kids bright faces and daily activities that keep me grounded. I was busy this weekend with lacrosse games and a soccer tournament which helped. You may think that’s not a way to relax and regroup, but for me I find comfort in the norm. I got angry at a lacrosse coach and commiserated with the other soccer moms about the other team trying to “take down our girls” (I know it sounds negative, but I never said I was perfect!) and in those moments I reveled in the ordinary of the weekend. You see, when a person goes through something along the lines of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) they can do one of two things….They build a wall to block out the pain (like my husband did) or they begin to feel, analyze and navigate every emotion that comes their way (like I did).

Right now, my life is a technicolor of feelings and emotions constantly running through my mind. I cry at songs and commercials (ok, maybe I did that before but now it’s tenfold!) or get angry quite quickly at triggers that set me off (ie. the lacrosse coach not treating my daughter with respect). But I also laugh alot with my daughters. I laugh more than I have in years. I make a HUGE attempt to find joy in every day life and even those moments of sadness or anger are treated with the same amount of respect. I guess through all of this crazy I’m learning to become grateful…

I have this mantra (yes, another one!) I say when I start to feel overwhelmed or hyperventilate… “Be grateful for the roof over your head, the gas in your car and the food in your belly.” It actually calms me down when the technicolor becomes too much because it puts things in perspective. I have a good life….not one I would have expected for myself…but one that gave me plenty of wonderful years, some really great family & friends, the most awesome kids one can have. It reminds me that I am the master of the rest of my life so it’s my decision how much of the crazy I want to get caught up in.

Dear friend, I appreciate your kind words and I feel for you the way I feel for my own 16 and 14 year old daughters. They know quite a lot about whats going on (blog post will follow) yet they act as if life goes on as normal. My youngest will tell me that it feels “like it always does because Dad always travels so much”. But I know the lasting effects this year has had on my children – especially my girls since they are with me at home. They feel the effects of their Dad being non-existent in their lives whether they want to admit it to themselves right now or in 20 years. They know about his behavior yet they still want any form of attention from him. The one thing I tell them through all of this is that he is still their Dad and he loves them regardless. I say it over and over…and they grasp onto the notion whenever he is near. I’ll admit it’s hard for me to watch. Thankfully I have a wonderful therapist friend who keeps me in check. She told me that “children will always gravitate toward the parent that needs help.”

Wait, huh?

But what about me? What about my “tough as nails” mentality? How I hold it all together and tell everyone we can do this “as a team”? How I put a smile on my face and ask about their day?, be present to drive them EVERYWHERE (they are teenagers)? Nope…they gravitate towards the one that needs the help. Oh, this is not a feeble attempt to feel sorry for myself…it really isn’t. I can understand the psychology of it even though it stings. It is more important to me that my children grow up knowing that both parents loved them regardless.

I don’t want them to feel insecure about themselves…
I don’t wan’t them to be wary of relationships…
I don’t want them to become co-dependant but at the same time I don’t want them to bale at the first sign of danger…

I will try to give you more insight into the mind of my soon to be ex X, but please remember it’s only speculation. I can write about his actions and what his responses are, but I will never be able to go into the mind of someone going through his own personal hell. X’s behavior is his own and his actions are a product of that behavior. I wish you the best in your own path of healing. ❤

Mental illness vs. midlife crisis?

When my husband and I mutually agreed to separate (me: “I think we need a break”. him: “OK…See ya…Bye”) it was the weekend after Fathers Day. X had started a new job in April. One I had wholeheartedly championed him toward. I’ve always been that kind of person…the one who put her needs before her kids and especially her husband. X is a physician I met during his residency. We met, fell in love and married two years later. We moved from state to state in the first 8 years of our marriage ….he continuing his education and specialization, and I packing, moving, setting up, tearing down, getting pregnant, raising kids, etc… We were a team, at least that’s what I thought.
I hadn’t really thought about it all those years until now… that is, why I never thought about what I would want to do for myself? I was raised in a home where Dad worked and mom raised 6 kids at home. I myself worked until I got pregnant with my oldest daughter and moved cross country twice in two and a half years. We actually moved 8 times in those 8 years. I was young and thought it was exciting. People complimented me on how I held it together and what a great mom I was being able to go off to new places and start over. Those years went by in a blink of an eye before we moved to PA, had our youngest daughter and decided to settle down and grow roots while the kids were in school. School years were full for me. My oldest has a learning disability and not having another school aged child to compare I was left to navigate what was age appropriate and acceptable learning ability. X started working in Pharmaceuticals, traveling the world. In fact, when the boys started school and my youngest was born he was working 2 weeks out of the month in another country. But, hey…I was super mom! I could handle it! My mother-in-law applauded me for “doing it all”. “Wasn’t it wonderful that X is such a good provider?” “That he could give you all this wonderful life?” “That you could stay home with your children?” Sure it was. I loved being with my kids. I was so busy with science projects and changing diapers in the back seat of the cars at soccer games I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to do! We were a team…or so I thought….

