How To Find Closure After Something Special Ends

A few mornings ago Kid3 was singing an Adele song and laughing about it. He found the funny without knowing what it was about, other than the many memes starting with, “Hello.”

I asked if he knew what the song was about and I told him it was about getting closure and saying hello a long time after a relationship ended. Then the jaded bits came out to bite me and it’s worth looking at if it makes my inner cynic stand at attention.

Closure is about being able to move on from something that meant enough to destroy you a bit when it ended. It could be a relationship. Or a job you relied on. Or the death of a person you didn’t expect to die and refuse to let go of. It’s about accepting that something you loved and cherished doesn’t exist in your life anymore and knowing that it isn’t who you are. You are not a broken relationship and the past is not where you’ll find your badassery.

The angry black woman in me said, “you expect someone that failed you while you were both in love to make you feel better now that you’ve had the time to move on?” I mean, true artistry looks like this woman in love. Even when you aren’t amazing, my heart full of infatuation can make something truly terrible look like I can’t live without it. I take your flaws and push them aside because living with them is better than living without you. Take that amazing artist interpretation, give it time and I may just see how much we really weren’t made for each other.

Time will show me the ways I didn’t give space or obsessed way too much over every single detail that seemed relevant but really wasn’t. I’ll see the ways I failed and pride will shove the reasons he failed me to the forefront. And closure sometimes asks us to reconnect to reexamine and release these things. But why?

I’m currently in a relationship. It’s new and I’m still in that happy phase so this really is a look back and doesn’t apply to him. But he’s different. I can see the things I question and his answers shift my perspective. I’m different.

Looking at past relationships, there was a fascination in each man I cared about to the point that I wasn’t caring for myself. I wasn’t writing or finding time to be in my happy place. I was relying on him for happiness and that means I wasn’t happy. That neediness often made him (all of the hims) unhappy.

Take my unhappy ass, add a man who was equally unhappy. Subtract the value for our love and how much we cared about each other and it still didn’t add up to keep us together. In the ways we cared about each other . . . The ways we lied to soften the blow of rejection . . . Ultimately, walking away is the greatest rejection possible . . . And that care still couldn’t keep us connected. Time passes and for me that means head turning weight loss. I return to my happy place that shares way more than you’d ever be comfortable with. I start buying myself flowers and reminding myself of the ways I’m awesome that couldn’t be seen under the shadow of the man I placed on my pedestal, and let’s find that closure!

The reality for me is that I have never been able to find closure in a conversation with the men I once gave my all to. I couldn’t see how he might fail me until he did and once I had that hindsight vision of who he was, I see how he could have never been what I painted him as. I see the ways he could never even communicate what I needed to hear because he’s never been as open or emotionally self aware as I am. I held him to my standard and I know he’ll never meet another woman like me. I’ll never meet another woman like me.

For me, closure comes from hindsight and a vision of what my future should be. It comes in facing the ways I accepted less than I desired and taking notice of the ways I undervalued myself to prove to them they were worthy of my love, affection, time and desire. (My desire though… Not everyone can or should handle that much intensity.) I appreciate the times that were good. I relive a few of the good memories. I’m careful to see them with the perspective of someone that was once in love and is now happy and fulfilled in self-love. I can see the good for the good it was. I can also see the ways it was a relationship I would never wish on a loved one and I can stand tall as I walk away because the closure I needed was always in my control and not at the mercy of a man who failed me and odds are would repeat that pattern.

Find the good. Honor it. See the bad. Recognize how you accepted it and promise yourself to do better next time. Be open to love and let go of fear. That’s the closure you’re looking for. It will come in waves and surprise you when you least expect it to.  Go with it.

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Do You Even Know Who You Are?

Juliet:
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

I met a woman today and her name is Sarah. Immediately the name conjured feelings of joy and warmth because my niece shares that name. I think of how closely she resembles me when I was younger, and I’m tickled by the looks she gets to look forward to. I hope she finds as much pleasure in her reflection and body that I do. I think of her quiet and snark. I think of her food joy (anything involving potatoes) and I think of her defiance as a little girl looking me in the face as she poured her dark purple grape juice on my cream colored couch. Her name means so much to me that this woman was automatically shaded in relational love.

It’s like a person that has a first, and then second language as my mom once described it. I don’t actually speak any other languages. Not really. My mom learned English in her late teens after speaking Thai first. She once explained that when she hears a conversation in English, she first translates it into Thai, and then her answer in Thai is translated to English and then spoken. It amazes me the way she thinks. My mom is my hero in so many ways, and her intelligence is the greatest source of my admiration. When I hear a person struggle with English, I think of how amazed I am that they can do what she does.

