Monday, October 23, 2017

New Digs

I've got a new home on the web - stop by if you get a chance!

www.melissamarsh.net

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

It's Time

I've had this blog for over 10 years. But I'm finding that I go to it less and less. Maybe it's the death of blogging that brought it about or maybe I've retreated more into writing my thoughts and feelings in my journal.

But I think it's time to bring my blog to a close. I've embarking on a new life and perhaps it is the perfect time to close the door on this blog.

I'm not quite sure yet if this will be permanent; we'll see.  I'd like to totally revamp my website and that might include a blog. I don't know yet. With my life completely upended this year, I don't know for sure what I want to do with things like this. Frankly, they've been the least of my concerns!

To all of my readers over the years, THANK YOU for being a part of my life! I've been so fortunate to meet so many people through blogging that I now call friends. What a blessing!

Until next time...

Melissa

Friday, July 14, 2017

One Day at a Time

I've always tried to live with this mentality: One day at a time. Unfortunately, when I implement it, I fail spectacularly. But for this particular moment in my life, that may be a good thing. Confused yet?

The pain I've experienced over the past six months has been nothing short of excruciating. I had days where I didn't get out of bed (thankfully, not many) and days when I thought the pain would never stop. I prayed for God to take it away, and sometimes, I prayed that I would just not feel anything at all. Numbness seemed a far better state of mind than the pain crushing my chest, of the way my stomach dropped to the ground at each new tidbit of information, of the searing torment of images playing over and over in my head.

But always in the back of my mind, God kept telling me, "This will get better. Give it time. Time, time, time."

So when I had those moments and those days, I tried not to live in them. I looked forward to the future, to a day where I didn't feel my world collapsing around me, didn't feel like my heart had been ripped to shreds, then taped together, then pulled apart again. And thinking about the future got me through those moments and those days and yes, sometimes those weeks.

I'm at a better place now, though most certainly not out of the woods. Time does, indeed, make a huge difference.

And through this whole experience, I've discovered that there are some things I can never enjoy again. I used to love watching the sitcom, Reba, but now I can't. Why? Because Reba's husband, Brock, cheated on her, then married his affair partner. The show centers around how Reba deals with this and unfortunately, her ex's new wife is always, always there. And the two women become close.

Nope. I can't watch it anymore. I want nothing to do with the other woman. She is not deserving of my time, my energy, or my thoughts. She is trash. Harsh? Not a bit. Decent people do not actively pursue married men. And married men do not allow themselves to be swayed. It's called being an adult. More people need to step up and and start taking their marriage vows seriously: To forsake all others as long as you both shall live. Those are not empty words you say to your spouse on your wedding day, in front of a judge or pastor, in front of family and friends. They are called vows. What is a vow? A solemn promise, pledge, or personal commitment. It's not something to treat with flippancy.

Hollywood seems to have a skewed and utterly disgusting narrative about affairs and cheating, that there must be something wrong with the faithful spouse  that forces the unfaithful spouse to cheat. Nope. That is not how this works. The unfaithful spouse makes a choice. No one is putting a gun to their head to have an affair. It is a choice.

Other movies and TV shows think that it's somehow romantic to fall in love and have an affair. Romantic? No. It's destruction on a level comparable to a tsunami or a magnitude 10 earthquake. People's lives are not a game. Playing with feelings, with bonds and trust and fidelity, is not a game.

An affair wreaks devastation in so many ways. The wayward spouse threatens the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health of their partner. STDs? Mind games? Gaslighting? Lies? Manipulation? All of it and more becomes part of the injured spouse's narrative. Each one is like a knife being plunged into the heart and the back simultaneously, digging deeper and deeper. Families, friends, and most importantly, the children of this union are affected. It is indeed the ripple effect.


Affairs destroy your trust in people. It makes you second-guess everything. I look at life through a new lens now, a jaded, cynical lens. I still want to think the best of people, but that optimistic outlook has been severely curtailed. I have heard too many stories from other people whose spouses cheated on them to think that all of humanity is fundamentally good. There are evil people out there whose sole intent is to destroy other human beings. That we marry many of these people is the heartbreaking part.

But here's the important part of this entire, horrid debacle: I am stronger because of what I've went through. I have a resiliency in me, a dogged determination to persevere, that cannot be destroyed. I am a survivor. I refuse to live life as a victim, to let someone (like my ex) manipulate me, emotionally abuse me (yes, affairs are abuse!), lie to me, and treat me with disrespect. I deserve better.

Some day, I will look back at this period in my life and marvel at how I rose from the ashes and emerged stronger and more resilient than ever before.

He did not break me. He didn't have that kind of power.



Monday, July 03, 2017

Home

Over the weekend, I traveled home to western Nebraska for my niece's wedding shower BBQ with her fiance. We held it on my brother's farm and even though it was hot, we had a great turn out and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

And me? I realized once again that I have an amazing family. We're not perfect, but we support each other through thick and thin. They've been my rock during this divorce  not only for me, but for my daughter, as well. Right now, she needs a good father figure to look up to, to see that there are men who take care of their families and do not abandon their responsibilities. My brothers fulfill that role incredibly well, and I'm so, so thankful for that.

