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Putting the CL on that ASS!

A Bernie's Daughter Thing

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It’s Just the Fullness of You

Happy Friday!  We are now in the midst of the holiday season.  Contrary to the myth, depression and suicide are not on the rise during this time. However, that doesn’t mean that loneliness, sadness, and strife don’t exist during this time.  Sometimes I think it gets highlighted more because this is a time that is supposed to be all about gathering with loved ones.

And therein lies something about the way we connect with one another.  We tend to let a day hold more significance for our relationships than we do the cumulative moments.  We tend to get irritated with our loved one–and people in general–just for being human. We expect them to think and act the way we would. But we forget that they are not us and they do not have the same life experiences and world view as we.  I think it’s time for us to have fuller, deeper, more rich connections with ourselves and one another. But in order to do that, we have to get real with ourselves and with one another about what really happens when we don’t like something.  That means we can’t just react or lash out. We have to be mature–even when we don’t want to.  I think we should give it a try. What have we really got to lose?  Glad you asked! Truthfully, not a doggone thing.

Acceptance is the Way

I actually had no intentions of writing about this ever.  But for some reason, this issue kept showing up in conversations with others who were struggling with something similar and I felt the nudging to share.  I’ve said before that I’m a firm believer that we are not meant to hold our lessons in. We bring healing when we give our voices to share with one another.  We bring healing to others and ourselves.  I believe this unpleasant moment in my life brought forth some healing for me.  It wasn’t actually painful either. However, it was surely an Aha moment.

I have been divorced for 9 years.  I’ve said before how in spite of the trials of that relationship, my ex-husband has served as one of my greatest teachers because I’ve learned a lot about myself.  He didn’t fail to teach me yet again.  During the summer, we had a significant blow up that resulted in me having to call my cousin who happens to be a Seargeant for CPD and also me making the decision that it is best that he and I no longer speak.  It’s not something I’ve ever wanted. I actually hoped that by this point we’d have transitioned into co-parenting bliss. You know, we get along so well cause we’re actually friends.  Unfortunately, that is not the case and I doubt it ever will be.  Good thing for me is that I’d have been devastated if this had happened years ago. But as they say, when the student is ready, the teacher (and the lesson and test) appears.  And so did the test appear, hand delivered by the teacher, my ex-husband, and I was ready so I was not devastated.  I instead accepted it as it is.

While I won’t go into specifics, I will say that his behavior was unacceptable. From my point of view, it was a simple miscommunication.  However, judging from my ex’s behavior, it was about more than the particular miscommunication.  I probably will never know the full reason(s) behind it, nor do I need to.  Suffice it to say that he became aggressive–unnecessarily and unacceptably so.  He did so in front of our daughter and his other children.  It’s important to note that my point of this blog isn’t actually about him or his behavior. This is actually about me and what I took away from that.  I could easily point my finger at him and say he is horrible and call him names. But he’s not.  He’s just a mere man, going through life just as I am. His path is full of lessons for him just as mine is filled with my own lessons.  We have served our purposes in one another’s life and created a beautiful soul in the process. We have gotten all that we needed from one another and our time has come to an end.

Let me say that I’m one of those people who has no problem being friends with exes. I have actually never understood why one wouldn’t want to remain friends with an ex–bar there is no abuse or severe mistreatment.  I’ve always been of the belief that if you were a huge part of my life, I can’t understand why you can’t remain in a different capacity.  Suffice it to say that I don’t let go nearly as often as I should.  But that logic stayed with me through my divorce. As far as I was concerned, I had no major beef with my ex husband other than the fact that he was my husband. Once he ceased to be my husband, I was cool.  But that was selfish on my part because I didn’t give space for him to feel whatever he feels. Now he has never actually said it in words, but I fully believe the man hates me. And you know what? That’s ok.  Problem is, I wasn’t giving him the space for that. In my mind, we are parents and we are tied together for life (and we actually are). Since we are, we may as well be friends. But he doesn’t want to be my friend. I’m not even sure he actually wants to co-parent with me. And again, that’s ok.

Over the years, I have done what I thought I could to mend the bridge between us. I would offer olive branches. I would ask for talks to get to the bottom of things and clear the air.  He would have a list of grievances and even though I didn’t agree, I would agree with him to make peace. My logic was that he needed the win and if I gave it to him we would be that much closer to getting along.  Well, I was wrong. The moment I found myself standing in his doorway 9 years after our divorce having to walk away from his aggression is the moment I finally accepted that it just is not meant to be.  That’s when it hit me.  Aha! It took me 9 years to finally let our relationship go–even though I knew before the wedding, during the wedding and after the wedding that we were not a good fit.  And now it has taken me 9 years to fully accept that we are not and will not be friends or cordial co-parents.  And that’s ok.  Let me say  now that it will not take me another 9 years to get any other memo from this dead relationship. Lesson is learned.