When this new Sarah introduced herself, I had this inspired moment that probably made me look a little crazy. I asked her what “Sarah” means to her. This was after I explained what it means to me, including the bit about Sarah being the biblical mother of many nations and the more intimate idea of it being about my Sarah Barracuda. She told me about Sally being a nickname for Sarah and a song that goes with it that I have already forgotten. But the name and now the face are cemented for me, and shadowed in kindness that was borrowed from a beloved niece.

The greatest part of that conversation was the idea of “who are you?” that I hit her with. I have moments when I am filled with doubt and fear. These moments look like I’m unable to enjoy the present as I’m focused intently on my future. How are my bills getting paid and what has priority? In these moments when I realize the physical toll of my stress, I remember who I am committed to being to my sons.

I am a brave, courageous, heart led leader. I am a daughter and a mother. I’m an estranged wife going through a divorce and (scandal alert) a girlfriend who feels we’ve both been bashed by the lucky stick. I am not an artist and while I love accounting and finance, numbers are not my friends, but I’m great at stringing words together. I embrace the fact that I’m aging because I love this bolt of lightning time has shaped me into. I’m a bit full of marshmallow fluff and it keeps me warm and curvy. I love what I look like. Mainly I’m a woman capable of love and willing to share my love.

It doesn’t matter what I’m called or how my name is said. You could spit it with venom or your soft lips could whisper it as a caress of sound. Your lips could kiss out the sound as an expression of pleasure or joy.

I know who I am, but who are you, and does your name really matter if you don’t know what it means to you to be who you are? I ask again, who are you?

 

Kindness Creates Change So Be Kind 

I was nearly in a car accident getting off the freeway this morning.  It was totally my fault.  It wasn’t the low gas in my tank and guessing if I could keep getting closer to work before stopping or would my gamble make me really, really late.  It wasn’t looking at my GPS while on a call to deal with the insurance company for my cracked phone.  It wasn’t even being stressed that my son fights going to school with me because he feels safer fighting me than the bullies making his school day hard (that was my first call).  I just didn’t see the car hanging out in my blind spot until I heard his horn and saw his double fisted single finger salutes in my honor.  He was angry.

What do you do when you’ve been flipped off? Do you retaliate? Do you pretend nothing happened and avoid eye contact? Do you flee as quickly as possible?

Not if you’re me.

I asked the woman on the phone with me to wait just a moment and as he pulled up near me, I put my window down and apologized for not seeing him.  It was the truth.  I could have really ruined my day and hurt the car that has been my trusted ally in adventure for the past year.  The rage I inspired told me he was also not looking forward to getting to experience the upheaval in an accident.  Hands raised, window rolled down (do they roll anymore, or is that my old showing?) . . . I said, “I’m so sorry.  I just didn’t see you.”  He said it was okay and apologized for his burst of anger.  I got back on the call and the woman apologized and tried to rush off, and I assured her I was fine, had a moment of trying to merge into someone hanging out in my blind spot and had a fairly uneventful commute for the rest of the hour on the road.

Kindness and unwillingness to return his anger with my own made my morning flow smoothly.  I got to the office after slaying a few dragons and was able to flow into my next task. You know, the ones I actually get paid for.

After a full shift at work and a long commute home, I was standing in line at the grocery store with an elderly man just behind me.  He had rough wrinkles around the corners of his eyes.  They were the kind that stood proudly as if leathered in the sun and toughened with age.  His eyes were a soft and almost faded blue and he had a few stories to share.  He told me about a story a college professor told him over 50 years ago.  It brought humor and light to a political situation that has made me angry and conjured passionate tears in the last few executive orders.  What he gave me in kindness I returned with an open ear and a smile that was an extension of my kindness.  So much of the exhaustion from traffic that settled in my shoulders left as I was packing groceries into my car.

This weekend my boyfriend grabbed my clean laundry from the dryer.  The shock faded as I watched him step out in the rain and I walked back to my bedroom as quickly as I could and began to cry.  It was a heavy cry with shoulders shaking and heart aching because it was the sweetest offer I didn’t expect.  I was able to stay inside and out of the rain while the man that seems to adore me went out in the rain to grab my laundry so I would have clean socks to wear.  I tried to get the crying under control but he reads me well enough that I couldn’t hide how overwhelmed I was at his kindness.  He did something similar with a broken dish he cleaned up before I could reach down to take care of it.  He did it again in clearing dinner dishes so I could go mother my boys.  It’s his kindness that melts the ice around me while his ability to tell me what to do without making me angry has my complete attention.  Without his kindness, there would be nothing. He would tell me to sit in the corner booth while he got our food and I would walk out.  Instead it’s sexy that he’s so commanding and kind to me.

