Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Happy birthday party, DD2!

I threw DD2’s birthday party at her gymnastics gym.  She was thrilled!  I can’t tell you how happy I was to see her and her little preschool pals bouncing around the floor, balance beam, trampoline, and jumping into “the pit” (aka a bunch of blue squishy blocks built into a pit into the floor).  They dipped their hands in chalk, clapping them into enthusiastic clouds, hung and swung from the rings and the small parallel bar. They bounced along another trampoline upstairs and crawled and climbed through an obstacle course of shorter bars where they flipped and twirled.  Seriously, my heart couldn’t be any happier. 

Her face, aglow with delight when her Frozen cake came out, everyone singing happy birthday to her, blowing out her candles with gusto.  My hubby had schlepped a cooler in with ice for the drinks and snacks—he seemed a little overwhelmed with his stepfather duties but he held his own, lol.  All the parents followed their kiddos around taking pics, one of my besties took a slow-mo video of DD2 and I jumping into “the pit.”  In fact, she and I took turns on the balance beam, too, when no one was looking!

At the end, one pal had a melt down because she didn’t want to leave, five others were scrambling on the medal podium (apparently you get a trophy for being top 5 in the competitive meets), pictures were taken, more pictures were taken, and tons of giggling ensued.

All in all, the happiest of happy birthdays.  When we were driving home, DD2 asked me, “mommy, can I have ALL my birthdays at gymnastics, with ALL my friends, ALL the time?”

Heart. Full.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Today’s post is devoted to compassion—I’m a little early for the #1000SpeakforCompassion, #1000speak, but figured on the eve of Chinese New Year’s—and in celebration of the Year of the Wood Sheep (or Ram or Goat), why not do it now?  Open my mind and heart and devote some thoughts on compassion.

Compassion—I see compassion as opening your heart to yourself and others, to reach out and understand in circumstances that are familiar or unfamiliar.  One of my best friends and her husband, on a rare occasion when they had planned a babysitter for their three children for an event that they had mixed up the dates and suddenly found themselves without plans and with childcare lined up—what to do?  Instead of a date night of wine and dinner, she signed herself and her husband up to volunteer at a Devoted night—to sign in and assist the homeless with a meal and support (clothes, supplies) and a night of sleep at a local church.  They were both hesitant and unsure of themselves, and she later wrote about it in an article published by their local paper about how it changed them, how it made them grateful for the support system out there in the world and how they could be one part of the story to help make it a little better, even if it was for one night.  After helping some of the women pick out donated clothes—including much needed clean bras and panties, pants, and sweatshirts, she sat down at the table and ate dinner with them, listening and talking.  She with her knitting needles, they with their dinner and trays, talking about what they had done during the day, one lady who shared a story about the time before, when her kids were with her, but now they were grown.  Some of the people knew each other, some of them sat quietly and ate, but all were glad to have some quiet and food and shelter.  When I read her piece, I thought that she and her husband embodied compassion.  They didn’t volunteer out of some self-motive to prove their sainthood, in the see what I did, I’m such a good citizen way.  It was because they wanted to help make this world a little bit better in a way that they could, and even while doing it, they were worried that somehow they’d mess it up.  Compassion, humility, love, patience. 

I took the wrong path with my compassion for my Ex, I thought if I opened my heart large enough, it would heal him.  And don’t get me wrong, Compassion, I think, can heal, in so many miraculous ways.  It can help you share the pain, help shoulder the burden, for a little while, your heart may be open wide enough to help.  To share the road and the rollercoaster.  Compassion can lead you to a new destination.

Yesterday, I organized a little birthday celebration for DD2 at her preschool.  All along I had spoken to the teachers, hadn’t heard anything coming from the Ex, but as a dutiful decree follower, informed him as plans were made.

Guess who showed up at the school?  Who actually behaved himself and was even NICE?  The school has a “birthday circle” that includes a candle and a song and describing a few events in each year of your child’s life (not very long, considering this is preschool!) as they walk around the candle and the months of the year.  DD2 was so excited to have both of us there.  I had also brought three books to donate to the school, with one being her favorite and she was so proud to announce it, she plopped in my lap, and we had storytime with all the children.  He even took pictures of me with DD2 in my lap and texted them to me afterwards. 

I felt myself leaning towards compassion towards my Ex.  While there is nasty legal letter writing happening in the background, I understood that my DD2 was so incredibly happy to have both parents sharing in her special day, and for that hour, I set aside the nastiness and looked at my Ex with compassion.  Not the kind of compassion that would lead me down the road of unrealistic expectations, but the kind of compassion that would allow us all to share in a happy moment.  The preschool teacher wanted to take a picture of the three of us, so I leaned in with DD2 in between us, because I know that one day, she will want a picture with her mom and her dad in it.

Our life post divorce is filled with strife, conflict, accusations, a lesser version of the abusive household that we lived in.  But it is also filled with a love and happiness and hope, and maybe, just maybe, if I can have compassion for his struggle, at least yesterday (take this one moment at a time), it will make it easier and better for my daughters.

The last part of compassion that I’ve been working on is compassion for ourselves.  I hope that doesn’t sound selfish, but when I first divorced, I was beating the crap out of myself for not protecting my kids, for not leaving earlier, for not being able to explain to anyone what had happened to us.  A commenter at my Blogher site mentioned that I had “copped out” by wanting to hold onto the “stability” of my so-called family, and it’s true, I was.  I wanted to believe more than anything in the good parts and minimized that bad.  I still beat myself up about that.  For not being strong or brave enough.  For being consumed with anxiety and fear.

