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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Life After Divorce: Meet Bethany


Divorce is one of the most devastating things you could ever put yourself or your family through. The devastating effects and the toll it takes on you and the people closest to you leaves you emotionally, financially, and physically drained and grasping for what your next move should be.

In the beginning, starting a new life can seem hopeless-futile. You know you should pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move forward, but most of the time you are left wondering what exactly does forward look like?

I have been blessed to be surrounded with some of the most amazing people on my journey. People who have loved and supported me from day 1. Some of the greatest support I have received has come from a few women who are just like me, and whom I have the joy of calling some of my best friends. These women have walked through the fire of divorce and lived to tell about it. I am constantly inspired by their strength, their wisdom, and their willingness to help me find my forward.

Today I am starting a new blog series entitled Life After Divorce. Through this series, I will introduce these amazing women to you and share their stories through a series of interview questions. These questions reflect questions I think anyone who is going or who has gone through a divorce has asked.

My goal is to encourage any woman out their who may have just started a journey through divorce, or who may have reached a place in her life where she can't seem to find which direction is her forward. I hope you hear each one of the stories of these women, and I hope that you take some of their wisdom from their well-worn journey with you just as I have.

There is life after divorce. There is a forward. Trust us.

*****

Meet my dear friend, Bethany*. 

Bethany is a beautiful, amazing single mom to an adorable vibrant, outgoing second grade boy. When I think of the word "survivor", a picture of her always forms in my mind. I have known Bethany for many years, and when I first began my divorce journey she was the number one person from whom I drew strength and encouragement. Bethany and I have both walked in very similar shoes, and on my really, really bad co-parenting days she is the one I turn to and say things like, "Please tell me I'm not being crazy!". She is an incredible human being who has overcome so much, and I am so excited to share her wisdom with you today. 

