Will It NEVER End?!

I thought by now, on the brink of turning 30…haha I mean 40, I wouldn’t have much left to discover about myself only to discover I know nothing!

When I started this blog I was on a mission to unveil the beauty of the ordinary woman because I myself had always felt ordinary, at least until I went through a divorce. It wasn’t until then I realized I had a lot to offer, but I hadn’t been able to see through the dislike I had for myself which was constantly being fueled by the critical nature of my EX. (I don’t put the blame on him for this, his criticalness is his problem, my insecurities were mine. We simply were not a good match.) While I was going through that time of really getting to know myself and discovering things I liked about myself, I thought I had it all figured out. What my strengths were (encouraging, supportive, able to see both sides, diplomatic, administrative),  what role I was supposed to play in my career path (admin/personal assistant) and what limitations I had to deal with (motherhood, indecisiveness, lack of creativity). Just the fact that I have more traits listed under strengths than limitations is a HUGE improvement on my former self perspective. But I wasn’t anywhere close to having it all figured out.

Three years later I look completely different. I still have a lot of the same strengths and admin assistant was a good role for me, the difference is in the realization I am capable of more than I ever imagined. My career has taken a slight turn to Human Resource-ville, which I love (not at all unbelievably since it requires all of the strengths listed above), but I have also become a co-owner of Wrinkled Blanket Media and a videographer! ME! A VIDEOGRAPHER! Who would have thunk it! I have also recently fallen in love with DIY design (see Exhibit A) and recorded my first mini-sode podcast with B! ABOUT A HORROR MOVIE! ME! This is just too much…fun!

EXHIBIT A: A little something I made to hold my jewelry.

Jewelry Bar After

Who am I and what have I done with that oldish mom without creativity?! How can I not have known about my love of design until now? Why did I waste all that money (of which I am still paying) on an education that has nothing to do with my current career nor my future career? Why did I marry someone so wrong for me at such a young age? Why is hind sight so stinking CLEAR?!

None of those questions matter because I can’t change any of that. I can, however, move forward and enjoy the journey. I’m sure there is still a lot to learn and discover about myself. Who knows? One day I may discover I love to write! And you know what? I’m not any more special than anyone else so this experience isn’t limited to me. I just hope when it happens for you it’s early enough to make those student loans worth it!

Interesting fact:
Most of the privileges and responsibilities of adulthood are legally granted by the age of 18 but a growing body of science says that critical parts of the brain involved in decision-making are not fully developed until years later at age 25 or so. 

 

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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!

The Difference Between “Steps” And Stairs

It could have easily been a case of Step-Monster vs Rebellious Teenage Daughter. Especially with the first woman my father dated after he and my mother separated. She was nice enough from what I can remember other than the fact she didn’t want to share my dad with his kids. I have scenes from movies playing in my head where the single dad starts dating and gets engaged to a beautiful woman whom he thinks is great for his kids, only behind his back she is making plans to ship said kids to military/boarding school as soon as they say “I do”. Thankfully it never got that close, but still.

Truthfully I wouldn’t have cared much either way.  My dad and I had a REALLY strained relationship. (Like the kind where I honestly thought I hated him). It pains me to say that now, but that’s how deeply I felt unloved by him and thought I’d be better off without him. Besides I was more interested in having the freedom to hang out with my friends and flirt (ahem) with boys. My dad got in the way of that with his strict rules so the further away the better. Did I mention I was a somewhat rebellious, self centered, bratty teenager? Fortunately for us all he ended that relationship. Also fortunately for us all, she had a best friend who later became the love of his life.

It started out as a friendship that grew into a love I didn’t yet know was possible. There was respect and laughing and family time. A LOT of family time since MA (short for My-All) had 3 sisters who all had children and all lived within 10 minutes from their parents, Nanny & Pop Pop. It didn’t matter who you were, they were still Nanny and Pop Pop.  They were that family. You know the one that had a picnic for any excuse possible. They actually enjoyed spending time together. They knew everything going on in each others’ lives. I don’t remember ever being treated as an outsider or even a visitor. Until then my experience of “Family” had been completely different. Most of my family lived on other continents and I barely knew them. The ones that lived closer I saw on average twice a year. But MA’s family was what I imagined a “REAL” family to be.

As my dad and MA’s relationship progressed, my defiance started to lose some steam. MA made me feel like I was the daughter she never had but always wanted. She loved me even when I was being ugly (and I could get ugly!). She accepted me in my rebellion (which f.y.i when rebellion is accepted it not longer qualifies as rebellion). Even more than that she was able to express my father’s love for me in a way I could understand. She gave her ALL and it was the bridge that brought me back. I’d like to think that my dad and I would have eventually worked things out, but I’m not sure we could have without the help we got from MA.

In the 20+ years that my dad and MA have been married, it’s become even more evident that MA has a knack for operating in forgiveness and acceptance of which I admire and strive towards. Don’t get me wrong, that woman can get mad! I’m talkin’ the kind of mad that makes grown men wish they were in a dark alley in the worst part of the city…cause it’s safer! She’ll break a nose before she lets someone hurt her family! But if you’re family, or a friend of the family or a friend of a friend of the family, you can rest assured that she would give you the shirt off her back, or those really sweet shoes in her closet or her sewing machine because you mentioned you wanted to learn to sew.  She is a silver lining.