There's something so peaceful about our farm. Under that vast Great Plains sky, you can take the time to listen to the wind rustling through the corn, watch the barnswallows flitting from place to place, breathe in the fresh, clear air, and truly relax. After the party ended, my daughter and I went with my brother to check water (i.e. make sure no ditches were broken and that water was reaching the end of the rows) and to look at the crops.

Childhood memories came back, of me starting tubes and digging ditches, of weeding beans and feeling hot and sweaty and dirty. I never truly appreciated the farming life, always eager to leave and go explore the world. Honestly, I couldn't live that life even now. But I understand it, the deep need to be your own boss, to plant seeds and watch them grow, and the fulfillment when the crop is harvested. I admire my brother a great deal for choosing this life.





Whenever I go home, I feel an incredible sense of peace. Here I reconnect with who I am. It also allows me to hit the "reset" button in my life. I leave with a greater sense of clarity in a way I don't when I go on vacation somewhere else. In short, going home grounds me.

If I had stayed in my hometown, I wonder if I would have a place that helps me find my center again? Perhaps not, which makes me appreciate it all the more.

One thing I will forever regret is the wedge my marriage put between my family and me. My ex stirred the pot more than once, but now that is all behind us. I'm so glad to make the bond with my family even stronger than before. I realize more than ever how truly blessed I am to have them.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Power of Journaling

I've kept a journal since I got out of college. I honestly don't know what I would do without it. On those blank pages, I record the day's activities, comment on national and international events, and most importantly, pour my heart out. It's a place for me to take stock of my life and try to figure out why things happen and how I can work through them.

When my marriage broke up, I was journaling every single day. I filled up an entire journal within a month and a half, and will probably fill a second one in that same amount of time. Last night I wrote pages and pages.

And you know what? It has directly contributed to my healing process. I've been able to look deep into my psyche and make connections that I hadn't thought of before. In last night's writing session, I realized that I had been the rock in my marriage, the responsible one, the adult (I used to joke that I had four kids instead of three!), but that all the manipulation, deceit, lies, and emotional abuse had started to seep into my life, creating tiny cracks deep inside not noticable on the surface, but that were doing major damage to my soul.

And now? Those cracks are healing, filling in with strength and courage and growth. I am no longer the rock in my marriage, trying to hold it together and putting my best foot forward to keep it intact. Now I am the rock for me. I am the rock for my daughter. And that is all. I no longer have to be responsible for my ex's actions, no longer have to worry how his actions will reflect on me and my marriage. He is free to make his own choices and suffer the consequences. I no longer have to participate, no longer have to defend him, no longer have to suffer.

Without journaling, I don't think I would have come to that conclusion. And it is a very powerful realization, one that can free me in ways I'd not imagined before, and lead me to finally letting go of him and my marriage. The ability to be introspective, to delve underneath the layers of the superficial, is imperative to my healing journey, and journaling has made it possible.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Don't Live There

The night my divorce was final, I had another bombshell dropped on me: the ex and the woman he cheated on me with are moving in together. The pain was excruciating, and for the next few days, I felt like the wound had been torn open again. 

Throughout this ordeal, I've sought various ways to cope, and one of those is pinning quotes and sayings on Pinterest. It's made me realize that I'm not alone in this, that others have gone through this before and survived. I will survive, too. But I felt like I took another giant step back in my healing process with this new development. And honestly? How could I not? To be discarded so easily and so completely by a man I was married to for 18 years is horrific. 

Soon, I found myself feeling rage and bitterness again, feelings I thought I'd worked through already. Obviously not! Thanks to some very good friends, prayer,  and my therapist, I feel better. Oh, and writing. Did I neglect to mention that? I have filled my journals with so many words in the past few months...SO SO many words. That's who I am, and that's how I cope - through writing.

I also joined a support group for those who've undergone the same thing I have (survivors of narcissistic abuse) and it's a great comfort to find understanding through others. 

But today I discovered that if I wasn't careful, I could very easily live right where I am for a long time. In other words, instead of moving forward, I would remain right here, stagnant, unwilling to grow or change or learn, and feeding off of bitterness and anger and revenge. When you are surrounded by people who are all feeling the same way, it becomes all too easy to absorb the negativity. 

Now please understand, support groups are invaluable. I was able to learn a lot about narcissists and how they operate, their patterns, their traits, and that I was far, far from alone when it came to being treated the way I was. That was a balm to my soul.

But I also realized that there is a time for support groups, and then there is a time to leave those groups. I don't want to recycle the same drama I've been through over and over again. I want to learn from it, process all the feelings, understand it, and then move forward and grow. There comes a time when you need to leave the past behind instead of live in it.

There's a quote I found on Pinterest that means a lot to me now:

I've had several meltdowns in the past five months. But that's okay. I know I'm doing better. I know that six months from now, I'll be in a great place. This whole ordeal has taught me a lot, one of those being patience. I want to just not care what the ex does with his life now. But unlike him, I can't shut the door on 18 years of marriage by snapping my fingers. But some day? I'll not be so bound to him, and though I'm sure I'll always have a tiny spot in my heart for him, it will never be like it was when we were married. And that is how it should be.

I'm going to be just fine. I'm excited about my future and all the possibilities that were only dreams before. Hard days remain ahead, but I'll get through them. I refuse to give up. I've been set free!





Tuesday, June 06, 2017

My Personal D-Day

This morning, I wore a black dress splashed with bright flowers. The black symbolized the death of my marriage, but the bursts of color represented hope and happiness for the future.

