I am all over the place.

I feel like my life was a puzzle picture hanging on a wall that a kid took one of those flying whirly shot guns to & hit it straight in the center &…. smack! Life as I knew it splattered into a million pieces. It’s taken 3 years for all the pieces to hit the floor. They’ve been swirling, I’ve been trying to catch them, they’ve been hitting each other, hitting me, I’ve been fighting them, dodging them, running for cover, and now … 3 years later …they all finally hit the floor….and it’s silent. Still. Calm. Soundless.

And I’m crying.

I know that analogy may not make sense to anyone but me. But it’s how I feel. Truly. I’ve had people say I would have a tidal wave of emotions overtake me. And it has. I feel like I’m still on an adrenaline rush and yet everything around me has stopped and is still for the first time in what seems like eternity.

It started 3 years ago when my then husband was arrested on a 3 degree domestic violence assault against me. One night I went to bed. Married. A family. My puzzle picture (ugly as it was) in tack. The next night… my puzzle whacked straight on . Life would never look the same.

I was now one of “those people.” “Those people” who have police at their house. “Those people” whose husband is in handcuffs. “Those people” with protection orders issued and subpoenas given to.

I remember calling my cousin at 2am asking her to stay with my 2 year old because I had a subpoena for court the next day. I remember begging her not to tell anyone what happened. I remember going to court. I remember talking to the investigator, the DA, everything…. until …I was driving on 470 getting off at Bowels. I called my mom 1800 miles away. I told her. “Rob is in jail. Can you come out here?” She said yes. And then… it’s blank. I don’t remember anything else until 3 days later when I picked my mom up at DIA. Nothing. It’s gone. I’ve tried. My body refuses to remember. My cousin simply says “it was bad” when I asked her what happened those 3 days. What did I do? I don’t remember her being at my house. My daughter. Me. Anything. It’s just blank. It must have been bad.

From that day on I went into fight mode. Finding out my husband was a pathological liar. He had a made up a life. One that didn’t exist. Alcohol & drugs swirled around this life. Unknown bank accounts, fake jobs, fake schools, fake friends, cover ups, and past arrests. Everything swirled around me. Like a lioness protecting her cub I started fighting for my daughter. Her safety. I lost. I keep losing for 3 years. Multiple court cases, multiple social service case workers, multiple motions, attorney bills, a CFI, a parenting coordinator, therapists and professionals. And I lost. I was the “hysterical mother.” I was controlling. I was the instigator. He was just a nice guy who was a bit of a deadbeat but certainly wasn’t a danger. 3 years later he has another domestic violence assault charge, a probation revocation, a founded child abuse case with child protection services and is now serving a 3 ½ year jail sentence. 3 years of fighting and finally the truth has come out. 3 years of fighting for our daughter’s safety. Fighting for my safety. Fighting, fighting, fighting. And now …the fighting has stopped. It’s quite. And I’m just starting to mourn.

It’s gone.

Everything is gone.

I’m now a single mom.

I never wanted to be a single mom.

If I wanted to be a single mom I would have gotten knocked up before I got married.

I wanted a family.

A husband.

Dinner together.

Vacations together.

Fridays together.

Church together.

Watching our daughter grow up together.

My mom has a friend who used to say she was mad. Mom and Dad and she was M.A.D.

I’m mad.

I wasn’t before.

For 3 years I wasn’t mad.

I was just frustrated.

Frustrated with the “system.”

Frustrated the system failed our daughter and she had to be physically hurt before anyone would step in and protect her.

Frustrated that my ex husband’s parents kept sending him money to pay for his barracuda attorney while he has made it to 34 and never actually held a job for more than a few months at a time.

I was also sad.

Sad for him.

Sad that he felt so horrible about himself that every day he woke up pretending to be someone he wasn’t.

Just sad. I can’t imagine what it must be like to look at yourself in the mirror and feel so bad about who you are that you need to literally make up a fake persona.

I pitied him.

Even my last few times in court with him. I just cried.

I cried when they escorted him out of the jail.

I cried when they put handcuffs on him.

I cried when they sentenced him.

I cried when they granted my permanent protection order.

I cried when they granted our daughter a protection order.