“There are no ‘STEPS’ in this house besides the ones going upstairs!” -MA

Always A Silver Lining

I’ve written about the divorces in my life and how they’ve affected me. I’ve also written about a lot of the good that’s come out of my own divorce as it has been the driving force behind the journey of self discovery and acceptance I’ve been on since. (You can find all these posts in my archives if you’re interested.) What I haven’t written a whole lot on is the GREAT that came out of my parent’s divorce which is where my mind is today…thankful for the silver linings

If you look hard enough you can find the good that comes out of any bad situation. It may not be the glaring silver lining you read about in books or see in movies. It may be as little as the shift in your perspective or the empathy you now have for others that comes solely from having “been there”. It’s these little linings that are many times overlooked and some times the most important. I often hear how detrimental divorce is to children and there is truth to that, but having been a child of divorce there are several things I consider to be blessings and wouldn’t change if I had the choice. It’s these “blessings” that kept me going through my own divorce. They afforded me the security that everything was going to be okay, and for that I am grateful! Here are some of my silver linings.

1. My parent’s divorce taught me what NOT to do in my own divorce. I know I’ve said it before, but it was a priceless lesson and I’m glad I learned it the first time around because how many of you know it can take many repetitions of a lesson for it to finally sink in? Please know that I don’t blame my parents for the state of their divorce. I understand that divorce is an ugly monster just in it’s natural form so to do it any differently takes vulnerability, and opens you up to criticism from those that love you and want to protect you. Either way there is nothing easy about it, but in the end I know I made the right choices for mine.

2. My parents get along better now than they ever did. This may be hugely due to the fact they there’s not much communication between them at all anymore, but there was a time when they had to communicate. I’m proud of them for learning to be civil to one another. In fact, there were several times they went above and beyond civility. Besides the expected events like graduation, weddings and showers, there were times when my parents voluntarily shared the same space.

  • At a friends house as we were getting ready for a high school dance. (I have a picture with me sandwiched between my mom and my “step”-mom.)
  • At my Pop Pop’s viewing. My mom was there to offer support no matter that the loss was on my dad’s side. My family (including my dad) welcomed her presence there and she was a huge help with her grandchildren.
  • At my Aunt’s house on my dad’s side for Thanksgiving. My dad’s family invited my mom. Again she was welcome and I know it had to take courage for her to voluntarily go and be surrounded by those that supported my dad. But she did and I believe it’s because she knew they all loved her kids and how can you not appreciate that?

These examples, along with many others, have paved the way for me in my dealings with my Ex. Just the other evening B and I went to his house by invitation of his girlfriend to have cake and ice cream in celebration of my son’s birthday. Weird, right? And while it didn’t feel completely natural, it wasn’t at all bad. We actually laughed and shared stories. It was…nice.

3. I’ve witnessed my parents’ happiness in the healthy relationships they moved into. So many times people remarry only to find exactly what they had in the first marriage. There are a plethora of reasons this may happen, but statistics are definitely against a 2nd marriage surviving. BOTH my parents married people who were terrific matches for them and who have been great step-parents to me and my brothers. After seeing a dysfunctional relationship for a good portion of my life, it’s a relief to know that not every relationship has to be that way. Their second marriages have given me hope that there is a second chance to happiness in marriage.

These are just a few of the silver linings I’ve found. I hope to share more of them with you in the near future. In the meantime, if you’ve found your own silver linings and you’d like to share them please do so in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

The Power Of A Kind Word

Sometimes, and by sometimes I mean pretty much everyday, B will say something so incredibly sweet to me for no particular reason. Today, during our after-dinner-cuddle, he looked at me in my sweats with my hair all mussed and told me that I am incredibly beautiful. He’s also been known to call me gorgeous and stunning (<– I love that one.) Sometimes he’ll thank me for working two jobs, or tell me I’m a great mom and tell me how proud he is of me. AND I don’t need to fish for it. EVER! He’s a treasure trove of affirmation that I never expected to find in a significant other. It is a key to the awesomeness of our relationship.

When we first started dating I thought his words of kindness were really cool, but figured they would slow down the longer we were together. I was wrong. If anything they’ve increased. I don’t ever wonder if he’s happy in our relationship because he regularly affirms how he feels. As you can imagine this is all new to me. So much so that I wasn’t able to express how I felt unless I wrote it in an email or text. Written communication has historically been better for me. Maybe because I had time to put my thoughts together and I’m less likely to jumble my words when they are inked on paper. Maybe because there is no distraction or interruption from the other person. But his ability to verbally lift me up drove my desire to do the same for him. Slowly I began expressing my feelings for him, sometimes using the same language he used like a baby learning to speak. It felt foreign to my tongue. The more I told him how I felt, the easier it became. Although I am still not as eloquent as he is, I’m secure in the knowledge that he is equally affirmed on a regular basis and know’s how I feel about him.

With my own relationship experiences and those I witness in the lives around me, it’s surprising how uncommon kindness is. In the one relationship that is supposed to be the safest and of greatest support, there is rarely the regular affirmation necessary to build security and intimacy. Instead people mistake “safety” for having a free pass to say what they want when they want regardless of how it makes the other person feel. They mistake “intimacy” for something that happens after the kids are in bed and before they roll their backs to each other as they fall asleep. I wonder how saying a kind thing about one another once a day (without any ulterior motives) would improve the poor communication and insecurities running rampant in so many relationships today.

It’s common sense really. That’s what makes the fact it took me 36 years to fully understand it absolutely frightening. The idea that he/she has to love me because he’s/she’s my husband/wife, father/mother, brother/sister, son/daughter isn’t enough! They love you because they choose to love you. In the same way you can choose to be kind. Not because you are trying to get them to be kind in return, but because it’s the right thing to do. It’s an action of love. Love is a verb after all. And it can be as simple as telling your loved one what you love about them. Try it today.

I’d love to hear an example of how a kind word affected you. Please share in the comments section below.