As I walked to the courthouse with my lawyer, we talked of today being the 73rd anniversary of the D-Day invasion at Normandy in 1944. I said, "This is my own personal D-Day. Liberation from this marriage."

A marriage born from second chances, of hope and happiness.

A marriage killed by infidelity, lies, and betrayal.

My ex did not show up at the court proceedings. I didn't expect him to face what he'd done in a court of law.

My lawyer asked me to verify that the signatures on the divorce document were mine. "Yes."

"And do you know your husband's signature? Is that his signature?"

I stared at the familiar scrawl, and tears clogged my throat and stung my eyes. "Yes."

"Is your marriage irretrievably broken?"

A firm answer on my part. "YES."

And it was soon over. I walked back to my car, and once safely within its confines, I lost it. I cried and thought of how you say goodbye to 18 years with someone, how one sentence from the judge dissolves it, how the ex didn't care that it was over. I cursed him for doing this to me, for shattering my heart into thousands of pieces.

I bought myself a donut because I deserved one, darn it, and came home. A migraine began to creep over my skull and I took a pill, then popped The Longest Day into my DVD player, the movie about the Normandy invasion.

Today is my own personal D-Day. I am liberated from a marriage destroyed by infidelity, and I will emerge from this stronger than ever. I am not broken. I am a survivor.




Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend Movie Marathon

As we all know, life has been nothing short of crazy with many more downs than ups. That's why I was grateful for three days off for Memorial Day weekend, and I was even more excited that the Turner Classic Movies channel planned to do a weekend of World War 2-related movies starting Friday night.

But I also wanted to get a huge chunk of work done on my novel. Thankfully, I was able to do both!

First up on Saturday was Nazi Agent. Conrad Veidt, best known for playing Major Strausser in Casablanca, played twin brothers, both German immigrants to America. Unfortunately, one is a Nazi agent while the other loves America and the freedom and opportunity it's given him. It's a terrific espionage flick.

Second was Hotel Berlin. Set in Berlin right before Germany's surrender, it follows the conniving, sometimes traitorous actions of several different people at the hotel. A favorite German actor of mine, Helmut Dantine, plays a German resistance leader who escapes from Dachau and is trying to hide from the Nazis.



Next on the list was  Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur. I own this on DVD and have watched it several times, yet I never tire of it. Robert Cummings plays an ordinary American who is framed for a work of sabotage and gets caught up with Priscilla Lane as they try to bring the real saboteurs to justice. It's Hitchcock at its finest.

Of course, the day wouldn't have been complete without Humphrey Bogart! Across the Pacific is set on an ocean liner traveling to Panama with Bogart playing an undercover Army intelligence officer trying to find out what the devious Sydney Greenstreet is up to with his collaboration with Japanese spies!

I finished the evening by watching some of Tora! Tora! Tora! about the attack on Pearl Harbor, but didn't watch all of it. 

Do I regret spending the entire day on the couch, watching World War II classic movies and writing? Not in the slightest. I needed a "me" day where I put everything on hold for the day: the responsibilities of being a single parent and taking care of the household by myself, the financial worries, my health, etc. 

Of course, it's imperative to remember why I had this weekend in the first place - the men and women who've sacrificed their lives for their country. That is what Memorial Day is about - remembering them. While we tend to have picnics and drink beer and go to the lake in what is ostensibly the beginning of summer, that kind of celebration has never sat well with me. For me, it's a sober day, one for reflection and remembrance.

Today I've watched two Clint Eastwood World War II movies - Kelly's Heroes and Where Eagles Dare. Both are excellent (and yes, I own these on DVD, as well!). 



Tonight, however, I'm attending a Memorial Day service at my local veterans memorial garden. It will be a fitting end to a long weekend.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Writing...And Not Writing

When I first started writing back in the sixth grade -- oh so many, many moons ago! -- I had a hard time keeping things short and simple. I would write pages and pages, whether for history papers or short stories, and my English teachers frequently told me I needed to cut things down a bit. I tried, but I kept thinking, "But I have so much to say!"

But something changed. Now it seems I don't have enough to say. I struggle to get enough words on the page.

I don't understand what happened. Did I grow up, thus knocking my childlike creativity for a loop? Did learning more about writing stymy my creative process? Or did the fear of failure, of people reading my work, swarm into my head and blot out the fun of creating?

Probably all of those things and more. But it really bothers me. I used to be able to sit down and write to my heart's content, but now I feel like it's excruciating even to write a simple blog post.

I think it might be resistance. Somewhere along the line, I got it into my head that writing was hard and it wasn't supposed to be easy. Then my internal editor stepped in, and started demanding I write a certain way, and that further bottled things up.

Steven Pressfield writes a lot about resistance in The War of Art (I own a copy which I think I gave to my mother to read and never got back...) which is where I first heard the term. There's something holding me back, and it's tug is so strong that it's keeping me from doing what I really love. I can almost physically feel the barrier between me and the words - it's a concrete wall, and pushing through it takes an incredible amount of energy.

But really, all I need to do is just write.

Getting to that point, though, is the problem. Why? I honestly don't know. Of course, it could be that I have an incredibly thick skull (recent events have proven this) and it takes awhile for things to sink in. My family is a stubborn bunch comprised of Germans, Italians, and Poles, so it's really no surprise. But writing is my dream. It's my passion. It's what I want to do. Why, then, is it so hard to do something I love?

