Name Changing Dilemma

It’s that time again…Drivers License renewal time! Come to think of it this is the first time I am having to renew my license since I moved to NC in 2005. And it’s my 40th Birth year. WOW! Lots of change going on. Which leads to my latest dilemma….to change my name or not to change my name.

I have a memory stuck in my head of getting ready for my roommate’s wedding in Wilmington, NC on November 5th (I think that was the exact date) when I received a phone call from my Attorney asking me if I was planning on changing my name to my maiden name. The question caught me off guard. She needed to know that day since she was preparing paperwork to be filed the following Monday. I asked if I could call her back and immediately called MA. I asked her to confirm that keeping my married name for the kids was for the best, after all I’d heard of kids having to explain why they had a different last name than their mother and I didn’t want to put my kids through any unnecessary stress. She encouraged me to go with my gut and so the name stayed. And I think I did the right thing…then.

Now…the kids are adjusted to the situation and seem perfectly at peace and I REALLY don’t want the same last name as my EX. Not that I don’t love some of his family members as if they were my own. And not that I don’t want to be linked to my kids by sharing their name. I just don’t identify as that person anymore. I don’t even like saying my last name when I introduce myself. And I like my maiden name. It’s who I first identified myself as and it’s who I still am today.

So why even suggest that there’s a dilemma, right? I mean, it seems like I’ve got the answer in the bag so to speak. Eh, not so much. It’s not easy to change your name. There are several documents that need to be filled out and taken to different places in particular steps within a particular time. And there is a cost. Not a huge cost, but a cost just the same. And I have to renew my license SOON (which has it’s own cost). Plus, there is someone special in my life (duh!) with whom there may have been discussions of getting married one day, but NOT before my license expires! So, again, do I go through all the work to change my name only to have to change it AGAIN in the near-ish future?

And now the fun part! I am posing the question to you. Do you think I should change my name back to my maiden name? Keep my married name? Or wait to one day be remarried?

To Sell Or Not To Sell? Is It Even A Question?

The longer I’m a home owner the less I see the benefit of it. I understand the concept of building equity in a home, if that’s really what’s happening, and the whole putting down roots thing did resonate with me at one time, but that honeymoon has ended. I am ready to be a renter once again. I can hear the exclamations already: You’re paying for someone else to reap the benefit of equity; The taxes and interest are tax deductible; You can make whatever changes you want to the house if you own it; You don’t have to worry about having pets; etc. It’s not enough though. The time has come and of course I am going to tell you why…

Reason #1: Taxes!

I have a great house and it’s got great space for my family. I have a yard that’s mostly fenced in (I’ll expand on that one later) and I live in a nice neighborhood. Since I’ve lived here I have refinanced 3 times! And still my mortgage increases ever year. Why? Because of taxes! I know that rent increases as well but you get  a couple months notice before it happens and you can make a choice to stay or look for something more affordable. Every year I am completely surprised when all of a sudden I go to pay my mortgage and it’s $10, $15, $20 dollars more than it was the entire last year. I don’t like those kind of surprises. Can I look for a cheaper place to live? Not without preparing my home to be shown hoping it will be sold, if it will even sell in this market, and going through a lengthy paperwork process that can take months. Just talking about it gives me anxiety.

Reason #2: Trapped!

While the real estate market is improving it is far from healed. When we decided to buy this house it had only been on the market 3 days. We had to rush to get our offer in because houses were flying off the market. Now I see realty signs boasting “Sold. Only listed 45 days!” My parents listed their beautiful home with an in ground pool for 2 years without a single offer! In order to move quickly…well, chances are high that you won’t be moving quickly unless you vacate the house before it’s sold leading to BAD credit. No bueno! It really puts a damper on the discoveries to be had living in a new place (or several  new places).

Reason #3: The Ex!

My Ex and I have a pretty amicable relationship. We still make an effort to be on the same page with parenting the boys and have successfully gotten along better after the divorce than we probably ever did before it. With that said, the house is the last tie to him that allows his controlling nature to rear it’s ugly head. It’s a tool of manipulation for both parties and I don’t believe there will be complete peace until it’s sold. Not to mention the strong desire I have to make a fresh start with B in a place that’s ours and not mine and my Ex’s. He’s done very well with making this his home, we repainted and redecorated, but there are little reminders that I lived here with another in a life before him. It’d be nice to be free of them (and by them I am NOT referring to my sons!).

Reason #4: Things Break!