I cried.

I cried.

And then cried some more.

And now 3 weeks later I’m still crying wondering what the hell is wrong with me?

For 3 years I prayed for the truth to come out…. Got the truth.

For 3 years I prayed for our daughter’s safety….she is safe now.

And she is cancer free. (Just a little bonus fact I should be slightly grateful for don’t you think?)

And what I am doing?

I am crying.

At this point I’m not even sure what I’m crying about anymore.

I’m crying I’m not married….& I think…so? lots of people aren’t married they’re not crying.

I’m crying because I was deceived by someone I loved….& I think..so? People are cheated on, lied to, and hurt everyday…they get over it…they’re not still crying.

I’m crying because our daughter’s legacy will forever be her dad went to jail when she was 5….& I think…so? Better him in jail then her dead right?

I’m crying that I will never get to know why. Why did he lie? Why did he make up a fake life? Fake friends? Fake school? And did he know it would eventually come out or did he just think we would just go to our graves living his fake life? (Now some could argue I could go to jail and ASK him but remember this is a pathological liar, I would never get the truth anyway)

I’m crying that my single friends can go out whenever they want. Go away for the weekend even. And I can’t. I have a kid. I will never be able to come and go whenever I want again…& then I think …uh hello! Eventually she will be 18 and I know, I know, I will miss the days I couldn’t just come and go.

I’m crying because my best friends are having a baby. And they are already talking about having another. And I will have an only child. Who currently has 6 imaginary friends because she wants brothers and sisters. And I need to move the stuff off the passenger seat in the car because “josh needs to sit there mom.”

I’m crying because I have a light in my kitchen that I can’t seem to put back together and I’m tired of yelling at it every time I try to put it back together that I have just left it. And I’m too prideful to call anyone to help me with it.

I’m crying because my backyard looks like a jungle, again. (seriously in a couple of weeks I can prob. Start selling tickets for tours) and I don’t’ want to take care of 2 apple trees, 3 peach trees, and 2 pair trees and I should have just given the stupid house to my ex when he fought me for it so I could now be in a sweet townhome where when my toilet breaks I can call maintenance and it will be their problem and not mine. Oh and they’ll shovel too.

I’m crying because I live in suburbia hell where I am the only single parent on the playground and the only single parent in the moms club and the only single parent on my block and the only single parent at the vacation bible study planning meeting tonight. And while I openly acknowledge statistically only 2 out of every 10 married couples I know is truly happy at least they get to pretend they’re happy and someone else takes out their garbage on Monday night.

I’m crying for my daughter who doesn’t have a dad who gets to go the father’s day party at preschool and for the box of cards, gifts, and art work she is having me “save” for him.

I’m crying because I alone have to get all the mail and take care of every bill that shows up. And I don’t even like to balance a checkbook. I’m jealous of my great grandmother. My grandfather gave her a checkbook. When he was upset after finding out the account was overdrawn she put her hands on her hips and argued that that was obviously impossible! After all, she said showing him the checkbook, just look how many checks she had left. (Needless to say I think that was the end of the checkbook but I still would like to live in her financial bliss)

I’m crying because my single friends get to go on real vacations and actually relax and my married friends get to go on family vacations and take annoying smiling pictures of them all looking all “family like” to post on face book and I get to go on vacation and end up needing a vacation.

I’m crying because sometimes I’m not sure if I’m a mom or a full time servant, short order cook, butt wiper, & picker upper ….or maybe that is what a mom is and I really should have gotten a job description before getting knocked up.

I’m crying because I never bought a car in my life. I always had a company car. And after 3 years of separation, divorce and then cancer I have given up all semblance of what my career used to look like and in many ways am starting over from scratch. And that makes me mad.

I’m crying because I have to now seriously consider getting my teeth whitened because of all the coffee I drink because I no longer wake up just awake, happy, and alert.

I am crying because I had to sit and listen to this fabulous guy tell me how he just was so in love with this fabulous girl and they were so happy together and while I honestly just adore both of them and in my heart wish them the best life ever together I also had this strange sensation of wanting to throw rocks at him.

I’m crying because in the moms group when they do moms night out they all have dads who watch their kids and I don’t so I don’t go.

