What my marriage taught me: about myself and relationships

I know I made some people wait quite a bit for this last installment of my three-part series of “What my marriage taught me”. I apologize for the delay. This took a bit of time for obvious reasons. It was the hardest to compose. It is the hardest because being teachable alludes a bit of humility, does it not? Yes, money and fear are big topics and there is a lot to learn. Always. But when we are talking about ourselves in our 40’s, aren’t we supposed to be experts on ourselves? On our relationships?

In my  mid 20’s and I became single after a long six-year first-love kind of thing, I thought it would be “so exciting” and how I am going to find someone better than who I had left out of impatience and drifting apart. For the record, I never did find someone better right after leaving. That’s far and away a different story. Anyway, back then it was 1995 and I was hopelessly devoted to Alanis Morissette. Jagged Little Pill was my anthem back then. Damn! I had a lot to learn.This was when I thought I knew something about something. I had a 20-something sized ego and my bumper sticker on my Honda CRX said “Whatever”. That should say someting.

Since then I had traipsed through flings, AOL chat room encounters, short relationships, being cheated on, and mostly just being single. So much, yet really not  SO much. I learned to trust less, have  too much fun and I  believed sincerely that I would sleep when I die. I was a bit of a party girl. With out the drugs. A little alcohol, but really just guys….and more of the same nightclub/bar type existence.

Advance to 2006: I had just broken up with my boyfriend (as you know, the one that would be my husband in 2009). I thought I had learned that his bit of expressed anger and rage was too much for me. I guess not. I guess his charm and his ….everything….got to me AGAIN. I just didn’t learn. Not then. Not yet.

Advance to 2010: I returned to Denver with my tail between my legs. This relationship was done. I failed. Again. This time with lessons. Oh, there were lessons. I realized what dignity was. I realized what it meant to feel I had none. I knew what rock bottom really meant. I had no idea; I was completely naive to how rock bottom would feel exactly. For me: my life reduced to boxes packed in three hours, a rented car filled with some clothes, my dog and me. I was a grown adult who only had a ring on my finger that I would need to pawn at some point, my precious puggle Max and my mom’s  American Express. I had what little cash I took out (originally $200 a week before leaving Florida) before our accounts were frozen by him.

I got home. I cried it out. Every fucking day. There were tears. Yes, tears for him. Tears when he swore me out with horrible names the night I told him I got my old job back back in Denver. Tears of loss. Tears of failure. You get the idea. I went into therapy and saw a wonderful lady who really got me through the pawning of the wedding ring (I had to eat and pay a little rent), the paperwork after being served  divorce papers at my door step by a process-server, the trauma of being such a failure. But she helped me realize that what I went through was unique, but not unique.  Not everyone gets divorced after rage, post throwing  dangerous objects, post verbal abuse and “silent treatment” episodes (to teach me lessons about talking too much). Not everyone suffers unpredictable rage that has absolutely nothing to do with what the non abuser may have actually done or not done.  But those who have been through that know what that looks like. And feels like.  Even if they didn’t know back then. The first time I had a clue that there is something beside physical abuse that counts as some type of abuse was when I called the police the second time at the encouragement of my  father. My ex hadn’t actually hurt me, but for the first and last time, he did put his hands on me in a forceful way (to extract car keys). My father said I need to report that in light of what had happened the previous nights (ex trying to kick me out of my own place). This is the first time I learned first hand of something other than physical/sexual abuse. The police officer who took my report that day gave me a list of numbers on a card that described all types of abuse. This card was given to me by a male police officer. I dont know why that’s relevant, but it was to me at that time. It was a comfort that another male would recongnize the treatment was not right. I was extremely grateful, but more grateful long after I had left Florida. I was still shell-shocked having to even make a report at the time.

So, the aftermath: 2010-2016: I survived an awful divorce and monetary losses, loss of dignity, trust, and developed a necessity for  hyper-analysis of every infraction against me that I had perceived . I think I resented what he had done  to me in the divorce and aftermath more than the crimes of the actual marital discord.  I had a few relationships in 2016 and some online adventures up to then which I posted about previously.

