Tag Archives: letting go

Day 13 Be Present: Forgiveness and The Prisoner

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Day 13 Be Present: Forgiveness and The Prisoner

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
-Lewis B. Smedes

We can all be prisoners of our own anger, resentment, and stubborn resistance to forgiveness. Nobody knows how hard we have it. Nobody knows how difficult it is. Nobody is there in the middle of the night, when the fears, anger, resentment, and the anxiety are in bed with us. They wrap around us like strangling blankets, encasing us in the darkness. By morning, all we can do is get up and struggle to our day. “They did this to us. They made it awful. If only they hadn’t done_______, everything would be fine.”

Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.
-Lewis B. Swedes

What if we remember it differently? What if we forgive them, forgive ourselves, and what if we see ourselves (that prisoner), who really did a kick-ass job taking care of themselves and their loved ones in the face of difficulties. What if we change that memory into 1) letting the other person off the hook and 2) give ourselves some doses of awesome sauce?

What does that leave us with then?

Day 7 Be Present: Letting Go of Expectations

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Day 7 Be Present: Letting Go of Expectations

We know we can’t control people, places, or things. We can control our own behavior. We can let past mistakes go, too. Can we also let go of our expectations?

This is truly difficult. We have lots of ideas and plans! What if we let go and it all falls apart?! (But will it really?) Does life truly ever work out the way we think it should?

I am all for planning. I love my Google calendar and its reminders. And, I have four more hard copy calendars to help keep track of 4 categories of plans (work, family, workouts, dates)- each with their own time zones. (I also make lists, like crazy) I probably go overboard…

How does a plan differ from expectation? We can plan a date. But is it fair to expect to fall in love? We can plan a family game afternoon. Is it realistic to expect everyone to have fun? We plan meals, but does dinner ever turn out the way you thought it would?

AlAnon* has a saying “If you want to make God laugh, tell (her) your plans”.

I planned to have a quick early few hours in the office last Friday (possibly to impress my coworkers, or maybe just to kick off early). I got in there bright and early with a ride from my son. I started tapping away on my keyboard, (with self satisfaction) and then sniffed around, confused. I smelled cat pee somewhere… Where? Every time I turned my head, I smelled it… Yes, you guessed it- the cat pee was on me! I had put on my daughter’s sweatshirt in a rush, thinking I would look so hip in the Burton look I stole from her while she was away at swim practice. I was hoping to impress my coworkers with my youthful casual Friday look… But alas, hipness evaded me- my daughter’s cat had peed on it and my back was being marinated- the sweatshirt, the shirt under, and my back were soaked. Totally disgusting. The cat had saved up apparently. My manager’s manager stopped by to talk to me, and I saw her visibly take a step back from my door… I had no change of clothes, and I was there at the office early, which meant there was no one there, to give me a ride home (I had loaned my car to the cat’s owner). So I was totally grossed out, distracted, and of course, lost my self-satisfied focus. I ended up at the office for 6 hours, not 3, missed my scheduled time at home, but ended up light-hearted the rest of the day, and had a great time being present with friends later in the afternoon. So, did the cat get me to be in the moment? Who knows. Don’t try this at home.

Do we notice when we are called to get off of your programmed life and show up for something different than we had planned? I think we all need a shot of cat pee every now and then, especially when I am trying to impress, sneak around, be overly proud, or overly expectant.

Action Item: Try the Serenity Prayer. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”. Sometimes I say this at night when anxiety is making it hard to keep my eyes closed. I just repeat it over and over, as a prayer, an affirmation, a thank you, a plea… Try it!

Also- Stop. Breathe. Be in the Moment. And smile.

You are aware enough and present enough to know that shirt you are wearing is dry and clean.

*Alanon is a fantastic free place to go when you feel like you have lost control/never had control/ wish you had control/want to control. It is for families and friends of addicts, who, as we know, have no control, and sometimes luxuriate in it, causing their families and friends large chunks of pain. Alanon meetings are different everywhere you go, but I usually find health and a small space of serenity when I attend. A large bit of time is spent on the concept of acceptance and what that means, really…

Left Foot, Right Foot, Left Foot, Breathe

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The title of this blog is from advice I found in Anne Lamotte’s book “Plan B and Further Thoughts on Faith”. She got the advice from a friend named Tom when she was sad and frustrated and over the top with gunk raining down on her. It is really all we can do: put footsteps and time between us and anything that is terribly disappointing.

