Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Because It's A Mess

Wow, you guys.
Life.
It's hard.

I'm sure this isn't news to you. It shouldn't be news to me either but apparently I keep finding my pair of rose-colored glasses and putting them back on before they're slapped off again.

My life is all sorts of brutiful (brutal+beautiful) right now.
I am loving my new work/school/co-parenting schedule. I am loving the ages of my children and the tight bond we all have.
I am not loving the messy relationships in my life or the anxiety of dating and being alone---which on most days, I've decided is just going to be my fate because dating = harder than I ever thought.

I feel confused a lot---mostly asking God why life is allowed to be so messy when I'm already a divorced mom of 2 young kids Why, after being left by my husband and left to deal with the trauma and anxiety, life isn't just perfect now.
But when I ask Him that, I almost immediately take it back because I don't want to be the victim. I don't want to make our situation look more dire than it is.
It might be hard but it isn't a life sentence.

I know life isn't just going to be perfect. I know trials don't just disqualify me from ever having hard times again (Although that'd be really awesome...).

But I struggle so much with believing I'm a good person and one of the hardest trials for me is when other people tell me, literally tell me, I'm not a good person. Because then my brain gets all confused and I'm back to second guessing and wondering how two different people can believe two totally opposite things about me.

It's a mess, really. It's a drama-filled mess that I'm trying to rise above.

But goshdarnit, rising above the hard stuff is a lot more difficult than it sounds.

Rising above is what warriors do. It is what the strongest of strong people are able to do. And am I there? Am I one of them?
I try. I try so hard to be strong but am I?

I guess the answer is yes. I guess when I write it all down, being alone and providing for two kids while going to school full time is pretty strong. But some days, it doesn't feel strong. Some days, it just feels like something I do because I've been forced to do it.
Because it's either be a single mom or never get out of bed again---and so far {most days}, I've chosen to be a mom and I've even tried to be a good mom---occasionally a great one.

But although I seem to be unbreakable so far, I feel like the messes are wearing me down a little at a time.

And I hate that.

I hate feeling like others have some sort of control over how I feel about myself. I want to be strong and confident every single day.

Because you know what? I'm just as much a daughter of God as every other woman on this earth.
End. Of. Story.

I want to polish off this blog post with some profound words but seriously, I am not there tonight. I feel like I haven't be there at all lately. Maybe someday...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Worthy and Good and a lot bit Crazy

Sometimes I go to therapy.

If you think that's a weird thing to admit, then I think you're weird for thinking that it's a weird thing for me to admit...so...booyah.
As an aspiring therapist, I'm pretty comfortable talking about the fact that sometimes I talk about my life with a therapist---actually not just "a therapist", my therapist.

Anyway, shall I move on with the point? Any day now, Suzanne.

I was working through some crap this week that's been bothering me and I've had a few realizations.
I struggle a lot {alot-alot} believing that I am a good person. Like a genuinely, deep-down, rooted firm within myself good person. I believe this is something I've always struggled with partly because of the way I was raised (Hi, mom and dad---love you both forever and ever) and partly because of the uniquely crazy individual that I am. I tend to look at every decision I make and pinpoint the greed within the motive. And when I make mistakes---oh my goodness, they get blown way out of proportion.

I only know this because a particular lady that I pay to counsel with me told me so.
And she's always right. Because if she was wrong, why would I pay her?

It's hard for me to feel like I'm blowing my mistakes out of proportion when I put so much negative focus on them.

So it's not all black and it's not all white. We are all sorts of grays.

When I make mistakes, I categorize myself in the darkest of the grays. I have a hard time seeing my goodness. All of my other mistakes come into clear focus and everything else just looks like a fuzzy mess.

There are blips in my life where I can remember being an intensely confident woman but this doesn't usually last long periods of time. For the most part, I'm questioning myself and trying to counteract all of my imperfections with smiles, a cheerful attitude, and any little acts of service I can get my hands on.