What I learned about everything, including 2016, the birth of my blog!

  1. Humility is being teachable and allows me to progress to better and more healthy relationships.
  2. Admitting regrets: I can regret something and recognize I made a mistake, I had a lapse of judgement. I would love to say I live with out regrets. I don’t think I can say that right now. I think that sounds a bit righteous and a little ignorant. Can’t we all admit we didn’t do something perfectly, something we would like to do a little differently?
  3. Honesty:  What do I want? What can I handle and what can’t I handle in my future relationships? What are my red flags? Can I hold up to my own side of the bargain-for the sake of my dignity, can I walk away from those red flags?
  4. Don’t write about people in current relationships with out their consent. I learned this in my last relationship after trying to get him to read my blog after every entry that mentioned him. After getting into a heated discussion, he read one and felt blindsided.  I recognize that I will preserve people’s privacy until they are comfortable with being mentioned in a most anonymous sense.
  5. I learned  that what I really have after all this is anxiety: Still. After all these years from the series of unpredictability and rage in my uber-brief marriage. I may have had it before I was even married; however, it spiraled  out of control in the years since, includng the first few  years of my recovery from the divorce. Now I can admit it is something I have to, and want to work on, something that I seek help for to make these relationships work.  So I don’t sabotage the really awesome opportunities and people who come into my life.

 

SO… some of you may be asking about #3: What are my red flags in the aftermath? What can I handle? What did I learn that I really need and got honest about it? Why don’t I write that as a part two of this third installment.

Please leave me a comment if you would like to hear more of this detail in #3 and I’d be happy to include a part two!

 

Music pairing: If I need to say it: Okay! I was inspired by Alanis, because when I am not in the old space, I need to be reminded of how it felt. Jagged Little Pill does that wonderfully.

What my marriage taught me: about fear

Fuck Everything And Run. Sure. That’s what comes to mind for many about fear. Unless in the whole flight or fight drama of it all, you can’t do either. You are stuck. You are paralyzed. The fear of the event makes you indefinitely immobile. Incapacitated. Despite your strength, you just can’t move. The idea of doing anything about it scares you to death because you have never been in this exact situation. Well, hardly ever anyway.  This one is different and you just can’t move. No.Matter.What. Until you do. Finally.  That’s what this post is about. Part of the nitty-gritty details will make its way into a longer story, but I am going to start small. Because I’m still a tiny bit in fear. How safe is it  to write about this? I am breaking through fear to just say: What the hell, I am going to take a risk.

When I was finally off on a fun impulsive  3-4 day vacation to the Bahamas, I had absolutely NO clue  the guy I was seeing at the time would propose marriage.  I am not sure he know. Was he even my “boyfriend”? Because I had told him I did want to get married (some day). Because he needed a woman to take care of him. Because he was bored? I will never know. I never got that closure. But that’s okay. That’s not what this is about. This is the second chapter of my relationship with this guy. I should have closed the book and put it on a high shelf after finishing the first chapter. Better yet, I should have donated the book to Goodwill or something for some other desperate 30-something woman to open up, ripe for seduction.  However, maybe I was that desperate woman. Waiting for marriage and someone to want me. I am pretty intelligent. I had a good job. I practically majored in psychology, so HOW DID I GET HERE?

I was pretty sure  a snowballing effect of fear started when I accepted his marriage proposal. In fact, I will go as far as to say the fear started  long before when I never thought I would get married at the late age of 39…. the fear of being unloveable. I guess as I write this, I realize my own fears set the ball rolling and his actions in the Bahamas and forward just compounded  the idea that fear would take on a different species: the fear of being alone again. So no matter what happened, the physical fear seemed real and relatable. But it was no match for the real fear that simply left me in my tracks.