*****
  1. Before your first marriage, what red flags were you most likely ignoring? The way he would hide everything. He had lots of secrets, and he was very controlling. There were always other girls around and things that were left from these other girls. There was also the warnings from my family and friends.
  2. During your first marriage, what were some things that your relationship lacked? Compassion and trust
  3. Do you think that you placed unrealistic expectations on your first spouse? If so, in what way? No, I don't. 
  4. What kind of unrealistic expectations were placed on you by your first spouse? To be accepting of him being with other girls, his partying, the lies, and allowing him have control of everything. In his mind, I was to be left at home and I was expected be the perfect wife who kept the perfect home and who raised the perfect child. I was not to say a word when he came home smelling of another girls perfume, otherwise there would be hell to pay and the screaming, yelling, and name calling would commence. To him, I was always the bitch that ruined his life. In fact, I still hear that, but I just don't let it get to me now. 
  5. When you and your first spouse finally separated, what was your first thought?  I thought my life would end. I felt like it was all my fault, because that was what I was being told by him, and at that point I was still allowing him have control over me. I got very depressed and had thoughts of suicide. I even wrote a separate note to all of my loved ones. As I finished the letter to my little boy, I was in full out tears. I couldn't bring myself to consider what his life would be like without me there, and in that moment, I decided I had to pull myself together and make things the best I could for him. I ripped up all letters and sat there weeping until the early morning hours. I knew in my heart that I could not leave him alone. 
  6. What was the hardest thing about being on your own for the first time in years? The hardest thing for me about being by myself for the first time in years was the public perception of my life.  I hated to watch all the whispers and knowing that people were talking behind my back. I knew what they were talking about and who they were talking about, and it just killed me that I was at the center of their gossip. All I wanted was to be the perfect, normal me that I was before, and having people talk about me was not something I had ever experienced up until that point. 
  7. Who made up your primary support system? How did those people help you the most? My mom, my sister, and all of my friends including all of my girlfriends. There were also those friends that I was not allowed to have contact with throughout my marriage. After my separation, I went and found those people again. They were really kind, and proved to be a rock for me to lean against during my separation and divorce.  
  8. What was your initial thought about dating after your divorce? I did not want to date again afterwards. I was so worried about being played again, and my whole goal was to not let anyone into my life.  In my mind, I wanted to be the person to play or hurt someone else, and it was so weird to me that I felt that way. Plus I also thought that no guy would ever want to be with me. My self-esteem was so far down, and I didn't think there would ever be another person for me in this world who would think I was pretty. 
  9. How did that change in the months and years to come? I ended up meeting the man who is now going to become my husband. He had also married young, and was going through a rough time too. We were able to talk to each other about what was going on in our lives. He made me feel very loved and wanted. It was like I had finally found someone who would actually like me for who I am and who truly cared about me. 
  10. Tell me about the moment you met your current spouse/fiance for the first time?  I'd actually known him for a long time because we went to school together. But the moment I really noticed him was when we had some friends that were leaving and we were both there to tell them goodbye. It was like even though we had always been acquaintances, we suddenly had an instant connection and it seems like from that moment on we were inseparable.
  11. When did you know that they were the right one for you?  I knew that he was right for me because of how completely in sync we are together, and how we like to do the same things and we want to do them together. I could also tell that everything was going to be the way it should be when I saw how he is with my son. He treats him like he is his own, and that means the world to me. 
  12. What is something you admire most about your current spouse/fiance? I probably love his compassion, love, and understanding for other people the most. He is totally the type of person who gives 100% to others, and always puts everyone else first. 
  13. How did your previous marriage help to prepare you for your current marriage? Basically the way my previous marriage prepared me for my upcoming re-marriage, is that it taught me how I did not want to be treated, and it made me want to wait until I found the perfect person to treat me the way I had learned that I deserved to be treated.
  14.  If you have children, let’s talk co-parenting. How do you feel the transition has affected your children the most? I sometimes feel that the transition has affected my child negatively. He is very worried about what everybody else thinks/ feels. He has come to the point where he lives from one side to the other, so that he can make everyone happy. I feel like he has reached the point where he does this instead of worrying about himself and what makes him happy. An example of this is that at his dad's house they expect him to call his new stepmother, "Mom", and they expect him to call me by my first name. I find this to be crazy and very disrespectful. However, I also don't want to put him in the position where he feels like he has to chose sides by either upsetting me or upsetting them. I hate that he feels like he needs to call me by my real name when he is over there-in fact I think this is really over the top. I feel that this should be controlled, but his dad and his new wife don't seem to think so. It really wears very heavily on him, and it's a hard thing for us to deal with, especially when I'm trying to co-parent him with them, and teach him what I think is respectful and right, and how to be a good person. I hate to see the way his father is controlling him, but unfortunately I know that this is not something I can control. 
  15. What are some things you do every day to effectively co-parent your child with your ex-spouse? I try to be very open with my ex about everything that is going on with our child, and tell him about all the events that are coming up and what he is going to be doing. I try to respect what he wants for him. We have very different views on things such as extracurricular activities. He believes that he really shouldn't do any extracurricular activities, but I believe that he should. I believe he should do whatever he wants, as long as he's not overloaded. I also want him to follow through with those commitments and I expect him to finish them. There are lots of things he wants to do, but when I ask his Dad the answer is always a, "No.". I feel really bad for him sometimes, and I struggle with how to respect what his Dad wants, but still give him the life that I think he should have.  In my opinion, I don't think his Dad should be able have all the control over everything in his life, so a lot of times I just let him do things on my days. This is very frustrating, because then all the days he is with me, he is always busy doing something and I don't want it to be that way, but I also want to give him the best childhood I can. It's hard to find that balance.  
  16. What is one piece of advice you would give anyone who is just beginning their co-parenting journey after divorce? To remember that it is not about the two of you-it is about the children or the child. Try to always love and respect that person as the other parent to your child even though they may say that they hate you and you are tortured by that.
  17.  No matter what, I hope that my child ____________________________(Fill in the blank). I hope that my child knows how much I love him and how I would do anything in this world for him to make it the best it can be. He's an amazing little boy and he deserves nothing, but the best from everyone. I hope he always reaches for the stars, but that he knows that if he falls, mom will be right here. 
  18. If you could define your life after your divorce in one word what would it be and why?  Struggle. Co-parenting is the hardest thing, and sometimes I think it would just be so much easier if I just had full custody of him and his Dad wasn't around, or that I was from a divorce where there were no children involved. But then I sit back and remind myself that he is the most amazing thing that ever happened to me, and if that means that I have to have the struggle and put up with his father then it is worth it. That boy deserves everything in the world, and I believe that every child deserves to have both parents active in their life. 
  19. If you could go back to the first time and tell your young newly engaged self one thing, what would it be?  Listen to the people around you. Listen to those who care about you, and who love you the most. Your family is only telling you these things because they love you, and they want what's best for you. Trust me, they aren't giving you the advice just to be jerks. They're giving it to you, because they're worried about you and they want what's best for you. I have a lot of days that I wish I would've listened to my sister when she was sitting there with me on my wedding day making a plan for me to escape, so that I did not have to get married. I was so mad at her that day, and I couldn't believe she was doing it, but now I wish I would've listened and just ran like the wind right out the door.