It's weird---making myself crazy to try and prove to myself that I'm a good person. Lately I've wondered what in the heck the point of this is.
I either need to believe it or not believe it.

So I'm choosing this week to believe it. 

Obviously, this can't mean I've been perfect---I haven't---but it means that when I make mistakes, I brush them off and focus on the good. I focus more on what's inside than on my outward choices.

I know who I am. I know who I'm striving to be. That should count for a great deal of "who is Suzanne" and I don't know why I haven't allowed it to play a bigger role than it has.

But this week, I am. This week, I am being brave. I am not over-thinking my friendships or obsessing over what people think of me. I am not putting myself down or thinking the worst.

This is hard for me. Because I have compulsive thoughts a lot and I often feel like they define who I am.

Because good people can't have bad thoughts.

But that just isn't true.

The lady that I pay told me so...and she's always right.

So while I'm soul-searching and trying to gain confidence on my own, I'm choosing to believe her.

In the meantime, you can shake your head at my redundancy. I know I've talked about all of this before and the truth is, I'll probably talk about it again.

We all have our crap---today this is mine.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Her Seventh Year

It's hard to know where to begin because I've been thinking about the day I'd be writing this post for quite some time.

I have filled this post with a ton of pictures because Princess has had A LOT of things going on the past week.
She had a dance competition, dance banquet, end of the year recital and her 7th birthday.

Dance life has felt crazy lately.
Her banquet went well. She got a little diamond plaque for completing another year with her SNS team.
She got to spend the evening with her favorite dance friend, J.

And she got to give hugs to her favorite Miss Cassie.
Cassie is the teacher who took Princess under her wing this year. She gave her the opportunity to do a solo and believed in her when Princess started to doubt her abilities. Cassie was sincerely an answer to my prayers.

This hasn't been the easiest dance year for my girly. She has worked really hard and at the beginning of the year, she was getting a lot of recognition and her confidence was high. But due to a lot of factors, some of them regarding home life and some of them regarding studio life, she started struggling mid-year. As her mother, this isn't an easy thing to watch. I have wondered a lot this year if I was making the right decisions for her by allowing her to stay in dance but her solo really brought back some of her sparkle that had gone missing and it was nice to see her feeling so loved and appreciated.

Anyway, more on that late...

Princess turned 7 this week and I had big plans for her main birthday present. I planned on redoing the kids' room while they were with their dad from Wednesday to Friday. I stayed up late each night painting and decorating and somehow, it all came together!

When P walked into the house after school, I told her I needed her to go look in her room.
She walked in and looked around for a good minute or two, commenting on how I had put a desk in her room, etc. before she asked where her bed was.
Ha! That was her expression when I told her the room she was standing in was no longer her room.
When she walked into what is now her room, she started jumping and squealing and pointing out all of the things she loved about it. Ninja was pretty excited too, since he shares a room with her.
I bought this doll bed because she had told me a month ago that she wished she could sleep with her AG doll but that it was too uncomfortable. So now they can sleep close to each other every night.
I did all the painting on my own but some of my awesome friends helped me decorate the walls in yellow and gray.

Then we asked P if she would prefer to do presents on Friday afternoon or after her dance recital on Saturday.
Of course, she picked Friday.

So it was time for presents from her brother and I.
Ninja got her some craft stuff and that baby unicorn. She has hardly put the unicorn down since she got it.
I mostly just got her clothes for summer since they were things she was needing.
But she did specifically ask for a maxi skirt "because that's what big girls wear to church" so I made sure to buy her one to go along with her other clothes.
A few more crafts and she was done opening presents!
And boy, was she happy!
After presents, it was time to go down to the QC Arts Center for the kids recital rehearsal. The fun part, or super duper not so fun part, about having BOTH of your kids in dance is having them in two different time blocks. We ended up being at the arts center for close to 3 hours on Friday night.
And naturally, Princess found creative ways to stay entertained.
Saturday morning, we woke up to celebrate the BIRTHDAY GIRL. We did breakfast and then we had to start getting ready for recital.

