Thursday, July 29, 2010

Days Like This

Ever have "one of those days?" The kind where things aren't really wrong, but they aren't really right, either?

Mine always seem to coincide with a work-day. That's probably due to the fact that I really don't like my job (that's a whole different post). I have a lot of responsibility but no authority, I do about three different full time jobs (while being paid for one) and I have way too many bosses to manage.

The job is stressful, but the everyday stuff really doesn't affect me too much. Every now and again, we go through a phase where the VPs with whom I work are in ultra-stress mode. I call it PMS - Producer Makes (me) Scream. Even though the everyday stress might not get to me, when they get like this - it's tough to take. I manage by reminding myself it will pass (which I know it will). But while they are PMSing, I do notice a few things about myself.

I notice I am edgy. Not just at work (where it's worst) but after work, as well. While I'm driving, especially, things that wouldn't normally bother me really get under my skin. I might be short with people while I'm out and about, or sometimes even with friends. 

I also notice that I get nervous or stressed about other, silly things. Like, if someone doesn't respond to a message right away, or makes fun of me in a playful way, I might get upset. These are the kind of things that normally I would barely even notice, much less care about. But when I'm stressed - it's like it takes over and everything is suddenly a much bigger deal. 

Is this normal? Maybe. But that doesn't make it acceptable.

I'm fortunate enough to have awesome friends who listen and care. Even though they are smart and savvy enough to realize that this isn't really me, they don't deserve to be treated poorly. Me having a bad day is no excuse for laying it at anyone else's feet - no matter what (or who) caused my mood.

Probably my greatest fear is losing the people most important to me. I don't mean through death, or changing circumstances. I mean by alienating them; by saying something in a way that hurts them, or turns them out of my life. While I'm not afraid to voice my opinion or stand up for myself, I am very aware of the fact that if I do that when I'm stressed, I'm likely to say something I might regret out of anger or frustration.

So how do I handle it? Better than I used to. Becoming aware of it was key, as was taking note of the triggers. Now that I know, I can prepare for it, and try to prevent it. Maybe take a walk at work, or take more frequent, shorter, breaks during the day to help lower the stress level. Or I can sneak in some "Sue Time" after work, before meeting up with friends, so it's under control beforehand. 

I can also apologize. So, if you're reading this, and I've been short, testy or just plain rude, at all - I'm sorry. If I haven't (yet) - any chance we could log this for later? 

Please and thank you.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

And Then....

They say that giving up doesn't always mean you're weak; sometimes it means you're strong enough to let go. The question is, once you've let go - then what?

After my separation, I had to conquer a few fears. Spiders, furniture and lawn mowing are just a few of the things I dealt with at first. I managed to reconnect with some family and made wonderful new friends. The truth was, my biggest fear was how to open up and meet new people. 

Number one, I was afraid I wouldn't want to make the effort. Having known people who just shut down after a failed marriage/relationship, I was afraid I'd fall into this trap. More importantly - I had no idea how I would go about meeting people.

Like I've shared before, I figured out early on that the bar scene wasn't for me. I decided that meeting people online was a good alternative for someone in my situation. I quickly learned a few things about myself and my dating-style. I really believe that the most important part of dating isn't the people you're getting to know - it's getting to know yourself.

It seems to me, there is also another purpose in dating (no - besides that!). It may sound weird - but part of dating is resolving your feelings about your ex.

There's always that person you meet, after the relationship. It might be the first, or it might be the tenth. But it ends up being your first "relationship" - sometimes called your "transitional relationship." I'd heard the phrase, but never really put much stock in it, or tried to understand. But when I met him I found out it's really not just a bunch of psycho bs - there's real merit to this idea.

I was pretty lucky to meet someone who was very cool, very considerate and an all-around good guy. We started dating, and pretty quickly, he knew he didn't have feelings for me beyond friendship. I was more hung up on him. Neither of us was dating, so we hung out a lot, even after we'd decided to just be friends. It wasn't until he started seeing someone that I really dealt with the fact that it wasn't going to happen. Of course it hurt, but it also gave me some much needed perspective.

I suddenly started paying attention to who I was meeting and dating. I had a much clearer idea of what I was looking for, and what I wanted. Oddly enough, I also got a much-needed confidence booster. Sure, this guy didn't end up liking me - but at one point, he had, at least enough to date. If he would - then so would others. It was just a matter of me feeling good enough about myself to let it happen.