I’m crying because 3 years later I’m STILL paying off my ex’s taxes simply because we filed 2 years “Married” and the IRS doesn’t recognize my court order ordering him to pay his half of the taxes due.

I’m crying because on mother’s day my daughter made me make HER breakfast in bed. Toast with honey. Chamomile tea. On a tea tray. With a flower in a small vase. And serve it to her. Because that’s what Brother and Sister bear did for Mama bear in the Bernstein Bears “Mother’s Day Surprise” and after all SHE is a mother to Sally (her American doll). And I stood in the kitchen half asleep steeping tea wondering how in the hell did this become my life?

I’m crying because I will never get 10 free nights a month again. 10 free nights when our daughter would stay with her dad and I could come home whenever I wanted to or even not at all and sleep until whenever I wanted the next day. Now mind you, she was in a violent, unsafe, dangerous situation so I am very clear her safety is worth every free night for the rest of my life…but I still miss those breaks of freedom.

I’m crying because for the 1st time in 3 years I can go to sleep and actually feel safe in my own home. And I’m not sure why that feels so strange.

I’m crying because I sit alone in church. Then again when I was married I sat alone in church. So again, why the hell am I crying?

I’m crying because a man I’ve had a secret crush on for years got married a few months ago….and I’m prettier than his wife. How did THAT happen???

I’m crying because it’s still.

It’s quite.

And for the 1st time I can hear all those voices in my head.

“You’re marriage is gone. You failed. You picked the wrong person. You’re not a wife. You have an only child. Your Christmas cards now say “Tara & Em” not “McLaughlin Family” You have to check “divorced” on paperwork. You’re too young to be a cougar and too old to be a catch. You’re a “divorcee.”

And I’m mad.

Mostly mad at myself that I’m mad and crying and not on my knees in gratitude and humbleness and thankfullness. How ungrateful can one person possibly be? I mean I have a kid. A kid who kicked cancers butt. And a support system others could only dream about.

If I was looking at me I’d want to slap myself silly (ok maybe not the best choice of words for a domestic violence survivor to use)

But I would. I’d say “wake up girlfriend! You are one of the lucky ones. Get yourself a tissue and grow up. What’s wrong with you???”

And so I will do what I did just 2 years ago when I was having a pity party about Emily’s cancer diagnosis. Sitting alone in a hospital listening to the beep beep of her IV pole and the gurgle gurgle of her chest tube draining I began to write. My grateful journal. What started it all. How full circle I have come.

I am grateful Emily is cancer free.

I am grateful Emily is cancer free.

I am grateful Emily is cancer free.

I will never get over how good God has been in this one blessing alone. NOTHING and I mean NOTHING else matters to that one blessing of mercy and grace.

I am grateful for Erin. That she is one of the best friends anyone could ever have and whose heart is bigger than her body and that she forces me to have fun every time I want to cry.

I am grateful for Irene because she makes me wear flip flops and introduces me to scary places like Candlelight and wears a trucker’s hat to a pool party and can dress like a rodeo clown and still get hit on. And if a woman as perfect and beautiful as she is can be single then really? What can I expect?

I am grateful for my family for supporting me for 3 years fighting with me and helping me in every way they can.

I am grateful for Sabrina, Cory j, Kathlena, and Debbie s. Women I’m just blessed to be in my life and on my cheering team.

I am grateful I live in a state where it’s sunny every day and I don’t ever need to cross over a bridge.

I am grateful I don’t have a fat gene. I’m a stress eater. Oreos, Swedish fish, and basically anything fried makes me feel better. In the last 3 years I really should weight 300 lbs.

I am grateful for Paul. I know there is at least 1 surviving man (whom I am not related to) who has integrity. Real integrity. Not integrity just when it’s in his best interest. But the kind that would be honest even if he knew it wasn’t what you wanted to hear.

I am grateful for Bethany and Jon. God could not have put two nicer people together. An Angel herself straight down from heaven in my life could not be better then these two. I honestly don’t know what I would do without them.

I am grateful that after cancer I can say my heart has changed. I’m not judgmental anymore. I’m kinder. More empathic. Less materialistic. More humble. More grateful.