This past weekend we had a great visit with some friends at our home. Halfway through the day I noticed it was getting warmer but the air conditioner was on and running. I could hear it and feel the air moving at the intake, so I didn’t worry too much about it. It took another hour or two to realize that the air being pumped through the vents was room temperature. I was freaking out inside while maintaining a cool demeanor outside for my friends and the boys. In reality I was living one of my worse fears. My mind was a jumble of what if’s, trying to plan out what to do next, knowing full well that I didn’t have the money for a new HVAC unit. That night we bought a window AC unit and B, the boys and I all slept in one room for two nights (we tried to make it exciting rather than dooms-day’ish). THANK GOD all the unit needed was a new compressor! And THANK GOD we have extended family with the know how to replace a compressor! That doesn’t remove the gut wrenching anticipation I constantly feel waiting for the next big thing to break though. I still have part of a fence out thanks to a wind storm and a HUGE tree that broke through said fence and landed on the trampoline. (The trampoline was not harmed much to the boys’ relief.) Then there’s the hole in the bathroom wall, which mysteriously gets bigger after my youngest has been in there, and the door bell that’s missing the part you push on, and the bath tub that wants you to take a bath every time you shower, and the weeds that think they’re trees, and the broken window in the garage that the birds use as their personal door…and the list continues. How nice it would be for all that to be someone’s problem that’s not me.

So now I just need to get the repairs done and the house ready to be sold. No big deal…right?

Side note: The boys still ask if we can all sleep in the guest room again. I guess we made it too exciting!

The Next Step

There are people who hate change. There is a comfort in things staying the same. Knowing what to expect. Nothing to adjust to and no surprises. There have been times in my life when change has caused severe anxiety so I can relate to the notion of hating change. But true to my character I can see the other side as well, the excitement in change. All the possible opportunities, adventures and growth available. The more comfortable I get with myself the more comfortable I get with my ability to accept and deal with change in a positive way. That’s why my next step isn’t wrought with fear, but rather filled with a sense of excitement.

I quit my job last week. Actually, I gave my 2 week notice. It was a very hard thing to do because while I may not hate change,  I HATE confrontation. I was a mess that day. My heart raced way more than it should in a 24 hour period and I felt nauseous. I only ate 2 out of my usual 4 small meals of the day. (For anyone that’s ever worked with me you know that’s HUGE). I don’t know what I expected, maybe anger or disappointment. I had no need to worry. Both my bosses accepted my resignation gracefully. Phew.

I accepted a position at a larger company doing something I’m not sure I’ll enjoy that pays pretty much the same as I’ve been making. So where’s the excitement in that? It’s in working with new people, and learning new software, and finding out if I’m good at Loan Processing and having a little flexibility with my schedule. It’s in knowing that this is only a year contract and I may or may not have another job by then. It’s in the hope that in a year it won’t matter if I have a job or not because my business with B will be flourishing by then and bring me home. It’s in the many many possibilities that may come out of this change in my life right now and I am absolutely excited, and nervous, and curious and anxious to get started!

Confessions of A Recovering Romance Novel Junkie

About 10 years ago I heard a woman talk about romance novels and soap operas as porn for women. While I didn’t care much for soap operas, I was consuming at least one romance novel every two weeks at the time, sometimes even one a week. I didn’t see the harm in them. Most of them weren’t the trashy kind anyway so clearly they couldn’t be considered porn. I just liked reading them because they were quick reads and they made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

I would get lost in the intense passion the characters had for each other and the certainty that there was a happily ever after for them. I imagined that was how it really felt to be in love. When I’d finish the book the reality of a passionless marriage and the uncertainty that I was with the right person set in. I couldn’t see a happily ever after in my future. I’d even question if something was wrong with me? Why didn’t I feel that way about my husband? Why hadn’t I ever felt that way about anyone? My belief that being in love was a possibility turned into a theory that there was no way that level of passion could be real in a long term relationship. Of course there is passion and a feeling of infatuation in the beginning of most relationships that’s mistaken for ‘being in love”. This I knew from experience. How many times had I “been in love”  with someone only to lose interest a few months later? It was just something movies and books created and endorsed to sell their products. That perfect love between a man and woman couldn’t really exist!

Regardless, I kept reading and the books turned into an escape from my lacking reality. They made me yearn for something I knew I could never have. They became an addiction. Nothing my husband said or did was as good as what I read. I mean, you know it’s bad when you read a romance novel to get in the mood for your spouse! That’s when it clicked. The reference to romance novels becoming porn for women made sense. And it didn’t stop at novels. I would watch any rom-com I could get my hands on. Anything to give me that borrowed high from another (very fictional) characters completeness in the love they’d found.