Not to sound cold, but it was also good practice. I needed to get back into the routine of meeting new people - what to wear, where to go on a first date, what to talk about, etc. It's all stuff you forget after being the same person for a while. It's like riding a bicycle - you still know how, but you're rusty and need to refresh your skills a bit.

This may sound weird - but being hurt also helped me to figure out how to forgive. The two relationships (my ex and my new friend) couldn't have been any more different, but the one thing they had in common was my hurt feelings. Learning that I could survive being hurt again made it easier to keep moving forward with the whole dating-thing. Finding out how good it felt to forgive helped me deal with those last, residual feelings of anger, resentment and loss, and truly move past the marriage.

For the first time since my separation, I really felt like I knew exactly what I was looking for. Which was good - because knowing makes it a whole lot easier to recognize when you find it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

My Silver Lining

I recently took a less-than-stellar vacation. Being the sort of someone who likes to find the positive in any situation, I decided that I would look hard (dig deep, if I had to) and find the good that came out of my trip. Then I decided I would blog about it, so that I won't be able to forget the good stuff. 

We rented a beautiful condo in Wildwood, NJ about two blocks from the beach and boardwalk. If you're thinking about visiting Wildwood, I have to say a condo is the way to go. You can't beat the value in terms of cost or convenience. 

The other thing that's nice about Wildwood is it is very family friendly. There is a lot for kids to do on the boardwalk, including games, rides, a water-park, and all kinds of junk treat foods. There is a ton of excitement to be had. 

Of course, Wildwood is a beach town. A beach vacation isn't for everyone (myself included) but if you're a beach person - I have to say Wildwood is a great place to go. The beaches are clean, the people are friendly and there are plenty of ways to enjoy the sand and surf. 

But, if you're like me - you bore easily. You might want a little bit more to do than just the beach and boardwalk everyday. The best part of the trip for me was Cape May. A quaint little town, it offers more beach if you like, but also shops, shows, a haunted tour and great restaurants. I found my vacation savior in Cape May - a cute little shop full of the best Vera Bradley selection I've seen. 

If you're even further like me, you burn. I tan eventually, but too much sun all at once leads to some nasty problems for me. So, I was really happy to have brought this lotion with me that has aloe and vitamin E, which is good for healing. It worked like a charm. Believe me - I've healed many burns in my life, and nothing has worked better than this stuff. Highly recommended.

Another thing I learned while I was away? Substitute makeup is not for me. This is a valuable lesson. I recently switched makeup brands to one that I am unbelievably happy with, both in terms of quality and value. When I left for my trip, I was getting low on powder foundation, so I had to switch back to a regular, store brand until I could get home and order more of my new favorite. The store brand is relatively expensive, even in a national discount store - and yet, didn't work half as well. My advice? When you're traveling, especially in salt air and humidity, that is not the time to switch back to an inferior product.

To sum up - my vacation was not really that great. But I did visit a place I'd never been, found a new possibility for weekend getaways, was able to feed my purse/accessory addiction a little bit and I found a couple of new must-have products for my makeup bag.

There's always a silver lining. Even if you find it when you come home.


Family is Like Fish

I've never had the conventional family. You know - mom, dad, siblings, etc. I'm lucky enough to have been blessed with a lot of extended family and friends, who have filled my world with love and joy and a whole lot of entertainment over the years. I'd do anything for any of them.  

Except join them on vacation.

I have a long-standing rule that family should be experienced in small doses. I don't believe that out-of-town family should stay in your home. In an emergency, they can crash on a sofa or air-mattress, but under no circumstances should they be made to feel so comfortable that they want to stay for several days. 

When I was married, my father and cousin tried, more than once, to get my ex and I to go on their family vacation to Las Vegas. My ex thought this was a great idea. "Oh, it'll be fun!" I heard over and over. "Oh, don't you want to spend time with them?" he would ask. 

No. I don't.

Here's the thing.... Family is like fish. After three days, you either have to cook them, or throw them out. If they hang around too long - they permeate the air. It's not one big thing - it's a bunch of ongoing, little things that eat at you until you feel like they have filled up the place and surrounded you. Like a lingering smell that you know is there, but you can't quite figure out what it is. 

Last week, I went away with my best friend and her two kids. I adore her, and I adore them. More than life itself, actually. I was so excited when we made our plans (several months ago) that I didn't think things all the way through. If I had, I probably would have realized that her parents, sister, niece, etc. would also want to join us. My friend comes from a very tight-knit family, and they have always vacationed together. 

Turns out, I broke my #1 rule - I vacationed with a family. 

