Archive for April, 2009

Joy and sadness

It is incredible how these two feelings coexist. What can I say? It’s cold and rainy outside and I have feelings bouncing around inside. Lately it’s as if I’m comprised of a jumbled up bag of them! On the one hand, I’m so happy about leaving and starting a new life. On the other hand, I’m so sad that things didn’t work out in this relationship. There are moments when I think: “If only I’d been so sure of myself and what I want sooner!” We could have established a totally different basis for communication — or went our separate ways sooner. But we didn’t.

Despite the sadness, I am glad that things have not proceeded any faster than they have. These last couple of weeks together have almost been nice. Relief is in the air — on both sides. Even though he won’t admit it just yet, I think my husband is glad that something is finally happening. The wordless stagnation was driving us both crazy.

I’ve noticed another big difference. Late December I said I planned to stick around for 5 more years (until the kids are grown up), and then move back to the States. After some initial relief that an end was in sight, depression worked its way back in as I thought to myself: Five more years in this house will drive me crazy. I won’t say I was suicidal, but quite frequently while driving to work, I would imagine how things would be if I stepped on the gas and drove straight into the hairpin curve off the highway exit. I didn’t really consider doing it, but kind of wondered what it would take for me to be desperate enough to give the option serious thought.

The last few days as I drove to work, I realized that those thoughts have vanished just as quietly as they first arrived. I interpret that as a good sign. In general, the bout of cognitive dissonance dissipated shortly after I wrote about it. It was just a little strange and unfamiliar, as I’m not quite in the habit of listening to my heart and inner voice. Today I recognize that this is absolutely the right decision. My courage wavers at times, as I wonder how I’ll get from here to there, but there is no doubt that I will. There is no doubt about this chosen path. It feels wonderful to have made a decision that is best for me.

Like my Aunt Judy said so many times: “When the mother is happy, the children are happy.” I agreed with her, but hesitated to pursue my own happiness, still fearing it would be at their cost. I realize now that as long as I was unhappy, they could not help but feel it and suffer. My strength and shining self will work their way through, and all will be well. Though it pains me, I accept that my son is not thrilled. I trust that he will eventually adapt to the situation. I accept also that he needs time to get used to the whole idea of two households.

Whenever I need help, I clarify the need and send it on out to the universe. It has worked quite well up until now. The universe is on my side. It means well and loves me, but it can’t help me until I express my needs clearly. Once I do that, I am amazed at how quickly and clearly it acts. The timing is perfect! As days and events pass, I realize that now is completely the right time. (But no, I haven’t won the lottery! I guess the universe decides what is a reasonable request or what is best for me.)

Nevertheless, there is momentarily quite a storm of feelings going through me. I do my best to let them arise and acknowledge them. It’s not so bad. And I confess, I’ve been having a glass or two of wine fairly regularly and been smoking a few cigarettes. It’s not admirable behavior, and my perfect self would rather do without all vices, but right now, I choose to allow myself the luxury of flipping out just a bit. There’s a lot going on — on several different levels — and I’m doing the best I can to cope. I’m satisfied. With awareness comes growth and realization. I trust that these “tools” are temporary — and notice already that as I walk more and seek quietude in yoga, the urge to be “naughty” with alcohol and cigarettes diminishes. Good grief!

Much of this has to do with overcoming fears. To do this, I find it necessary to acknowledge the fears first. And I have several! That’s part of the reason why I’ve been with this strong husband of mine for so long: He is really good at navigating the outside world, and that was rather convenient. But now I choose to survive and thrive in that outside world without a strong man to lean on. I can do it! Today I feel like the little engine that could… “I think I can, I think I can I think I can…. I KNOW I can!”

April 29, 2009 at 11:30 am Leave a comment

Waiting for life to start

Every so often, it occurs to me that a great deal of my life was spent waiting. Waiting to be old enough to go to school, waiting for school to finish, waiting until I could go to college, waiting until that was finished, waiting for things to change…until I finally realized that I had to take certain steps!

This drastic change in my life was a long time coming. For years I felt discouraged. I had no income of my own and was miserable at the fact that I was totally dependent. I had the dream that I would write a bestseller and buy my freedom. That’s a nice idea, but to make my freedom dependent on reaching a dream was just another way to keep myself in place — waiting.

Something changed inside. I realized I’m not getting any younger. Things don’t just change of their own accord. Sure, the universe helps and gives me pushes and shoves, but I need to be open enough to see and utilize these helpful nudges.

Lately I’ve felt numb and in a daze. I have taken the steps toward change — without a bestseller. I can take steps towards change without having the perfect set-up ahead of time. I don’t need a perfect financial safety net. There are resources, and I am working with what I have. And there’s something else: I have a higher power, remember?

