Thursday, August 21, 2014

First Grade

I've never really been an overprotective mother. At least not overly protective.

I let them figure some of their sticky situations out on their own. Germs don't bother me. Kindergarten wasn't too hard for me to accept.

But there was just something about sending my six year old to school all day long that I wasn't dealing with very well. I assumed my anxiety would get better once I dropped her off that first day but we were late for school on the first day and I didn't even give her a kiss goodbye.

And for the six remaining hours before I'd see her again, I worried about what she was feeling, what she was doing, whether she was eating her lunch and making friends and liking her new teacher. It was a mess.
Of course, she came home all smiles and telling me all of the cool things about full day school and my worries were immediately eased. I even had tears in my eyes listening to how well the first day had been for her.

The second day was another story. My girl came home in tears because she had gotten a stop sign for something she didn't even do and that was a hard lesson for her to learn.
 Because sometimes even when we are telling the truth, life doesn't end up treating us fairly.

I resolved the issue with her teacher and after a ton of worrying about the future on my part, I felt at ease late that Thursday night. Holy rollercoaster day!

Day 3 was it's own kind of mess because Petey came home saying she had received two stop signs (both for legitimate reasons...talking!) which meant she had to sit out for 5 minutes of recess. She said, "I cried for a minute but then I realized it's fun to sit on the wall." Hmm...
So then I became the mother that worried my kid was going to start getting into trouble on purpose.

Gah!
 But my goodness, I am happy to report that although she tried to convince herself that sitting on the wall was indeed fun, she has done really well at following directions and listening to her teacher since then.
 Luckily for my anxiety, she has come home every day since then, all smiles and ready to tell me about each day.
 She excitedly talks about the new friends she's making and the old ones she gets to play with again.
 She tells me about how first grade is so cool because you get to study science and social studies
 and how eating lunch at school is quite possibly the coolest thing in the world.
 She likes to report which kids weren't listening and which ones were on their best behavior that day.
 This week, she came home to tell me she is the hall monitor all week. And boy, is she excited about that one! We had a talk about the responsibility that is in her hands as the hall monitor and how she should always be honest when reporting incidents to her teacher.
It has been an incredible whirlwind of two weeks for us!

And this is just the beginning!

There will be more tears, more fights, more smiles, more frustrations, and more learning opportunities.

I am so proud to be the mother of this kid. She is one of a kind. She is kind, loving, and sensitive and first grade is teaching her so much already.


PS: I took a picture of her every day for the first two weeks, to hold the same tradition as kindergarten. Here is the flashback to last year's collage. She has grown up so much!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

No One is Youer than You

 
I've always loved that Dr. Seuss quote, "Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you."

Truth be told, no one is better at being you than you are. Even on the worst of days and especially on the best of days.

I have to admit, there have been many times in my life I've wished to be someone else---someone skinnier, someone richer, someone smarter, etc. When I let my insecurities run my life, I become unhappy with the woman God intended me to be.

Although I don't believe God intended me to be a divorced mother of two when He created me, I know that He intended for me to be brave and strong. I know that He intended for me to fight my battles and love who I am. He knew I was going to go through these things and He placed building blocks along the way to teach me how to deal with them.

I firmly believed in that through my teenage years, miscarriage, marriage trials, infertility, and divorce.
But recently, I lost it. I lost some of my faith in allowing God to be in charge. I lost some of my faith in seeing the plan He has and knowing He can help me feel better. Because it just kept getting harder instead of better.

And hello? Not fair!

Amiright?

I needed a change.

Anger has been the first phase I allowed. When I first started to feel all of my anger, I fought it off because I just don't want to be that person. I want to be happy all of the time. But I have realized that I need to allow my feelings to come OUT so they don't stay in.

So I have been writing my anger out and working on the things that cause me to feel hurt.

Booyah, right?

And vomiting my feelings onto paper really did help me to see a glimpse of the hope I used to have. It also helped me to realize that I cannot do this on my own right now. And that's ok.