I think we can all take something away from Bethany's interview and learn from her daily struggle no matter where we are in our lives. I admire the way that she strives to give her son the best life possible-a life that is filled with so many opportunities to learn and grow as human being-despite the adversity she faces. I believe this is something that any of us who are divorced with kids should strive towards, no matter what obstacles might be in our way. Bethany inspires me daily as a mother, and I hope she inspires you too. 

Stay tuned for more Life After Divorce posts that will be coming your way soon!

Happy Wednesday!

(If you are divorced and you would like to be considered for an interview in my Life After Divorce series, please feel free to email me at mymotherhoodinterrupted@gmail.com.)

*All names have been changed

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Co-Parenting Diaries: How To Not "Kill" Your Ex On The Bad Days


I had been sick...like hellaciously sick...for almost a week.

I finally caved and forced myself to ask the doctor for antibiotics last Monday, and she graciously obliged. Thankfully, I have been on the mend ever since.

However, up until last Monday I felt the worst I have felt in a very, very long time. My poor daughter barely survived my mood swings, my whining, and all the ranting that was a result of an extremely busy mommy being forced to "take it easy".

She was a complete angel during my down time, even though I probably didn't deserve such good behavior when mine was anything but angelic. She played quietly, watched movies, and we read or did a few puzzles when I felt up to it, but that was about it. Our normal routine was completely disrupted by the fact that I couldn't go longer than 30 seconds without being hit with a dizzy spell, a coughing fit, or the urgent need to blow my nose.

I mostly laid in bed and sulked until last Sunday when she had to go back to her dad's-leaving me alone and feeling completely guilty that I spent our entire weekend being sick and acting like a total, raging b*tch about it most of the time.

Doesn't my body know that motherhood is hard enough without throwing sickness into the mix?!

Anyway, needless to say, we got nothing done in the form of our normal routine things last week. I just did not have the energy for things like homework, laundry, appropriate dinner menu items, and remembering the 15 different things that had to go back to her dad's house on Sunday.

I was literally in single, sick mom survival mode.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I received this on Tuesday via text message from my daughter's father:

"Did you just forget to do her homework last week?"

Excuse me.

I re-read the text.

This could be interpreted as a harmless question if he wouldn't of known that I had been sick, BUT he did.

Because you see, last Saturday in the midst of my worst day, he had come by to pick our daughter up to take her to the St. Patrick's Day parade for a few hours. I agreed to let her go-thankful for the respite and for the fact that she wouldn't have to sit around the house with me reminding me how bored she was.

He came by about an hour later to pick her up.

It was in this moment that I-once again-found myself overtly impressed with his almost super natural ability to predict my current health condition based on the fact that my hair had built a nest on top of my head, that I was still in my pajamas at noon (which in his book is a HUGE no-no), and that my nose was as red as a canned beet.

"Are you sick?"

<insert eye roll here>

Nope. I'm fine. Feeling grand.

Ugh.

Get out of my house. 

He wrinkled his nose, hurried our daughter along, and managed to not make eye contact with me the entire 5 minutes he was in my house.

I think that's a new record. 

Seriously.

So, you're telling me that based on your keen observation of me over the weekend, you thought I actually had time to or felt up to doing homework?

<insert another eye roll here>

I apologized and asked him to catch her up as far as he could, and I would finish the rest on Wednesday night with her. He agreed to do that, and I thought the conversation was over.

Until, last Wednesday when I sat down to do homework with her and I realized that instead of catching her up as far as he could, and letting me do last week's homework, he decided to leave "my days" of homework blank. Yep. Just Wednesday's and Thursday's homework of the last two weeks were completely blank and right next to "my days" were giant red x's from our daughter's teacher marking them incomplete.

Are you kidding me?

No. Seriously.

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!

I instantly grabbed my phone and proceeded to text furiously-spouting off all of the garbage I wanted to shove down his throat in that moment.

But, I didn't.

I deleted the text, sat my phone down, and thought long and hard about this man and the fact that this was about to be the first of many fights we were probably going to have about homework over the next 12 years.