It was easy enough to tell (some of my) friends the physical fear I felt because I knew would get sympathy about being stuck in a bad situation. There was plenty of fear based on my physical environment (never an assault upon me, ever) so that’s what I told my friends. The OTHER fear, that I couldn’t verbalize or put into words yet, I still felt in my core, but I was NOT ready to be honest about. Maybe  there is  that undeniable shame for me,  in the fear of being alone and unloveable. I was  surely not going to admit such things, even if I could verbalize those  feelings or identify those moments of   palpable loneliness. Better to say  he threatened me  in the Bahamas. Better to say he got into rages that ended up with broken items and refrigerators turned inside out. All true, all scary. Unfortunately, when I finally had to leave 1.5 years later, I realized my fear of physical safety was only part of the total fear I carried with me.

My lesson: I had no idea I had this internal fear that followed me everywhere, before AND after my marriage. I was justified in my fear for physical  safety and until I left him (he forced me out despite my weak attempts to seek counseling with him), I had absolutely no clue about the real fear.  My marriage was not in vain. Its been teaching me things all along. I had to hit rock bottom in an emotional abyss in 2010, crying daily, to even realize the fear had nothing to do with him at all. That really sucked. I will be completely honest. That sucked. It would have been so much easier to say his rage and unpredictable moods were enough to be fearful about. They were pretty bad and he would argue that I was never in actual danger, but I was pretty scared. Those stories will come later and the   detailed process of my story will become more evident. I had to move forward. I had to get UNstuck, UNparalyzed, UNhelpless. I moved back to Colorado in 2010 and started up a job. And I got right into therapy, which was really translation for a biweekly cry/drama/trauma session. Whatever.It.Takes. I am still working on becoming unstuck and out of the fear cycle. It’s a long process.

For now, suffice it to say, my fear is my own to deal with. That’s really what my marriage taught me: I think now it can be a matter of Face Everything And Recover. Recover from the lowest point that I have ever sunk, defended as the years of 2009-2010.

Depending on how honest you are with yourself, you may find yourself in the middle of your own long journey!
Readers: What did you learn from your marriage? Whether you are currently married, divorced or widowed, what did the actual process of living with the person you tied the knot with teach YOU?  Please leave your comments and I would love to read and respond!

 

Have a great rest of your weekend!

Music Pairing: Personally, I listened to the Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (Sarah McLachlan) and most songs spoke to me, particularly, Fear (surprise), Possession, and Hold On.

I could have probably listened to Depeche Mode or Nine Inch Nails for that matter (okay maybe NOT Nine Inch Nails this time!)… However, Yaz’s Upstairs at Eric’s could have really worked.

 

 

 

Happy new years!

I want to wish you all a happy new years! Please, 2017, just get here!!

I realize that I have announced my three-part series on what my marriage taught me, but have not yet posted. I became a little distracted by two other issues that I will call real life issues; I want to occasionally have a real life series as well. I knew that I wouldn’t have  a shortage of topics. I am so  grateful the writer in me has a lot to say. I just don’t want to make promises about upcoming posts that don’t get written quite as quickly as I had anticipated. I just seem to simultaneously want to unleash as much as possible. That’s my conflict and writer’s struggle!

So far my real life issue topics:

Sexual assault and consent (at any age)

Bullying (old school, cyber….)

There’s more that will come up, I am sure, but those are the ones that speak to me now.

Please be patient and if you have a preference before this Tuesday, please let me know which of these topics should I write on first? Should I write on both then move on to a consecutive posting on my three-part series?

Please comment on any preferences on how /what order I present? Otherwise, I guess we will all be surprised!!

 

Paired music selection right now: I am listening to Tori Amos (Little Earthquakes). I saw her at Red Rocks and at DU. Powerful musician. This album says a lot for me about the real life issues I mentioned above. She’s what’s on my mind now.

If you are out and about please be careful.

If you are at home, be good to yourself and sleep well.

 

HAPPY 2017!

 

 

My Apple watch tells me to breathe so I press “dismiss” OR: How do I make time to breathe, much less meditate?

