Vulnerability is the New Strong

Have you ever had someone tell you something…or many someones tell you the same thing, and you just don’t see it?

I have recently recognized a pattern. Many time when I talk to people, or reach out on Facebook, or in a support group, people always (yes, it is that absolute) remark at how strong I am.

It astounds me for a moment and then I brush it off. I feel as if I am anything but strong. I feel as if I am simply surviving. I feel as if I have one foot in the loony bin and one foot in quicksand. I feel as if my nose is constantly going under the water and I’m not able to breathe.

And, today, I really stopped to think about all of that. The only thing certain in my life is the uncertainty of my life. And it scares me. It is painful. I don’t like it.

So then, I started to think about what I’m doing. And, while I did have my fetal-position-rocking-in-the-corner-because-my-husband-cheated-on-me-and-left period of time, I do assert that I am fairly past that point (a few backslides are to be expected…sorry Adrienne & Linds) because on a daily basis I get up and do what needs to be done.

And I don’t hate all men. I don’t even hate my husband. I feel sorry for him. But, I’m not going to let his poor choices dictate the rest of my life. And, while I don’t know where I’ll be in 6 months or 20 years, can anyone actually truly say with 100% certainty that they know where they will be? Even if their marriage is solid? Or they are “happy” with their life?

It got me thinking about what people are really saying when they say I’m strong. I think they are saying that they look at my circumstances and don’t know for certain how they would respond. Maybe they are afraid their rocking-in-the-corner-fetal-position would last twice as long. Or forever. Maybe they would hate men (or women). Maybe they would let it dictate the rest of their life.

And I understand that completely. Because until it happened to me, I used to look at others and think the same thoughts.

Well, here is the thing. I don’t feel strong…I feel vulnerable. For years, YEARS, I was the giver. And I still try to be at times. It is SO easy to give. So, so easy to be the savior of a situation. It made me feel important. Look! There’s Meg saving the day! She is giving her time or her talents to make things better! What a great gal! And, during those years of giving, it was so, so hard to receive. I never asked for help. I was THE helper.

It is really unsettling to need and receive. And, it is really hard to be vulnerable. What if I’m not important enough to be worthy of receiving help. Or, what if I end up owing someone something that I can’t repay? By always giving, I never gave anyone the opportunity to let me down. I was in control. Being out of control is like having a never-ending ticket on a ride to crazy town. Receiving is humbling. It is saying that I trust you to love me enough to see to my needs. And to help me.

So, I guess if I have developed strength, it is the strength to allow myself to show my vulnerability. The strength to let my guard down and receive. The irony is, of course, the one person I should have been able to count on to support my vulnerability let me down and it was through that act that I found the ability to be vulnerable. And, in doing so, I found the gift of unconditional love from people I never expected it from. I found comfort on the other side of fear.

I don’t know why the lessons we learn in life come about this way, but they do. I guess I found that it takes strength to be vulnerable. And I guess I have that in spades now…so maybe I AM strong 🙂

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Structure Is As Structure Does

In this chaotic mess of an existence I’ve had for the past year, the one thing I have craved is structure. Order is the name of the game.

It isn’t as if whether the dishes are done and stacked properly will create world peace. Or the laundry being properly sorted will affect orphans in Afghanistan; however, both of those items, checked off my “to do” list make me slightly more peaceful.

Here is the rub.

I can’t seem to get most of my list done.

Ever.

And then I spiral down that rabbit hole of dread…

“Well, if you can’t even get this done, it’s no wonder you’re where you are!”

My inner voice is a jerk sometimes.

I bet you can relate. So, you know what I did. I told it to shut up.

And I gave myself permission to let the laundry pile up and the dishes sit in the sink.

And, I gave myself permission to believe, to truly believe and understand that my husband didn’t leave me because of the fact that I was a bad housekeeper. Or the perfect housekeeper. He didn’t leave me for any reason I could control. That is the truth.

So, I let it go. (That’s the key.) I let the stress of not checking things off my list go.

I’m not saying I’m turning into a Hoarder or anything. But, I am being a ton more gentle with myself and I’m taking control of the places I can keep structure with a new attitude. I’ve decided to look at “to do” lists as my friend and not my foe. And now, I feel so accomplished when I can cross off the items and toss the list.