I woke up feeling all sorts of nostalgia. We have done recitals at Club Dance for three years now and Saturday was Princess' last recital with them. I haven't really opened up about this because I wanted to wait until after her recital but she will not be returning to Club Dance for next year. We have nothing against Club. In fact, Princess had some pretty amazing teachers there and she is sad to leave but this year really showed me that Club isn't the right place for her at this time. It was a struggle for her not to make the Allstars team (and let's be honest, it was a struggle for me as well) and then she struggled not feeling like she was a good enough dancer for most of the year---and this is where mom decision comes in.
Princess doesn't want to leave Club. She has friends there and loves her teachers. But I already teach dance at another studio and I believe it will better fit the pace Princess needs right now. She needs smaller classes, more positive and laid back environments, and a chance to breathe this year.
She will be on company at my studio which means she will be dancing more hours but she will be performing a little bit less than this past year and I think it'll be better to have her with me more often.

This wasn't an easy decision for us because really, Club has been her life. It is all she knows about the dance world. And after the recital, I started having second thoughts because we love the people we have met. But I know she will love the people at her new studio too.

Anyway, I know that was kind of long and maybe it seems silly but this was a big deal for us! It's exciting and sad and scary and happy, all mixed together.
My girl did amazing in her recital. We ended up being there most of the day since she performed in the 11:30am show and her brother performed in the 2pm show.
She got to spend most of the day with her mom AND her dad and since she struggles a lot with our divorce, I am happy she had the opportunity to have us both on her birthday.

Per her request, we headed to Texas Roadhouse after the recitals were over because this girl is a steak lover! She finished her steak and then asked if she could eat some of mine. And I was proud of her for being brave enough to sit in the saddle while everyone sang happy birthday to her.
On our drive home, Princess mentioned that we hadn't had cake for her birthday.
Little did she know our favorite Lenahans had been decorating their house and baking a cake for her as a surprise.
She got to help decorate it and it turned out super adorable.

She was so happy to be able to play with her best friend and celebrate the end of her birthday with her.
And I was happy and so grateful for all of the love that was shown to her.



I think my favorite part was when A covered D's mouth during the blowing out of the candles.

All in all, it was an incredible and busy and wonderful week. Celebrating my daughter and watching her participate in something she truly loves made it a happy day for the rest of us.

I am in disbelief that my BABY GIRL is 7 but I am so proud of the little lady she is. I love her so incredibly much and would not trade her for anything in the world.

Happy birthday, Princess.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Book of Mormon

 A month ago, I was so angry with God. I was angry that he had allowed too much to come into my life.
I was angry that church didn't seem like a place of peace. In fact, church was just exhausting.

Maybe this faith struggle is news to you and maybe it isn't but tonight, I want to dive into it a little bit deeper than I usually do. I want to reminisce on how I became this person that I am today.
 My memories of church growing up have a lot of good and a lot of bad.

I can remember being a 5 or 6 year old in my primary class and learning about prayer and how we all have the ability to speak with God whenever we want. This amazed my young mind. I would often pray and have long conversations with God. I would tell Him about my day, about the boys I liked, about the friends I had, etc. He was my friend.

As I got a little older, church started to become more difficult. I was teased and left out a lot of the time. I began to resent church because I didn't want to be around so many fake people who preached about love and acceptance but weren't very kind to me.

My teenage years were especially hard. I was enrolled in seminary in high school and although I secretly enjoyed so many things about seminary, I was struggling with feeling accepted and loved. I was the rebellious teen and I knew a lot of my church peers would talk about me behind my back. Luckily, during this time, I made friends with a new girl in my ward who I related to so well.
I don't believe I ever stopped believing in God or His gospel but I didn't really understand the extent of the church. I had witnessed a lot of incidences that I cannot deny which cemented my testimony in God but I had never studied the Book of Mormon or the Bible on my own. 

In fact, I don't ever remember reading the Book of Mormon all the way through on my own. 