That is the essential question.

Maybe I need to challenge myself. Maybe I need to make a commitment to write daily for awhile and see if that helps. Maybe that means a blog post every day for a month. And I need to stick to it. No excuses.

I'm not going to let this stop me. Even when it's hard to sit down and let the words come, I will do it. I can do no less.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Healing Is Not Linear

Y'know, this divorce business really stinks. I've felt the spectrum of human emotions over the last few months. Sometimes, I'll have a really good week and get only a tinge of sadness here and there. Other times, I'll endure a few days of depression and crying, all the while wondering if this will ever end.

Healing is not linear. It goes up and down and sometimes it goes backwards.

The good news is that it's getting better. Easier. Less painful.

The bad news? I feel like I'm dealing with the same stuff over and over again. I'm trying to let go. Trying not to feel like what the soon-to-be-ex does is any of my business, like who he dates or what he does with his spare time. But old habits die hard. We were together for 18 years. It will take awhile.

There are several large stumbling blocks that I must overcome. One, of course, is the knowledge that he will have a girlfriend at some point - and much sooner rather than later, I'm sure - and I will have to deal with seeing them together. That cuts me to the core. Yet there's also the competing knowledge that I am glad to no longer be with him and a twinge of sorrow for the next woman that comes along who will have to deal with him. Indeed, when making a list of the pros and cons of our relationship, the cons definitely win out. Yet those few pros are incredibly hard to get over.

Another stumbling block? Learning to be alone. When you go from having a partner in your life to going it alone - especially in such an abrupt fashion - there's an element of whiplash to it. Honestly? I've been doing a pretty darn good job so far. But there are days where it all becomes too much.

I had one of those days yesterday. I went to the grocery store, an activity my husband and I always did together, and it just became overwhelming. I almost burst into tears in the check out line, but managed to hold it together until I got into the car. I cried. And then when I got home, I cried some more. This morning, I cried at work. Yes, I am one of those people who will run to the bathroom and bawl, then wait until my face doesn't look like a red, splotchy mess to go back to my office.

Good times.

There are the little things, too. We used to text each other through the day: now that is gone. When I was in the middle of a rheumatoid arthritis flare, he'd check on me several times to see how I was doing. Gone.

But you know what else is gone?

Holding my breath when his latest burst of anger exploded through the house. The disappointment when he refused to go to a family event with me. Money arguments. The stench of alcohol on his breath. And oh so much more.

My house has now become a place of peace. It's calm and soothing. And I feel a lot of pride for holding things together, even if it's something little like keeping the dirty dishes out of the sink and cooking my own meals instead of bingeing on fast food. Maybe it's the responsibility ingrained in me from my upbringing, but I refuse to give in. I refuse to quit. Oh, there are days when I do nothing but lay on the couch and watch TV because I don't have the energy or motivation or emotional capacity to do anything else, but after awhile, I get tired of that, too.

But I know this: I am healing. It's just going to take awhile.



Monday, April 03, 2017

Random Randomness

Every once in awhile, I'll do a post full of random things going on in my life. And as I do not have a clear idea for a post today, random randomness is what I shall write about!

1) Every year, we have a symposium at the day job. It requires a year, sometimes two, of planning. The two-day event is usually full of stress and I'm left wrung out like a limp washcloth afterwards. However, this year it went very smoothly and I'm happy to report that I did not have any terrible side effects. My body didn't hate me this time around. Huzzah!

2) Since the basement has now been vacated by the ex, I'm coming up with ideas on how to turn it into the "writing den." My daughter, also a writer, and I want to make it a creative, cozy space perfect for our writing sessions. I'm excited by the possibilities!

3) Yesterday, I had a glorious writing session. Sometimes, things just actually fall into place and yesterday was one of those times. I love it when that happens.

4) Retail therapy is a good thing (when you have money, that is). My daughter and I went shopping yesterday and each came home with a new pair of shoes. She found a cute dress, I found a cute top, and we were quite pleased with our purchases!

5) I have discovered that I can, indeed, survive on three pieces of dark chocolate per day. This is nothing short of a miracle.

6) Doctor Strange is just as good the second time as it was when we saw it in the theater. Benedict Cumberbatch still can act better than 95% of the world's actors/actresses.

7) In going through a divorce, there are different "zones" that you enter. There's "crazy town" zone where you throw clothes on the lawn; there's "dying inside" zone that happens when you discover your ex is already dating other women; there's "missing him" zone where, despite logic, you miss him and yes, even want to go see him at his apartment and you think you must truly be out of your mind; there's the "happy to be free" zone where you realize that you no longer have to deal with what you endured for years and years! And you can experience all those zones in one day. Trust me.

8) I'm happy to report that both parents are doing well after their surgeries. Whew! God is good.

9) This weekend is my hometown's annual alumni basketball tournament. My brothers organized this over five years ago and it's been a huge success. I help them out, making it a family affair, and I thoroughly enjoy this time with them. I'm very, very blessed to have such a wonderful, supportive family.