Because I did it for me.

And, if it doesn’t get crossed off…well, there is always tomorrow 🙂

All {Wo}Men Are NOT Created Equal

Notice I don’t say born. I say create. Whether by upbringing, circumstance, choice…we create who we are.

Daily.

That’s why we aren’t created equal. I say we start out equal; however, what we create is vastly different. Because some people create beautiful beings of love and others create selfish beings of…well, selfishness.

We change daily. We choose to create a better person or a worse person. But we don’t stand still. Regardless of how it feels, you are not the same person you were yesterday. And you will not be the same person tomorrow you are today. The path you are on is forged by how you perceive your life. And the choice and goals you make.

Are they self-centered? Or, do they include somehow sharing your talents with those around you? Do you perceive what you are doing as useful? Or do you hate it? Are you choosing happiness, but not at the cost of those around you? (Because I paid a terrible toll for what one man perceives as happiness.)

I realized today that my husband would probably still be living in the house if I hadn’t found out about “her”. He didn’t have the integrity to tell me about “her”. He didn’t choose to be honest. He chose to do the “easy” thing and pretend. He is still in denial and continues to spin yarns about reality. He chose to create the life he currently has by those actions.

I chose to create the life I currently have by being strong enough to say no. By looking fear in the eye and say, “But, I deserve better!” By being honest and understanding that my perception of our relationship was just that…my perception. One person can only contribute 100% to 50% of a relationship. And if the other party is not being honest, there is no way to fix things.

You can choose to become better. You can choose how you view your situation. Perception is huge in (re)building your life. Reasons are huge.

I believe that is what has tripped me up for so long. I don’t know why this is happening. There are no rational reasons. I can’t seem to equate the man who was with the man who is. When did he create this person? The one with no loyalty? The one with no honor? How did I not see it happening?

But, does it stand to reason that if I find out those answers I’ll be any better? Will it change anything?

No.

My perception of the situation is what it is and will be what it is. But the choice is mine.

The only way I can be better is to choose to be better.

Yes, my life is in a shambles.

Yes, everything seems to be falling apart or falling away.

Yes, there is nothing stable to place my feet upon to keep me upright.

Yes, it is exhausting to be constantly on my guard, trying to decipher between the continued lies and what is actual truth.

I can’t control what is happening to me. I can control how I happen to the things happening to me though. I can choose to smile through the tears. I can choose to hold my head up. I can choose to keep reaching forward and not let the past encase my heart in cement.

Just as I have chosen to perceive fear as a bully, I choose to look to the future with anticipation instead of trepidation. I am going to look back as a barometer for my progress, and that is all.

I am creating a wonderful me and I’m not apologizing for it!

 

 

On Your 42nd Birthday

Today, on your 42nd birthday, I did not wake up and sneak downstairs with the children to prepare you biscuits and gravy to bring you breakfast in bed. I did not lovingly wrap a thoughtful present and sign a pickle card with words of love and encouragement and inside jokes to make you laugh. I did not buy balloons. I did not help the kids pick out gifts. I did not hold your face and look into your eyes and tell you I love you. I did not wish you many, many more so that we could have a lifetime together. I will not go out to dinner with you and our children to celebrate the day you were born. I will not do any of these things ever again.

She will.

The man I knew at 22 and at 32 was infinitely more compassionate and honorable than you are. He was loyal. He was mature. He was selfless. Happy Birthday to him.

The man I knew at 22 and 32 would look at who you have chosen to become and pity you. Happy Birthday to him.

The man I knew at 22 and 32 would have never chosen to associate himself with what you are doing and would have opened our home to the victims and opened our wallet to help. Happy Birthday to him.

He would never, ever, have taken his eyes off his wife and children. Happy Birthday to him.

My birthday wish for YOU is that you remember who that man was. Even if it is a fleeting memory. And that you understand that he is who your children love. And he is who your wife misses. And he deserved good things.

From now on, August 15th is going to be just another date on the calendar for me. Another date for me to wake up and pour love on the children you left behind. Another date for me to reach out and make someone’s day brighter. Another date to reach for the stars and impact the world. Another e..date for me to mourn the passing of my husband and the birth of you. Another date to continue pushing forward and move on…without YOU.