It's ok to need help. Ugh. Even writing that sentence kinda made me feel yucky. I still don't like needing help but my heart does tell me that it's ok. If I was giving advice to someone else, I'd tell them it was ok to need help.

So it must be ok for me too.

And thankfully, when I start to really doubt and lose my hope, God sends me little reminders that He loves me and has my back...always and forever. Last week, it was in the form of a song a friend sent me.

That song has become this week's theme song.


I hope you know you're not alone. I hope you know that there is a God and that He loves you for you, not for the choices you've made or the way you look.

Even though that's hard for me to believe all of the time, I'm grateful I can hold onto the things I write in my journal and on this blog of the good days, the days where I can fully see how much better it is that God is in control and not me.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Grief: Part 1

 
Truth:
I am not always doing as well as it seems.
 
Truth:
I deal with pain and trauma every day.
 
Truth:
I do not cry often because I hate feeling like I'm not in control of my emotions.
 
So here's a big truth...I usually write about my struggles in past tense form. When I'm in the midst of doing horribly, I don't like to talk about it here because I don't want you to think I am always angry or sad or ungrateful.
 
But I'm here today to tell you some truths. These are present tense.
 
Lately, it has all been hard; trauma from divorce, motherhood, finding myself, resolving my anger. I often fear that I will never get better because I go through these small ups and huge downs. I fear I won't be able to resolve the fact that I cannot trust anyone with my heart.
 
I am angry today. Actually, I've been angry for a few weeks. Well, in all honestly, I've been angry for a year now. But never like this.
My grieving process is so much slower than I anticipated and I'm just now hitting anger, real anger. And when it hit, it hit hard. I've resented a lot of these things that I have to accept as 'my story'.
 
Seriously? I'm a divorced 26 year old woman with 2 kids? Is this some cruel joke? This certainly can't be real. WHEN DO I GET TO WAKE UP?!
 
I'm trying to accept it. I really, truly am. I'm trying to be ok with my messy life because of the beauty it holds but sometimes, I just cannot see the beauty. Sometimes I just cannot focus on anything but the ugly, messy, screwed up parts of my life that make me question everything I've ever learned.
 
It's a mess, really.
 
I'm a mess.
 
In 12 days, I will have to come to grips with the anniversary of the day my husband left me. Ouch. It is a pain I cannot even begin to describe. It was the ultimate rejection. It has been an extremely painful year. I have made some really stupid decisions. I have cried more tears than in all of the other years of my adult life combined. It was traumatic.
 
And I'm still grieving.
 
Remember how I once said you just cannot put a timeline on grief?
Yeah.
I did put a timeline on my grieving. It wasn't a conscious decision but I now realize that I did that. Because I assumed that by a year, I would be fine. I assumed that by a year, I would be free of the shame and the guilt and the pain.
 
But that didn't happen, friends. I was wrong.
And the fact that I was wrong, the fact that I am still so broken makes me so damn angry.
 
All I want to do is be strong and happy and ME. I want to be me.
 
I wish I could accept that life is hard and uncertain and scary sometimes. That is my goal. I want to be ok with letting God take the reigns. I want to be ok with not knowing.
 
So today I'm angry.
And tonight I'm going to punch my pillow and scream swear words because, well...therapy!
 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

You Are Not An Object

***Dear Mom, Don't read this one. It talks about sex. You have been warned. 

At the splash pad yesterday, some friends and I were talking about this article that has been popping up all over Facebook called, "Five Reasons to Have Sex with your Husband Every Night".
Immediately, I wanted to barf and send swear words through the air in the biggest megaphone I could find.

But I hadn't read the article so yesterday, my opinion was invalid.

And today my opinion is no longer invalid.

I even read the article with the best possible scenario of an open mind. I tried to understand the writer's thoughts and feelings but as soon as I got to reason #2, my mind was mostly made up.