I think the sooner we are able to forgive the parts of us where we fail, the parts where we are weak, the mistakes, the blunders, the stupid things we’ve done—the sooner we can accept those things with compassion, the road to healing can open up.  I was blundering around, flailing, causing and/or enabling pain because of my inabilities, and once I began learning to forgive and treat these terrible parts of me with compassion, I was able to find a way out, find a way towards a different life.  I hope it’s a better one for the girls and me, and while this sort of compassion may not change the world in a big way, I’m hopeful it will change our little world in a way that matters.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

How do you heal?

I am really struggling these days. How to you heal? How you pretend everything is okay? In a couple of weeks, dd2's school is having an event, both parents have to be there, and i know the right thing to do is to put a smile on my face and be pleasant.

He threatened to put a bullet through my head. he said he would murder DD1 in her sleep. He choked our dog. He smashed and broke their toys, I never knew what would set him off, screaming, swearing, pushing and shoving them. i just watched part of _boyhood_ and the explosions of the stepdad, that was how it was like living with him. my psychologist and therapist friends observed he was a dry alcoholic--he would have the alcoholic rages without the alcohol.

And now...i have to pretend everything is okay and i'm fine.

i know it's the right thing to do--to go and put a brave face (we even have to sit together), but how do you do it? how do you get to a place where it's ok?

I know part of this PTSD thinking is being triggered by the legal writing that has been going on.  I keep thinking and re-thinking—did I do the right thing?  Escalating conflict through an attorney?  Then I think back on the last three months—the refusal to support DD1’s dance, the last two years of neglecting a financial obligation, the potential for a good education for the girls.  It wasn’t a rushed decision.  The co-parenting mediator even used the words “passive-aggressive” to describe him.

I have to find comfort that I’m doing the right thing, even though I feel scared. 

My friend offered me a book called _Healing is a Choice_.  It’s about forgiveness, but not forgetting, and finding a means to heal so your life is not consumed by the actions of the past.

Some days I’m really good at this.  Other days, like today, not so much. 

I guess I can only keep on swimming.

Monday, February 9, 2015

What's inspiring you?

I was so lucky to be nominated by Lisa Thomson of Lisa Thomson Live for this Very Inspirational Blogger award! Thank you!  So...
The Rules:
1. Thank the person who nominated you, and link to their blog.
2. Display the award logo (there it is above!)
3. Nominate 15 other bloggers (more or less) and provide a link where they may be found.
4. Go to their blog, leave a comment to let them know they have been nominated.
5. Mention three things that inspired you the most during the past few weeks.

Bloggers who inspire me--I'm really sorry that I don't follow a whole lot of blogs.  Lisa Thomson definitely inspires me--her wise words of wisdom about divorce and the aftermath of dealing with family has helped me see that single moms are not alone and that there is hope, even when you're in the trenches of coparenting with a less than stellar ex-husband.

Here are some others:

1)  The Crucible of Joy inspires me--about a family whose eldest son is currently diagnosed with short-gut syndrome and his parents were told he wouldn't live past infancy.  Well, that was six years ago, so they proved that wrong, BAM, but not without heart-wrenching experiences that we can only be in awe of and inspired by.  She inspires me every day.

2)  Liv by Surprise inspires me--her journey as a blended family and co-parenting with a narcissistic ex parallels some of my experiences, and she definitely inspires me to handle difficulties with grace, humor, and to always reinforce those boundaries!  Her latest post on Valentine's day made me laugh so hard that I snorted my tea.

3) Betty Fokker absolutely inspires me--her fierce humor and feminist rhetoric, her joyful and and no-holds bar support for her family and dealing with dysfunction, she is my hero, seriously!  Her daughters are so lucky to have such a strong mama as a role model.  She makes me chortle and laugh and also stand in awe at her bravery when taking on the unfairness of the world.

Three things that have inspired me the last few weeks:

1)  Squirrel.  She is coming into her own and testing her boundaries as she grows and learns more about the world around her.  I've seen her throw up some boundaries with her emotionally needy dad, just small steps here and there, i.e. trying to get off the phone with him.  And, she finally shed her training wheels and can ride her two-wheeled bike, yippee!

2) Ladybug.  Her enthusiasm for life is just like, 150%.  She is either running and jumping, or sleeping, i swear there's not much in between.  I wish every day could be as cool as she thinks it is.  I wish every hug could be as fierce, and every kiss as smooshy.

3) Grave of the Fireflies--this is an old animated film, out of Studio Ghibli (which brought us the Oscar award winning _Spirited Away_).  I watched this long ago in graduate school, but I just remembered it recently and found it in sections on Youtube.  It follows a brother and his younger sister in war-torn Japan and is so heartfelt and lovely and torturously sad and depressing, you would wonder why the heck would it inspire anyone?  It's beautiful though--the love between the siblings, their struggle to be alive and children and innocent and holding onto what's good in life, despite the very worst.  It inspires me to remember that caring for my kids, providing for them, is more important than anything.  It makes me remember that while the world is a dark and ridiculously unfair place, I have to make it as fair and forgiving as I can for myself, my children, the people around me. 

p.s. I'm actually feeling down because of some legal stuff that is in the air, so this was a nice reminder of the good people in the world and the good things and how we can do our best to make it a better life.  <3 comment-3--="">

Monday, February 2, 2015

I saw the red flags, and married him anyway

Please check out my article at DivorcedMoms, here .

I responded to a call for writing about seeing the red flags and marrying my abuser anyway.  My article is about #whyIstayed and eventually, #whyIleft.  I'm so pleased they have agreed to publish it.  (The hyperlinks in the article were embedded by the editors.)