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.

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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. 

Everything Happens When and How It’s Supposed to

I love my car.  I wrote about the car issues I had with my last car here. That reminder was perfectly timed for my emotional strength and momentary weakness last night.

I was picking out colors for my living room at Home Depot and as I was leaving their lot, my car notified me that I had low tire pressure. Having had so many cars with slow leaks I used to ignore, I just drove home.  It was normal when I had dented rims, or used tires to have issues that are slow to show up.

I was going to go in and find the primer I had in storage to start on the really dark wall at home, but it’s a bigger job than I want to do alone and stalling made so much more sense.  I was thinking of dropping things off and maybe finding an adventure.  I love driving up PCH during the day and it was something I could imagine being less terrifying than it usually is for me at night.

It was more of an instinct than an automatic response, but instead of going in for the night, I got out the car and started walking around my car.  I actually heard the hiss of air escaping the tire.  I called roadside assistance to swap out a tire that I could have changed myself and I was able to wait inside my house.

You might imagine I remember every single word I write because it’s all solid gold.  Every single word is magic. Right? It’s not.  The crazy part about my writing is how it helps me release and forget things. I had actually forgotten the details about the post linked above and the writing of it.  Last night reminded me of a night with car problems a year ago and 20 miles away from home. I actually tried a few keyword searches to find it.  And I was floored at the perfectly timed reminder I needed. Last Christmas echoes this Christmas in some ways and I’m ready for that launch into more than I could have dreamed for.

Last Christmas I was picking out my kid’s Christmas gifts at the dollar store.  My car was crapping out on me consistently.  I didn’t have a job.  I received a charm from my sister for Christmas.

This Christmas was handled with credit (next year’s goal is cash) and my only wish was to give my kids more than they expected and I did.  No real car problems because last night doesn’t count and I received a coffee mug filled with candy from my mom.

Both years I was overwhelmed with love and acceptance from my family and friends.  It was a gift that offered more than I expected.  Both years there is a sigh and a collapse of expectation that creates space for transition.  I’m ready to be launched into more than I could dream of.  My expectations are high, but my accountability to myself is even greater.

Last year I was so convinced my marriage was something I wanted and would never let go of.  This year I’m eager for the next thing in my life and excited for the change that is coming.

The car I drove both Christmas’s have reminded me that things happen in a perfect way that create change, keep me safe and inspire hope.  I was talking about it with a friend last night and looked up the post this afternoon.  Here I am, jobless, having a tire that needs to be repaired, handling it on my own again.  I was reminded of last time.  I was reminded of the journey I’ve been on.  And the timing was grace.

Being optimistic means I’m always looking for lessons and miracles.  Being who I am means I have encouraged accountability in my choices and I have a tribe that holds me high.  It is a great time in my life, even if I can’t make sense of it yet.  I can’t wait for what 2017 will bring to me, and what I get to create.

Romantic Love

For the first time, I was given a topic to write about.  The person that made the suggestion is close to my heart and at first I was eager, even excited to write about love, trust, commitment and patience.  It should have been easy to bang this one out and call it a night.

It was a Friday night and I was home alone, enjoying the quiet with the television on (really rare) and the many app alerts from men that honestly thought I would want to meet them in a way that was clear to me was just to fulfill a sexual need.

Love

I wasn’t feeling love.  At one point a man asked why I was being so mean to him.  I told him he sounded like he just wanted to feel the back of my throat and I wasn’t interested.  He kept trying to guilt me into seeing him and he stopped when I told him I didn’t know how else to explain he was making me feel like a whore.  I could have blocked him, but he would never learn, and he’d just find me on another app.  (It happens often enough now.)

Trust

I wasn’t feeling trust.  I couldn’t trust the men I was talking to that wanted to spend time with me last night.  There was the beautiful attorney with auburn hair and blue eyes.  I could totally trust his intentions when he messaged “DTF.” He got to the point of what he wanted from me.  There was an offer for Netflix and wine and another for Netflix and a massage.  I laughed because I have Netflix and Hulu at home and I can save the gas, and know that no one is secretly hoping to feel for my missing tonsils by the end of the night.

Commitment

My commitment last night was to my New Year’s resolution of taking care of myself because I wasn’t in the mood to make someone else feel better than I wanted to make myself feel.  It wasn’t a complete bust.

Patience

Patience looked like a phone call last night. I had a conversation with a man that was all over the place and left me laughing so hard.  He admitted that he wasn’t putting his best foot forward and his one sided conversation did require patience.  Once I settled into the idea I wasn’t going out with anyone, I decided to stay in and took off my makeup and clothes, enjoying a night in my underwear on the phone and sipping tea.  At one point he told me I was intimidating.  He said it was my looks, and the way I wear my clothes and string along words.  I told him I was determined to find someone smarter than me and he said that is why I will never find a date. I’m asking for too much.  My patience paid off because that observation made my night.