Honestly, I could have saved myself the trouble if I’d accepted this years ago. Now please let me be clear. I am in no way assuming responsibility for his behavior on that night in July.  I’m taking responsibility for my role in not accepting things as they were prior to that night.  And to be honest, it has always been about me and not him.  I struggled greatly with choosing to end our marriage–even though I knew it was the best thing for us.  We just did not fit.  There was a big part of me who felt like a failure.  I failed at holding my marriage together.  Actually, I felt like a failure before that because I chose to marry a man whom I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold down a marriage with for long.  So as far as I was concerned, the least I could do was successfully co-parent with him.  It was bad enough our daughter wouldn’t be from a two-parent household. I owed it to her to show her parents who were mature enough to get along and work together.  I was especially charged about this because when I was growing up I saw my parents argue frequently over two things: money and me.  They disagreed often about the best course for me and I vowed I would never have that problem.  We’ve all heard about saying never, right?  In my mind, the least I could do is get the co-parenting right.  It was not acceptable to fail at both marriage and co-parenting. I wasn’t making space for the fact that doing what was best for everyone involved–including (and especially) myself isn’t actually a fail.

The other thing I struggled with is accepting that my ex does not like me. To be honest, I always felt like he didn’t like me–even during our marriage.  But that’s something that I hoped would change after our divorce and it hasn’t.  I actually think it has intensified.  There are people in life with whom you disagree regarding values and views on life, but you find you still like them.  There are those with whom you disagree and you don’t necessarily like them, but you do find them tolerable.  And then there are those with whom disagree and what’s more, you just cannot stand them. Their views and who they are just gets on your nerves and you do not like them. I believe I fall in that final category with my ex.  Who I am and my way of being bothers him.  The fact that I bother him so much has bothered me.  Can you say co-dependency? I was like a 6 year-old who just kept offering toys to get him to be my friend.  And it never worked.  And I never understood, nor would accept that it wouldn’t work.   My ex and I are fundamentally different and that’s ok. But I had to learn how to  allow it to be ok that we will not get along because of that.  But here’s what I finally get.  Because we are so fundamentally different, my ex sees me through a lens that is veiled by his own perceptions.  He sees a completely inaccurate intent from me when I do things.  No matter how many times I explain my logic and point of view, he sees what he sees and there is no changing his mind. That bothered me a lot.  It finally got to a point where I had to ask myself why it bothers me so much.  The truth is that it bothered me because on some level I still cared what he thought of me–not necessarily as a person, but as co-parents.  I told him when we divorced that I would never intentionally stand in the way of his relationship with our daughter and I meant that.  I have done my best over the course of our daughter’s life to uphold that bargain. I take that seriously. Our daughter is entitled and deserves to have a relationship with her father, no matter what is going on between us. So it bothered me to know that he sees me as intentionally doing things to undermine or disrespect that.  I had to come to accept that he is just one of those people who will never see me as I am.  And that’s ok.  He doesn’t get me. He never did.  But what’s more important is that I understand that how he sees me is not the truth of who I am.  It may be his truth.  But again, his truth is veiled by his experiences and his being and in no way does it dictate the truth to who I am.  And I can’t say enough that this is ok.

The other thing that I realized is that I just had to let go of control.  I’m a pretty laid back person and don’t think of myself as a control freak. However, in some ways, my inability to accept things was a form of me trying to control the outcome.  I’m not sure how long I was willing to go on this crazy ride with my ex, but I know I have gone for far too long and I was willing to do it to make sure that I got the picture that I wanted.  The picture consisted of peace and harmony. After all, wasn’t that in the best interest of our child? I was unwilling to accept that the peace and harmony would come from me letting things go. It has been several months now since that night and I haven’t spoken to my ex since. Frankly, it has been quite peaceful ever since. I can’t speak for him, but I’m willing to bet the same has been true for him.  I certainly hope it is.  And who knows? Maybe now that I’ve stopped fighting against things, some day in the distant future we’ll evolve into the picture I held for so long.  Or maybe not.  Either way, it’s ok.

If there is anyone out there going through turmoil in your divorce or post-divorce relationship, I encourage you to accept things as they are. Release whatever picture you have in your head of how things should or could be.   And for the love of all that is sacred, please don’t take anything personal!  You are reacting from your stuff just as your ex is reacting from their own stuff.  No one is actually right or wrong.  Instead, you are both doing the best you can–at least I hope you are.  I’m not saying you have to like it because you don’t.  But I do believe accepting things will bring you so much closer to peace.  I know it has for me.