I was married in the temple and my testimony in the LDS faith seemed to be really strong but there was always something missing, a personal conviction that I had yet to witness. 

It's hard to explain because I don't feel like I've just been going through the motions for years. I have received answers to prayers, seen miracles, and felt the Spirit with me when I needed it most. I have seen the power of the Priesthood work in my life and have felt some pretty incredible things during General Conference and my regular Sunday meetings. 

But in the past year, I've struggled with my faith. 
I've questioned my purpose, the purpose of a God, the purpose of a church, etc. I've had times where I decided I would not be going back to church because it is just too hard to be there and hear the lessons and wrangle my children for an hour before they go to their classes. 

My main concern has been what my friends and family will think about me if I choose to leave the church. 
And I think when I realized this, I realized that this is where my faith crisis was creeping in. 

I wasn't going to church for myself. I was doing it for everybody else. 

Since recognizing that, I've been analyzing my personal reasons for not giving up on my church and I feel like the more I focus on that, the stronger I become. 

I also gave myself a challenge this past month. I felt like it was my last hurrah before deciding what I wanted and what was most important to me in this life. 

A friend had challenged me to read the Book of Mormon with her in 90 days and I told her I would love to do this. 
Within the first week, I was almost halfway done because I was listening to it during work. 
By the end of the second week, I had only a few chapters left. 

Today I finished the Book of Mormon. 

I listened to the Book of Mormon in less than 3 weeks and I loved so much of it. 

I loved listening to Nephi as he spoke of the things God was asking of him. In fact, a lot of the stories of Nephi and Lehi are now my favorites because I relate to them so much. 

I loved listening to King Benjamin's address to his people. As I listened to his compassion and love and humbleness, I sat in my work office and just kept nodding my head over and over, agreeing with the words he was saying. 

Did I retain everything that I listened to? No. But I can honestly tell you that if I were to read the Book of Mormon, I wouldn't retain much more. My lovely ADHD makes it difficult to focus on reading sometimes. 

As I finished today, I started to think about what kind of example I want to be for my kids. 

A month ago when I was struggling with some pretty messy things that had happened in my life and I told my mom I didn't want to go to church anymore, she reminded me to think of the future with my children before making my final decision. 

And she was right. 
Because I want these children to have strong testimonies. I want them to know that God loves them, that Jesus Christ died for them, and that the power of the Priesthood is real. I want them to know that we have a living prophet on the earth today who is an instrument in the hands of our Heavenly Father.

I want them to know they have a purpose on this earth, just as each of us does.

And for me, the most important thing I want them to know is that God doesn't just love people who are perfect or close to it. He will love them when they fall, when they make really dumb decisions, and when they question His existence.

In fact, I can tell you that is one of the most amazing things I have witnessed this past month. I spent a good portion of a particular Thursday yelling at God---full on yelling at the top of my lungs until my voice was hoarse. I let all of my anger out and told Him everything that was wrong. I told Him that in order for me to feel Him, He would need to send me a sign. My body could not physically feel His comfort because I was in so much pain and I was so confused and I think I might have actually demanded He send me a sign.

Yeah.

I didn't deserve a sign. I didn't deserve an answer or miracle that brought comfort.

But He sent it anyway. He sent it in the form of a text from a friend and although it was "just a text", it was anything but "just a text".
It was everything. 

He knew that my anger was fear. He knew that I needed to yell. And when I yelled, He just sent more love.

Friends, that is the type of person I want to be. I want to be the type of person that loves when people hurt her, that doesn't judge others when they act selfishly or rudely.
Everyone has a story and a reason behind their choices. God knows it because He is God but what if we knew it? What if we could look at others and see all of their pain? What if we could understand their motive behind their decisions? I can bet we wouldn't judge as much. I can bet we would find ourselves with a lot more patience.

Tonight I am a little bit wiser and my faith is a little bit stronger. It isn't going to fall into place in a day but I certainly have found a few of the puzzle pieces I was missing before.

I believe in God. I know He is real. 