When you're away, especially if you're sharing living space, things like bathroom schedules, money, discipline (if you're with children), noise, when to wake up/go to bed all come in to play. It should be simple to divide up money for the condo or groceries, or not to disturb others by making too much noise - but sometimes, people just don't agree on those things. By themselves - not a big deal. But when it's one on top of another on top of's too much. 

If you're with a close family, they sometimes believe that the closeness comes from proximity - and they will sacrifice everything else, up to and including everyone's sanity, to maintain that "closeness." But that leads to a lot of stress, hurt feelings and aggravation. I can get that at work - I go on vacation to escape those things.

Does this mean I don't love my family (or my extended family)? Absolutely not. 

It just means that next year, I'll be waiting for their postcard. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dressed to Impress

“Ladies, serious question….why do some women like douche-bags / dirt-bags?”

This question was posed by one of my tweeps the other night. It made me think of some conversations that I have had with women recently. One woman said to me, “Well, I don’t care what I look like. My husband married me; he’s stuck with me, whether he likes what he sees, or not.” Another said that she is happy to stay with her husband, even though she’s not happy, because “training” a new guy would be too much of a hassle.

Am I the only one who thinks this is a little sad? 

I will admit that I was probably guilty of this at one point. The truth is, we all “settle” to a certain extent, if we really stop to think it through. No one is perfect; so the person you’re with very likely has some things you might not have chosen if you were designing your perfect mate.

It’s one thing to settle for a guy who doesn’t dress the way you might like, or for a woman who has hair that’s a little shorter than you prefer. It’s a much different thing to stay with someone who you don’t love, or who doesn’t make you happy or treat you well. 

A lot of it is immaturity (which was the final answer that we arrived at on twitter). Let’s face it - we meet people when we’re in our early twenties, and we’re already on the “I gotta get married and settle down so I can start my family” track. But in your early twenties - you’re usually not “you” yet. If you don’t really know yourself, you can’t possibly be ready to pick your life-partner. It sounds cliché, but you really do need to know and love yourself first, before you can love anyone else. Not only are you not ready to really know someone else, but you’re not ready to show that other person who you really are - so how are they supposed to know if they really love you? It just doesn’t work. 

Some of it is likely due to self-esteem, too. Let’s face it - if you don’t like who you are, you are likely to be drawn to others who you believe will like this version of you that is less than your best.  The best thing you can do for yourself, and ultimately for others, is figure yourself out first. Make yourself the best you that you can be - and then find someone who compliments that person. 

It makes me sad when I think of little girls growing up believing that they need to settle for the guy who likes them, rather than waiting for the guy they like. Little girls aren’t taught that they are worth waiting for; they put too much emphasis on what others think of them, and not nearly enough focus on what they think of themselves. 

No girl should have to wait until she’s 35 to learn this lesson: The most important person to impress, look good for, be smart for, to dress up for - is yourself. 

Friday, July 16, 2010

What's Next?

Ever watch the show The West Wing? I loved that show. President Bartlett (Martin Sheen) would say "What's next?" when he was done dealing with an issue. He said it with such authority, that everyone knew, no matter what - they were done talking about the current issue and it was time to move on.

Have you ever hung on to something (or someone) until well past the point when you should have let go? That's what I was doing with my marriage. I truly was trying to fix it at first; I genuinely loved my ex-husband and I wanted to repair the damage. Slowly, I started to realize that wasn't going to happen. I continued to try and fix things, but the truth is - it takes two to fix a marriage, and we weren't on the same page.

Divorce is a life change. Make no mistake - it is as stressful an event as you could ever endure. But stress comes from different sources for different people. For some, money is a major concern when getting a divorce. When children are involved, custody is a huge issue. Maybe your concern is property or keeping close with family members.

I'm basically a very lucky person. I was a little concerned about money, but the truth is, I'm very fortunate to have the support of my dad. Not that I've taken any money from him - but if I were in a pinch, I could. X and I had no children, and I was not close with his family. In all honesty - as mad as I was at X and even through all the fighting - I was never worried he would do anything to hurt me, and I knew that included being fair when it came to the division of property.

Here were my major concerns: How would I take care of my house? (Things like mowing the lawn, fixing furniture, home repair and home projects scared the heck out of me!) What would I do when I had a problem with my computer or the cable TV? Who would kill the spiders? Who would cook? Who would help me with paperwork? Who would I hang out with in the evenings?

Okay, okay - I know what you're thinking - who is this crazy chick, and where does she get off complaining about these things? But hear...ok, out. It all boiled down to one thing: I was afraid to be on my own. I had never done it before; I went right from living with my father to living with X. I never even lived in a college dorm.