I don’t know why we sometimes think we can no longer “handle it”, that this is “the last straw”. Because it isn’t. We do end up getting out of bed, limping into the bathroom, doing the teeth-hair-clothes bit and getting out the door. Eventually.

This morning I had to have a good wail. I was pissed. And sad. I ended up, at the very bottom of it, mad at God. You see, I had asked very specifically for God to take care of me, protect me, and told God I knew he had my back, that he takes care of my kids when I am not looking, took care that my house purchase went through ok, takes care of my finances, and so I told God over the last months/years/decade (that REALLY pissed me off at God, that I have been asking for a decade now?!) that I know he has the perfect divinely right partner in mind for me and is preparing me for him. And preparing the dude for me. Today, it doesn’t seem that way… I am feeling like I am actually out in the cold on this companion bit, and God could care less if I find or have this companion in my life. Wow. That feels harsh. It feels possible.

But God- what else am I supposed to think? How else could/should I interpret this mess?

I heard in Alanon (the 12-step group for families and friends of alcoholics, which means they have a bunch of slogans too) that “Figuring it out is not a slogan”. So I don’t get to know God’s plan, I have to step out again in blind faith; walk by faith and not by sight. Damn it.

Left foot, right foot, left foot yet again, breathe. I thought my plan was pretty good, but I guess he has a different one.

The Moth got Taken in, but She is in Recovery Now

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That sweater dress may have been a really bad idea. Goober ended up contacting me, complimenting me (my weakness), and we had a beer to talk over the status of our relationship. I clearly told him I only date one person at a time, and was not interested in dating him if he was dating someone else. “I don’t share” I clearly said about 3 times. He told me he didn’t want to date more than one person either, and really wanted to date me. I told him I want exclusive, he mumbled “yes”, and off we went, having an awesome time with each other… For a very nice 4 weeks. I asked him yesterday early morning “What are we doing this weekend? Wanna ski?”, and he said he is going out of town (do you hear the bells in the distance? see a little flag on the horizon?).

I asked “Where?” thinking maybe (hopefully) he was going on a ski trip with buddies. He said “Getting out of Dodge”. I asked “With who?”. “A friend”. I flew out of his bedroom, down the stairs, and into my shoes practically flapping my arms as I gathered my purse and coat. Alarms were ringing everywhere. He asked if I wanted coffee, why was I leaving so fast? (I don’t drink coffee, WTH is he thinking?) My hand on the doorknob, I turned to him and asked “Is it a friend, or a friend-friend?” (I had no idea what that distinction was, or which answer was correct) He said ” A friend”. By now, bells are clanging inSIDE my head, panic is in my mouth, and I ran out of the house, into my car and out of his driveway as fast as I could get out of there… What would you have done?

I called him from my car and was able to calmly and clearly confirm that he was going out of town with a woman, that he had misled me, he knew what I wanted and expected, and yet was confused, and and and. I clearly told him that dating more than one person is confusing to me, and dating someone who is dating more than one person at a time confuses me. I clearly told him how happy I was that he had not spent any more time with my children, as they and I clearly thought we had more going on than we did. I explained that raising my 2 teenagers alone and doing my job takes enough energy that I am not interested in adding in any confusing or jealous energy to that equation. “So it doesn’t have to be completely over, we can still be friends” he tried to convince me. I admitted that I had only slept about 2 hours the night before and probably should not make any decisions about that. Then I said “I will let you go now” and said goodbye. 15 minutes is what my cell phone said about our conversation.

I keep expecting to feel awful and rejected. But I also keep reminding myself that I made this choice, that I wasn’t being rejected, and that I broke things off with him. Mary pointed out that I made this healthy choice for me, and now I am ready to accept what I REALLY want. Sara told me he is not offering me anything I am interested in. Liz said it was pitiful that a 50 year old man couldn’t figure it out and have a little more humility. Mark said that he definitely wants me in his life, but his rules don’t mesh with mine. Another Mark would say Life and love are not for the weak. So I am getting a ton of support.

Here is what else I am doing:

I am congratulating myself on making a courageous decison that was not easy, but will help bring the man who wants to be exclusive to me. These decisions to love ourselves and not accept unacceptable behavior are difficult. But our hearts and our children need us to make them anyway… And, they bring us closer to God’s plan for us.

I am listening to sermons about God bringing light and purpose to our lives, sticking with us through thick and thin, and loving us no matter what happens by my friend Mark whose wife is suffering from a debilitating illness that is tearing apart his college sweetheart’s mental stability and his family. This illness will take her over the course of decades, and yet he can deliver these hopeful and faithful sermons about the depth of God’s love for us. I just heard him say “God is in the darkness, God is in the Light, and in the Fear. He is in the unexpected places of our lives”. Let me know if you want a link to these sermons.