I am grateful God really always does seem to provide.

I am grateful I have a career I truly, honestly, enjoy and while it might not be where I want it to be or where it was, I am grateful I’m not one of the millions of people who drag themselves to work every day hating their job.

I am grateful I have a great preschool and fantastic babysitters for Emily. They both just kinda “fell” in my lap (thanks moms club!)

I am grateful my dad’s heart transplant last week was successful and he (while in a ton of pain) is doing medically well.

I am grateful my mom’s cancer from Jan was removed and she is ok and that she and Em will celebrate clean scans every few months for the rest of their lives.

I am grateful it doesn’t snow in the summer and I don’t have to deal with shoveling and grass at the same time.

I am grateful that the damn woodpecker is gone. Not sure what happened to him (maybe a neighbor did him in) don’t really care either.

I am grateful I have a car. I know this seems silly to most but after always having a free car and never actually buying a car having to buy a car was a whole new experience for me (one I never plan on experiencing again mind you) but grateful I have a car.

I am grateful for John Catt. He is one of the most amazing men I have ever met and continues to bless Emily and me with memories that I will cherish my whole life. People we never would have met and experiences we never would have had without him in our lives.

I’m grateful I have been married and have a kid and am not at 34 settling for a “so so” relationship or feeling pressured to find “the one” because I have a ticking biological clock.

I am grateful I am getting to go to NJ for 3 weeks this summer and can book my tickets now for Christmas and don’t have to deal with a parenting plan that was used as a noose around my neck to control me.

I am grateful I have straight teeth and my parents paid for 7 years (yes 7!) of orthodontics. (Random I know but I’m really trying here to re-focus on gratefulness so go with me)

I am grateful for Jeremiah 29:11 and it is God’s promise not just to me but to Emily.

I am grateful to the makers of Bing…when a coffee just won’t cut it.

I am grateful for Emily’s therapist. Another God sent blessing in our lives.

I am grateful for victim’s compensation that will pay for Emily’s therapist for a full year.

I am grateful I live in America and there is victim’s compensation.

I am grateful I have found a sport I actually LOVE.

I am grateful for my Mary Kay family. My customers. My team members. My sister consultants. They are my life preserver.

I am grateful I have people in my life who actually care enough about me to read my ramblings.

I am grateful my grandmother is 98 and still prayers for me every day and Emily will get to see her this summer.

I am grateful my cousin lives in Colorado. And that I don’t feel guilty letting her take over taking care of Emily every now and then…because she has to love her ….she’s blood.

I am grateful I am only 34 and can rebuild, reshape, and remake my life – although I’m done making plans. I’m just praying for God to show me His.

I am grateful I live in a country that is about to celebrate its independence and remind each of us just how blessed and lucky we are we had the good fortune to be born in the land of the free and the home of the brave and there are men and women right now away from THEIR families and loved ones protecting those freedoms.

I am grateful for people like Vanessa who believe in me when I don’t.

I am grateful for a little hand that holds mine at night, a little arm that wraps itself around my neck and a little child that is my world. My Miracle Child.

It’s when I think of that living, breathing, Miracle …a true real life physical testament of
God’s goodness and grace. …

I cry.

dating, Denver, divorce, men

I Don’t Ski ~ And Other Reasons I’m Undateable In Denver

I was broken up with because I don’t ski. Only in Colorado huh? I’m too Jersey apparently. REI is a strange place to me. (It makes me jonesin for glitter and stilettos) I don’t get hiking (why are you walking aimlessly in the woods?) I don’t get camping (you work all week to make money to pay a mortgage for a home with lighting, heat, running water, and a soft bed and now you want to set evolution back millions of years and sleep on the dirt?) I don’t play volleyball, softball, hockey, lacrosse, basketball, or any other sport. (Even though I’m 5’10”) I don’t mountain bike (I actually don’t know how to ride a bike and that saying “you never forget” isn’t true) and I don’t like the cold or trees. (unless they’re palms)

So apparently this makes me Undateable in Denver.