10) Spring! Lovely spring is here! Now I wouldn't be at all surprised if we got hit by a snowstorm or even a blizzard. This is Nebraska, after all, but I'm really hoping we're done with winter weather until November! Yesterday during our writing session, my daughter opened the windows so we could listen to the birds chattering. It was so lovely and calming.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Tommy Dorsey, Myron, and Me

Last Thursday, the Tommy Dorsey Band played a local venue. Naturally, I dressed up in my 40s-style dress, curled my hair, added some flowers in true '40s style, and put on some vintage-looking shoes. When I arrived, I wasn't too surprised to see a bus with the name of a retirement community on the side, and there were several elderly people heading toward the dance hall. Didn't bother me a bit. I was there to listen to music and to forget the problems of the last few months.

The venue itself is like stepping back in time. It opened in 1929 and not a lot has changed. Numbered booths with wooden benches line both sides of the dance hall and there are tables covered in white cloths sprinkled around the floor. The bathrooms are painted in turqoise and have shell-shaped sinks. Yes, shell-shaped!



Once inside, I realized I would undoubtedly be one of the few there under the age of 60. But I didn't care.. In fact, I felt completely at home. I've always fared better with the older generations (which is probably why I gravitate to history and specifically, World War II history). I count my 91-year-old grandmother among my best friends.

About five minutes after I arrived, I grabbed a drink (diet soda, of course) and headed for an open spot which wasn't easy as many places were reserved. I found a booth and was just about to deposit my coat on the bench when the man in the booth next to me said, "You here alone? Need a dance partner?"

Little did I know that this simple question would spark a conversation that would last the majority of the night. The gentleman, who was in his 70s, introduced himself as Myron and immediately asked if I could help him find women to dance with. And even date. So I proceeded to ask him what he liked. And of course, he told me.

  • Can't sit around the house all day
  • Has a job
  • Likes to dance (of course!)
  • Not too heavy
  • Likes to go places
  • Must be younger than him

The band was late that night - bus trouble, I believe - so Myron and I had plenty of time to talk. I learned a great deal about him and what he'd done in his life, and believe me, there was never a shortage of things to discuss. Once in awhile he'd stop his conversation and point out another woman. "What about her? Do you think she'd dance with me?" Then there were times he "went cruising", as he called it. He'd walk around the dance hall, see if any women sparked his interest, and if so, he'd ask if they'd like to dance once the band got there. He even asked me if I wanted to dance, but I politely refused. I was there to listen to the music and that's it.

At one point, he gave me his card and said, "If you can find dates for me, I'll pay you $100 per date." Now I'm slightly broke, but still, the idea of finding women to go on dates with Myron didn't exactly appeal to me.

When the band finally arrived, Myron did his thing and went looking to cash in on those "saved dances." But soon enough, he'd come back and start regaling me with how good (or bad) his dance partner was. At one point, I encouraged him to ask a woman sitting across from us to dance. He said, "She looks too old." (Apparently, Myron wanted someone in her 60s that still had pep in her step). But I said, "She looks nice. I bet she'll dance with you." And lo and behold, he asked her and they went out to the dance floor. He even came back to her table with her and they chatted for awhile.

But alas, it did not last. Myron ended up back in the booth beside mine and lamented that this woman was "too bitter," undoubtedly the result of an ex-husband (or two or three). Once again, with the band playing in the background, he launched into tales of his daughter and his son, of the Australian fellow he met in New Orleans, of his childhood on the farm growing potatoes, of the ex-wife he was married to for 13 years that apparently was 13 years too long. He thought Frank Sinatra was too pompous and preferred Dean Martin. Cary Grant was okay by him, and he agreed that North By Northwest was a good movie. Music, however, was his passion. He loved to listen to it, loved how it moved people's souls.

"You know, you are delightful," Myron told me. "You're just delightful to talk to."

I thanked him, thinking that he was rather delightful, too.

Myron ended up leaving early because the music was too loud and it bothered his ears. He said, "I was serious about you finding me dates. Call me!"

I smiled, said goodbye, and watched as he made his way toward the door, stopping at a few tables and trying to get one more dance. He looked up at me and blew kisses my way. I waved, shaking my head in amusement.

I spent the remainder of the night listening to the band, watching the people around me, and realizing that this night had been illuminating in a lot of ways.

We tend to think that the elderly are "done" with life, content to just let the days pass. Nothing could be further from the truth. Beneath the bravado, Myron was deeply lonely. He wanted someone to share his days with. He wasn't yet done experiencing life. And all around me, I saw more of the same. Older couples dancing, holding hands, dressed in their best, smiling, laughing, living.

And they encouraged me to do the same.

I hope in the coming months and years, I will push myself more out of my comfort zone. I, too, want to experience more and live more. This world is full of beauty and awe, and it can be found everywhere: across town, across the state, across the country, or even across the world.

So thanks, Myron, for reminding me of how wonderful this life really is.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Digging Into (My) Past

One of the great things about my blog is that I can go back several years to see what life was like. Today, I went back to 2009 when I divorced my husband. I never made this public, but we divorced in 2009 and got married again in 2010. Foolish me thought it work work this time.

One post in particular hit me in the gut.

Raising a daughter and two stepsons, and dealing with the "bad" things in my marriage had been difficult. I found my self-esteem starting to drop and I developed a rather craven attitude (to me) of wanting to stay in the house all the time, not meet new people, not do new things. In short, I wanted to be "safe." I could control the world in my house - to an extent. (Or so I thought. I realize now that I wasn't controlling it at all - it was controlling me). I couldn't control the outside world. So I stayed in the safe zone.