So much of the world we live in has an expectation for an exchange.  We give because we expect something in return.  We offer because we know that might mean we’ll be gifted in return.  What happens when your only expectation is a moment of kind engagement? I write this and I know when I get home I’ll have to talk to my son about self-defense.  Kindness doesn’t always work, but I would never want him to be a victim and there’s a balance we get to find between confidence and cockiness, self-defense and violent aggression.  It’s one of those lessons I don’t want to have to teach but it’s a lesson we all draw on.

In the policies changing and pulling human kindness out of a nation, we’re left with the ability to stand in unity, petition in solidarity and write unceasingly until we see the change that puts kindness and humanity back into the fabric of our nation and the breathing spaces of our world.  We can’t survive by looking out only for ourselves and allowing the strongest to win.  We win by ensuring we are lead to work on the ideals of equity and not the blind belief of equality.  It means we give each other what we each need to succeed rather than just treating everyone the same.  We acknowledge and honor our differences and celebrate our similarities.  We breathe as a nation based in love and kindness and we create a world with intention.

Relearning How to be a Girlfriend After Being Married

I’m still learning. When I wake up and get ready to face my day, I get to decide I don’t have to know what it will look like or how it will feel. The hard part is realizing the many ways I need to unlearn an existence.

I was a wife for 15 years. I made meals I never ate. I rubbed sore muscles and washed laundry for someone that wasn’t my offspring or me. Dishes were washed and bathrooms scrubbed as the last thing I would ever want to do with the consistency of someone suffering from severe depression. The stench of urine never went away because teaching my boys to use a toilet when I didn’t have a penis as an example means it was a poor lesson and it often failed all over the seat and floor. (New lesson: bleach will make my skin reek and burn my eyes but after a while, the chemical scent fades and with it the smell of stale urine only a barfly could appreciate.)

I dated when I was younger. It was a goal to be someone that might become a wife one day. I wanted to be all that would make me a wife. Even to the point that I would put my desires behind someone else’s. I was a chameleon for love, as it were.

Fast forward to nearly two years ago and I’m suddenly single again. A year ago I started to enjoy being single. I’m doing what feels good and exciting to me. I go where I want and stay out as long as I want and it’s about making myself happy. I’ve gotten really good at buying myself flowers and discovering Victoria’s Secret for myself. I eat what I want and enjoy the epicurean delights of self-satisfaction. I love being single because I get to be selfish without feeling selfish.

Then lightning strikes and there’s a man. Just one. There’s a boyfriend and I get to unlearn being a wife to learn how to be a girlfriend and no longer a single woman.

There are moments of joy because I love the way I feel when I’m with him. There are moments of doubt. I have FOMO (fear of missing out) just like anyone else. Is there someone else? Could there be someone better? I have moments of telling myself to relax and enjoy each moment for the spontaneous gifts of our time together. Our times together are amazing enough that I want to learn to be an us when I was so happy with just being me. And moments where I feel like I don’t deserve him. They coincide with moments when he tells me he knows there isn’t another me on this planet.

I found myself rushing home after work to be by his side and in his arms. On a kid free day as a single woman, I would normally just explore the area I work in or drive to the ocean for a while until traffic was a straight shot home and into bed.

I keep turning the thermostat slightly lower to accommodate his comfort rather than my desire to comfortably walk around naked at home.

I would normally have a light dinner or a non-existent one on a kid free night, and I wonder if I should cook for him or how that should look as his girlfriend that isn’t hungry and he surprises me by caring for my needs and being self sufficient. I have moments that beg for a lifetime in spite of my fear of what that could look like. I wonder if I want more and I ask why can’t I have the more he’s offering. And there’s happiness and contentment and moments that shock me and rock the certainty I almost lived in. (I’m certainly adaptable.)

I find myself trying to remember how I am supposed to behave and care and not rely on him. Can I rely on him? Does he ask that of me and why does that scare me. Around that time, the reality of being abandoned shows up and I see how I keep holding him at a safe distance, without accounting for the fact that there is no safety in what we have and that is the thrill I have a right to embrace.