But it’s morning now and a good night’s rest with a phone that was on vibrate all night has it’s rewards and I’m feeling a rosy glow around the world right now.

2017 is greeting me with a transition from being in the moment to envisioning a romance that lives on beyond the days held carefully in routine and imagination. I’m exploring in words because the depth of such a reality hasn’t hit me yet.  But it will.  It’s been many years since I’ve felt romantic love that gets past infatuation and isn’t bound by a commitment stronger than fickle feelings.

Infatuation

My obsessive observations are fun, but they always dance in the fascination of infatuation.  These are moments when I will notice details about a man I’m interested in to the point that it’s creepy.  It’s a happy place where I’m willing to look at the many things I find intriguing but it rarely means I’ve given him any thought beyond objectification.  I have not at this point decided I would care for him any more than I would care for any other human being. But thinking of him entertains and excites me. It’s not a friendly practice.

Infatuation is a phase in a new relationship where I am willing to look deeper than friendship and see what feelings can be grown. It’s a place where I make that initial choice to imagine more than friendship. Everything about the person I’m into is amazing and if it isn’t, those amazing parts more than make up for it.

This is where I might entertain giving another man a baby.  No, I don’t want more kids.  If I find the one I want to keep, I may reconsider it, but I can’t tell you how many men around 35 see my mothering as sexy and want to put a child in me.

Love

There’s a time when infatuation fades into the feelings of love.  Loving someone is a choice.  When infatuation fades and the excitement gives way to reality, his behaviors that were once okay can start to bother me.  At this point, I choose.  At this point, would I be happier walking away (I don’t actually walk, but try to push him away)?  Could I be happier making space for his shortcomings, and loving him even if he’s annoying me? When I decide to be open in vulnerability, I am making a decision to allow someone in.

When infatuation fades, I’m faced with a new choice to love someone.  This is when doubts and fears become a choice to believe.  I put my faith in the person I’m trusting with my heart.  I’m deciding that even though I see so many things I can’t ignore in him . . . Even if my doubts and irritations are yelling at me, I still need him in my life.  I would rather live in a world where I get to make space for him and the ways he fails my expectations than go another day without seeing or talking to him.

Love is a choice.  You decide what you want to do and those feelings follow where you allow them to go.  This is where I might compromise and consider bringing a new life into this world.

Trust

I overthink all of the time.  It’s a superpower but it’s not always a gift.  I rarely accept things at face value and I’m often thinking of what was said, and holding it up to what I know.  I want to understand everything and my curiosity never stops.  When I have even a moment of doubt, my trust takes a step back.  Yes, I’ve been cheated on.  A few times by different boys.  I always offered the men I loved the benefit of the doubt.  I wasn’t a cheater, so maybe he could be faithful to me too.  In theory.  Hopefully.

In reality I offer my trust to a person and put my faith in their belief to be committed to honor their word.  I’m at a place where I understand how much it means to me to be transparent and I try to offer the truth at all times.  It means you see my good and bad, but I’m not going to be ashamed of that. And I recognize that even in my bad, I’m a harsh judge on myself and do what many think and can relate to.

In my marriage I lied a lot about money or how I spent my time.  It was never about cheating.  It never occurred to me to cheat.  It was a lie to cover my shame in choices I knew wouldn’t make him happy.  He couldn’t trust me and so he’d look at my grocery store receipts.  He’d find my $25 Amazon gift card because that deception was how I partied.  But he couldn’t trust me.

For that week when I had a boyfriend (is it terrible that I can laugh about that now?) there was one night with hand holding and snuggling.  There was laughter and I felt like I trusted him in that moment and that was a gift. I felt so much peace in his arms.  In hindsight, he never trusted me.  He gave me his nickname at first and it wasn’t until the day before he broke up with me that he gave me his actual name.  He was born in the states, but his roots are in Palestine and he didn’t trust that I would accept him for who he was. At one point he started dozing off and I picked up my phone to troll Instagram and Facebook.  I was off of the dating sites and I did field a text from someone wanting to flirt.  I let him know I had a boyfriend and that was the end of it. He wanted to see what I was looking at and what I was doing and it wasn’t until he ended things that I could see how much he distrusted me.

Sometimes you trust your heart, even when you have a hard time trusting other people. Save your energy on a pity party because this is a choice made in the excellence of your own pure heart. And Lord help me, this is where I know having another child would be the right thing to do.  I trust a future with a person that I want to share my life with.

Commitment

I make commitments to myself daily.  I’m committed to creating space for self love.  I’m committed to only putting things in my mouth that make me insanely happy (food joy is a reality). I’m committed to creating a life I get to live with excitement.  Commitment to anyone outside of my kids . . .

