Mail Call

Confession Booth time: I have a crushing fear of mail.  Well, fear might not be the right word, maybe just laziness. It overwhelms me, all of it.  Even a few pieces.  Cue #firstworldproblems tag immediately. I let it pile up, I put it in bags to “open later”, I pay my bills online so I don’t have to deal with it and no cute organizing system from Target can probably make me change for any length of time.  Two things about me: I don’t like calling on the phone and I don’t like mail. I adore technology for these reasons.  The only exception is I adore writing thank you cards and invites.  I refuse to use eVite, I know, I don’t get it either.  Not sure if it’s the technology that made me this way or vice versa, but whatever, it is me.

I officially apologize to the Post Office.

What has this “fear/laziness” done to me?

  • I just paid $2,000 for dental procedures that weren’t covered by my insurance because the dentist I chose was out of network.  Had I opened my policy, I would have known my company switched providers & could have saved probably $1,000 or more.  I found this out midway through a root canal.
  • I was missing over $20k in my 401k due to a “administrative error” that I only found after I had to take out a small loan to cover my divorce.  I would have known about it a YEAR earlier.  I handled it and they paid me interest, but still.  I cringe to think the money I lost in investments.
  • I overpaid on a bill by a LOT and am now riding out a credit that I didn’t need to accumulate.  (i.e. I could have used that money elsewhere more effectively.)
  • I am probably not investing the way I should or could.  I let “someone handle it.”  This is the very opposite of me in every other aspect of my life.
  • When I need something like tax returns or information for banking purposes, it takes me ages to find it and track it down.  Often hunting through bags like a hoarder.

 God, just writing that makes me feel incredibly embarrassed.

Lately I have been very very overwhelmed with life in general and decided to start at the “external spots” to get myself back in step.  i.e. I’m kinda sick of my own internal voice trying to fix my thoughts, feelings and concerns, my relationships, etc. so I’m going for the exterior portion for awhile.  It’s like a vacation from analyzing everything and still making progress!

 

I’m working out, I’m eating better, I overcame my fear of the dentist, I made a very strict budget for 2012 to get me on track financially, including some big financial goals (buy a house, fix my teeth) and now it’s time to get the clutter in order.  I’ve been spending Wednesdays while my kid is away dwindling this down.  I’m throwing out bags of baby clothes, getting my closet down to the bare essentials, I’ve started doing the No-Pants Challenge (HIGHLY recommend signing up for this e-newsletter, btw).  It’s all working and I’m feeling lighter than ever.  Physically and emotionally.

 As for the mail…I’m tackling it too.

I’m currently going through bags of mail that I just never opened. I’d stash it in a plastic bag and hope for the best.  Now I’m going through it to get things in order like my 401k, shred unwanted papers (which most of it is thank Goddess).  I’ve been bringing in a bag every couple weeks and throwing it in the shredder at work after I leave.

 

However, a weird bonus feature is happening.  I’m walking down memory lane and sweeping up the last few bits of marriage crud on the drive.  I’m finding bank statements from when I first separated from my ex-husband, including tax returns, how we split the money, and his doctor bills that came through on my insurance. I just figured out I never took him off my car insurance so I’m going to call and see if it lowers my rate!  (Note: It doesn’t.  I lost the “marriage” discount.  Oh well, best $20 I ever spent.) This feels so incredibly freeing.  It’s like cleaning up scraps I didn’t know were there still.  I’m literally cleaning house.

 

I found an old “bill box” from when we were married and it was FULL of all of his work-outs, screen-printing documents and my old budgets where I tried to piece together a life from our salaries and from when he wasn’t working so he could just “work out.”  I can’t tell you how GOOD it felt to throw all of that out.  I saw how hard I was trying to make our lives work with those budgets, the re-working and number crunching, our life blood.  Me trying to keep us afloat while his concerns were himself.  It felt incredibly good to throw it all away.  I think I threw away the last bits of anger I had over it along with it.

 

I did give him his print-outs, but I kept the bill box and now it’s all labeled and organized with MY life.

 

 I also found all my little lists when I first moved out: i.e. “What I want in my own place” and “What I need for my place” And I compared it to what I actually have in my place.  It almost matches.  I really did take care of myself for the first time in my adult life and I still am.

I never knew going through mail could be this scary and yet, comforting.  This bagged way, once-a-month thing is better than any cute organizer from Target, for sure.  Suddenly I’m only embarrassed about not doing this sooner.

