Tag Archive | letting go

Anniversaries…

In the last year, I have been examining people and their motivations, including my own. It hasn’t been any easy process, but I’ve felt that I have needed to get more nuanced in the details of human behavior. I want to understand where things have gone wrong in my own relationships, and what I could do to not fall into that trap again.

Here are some things I have learned:

I have a hard time letting go.  I love hard and try hard.  I miss you a lot longer than I should.  Long after you show that you don’t deserve me.  Long after you walk away and replace me.  I’m working on this, but I’m not really sure how to stop caring about someone.

Your ego got in the way of a successful relationship.  I really just want to be treated well; with love and respect.  It shouldn’t be that hard.  I don’t want to be subjected to your narcissism, or your contempt.  I don’t want to have my boundaries belittled or trampled.  I don’t want to be raged at when I offer a suggestion or advice that you don’t agree with.  I’m not questioning your masculinity (although if this threatens you this much maybe I am); rather I just think a partnership includes a two way dialogue and input.

I want a man who acts like a man.  I don’t want to have to make all your appointments for you, or remind you 4,743 times to pick up something from the store before you actually get it.  I don’t want to have to worry about whether you filed your taxes or paid your bills or if you ever put money into savings.  I want you to take care of your shit, and do your share of taking care of the shared shit.  I want to let go of the reins sometimes, and leave things in your capable hands.

I want to be surprised sometimes.  I want a man who plans the weekend getaway, who gets the groceries for camping, who takes care of the arrangements so I don’t have to.  That’s been a rare thing in my life.  Too rare.

I need to trust.  That’s been the hardest part of this journey of mine; the disintegration of my ability to trust.  When your words don’t match your actions.  When you caused my tears yet you do nothing to try to make them better.  Trust issues are the death by a thousand cuts.  I sometimes wonder if I will ever trust a man again.

I want to hear the truth. And I want to hear the apology when it’s needed too.  I don’t accept you turning it back around on me and blaming me for your behavior.  I’m certainly not perfect, but I do apologize when I have been wrong or hurtful.

My therapist said that the best deceivers can keep up the facade for about six months.  That’s probably about right.  It’s so discouraging to think that by the time you even start to see someone for what they are, you may have wasted a half a year.  I don’t have a half a year to waste every time.  Every half a year I waste is a smattering of gray hairs and worry lines.

We always want to believe that the one who went away… still longs for us.  But chances are they don’t.  You may cross their mind in a season of unease.  Hard times always make us reflect.  But when they’re engrossed in a career, family, life in general, they aren’t thinking about the person they left.  Remember this when you find yourself wasting precious time on the ones who walked away.  They walked away.   — Alfa Holden

I’ll keep trying to get better at letting go.  It’s sad that of all the skills I thought I would need to know, this one is the one I need most.

 

 

 

Clarity

This photograph popped up on my Facebook memories the other day.  It was taken at the St. Elmo Ghost Town in Colorado, in August 2015.  It was one of the last trips my ex-husband and I took before we separated about 6 months later.

That was not a good trip.  I mean, the trip itself was good, as I love traveling and seeing new places, and that vacation had a lot of new places to see!  But that trip was the end of my marriage.  I suppose anyone whose marriage has ended can probably point to the month, the day, or even the moment when they were done.  It might not mean that they marched down to the courthouse that afternoon, or even a month later, but in looking back, they knew.

My moment happened on the first day of that trip – at lunch at a Boulder brewery shortly after we flew into Denver that morning.  It was a big thing, one that I could never let go of, even after the initial incident settled down.  I told myself that I would see how things went for a little while, and see if I was satisfied with the response.  See if he followed through on the promises he made.  I’m sure you can guess that the response wasn’t good enough.  The trust was gone and with that, the marriage.

I don’t think I’m different than anyone else.  I never thought I was someone who would get divorced.  I probably stayed too long.  I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt; wanted to believe that things would change.  I weighed the pros and cons of upsetting the balance of my life.  I went through the self-doubt and the wondering if I would ever find anyone who loved me or even cared.  Maybe my marriage was enough.  Maybe you never got the fairy tale, and something less was enough.

