…and the rollercoaster

It’s funny. I always think positively, and then I feel like I’ve been slammed with depression. It’s frustrating and exhausting.

Do you feel like you are constantly having crazy mood changes? I feel like I can’t even get a handle on where I am most days. I do know that I am lonely. You never realize how much you become so comfortable with having someone to share your day with. I certainly took it for granted, though if I were being honest, he obviously took me for granted. I miss the daily sharing and knowing that I had someone to watch my back. However, what is so disturbing and such a mindfuck is that I actually didn’t have him watching my back. I mean, in the end, he stabbed me in it. It still takes my breath away.

I am sitting here just accepting that this is where I am right now. Right now, I am sad and grateful for small things. Right now, I am finally taking small steps forward. Right now, I am grieving for the loss of my marriage and for my kids’ pain at our upcoming divorce. Right now, I am lonely and wonder if I will ever be able to trust again.

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Lately, I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by women helping other women, and it is such an amazing experience. There is positive energy, and each one is lifting someone up. Most of the time, they just met the other, and being a witness to such giving and loving people has been such a lift to my spirit.

Over the last few weeks, I have been working on having more gratitude. As many of you know, when we are dodging all that life throws at us, it is often so hard to find positive things. Still, I know that I have such amazing things to be grateful for. Each day, I pick the kids up from school, and we each list three things we are grateful for. Honestly, it takes about three minutes, and there is usually a lot of laughter about why we are grateful for the things we chose. It’s really been eye-opening because throughout my day, I’m looking for things that I will choose for one of my three things to share with the kids, and as I am doing that, I am noticing more good than bad. Who knew?!

Yesterday, I had lamented my situation and cried for a portion of the day. I have been thinking of what other job I might do that I would love and that would allow some flexibility to be there for my kids when they need me. It has been so hard because every day, there is some news story about a teacher shortage, but I cannot get an interview here because I have too much experience and schooling! I have been disheartened. Yet, there has been a woman who reached out to me. She has been encouraging me and offering professional advice. She seemed to look into my eyes and know what I am going through both personally and professionally, and just her believing in me helped me to believe in myself. At 7:34 last night, I opened my email to find an offer to interview for a teaching position. This particular district is amazing and supportive, and I would have the opportunity not only to work with students again but to learn and grow in my field! What a gift! I have since moved forward to prepare for the interview, believing in my heart that this opportunity is here for a reason.

After all that has happened, it is time to find some good. I am more than ready for changes that feed my heart and soul and allow me to continue growing toward the woman I am to become.

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Who Am I?

Who am I? This is something I have really been wondering over the last four years. It is interesting how we see ourselves–how we build our identity.

For many years, I was a teacher. I love teaching. However, I gave up my contract to move, and THEN I found out he had cheated again. So here I am, struggling to get back into teaching with master’s degrees and all these years of experience. It’s so frustrating to me to know the work I put in as a teacher and to see that I will likely never teach again…unless I move states again, and it is just unlikely. I need my kids to feel safe and happy. I did not realize how much being a teacher was a part of my identity until all of this. I mean, I had flashes of understanding when I switched positions, but this? This is unbelievably hard. I sub, and then I get in my car and sob. I am lucky to make $60 a day, and the kids certainly do not respect me. I have more experience than many of the teachers I sub for. I am so angry with myself. I know that looking back, we always see things more clearly, but I had no idea. I have no idea who I am if I can’t teach, and I cannot even think of what I would like to do. I am clear that I am I deeply struggling with stability, and I am holding on to this idea that someone will give me a chance. I do not know if they even read my application, but on every one, I write that I will take less just to get back into the classroom. Every day, we hear of a teacher shortage, and here I am, begging to get back in and giving up the pay I deserve to do it. How did I get here?

I am a mom. I can see it in the love on my kids’ faces when we snuggle. I am a good mom. Still, I am not sure how that fits in with divorce and what is to come. I’m scared to death they won’t be happy or feel joy once they know.

I am a strong woman with hopes and dreams. I love helping others. I love learning new things. I love being part of a team and feeling like what I do matters.