So, I panicked. I cried. I yelled. I may have punched a pillow. When I realized no one but the cats was there to listen, and they had left the room, I decided it was time to make a few changes.

As it turns out - you can purchase an item called a reel mower for about $100. No motor means no oil or gas, or messy, difficult start-ups. My lawn is small enough that using an item like this is a good workout, without being a huge time waster. Plus it's better for the environment.

My dad was always willing to help with computer problems, and I have met others along the way who were also able to help. And - you can just call the cable company for those problems. Who knew?

I still hate paperwork, but I learned you can hire some of that out as well. When it came time for divorce - I hired an attorney. When it came time to refinance the house - I hired a mortgage broker. Way easier. A little bit more in the cost department, but how do you put a price on sanity?

Furniture is not that hard to assemble, in case you were wondering. I found this cute little tool kit (for women - lighter, smaller tools, purple handles and a matching tool bag.) Bugs are not terribly hard to kill. [Unless they get up high. Ever seen a 5' tall woman try to reach a bug on a 9 ft ceiling? Not pretty.]

So, here's what I found out: I am a much more capable, independent woman than even I was aware. I can build furniture, mow the lawn, and kill bugs. [I still can't cook; that will probably never change. Don't judge me.] 

Another thing I learned? Once you start getting a bit more confident in yourself, and get to know yourself better - a couple of things happen. One - it's easier to meet new people, and to reconnect with old friends and family. That started to solve the problem of who to hang out with. You also start to really enjoy the company of the person with whom you're alone - and suddenly, being alone and being lonely are not the same thing.

So one day, I woke up and thought, "What's next?"

This is part of my ongoing, edge-of-your-seat (hey, it's my blog; I can call it what I want) series on my divorce experience. You'll find out what actually was next in another post. Want to know what already happened? Click on the label "divorce" to read all about it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I ♥ Twitter

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - I am a twitter addict. I haven't been tweeting long; started in February 2010. I actually started so that I could follow news sources - because I was being trumped by twitter. My friends were getting their news from twitter before they were getting it from me via text.  

What started out as simply following a few news sources and celebs and only one or two "actual people" has evolved into an actual community for me. I work in a very small office - just me and one coworker - who is a very nice person, but not someone with whom I "chat." So, my twitterverse has evolved into a group of people with whom I can share my day. I complain to them, I share happy news with them, and I join in their conversations. I've answered questions, taken polls and given advice. It's cool.

Twitter is also where I found some great blogs to read and follow. Those blogs have helped steer me in a new direction that will (*fingers crossed*) someday be a career opportunity. In the mean time, it's a great hobby, and a way to share with others who have similar interests and views, or who are simply open to intelligent discussion.

Twitter is not for everyone. I get that. I've tried to introduce it to a couple of people, to no avail. They simply don't understand the concept of jumping in and chatting with people you don't know, while online. Ironically (or maybe not), these same people are outgoing and would think nothing of starting a conversation with a stranger at the grocery store, in a bar or at a party.

Probably the best way to describe the thing I most enjoy about twitter is to describe my "feed" to you - that's the page where I go to see what the people I follow are saying.

Right now, there are 7 conversations in my feed. One is a guy I met who lives in CA recounting his day, with a funny story about hs daughter. He's looking for a job right now, so every now and again, we will chat and I will try to be encouraging. There is an article posted regarding why people become sex crazed at 27 - and a couple of my friends have added their own comment.

A couple of other local friends are discussing the best uses for twitter - so far, porn, shoe shopping and lunch plans are their top answers. A local blogger is having a separate conversation with one of those friends about designing wedding invitations. Kevin Smith is peddling tickets for his upcoming shows and interacting with his fans, which is always fun. Another couple of friends are discussing the merits of swedish fish and swedish meatballs.

If I want, I can join in on any of these conversations. Or I can just watch them roll by. I can even start my own, by posting an article or a picture, saying something funny, or asking a question.

Or by tweeting a link to this blog....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So Sorry

Someone once asked me why I say "I'm sorry" so often. At first, I just thought he was being silly - I don't say it that much. But after thinking about it, I realized that, yeah, I do say it - a lot.

I bet a counselor would have a field day with the question... Am I feeling guilty about something? Am I blaming myself for something? Do I think I'm responsible for taking care of everyone else? 

I suppose it could be any of those things. But, I have a different take.

Sorry means many different things. It can be an apology, sure - but it can also express sympathy, empathy or frustration. It can even be sarcastic.  