Even though I didn't want to, I decided against it.

Because of all the things we have to fight about-this just wasn't worth it.

The truth was that this particular fight was futile and that it was most likely his way of trying to get under my skin as he is always so good at doing.

The man should have a Ph.D. in how to piss me off. Seriously. 

I went ahead and did the missed homework with her, finished the current week's homework, and wrote the teacher a note explaining the confusion hoping that our daughter would still get credit.

I also explained to our daughter that homework is homework, and no matter if she is at mine or dad's house ALL of the homework needs to be completed. I apologized for not helping her with my days and assured her I would try harder in the future.

*****

In the past-almost-3 years, I have had many, many, MANY days that I have wanted to "kill" my daughter's father.

Not literally, of course. 

But, you get what I'm saying.

I cannot even begin to count the number of weeks I have picked her up on Wednesday and none of her homework for the week  has been done yet, but we go ahead and tackle it anyway.

And don't even get me started on how many times I have been the only one to complete the monthly reading list with her or the fact that everything I send to his house that was once white never seems to come back quite that color.

The point is: I try every single day to pick my battles with my daughter's dad. I know deep down that no matter how much these things drive me crazy, they are not worth the fight. 

I also know that if I were to nitpick and make huge battles out of every single "small" thing, he would never take me seriously on the "big" things which matter more than homework, or forgotten tennis shoes, or the thousandth pair of misplaced gloves that were supposed to stay in the backpack. 

Is it hard? Yep. 

Do I sometimes let my blind rage get the best of me? Of course. I'm human. 

But, I always try to apologize when that does happen, and I always try to keep the mutual end that we are both working toward in sight.

I have been blessed that for the most part we agree on how to raise our daughter. Even when our opinions differ, we are usually able to work out a compromise.

Are we experts at this? No. 

And I don't think we ever will be.

But, I know without a shadow of a doubt, that he loves our daughter, and I know that she is probably the most loved and wanted little girl on the face of the planet.

I know that no matter what all that we both want for her is the absolute best, and I know that part of giving her the absolute best is to pick my battles and refrain from hopping aboard the crazy train.

I also know that just like me, he is human. And sometimes our pure human-ness gets the best of both of us.

We are two people who don't really like each other and who couldn't make a marriage work, but who are trying to co-parent a little girl. And at times that is a recipe for problems that go way deeper than the real issue at hand.

However, I know that it is our job to keep that in check, and to not allow momentary anger to disrupt the calm surface we know that she needs from us over an issue that most likely is being fueled by a much deeper issue we haven't quite resolved.

There is a lot of hurt in our relationship.

Hurt that will probably be there for a very long time.

But, somehow we have to manage to look past it everyday and not continue to punish her with choices that are being made as a result of that hurt.

*****

I have said it before and I will probably say it 1,000 more times: co-parenting is the hardest thing I have ever done. 

But, despite everything, we are making it work- one month, one week, one day, and one petty homework battle at a time.

Friday, March 13, 2015

April's Story

April knew it was coming.

She always knew when it was coming. 

Like arthritic joints that ache when a storm is near, her hands would start to shake when her body could feel it coming. 

He'd been "out" again with his friends- a habit that he'd developed shortly after their daughter was born three years ago. 

It was late and she had put Evie to bed hours ago, but she had learned a long time ago that he expected her to wait up for him. 

And so she did.

She hoped that this time he'd come home and go straight to bed. She didn't want him to wake Ellie with his yelling like he did a few nights ago. 

But, something told her that his coming home text that she had received a few minutes earlier held more meaning to it than what was on the screen. 

The TV was on, but she wasn't watching.  She just needed the noise. Quiet would make the shaking worse. 

The computer screen glowed with Facebook and all the happy faces of people she knew were having perfectly normal Saturday nights. She scrolled through her newsfeed absentmindedly. Not really paying attention, but not wanting to look away. She envied them and their lives. She would give anything to be anywhere, but here tonight. 

Her eyes shot forward as she heard the hum of his pickup as it pulled into the driveway. She quickly slammed the laptop shut and hurriedly set it in it's place on the coffee table. She tucked her legs up underneath her and pretended to watch the Friends re-run that she had turned on for noise.

The door creaked open, and she turned her head slightly to greet him-as was expected, "Hey, babe. Did you guys have fun?" 