And I know He loves me. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Life Goes On

It's incredible how you can go from feeling loved to discarded in seconds. 
This has been on my mind for weeks. In fact, it's tried to consume me and make me fear every relationship I've ever had. 

If I'm being honest, I have feared life more. I have feared the validity of my relationships. I have been extremely hurt in ways that I never could've expected possible. 

I should be used to this, right? I mean, I've done the divorce thing, the infertility thing, and I've lost a lot of friendships that were out of my control. But I'm not used to it. I'll never be used to it. 

I used to love the quote that said something similar to this: "Be the kind if person that if others were to talk bad about you, no one would believe them.". I used to read that and think that my true relationships would never dissipate because I was showing my genuine self. 

I don't like that quote anymore. In fact, I think that quote just gives us a false sense of security. 
People will leave if they want to leave. People will choose sides and believe things and there will be times in your life that you won't ever be given the chance to explain yourself. You will trust and you will fall. You will make judgment calls that in hindsight really sucked. 

And you will ache. Your heart will feel like it's being ripped out. You will question your purpose in life and possibly lose your sense of worth and the days will seem long and dark.

And the anger. Oh the anger. You will probably find yourself angry at the world for a while. You will probably find yourself a little more impatient for a while as you try to understand why and how this could've happened. 

But fortunately, that doesn't have to be the end. Because although you will still hurt, it will slowly start to get better. Every day, you will think about the lost relationships a little less until they become a distant memory. 

I hope this doesn't end up being the case for you but since I've endured it twice now in completely different situations(not counting divorce), I can tell you it is possible. 
It is possible to be a good person and be hated by a lot of people. It is possible to be called a liar when you're telling the truth. It is possible that your closest friends will believe the things they hear instead of believing in you. 

I want to tell you that you are strong enough to handle this, that life goes on---it certainly does---but for a while, it'll probably move slower and you'll probably struggle to look at any of your relationships the same way. You might struggle to stay positive. You might cry a lot or your heart might harden. You might find yourself adding new swear words to your vocabulary or questioning your faith in God. 

But life does go on. Eventually, you will build a new relationship groove and find yourself not getting anxiety when you have to trust your friends. You will ache and there will be sporadic reminders but they will get easier to deal with. 

You might become the needy friend for a while but that's ok because your real friends will be there to assure you that they aren't leaving. 

I can try and prepare you or empathize with you but the hardest part of all of this is that if/when it happens, you will feel alone for a while. You will feel like no one understands. You will feel abandoned. 

But the more you fight for yourself, the better you will feel. The more you trust yourself, the stronger you will get. 

We are warriors. And when our hearts break, we have the capability to fight for ourselves. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Eight Years

 Eight years ago, I made a decision that ultimately affected my life forever.
I married my then-husband in the Mesa, Arizona temple.
 Soon we had children.
 The cutest freaking children in the entire world!
 Although marriage wasn't perfect, I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing.
 My whole life revolved around raising children. I was home with them all day and all night. I felt like life was what I had hoped it would be.

Eight years.

I was exactly 19.5 years old the day I got married (So happy half-birthday to me today!). I hadn't planned it that way. In fact, as my friends were dreaming of marriage, I was planning on becoming a nanny in another country or attending college in another state. I wanted to move out and have some time to grow.

But I did it exactly the way I was supposed to do it. I fell in love and got married. I was exactly the age I was supposed to be and it all fell into place.
 Life was rocky and beautiful. There was so much good.

Last year, as April 14th crept up on me, I knew I didn't want this day to be full of sadness for what could've been. I wanted it to be full of good memories and happiness. So we started a tradition of celebrating the day our family became a family.

It may look different. We might be a split family. But without April 14th, 2007, my children wouldn't be here. So today, we celebrate the choices two people made to bring those amazing little chicklets into the world.
 We celebrated today by having dinner at Texas Roadhouse and I told my children stories of my wedding day. I told them how happy we were and how amazing it was to welcome each of them into the world.
 And when they asked why it ended, we talked about how sometimes things don't go the way we planned them.