I’m learning what drives him and where his passions are. I’m learning to see the new patterns of who we are and not place the heavy burden of the old (my past) on top of him.

When I met my ex, it was on the heels of a superficial relationship with someone else. He introduced me to a song that I in turn introduced to my ex. We played that song over and over on our honeymoon. I kept wondering if I should just tell him and pick a different song. I heard it on the radio this morning and it was interesting how the memories of it were layered by two different men. I heard another song with a similar scenario and two different men, and again, the significance and memories cascaded in a way that felt so confused and beautiful. There was a moment with my current boyfriend. There was a sweet emoji he texted to me (and so help me, I’m embracing smiley faces and I don’t feel like an asshat doing it). He sent a picture that reminded me of my ex and I let his expression color the picture in a different light. Like brush strokes on a canvas, we are offered a gift in our expressions and it was a moment to shift what I saw and how I felt and rather than dwell on what it was, I was able to bask in what we’re making it. And that moment is his and mine and has nothing to do with anyone else.

My kids on the other hand . . . Kid1 isn’t in love with my dating one person. (He might have enjoyed the idea of me being a player or hard to keep because that meant I was so picky only his Dad was worth holding onto and that means only my kids held my attention. He isn’t rude but refuses to engage.  Kid2 is indifferent. Kid3 (at 10 years old) has moments where he likes the new boyfriend and moments where his anger is palpable. He tried breaking my car window after watching me, watch him pee all over the toilet seat on purpose. I withheld my smirk and laughter at how visceral his need to be territorial was.  And there I go with that bleach lesson again. We’re all learning.

Hold Up a Minute or Why You Should Slow Down and Step Into Self Care

I’m temping with an ad agency right now. It’s been fun though not exactly a wild ride. It’s work and I’m doing it with the accounting department. I’m loving the pace I’m setting and enjoy the stacks that slowly fade away throughout the day.

One of the many perks is one of the many kitchenettes where I stop for coffee, tea, cocoa, and juice with fresh fruit and popcorn breaks. It’s a dog friendly office so there are breaks for walks with friendly barks, the tap of nailed paws kissing concrete, the dog moms speaking motherese to their pups (wait here while mommy grabs my lunch) … There’s the sounds of ping pong tables getting pelted with plastic balls as they’re hit with paddles and guided through laughter, and basketballs hitting the backboard with a squeak of tennis shoes on polished wood.

In the bustle and push of everyone getting it done, we’re consistently invited to slow it down and be intentional with the moments we take to care for ourselves. I’ve noticed more often than not, a solid rush to grab coffee and go. There’s a self directed push. I hear, “excuse me, am I in your way?” as if any one person could be valued less than the next in the spaces we occupy.

Tables and couches or chairs dot the building in spaces to sit and talk and breathe. There are offices and conference tables and long tables without partitions. We are invited to communicate and engage while we share and learn.

I step back and let the rush flow around me. I smile in kindness and offer quiet when the sounds crashing in the heads of others force a staccato completion of each task. I fill my cup and smell the aromas I’m brewing. I hold the warmth and allow time to pace my sip and save the scald for those who will not wait,  those who see their time as a borrowed commodity for a company that invests so much for a workforce to slow down.

Stop Hitting Yourself and Self Care for Yourself

Have you ever made someone hit themselves, then taunted,” stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself?” You might be a bully and should look into getting help.

I was in a conversation that was starting to look like a coaching session and I’m really not comfortable being a life coach in the capacity of our acquaintance.

I started telling this person that their life is a choice.  I explained the beauty in living like I love myself and treating myself like I would treat a 3 year old that I love. Through it all I was given reasons and explanations of why this situation was the only reasonable existence.

We all do it.  We make excuses and give logical reasons why we have to continue to do what we always have.  I’ll give examples, and most of these are the dialogues I gave myself.

“I can’t quit my job and find a better one because I can’t afford to.”

Don’t quit, but continue looking for a better place if you aren’t happy.

“I have too many obligations on my plate to take on something new.”

Are you doing what others expect of you, or are you making intentional choices to make yourself happy.  Start practicing the art of “no,” see who disappears from your life and the ways you start finding that happy.

“When X happens, I will go on a diet.”

I never did solve for X.  I’m a firm believer that the first 3 letters of the word “diet” are very telling.  I won’t do it.  So much changed for me when I started to act like I love myself.

“I wish I could (fill in the blank) but I have to (fill in this blank) first.”