I am someone who longs for a true partner. I want to be loved for who I really am…and heck, I certainly have flaws. I have moments of intense anger. It is very difficult for me to trust. Am I destined to go through the rest of my life on my own? I don’t know.

I feel SO alone and as if I’m free falling every day. I keep trying to stay positive and to have gratitude. In the midst of it all, I certainly know I am still blessed in some ways. What I know, though, is that I absolutely need work. How will I ever accept that my choices (though done without all of the information) have led me to the loss of the career I am so good at and love? I don’t know how to move forward out of this loss and grief.

Who am I? I am a shell of the person I once was. Every day, I pray that something wonderful happens that moves me forward, and every day is another repeat of yesterday. I do very much want to curl up in a ball and give up. If I did not have these wonderful kids, I certainly would. I don’t see the out. I don’t see the escape. I pray. I show gratitude. I walk out in the world and sub and pretend to be good. But I’m not. I’m not the person I should be. I am not even half of what I could become. I simply am at a loss as to how to get there.

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Before D-day, I rarely paid attention to the judgments of others. Sure, things stung, but over time, I realized their judgments were based on their issues, and it was easier to move through the world. Now, I feel every judgment so intensely. I take every silence from friends as a commentary on my life or my choices. I feel abandoned, like they think I’m contagious. If they ignore my situation and my pain, they do not need to worry about it rubbing off onto them. Surely THEY will never have a spouse cheat on them.

I would like to believe that I would not abandon someone in their pain. I reach out weekly to those I know are hurting, even if it is just to say, “I’m thinking of you.” I really do wonder why this is such a lost art. I know that we are all scrambling to meet the demands of this modern life, but certainly in all of the time spent on a smartphone, we can find a minute to let each other know we are not alone.

It wasn’t until this past weekend that I really understood the type of judgment that is so destructive to my healing. My mom was here visiting, and she needed to stay with me. No problem. My kids love her, and I was happy to see her. However, my life is anything but perfect right now. I’m still living with my husband, and we both know the end is near. He does not want to move out, and I am in no position to force it. It is the worst kind of trapped. I know that my decision to trust ultimately led to this situation, and I beat myself up for it multiple times a day. It is something I am working on forgiving myself for. When my husband is home, I normally avoid the room he is in. It is ok…easier to navigate than when there is a guest. While here, my mom would get to hear the comments he would make under his breath. I have tried to ignore them. I can usually quickly leave the room, but for some reason, it has gotten harder, and it feels like I need to jab back in order to prove I do not just sit there and take it. I feel like I need to have a voice in some way in my life. Apparently, this happened one day. I do not remember the jab exactly or how it all occurred, but I can be sure it was less than two minutes in length. I am particularly annoyed that he dared to jab while she was here, but it is what it is. I own that I jabbed back.

My mom shared this scenario with my sister. It seems she just cannot help but share my slip-up and sit in judgment over me when I most need support. I feel betrayed all over again…by my mom and most definitely by my sister, who deemed it necessary to judge me as immature and as a mom who did not do what is best for her kids.

For anyone reading this who has not been cheated on, there really is no way to explain the pain and devastation of betrayal. We all say we will leave immediately if this ever happens. We all act like it is simple to cut and run. This may be true in some instances. Surely it was easier for me to do in high school, when I had no children. I had NO idea the trauma finding out would rain down on me. I did not have a clue that I would shake for weeks and be unable to sleep, eat, or think clearly. I could not feel safe. The fact that I am now able to even be in the same house as he is, knowing he did this to me again? Well, that feels like quite the victory to me. So why is it that in this pain, my family feels as if it is a grand idea to judge whether or not every decision I make or action I take is healthy? Of course it isn’t! I’m living in an unhealthy situation with no immediate way to escape. It’s living in a cage with your abuser. It’s knowing you still love that person who did all of these horrible things to you. It’s knowing that you are playing house with someone who has already chosen someone or something else over and over, leaving you no good choices.

I feel more alone than ever, knowing that I am being judged by those who should have my back. I am tired of the excuses of others. Certainly a person can only hear, “It’s because I care about the kids” enough to know that the other side of that is “you need to suck it up.”