I am no different than anybody else in that I sometimes don’t feel confident about who I am, what I have achieved, and where I’m going.  I know in reality that it is nonsense, but it’s tough not to compare yourself to others, to not assume that everybody else somehow has it all together so much more than you do, and to not be your own worst critic.  I’m not good enough, I don’t deserve to be happy, I don’t deserve the good fortune I have had. I ruminate more when I’m tired and stressed, and I’m trying to break myself of this insidious habit.

I had a beloved boss and mentor who used to say, “you work someplace as long as it works for you.”  I have always remembered that, and I use it myself now too.  It applies to work and career, but it also applies to our personal lives.  Dr. Phil is known for asking guests, “how’s that working for you?”  It is kind of the same question.  If you are still doing the same thing, and it isn’t making you happy, don’t you owe it to yourself to try something different?

They say that sometimes you have to lose what you thought you wanted in order to make room for something better.  That one door has to close before another will open.  And that you have to sit with yourself, and learn that you are enough, before you can see that someone else is not.  I see a lot of people get stuck in life, and we all do, but you have a choice of how you will deal with it.  Will you maintain the status quo, and keep making the same choices that aren’t serving you, or will you make a change?

I have never been someone who just goes rushing into things.  It isn’t my nature.  I’m not particularly adventurous, even though some people might think otherwise.  After all, I did decide to pack up my car and head off on a several month road trip, with no real plan and only a very loose itinerary.  But I don’t see myself that way.  The irony of this is that my cautious nature used to annoy my ex-husband to no end.  But he would circle round a topic in an endless loop, unhappy with the status quo, complaining, and yet unwilling to ever do anything to change it.  I’m sure he’s still circling round his endless loop.  It might take me a while to make up my mind, evaluating all my choices and the consequences, but once I do, I set the plan in motion and go for it.

I have known that I am happier without him, but it is hard to define why.  Our marriage wasn’t awful on a day to day basis.  It was just… Stagnant.  Lifeless.  Unfulfilling.  I see this picture now and I can see exactly why, in a way that I didn’t understand then.  The body language of the man in that photo says it all.  He didn’t love me.  He didn’t want to be with me.  Posing for that photo with me was a chore.  I get that some people just don’t like being in photos, but the body language in that photo was the way it had become for him with me.  He looked this way with me, whether it was recorded or not.  He was already done, before I ever got to that point.

I have had a lot of ups and downs since this photo was taken.  My divorce was ugly and messy.  My former job was ugly and messy.  Closing those doors meant that I could let those things go and allow the light to come back in through another door.  I didn’t want to be a victim, but sometimes I have felt like one.  However, there is no future in that – being the victim.  All that holds is blame and more stagnation.  I was able to learn to shine again, and find that inner strength – the strength that had been there all along, but is sometimes hard to see when you are weighed down by other people’s shit.

Is my new life perfect?  Nope – not on your life.  But it is a lot more even-keeled.  I’m content.  Comfortable in my own skin.  And happy.

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” ― Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein

 

Nine Years

Yesterday, WordPress gave me a notification that it has been nine years since I started this blog.  Nine long years.  It got me thinking about where I was nine years ago.

The Hanoi Taxi

(Above is one of the first photos of me that I posted on this blog – it was taken a few years before I started writing here – in 2008, I believe.  I was thinner and more camera shy!)

I was still working in my first public sector Human Resources job; the one I started exactly 16 years ago today, as a matter of fact.  So many anniversaries!  I wasn’t going to be there much longer; it was a great place to work, and I enjoyed most of the people that I worked with, but it was a small organization and that meant there wasn’t any career progression to be had.  Moving up meant moving on.

I wasn’t married yet back then.  I got married less than a month after I started this blog; it was originally his idea, something that we could do together.  But his attention span meant that he lost interest a few weeks in.  I’m a Virgo – in it for the long haul once I start something.

Of course, I had no idea that my marriage would be a relatively brief period of my life; I had no inkling of the downward spiral that he was to go through.  Even more than three years after we separated, he still pops up from time to time, texting to try to manipulate me.  I’m never sure if anything he says is true; I would be surprised if it were.  I am fairly certain that he is drinking when he sends them though.