Wow. That could almost describe my life in the past two years. I retreated from the world, never wanted to go out, and was in my "safe zone." Part of it was my health worsening, but part of it was also living in a marriage that I refused to believe could not be saved. I hung on and on. When we'd get into another fight, I knew it would blow over and we'd resume as normal - until the next one. On and on this went.

Reading those past posts, I feel incredibly foolish for having married him a second time. But when I made that decision in 2009, I truly thought he'd changed. He seemed like a different man and I thought it would be different. But as the months and years went by, he reverted back to the one I'd left in the first place.

Some lessons in life are learned the hard way. In this case, the really hard way.

Since the split, I've made it a point to go out and do more, to experience new things and meet new people. I did that Friday night for St. Patrick's Day. And I'll do it again this week when I go see the Tommy Dorsey Band play. Already I feel like I'm finding myself again, finding that woman who used to crave adventure and enjoyed discovering the world. Somehow, she got lost.

No more.

It's time to take care of me now. It's time to listen to that inner voice and learn to embrace the unknown. It's time to see what's out there in this big, wide world.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Keeping Busy

One of the best ways to deal with a divorce is to stay busy. And to that end, you could say I've been an over-achiever!

My father had heart surgery in Denver earlier this week. On Monday, I flew to Denver and then spent the next three days with him in the hospital. I'm happy to report he came through the surgery incredibly well and is due to go home today. A true blessing! I flew back home Wednesday night and went back to work on Thursday.

As today is St. Patrick's Day, I'm going out with friends after work today.

Next week, my mother is having surgery (I know! Both parents in two weeks!), but thankfully, it will be here in my own city, so no travel is involved! But I'll be taking her to the hospital for that, then helping her with the recovery process. Next week I also have to give a presentation about my book, and on that same night, I'm going to the Tommy Dorsey Band at a local venue.

The last week of March will also be busy as we are having our annual symposium at my day job. This is a pretty intense two days of nonstop work, and I'm usually thoroughly exhausted by the end of it.

I'm actually glad the next two weeks will keep me busy. It's another way for my mind to quietly heal and process the recent events in my life.

And the novel? Oh yes, that will keep me busy, too! In fact, I plan to tackle it hard this weekend and write as much as I can.

I'm still having tough days, but that's to be expected. On the whole I'd say I'm doing pretty darn good for what I've been through. I'm proud of myself for that.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Oh, Sweet Words!

Good day, bad days, rotten days, and everything in between. I've experienced it all in the past week.

Which is why tonight, I needed an escape.

I opened my novel, excited for the first time in weeks, thrilled to be diving into this other world.

So that I could forget the reality of my own.

It worked. I loved reconnecting with my words, even felt a burst of joy at how much I loved this story. Yes, in many ways writing this novel has been like being in labor for two years - agonizing and painful - but in so many others, this story has pulled me in, made me look beneath the surface of humanity, forced me to examine how we can fool ourselves into believing what we want to believe, self-medicate against the pain, lose our way and struggle to find the right path.

Ironic, perhaps fitting, that so much of what I've been through in the past few months is echoed in my characters' lives. I didn't plan it that way. Yet somehow, connections I never made before are fusing now, deepening and enriching the story in ways I never imagined.

A blessing amidst the furious storm that has raged in my little corner of the world for the better part of a month.

Throughout my life, my words, my writing, have saved me in so many ways.

A blessing indeed.


Saturday, March 04, 2017

The Betrayed

My last novel's title was The Betrayed. Betrayal was the theme and I explored it in various ways. It was challenging to write, but I really enjoyed it.

But when you're betrayed in real life, it makes fiction pale by comparison.

I'm not going to get into specifics, but I found out my husband was having an affair and thus, that was the reason he wanted to get divorced.

Everything I thought I knew about him has been turned upside down. The pain is such that it feels like a knife has been plunged into my heart and it keeps twisting, deeper and deeper.

I will be okay. This I know. But my hopes for an amicable divorce, for a continued friendship with my ex, have been cruelly dashed. I have not only lost my husband, but my best friend.

I believe we go through challenges like this for a reason. I'm not sure what the reason is for this latest development, but I know, in the future, I will understand.

My friends and family, even my primary physician, have rallied to my side. I am supported. I am loved. And this makes all the difference.

I've worked through this pain by writing. I've filled my journal with pages and pages of scrawled thoughts and feelings. It has helped. And my writing will continue to help.

I may not feel it all the time, but I am growing stronger in so many ways: in my faith, in my relationship with my daughter, in my relationships with my family and friends.

I will not let this break me.



Sunday, February 26, 2017

Courage, My Friend

Hearing the news that your ex is ready to date and, indeed, is even speaking to a woman wasn't what I wanted to hear last week. Sometimes I wonder if there are more hits to come in this whole divorce process. Undoubtedly. My heart has been shredded more than once this last month and just when I think I'm beginning to glue it back together, something else comes along to tear it apart.

But my heart will mend. I believe that with every fiber of my being. I will survive this. I will not succumb to bitterness and hate, even though it would be very easy to deliver a healthy dose of revenge and spite right about now. I will refrain. I will stand tall and walk with my head held high knowing I acted with dignity.

Every day is different and some days I have more courage and fortitude than others. This is normal. And it will be for some time to come. I've made my peace with that.