I was committed to my marriage and while I had a boyfriend I was committed to him too.  It’s not just the word I give.  At the end of the day, when the world fades away, all I have is my word and the strength of it is how I show up in this world and that matters to me.  Commitments aren’t based on a mood.  They stand firm no matter what you feel.

When I committed to my marriage, it was all that mattered.  I know marriage often talks about honor and obeying as part of that commitment.  I felt I honored my ex, even if I didn’t trust his leadership more than I trusted mine.  Obeying him wasn’t what I wanted to do, but committing my heart and my body to our marriage was all that mattered.  I felt it was enough, and while I can admit I was wrong, I still believe a marriage is about the two people in the marriage.  It’s spouse and spouse, and that doesn’t include siblings and parents and friends.

Commitment means I show up no matter what I feel like doing.  It means I love you even when I don’t like you.  It means I find ways to be attracted to you when you can’t find it in yourself to love who you are enough to take care of yourself. It means what I might feel in any given moment takes a back seat to how I want you to feel when you are the person I choose to love and share my world with.  Commitment is about duty and it’s where I find my honor.

This is a hallmark of parenting.  You commit to taking care of another person.  I don’t know any parents that stop being a parent after 18 years.  It’s a lifelong thing.

Patience

When I started taking classes at Glendale Community College, I was just out of high school and I didn’t have a car.  My Dad was picking me up and dropping me off which meant some days a class was cancelled and I had to wait.  Or I had large time gaps in my day and I would just hang out on campus until my next class.  I wrote a lot of sappy poems. I wrote in my journal.  I sat in the cafeteria and found comfort in hot tea and soup.  I would wait on the front steps of the school in the heat or the rain, and I remember telling myself to be patient. Just wait.

When my kids were born, I had to live on their schedule.  Eating, sleeping, awake and crying, awake and playing, gassy, happy, angry . . .  Their world dictated my response and I was never happy about it.  I loved being a surrogate because feeling like a single parent with an infant was hard on me (because I prefer being selfish).

When my marriage ended, I found peace in patience.  From March 11 when I was told my marriage was over, there were ups and downs and I fought hard, and not well, but I found patience for him.  I convinced myself that no matter what, when he was ready to snap out of it, I would take him back and we would work on our marriage.  That lasted until February 12, almost a year later.

I learned patience and found comfort in knowing it would be over one day.  That day came when I changed my mind about what I wanted, and the transformation that has taken place has required patience with myself.  In dating I meet many men that have been through a divorce and when we talk, I can see the heavy burden that I felt while waiting.  The day I filed for divorce was a celebration for me.  But the scars of a life that was planned and celebrated together has it’s own process of mourning.  I’m in a great place, but it has made me question how much is too much.

If you love someone, is there ever a point when you have been patient enough? I stopped being patient with my ex.  I was more committed to being a wife than being his wife and I realised it was no longer important to me to wait for him.  But where do you draw the line when you’re in love? Do you look for a line to draw? I don’t think I could.  I grew up in a home where love meant you are self sacrificing every moment of your life if that means the person you love feels it.  My parents might have lost their shit from time to time, but I grew up taking their patience for granted.  It is something I’ve tried to internalize.  I want to be that person in life and in love that was modeled, to the point where I now get to decide I won’t help anyone by being a martyr to someone else’s happiness through my self sacrifice and patience.

Patience is waiting even when you have no idea how long you’ll have to wait.  Patience is enduring and finding strength within yourself when you know you can’t find it in the person in front of you because they are relying on your strength, sustained by your patience.

Romantic Love

It’s not an easy road.  Sometimes I imagine the rewards because they aren’t always going to land in my lap.  When I put my faith in a romantic relationship, I believe it won’t fail me even though to this day, every single one I believed in has failed me.  Would I do it again? Abso-freaking-lutely.  The rewards of being in love are worth every possible risk and moment of blind faith.  The ideals of commitment I hold close to me are strong enough that I can believe someone else would hold them just as closely to his heart.

I’m making space for my next romantic love.  When my ex was leaving, I made an effort to put family pictures all over the house.  I wanted to remind us all of who we were as a family.  When he moved out they stayed for the kids.  I told them I would take them down when I painted the living room.  That was my commitment to them and seeing these pictures for all of this time is an exercise in patience. I brought my boyfriend home and while I felt fine hiding him away in my bedroom, I’m sure it had an effect on him, even if it was unspoken.  It probably influences why I’m never home if my kids are gone.

This weekend I intend to be home for the most part.  I have taken the pictures down and washed the walls.  I will start taping the trim and I will begin priming and painting my living room.  I will finish changing the last room in the home I shared with my ex because it’s time my little house becomes my home again. It will be a meditative celebration of change and it will be a space I will be excited to be in again.