He grunted and sat at the dining room to take off his boots. She did her best to control her rapid breathing. Her fear was oozing out of her, and she knew he could sense it.

He could sense fear like a shark that smells blood in water:quickly and with a insatiable hunger.

But he didn't say a word.

At first, all she could hear was the sound of one boot hitting the floor, and then the other. Then she heard him stand and walk up behind the couch. His hands gentle-at first-as they moved from her shoulders and down her bare arms. He bent down-his breathing heavy as he kissed her neck and said,

"Don't you want to come to bed with me, baby?"

She knew what that meant and she knew the consequences if she refused. "Why couldn't he have just passed out at Sam's house like last week?" She thought.

She felt the weight of the words that were about to roll of her tongue before she spoke them, "I want to finish this episode, babe, and then I'll be in. Why don't you go lay down without me?"

She heard his breath catch in his throat. His lips still inches from her ear. She knew exactly what she had done, but sometimes her defiance got the best of her.

She was not built by weak women and she often struggled with how to play the part he expected of her. 

His hands tightened on her arms like vices being tightened by a handle. Slow and steady. Tighter and tighter.

"Just come to bed, April. Don't make me ask again."

She could feel the shaking in her hands traveling through the rest of her body, but she stood firm.

 "I just want to finish this show. 15 more minutes."

In a flash, his right hand reached for the remote, while his left hand remained firmly on her arm-its grasp still getting tighter and tighter. The TV clicked off and silence enveloped the room.

She hated the quiet. 

He pushed his body upright. His left hand never leaving her arm.

"Stand up and come to bed."

It was no longer a question, but a demand. A firm one.

He was so much better at demands. Asking wasn't his forte. 

She still didn't move. Her legs still tucked up beneath her. Her arm throbbing from his grasp. It would bruise tomorrow-a purple and blue tattoo that would only remind her of her mistakes.

He released her arm and began to walk around the couch. She tensed and made eye contact with him. She could feel the definace leaking out of her.

Why couldn't she just force her body to cooperate? 

"Get up!"

She sat as still as the shaking would allow her too. Her eyes never leaving his.

"GET. UP!!!"

His voice boomed this time-startling her. She blinked, but didn't move.

No matter how many times she had played out this exact same scene, she could never get used to way his voice sounded when he was angry.

Loud. Menacing. Terrifying.

The storm was now raging in full force. The shaking had enveloped her body.

She didn't have time to think before he lunged toward her-grabbing her pony tail in a tight fist with his right hand. He yanked and she shot forward-landing sideways on the carpet-her head throbbing just like her arm. His other hand came from the left and grabbed her face-squeezing her cheeks hard as he tilted her eyes up towards him.

"Why do you make me do this to you, April? Why can't you just listen the first time?"

His voice was low. His breath was hard. She could smell the booze and it made her want to vomit. She fought back tears as she starred into his eyes that seemed to have gone black, and she wondered if she'd wake up again this time when it was over, or if she had finally met her end.

She thought of Evie. She thought of what it would mean to leave her alone in this place with no mother to fight for her. Would she remember her?

 She thought of her family. The ones who wondered why she never came around anymore. The ones who didn't know how hard she tried to hide her bruises. Would they feel bad for not trying to help her?

He let go of her face, and turned her body with the fist that was still wrapped through her pony tail. He pulled her forward-dragging her out of the living room and down the hall.

She wanted to fight and scream, but she didn't want to wake Evie.

She thought about begging, but she knew it wouldn't do any good.

She was going to have to ride this storm out.

After all, she knew it was coming.

She just wondered how much more of it she could take.

*****
April's story may be a work of "fiction", but her story represents the faces of so many women who experience this type of violence every single day.

According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline,
  • Females ages 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 generally experienced the highest rates of intimate partner violence.
  • From 1994 to 2010, about 4 in 5 victims of intimate partner violence were female.
  • Most female victims of intimate partner violence were previously victimized by the same offender, including 77% of females ages 18 to 24, 76% of females ages 25 to 34, and 81% of females ages 35 to 49.
If you are reading this, and like April, you are being victimized by domestic abuse, please know that I hear you and there is hope. 

I promise. 

There are several great organizations that have the resources to help you, and some communities have centers designed to help remove you from a bad situation and put you on the path to great situation. 

I know how much courage it takes to walk away. I know how scared you are. I know that you have been told for years that you are not worth it and you can't survive without your partner.

But, I am here to let you know that you can. 