In my defense I actually don’t know if I like these things or not. (with the exception of the cold – I know I don’t like the cold. 100% sure on this one. I seem to get colder faster than other people. I blame it on the fact my body temp is 97.6 – 1 degree off. This is totally unscientific but my ex used to say I was a lizard – a cold blooded reptile. Although maybe he wasn’t talking about my body temp. There is a reason he is my ex)

So correction. It’s not that I DON’T ski; it’s that I’ve never been skiing.

I have been to REI. Once. My cousin dragged me there to get hiking shoes. While immersed in tents, skis, gore-tex, and those funny clips for repelling, I was inspired to get a little “Coloradan” & get a pair of snow shoes. I like nature, I like animals, I like the quite, away from cell phones, internet, and my to do list. I thought this might be the perfect Colorado activity. I had a momentary flash of myself dressed in a cute snow suite (of course I was 15 lbs thinner in my momentary day dream) snowshoeing through a beautiful pristine almost cinematic setting watching cute animals prance around the fields like little ballerinas and I think there might have been Enya playing in the background of my fantasy. Until my cousin snapped me back to reality explaining that since I don’t get hiking snowshoeing is like hiking…but in the cold. Oh. Huh? Guess I didn’t think of it like that. Suddenly a red frost bitten nose, wind whipping into my face, and snow getting stuck in that space between my gloves and my sleeves that makes me want to crawl out of my skin invaded my fantasy and all snowshoeing ideas vanished instantly, prancing fawns and all.

I never really got the whole camping thing. Seems like a lot of work to sleep on the ground. Yet I’ve only been camping (real camping) once. With my ex. Who is a narcissist who thinks he knows everything. I slept on bumpy rocky ground, ate hot dogs for dinner, soggy food for breakfast, and basically after we (and by we, I mean he) set up the tent we sat around for 24 hours in the same spot. I was so bored. There was one good thing that came out of that camping trip. My daughter Emily. (who should have been named Evan because we were camping on Mount Evans). 2 ½ years trying to get pregnant and a camping trip with tequila and I get knocked up in no time. So can I really say I hate camping or just hate camping with my ex? I hated life with my ex so should I really expect camping to be that different?

I never played sports either. I was too busy in dance class or drama club. I started competitive dancing, learning choreography, being vice president of the community service club, a retreat leader at my church, and president of the Latin club (don’t laugh). I never thought about joining soccer and having my nose broken 3 times the way one of my best friends did. I skipped gym class and even failed gym one semester resenting that the school felt I needed “exercise” when I was dancing 4-5 days a week for hours at a time. And so now, 16 years later, I’m undateable in Denver.

I learned to ride a bike as a kid. Flipped over my handle bars once and never got back on. So don’t know if I would like to bike or not. I think the last time I was on a bike was in 5th grade. Who knows if I would like it? I’m always in awe of the guys who bike from Boulder up to the top of Mt Evans and then back. I’m in awe of their butts actually. I think the term “buns of steel” came from them. I never really knew anyone who biked. I mean I’m from Jersey remember?

And so now at 34 I sit here realizing I don’t know what I like. I feel like Julia Roberts in the movie “Runaway Bride.” She can’t commit to one guy because she doesn’t know what she likes. Even to the point of how she likes her eggs (At least I know I like mine over easy)

So now I am about to embark on a personal discovery. To find out what I like. I seem to know more about what I don’t like in life right now then what I do. I know what I don’t want in a relationship more than what I do want. I know what I don’t want in a career more than what I do. I know more about where I don’t want to live more than where I do. More of what I’m scared of my life looking like more than what my souls deepest desire really is.

So here is my list of what I don’t like:

I don’t like:

• Video games
• Beer
• Being cold
• Lairs
• Domestic Violence offenders
• Shrimp
• Snakes
• Horror movies
• Paris
• Geometry
• Children who wiggle loose teeth
• Basketball (I have enough of a memory from high school to know I can’t dripple for shit)
• Anti-Americans who still live in America
• Heavy metal music
• Hate websites
• Cold wind that stings my ears and leaves them stinging even after I go inside
• Fiction books
• Telephone automated answering systems where you can’t reach a real person for 30 min without 70 million prompts (and pressing 0 just sends you back to the main menu)
• cancer
• Gardening (the whole dirt thing ruins it for me)
• Palmetto bugs
• Scotch
• The movie “Clock Work Orange”
• Football on TV
• cigarettes
• Ugly shoes
• spiders
• Curious George (the monkey never listens to the rules, disobeys, gets in trouble, causes problems for everyone else and then miraculous saves the day and is rewarded in the end…and this is the book we give our kids???)
• Mess & Clutter (yet I still haven’t found away to escape it)
• Feelings of isolation
• People who use their religion to be bigoted, judgmental, arrogant & condemning
• Steak cooked rare
• Overcast skies and gray weather
• McDonalds Burgers or Chicken nuggets
• One of the yoga teachers at my gym. Her voice just annoys me.

But here’s the thing, it seems this list is always changing. I would put “ferrets” on it now but in high school my friend had pet ferrets I loved. (Always hated snakes. That hasn’t changed- they creep me out). And Curry. 3 weeks ago I would have put curry on my list. Yet just last week I had curry on chicken and rice and loved it! So maybe it’s true, the only thing constant is change. Isn’t there a theory that even our allergies change every 7 years? So what I don’t like now maybe I’ll love in 7 years? I’ll become a tree hugging, mountain climbing, shrimp eating, and basketball player. Ok probably not.

Fortunately I have the best friends in the world (really sorry, mine are better). They love me and accept me Jersey and all. They have been through Divorce Parties, Ex in Jail parties and all my crazy boy stories in-between. They have loved me from cancer to court. From Lodo to Littleton. I am blessed. There’s a quote that “love is the gift of oneself.” They appreciate my gift and I feel overwhelmed by theirs. They don’t think I’m undateable. So this weekend they are taking me to play volleyball. I will soon find out if my wrists (which are just a little over 1 inch wide) can take huge hard scary volleyballs being thrown at them.

I am also going camping in a few a weeks. (not planning on getting knocked up this time).

So I am about to find out just how Coloradoan I really am. Will I have fun or add it to my “What I don’t like list?” I don’t know. But this Jersey girl is about to find out.

dating, divorce, men, Uncategorized

Love Bites.

Love Bites.

That’s a stark contrast to Corinthians 13:4-13. “ Love is patient, love is kind. it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves.”

Love trusts huh?  I am very aware the Bible does not preface this concept with “young love trusts,” or “first love trusts,” or “innocent naïve never been hurt, stabbed in the back, lied to or deceived” love trusts. It’s simply is love trusts.

And that’s the one I struggle with.  I wonder if that’s why 2nd marriages have the lowest success rate.  Because once you’ve been burned you don’t trust. Once your heart has been crushed, mutilated and is unrecognizable as anything other than dog food it feels too hard to trust. And so you miss it. You miss the chance to succeed in the second marriage because you have love without trust.

The last 3 years have rocked my world. Shaken my beliefs. Shattered my judgments, and brought me crashing to my knees in supplication.  I view life, people, and love differently now. I am all too aware of our frailties. Our hurts. Our scars. And our relentless desire to feel loved.  Special. Important.  Yet we each carry so much baggage.  Hurt. Disappointments. Unmet expectations. Tears. Scars. I see people as so fragile now.  The founder of the company I work with was so right when she said everyone wears a sign that says “Make me Feel Important.” I’ve heard that saying over and over in the last 14 years and yet for the 1st time those words now sound different to me.  Make me feel important.  Isn’t that truly what everyone wants?  Children want their parents to make them feel important. Loved. Safe. Secure.  Wives and Husbands want their spouses to make them feel important.  Loved. Honored, desirable. Employees want their bosses to make them feel important. Appreciated. Acknowledged. Integral to the company’s success.  We wander through life looking for people to validate us. Believe in us. Make us feel important. Special. Loved.

It’s why that beginning of a relationship is so sweet.  When you’re caught up in the euphoria of love you make the other person feel important.  You think about them constantly. You do extra nice things for them.  You shower them with your love.  They feel special. You feel special. Then complacency settles in.  Boredom. Familiarity.  And suddenly I don’t feel so special anymore.  You don’t feel so special. And we start looking for that next person who will temporarily make us feel important.