 

 

An Open Letter to Myself ~ Part Two

Well kid, you did it.

You made it through today.

More than made it through. You are ending the day in a peaceful, joyful, and loved space. Simply by allowing yourself to be open to what is.

Life is so very different now, but then, is sameness truly what anyone craves? Life is stagnant without change. And you are anything but stagnant.

And the fear of living without him? Guess what?

livingBecause there is no doubt now… YOU. ARE. LIVING.

And from now on, it will be out loud 🙂

An Open Letter to Myself

Dear Meg,

One year ago tonight, you went to bed as a married woman. You were still reeling from the fact that your husband chose to skip coming to your parent’s house for your 40th birthday celebration…but you went to bed with the realization that all marriages have ups and downs and things would work out. They always did.

One year ago tonight, you had your last full night of sleep. You know how the story turned out. You didn’t know it at the time but you found out much later he had already been with her for over two months at that point and you know how the rest of the year played out. You know you woke up to an empty house on the morning of your birthday, devoid of any thing but the ever clichĂ© “I love you but I’m not in love with you.” You know you spent the next eight months being snowed. You know all of this.

Here is what you fail to remember:

You are not only surviving…you are thriving. You are here every day for your children and you are surrounded by love. You have people in your life who would do anything for you. You have moved forward, even in the midst of the most soul shattering pain in the universe. You have overcome every obstacle and horrid piece of indigestible information that’s been thrown at you. You are uncovering your light and becoming who you were meant to be…and you’re a little closer each day. You are hurt. You are bruised. You are tired. BUT YOU ARE HERE! You have created a world of plenty and happiness out of nothing for your children. You are doing an amazing job on your own.

So tonight, as you prepare to go to sleep, and as you know you will wake to an empty house in the morning, I want to tell you a few wishes I have for you.

~ I want you to rewrite your future and never stop reaching for your dreams.

~ I want you to be grateful for the most beautiful gift you have ever gotten, the chance to discover what you are truly made of.

~ I want you to remember that you do not ever, EVER have to settle for less than you deserve.

~ I want you to know, deep down in your bones, to the very core of your magnificent soul, that you are enough.

~ I want you to dig deep for the strength to forgive and set yourself free.

~ I want you to rest and relax and finally find the full night sleep that has alluded you.

~ I want you to experience the joy that remains with your children, family and friends.

~ I want you to be.

And when you wake up in the morning, and rub the sleep out of your eyes, I know you will have a few moments of doubt and fear and sadness. Be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to feel those emotions and release them with love. Because you do not need to hold on to someone who does not want to hold on to you. There is more to this world than a man who deserves your pity and runs away from his commitments. You have grieved long and it has been hard. You may cycle back, but it’s time to surrender to what is.

Open yourself up to the life you are meant to lead and embrace this new year with abandon! This letter next year will be worlds apart from this one and all you have to do is write it.

Happy Birthday.

All my love,

Meg

Some Days…

Some days I’m sick of turning the other cheek.

I want to scream from the rooftops about the injustice of what has happened. I want to wail about the fact that my husband is off on vacation with another woman…living…without me. I want to bemoan being a single mother. I want to explode at the fact that this person who used to share my life wants to include “her” in my children’s lives and activities. I want to spoon my mental eye out when I think about all of them together.

And I want to cry at the deep and forever loss of the man who used to be. Because, he’s gone. And that is really, really sad.

I’m worn out.

I’m tired of having to search for the beautiful everyday.

I’d like it to just be there.

I’d like to tell you that I just wake up positive every day. And that I know it will be okay every day. And that I’m okay every day.

But, some days, that’s just not true. Some days it is still so hard to get out of bed (if I make in there at all in the first place). Some days I honestly think it’s just not worth the effort to be the better person.

Some days…it’s so easy to forget that I’ve already made it through some pretty tough crap.

Some days, this is all that gets me through.

Hopefully, it keeps being enough.

 

One

So, in less than a month I’ll be at the one year point.

one

The one year point from my 40th birthday.

The day I woke up to nothing.

The day I was told “I love you but I’m not IN love with you.”

The day my twenty year relationship was changed forever.