Did the addiction to fiction lead to the dissatisfaction of my marriage? NO! There was plenty of that before my one a week habit started. But it didn’t help make my marriage any better either. Instead it intensified the dissatisfaction and created unrealistic expectations for my marriage. There was no way my  husband was ever going to say the right things or act the right way because first, he wasn’t built to talk and act that way since he was a real person, and second, because he wasn’t reading the books and had no frame of reference by which to even understand my misguided ideals.

Do I think all women should stop reading romance novels because they create unrealistic expectations for relationships? No. I think it’s a personal decision. For some, it doesn’t affect them the way it did me. I do think it’s wise to understand that the relationships in books and movies are fictional. If they cause an increased dissatisfaction in your committed relationship, it may be time to set aside the media form you are devouring and pay attention to the work at hand (i.e., your marriage).

That said, my habit is thankfully not an issue anymore. And not just because my unhappily-ever-after marriage is over! The desire to read about/watch the love lives of others, no matter how fake they are, is almost non-existent thanks to the happiness I have in my current relationship and my resolve to live my life. I was given a second chance. I know that’s not the case for everyone. However, I am still a firm believer that two people who are committed and choose to work on their relationship together, can have a stronger more satisfying relationship than any book or movie! My earlier theory has sufficiently been proven wrong by my own experiences.  It may be the only time I’m glad I’m wrong (at least that I’ll admit).

That’s it for my ponderings today. Please add your thoughts on the topic of romance novels/rom-com movies below.

Would The Real Knight-In-Shining-Armor Please Stand Up

To say that I’m a scardy-cat would be an immature thing to say but it would also be mostly accurate. When I was a little girl I had a fear of someone hiding under the bed or in the closet. My dad used to roll his eyes when I asked him to check for me, but he did it because he knew it was the only way to make me feel safe enough to sleep. That, and it was the only way I’d leave him alone! I’d love to say that this is something I grew out of, but sadly it is not. I don’t necessarily think someone is waiting to get me anymore but I am easily startled. That’s why when B and I came home the other night and the back doors were unlocked, I kinda freaked out. My first response was to ask B to check the house. His first reaction was to be reasonable…I didn’t like that one bit. Not because I don’t think he had a valid point – find out if there is a logical reason they were unlocked and then freak out if not – but because he didn’t do what I thought would make me feel safe right away. He didn’t check under the beds and in the closets, at least not at first. What if someone was there? Was he going to stab him with a paring knife? Or spray him in the face with Windex? Instead he asked me to call anyone (as in relatives) that may have been in the house and left the back doors open. Once I made the calls he checked the house. Thankfully there was not one hiding out, but it still took me a while to feel comfortable moving about.

I had to process through this new way of approaching my fear. At first it seemed all wrong because my feeling of safety was delayed, but that had more to do with what I was used to than actually thinking through the situation. If we had really felt we were in danger we shouldn’t have checked anything in the house. Rather we should have called the police. B was absolutely correct in this approach. And as much of an advocate as I am for individuality and creativity in approaching a situation, I still fell into the that’s-the-way-we-do-things mentality. Tisk tisk Dyana!

It’s one thing if you have this revelation about yourself once in a week, but twice? Now that’s a whole other beast, and one that need to be dealt with.

The day after the unlocked doors incident, I had a conversation with my ex in which he exclaimed “If anything happens to [the boys] you’re gonna get it!” This was his response to me allowing my two oldest sons to stay home by themselves. It didn’t matter that the reason I let them stay home was because he gave one of them a blue pain relief pill that had he read the bottle he would have realized was a Tylenol PM! I thought if they were home at least my son could rest it off. When I relayed the conversation to B he asked with concern “He threatened you?!” Nah, I thought, that’s just the way he is. However the more I thought about it, yes he did threaten me and he’s done it over and over again for years! When did I accept his threatening me as acceptable? Really?! Again, tisk tisk Dyana!

Well, can I just say that B did the most unexpected and possibly the most romantic thing anyone has EVER done for me? The next day he called my ex to discuss why he felt he had to threaten me and what exactly “You’re gonna get it” referred to. When B told me he’d just had a 45 minute conversation with him I couldn’t believe it. B stood up for me! To my ex! From his recounting of the conversation it went fairly well. He was able to discuss the situation with maturity. In this one gesture of love B has made me feel extremely safe and secure, something I haven’t had in any other relationship. And because of his concern for me, he’s also made me realize that even if “that’s just the way things are”, “that’s just the way he is”, “that’s just the way we do things”, doesn’t make it right! Thank you B for this week’s life lesson!