From the moment X moved out I became “the controlling wife”. The one who always needed to know X’s business (he was spending hand over fist in strip clubs, in my defense)… the one who needed to get a job and do something with her life…

What??

I was left with 14 and 16 year old girls at home, a menagerie of pets and a house that was falling apart overhead. X had cashed in his pension from a previous job….literally all of our money for retirement…and blocked me from having access. He was out at nightclubs and strip clubs nightly, and said that his new job coupled with the split had him depressed and anxious. He HAD to go out to relieve his anxiety. As for his “friend”, she was just a friend who he was “helping out”. I actually heard the words “her life is worse that yours and the kids! You don’t understand!” I thought he was going through a huge midlife crisis. He would go out every night walking around until 3am, buying pizzas for the homeless; giving a bartender he met $300 for rent. He felt he was doing this to help the world…to make himself a better person. I begged him to get help and he’d say that he would, but that I was pushing him to make changes too quickly. I realized soon that his pushing back and saying he needed more time was his way to feed his addiction…because thats what it was/is….an addiction. Nights out for dinner/drinks became financing her apartment…then taking her in a 9 day 15k vacation (with his brother & wife!)
I begged a few trusted members of his family to help him…and I was told to lean on my own family.

In the end X was fired from his job and hundreds of thousand of dollars were spent before I could get a court order to freeze the accounts. My retirement gone. College tuition gone. Oh, and by the way… the 23 y.o. GF gone when she was told she had no more access to the moolah….

So, midlife crisis vs mental illness? I’d say a little crisis and a lot of illness. X is in the process of moving back into the house next month because we have no extra money and we need to coexist until we can sell the house. He’s quite depressed, well, with no job, no 23 y.o. hottie, no money.  Our days are spent avoiding each other and talking politely around the girls, who are still trying to figure out who X is and what he did with their Dad. The next few months will be interesting…

Welcome to my world..

…I live in a private hell…

My mantra is “do just one thing to dig yourself out of this hell..one thing each day, and eventually you will climb out of this hole you’re in…”

I know it sounds dark and dismal and I’m not really in that place all of the time. I start most days with a smile on my face, greeting each daughter with a “Good morning! How did you sleep?” Then I take care of the dogs, pack lunches and we’re out the door and on our way to school. I sing songs on the radio, ask about their plans for the day, crack a joke or two. But the moment my youngest hops out of the car I become a blither of tears. I find I wear sunglasses even on rainy days just so I can make it home without anyone seeing my face. I get a good cry in, sometimes sitting in my car in the driveway for a while. Why? Maybe it’s fear of starting my day… Maybe I just need a little more time to readjust and put on my armor.

I was married to my 56 year old husband for 23 years, and had four beautiful children, when he decided to leave to “find himself”. What he found (before he left us, I might add) was a 23 year old strip club bartender. He left in the summer, sending the kids and I reeling. I was left to pick up the pieces and attempt to create any kind of normalcy to their lives at home and with their friends. When the boys went back to college my husband came less and less to visit his young daughters, always citing work as his reason. He was stressed. He was depressed. They were just friends…..yadayada. Our few attempts at counseling consisted of my husband arguing with the therapist “Why can’t I keep seeing my female friends?” “Do I have to break it off completely?” It was, and has been the single most belittling experience of my life. Who was this man that I had spent the last 25 years of my life with? What happened to the wonderful, caring individual who kissed me good morning and cheered his daughters on at their sports games? The guy who enjoyed working in the yard and going on family vacations? Now I had this shadow of a person who meandered in once every 2-3 weeks to say hello to his daughters and maybe watch a movie on the couch before driving around the empty trash can in the driveway on his way back to Baltimore….a city two hours from our house and his new “home”.

I’m not a writer. I don’t profess to be anything I’m not. I’m just a stay at home mom with a lot of feelings that need to come out. I write to clear my head. Some of the things I write about may be random thoughts…Some prolific nuggets of wisdom I’ve scooped up along the way. I’ve been on a crazy ride, and I’m certain each one of us has a story to tell. I hope to use this blog as a safe place to ponder, vent, laugh and lift each other up.