Freedom is within me. That is the big revelation. Yet I’ve felt guilty and confused — and catch myself waiting for the apartment keys, which I will have in my hand by next week. Meanwhile my daughter is scouring advertisements for furniture, plants, and accessories. She even found a site on the internet to have a new layer put on the bathtub — to freshen it up! She amazes me!

Today I choose to let the spark of her enthusiasm jump over to me. We are doing this together. No more guilt. This is all a process and we are in the middle of it. Now is the time to enjoy — the anticipation and planning, collecting ideas. I’m so happy to see her blossoming and taking an interest, after being so withdrawn for such a long time — her reaction to the impossible situation. So for today I pray to H.P. to carry me a bit, help me get centered and let go of the “waiting mode” once again. I am grateful for the wave of support coming in from friends and family — phone calls, emails, coffee chats. It is a blessing.

April 24, 2009 at 7:47 am Leave a comment

Ugly aspects

Change itself is beautiful, I believe. But there are some accompanying aspects I had hoped to avoid: neighbors and gossip. Although I told my news about the upcoming time-out from my marriage to the blogworld, I kept it rather private on the local level. But my daughter told her cousin and her cousin told her mother. Her mother happens to be the modern version of the town crier.

Yesterday she broke the news to the other sisters-in-law during coffee and cake. One of them happens to be a close friend of mine (and coincidentally also a sister-in-law) and I had already told her. She told me later how it went. The gossipy one told the news, put me down and just couldn’t understand how I could be so crazy as to leave. The other two don’t understand it either. Just my friend does, since she really knows me. (I have four sisters-in-law!)

So they puzzled how I could possibly want to leave this golden cage. They were insulted that neither of us had said anything to them. It didn’t occur to them that our private matters are none of their business, nor that we would have told them when the timing is right for us.

I felt angry and was tempted to go over and tell her that it’s none of her business. (She lives next door. Another reason I look forward to moving!) I think I’ll let it go, but I’m still considering it. I would like to tell her that, and tell her that the reason her brother didn’t say anything to her is because he doesn’t want the whole town talking about it just yet. (Of course they will eventually.) She may not think much of me, but she could at least respect his wishes.

Oh, well. Word had to get out at some point. On the bright side: at least now we don’t have to worry about when to break the news. It’s best to go on my way and not give her so much thought energy. Grrrrr! Even better would be to pray for her. What a sad existence indeed, to be so nosy about other people’s affairs and to be known as the town gossip.

This is just part of the learning experience. It is an opportunity to remind myself that I don’t care what other people say about me — unless they are important in my life and I respect their opinion. But deep down, it hurts anyway when people are so thoughtless. Oh, well. That’s life.

April 23, 2009 at 1:36 pm Leave a comment

Home is

where the heart is, and that’s within me. For the past few years, I felt a growing urge to move back to the States. I wanted to go home. Even as recently as last fall, I was certain that I would wait a few years until the kids are older, and then move back.

Things have taken quite a turn. I decided to get my own apartment here and have a time out. What happened? Suddenly I feel less of an urge to return to the States. Sure, I might eventually want to go back, but I’m not in such a hurry any more. I was simply yearning for a place to feel at home.

The past few months, I spent more and more time hiding in my room. It was my refuge, the one place I felt at home. But I was feeling cramped. This room contains all of my belongings and is rather crowded. I was feeling suffocated, like I couldn’t breathe.

And so I threw care to the wind, regarding what the neighbors would say, and decided to listen to my heart and to trust that inner voice. I trust that it will lead me in the right direction. Since I’ve started listening, I feel lighter and free. It is a blessing to trust myself, my feelings, my judgment. I am ready to “pitch my tent upon the ocean” as a dear friend once said — and I will sleep peacefully, warmed by trust and faith.

I don’t even understand this change that has my whole body vibrating with energy — although at the same time I am exhausted and feel like I could sleep all day. So much change takes a lot of energy! Today I feel confident. I have taken the necessary steps. I am not being irresponsible. No, I am being more responsible than I have ever been. I am truly taking care of myself. Because it feels so right, I have no fear. The fear has been lifted. I don’t need to know what will be in 6 months or a year. I am on the right path, and all will happen as it is meant to be.

Difficult situations and people are sent to us as an invitation to learn. They are gifts from the universe which give us an opportunity to grow. I’ve finally gotten that. I’m doing my best, and it seems to be working.