If someone tells me they had a bad day, I usually respond with, "I'm sorry." I'm not apologizing to him for having a bad day - unless, of course, I contributed to it somehow [hey, it happens]. Usually, I'm being empathetic, with a touch of sympathy rolled in - I have a lot of bad days, or at least bad parts to my days. I can certainly relate, and I wouldn't wish my days on anyone, believe me.

Sometimes, I just want a person to know that I 'get' it. That I understand. I suppose there are a lot of ways to say that - but "I'm sorry" is short, sweet and to the point (just like me!).

Make no mistake, I do plenty wrong that warrants an apology. I will apologize for the smallest thing, too, because that's how I was raised. I was taught to own up to my mistakes and take responsibility for my actions. So, if I say or do something that is rude or inappropriate or mean, I apologize [unless of course the recipient deserved it]. 

So don't misunderstand me....I'm not looking to take blame (or credit) for anything. I'm not signing up to make you happy as my full time job. I just think that the world would be a nicer place if more people actually listened, and at least tried to understand what the other person has to say.

I'm sorry if you don't agree with me.

I'm Sorry

I found this poem online. I didn't write it, but the author was not credited at the site I was visiting. So, I can't take credit - but I love it. If you wrote it - let me know. I'll give you credit.

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry for bothering you. I'm sorry for all the texts I send you. I'm sorry for IMing you the second you get online. I'm sorry I keep asking if you're free to hang out. I'm sorry I ask random questions. I'm sorry that I ask about your life. I'm sorry that I bother you. I'm sorry that I always recite all those silly friendship quotes.

But here's the truth: I'm not sorry for any of those things. I only did it because you're my friend.

What I'm really sorry for is that you don't realize how much our friendship means to me. I'm sorry that I am worried that this friendship might not last. I'm sorry I wanted to talk to you. I'm sorry I wanted to get your opinions and advice on things. I'm sorry I wanted to hang out with you. I just thought that's what friends did. I'm sorry I was willing to do anything to get your attention. I didn’t know being friends was too much to ask from you.

Please do me one favor, when you see the tears gently falling down my cheeks, don't try to comfort me. I don't need a reminder of how it might have been. So please, if this is over, let's just say our goodbyes and walk away and not look back, because I can't believe that an honest friendship is now fading to nothing.

Now that's really what I'm sorry for.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Open Doors

"Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you'd left open." John Barrymore

I use to insist, no matter what anyone told me, that happiness was a result of things going a certain way; not something I could control with my attitude. It seemed ridiculous to me that everything around me could be falling apart, and I could stand in the middle of it and smile.

Then, oddly enough, everything around me actually did fall apart. I had built my life, my whole identity, around my marriage. When it failed, I truly did not think I would ever recover. A lot of stuff happened to me during that time. I learned a lot of lessons. Lessons about me, and about life, and about what it truly means to be happy. I also learned what it truly means to be a friend - and to have good friends that you can count on. 

"Phoebe" (not her real name, but she'd love the 'Friends' reference) and I had known each other through work for a few years. Living and working about 300 miles apart, we'd really only ever communicated through email or by phone, and it was always work related. Then we friended each other on facebook, and started to get to know each other a little better through our profiles. We found we had some things in common. Soon we started chatting, and opened up to one another about stuff that was going on in our lives.

My failing marriage was tough for me, but it was nothing compared to Phoebe's life. She had recently gone through some problems with her boyfriend. He was struggling with some issues, and she was keeping them private, which was making things difficult at work. As if that wasn't bad enough, she was also dealing with a cancer diagnosis, and fighting that battle. 

Then, we went through a transition at work, which was a surprise and a little traumatic. Soon after that happened, Phoebe learned she had to have more surgery; then she had to move, and then move again within a few months. There were a couple of car accidents...then she went through a breakup and was laid off from our new company. Now, there's a new cancer diagnosis, a broken wrist and a another new job to contend with. (There's more; those are the highlights.)

Yet every day - without fail - she texts me and says, "How are you today?" And means it. Waits to hear what I have to say. And if I want to complain because my day at work involved too much paperwork, or I'm worried about a guy or my hair, or my arthritis is acting up, she listens. And she cares. 

Phoebe tells me what's going on in her life. She'll ask me for advice if her problem is something I've gone through, and she thinks I can help. And if she wants to vent, she does. But through all of the 'stuff' she's had to deal with -  which by my count is way more than anyone's fair share - she has never, ever taken her frustration out on me. 