 -LuLu

Rules are like A-holes, everyone has them

After almost 2 years of dating in my adult life, my past and present includes: an ex-husband, several really toxic men, a fuck buddy, lots of good dates and good conversation with decent men, and now one absolute love of my life. I feel like I should sum up a few things about the new self I’ve become.  Some things I put actively into place and some that naturally came about to make me a billion times more comfortable in my skin in this whole love thing and has ultimately made the relationship I’m in now, a lot stronger.  

EDITOR’S NOTE: I’m no expert and I’m certainly not in the position to think just because I have a lovely man that I need to tell you how to live YOUR LIFE.  I ain’t that smug.  I am a work in progress, as we all are.  If you see my rules below, you’ll know this is about me.  I just like to share in case you think any of this could be helpful to you.

I will never beg someone to like/love/want/need/stay with me if they explicitly say they do not want to.  If you want to go, then go.  Just like those meth ads: not even once.

I am not and will never be in the business of competing for men with other women, men, or their own personal baggage.  I won’t.  I am worth not doing that more than any one person is worth trying.  If you want me and I want you, let’s do this.  End of story.  Which leads me to my next point…

I will not expend energy getting someone to agree with me/prove I’m right.  I won’t be mute, but it’s become less important to me as I get older to spend any time trying to convince someone with opposing positions otherwise.  This includes friendship, love, business, etc.  It’s pointless to me.  You can only control yourself and how you let people make you feel.

If someone I love has some baggage, I will support THEM working through it, but I will no longer try to fix it for them.  I cannot do anything more powerful than listen, isn’t that what we all really want?  Why do we waste time doing more when that is always enough?

Weirdly, all of those rules make it so I can love completely and without my guard up, no matter that I can’t see the future.  It has made all of this less scary. 

 

If I lose someone I adore, it will not lessen the hurt for me to not beg them to stay, especially if they are important to me. It’s always going to hurt like hell.  But I now know the hurt would show me I tried and I did love them completely.  If I didn’t feel a thing, then I never really cared either.  I don’t want to live like a zombie and I don’t want to live without someone’s full heart either.  Both rules take care of each other, in a sense.

 

Recently on Suburban Bliss, the lovely Melissa said the following about her new adventures in dating/divorce:

“People can be assholes and it doesn’t matter if you’re an asshole, or nice, or stupid, or smart, or kind, or hateful.  You can’t convince them to not be assholes. You can’t make them understand the pain they’ve caused you. You have to accept it and move on. You’ll be hurt whether you deserve it or not.”

I agree with this completely in a sense.  You cannot make someone love you the way you need it and there will always always always be assholes.  In any situation: families, work, relationships, the line at the grocery store.  All you can control is yourself.  Sometimes you can be an asshole too.

This made me wonder how we survive with that universal truth.  Best I can figure, the only way for ME to keep going is to know I do what I can do, I loved, I cared, I adored and I stayed true and loyal.  To me first and then it will naturally go outward to people in my life.  I’ll hurt sometimes, but I’ll always be comforted knowing I stuck to my “rules” because they make it so I can keep loving, adoring, fully caring going forward.

Because rules, just like hearts, are easily broken, it’s best to hold both in your arms as tenderly as you can in order to keep them intact.

 

-Lulu

Pleasantly Surprised

There have been many surprises in the last 2 years.  I didn’t expect, on top of everything else going on, that one area of my life I’d need to deal with was the magnifying glass that was put on my relationships with family, friends and even my job.  A year later I’m incredibly grateful that this magnifying glass exists.

I don’t know that any one relationship completely changed with my divorce, etc. but more like I was put in a place to really see how those relationships were all along.  How they affected me when I was my most raw.  When you get to the bottom of the “crab bucket” ahem, you are smacked in the face with every single little issue if you open yourself up to that level of sensitivity.  I admit, it’s painful as hell but I highly recommend it.  Like labor & childbirth, it fucking hurts but the result is life-changing.  No one ever says “Yea, fuck that.  I started to go through labor and just said it isn’t worth it so I stopped pushing.  My kid is still in there, but who cares.”

I eventually welcomed that rawness because on some level I was tired.  Tired of being half of me.  Once I let go, I saw this great opportunity to just get it worked out.  Have my best life.  When you get to the bottom you’re only destination is up if you choose.  Starting over was my theme and still is.  I think this is what ultimately saved me.  This choice of directions and the way I decided to go.