I didn’t realize it at the time, of course. I was completely unaware of the existence of “her”. I was going to spend the next 7 months thinking it was me and something I did (and, therefore could fix). I was going to desperately “work” on my marriage. Alone.

In the time that has passed during this year, I have been to hell. I have been to the edge…living much of the time in a darkness that is inexplicable. It consumed me. It nearly killed me.

I nearly let it. And, honestly, at times, I would have been okay if it did.

But here’s the thing.

It didn’t kill me.

It swallowed me whole and spit me out the other side.

And, now I have almost a year under my belt.

And I am a completely different person.

But, I am so much stronger than I ever thought. And I have such love that surrounds me on a daily basis.

And, I will wake up to nothing again on my birthday this year.

But, it will be on my own terms this year.

Being Human

You can start over again! Don’t even think about quitting now! It’s easy to replay in your mind how things didn’t work; how much you lost; what you’re going through; and how angry you are. There’s no amount of conversation or magic that’s going to wipe the slate clean. You’re wasting valuable time and energy that could be used to regain a new normal, and start another version of your life. Even though you’re hurt, and you may be feeling down ~ stop kicking yourself! Face what has happened, and make the decision to start over again.

In life, friendships change…divorces happen…people move on, and others die. Money and jobs will come and go. Live long enough, and your health and body will change. It goes with the territory of being human. The fact that you’re still here gives you an advantage. Don’t look back. Look straight ahead!! Decide to use all of your knowledge, skills, and experiences, as well as your life lessons from your mistakes, defeats and setbacks, to start over again. Life changes. You may not have the same life as before, but you can still enjoy your life! You deserve! ~ Les Brown

This is what I woke up and read this morning on Facebook. Thank you Marisa.

Here is what I want to add… you not only CAN enjoy your life… you SHOULD enjoy your life.

I truly don’t believe we are put here to suffer and then die.

I believe we are put here to make the world a better place. Help one another. Lift each other up. Support each other. Locally and globally.

Find what you are good at and then go DO IT! Share your talents.

LOVE.

And how can you do that if you don’t take care of yourself first?

It’s simple.

You can’t. It cannot be done.

You have to love yourself first. You have to forgive yourself. You have to move on and allow yourself to let go.

It will be okay.

Take care of yourself…take care of the people around you…then, take care of everything else you touch. And if you can’t, well then at least don’t screw it up worse.

If we each did that in our own little corner, we’d be living in a much different place.

You DESERVE!

I DESERVE! 

How many times have you let that inner voice stop you because it said something different?

I’m not letting it say anything other than what I want to hear any longer. I’m just not.

Change the voice. Just change it. Make the decision and move on.

I dare you, just choose to make a better you and see what happens…

Staying Alive

I realized the funniest thing today.

My life, as I know it, has changed.

No, not my married vs. single life. The quality of my daily existence has changed.

It is an ever evolving target that I didn’t realize I was constantly aiming for and pushing forward.

When I look back, it’s easy to see the progression of my daily objectives:

It used to be to stay alive. Yes. Just stay alive.

I moved on to drawing breath on my own. Like I used to…n0t having to remind myself to do it, just breathing was impossible for a while.

Then it moved on to putting my feet on the floor.

I progressed to dressing.

And when I could handle that, I decided to go crazy and throw showering in the mix.

I moved on to schooling my face to react in the appropriate manner to people and not carry the hallow, worn out look of my soul on the outside.

Then, I began to engage in conversations that didn’t revolve around me and my misery.

I started to look for opportunities to heal with an activeness that defied my energy level.

I came back into the world of the living.

And, I finally have morphed into a regular human being again. And none of those things that I had to relearn are hard any longer. They became real. They became who I am and what I do on a daily basis. I don’t know exactly how or when, but they did.

Admittedly, I still have a very hard time with eating and sleeping. Neither of those seems to come easily. I have to remind myself that the rhythms of life demand both; however, I am making strides in those departments too.

And, I am back at full capacity at work…in fact, most days, over full capacity.

I think it was a combination of my pushing and people pulling me, and I can honestly say I am surprised that I am still standing here. But I am. I still have a very long road of court dates and settlement talks ahead…but I’ve made it this far and I’m not giving up now.

Because, it’s a beautiful to be alive again, and I’m not willing to compromise that for anything or anyone, ever again.