I have had friends yell and scream at me because they lost their purse, or they don't like their coworker, or their phone isn't working right. But never Phoebe. She tells me, in a matter-of-fact kind of way, "This happened then that happened and as a result next week, I have to..." all the while laughing and smiling, and making jokes - and asking how I am at the same time.

Things go wrong in everyone's life. We lose our wallets; our cars breakdown; we hate our jobs some days. Computers crash, phones fall in the water, or a pet throws-up on the carpet. It happens. I used to be that girl who freaked out over the smallest stuff, thinking, "Why can't anything ever go right for me?" Then, in the blink of an eye, I learned what it really means to struggle, and come out on the other side. 

The truth is, struggle is different for everyone. What's tough for me might be easy for someone else. Life works that way - it gives you what and who you need to grow, to learn and to become the you that you were meant to be. 

Real strength doesn't come from avoiding conflict, or doing everything according to plan. We don't find strength by being better than everyone else. Happiness doesn't come when everything is going your way. Happiness happens when life isn't going your way....and you can smile anyway. 

If you don't believe me, just ask my friend Phoebe.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Promises, Promises

"Don't make promises you don't intend to keep" is pretty basic stuff, right? It's not cool to make yourself available for someone to trust and count on, if you don't intend to follow through.

But what about promises that you didn't intend to make? It's easy to verbally make a promise: "Sure, I'll be there at 1 pm" or "Yes, I will make dinner." By themselves, they're no big deal. But added up, these little promises say to someone else, "You can trust me." Since you're going out of your way to make these promises, it's easy to avoid making them, too. Simply don't say anything.

Without realizing it, you make promises through your actions, too. If you make yourself available, and act a certain way, you are sending a message to others that this is what they should expect from you (intended or not). If you always show up 15 minutes late, people will come to think of that as "on time" for you. If you always give someone a hug when you say good-bye, they will wonder what's wrong that one time you don't.

Is that fair? Maybe not. It seems like we should have the option to change our patterns or our routines. But at the same time, if we've started to build that trust with another person, we have to be sure we're ready to test it. It's a delicate balance. Trust is a fragile thing, especially in a new relationship. Often, once broken, it can't ever be put back the same way again.

Maybe the answer is simply to be honest. Do and say what you can, and will, keep up with. You may think that by saying and doing all the right things, you're getting the relationship off on the right foot. But really, unless you intend to keep it up - those "right things" are just promises waiting to be broken.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Big D

When the whole thing started with my ex and his friend, I will admit - I freaked. I was irritable, jumpy, constantly worried. I was overreacting to the smallest things, I didn't trust him anymore. I was mean at times, and very, very hard to get along with.

My friends who knew the details were telling me that X was wrong and I didn't deserve to be treated this way. They were right - but that didn't mean that I wasn't also wrong, and that there weren't some things I could work on.

I looked for a counselor to see if maybe there was an emotional reason for my reaction. The first counselor I saw was a woman. She told me that, while I may have a problem, she couldn't begin to help me until I understood that what X was doing was wrong. In her words, I needed to "clean house" and either get him to end his friendship, or I needed to end the marriage.

In retrospect, I think she was alluding to the fact that the behavior was leading to other problems. But at the time, all I could think about was the fact that my selfishness and insecurity was about to cost me everything.

At the same time, I also saw my own doctor and described my symptoms, which were now physical in addition to emotional. I lost 10 lbs in a week, I was constantly sore, I was suffering from horrible headaches. I had zero energy; my work was suffering because I was always sick.

Turns out - I was depressed. Literally. My doctor prescribed anti-depressants for me, and encouraged me to continue looking for a counselor that could help.

The new medicine regimen was not well-received at home. At this point, X and I had already started talking about separation, and I was desperate. I begged him to go to couples counseling, but he wasn't into that idea. He did not like the idea that I was on medication (thought it implied weakness on my part; and a cop-out, that I thought I could "pop a pill and make everything better") and he thought my going to individual counseling was selfish; that I was trying to help myself, but not our marriage.

I wasn't going to let that phase me, though. I stayed on the medication and I kept searching for a counselor that would help. I finally found one, right around the time that X and I signed our separation agreement.

Dr. P helped me a lot. He listened to what was going on, and he offered some insight as to what may have been making X act the way that he was. He did this without ever saying that X was wrong. He also never said I was wrong, but he did help me to figure out what may have been some reasons for the way I was behaving. He helped me understand that I can't control everything. For the first time in my life, I truly understood that l had no control over the way others treated me - but that I could control how I let it affect me, and how I reacted. So that's where I shifted my focus.