Today, I was feeling very down and wanted to get out of this loop I have in my head. I reached out to someone and was given the gift of kindness, support, and guidance. It felt wonderful. May I soon have the opportunity to be there for someone in that way, as I look forward to moving ahead in my head and my heart.

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Today is Four Years

Today makes four years since my life has been completely changed. It’s funny. People will say, “Aren’t you glad you know? Isn’t it the best to know the truth of your life?” Well, yes…and no. Yes…because my GOD, how could we go on like that? How could I live wondering why my marriage never felt quite right? Why would I want to chance getting an STD? Also, no, I am not glad I know because who wants to have their entire safety and security ripped away? Who wants to lose their kids for half of their lives? Who wants to feel the deep, soul-searing pain of the truth of all that has happened, while you were busy living an authentic, truthful, faithful life?

Today, he has not acknowledged the date. I doubt he even remembers. I feel the pain and sadness. I remember the moment I found out. However, I also feel something resembling being ok. I don’t know if I will be. I hope so, but as we know, nothing is guaranteed. I do not yet have a job, and I do not know where that path will take me. I pray I finally find a place where I feel a part of something good and where I can do my best work, helping others.

I read something today that had me thinking. Our value is based on how others feel because of us. Our roles in society seem very fixed and clear–especially for women. If the kids are happy? Good mom! If our husband is happy and gets enough sex? Good wife! Yay us! Except somewhere in all of it we lose ourselves. Our value is simply that we ARE. We are here, and we are valuable because we add value to the world through our uniqueness. It really is interesting that we do not see it that way. I know that I am playing the comparison game more often than I would like to admit. Since finding out my husband cheated, I notice EVERY husband who appears to be treating his wife with respect and kindness. I realize that for someone to really SEE ME is one of the greatest gifts. When someone can meet me in the middle with compassion, listen, and sit with me in my pain? There really is no greater gift. It is a shame that so few people are able to do this. I also compare myself to other moms. Why do they seem to have it all together? I am the type of person who is exactly who I say I am. I’m on social media, telling my truth, and it is not pretty, especially when I see others’ lives.

Today, I did some self-care. I bought myself a coffee and a book, and I decided to try harder to focus on where I want to be. It is not easy when you are full of deep-rooted anxiety and fear to pull yourself up, despite what others think should be easy. Couple that with depression, and my ability to function in everyday life is at a level I cannot quite explain. Have you seen the movie Big Hero 6? I feel like Baymax when he’s run out of charge. It is nearly impossible to give a crap, and I am so deflated that I cannot really do much. I celebrate small victories and laugh at what used to be my normal. I ran circles around people and stayed up late to have this amazingly organized life.

Friends, today, if you are reading this, take a moment for you. Remind yourself of your value. Know that I am still here trying, too. I will cheer for you. I will celebrate your small victories. I know your pain, and I hate that you feel it. The only way I know to do this is through connecting with others. If you need support, reach out. Today, I have survived four years of life-changing truths. I may have a long road ahead, but I certainly know I am learning and helping others along the way.

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When Does it Get Better?

The fact that I’m asking this almost four years from D-day is scary to me.  I’m tired.  I’m so lonely and isolated.  I do not see a way out, and I certainly don’t see it getting better.

Of course, now I am stuck in this situation, waiting to land a job in a very difficult to find field in order to finally file and move forward somehow.

What feels even more awful and confusing is that in some ways, I do not want to at all deal with the divorce.  I’m so sad that this is how it all ends.  I’m still so stunned and incredibly sad he could not stop himself from cheating–that he could seriously do it again after watching all of my pain.  That’s why I’m so confused that I do not hate him.  I’m confused why this isn’t so easy.  Why don’t I feel this need for shock and awe?  I just think about all I do not know how to do.  I wonder how I will take care of a house on my own.  I wonder how I will take care of myself financially, let alone my beautiful kids.  I no longer trust myself.  I have made every wrong decision.  I trusted so many people I should not have trusted.