A few things are the same; I still have many of the same friends, the same horse, the same car.  Dad is gone now.  My boss and mentor from that first public sector job is gone too.  I’ve had a few jobs in the last nine years, moving up in my career to more responsible roles.  I have some grey hair to go with the increased responsibility.

My love for travel has increased exponentially, a result of having a higher salary and more vacation time with which to nurture it.  My road trip last summer was incredible, as was my trip to London, and multiple shorter trips to places in the United States.  This love will be with me forever.

I like that I have this record of my life, here in these pages.  Even the hard parts of it.  I like that I can relive the happy moments.  I like that I can look back and see that I have moved past the painful moments.

In these nine years, I have had successes and failures, joy and sorrow, love and loss.  I have tried to be the best person I could be.

I have grown.  I have grown older, and I would like to think wiser.  I am better able to recognize when to hang on, and when to let go.  I have worked at forgiving people for their shortcomings; for disappointing me and letting me down when perhaps they too were trying to be the best person they could be.  I have worked at not taking it personally when those people’s shortcomings cause them to unleash their anger and venom on me.  I have worked to accept that it generally has nothing to do with me.  I have worked to accept, in general.

I am still growing.  I am working to learn and succeed in my new job, and the new life that I find myself in.  We don’t always get to choose the life that finds us, but if you let it wash over you, you might just find, as I have, that it suits you.

One of my most recent pics; from last weekend

Hold on, enjoy the ride, and make the most of it.  I can’t wait to see what the next nine years brings me.

Moving On

Somewhere, in that space between the loss and the letting go of it, you must feel its whole, heavy, crushing weight.  That’s what grief is. No one prepares you for how heavy that weight is, how hard it is to carry, or how long it will linger in your heart.  But you have to feel it in its entirely, in order to feel the light begin to peek in the cracks on the other side of grief.  It will never go away completely; you will always carry some of it with you.  It changes you, but in time the light will come back and you will see the road forward with new eyes.

My last three years have been largely about grief.  The end of my marriage, a job with a toxic environment, the loss of two beloved cats, and having my life upended by my father’s sudden death.

There were nights I cried myself to sleep, and days I felt so numb that I thought I may never cry again.  I walked with that weight pressing me down, invading every inch of my soul.  I walked even on days when I thought I couldn’t possibly have any more strength.  I lay awake most nights at 3 am, turning over every word, every feeling, every look I had received, trying to make sense of what went wrong.  I did this even when I knew logically that I did the best I could, I did exactly what I was supposed to do, I upheld my end of the deal.  Not perfectly, but I did the best I could.

I lay awake with the weight of knowing that you can’t make somebody else step up to the plate, or keep the promises they made.  Knowing that sometimes you just run into assholes, and kindness won’t make them stop being assholes.  Knowing that sometimes we all get the shitty end of the deal, no matter what we do.  When I did sleep, I had vivid nightmares.  My brain is very, very ruthless. For me sleep came and went, with the insomnia returning with each new trauma.  At some point, the sleepless nights once again became nights where I slept more peacefully.  It creeps up slowly, so you aren’t really sure exactly when it happens.  I still have those nights that I wake up at 3 am and turn over everything in my mind; they are coming less often now though.

The light seeps into the cracks, and you find your smile returning.  Sometimes other people notice it before you realize it’s there.  You find yourself laughing where you faked it before.  You find yourself looking forward to things again, instead of seeing each day as something to be endured.  My road trip helped me immeasurably.  With each mile that I drove, and each place I visited, and each kind person I met along the way, the weight lessened.  My heart lightened.  But time played a part too – and the distance that time creates.

No, it never really truly goes away.  You still have the memories.  The good memories, that bring you joy and peace.  And the bad memories hit you like a gut punch when you least expect it.  They also remind you that you can get through it, as long as you don’t give up.  You change.  The grief will still be a part of you.  But it will no longer define you.  So yes, somewhere, in that space between the loss and the letting go of it, you must feel its whole, heavy, crushing weight – there isn’t any other way.  I’m not quite there yet, but one day, it will feel lighter.