My Cup

I had such a wonderful weekend! I got to go to Texas to visit with one of my oldest and dearest friends. We went to a retreat dedicated to femininity and it was so rejuvenating and affirming. I laughed. I cried. I ate delicious food. I hung out with some lovely women. And I did it all in 80 and 70 degree weather! Now that may not seem like such a big deal to some of you. But for this Chicago born and raised girl, 70 and 80 degrees in February is like finding shelter after a raging storm. It’s sweet relief. So that was the whip cream and cherry (if I liked cherries) on an already decadent and rich, brownie, fudge and caramel sundae.

The friend I visited has been one of my dearest friends for about 20 years. We have been through so much together. There’s just something to be said for having friends like her. We haven’t seen one another in ages, but whenever we see one another we’re laughing and talking as if we have never missed a beat.  I love meeting new people and making connections, but there’s just something about the ones you have with those who know you best.  My friend took great care of me over the weekend.  She told me to just bring myself and not worry about a thing. I have no idea why she told me not to worry, considering how well she knows me.  Worry is what I do.  It’s what I know.  But I did my best to listen to her.  My friend treated me to some of the best meals I’ve had in a long time, a massage, and the joy of being a passenger while she drove us to our destinations.  When I tell you this was all like sweet manna!

However, as much as I enjoyed myself, I have to admit that it did bring up some issues for me.  I didn’t have to contribute anything this weekend but myself.  All I had to do was sit back and receive.  Yet, that was incredibly difficult for me.  I wanted to do something. I even felt guilty.  It allowed me to recognize that I don’t know how to receive.  I am so accustomed to giving to others, yet I am not as accustomed to being given to.  And that’s just one more thing I need to release.

When I began examining this phenomenon of mine, I realized that it’s behavior that I learned from my parents.  See, both of my parents are givers. Correction, they are over-givers.  They give to everyone–even when not asked.  They felt like it was their duty to take care of everyone. My dad was an especially generous over-giver.  He had a wonderful heart, yet he had a habit of inserting himself where he wasn’t necessarily needed, nor asked to be.  He would go out of his way to take care of others–which would result in his depleting himself and becoming resentful.  He would resent that he wasn’t appreciated and that others didn’t go out of their way for him the way he did for them.  I guess when it became too much, he created the idea that it was better to take care of yourself than to allow others to take care of you. Always have your own and always do for yourself. Don’t let anybody do anything for you.  He taught me that and I accepted it.  I believed as he taught me–it was a sign of strength to be self-sufficient and not allow anyone to do anything for  you.  I grew up watching that behavior and assumed it was healthy until I began to follow in his foot steps.  I created the one-sided relationships.  I began to experience the resentment.  I resented being the go-to person for everyone.  Yet, as much as I resented it, I didn’t stop my pattern.  I kept doing the same thing in different relationships–romantic, platonic, associate level–expecting different results. Well, that’s the very definition of insanity.

Refusing to accept love, support, and any other good thing isn’t really strong though. It’s just something wounded people do to mask their fear of rejection.  I learned this weekend that I am so accustomed to operating from a place of lack.  I deplete myself.  And then I seek ways to recharge myself.  Iyanla Vanzant says, “My cup runneth over.  What comes out of the cup is for y’all. What’s in the cup is mine.”  I haven’t been living that way. I’ve been pouring my cup all the way out and giving everything that’s in my cup so that there’s nothing left for me to sip when I thirst.

imagesWhat I didn’t realize until this weekend is that the reason        that my father and I were such over-givers and the reason we don’t allow our cup to runneth over is because deep down we didn’t believe we could have symbiotic relationships.  We didn’t believe we could have people look out for us, do for us, be there for us.  And why did we believe this, you ask? Well, let me answer.  It’s the thing that’s behind the answer to the question I was asked this weekend, which was What do you have to prove and who do you have to prove it to?  My answer was simple and I didn’t even have to think about it.  My answer was that I have to prove that I’m worthy to everyone. But the truth is, I don’t really need to prove it to everyone.  Everyone is my scape goat so that I don’t have to face that my real aggressor is the woman in the mirror.  So the truth is that I have to prove I’m worthy to myself.  Worthy of what, you ask?  Well, let me also answer that as well.  Worthy of good things.  Ahh . . . Now you see how all the dots connect!  My issue of worthiness blocks me from accepting and receiving good things.  No matter how much I want them, I will never have them or enjoy them until I understand one simple truth.  I am worthy.  I am worthy because I am.  I don’t have to do anything, say anything, or be anything to be worthy.  I also don’t have to prove it to myself.  I just need to accept it.