I asked my manfriend (I still feel ridiculous calling a 41 year old man my “boyfriend” no matter how young he looks)  anyway I asked my manfriend why he thinks men cheat.  He said it’s not the sex they want. It’s the woman who makes them feel special, valued, respected, and important.  While I’m not totally sold on the concept that it’s not just a hot piece of ass they want to bang, he might have a point. 

Isn’t it the old stereotype – this guys is at work with his secretary who is dressed up for work, smells good, has on makeup, heels, and she is telling him how great he is? Encouraging him about his work, making him feel important. Then he goes home to the woman who cleans the skid marks off his briefs, literally feeds his children off her body, and then wipes the toilet he shits on and yet this doesn’t make him feel important and he starts screwing the secretary. 

Or (let’s not totally ram the men) the stereotype of the woman at home?  Shopping with her husband’s platinum card, living in the huge house he is paying the mortgage on, and traveling around the world on trips he’s paid for. Yet she’s f-ing the pool guy because he smiles at her and tells her she looks beautiful, while poor hubby is still half asleep shelping off to work to pay for the pool guy, too tired notice how she looks.  (Ok, I’m jaded, I don’t think this stereotype happens nearly as often but I would like kudos for at least trying to not be biased.)

So why am I so scared of a relationship?  It goes back to Corinthians “love trusts.”  I am scared if I trust someone with my love they will hurt it. They will not guard it like the delicate fragile spirit it is. They will take it for granted. They will not appreciate it.  They will discard it, hurt it, throw it away, stomp on it, and kill it.  Yet when I’m totally honest with myself (which I find myself doing at 1:30 am when I can’t sleep and am suffering from a temporary twinge of regret for canceling my life sucking cable) am I to be trusted with someone else’s love?  Do I guard it like the delicate fragile spirit it is?  Or do I let my own insecurities, lack of patience, guarded feelings, wounded spirit, distrust, anger, guilt, frustration, and sometimes totally selfish attitude get in the way?  Do I always operate from a spirit of love and kindness and compassion or do I protect myself first? My needs, my wants, my desire to feel important. 

I spent 8 years in a marriage where I put the other person’s needs first. I even moved across the country to support their need to not live in NJ.  I always thought I did this unselfishly.  Because I wanted what was best for them.  But maybe it was selfish all along. Maybe it was selfish because I had too much pride to read the writing on the wall and acknowledge this person was lying to me six ways to Sunday.  Maybe my ego was too big to admit my parents were right and I shouldn’t have married him.  Maybe I was too scared to be alone, to FAIL at something, something as important as marriage that I was willing to sacrifice my happiness, my joy, my spirit and my soul itself to stay married.   

Maybe I stayed married to fulfill my needs not his.  Yes, I was lied to. Yes, I was deceived in ways no one should ever be.  And yes, I was hurt emotionally, financially and finally physically.  But maybe, just maybe, my marriage served my need to feel important, even if it was to a person who first would kill my spirit and then threaten to kill me. 

So now where do I go?  I will never have naive, unhurt, innocent love again.  This heart carries too many scars. Too many memories of pain, hopelessness, and isolation.  The bible says God heals all wounds and he binds up the broken hearted.  Yet I’m still brokenhearted in many ways.  My manfriend at times calls me a beautiful shade of green.  (Jaded not envious)  Another friend told me I keep finding the creeps because that’s what I expect and we all know the saying “you get what you expect.”  And yet now I have this wonderful man in my life, who brings his own set of luggage with him including two failed marriages.  I openly acknowledge I don’t just travel with baggage; I bring my whole storage unit with me.  I have to give him credit for taking me storage unit and all.  But we struggle.  It seems someone’s feelings are always getting hurt. Someone is always getting disappointed.  We acknowledge that relationships fail because of unmet expectations. We both hate relationship precisely because of those expectations. The expectations we have of the other person and the expectations they have of us.