So there. I disregard healthy reminders to breathe. I do self-care, but it seems more haphazard than it had been earlier in the year. The “Breathe” app magically appears with a “ping!”, gently nudging me that I need to take time out of my busy life to remember me, to breathe, to take a time out. One minute. That’s all Apple asks of me – a mere and measly minute. So, of course,  I promptly press dismiss. I do occasionally press “start” when I have nothing else I should be doing. I must take this time out to literally remember to breathe.  How did I meditate for 15-20 minutes once upon a time and now I can’t be bothered to breathe?! Where are my priorities?

Let’s get back to basics. My new years resolution will be to breathe intentionally as much as possible throughout the day. I would like to work up to getting back to meditation, but seriously…how can I hope to meditate when I can’t even take a minute to breathe with purpose and exhale everything toxic and inhale new life.  Let’s take one thing at a time. I’m going to start with breathing with intention at least 3-5 times a day.  Why don’t we begin there and see what happens?

Meditation is a whole other beast and my mind needs to learn to exhale the toxic crap with lists of shit to do and reminders about dry cleaning pick ups and bills to pay. Yeah, I need to exhale that crap before I can  hope to meditate.

Please leave a comment if you have any good tools or tricks to remember how to take a time out, even for a minute!

 

 

FOR MY LOYAL READERS: My series on what my marriage taught me will commence soon! I promise you that and look forward to sharing my experience.

 

 

 

 

 

Good secrets, bad secrets…: My introduction to a three part series on what my marriage taught me

Are secrets okay? Are we only as sick as our secrets? Why do we keep secrets? I feel that sometimes we keep other people’s secrets and some of our own to preserve a bit of privacy and dignity, some self-respect and a dash of mystery.  We keep secrets about  arriving baby gender, relationships (of any type), opinions on work, money and politics.  We do this to keep the peace and keep our opinions and personal history to ourselves. Is there anything wrong with this?  Other times, our secrets aren’t based in any nobility.

Our other secrets are not based on dignity, respect or privacy.  These secrets  build upon each other, slowly growing till they get so big. Then   airing out  these well-kept skeletons is so daunting, it’s scary. Super scary. If we wait long enough, the secrets create a solid icon clad wall. The wall is fused with pride, fear, and  insecurity including financial and emotional. To get through this from the inside out we have to be strong. SO strong.  This is the part that can really suck. Like.Really.Suck.  We can’t expect others to get in if we can’t even get out. These are the secrets that make us sick and poisoned inside. Poisoned by the pride that makes us feel that we are better than you. The toxic insecurity that makes you NEVER as good as.  These secrets that destroy us. Unless…..

Unless we can talk or write or get out alive. This is why I want to write about what my marriage taught me. I can write about it.  I want to share it because if it gives you pause, if it makes you think about how you view  something sour and wretched and awful, then I say thank you. I have done my job writing this three part post series:

Part I: What my marriage taught me about my relationship with money

Part II: What my marriage taught me about fear

Part III: What my marriage taught me about me and future interpersonal/romantic relationships

 *****************************

I am going to ask for your input, your experience,  how your last relationship prepared you for the next one!
Stay tuned!!

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I continue to wear these jeans since my very first post about them. I think they are magical. They give me courage. They also make me cold as you can see the holes!  Perhaps I will shelf them for a warmer season or even a warmer Colorado day! They are the jeans I wear when I self-doubt my ability to get through these next three measly months. They are the jeans I choose when I want to feel comfortable in my own skin. Miraculously, I am usually 99% comfortable as is, but sometimes I need to put something on that makes me feel I can do anything. These jeans are that “something”. Pending snow, I think I will wear them on my next day off. I could use an extra special something this week.

 

Have an amazing week and let this last week of 2016 be your inspiration for an impeccably awesome 2017. Nothing is perfect, but I strive to move forward! How about you?

What do you wear or bring with you to get a handle on comfort?