This article is not only unrealistic, it borders on possible objectification of women. And yes, it was written by a woman. I will say that a few of her suggestions were fine. I just cannot get on board with this idea as a whole. Are you seriously telling women what they should or shouldn't do with their own body? Because I have a major problem with that.

My least favorite line stated, "Men are far simpler. They need to be fed, they need to be appreciated, and they need to have sex." (I guess since I used a direct quote, I have to add the source as well) Correct me if I am wrong, did she just say they need sex? As in, if a wife doesn't "give it up", her husband might possibly die or search high and low for a female WHO WILL KEEP HIM ALIVE.

Let's try to keep the word need out of a sentence when also using the word sex, mmmmmmk?

Sex is great but it is not a necessity.

The thing is, when most of us imagine marriage, we imagine a lot of perfection. We imagine a lot of bliss and laughter and romance. And some of us get that for a while or maybe even for the long haul.

But most of our marriages don't end up the way we thought them in our heads.
The images we created become foggy. The day we said our vows becomes a distant reality, far from the reality we currently face.
We have financial instability, marital strife, late nights with puking children, etc.
 Our perfect family life becomes mixed with arguments and stress and LIFE.

Life isn't perfect. Marriage isn't perfect. And I am so sick of these articles that depict SEX as a way to make your marriage more perfect. In so many relationships, that can be an extremely damaging subject to talk about.

Because we are not objects and we do not owe anybody anything, not even our spouses. Wait, especially our spouses. Because marriage is an EQUAL relationship and is about intimacy on a level much deeper than anything phsyical. Marriage is about two equal people who feel safe with each other.

And the very second you start telling someone what they should or shouldn't do, regardless of how safe they feel doing so, you walk a dangerous line of inadvertantly showing that person they are failing. They are failing because they've said no when they are so worn out, all they want is to hold hands as they fall asleep. They are failing because after a full day of raising children they cannot please the one person who should love them regardless of their physical intimacy.

Marriage isn't all about sex.

And the second we learn that, the better off we will all be.

The second we stop telling each other what we should and shouldn't do for our marriage or relationship to be better, we will be better off!

Because you have never been in my shoes and I have never been in yours...so why in the heck are we giving each other advice on subjects that are so intimate and sacred between two people?

What happens when the abusive husband reads that article? Or the addict spouse?

Pieces of advice as blunt as the one I am currently discussing are dangerous and can give people a narcissistic power. They can also cause the submissive spouse to give in more than they feel comfortable.

My brain reads articles like this and says Danger! Danger! Danger!

So I guess I'll end with this. I don't fault the author. I don't fault those of you who agree with the article. In a normal, healthy relationship, that article might have pieces of advice that could help the healthiest of healthy marriages.

But as it is with most of our cases, we have ALL gone through or will go through patterns in our marriage that are lower than low, where we may feel like we need to make changes.

So if it comes to that point for you, please remember that you will always have the right to safety in your marriage. You will always have the right to make decisions and not feel pressured to change things you don't want to change.

You have choices at every turn of your life.

Make your life what YOU want it to be.

Because you are not somebody's object.

You are God's child.

The end.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Porn Pandemic: Part 2

This is a hard one to write about because it's a hard one to explain. Because this is the part that affects ME. And maybe it has affected you too.

Finding out your partner has chosen pornography over you is hurtful---actually, it's more than hurtful.

Damaging.
Distressing.
Wounding.

It isn't what the media wants you to believe. Pornography does not strengthen your relationship. It hurts your partner. And it hurts you.

"While porn is something users can choose to do on their own, that use doesn’t just affect them—it affects their partner too, and not for the better. Studies have shown that even casual use of porn can cause the user to feel less attracted to their partner. And when a person frequently uses pornography, they’re far more likely to feel less satisfied with their partner’s looks, sexual performance, and willingness to try new sexual acts.
Why all the sudden disappointment with one's partner? It's likely due to the fact that porn promotes a completely fictional version of how people look and behave (See Porn Is a Lie), and makes it look like an exciting reality—one that their partners often feel they can never live up to." source

It is painful.