I can’t thank my friend enough for taking such great care of me.  She taught me a lot this weekend. She taught me how to sit my tail down and accept love, support, and a massage (can’t forget the massage). But she provided me with a wonderful lesson that if you allow, people will show up and love you.  Good things will come to you. But you have to let them in.  It’s now time for me to get on with the business of me pouring into my cup so that it can start running(eth) over.

The People You Meet

I know some pretty amazing people. I know the kind of people that I just love to sit down with and listen to their musings on love, life, and everything in between. They offer such wisdom. One such person is my great friend, Marc. Marc is a really cool and funny guy. He also happens to be wise. He’s that friend who gets on me for being single. He loves to tell me, “You know how it pisses me off to see you as great as you are, yet you’re single. And then I see all these crap women out with good guys? Put yourself out there woman!” I laugh. And I laugh because I’ve always found it amusing that he’s more bothered by my single status than I am.

The truth of it is though, I like being single. And I’m the type of person who likes to have myself together before I decide to partner with somebody. And right now, I’m just not as together as I’d like to be. Hence, why I’m pulling an Al B. Sure! and getting off on my own, Girl, Girl, Girl!

But this isn’t about romantic love. Nope. It’s  about love, but not about love coupling with another for the purpose of romantic partnership. It’s about the everyday love we have for ourselves and our families.  In the time since my dad has passed, I have experienced tremendous heartbreak. Not simply because my dad died, but because other relationships died as well. Relationships that I held as sacred passed away almost immediately after my dad passed. And it seemed to become more of a reveal of the truth than anything else. People I loved with everything that I have betrayed me in horrendous ways. One such person was the last person I would have ever thought would hurt me. It pained me to realize that the betrayal by that person wasn’t a fluke, but more something she’d been itching to do probably my entire life. That meant the entire 30 years of our relationship were a lie. Every kiss, every embrace, every uttered “I love you,” has been just a ploy to keep me from realizing the truth. This person doesn’t like me very much, much less love me. So yeah, I’ve been heart broken for quite a while. The heartbreak has actually damaged me more than I realized. I did what I tend to do best when I go into defense mode. I retreated. And I retreated in an unconscious way. I really thought I was still putting myself out there. But I wasn’t. I was keeping myself at arms length from people because I didn’t think I could bear the pain of that type of heartbreak again. It was too much. It hurt too doggone bad and to be honest, I feel like I’ve had enough of pain for a while. I’m on a Sabbatical from pain and heartache. The problem when you take a Self Sabbatical from pain and heartbreak is that you close yourself off. Yeah, you eliminate your chances of being hurt, but you also eliminate your chances for experiencing joy.

Enter my friend, Marc. We were simply talking one day about a month ago, and he looked at me and said, as only he can say,

“Woman, what are you doing? Do you know what a gift you are to people? Do you know that you are robbing people when you decide to keep to yourself?” After I gave a half-hearted nod, he continued on. “Je’Niece, look here’s the simple truth. You’re going to meet a lot of people in your life. Cause you still have a lot of life left. And I promise you that some of those people are going to be assholes and hurt you. But they’re just a minority. You’re also going to meet some wonderful people who will see you and celebrate you, and love you for being who you are. You can’t live in fear of being hurt because the truth is you will be hurt. You will absolutely get hurt. You already have been. And you survived. So you know that you will survive another but you’ll also be loved and enjoyed. So stop worrying and paying attention to the few and put yourself out there. The world is waiting for you.”

Well damn! What could I say to that? Nothing. I could say absolutely nothing. And I didn’t say anything. I simply nodded my head in agreement. Ok, I think I shed a few tears too. Fun fact about me: I’m a thinker. When confronted with a loving truth, I will ponder it for a while. And this incident was no different. I thought about what Marc said (you see I said this was about a month ago).  And I thought some more about it, and I’ve concluded that he was–no is–correct.

The truth is, I have been hurt before and survived. And while the heartbreak is a most unpleasant feeling, it’s no excuse for allowing fear to rule my life. At this point, the pain is no longer there. Yes, I have the memories of it. But the pain doesn’t exist anymore. When I see the person who broke my heart, the one thing I’m quite clear on is that I love this person. While I hate the way this person has (and actually still continues to) treated me, I recognize that it’s because of her own issues and it has nothing to do with me. I wish she knew what I knew. Perhaps then we could have the relationship I thought we’d always had—or an even better one. But we don’t, and we can’t. And while it’s not my desired outcome, I know it’s ok. Marc is right. I’m going to meet new people, some of whom will hurt me. But others will not. And I now know enough to know that I can forge new relationships with those people who will not hurt, but instead will love me and accept me. And that’s exciting.

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