It does not help that my family judges my decisions. My mom shares my choices and apparent “wrong moves” as if it is her story to tell, yet I am the author of this story, and according to them, I am writing this narrative all wrong.  “Think positive,” they say.  “Don’t react to anything he says,” they say.  Don’t share painful feelings.  Don’t make a mistake.  Always put your kids first.  To them, I have made every wrong life decision. To them, I am immature and selfish.  They do not know my trauma and refuse to even just listen.  If I request what I need, I am telling them how to respond to me and not allowing them to be who they are.  My family is not getting it.  They are adding to my pain.  They are asking things of me that I am not capable of while in the midst of this trauma.  I am doing rather well, considering.  How many people do you know who moved across the country, found out their husband cheated AGAIN, and then moved their kids back home seven weeks later with no job and no money?  They told me I could not do it.  They told me I was being stupid and reacting.  Guess what?  My kids are thriving back home.  I’m so glad to give them the smallest bit of stability.

It is the craziest thing.  For years, I was so busy that I had no time to feel lonely.  Now?  I am buried in depression and sadness and loneliness.  It runs so deep that I would not begin to know where to start.  I honestly have always been fine spending time on my own.  Even now, I go to the movies on my own.  I read and reach out to others.  Still, I cannot shake this deep, in my soul ache.  You know how ALL those songs talk about a hole?  I guess that’s it.  Yet somehow, that doesn’t begin to touch it.  I thought I had already grieved my marriage and began to accept my new reality, but I obviously have not.  I have no idea what steps to take, and I am truly starting to believe it will not get better for a VERY long time.  Yes, I am in counseling.  Yes, I am a relatively healthy person.  I read books, and I journal, and as you know, I blog.  I even joined a Bible study, and I have lunch with friends.  I meditate, and I watch Netflix to escape.  I see movies on my own, relishing the ability to choose the one I see.  Heck, I even binge cleaned my attic.  So at what point, is there at least a break?  At what point is there some acceptance of what is?  At what point do I get to move on and feel better?  Am I forever trapped in a “what could have been?”

Will I always be alone?  Tonight, I am full of hurt at a level that I am incapable of describing.  I have no analogy that even comes close.  I can tell you that my friends tell me to believe and to pray.  I have.  I do.  But I prayed before I quit my job to move.  I prayed before trying to reconcile with a cheating husband.  I prayed before moving to another state.  And here I am.  Here I am without a career or a way of taking care of myself now.  I am trapped in this world of pain and hurt and frankly, I do not see how praying will help anymore.

I hope that no one reading this even feels half of the pain I am feeling.  I want so much to know that some of you are healing and moving forward.  I want to believe that there can be some good in this world, that someone is happy and good because right now, I’m losing all hope.

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Friends or Acquaintances?

Lately, I’ve been wondering a lot about those I have considered to be friends. Since I had several very difficult life events occur (2nd dday, head-on car collision, loss of career), I thought that my past colleagues would reach out to me. Only one really has. They do not even text a quick, “Wondering about you.”  It’s as if I was nonexistent the 15 years I was there and all the times I supported them.

I guess I am a person who checks on others. Even if they don’t have time to reply, I figure they know I’m thinking of them and I care. Yet what is so incredibly hard and hurtful is that in the loss of my marriage, I feel so alone and really need others. Normally, I’d go to work and keep busy, but I’ve lost that, as well. I am wondering if all adults go through this. I’m clear we get immersed in our own crazy lives. I know that I’m in some crazy low in my life where everything is going wrong at once. I just thought that would have brought more support.

Is it that I have a lot of work to do on myself? I feel rather comfortable on my own. I’m grieving my husband’s inability to stop choosing other women. I’m grieving the dream I had of an intact family for my kids. But I like who I am for the most part. I don’t mind the woman I am.  It’s not like I am not aware of my shortcomings, but I’m definitely a good person and that matters. I’m smart and witty and I love learning.

I couldn’t sleep. It’s brutal knowing your husband is on the couch and refuses to move out, therefore slowing down your healing and acceptance.  But somehow, it’s the loss of these people I thought were such good friends that cuts the deepest.

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