A lot of women blame themselves. Oh my goodness, I blamed myself. It has to be because I'm overweight. I could never compare to those women. It must've been the way I looked or the way I acted.

It is a trauma that is indescribable unless you've experienced it.

If you were self-conscious before, it is multiplied by ten thousand.

You question everything. Everything. You wonder how you could've reacted differently to some of the crappiest situations in your marriage so you can fix this ugly thing. You can fix this! You can erase it, right? Please oh please, it just needs to be erased!

 I could tell you all about the heartache I've experienced and the emotional trauma that has been placed in my life because of this hurtful story but instead I asked some of my friends who have been through this, in the very thick of this, what they would say to someone who wanted to know how pornography affects relationships. This is what they said:

"Pornography - every time I made a new discovery a bomb went off in my world. I was a part of the rubble. Damaged & destroyed sometimes. I didn't even know if I could crawl to all the other pieces to pick them up. Let alone - reassemble. It was a daunting task and no help in sight.
 I lost all respect for the man I married. I resented him. I was angry like never before. Trust was obliterated . Only once ever in my life did I hurt like I did now - my heart physically hurt. Trapped in a war zone, isolated & alone, hurt & lost. Despair came and nearly caused me to end my life. Even feeble attempts to seek help were ignored until it was almost too late. I am much better now. It's still tough at times, but there is hope & healing happening for me. Seeking my own recovery has been a lifesaver. He has no interest in recovery or acknowledging there is a problem. But...there is hope for me"
"Porn, when I didn't know about it's grasp on my husband, made me feel like something was off, but I could never quite put my finger on it. My life felt happy and spiritual, and then my husband would get home and everything in the atmosphere would change to darkness and emptiness. Every day. For 4 years. Porn made my husband unable to be truly intimate with me. I never felt like we were on the same page. Happy times felt lacking. Sad times felt empty. He was emotionless and I was made out to look like an emotional lunatic. Porn caused my husband to use me as an object. I was expected to perform to his needs and wants perfectly and when I didn't, I was met with dissatisfaction. My body was not my own, I was used as just another form of acting out in his addiction. Sometimes I would cry during sex because of how used I felt and he never even noticed. Porn sucked the life out of my husband and almost caused him to take his own life. When he was in the thick of it and couldn't get out, he almost left his wife and three children to escape the emptiness that porn gave him."

"It almost killed me. The end."
-Make My Burden Light-
 
"Porn made me feel like a second-class citizen in my own marriage. It made my feelings and thoughts secondary to Addiction's. Marriage is supposed to be a partnership but with porn it wasn't. At all. The relationship that is supposed to be the ultimate in safe spaces was decidedly UNsafe and hostile. I was alone and fightened while my husband who swore to protect me and love me was kept from me because of his addiction to pornography. It was like the real him was locked away somewhere I couldn't be and in his place was someone who DIDN'T love me and DIDN'T care about my feelings and overall WASN'T really him.
After a long and arduous journey through recovery including therapy, LDS PASG groups, SA, and (the greatest catalyst for him) a weeklong stay in a local mental hospital as well as meeting with psychiatrists about medication for his panic and anxiety disorder, my husband is with me. like, really WITH me. He listens when I have something to say and he holds me when I am sad. He tells me stuff like "that makes sense" and "you're not crazy for feeling that way, it's okay". And that means we can actually have a REAL relationship now. Instead of having porn between us, it's just us
 