Yet maybe those expectation are simply to make the other person feel important and for the other person to make us feel important.    Then why do we complicate it so much?  Why do feelings get hurt, tempers come out, frustrations mount, and walls go up?  When that happens I want to run.  I question if it’s just part of relationships or if it’s this particular person who is just toxic to me. I question the balance between “working” at a relationship and slowing dying an agonizing soul quenching spiritual death.  One that will leave me lifeless and lying in a heap on my bathroom carpet, in the fetal position, comforting myself with the fact I will never allow myself to be duped again and blinded by this callus feeling called love.

I keep going back to Corinthians. 

“Love is patient.”  I am not patient

“Love is kind.” Ok, I’m kind

“It does not envy.” Um can you elaborate on “envy?”

“It does not boast.” Hmmm trying to remember if I boosted this week….

“It is not proud.” My pride does get in the way – here I am guiltily of being unloving. My pride stops me from just saying “I’M SORRY.” It nudges me toward justification, defense and explaining away my actions.

“It is not rude.”  I don’t think I’m rude but, again, I have to acknowledge I’m from NJ so this may be interpreted differently in tree hugging, sinagrab buying, non-car-honking, allowing people to cut in front of you on the highway, Colorado.

“It is not self-seeking.” Guilty again. I am self seeking. I want to feel important remember? Ugh, this one is going to be hard.

“It is not easily angered.” Damn again – I’m Irish.  I should get a pass on this one simply based on genetics.  Although God created the Irish.  I bet He just wanted to F with us.

“It keeps no record of wrongs.” See it’s getting harder?  Doesn’t it seem every fight starts on one thing but brings up 5 other things that happened last week?  I especially like when I say “I even did this (insert example)…and didn’t say anything!” or “YOU even did this… (insert example) and I didn’t say anything!” yet secretly acknowledging that no longer counts because I’m saying it now….double yuk on this one.

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” Ok I rejoice in truth. I’ll dance, wave pom poms, and run naked in the street for integrity & trust.  Kinda comes with the territory when you spent almost a decade with a pathological liar who couldn’t even tell you what they had for lunch without lying.

“It always protects.” Myself maybe. Do I always protect the other person? Their feelings? Their insecurities? Their hurts? Their love like the fragile delicate sprit it is? Uh… no.

“Always trusts.” Really does God just want to frustrate me? This one makes me feel like I just can’t win.

“Always hopes.” Hope. An interesting concept.   Elizabeth Gilbert in her book “Committed” says “Second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience” I like that.

“Always perseveres.”  Sorry big guy up there ~ 50% of married American’s would disagree with this.  And of the 50% left, statistically only 2 of them are happy about the fact that love persevered.

So where does that leave me?  Craving the intimacy, support, acceptance, peace, stability, friendship, companionship, chemistry, that comes from love but scared of the hurt, complacency, boredom, infidelity, distrust, and pain that can come with love.

If you told me I had a 20% chance of NOT being hit by a train if I walked on the tracks would I walk on them? Yet with only 2 out of 10 marriages considering themselves happy & successful marriages I have to question our sanity.  Now love doesn’t need to lead to marriage – I get that and that’s a whole other blog with a whole other struggle for another day.  But for simplicities sake if it does, if ultimately that’s why 9 out of 10 Americans get married, then where does that leave me?  Walking on the train tracks is scary enough, now image after being married walking on those tracks with a broken arm, limp leg, fractured rib, and dislocated jaw remembering exactly what it felt like to be run over by that train and jumping off the tracks every times the wind shifts in fear of being run over again.

I don’t have it figured out. I pity the poor man who is crazy enough to try to figure it out with me and my storage unit of baggage.   I pray. I hope. I get frustrated, angry, jealous (hey ladies can you please STOP telling my manfriend you’re physically attracted to him and that he looked soooo good when you ran in to US together? And YES in response to your text… he is happy!) and defensive.  I want love that trusts. I want love that is kind …always…even when experiencing all those other angry feelings.  I want love that preservers.   

I wonder if we actually have 1 person we are supposed to be with. Or is it simply, we find one person, who we like enough, to make them the one person we are willing to work for to be with? I think maybe I should spend more time becoming the type of person that someone else would want to pick me to be the one person they would want to work for to be with vs. trying to find that one person.  Is it that I need to be all those Corinthians things first before I can expect someone else to be all those things for me?  Well then, deep breath, I have my work cut out for me.