It doesn’t mean I’m above it all, though. At the moment I’m waiting to get the key and feel kind of in limbo. I will enjoy the process, though I do look forward to being settled. Things are just at a standstill right now. Once I have the key in my hand, I can be more active. Now I’m just still digesting the reality of it.

Talking about reality. This experience has been quite a lesson in reality. By making decisions and taking action, I am creating a new reality. It was always there. The potential was always given. But it took courage to take those steps. I feel excited, alive and hopeful. Thank you, H.P.! And thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way — especially one special person who I’ve sadly lost touch with. You all helped me get here.

April 22, 2009 at 5:34 pm Leave a comment

The time has come…

to do it my way, as Frank Sinatra said. One step at a time, I have reached the next level. Last week I signed the lease for my own apartment — for a time out. The last time I signed a lease, I was 19 years old and living in Manhattan. So much has happened since then!

It’s been a long time coming, and it feels right. That’s not to say that I’m totally free of cognitive dissonance. For those who don’t know the exact term, I’m sure you know the feeling: You’ve made a decision, and once it’s settled, you start second-guessing yourself and wondering if you didn’t forget something. To get through that, I’ve found a simple solution: I just pray when it comes on. I pray for the willingness to trust and let go of fear and uncertainty, and admit that I am willing to be led along the path of my destiny — with blind trust when necessary.

That works out pretty well. Last night I was over-tired (a real enhancer for cognitive dissonance!) and had quite a bout of doubt hit me. Before surrendering to the fear, I went to bed and prayed. Now that I think of it, this morning it has been lifted. When necessary, I take a deep breath and remind myself: Even mini-steps count! Don’t need to figure it all out now.

As of May 1st, the apartment is mine. How I will move all my stuff, get furniture, hook up the phone, etc. I don’t know yet. First I have to get the keys and spend some time there. It will all fall into place.

It’s truly a good feeling that I have. After years of going on and on about the glory of taking risks and truly living — meanwhile living a rather secure existence — I am spreading my wings and learning to fly. It is indeed a learning process. Ironically enough, the times are generally uncertain, so this just adds to it.

One chapter is closing, but a new door has burst open. My attitude is changed. Rather than seeing all those difficult little steps along the way as annoyances, I view them as essential parts of the process. This is all a learning experience and it provides for personal growth. As Hermann Hesse once said: “Once you reach a goal, it’s not a goal anymore.” Have I used that quote already? Quite possible — it’s a recurring thought these days, as I remind myself that there’s more to life than arriving at a destination.

People-pleaser that I have been, it is rather uncomfortable to be in the position of the bad guy. The way my husband sees it, I am breaking up the family. The neighbors may have a similar opinion. In my heart, I know what I am doing is necessary — for my sanity and for my children. My husband may profit as well, although he doesn’t see it that way just yet. I trust that all will work out for the best.

Bulimics and anorexics have a tendency to take on an authority figure as a partner. (Wait a minute! Can an authority figure be a partner??) Now I am finally coming into my own. I am moving out, and taking a time out. None of us know where this will lead, but one thing is clear: It’s about time that I grow up and allow myself to be the main authority figure in my life. After all, I do know better than anyone else what is best for me!

April 19, 2009 at 8:57 am Leave a comment

Slightly overwhelmed

is how I’ve been feeling the past couple of weeks. Why is it, that everything seems to happen at once? There isn’t just one decision to be made, one thing to take care of. No, there are a few major decisions to be made, actions to take, a few minor things, and then don’t forget about the every day stuff as well. Add to that, that much of the stuff is new territory, and I’m ready to go for the ostrich tactic of sticking my head in the ground until it’s over. Just kidding! As old as I am, that is one thing I have learned: sticking my head in the ground is not a solution, it’s just a temporary escape.

This reminds me a little of the food problem. The first step is to admit: “I am powerless.” Add to that: “I am overwhelmed.” That right there is great progress, if I’m being honest. Whew! Once that is taken care of and I realize that I indeed cannot solve everything in one day, a weight seems to lift. The next step is: “What can I do right now?” I evaluate the situation realistically, to see what is in my power and what not — right now. I’ve planned a few things long-term as well, but know that I cannot control everything.

This reminds me of the phenomenon of getting through the day. Whether it’s about food, drinking, smoking, shopping, or any other addiction or undesirable habit, it’s about getting through the day — and finding appropriate alternatives. I’d been worrying incessantly, grinding my teeth, and recently even resorted to more regular alcohol consumption. None of that does me any good.

For the nth time, I’m again letting go and letting God. You’d think I’d be tired of that by now. Or that I would have done it so many times that it would be a natural response, almost like a reflex. But it’s not. I keep learning it — over and over again. To my credit, I’ll say that I’ve gotten pretty good about recognizing it fairly quickly. Instead of obsessing for months, I’ve managed to cut it down to just a few weeks this time around.