My coping mechanisms have been varied and many. I peruse quotes on Pinterest, lose myself in a good movie (or five), hang out with my daughter while we both write, play with my dog, pack my soon-to-be-ex's stuff up (since he has not done so yet), clean the house, go to work, send long emails to friends, hang out with my co-workers, journal and journal some more, read a book (or books), and pray and pour my heart out to God. He listens.

But perhaps the most important coping mechanism I have is this: I allow myself to feel whatever it is I need to feel each day. If I'm feeling sad, I allow myself to cry. I allow myself to grieve. And if I'm feeling happy and upbeat, I allow myself that, too. I have snatches of hope now and again that there is a future awaiting me with bountiful blessings and happiness. But I also have grave misgivings about my ability to ever trust a man again. All valid, all important. I'm working through it, giving myself the time and grace necessary to process. I will not rush things.

Now is the time to rediscover me. Now is the time to nurture myself. Now is the time to reconnect with what I've put aside.

Now is the time to be me.





Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Day I Shut Down

As longtime readers of my blog know, I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. Dealing with a chronic illness is difficult, and every day is different. Some are fantastic, some are horrible, some are right in between.

But combine a chronic illness with getting a divorce and the stress level tends to skyrocket.

Yesterday, when I woke up in a flare, my mind shut down. I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't deal with getting up and going to work. I couldn't deal with looking at my novel. I couldn't deal with looking at Facebook or Twitter. I couldn't deal with life. Period.

I spent the day in bed. I caught up on PBS's Victoria. I watched Mr. Holmes and The War Bride. That evening, my daughter and I watched Denial. It wasn't until 8:30 p.m. that I actually roused myself enough to go and pick up a few items we needed at the grocery store.

I think yesterday was another way my body and my mind worked together to try and protect me from serious harm. I could have pushed through and went to work, undoubtedly to make several mistakes, perhaps burst into tears from emotional and physical pain, and in general, have a rotten, no good, very bad day.

Instead, I stayed home in my little cocoon. And while I was in that cocoon, safe and warm, my body and mind were proceeding with the healing process, one in which I did not need to participate. I did not need to move forward or backward.

I just needed to be.

Our mind is a powerful thing. Somehow, it knew what I didn't: that it was imperative to go into "shut down" mode before things got worse. Learning to trust that instinct instead of fighting it is crucial.

Today, I'm still struggling (and I will be for a long while yet), but I'm better than yesterday. The old adage, "One step forward and two steps back" sometimes seems appropriate for my life. But there will be a day when it will be "Two steps forward and one step back" which means I will actually be making progress.

And in the end, that's what matters.




Sunday, February 19, 2017

Moving Forward

The past few days have been pretty good. Yesterday I woke up before 8 a.m., a very rare occurrence for a Saturday, and managed to get a LOT of stuff done including taking the dog for a walk! And today, I'm planning to write and go out with a friend this evening for appetizers and good conversation.

It's amazing to me how my emotions tend to be all over the map. Yesterday was beautiful outside - temps in the 70s - and as I ran my errands around town, I had the windows down and the music blaring, and I felt optimistic and happy. But by that evening, after I'd enjoyed dinner with my family, I came home and felt...lost and a little empty.

Par for the course, I'm sure. There are times I desperately miss my husband and times where I'm content being by myself. My pets keep me occupied, as does taking care of the house, and I'm looking forward to really diving into my manuscript and losing myself in its world.

I have to keep moving forward. That's the key to surviving this.

I'm making progress, though. For the first week, I barely left my bedroom. I laid in bed and watched TV, staring blankly at the screen merely so I could occupy my mind and keep myself from bursting into tears. My heart was raw and painful.

Maybe I should measure my recovery in terms of tears shed a day. Ha! If that's the case, I haven't cried in four days. Perhaps a new record!

One day at a time...


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Letting Go

This is going to be a pretty personal post. So turn back now if you're not in the mood for such.

My husband and I are divorcing. I take no pleasure in writing that. But it is what it is. I'm a bundle of mixed emotions right now, all tangled and snarled, like a box of Christmas lights. Part of me feels relief. Part of me grieves. Part of me has hope for the future. The urge to cry catches me off guard and can strike at home or at work or when I'm out getting groceries by myself. Likewise, there are moments of peace and serenity where I know that no longer will I have to endure certain behaviors from him, or deal with issues that just tore me apart.

We fought the good fight. We tried. And tried some more. I didn't want it to end this way. In fact, I didn't want it to end at all. But it has. I've accepted that.

At one point during these past two weeks, we barely spoke and communicated only through text messages. When he came over to our house one day, though, that changed. And what changed it? A plea from my daughter.

She said, "Mom, please don't hate Dad."

It was like I'd been struck by lightning. I had an epiphany. We can change this, I thought. We can change how we're going to do this and how we're going to behave.

My husband and I talked. We agreed to let the relationship go, but more importantly, we agreed to do it with no bitterness or animosity. We did it as much for our daughter's sake as our own. My husband is my best friend, and part of my grief in this break-up came from my terror at losing him completely. We've been together for 18 years. How could I simply walk away and never speak to him again except for those occasions where I was forced to? I couldn't do it. I could not look at him in such a way. He is the father of my child and the man I've turned to in every aspect of life. I've seen so many (including my own parents) who, years after their divorce, still only speak a few sentences to each other and avoid each other at all costs. I don't want that to be us.