Being raw certainly isn’t easy and I did my part at times to put back on that thick coat to survive the hurt.  I’m not proud of putting on that coat, I admit.  I know now that rawness is a healing pain.   It’s almost as if your skin is peeled off and all you have are your nerves, bare and feeling every single emotion: hurt, joy, even a gust of wind, a kiss, a hug feels intense on a level not previously known.  As you grow back your new skin, your new life, it dulls but I believe, and I’m GRATEFUL, I was changed by that time of rawness.

It’s Halloween, indulge me in some disgusting visuals. 

Those I thought would support me didn’t always.  Those that I didn’t know were able to came to my aid in ways that still ripple though my daily life.  I formed close relationships with people that are healthy and I am thankful every single day.  Other relationships I thought were originally close are now set with healthy boundaries around the areas I need.  The biggest piece to all of this that I learned, and even about myself, people give to you what they can through their own filter.  No one I’ve met can give you everything of what you need.  Not a spouse, friend, child, etc. nor should they be expected to.  You cannot and will never be able to offer the same to them.  I think I’m slowly learning that you have to give it to yourself first.

 You can only control yourself and you can only provide everything you need to yourself.  I’m starting to believe that if you care about yourself first, you end up surrounded by people that fill in the spaces in a very good way.

 The harshest reality that brought me to this ultimately positive conclusion was that my family wasn’t my rock.  My family and the way we act, including my ex-husband, was not helpful or loving or supportive.  That vicious “I’m just joking” follow-up after biting responses to one up each other constantly, the resentment disguised as sarcasm would just build and build all in the guise of jealousy and hurt we each were feeling personally.  Maybe not even hurt towards the person we were “kidding” with, but it was put on each other in handfuls.

 I know now it’s disgusting and I don’t want to do it any longer.  It masks resentment and it’s hurtful.  I can’t stop those I love from doing this, however, all I can control is me.  I’m hopeful if I ask for an apology for every single bit of unhelpful “joking” someone will get the hint eventually and direct it elsewhere.  Regardless if they say a real “I’m sorry” or not.  I will still ask.  I hope my daughter will see this and never have to reach 33 years of age before she stands up for herself.  The important change in me is I will do my god-damndest not to have to ever apologize for being this hurtful to someone else again either.

 As my very wise friend L says: “You get back what you put out there.”  Surprise, surprise.

 I’ve tried to be in the habit lately of being thankful whenever possible.  Even if I am unsure of the reaction, I’m trying to put it out there that I am so grateful for my life, even the bad bits.  So I recently started a love letter to give to my boyfriend one day, possibly Christmas.  I got 2 sentences in and realized I should be writing this to myself first.  It applies to him, it applies to some of my friends, including BeBe, but ultimately it needs to be said to me first.  Afterwards I’ll start a new letter to him, to all of them.

 “ You get back what you put out there.  You get back what you put out there.”  I hear you loud and clear, L.  For the first time, the surprise now is this letter is very easy to write to myself and actually believe.   

 We’re all going to be okay, folks.  We really are.  Just choose to be.

Dear Self,

You are important to me.  You make me feel at peace even when everything around me is in turmoil.  You center me and keep me grounded and focused.  You make me feel loved and known.   I am thankful for you in ways I will never be able to fully articulate, but I will spend my our time together trying.

Xoxo,

-LuLu

In Loving Kindness

Marrying young, not really dating a lot and have crushing self esteem issues including having people in her life that didn’t help those matters, does not make for a gal that knows what the hell to do in a new, loving, respectful relationship.  In fact, it makes a girl all sorts of “WTF?”

Thank Buddha I have incredibly understanding girlfriends that want the best for me.  Seriously, these girls sustain me.  I try to tell them as much as possible.

But I find myself asking them things that I feel like I should have known a long time ago, about love, self respect, trusting people to take care of you.  I have a lot of compassion for the girl I was 13+ years ago, even the girl 5 years ago but it’s amazing to see how much can change in a year.

I know 100% that my husband was not a loving person to me ever in our relationship.  We had moments but overall, no.  He’s a good person in his own right but he was not kind to me in the way I needed or deserved.  His lack of self confidence was acted out in ways that hurt me unintentionally to keep me down to whatever level he believed he was at.  I was never cool enough, thin enough, funny enough, smart enough, etc and after awhile I started to believe that too.  Then, thankfully, I stopped.