But God is always there. Even when the hardest thing we ever thought possible happens, we are never alone.

And each time they would start to get stuck on the heartache of our divorce, I would bring them back with a happy memory.

I emphasized how real those memories are. I emphasized that no matter what life is like now, back then it was how it was supposed to be. I loved their dad and he loved me. And together, we love the two of them so very, very much.
I really can't believe it's been 8 years since that sunny April day.

Sometimes I'm sad that it turned out this way but then I look at my two children and how much I've grown and all I have is a heart full of gratitude for these past 8 years.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Put Your Brave Pants On

I've been thinking about bravery and heroism lately. As I've struggled to crawl out of the hole I fell into, I've had to learn a few things about what bravery really means to me.

I've struggled a lot with the fear of abandonment. I've never had an explanation that makes sense in my mind because this is something I feared long before divorce.

Because of this, I'm often paranoid that the people in my life will leave me.

So for me, making friends is really brave. Even just meeting new people is really brave.

Being authentic and vulnerable is extremely brave.

But every day, I try. I go out into the world, most of the time with a big smile, and I try to make sure I'm making the world brighter. And when I can't make the world brighter, I at least try not to make it any darker.

Bravery is about trying. It is about getting up each day and deciding to do things that aren't always comfortable. It is breaking out of the square box we would normally live in.

Bravery is showing the world it can't break you. It is waking up with a smile when everyone expects you to fall apart. It is trusting your heart and believing in yourself.
Because as much as we want to believe others will pick us up, sometimes the best thing for them is walking away. And I'm not here to determine whether that choice is right or wrong because it's different for everyone.

So you have to learn to save yourself.

Be your own hero. 

Believe in who you are.

This is one of my greatest parenting goals. Teaching bravery to children is an every day, every minute task. Most of the things my kids experience are new to them and often times, they look to me for reassurance. Each day, I try to emphasize the importance of putting our "brave pants" on and trying our best.

This ranges from trying new foods to attending school to giving a talk in primary and sometimes it even means dancing in front of hundreds of people.

My kids do brave things every day. 

Princess struggles with this the most. She isn't as outgoing as Ninja and she often clings to my leg in new situations.

I remember the day she started kindergarten. I remember walking away as she cried and tried to run after me. I remember feeling like the worst mom in the world, even though I knew that brave moment would help shape her into the girl she is today.

That moment taught me a lot about my own life. Because more than once in my life I've watched people walk away and I've cried and wanted to run after them---but in my heart, I knew the best decision would be to stay put and put my faith in myself.

And the first few times, I was lost for a long time and couldn't find my way back. But the more I choose bravery, the stronger I become. The more I fight for myself, the happier I am. The more I trust myself, the healthier my self-confidence becomes.

I think God knew this. I think He needed to push me over the edge so I would find myself. I told Him over and over and OVER that He was giving me too much to handle but the thing is, He didn't. I found my way. In fact, I pushed further ahead than I've ever gone.

I've started reading my scriptures and praying and spending more quality time with my kids. I've started reciting positive affirmations in front of my mirror to remind myself every day that I DO HARD THINGS. 

Whether I wanted to or not, God gave me this particular life because I am supposed to be this particular person. And as the Suzanne that I currently am, I can sit here and tell you that I am just as worthy as anyone else. I am worthy of life and love and happiness.

And happiness doesn't need to include a husband or more children or a million friends or a ton of money---happiness is an inside job. It is something I get to create within myself. It is something I get to share with the people around me.

I am extremely lucky to be Suzanne. Often times, I've wished to be someone else but this person that I am is pretty cool. The empathy and patience and optimism that God blessed me with is something I wouldn't trade for a million dollars.

I am not breakable because I am a daughter of God and I know He will always pull me through---whether that means dragging me by my toes or walking with a hand on my shoulder, He won't ever leave me.

I am brave. You are brave.

Life is brave.