After we talked, a great sense of peace settled over me. I knew we'd made the right decision.

To stop hurting each other.

To forgive.

To not descend into bitterness.

To treat each other with respect.

And in the week since we had that discussion, that's exactly what we've done. In fact, we're getting along better now than before. Perhaps it is because we know we will no longer be hurting each other, arguing, and butting heads, but I think it's more than that. We are not losing each other. We are losing the relationship, yes, but not the bond we share.

I am hopeful we can keep it. We will inevitably move on to other relationships (which will also be hard to deal with), but our goal is to remain good friends with the ability to call each other up or meet for coffee when one of us is going through a rough patch, or even just go catch up on life.

As yesterday was Valentine's Day, I had no hopes of getting flowers or a romantic card. But my husband asked me out for dinner, and we had a very nice time. We were at ease as we talked about the past and the future. We will always love each other. Always.

What did I learn through all this? That holding on to anger and bitterness takes monumental energy. That it creates division where there doesn't need to be. That not only does it affect the two people involved, but everyone around us - especially our daughter.

We are amicably parting. I know that is rarely the case, and even rarer still that ex-spouses stay connected and friends afterwards. Sometimes, it's not possible. Sometimes, it's not even smart (especially in the case of abusive relationships).

But we will try.

And in the end, that's what matters.

I think this quote from C.S. Lewis is appropriate:
The road ahead is long and most certainly filled with curves and hills and perhaps even a mountain pass or two. But my faith, my family, and my friends will be there for me. They've been with me since this is all started, and I don't know how I would have made it without them.

Onward.

Friday, February 03, 2017

How to Rock a Friday Night

I won't go into the awful week I've had. Marriage problems haven't gotten much better, but I'm not here to talk about that.

Because tonight, I am having the best time ever. I'm writing, editing, and critiquing to my heart's content. I've got classic movies playing on the TV, my dog lying at my feet, and a cold Diet Pepsi by my side.

And the best part? I don't have to worry about a hangover in the morning.

Here's the immersing yourself in the world of your own making!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Hanging On

The year started off well. I felt positive, ready to tackle my health challenges, ready to finish my novel, ready to start eating right and losing weight. I put several reminders into my phone: to pray, to stay focused on my eating/exercise, to offer encouragement. They've helped tremendously.

But life with a chronic illness is a constant stop and start rollercoaster. During the good days, I exercise, have little pain or fatigue, am in a terrific mood, and feel accomplished. During the bad days, I lay in bed, fight depression, keep myself occupied so I don't focus on pain/discomfort, and literally try to make it through the hours until I can go to sleep.

It's all so disappointing and frustrating.

But when you add marriage and job problems on top of all that, well, it just makes everything worse.

Marriage is hard. But adding chronic illness to the mix makes it harder. Your spouse is forced to make adjustments in his own life and can often feel helpless (as does my husband) because they cannot fix you. Plans are often canceled, romantic interludes postponed, and the spouse becomes not only a partner in life, but a partner in battling illness. So far, my husband has been doing splendid in supporting me. But that doesn't mean he is free from his own battles. And when you put all that together, well....Let's just say you're suddenly faced with what looks like an insurmountable challenge. Before you know it, the tiny space between you becomes a large distance. Minor nuisances become major fights. Communication flies out the window. And when the dust settles, you begin to wonder if it was all worth it.

We're having our own struggles right now. It adds to the stress of living with this stupid disease (rheumatoid arthritis) and I'll be honest: I feel completely worn out and unable to tackle much of anything right now. I have to fall back on my mantra: One day at a time.

I'm trying to stay positive, trying not to despair. But it's hard.

So right now I'm going to list what I'm thankful for.

I'm thankful for a community (online) of those battling chronic illness. It helps me to understand that I'm not alone.

I'm thankful for this cozy house I live in.

I'm thankful for my friends and family who are understanding and supportive.

I'm thankful for my beautiful daughter.

I'm thankful for the gift of writing.

I'm thankful for my fur babies - three cats and one dog.

I'm thankful for chocolate.

But most of all, I'm thankful for my Lord who carries me, loves me, and will never leave me.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Darkness and Light

Post-inauguration thoughts...

I'm tired of worrying about my country. I'm tired of seeing my fellow Americans take bites out of each other. I'm tired of seeing such vitriol and hatred on social media. It wears on a person, all the negativity, all the ugliness. I'm going to back away from it all for awhile for my own sanity.

I tried writing tonight, tried to get my mind to focus on other, more positive things.

It didn't work.

So I'm sitting in bed, watching a classic noir movie, Fallen Angel, with one of my very favorite classic movie actors, Dana Andrews.

And I'm hoping tomorrow will be better.

But I fear it won't. I fear that this anger and divisiveness from every side of the political spectrum will continue. I fear all those who said that spreading kindness is the only way forward will forget those words the minute they disagree with a person. I've already witnessed it. And it grieves my heart.

Humanity can be so very ugly. So very dark.

But humanity can also shine so brightly that the light drives out the darkness.

I want to be the light. But there are times I don't have the strength to shine. The darkness is too heavy and I would rather hide.

Like tonight.

There will be days ahead where we will all need to fight the darkness and be the light, no matter who we voted for, no matter what we believe.

We are all human beings, made up of darkness and light.

May my light shine brighter tomorrow and may the darkness recede into the shadows.




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