Trust me. 

The abuse is NOT your fault. The worthlessness you feel right now in this very moment is NOT the truth about who you are. All the lies that you have been told are NOT the definition of your future. 

Your life is an amazing gift, and whenever you are ready to take it back, there are so many resources available and waiting to help. 

All it takes is the first step. 

One wild moment of tremendous courage. 

And one still, small voice saying they believe in you. 

Let me be that voice.

Let the stories of women who have been where you are and lived to tell about it be that voice. 

We all believe in you.




Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Forward

Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, 
but in looking outward together in the same direction. 
~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

A year ago this weekend my awkward, awful-at-flirting, freshly-scorned self met a boy whose opening line was to compliment my drink in the middle of a very loud, crowded night club we had taken one of my best friends to for her birthday. 

I can remember casting him my side eyes-always skeptical of any and all members of the male species in any room-and mumbling something about always drinking bottled beer when I go out because it was cheaper...and safer. 

He did his best to make conversation with me over the loud music-his eyes never leaving my face. 

I think that was the thing that struck me about him first-the feeling like he could really see me: Ashley

In the middle of this crowded bar with probably a hundred other desperate girls in their trashiest dresses, he saw the girl in the blue jeans and a black tank top drinking Coors Light-bottled-and watching over purses while her friends danced. 

I can remember him asking for my number as the girls came over ready to leave. I hurriedly typed it into his phone not realizing that I had forgotten the last number. I told him good night and stood to leave with my friends, and just as I was getting into my car. I heard him running up behind us. Chasing me down for that last number. 

The finally digit that changed my life.

*****

We talked a lot about that last digit this weekend.

About where we both would be if he wouldn't of come after me to get it.

About how different our lives would be now-a year later-without each other. 

I've got to say, God has a way with timing. 

My life has been whirlwind this past year.

A whirlwind of him and this new life we have quietly settled ourselves into. 

I never would of pictured myself here a year ago, but I am so thankful that God has lead me down this path with this boy whose patience and selflessness floor me every single day. 

He has held on through some of the roughest days of my life. 

He alone has watched me navigate the deepest waters of who I was to who I am becoming. He has helped guide me through even the roughest of waters and all the moments when I have been anything but full of grace. 

There have been a thousand times when I wouldn't of blamed him if he ran, and yet he's still here. 

Loving me in spite of my mess. 

Teaching me every single day what love truly looks like. 

Reminding me daily that this is so much better than anything I've left behind. 

So much better than anything I could ever deserve. 

And that this is what forward looks like. 

This is the type of forward I have always dreamed of, but didn't think was possible. 

The kind of forward you both work towards together. Not his dreams or my dreams, but our dreams. Not his way or my way, but our way. 

And for the first time in my whole life, I know what it means to truly be excited about tomorrow. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

New Beginnings


"She could never go back and make some of the details pretty.
All she could do was move forward and make the whole beautiful."
~Terri St. Cloud

I learned a long time ago that struggle makes people uncomfortable. 

That it is best to bite your tongue and stay quiet, because too many people are offended by hurt, and sadness, and mourning. They gasp and whisper about any imperfect detail of our real life that makes our fake social media life look less than perfect. They point fingers and call us out when the life they see through their computer, phone, or smart pad screen begins to hum with a little too much raw truth. They push and fight with passive aggressive social media posts and even text messages that remind us when we've crossed the line that is so clearly drawn in the sand. The line that shows us what is socially acceptable to share and what must be kept below the surface where no one wants to see it. 

Well, let me be the first to tell you again as I have a thousand times, I am not perfect

My life is the very definition of a beautiful mess. 

A true beauty from ashes story. 

And I plan to keep telling it. 

The whole story.

Every single gory, messy, brilliant, and shiny detail whether the world approves of it or not. 

Because my self-made ideal of what my life was supposed to look like was a catastrophic failure. My "perfect plan" for how my journey through motherhood was supposed to go was definitely interrupted by mistakes and heartache that have caused me to let go of everything I wanted and cling to everything HE wanted. And the truth is-that despite the mess-His plans have turned out to be so much better, because the picture He's painting is actually far more beautiful than I ever could have imagined. 

And that's why I strive to tell my truth.

All of it. 

Because the story He wants to tell you through me just isn't as brilliant without it. 

*****

As you can see things are changing around here. 