The difference now is I do not blame him for any of it.  I have my responsibilities for our marriage failing as well.  Just like I come from a line of women that have very little self worth, he came from a lineage of people that did the same thing to him.  Withheld love, or just didn’t know how to unconditionally love and still be confident enough to let the other person flourish.  He didn’t and I think he’s seeing that now.  I hope desperately he is for his benefit and for our daughter and for whatever relationship he finds himself in.

That’s another thing.  I get asked a lot about how I feel that he is in a relationship too.  I was thinking about our daughter’s next birthday party recently and I realized I might have our girlfriends/boyfriends under the same roof.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn it didn’t bother me at all.  Sure I will clean and decorate like a motherfucker & maybe laugh a little louder, but I have no jealousy.  None.  That made me incredibly happy.  I think it would be the same even if I wasn’t with someone.  She didn’t steal him from me, I left him.  She doesn’t affect my relationship with him at all, or with our daughter and I’m actually grateful for that.  I wish her the best.  If he hasn’t done some soul-searching, then I wish her good luck.  She will need it.

I thought I was ready to date right away when we separated.  I put my profile up, I met a few guys randomly but was so terrified and unsure and just grasping for straws and it was awful.  A year later I tried it again and had a completely different experience.  I didn’t meet my soul-mate online but I had lovely dates with lovely men and it was fun!  Everything it was supposed to be.

So what changed in a year?  I guess trusting myself, not relying on the familiar but demanding the best, and being open for good things to happen to me, even when they aren’t.

What I’ve learned is that completely trusting another human being not to hurt you, to know that they have your best interest at heart even when honoring their truth, to feel peace and calm…that’s love.  And I’m in it.  No questions asked.

 -Lulu

Smug Mug

I met up with some friends that had been out of town for almost a year, this last weekend. About 30 minutes into catching up, nothing too deep, they said “My goodness you are so much happier than you were last time we talked!” I paused and smiled and agreed.

This compliment is huge to me for a lot of reasons.

I’ve been actively working on staying in the moment, being grateful for what I have and where I am and looking for what I need and want. If there is one thing I’ve learned the most in the last year it’s don’t pile on tomorrow when you’re still in today. There’s plenty to worry about today, or not worry about.

Though I’m currently pretty peaceful, I laugh with my mouth wide open so much more now, and I’m falling in love with one of the most thoughtful men I’ve ever known, in my darker moments I still get nervous and anxious that I’m not “healed” yet. That I’m in a dream I’m going to wake up and have to go through the last year all over again. That I’m not good enough for this great man, that I am damaged. I suppose this is some leftover from a childhood spent worrying about the other shoe dropping, but it’s in me and I battle with it. So hearing a friend that doesn’t see me often compliment how happy I am after just 30 minutes of pleasantries is a HUGE thing. I wasn’t faking it, or even able to hide my genuine joy in life. I’m happy.

With depression I always thought I’d get medicine to make me at least able to fake it more on the days I really couldn’t chemically. That just didn’t seem good enough though. I want real happiness, I want real joy, I want real love.

I have handwritten signs up all over the place. In my wallet, on my desk at work that say things like “You are good enough right now.” Or “You are doing this, be proud and watchful.” The one I love the most that I laminated says this:

“Please let what I need show up and help me to remain grateful for what I have, always.”

It really is true, if you don’t love yourself how can anyone else.

I recently completed a “How to CoParent in Divorce” class that was mandatory for our divorce. I went in dragging my feet, having only slept 3-4 hours the night before because we had went to a concert (whoever said divorce was all bad didn’t take advantage of their free nights with no kids!). I was exhausted and smug, thinking I wasn’t going to learn a thing, that I was already doing this. We hadn’t fought, we shared her, we were able to talk, etc.

Yea. The universe sure likes telling me I’m a smug asshole but that’s why I love her. 

We watched this sad video of kids that had parents who didn’t co-parent well, we read literature, we got into small groups where I heard a very young woman talk about her ex and how if he’d just stop drinking they’d get back together, etc. It was scary and sad and eye-opening. I texted my ex halfway through and thanked him for doing this with me for our daughter. Then I took a shit load of notes.

Kids, just like us, have to go through the mourning process eventually. Either early, late or in their adult life, but they will have to and we need to make space for them to do this openly with love. I thought I was in the clear because my daughter was so young, but not the case. And rightly so. I can’t put one over on her just because she’s young. Not like I do with hiding veggies in her mac & cheese or telling her my beer is Mama’s yucky juice box so she won’t drink it. So now I know to look for signs and to encourage her to ask whatever questions she has, feel whatever she needs to feel. God I hope it’s earlier rather than later.