I am envisioning a beautiful bouquet of flowers inside of me- with lots of light blue delphiniums, yellow sunflowers, pink wild roses, red Indian paintbrush, orange globemallows, and many more. This bouquet is gorgeous; it is springing into bloom, with little buds and bursting petals. Raining down on this bouquet is God’s golden Light, filling up my arms, legs, shoulders, and fingernails even, with this radiant Light that gives me energy, love, and blessings. When I get anxious, I focus on the exact flower species…

I am praying a lot and asking God to hold my hand and hug me through all of this, to lead me and give me wisdom, help me to learn from this, and oh yeah, if it is your will God, bring me my divine right partner- the one with the big heart and nice biceps too.

Somehow, this morning, I was able to be present with my children at breakfast, was the kind thoughtful mom I want to be, rather than the depressed, sad, immobilized mom I was afraid would show up this morning.

The rage and argument in my head against Goober and his actions has quieted down. I am not cussing him out in my mind as often as I did yesterday when he had the stupidity to come by my office to ask a work question. Glimpsing him in the office anhour ago was NOT heartbreaking. I would rather be writing a blog to you about how my boyfriend has surprized me with amazing plans for Valentine’s Day. But that is not the case. Instead, I am sharing with you how I fell into the sun, but am surviving big disappointment.

We are all bouquets of buds and blooms. Let’s make the tough decisions and let the Light in. I hope to write again soon, to let you know this spiralling upward has continued.

Post-Party Rush

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The party was really fun yesterday. “Cute Guy” was not there, but other cute and fun people were, and I really enjoyed laughing with friends. I was probably the oldest one there, and had jello shots and “shotskis” (shots in a line with others because the shot glasses were epoxied onto a downhill ski- for togetherness, I guess). Not many people were couples, so it was really easy to just enjoy everyone’s company. (I did NOT get smashed, SG. I just had a very good time. All good!)

There was one couple there, and it was inspiring… the guy was such an obvious immature jerk to her and the world in general that it kicked in my gratitude at not having that element in my home any more.

Every now and then, I get this contented feeling that all is well, I am on God’s path for me, and will meet just the right man at just the right time to really love and enjoy each other. It is a very trusting feeling that results in me feeling no impulse whatsoever to go on match.com, or pof.com, or whatever the latest dating site is. It just is not necessary if I am living my life happily and being exactly who I want to be. The man will show up.

I get so trusting in this feeling that I go a step further and realize with a slap upside the head “Oh my, I have a lot of things to enjoy doing in this time alone. I need to keep on 1) being completely spontaneous with my social plans, vacations with kids, and my finances, reporting in to no one, 2) eating peanut butter toast for dinner with watermelon because I hate cooking, 3) leaving stuff all over my bathroom floor for days, 4) spontaneously talk with my teenager until wee hours of the night about their life, their worries, their stuff…” You know all those things we get to do as people outside of relationships. Because someday those spontaneous moments won’t be so spontaneous or so common in my life.

That makes turning my heart and my yearning for companionship over to God and enjoying the moments today much much easier.

It All Ends A Lot Better Than It Starts

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It ended miraculously compared to how it all started and the garbage I let in.

I felt really really awful when I realized my divorce proceedings had been attorney-office gossip, then dinner time conversation, and eventually evolved to bar talk… My stomach did a 3-day lurch down to the bottom floor of the Empire State Building as I realized that it was possibly an interesting story (to an outsider, not going through the tremendous emotional and financial devastation that highly public criminal court cases come along with). Why wouldn’t they unearth it, roll it around, and look for something of interest to chat about? Never have I wanted to be as Normal as possible as when gathering with my old friends from Normal 2 weeks ago. But my life diverged from Normal (and my Normal expectations for it) in 1997 when my then-husband was arrested. I guess I have not healed as much as I had hoped; it continued to unravel me. But read to the bottom…

I was standing tall in my gorgeous shoes, in the afternoon sunshine, over beers on the sundeck of a beautiful bar, laughing with old friends over a crazy 8th grade social studies teacher we had 30 years ago. He casually said “Oh, my wife works with your attorney. She was talking with him… he told her… she told me…” There I was, having a very private memory lane of my own at the reunion- my divorce case from 13 years ago dredged up, all the old wounds freshly incised. I could only stammer “Ah, interesting”.