My new space is a reflection of the woman I've become from the girl I used to know and this blog will continue to be dedicated to the truth of telling you how I have had to fight every single day to become her. 

This blog will continue to not shy away from hard topics like divorce and co-parenting, but it has also been inspired by my new volunteer efforts with a local shelter for abused women. I want to use this blog as a platform where I plan to combat one of the most harmful epidemics that plagues our world today: domestic violence. 

I want this blog to be a beacon of hope for any woman who might read these words and need to know that they are not alone. That just like me they too can be a survivor and I am here to show them how they can do that. 

So, I want to welcome you to my new space. 

A space that isn't going to shy away from the truth no matter how uncomfortable the world has programmed us to think it is. 

A space that is going to take a proactive approach towards changing the conversation and making a difference. 

A space that is befitting of a new chapter. 

And I can't wait to write it.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Brave Road


"Courage, dear heart." ~C.S. Lewis


I am struggling this week.

Well, if we are being completely honest, I have been struggling for a while now.

The tears come at the most unexpected times-mostly in the mornings-as I wrestle with this impending change.

Mostly, I think about the brave young mother who wrote this post.

I think about how much I meant those words-how I still mean those words.

I think about all the promises I've made to myself.

The promise that I would be better and stronger.

The promise that I would rise above the examples of how to walk this road that have been laid out for me, and that I would forge my own path-a path that is wide enough for all of us to share no matter how unsure it may seem.

And-for the most part-I've kept those promises.

I've held tightly to my word as if it's some kind of penance for all the mistakes I have made, and I have managed to stand my ground even if-at times-it is anything but graceful.

But this week, my courage has waivered.

The light from my brave face has darkened.

The sound from my strong voice has quivered.

The well-meaning gestures that embody all of my promises have been held out with hands that just can't seem to quit shaking.

And I find myself clinging to His promises of courage and bravery.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong.

I wake up every morning and say this to the girl in the mirror.

The girl who has been through so much more than people know about and who is still standing here. 

The girl who manages to sound so brave and so sure of herself  to anyone who asks her. 

The girl who works full time, while going to school full time, and still finds time to be someone's mom and someone's girlfriend. 

The girl who puts everyone's needs before her own. 

She amazes me every single day. 

But, this week she doesn't feel so amazing.

In fact this week, she is shaking as she watches a monumental scene of her life fade to black while a new act prepares to take the stage. 

Some days I'm ready for it.

Other days I'm not.

Like today. 

Today, I'm not ready.

Trust me, I know I'll find my bearings eventually. I always do.

I know my bravery and my fight are in there somewhere. They never manage to go very far.

 It's just going to take me a minute to find them again with alot of help from God and some best friend therapy.

Because tomorrow is coming. 

Ready or not. 

And it's time to accept it and move on. 

Because that's what brave women do. 

They swallow their pain and uncertainty, and they accept their vast, great unknown because they know they aren't being asked to walk this road alone. 

I know I'm not alone.  

I know He is here and He will carry me if I only but ask.

Because, he knows the road is treacherous and steep, but he also knows how far I've come and He isn't about to allow fear to get the best of me.

This is the road.

The road I have seen on the horizon. 

The road that is meant for me for such a time as this. 

And there is no turning back. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Them

"What greater thing is there for human souls 
than to feel that they are joined for life."
George Eliot 

I find that even in my darkest moments there is always a light. 

A light that comes from the unquestionable fact that there is always something to be thankful for. 

Always. 

I struggle with this from time to time especially when I feel myself receding into the dark places my mind sometimes takes me, but eventually this truth always wins.

It's hard to feel sad or sorry for yourself when you focus on your blessings.

These two are mine: my blue eyed boy and my hazel eyed girl.

The only two people in this world who show me day in and day out what unconditional love looks like. 

In her eyes, I am a hero. I can do no wrong. I am beautiful. I am smart. I am the world's best problem solver. I am a soft place-her favorite place to land. 

In his eyes, I am strong and fearless. I am beautiful, sexy, and wise beyond my years. I am encouraging, honest, and fun.

And as I glimpse in the mirror, I wonder why the girl whom these two love so much is so hard for me to see sometimes? Because according to them, she right here.

She's always been here. 

She hasn't gone anywhere.

And they always find a way to remind me of that. 

So today I am thankful for them. 

For the way they pull me back and give me a reason to keep going.

For the way they remind me every single day that I have been called to a higher calling. 

And that is the only calling that matters. 
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