"Simply put... pornography destroys relationships. Relationships cannot thrive and grow when pornography is present. Pornography, and all the fake and unreal ideas that come along with it became Mr. Wonderful's reality and his expectations of marriage and real love and connection were jaded. I can NEVER live up to what Mr. Wonderful "expects". No matter what I do, it is impossible. Because Mr. Wonderful chose to indulge in pornography and sexual behaviors, I am married to a man who is always disappointed with me, who feels entitled to "more" and "better". What my husband believes is "real love" and "true connection" is anything but that. But what do I do? What can I do about it? I can't morph into a new girl every night, it is impossible. His reality is impossible. Unless Mr. Wonderful spends dedicated years to "retrain" his brain, we will never make it. And in the meantime, I have to TRY desperately to MAKE myself believe that this isn't my fault, and that I am enough... over and over again. This is what pornography does in REAL life. This is how it has affected my life and my marriage and my children. Pornography kills love. It kills the true meaning of love. -Alice Alice Looking for Wonderfulland

Not every story is the same but every single one of these stories is real.

Pornography kills love.
Real love does not exist within the realms of pornography.
I have seen the hand of God in my life as I have dived through this journey. I have also seen the effects of Satan because HE DOES NOT LIKE THIS. He hates that we are putting up a fight.
When I posted Part 1, it only got 46 reads which is quite abnormal for my blog and I felt like that was a testament of how many people turn their heads the other way because it is more comfortable! Satan does not want you to read about my journey or other womens' journeys. He wants us to believe that pornography is good---and if it isn't good, he will at least try to convince us this is too shameful to ever speak of.

We cannot let him win. Pornography is infiltrating our societies and ruining relationships.

We need to talk about it to fight against it, to bring awareness to the ICKY, SCARY, DETRIMENTAL crap that is so readily available around us.

We are fighters.

We can do this, friends.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Build A Bear Awesomeness

In May, Petey made a new friend. I had been trying to get her together with my friend's little girl because it would work out perfectly---I would have my friend, Petey would have her friend, and Spidey had already made best friends with their dog, Rico (true story).

So school was out and these girlies started playing together. One day, Petey noticed her friend had THE COOLEST My Little Pony stuffed animal and she asked where her friend had gotten it.

The answer?

Build-a-Bear.

Of course, for days, Petey was at my heels, begging me for one, telling me she needed one. She just had to have that MLP Build-a-Bear or she would die!!!

But I had no intentions of paying for the overpriced stuffed animal because 1) I'm cheap and 2) we have SO MANY stuffed animals. So I told Petey she was welcome to do chores to earn money for her Build-a-Bear trip.

And my goodness, was she determined! She earned a quarter a chore and after 6 weeks, she had around $12. It was kind of depressing. She would ask me all of the time if she had earned enough money and I kept having to tell her she hadn't. So I decided when she did bigger chores, she'd earn a little bit more.

During this time, Spidey had decided he wanted in the action so he would do chores every once in a while. But Spidey doesn't like chores as much as Petey so he hardly earned any money. I think he ended up with $7 after that 6 weeks.

Fast forward to two weeks ago, Petey kept asking when she was going to have enough money because it was taking FOREVER. I decided I'd give the kids the option of selling some of their toys to earn the rest of the money. And wow, Spidey started throwing all kinds of toys in his bag and within the week, he had more than earned his money for a Build-a-Bear.

It was great and exciting for him except Petey had been doing so many chores and working hard and now she was the one with less money. The reason being that almost ALL of her toys are things she just got for her bithday and she isn't ready to part with them yet.

But alas, she did sell a few toys and then the kids decided to sell one of their big toys and split the money and all of a sudden, we were there! They had done it!

So today, we headed over to Build-a-Bear!

We walked in the store and Petey already new her heart was set on Pinky Pie. She also had enough money for a simple bear so she chose a white one and got it a cheerleader outfit.

But my favorite part of the trip was when Spidey marched over to the bins and grabbed Rainbow Dash out and exclaimed that he had found his favorite one.

*Cue the giggles and squeals from both kids...seriously, SO MUCH excitement for their hard earned reward*

After stuffing the ponies and Petey's bear, Spidey and I were waiting while Petey picked out her bear's clothing and a little boy walked over and said, "Why are you getting a girl pony? That is just for girls. That's weird." and Spidey looked at him with confidence and said, "Uhh, Rainbow Dash is the fastest and the coolest. She isn't just for girls." He wasn't even phased by the question because he knows for sure that Rainbow Dash rocks. It made me smile.