Later, boulders ran downhill quickly as I came to and realized how inappropriate that was. But it was too late, I was at dinner, struggling to keep up with conversations while drinking as many margaritas as they would place in front of me. After midnight, the salt on the wounds came on, as the old boyfriend’s wife bizarrely pulled out a stack of high school photos of us from those old days when I dreamt about happily ever after with a loving man, picket fence, 2.3 children, etc. I have no idea what her intentions were, but suddenly there I was, in our prom, homecoming, senior photos, smiling with joyous expectation of life ever after. Surreal does not begin to describe it! So I drank more. Then got a ride to the hotel, which I discovered is 2 blocks down the street from the Church I was married in.

The failed expectations were swarming me. It all combined to form a tangled coil of nerves in my brain that would take a couple of weeks to unravel. I couldn’t stop the time travel and I got very dizzy.

I forgot who I was for 3 days. I forgot that I am a fabulous mom, that I have a career in a field I enjoy, that I have dear friends who enjoy talking to me and value me and my opinions. Basically, I forgot all that I have accomplished, all that I am proud of in the last decade. The incredible sadness of my divorces and my single life was dredged up to stare me and my childhood friends in the face. I didn’t sleep for the next week, and conversations felt strained and useless for days as I struggled to get back to the present.

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Most importantly though, I forgot that God holds me closely in his hands. I forgot that this IS the plan, for me to raise my 2 beautiful children alone, and to be doing an incredibly great job of it. I forgot that the other crap may have occurred, taking me away from MY plan, and yes, away from my Normal upbringing, and my Normal expectations for my life. But I am never going to do things that will take me away from God’s love.

It may happen to you too. You will think you are buzzing along finally, doing your life, wearing beautiful shoes, paying the rent on time, eating healthy dinners with your kids, and going to work at a job you are proud of. Your guard will be down. Your Grandmother might corner you at a Christmas dinner with dreadful questions about “him”; your Dad might make a financial decision that clearly unseats your place in the family; your coworker at a summer BBQ may reel you back with an intensely personal question in front of your boss; or an old friend, your neighborhood, or your newspaper might gossip about something that happened to you 10 years ago. Precisely when your guard is down, it will shake you to your roots. You may think you are small, stupid, worthless, and pathetic because of things that happened long ago. Don’t believe those thoughts.

The bottom line, my friends, is that God is holding us, not letting us go. I didn’t screw up my life marrying idiot losers. You didn’t screw up your life either with your choices. You are on track, right where you are supposed to be today, raising your lovely children, and doing a beautiful job of it. Don’t forget that you are doing God’s perfect will, just today when you poured the milk for her and listened to his music with him. No matter what hell breaks loose, threatening to unravel your sanity and clarity, you are beautiful and doing a beautiful job. Nothing else matters.

Psalm 145:13 says, “The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made.”

Grumpy and Annoyed Will Lead to a Miracle?! Really?!

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Grumpy, irritated, tired, and resentful. That is me today. I am annoyed too. My current crush (CC) is not getting the point that I like, enjoy, and respond really well to daily contact that he needs to initiate half the time or more. I am afraid of his rejection. His power play about our communication is not making me like him more; it is pissing me off and inspiring me to delete all of my saved text messages and voice mails as well as his contact information (I know I can be a little drastic). I am so ready to tell him to forget it all despite a fabulous phone conversation 3 days ago.

More immediately and in my face, I have to work with the Princess Bitch (PB) in the office today. I am not looking forward to it. We have to sit down together in a room and talk over something she is going to be very defensive about, and likely will find a way to put me down and wave her long fingernails at me and her work as if she is the Princess of all. I will have to focus very hard on breathing and that professionalism concept…

I didn’t get enough sleep this past week. And I am feeling a little pushed to do more than I am capable of. Can you tell?!

Here is my gratitude list for today:
1. My meeting with PB is not until this afternoon
2. I have not bitten anyone’s head off (yet) today
3. I did not badger my children this morning and we had a nice breakfast together
4. I have not cried in a) my boss’ office, b)my office, c)in public, d)yet today
5. **I can pray and ask God to turn this fear of rejection into a miracle of communication with CC and PB.

God- Please give me perspective, grace, and divine timing for these 2 important communication pieces on my plate. Help me to trust that you could actually turn these 2 situations into miracles of some sort. Oh yeah, according to other blogs I have written, I am supposed to Be the Grace. I will work on that… but you could help me with that too? I am feeling really skeptical about all this…

Please help me to be patient while I figure out how to trust you again. In the meantime, I am going to go eat a bunch of chocolate and find a tranquilizer.