I want to live an epic life but I’m going to let my parents, children, boss and the expectations of other people decide what my life looks like.

“My (kids/parents/partner) needs me to . . . “

Well, they don’t need you to be a doormat or martyr.  You can’t save the world if you’re dead to it.  They don’t need you to die to their cause.  They need your example of how to conquer their quests.

These are excuses and they’re cop outs!

If you make excuses to not live your life and you blame unhappiness on a person or situation . . .  If this is how you play at the life you get to live, you should look in the mirror and start saying, “stop hitting yourself.” Better yet, ask why you are hitting yourself.  Ask why no one has to hold you in the position you’ve assumed because you’re so held by beliefs you’ve been handed.  Every moment of your life is yours.  The way you spend your time is a choice.  Are you making that choice, or are you handing the reins to someone else and wondering why they put themselves ahead of you.

You’re a person, not a slave or a game piece.  Handle your life because you won’t be happy with what has been handed to you. Stop bullying yourself in beliefs and go get your life.

Being Wrong is So Right

I’m self centered and egocentric enough to know how powerful it feels to be right.  I love it when knowledge, history, and intuition become vindication when others have doubted me.  The flipped coin of that feeling often looks like being wrong.

Being wrong can feel wrong. We’ve all been there.  What starts as confidence takes a swift turn into uncertainty.  You’re pulled up short in a moment that sends chills up your spine and raises the hair on the back of your neck.  What felt like a powerful strut through life is suddenly met with doubt and confusion.  What looked like certainty requires a back pedal and that’s covered in shame.  How often are you proud of not knowing the answers?

Being wrong is covered in negativity.  What happens when you make a mistake at work? You get written up.  You get fired.  You aren’t promoted or asked to lead or teach others. When you’re right, it leads to raises and bonuses.  It’s a place where you’re recognized and appreciated.

Life is rarely about dualities.  There are so many shades and flavors to every life situation. There is too much beauty to simplify any concept.  I mean, even gender is fluid and changeable, and most humans start as either female or male. 

As a student, we’re often called on for an answer that we might not know.  I hated standing and giving an answer I didn’t believe in.  If I was wrong, I was wrong in front of a whole class.  That embarrassment would have followed me throughout the day.  I would have wondered what my classmates thought and believed they were making fun of me even though no one ever cared.

I remember the first time I walked into Victoria’s Secret for a bra fitting after dropping about 40 pounds (divorce diet miracles look a lot like eating like I might love myself). I knew I was going to be larger than average.  I always have been.  I just wanted a fitting to know what my size was and I was prepared to look elsewhere.  I was right about my size but wrong about the sizes they now carry.  It was a good feeling.  I got to buy something cute and the person correcting me upsold a matching panty.

I like being wrong lately.  It means I get to learn from the experience and grow.  It means my understanding and knowledge and expectations are expanded and stretched.  

I’m temping at a company that requires at least an hour commute each way.  I was so set against a long commute for so long but the rewards on this position were big enough for a short term compromise.  On the first day, I accepted the stretch in working at a company so far from home.  On the second day I was grateful that I could see what it was like to work in a huge company that has a basketball court and lactation room for employees with a welcome dog culture.  I was able to see a company that has a lot of the good things I have heard about but never experienced.  By the third day, I realized that sitting in traffic for over an hour doesn’t matter when I sing and dance in my seat every time I drive somewhere.  I was wrong.  A long drive isn’t a big deal.
I expect to have many wrong answers as a mom.  I won’t always see the repercussions of my choices. I expect my boys to call me out and they do. 

I grew up with a narrow enough view of the world to believe the news about Muslim people until I met a Muslim couple. She was a dominant A type and he was quiet and respectful. . . Maybe submissive by American standards. I was wrong about who I thought they were. My life was made richer by knowing who they are as people and letting my compassion and love for them show me how to see others in the world that I know nothing about. I was wrong and there is a reward in seeing that. 

I was wrong about a person.  I had my judgements and ideas and I let my know-it-all moment decide the depth and fate of a relationship for me.  I had an opportunity for a do-over.  A few different do overs have made me so happy lately. My ideas were met with understanding.  My perception expanded in empathy.  I can say I was wrong, and I have been so lucky in being able to really experience this person.  I’ve met more than I knew to ask for in so many beautiful ways.

Be a safe person that someone else can admit they were wrong to. Admit you were wrong and see the many ways it can be right. You get to shift your perception.