I like it when my kids are confident. Because what the heck is the difference between my son liking Rainbow Dash and my daughter liking the color blue?

I'm all for teaching my kids about the awesome things about their specific gender. I am not pushing them one way or another. But I'm also ok with my son liking the same things his sister likes or vice versa. I just hope they're always confident and happy with their decisions.

And on that exciting note, enjoy this picture of my adorable children with their hard earned stuffed friends.
THEY ARE SO HAPPY!!!

PS: I guess I should also mention that the little boy's mom handled the situation quite awesomely and Spidey was quickly being apologized to...although he was a bit confused because he just didn't understand why someone was making fun of him for picking out the COOLEST THING IN THE STORE. Seriously, my boy rocks.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

I Am Here

I am here.This is exactly where I am.
Right here.

I've been thinking a lot the past few days. I do that sometimes---think. I am nearing my year mark of living on my own.
A whole year.
I kind of can't believe it but at the same time, it feels like it's been longer. It depends on the day.

In this year I have slept in my bed alone, not had help with baths/bedtime 75% of the time, made grown up decisions on my own, finished two semesters of school, juggled friend time and kid time and now 'single people' time, been the "room mom" at Petey's school, taken my kids to extracurriculars, taken trips by myself with the kids, and I've even gone on a few dates.
Divorce life is weird. It just is. It's hard and weird and messy and I'm still figuring out how I should navigate this new life between kids and being single and my many, many married friends. It's tricky a lot of the time.

I've gotten more babysitters in the past year than all of the previous six years combined. I'm so grateful for all of the help and the prayers and the late night talks. A whole year has gone by and I still feel surrounded and supported by the people who love and my children.

I felt a strong impression to start writing this blog back in 2009, right after my son was born. At the time, my post-partum depression was pretty rough and I needed an outlet. But most of my posts were crap. Most of them weren't real.

I wanted so badly to write about real things the first 2.5 years my blog existed. But I wasn't brave enough to share my life.
Then infertility happened. I needed this outlet. I needed to write my feelings about what was happening and I wondered if others needed to hear it as well.
Judging from the comments and the emails, they did. People related to my words. I learned a lot of stories from a lot of people that came from all different walks of life.

Since then, I've decided to keep my blog as real as I can. Although not everything is blog appropriate, a lot of the things I'm passionate about are. Everytime I write, I put effort into my words.

But along with being so real, I take some risks.
Any person can come here and see that:
I am divorced. I am passionately against pornography. I have two kids. I have an eating disorder. I'm kind of crazy.
{Although that last one isn't proven...}
One of the hardest parts of having a blog is that everyone gets to know about you before you get to know anything about them. It's something I choose everytime I push publish.
I know it's a risk. I know a lot of the people that read my blog don't personally know me. I can't force you to trust me or believe in what I am saying. Many of you won't and that's ok with me. But this is my side of the story. It is a story I get to share whenever I want because it is mine. I do hope that when you read, you see a little piece of my heart. I hope you see that I am a genuine person.

Because I haven't quite decided if you knowing so much about me without me trusting/knowing you is a good thing. I still feel like it's right to be doing this and putting my words out there for everyone to read but that doesn't always make it easy. It is still scary a lot of the time. I still think long and hard before submitting my posts and sharing them on Facebook.

Because this is my real life, people. These are my ups and downs, my good and my bad, my faith and my fear. These stories aren't made up. They happen in my life. The emotions I write about are real emotions.

I am scared every time I come on here but I am also brave. I feel like this is one of my callings in life. I don't see a point in trials if I don't turn around and help someone overcome their trial through my empathy and understanding. I come here to help sort out my thoughts but also to help you, maybe just one of you. It's ok with me if it's just one of you. I am here to show you that you are not alone.

That is a truth that I know without a doubt.

You are not alone.