In the end, it didn't help my marriage - but it did help me.

No one is perfect. We all have stuff we need to work on, ways we can improve. Sometimes the toughest challenges force us to face the "stuff" we wouldn't otherwise own up to. Sometimes, the toughest things in life turn into the most valuable lessons. The trick is, to pay attention - you never know what you might learn.

I'm (slowly but surely) sharing the story of my divorce. Too much to share in one post, but if you want to follow my story, just click on the tag for 'divorce' from the home page of my blog. Thanks for reading.

Online Meeting

I never really liked the term "online dating." People meet online - but the dating part still happens in person.

I've talked about the many profiles that I used to meet people. I learned the hard way it's a bad idea to go overboard with the number of profiles one has. The truth is, different sites work for different reasons. The best thing to do is find one that works for you, and stick with it.

My preference was to use a site that made approaching people easy, and allowed us to exchange contact information. Why? I preferred having one email exchange on the dating site; and then move our communication to personal email/IM, if we both wanted to do so. The site where I had the most luck was Plenty of Fish - a site where email exchanges were easy and totally free

If you're comfortable online, chances are good that online meeting will work for you. When you're comfortable, you're more likely to be real. When the real you is shining through, you're much more likely to have success in meeting new people. This is true of any situation - whether you're online or not.

I had great success in meeting people online. I met some great guys with whom I enjoyed hanging out. I met a guy who is still a good friend. And I met an absolutely wonderful man, who I feel very lucky to have in my life. 

Did I meet some jerks? Sure. That'd be true no matter how I was meeting people. The truth is, the guys who aren't still around were mostly really nice guys, with whom I just didn't click. Dating isn't only about meeting other people. 

Dating is about getting to know yourself. It's about finding out what you do and don't like; what you can handle, and what you will and won't put up with. Once you figure out who you are and what makes you happy, you'll know what you're looking for. When you know that - really know it with all your heart - you'll meet the right person.

That's true no matter how you go about meeting.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Delete Profile

"It's tough to walk in a single girl's shoes. That's why you sometimes need really special shoes!" [Carrie Bradshaw, SATC]

From the time I was 20, I was either dating, engaged or married to the same person. I met him at work. There was no real effort in meeting, no countless hours of hanging at parties or bars.

So, when I became single again at 34, the idea of trying to date was daunting. How in the world would I meet people? School is done, work is not an option, I don't drink and never really did the bar scene. If you look for dating advice from magazines, blogs and such, joining clubs is a main theme. That's fine, but I'll be honest - joining a group or a club under the pretense of interest, all the while trolling for single guys, felt...well...creepy. And desperate. *whispers* And like a whole lot of effort.

But there is one community we can all join. In fact, most of us are already a part of it in one way or another, whether we realize it or not. It's a magical land, full of friends, co-workers and peers. You can find smart, funny, beautiful people. People with all sorts of interests - who are available virtually 24/7. Where you can tell others what you are looking for in a mate, and they will search tirelessly, until they find you your perfect one.

And for $19.99 a month (less with a 6-12 month commitment) they will deliver these potential soul-mates right to your inbox.

The internet!! Of course - that would be my salvation.

Stop laughing. No, really. Okay, I'll wait. May I go on? Great.

I started at Match. Nice site. I had friends who had used it with success, but I was skeptical, and therefore not willing to give them my money just yet. The thing with Match (and some other sites) is that what they offer is very limited unless you pay.

Not wanting all my eggs in one basket, I created another profile, this time at Cupid. They offered a little bit more for free, and as a result, I had better luck. I even met a guy and went on a date. He seemed to lose interest, but now I was motivated. I met another guy, who turned out to be a real jerk.

But guess what? There are even more sites! I created a profile at Yahoo Personals (which is integrating with Match very soon). I created my profile (by now I was an expert) and sent out some winks. Or smiles? Maybe flirts.

Whatever the case, I struck "gold." Met a great guy that I started dating, and who I thought I really liked. But - we were not on that page together. Of course, this went 'round and 'round for much longer than it should have, and I ended up getting my feelings hurt. [Not his fault; he's a great guy and we are still good friends, so I don't consider this a waste. I would, however, like my $100 back, G.]

In the midst of my hurt feelings, I stumbled upon a site that looked promising - Plenty of Fish. Free internet dating. No joke - profile is free, you can email others for free, and even share your personal email for free (other sites block those out). POF will show you who is online and allow you to set people as your favorite so you can easily find their profile. All for free!

Are you noticing a theme, yet?