I also learned that the hardest part for kids, at any age, is the transition period. The time when they switch houses back and forth. That it’s best to make a ritual out of it. Like go to the same restaurant on that day or do something special routinely on the day they go back and forth. It creates a pattern they can rely on even at a young age. This made a boatload of sense after hearing it.

My daughter still sleeps with me and has no interest in her own bed. I bought a toddler bed and put it in my room. It’s been a raging success. She falls asleep with me, I put her in it and she’s fine all night. EXCEPT the nights she comes home after being at her dad’s. She will wake up out of a dead sleep as I put her little body on her blanket and yell “MAMA’s BED!!” Before I was frustrated that we were going back in our progress. Now I get it. So I don’t fight it. Those nights she needs to feel close, so she can.

I am totally new at this, so test it yourself, but it sure seems if you open yourself up you can get exactly what you need. Whether it be a person, information, or understanding. If we’re lucky, all three.

-Lulu

Coming Home

My god.  The last year of my life has been a whirlwind of emotion, change and personal growth.  Probably more so than any other time I’ve been on the planet.  I’ve left a marriage that no longer provided me what I needed and deserved, I’ve created a group of friends who make me a better person, I’ve found a home for myself, a real home, that I love more than any other place I’ve ever lived, and I’ve supported me and my daughter with barely any money but still managed to make our life work richly. 

I’ve also dated.  I didn’t date really when I was younger before I married.  Marrying at 20 will do that to you.  And when you date at 20, you pretty much just “hang out” at people’s houses, parties, in cars, in parking lots.  That’s about it.  Especially from the small town where we are from.

So I went full hog.  I joined dating sites, I hooked up with friends of friends, I bought a “first date dress” and wore it to my divorce hearing then christened it on about 6 dates with gentlemen.  All of which, barring the one that I am pretty sure was going to sell me into white slavery, were lovely.  They were sweet, nice, kind, I got to eat at fantastic restaurants and have great conversations and meet people with such diverse backgrounds and I got my sea legs.

Little did I know it would all be a year and a half long preparation for meeting the sweetest man I’ve ever met.  Right next door.

I often wonder in amazement at how much life has changed for me.  So fast and all of the work and courage it took to get to where I am.  If there is anything besides motherhood I’m fiercely proud of, it’s how well I’ve taken care of myself in the lsat year.  Even when I really didn’t think I was.  Even when I drank too much, ate too much, let the wrong boys kiss me, overall, I really didn’t.  It’s all part of the process.

We’re brave, beautiful women, my dears.  All of us.  I wish I could go back and tell the girl crying on the floor in the dining room of her big empty new house she can’t afford that one day, one day you will see it was always okay.  I’ll be okay.  It will always be okay on a level you might not see yet. 

If anyone out there is pondering a major life change, divorce, career, whatever.  Do it.  Just do it.  That’s the lesson this year has taught me.  Just fucking do it.  It’s so worth it.

-LuLu

How Do I Look?

Tonight I am suddenly 16 all over, except with a 32 year old’s confidence.

I have my new last name, my freedom, and a date.  A real live date with a man who, so far, has been a perfect gentleman.  A real date at a restaurant I would have craved to try had I known about it before hand, one he picked out from listening to me closely talk about my love of sangria.  I have a new dress (well, a dress I wore to get divorced, but it’s a GOOD dress) and a new bag and my hair and make-up look pretty decent.  I have butterflies in my stomach and a pedicure and chafing gel on my thighs.  I’m set.

I haven’t been on a real date with a man probably ever.

I got married at 20 which was mostly “hey, wanna hang out in this parking lot?” and then in the past year I was mostly just slutty.  Not like huge volumes of slutty, but “Wanna go to a movie?  Oh and let’s make out instead of talking, deal?  Sweet.”  Both were what I needed at the time.

However, I gave up both sets of those boys as of April 4, 2011 and now I’m on my way and it feels so fun and girlie and giddy and lovely.  A moment like this seems to be the one I desperately craved for so long and no matter how it turns out, either a sweet kiss or an awkward “eh,” I’m so god damn game for all of it.

Sure, I hope tonight leads to a great love, who wouldn’t.  For now I’m going to take this great dress, these Spanx and just laugh really loudly with a man that isn’t anything like one I’ve met before.

I like that.

-LuLu

Previous Older Entries