The idea that I have to do everything now and perfectly was instilled into me. I don’t know how, but it’s there. I’m sure no person or aspect of my environment did it on purpose. I’m sure no parent would willfully inflict this on their child. But, as we all know, shit happens.

There is a sense of relief that comes with knowing: 1) it doesn’t have to be perfect. And 2) I don’t have to know now (nor can I) what the outcome will be. That frees me to go about my business, which includes making good mistakes so I can learn a lot. Honestly, I won’t complain if everything goes well and I make lots of good decisions, but I’m letting up on the pressure of expecting that of myself. After all, I’m just a person who’s running around and trying to do the best she can, just like the rest of the bunch!

This is written partially to encourage the reader and partially for myself: to remind myself what the deal is. Have a great day!

Oh, the perfect song just occurred to me. Once again, the great Talking Heads with a touch of scratchy vinyl!

Well we know where we’re goin’
but we don’t know where we’ve been
and we know what we’re knowin’
but we can’t say what we’ve seen
and we’re not little children
and we know what we want
and the future is certain
give us time to work it out

We’re on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin’ that ride to nowhere
We’ll take that ride

Feelin’ okay this mornin’
And you know,
We’re on the road to paradise
Here we go, here we go

We’re on a ride to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin’ that ride to nowhere
We’ll take that ride

Maybe you wonder where you are
I don’t care
Here is where time is on our side
Take you there…take you there

We’re on a road to nowhere
We’re on a road to nowhere
We’re on a road to nowhere

There’s a city in my mind
Come along and take that ride
and it’s all right, baby, it’s all right

And it’s very far away
But it’s growing day by day
And it’s all right, baby, it’s all right

Would you like to come along
and you could help me sing this song?
And it’s all right, baby, it’s all right

They can tell you what to do
But they’ll make a fool of you
And it’s all right, baby, it’s all right

We’re on a road to nowhere

April 15, 2009 at 1:46 pm Leave a comment

Not quite sure

Things are moving along. As they fall into place emotionally, the physical manifestation will follow. Strangely enough, now that we are preparing for a time out, my husband and I are talking more than we used to. The pressure is off, so I feel a bit more relaxed.

My 16-year-old daughter is thrilled about the prospect of my getting an apartment, and since I first mentioned it, she has opened up. It’s as if she had taken on the depression and resignation that she saw in me, and carried it as her own burden. Now she’s brightened up — is checking newspaper ads for apartments, and has various ideas about furnishings.

Last night I spoke with my son. He is 14. It came as a shock to him, and he assured me he would not leave the house and move to an apartment. My first reaction was to think: “Okay, maybe I should forget about it. I could not bear living without him.” Then I thought to myself: “It was a surprise for him. Give him time to digest it.” After all, my daughter was also quiet when I told her. I assured him that he need not worry. Everyone will be taken care of, and for now it is a time out. It is not a divorce. Time will tell, which direction we go. At this point, there is no pressing need to make it legal.

It is frightening to make changes, but as I plod along, one thing becomes clear: The fear ahead of time is much worse than actually taking the steps. There are moments when I laugh at myself and wonder what I was so afraid of! Sure, it is unfamiliar and I’m not always sure what I’m doing, but I feel my way along — gingerly at times — and it’s okay.

There are still moments of doubt. Knowing that recovered bulimics/anorexics tend to go for an authority person as a partner, and considering that whole interaction, I sometimes wonder if it isn’t/wasn’t all in my head. (But, no, I don’t blame myself! It takes two!) As I give my partner less power over me, things seem to improve. My own inner strength is revealed, and it surprises me at times. There are even moments when I think: “Oh, it could all work out!” But at this point, I am being cautious about any such declaration. Too many years were spent hoping — 23 to be exact. During that time, I hoped that things would work out magically. They didn’t.

Things generally don’t work out magically if I don’t take action. Sure, there are exceptions, but that’s not the rule. Little steps, figuring things out as they happen. One thing is clear for sure: It’s not just my partner. I slipped into the little girl role and stayed there for quite some time. I didn’t like it, but never had the power or courage to change. I complained to my friends, I wrote about it in my journal, but I was too scared to actually do anything about it. Whenever I would bring something up in discussion, I would back down again the second I was finished saying it. Or the second after my partner answered.

I’m learning to talk back. I don’t think I’ll be finished with this relationship until I’ve gotten to be really good at it. And then, who knows what will happen? I’m optimistic!

April 14, 2009 at 8:17 am Leave a comment

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