Now I had three profiles I was actively managing (I'd all but given up on Match). I'd had some success with all of them, to varying degrees. I went on a lot of first dates via POF. I even met a couple of guys I went on repeat dates with.

Recently, I started getting a lot of emails from other sites. Emails like, "You have new messages at" or "We've found new matches for you at" So, where are these coming from?

Seems that while the internet is a great place to look for communities - it's not a good idea to do your looking at midnight, when you're depressed and in an ice cream-induced fog. I had apparently set up a bunch of online profiles, and then quickly forgotten about them. So, I had profiles all over the internet, that were now generating all this activity. Yeesh.

I've started saving the emails as they come. Then, when I can, I visit the sites, do my best to guess my password, and then start the (usually lengthy) process of deleting the profile. I've deleted several so far - and made others hidden, or inactive.

Why? Well, like I said - the internet is a magical place.

Anyone else have online dating disasters or successes they'd like to share? I plan on doing a series of posts of my own. Should be good for a laugh. =]

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Beginning of the End

This blog is out there, and I'm not anonymous. People who know me certainly know who my ex-husband is, but that doesn't seem to be a reason to name him here. So, his name will be X. He'd like that - a nice comic book reference.

Not long after X and I bought our home, he made a career change, which I supported. The new job wasn't ideal (What job is, really?), but it had its good points. One thing about this particular environment was that coworkers tended to chat. A lot. Another thing was the majority of the employees were women. As a result, X was talking to, and making, a lot of female friends.

In and of itself, having friends of the opposite sex outside of your relationship is not a big deal. Let me make that clear. But there is fine line you have to be careful not to cross.

Their friendship started out harmless enough. They chatted at work, I believe they may have been going to lunch and/or break together. After a while, phone numbers were exchanged. Hanging out outside of work started, but it was in a group, and I was included. No big deal.

Eventually, though, the tone changed. It started with a house project that she needed help with. One thing led to another, and she was calling our house at 11 at night, asking for help with her computer.

In fairness to me - I was going through my own stuff at this point. My own job had taken a turn for the worse, I was unhappy and feeling unappreciated. The last thing I needed was to come home and feel like I was second best with the one person who was supposed to put me first.

In fairness to X - I snapped. I was out of line, and was mean. I said some things I shouldn't have, and even though I didn't mean them, there they were. I do have to say - I think I deserved forgiveness; a little slack. And certainly, once I let X know how much the friendship was bothering me, I think he should have backed off. Rational or not - I was his spouse. I feel I had the right to say, "Hey, this bugs me" and have that be enough of a reason for him to do something about it.

But that didn't happen. Instead, he got closer to her, and further apart from me. It was sad really, and the beginning of the end.

I didn't know it at the time, but what was going on was what is known as an emotional affair. It started out with X just having an (I believe) innocent friendship. But the problem was - it didn't stop there, as it should have. They continued to foster their emotional connection. Eventually, he allowed his connection with her to become more important than his connection to me.

It may sound silly, but it's almost worse than if he had cheated physically. At least, with physical cheating, there's usually a reason you can point to, and figure out if it can be addressed. With emotional cheating, what can you do? What wasn't X getting from our marriage that he could get elsewhere? What could I do?

These were all questions that needed answering.

Growing Up - Take Two

I thought I had it all figured out. I was 29, very much in love, with a new career that was going well and had just bought my first home. Already doing better than my parents, I figured, "This is it. This is my life."

But you know what they say about life; it's what actually happens while you're busy making other plans.

It was a few years later when the wheels fell off. Honestly, at the time it felt like it came out of nowhere - and I was sure it was all his fault. It took some time, a lot of heartache and a whole lot of "facing the music" for me to learn that it did not and it was not. It takes two to make a marriage work; and it takes two to make a marriage fail. That's the truth, no matter what anyone tells you.

I was married for nine happy years; and one very unhappy year. A week before what would have been our tenth anniversary, we filed separation papers.

The title of my blog [This is Not the Life I Ordered...] probably sounds negative; but it's not. It demonstrates what happened to me. I thought I knew what I wanted and what I had signed up for. I thought I was happy.

Turns out, I wasn't - and that's ok. I'm getting happier and happier every day. Happy enough to share my story. Maybe it'll make you laugh or smile. Or maybe it'll help you to know you're not the only one. Either way - no frowns. It has a happy ending.

My story is a long one; I won't bore you with details everyday. Plus - there's other fun stuff to talk about. But if you want to follow this story, feel free to come here and click on the tag for 'divorce.'