Tag Archives: validation

Gratitude

I started writing as a way to process trauma and other difficult things that found their way into my life. It never lets me down. I’ve been doing some journaling over the past few weeks to deal with some family stuff, and each time I write, I have a cathartic cry and end up feeling lighter. Every single time! You should try it!

Over the past few months, the need to write has decreased. Sure, life continues to shit on me whenever it gets the urge, but  I’m kind of OK when life shits on me. I chalk it up to life sometimes being shitty, maybe have a cry about it, and go on about my day. Does this happen every time life shits on me? Nope. But way more than it used to, so I’ll take it.

My therapeutic writing transitioned into writing about amazing experiences I’ve had that had nothing to do with trauma at all..still things I needed help processing/understanding, I suppose. All I know is, when my soul tells me to write about something, I listen.

Tonight, my soul is telling me to write about gratitude. Not processing anything, not pages of angst, no questions…just gratitude for what I have, what I am, what is.

  1. I am grateful for my health. Even though I have two chronic illnesses which cause chronic pain, annoying discomforts and require time, effort, money…and I can’t eat bread, for crying out loud…I’m grateful for my health. I’m alive. I can work. I can drive my boat. I can love.
  2. I am grateful for my family. Of course, my sons…my reasons for going through all this shit. God, I am blessed with those guys.  But, when I say I’m grateful for my family, I’m also referring to the members of my family that have been a part of the whole “life shitting on me” crap. Despite all the heartache…and let me tell you, it’s a LOT of heartache… I’ve learned some valuable life lessons from them, and I think going through what I’ve gone through with them over this past year has allowed me to become something akin to angelic. I’ve learned to love when I’m not being loved. I’ve learned to forgive when I haven’t been asked for forgiveness. I know a lot of people know how to do these things, but for me…it took a lot of work. I think it’s a little harder when you have to give this love and forgiveness to people you’ve been craving love from your entire life. To be able to love them, and be OK with them not loving you back, well… that’s just something bigger than any words I can come up with, so I’ll stop here.
  3. I am grateful for failed relationships. Who would’ve guessed it? Well, not really all of them. Most of them I could do without. Maybe because they’re all really the same guy. But, the last couple, I’m grateful for those ones. With them, I was able to accomplish things I never could figure out how to do with the other guys. With one of them, I’ve learned how to stand up for myself, how to value myself. How to feel worthy…at least, for a little bit. At least, until I met the next guy, ha ha. Hey, that’s a pretty big deal when you haven’t done that before. And that next guy? Well… I can’t say the lesson is 100% complete, but I think I’m pretty close. The lesson I’m finally learning, the same lesson all the other guys came into my life to teach me…I’m learning how to let go of people I’m attached to. I’m learning to not take things personally if someone can’t love me. This is so important, because by learning this lesson in a relationship, I’m also learning how to do it with the people in my family. It all comes full circle. You know, you keep unconsciously seeking out the same situations you’re struggling with, in order to resolve them. Except you don’t KNOW that’s what you’re doing, so all you do is keep repeating the same pattern over and over and over, wondering why the hell you’re so unlovable…until something clicks (really, just therapy….just go to therapy. Everyone. Just go.) and you understand that saying, “Remember that time you confused a life lesson with a soul mate?” You learn that some people aren’t going to love you, and it doesn’t have a damn thing to do with how lovable you are. Yeah. That. I’m so close…
  4. I’m grateful for my practice. “Practice” is the word I use to put all of my “work” into a nice, neat little package. Therapy (which I don’t go to anymore, but don’t want to leave out how important of a piece it was in solving my puzzle), writing, meditation, going to church, surrounding myself with people who empower me and lift me up, consciously validating myself, not seeking validation from others, service to others…all of this is my practice. And my practice is what connects me to “source”…which is a long-winded way of saying I’m grateful for my connection to God. Without it, I’d be the lost lamb again. I’m not lost anymore. I am grateful… I am touched by grace… I am love… I am light… I am.

 

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Divorce, kids and validation

My husband moved out October 23rd. Since then, I’ve had him over to dinner every other week or so. The kids see him throughout the week at basketball games, or sleep over his house a few nights. We’ve been getting along extremely amicably around them. It’s been so important to me for us to be as much of a “family unit” as we can, while living in two separate homes. I held our annual Thanksgiving sleepover here with my in-laws, as well as our Christmas Eve party with them. Today, my husband came over in the morning and we exchanged gifts together, as we always have done. After, we all drove together to my mother in law’s home for our annual Christmas dinner. People are so surprised when they see us doing these things together, especially with my in-laws, and I’ve  felt kind of proud for being able to pull this off. My kids have been happy and adjusting well to the new routines…it seemed.

After our dinner at their grandmother’s, they went over to their dad’s for a bit. After an hour or so, I receive a text from my husband, saying our 13-year-old son has been crying for the past hour, “because we’re not a family anymore. I feel really bad for him”. My heart lurched into my throat. I hadn’t pulled it off, after all. I called my husband to get more details. He said my son was alone in his room downstairs, while my other son and husband were upstairs. “So, he’s all by himself down there, crying?”, I asked. He said he had offered him to stay down there with him, and my son said he didn’t have to, so my husband went upstairs to watch TV.  What the hell?

I immediately drove over there. My husband and older son were watching TV upstairs. I go down to my youngest and he’s lying on his bed, in the dark, sobbing. I lie down next to him and just hold him. He keeps crying, and I keep holding. I try to imagine what I can say to make him feel better, but I know nothing can. Through his tears, he tells me he’s sad thinking about the “old days” and how he misses us being in the same house together, doing things together…simple things like eating dinner as a family. I tell him he’s right, it is sad. I tell him how bad I feel that he has to go through this…how divorce is one of the most stressful things a child can go through. I wanted to validate his feelings, not make them go away.  I suggested we invite Dad over for dinner tomorrow, and he thought that would be a good idea. I was amazed at this 13-year-old boy’s ability to put words to his emotions. He described occasionally having tears well up over the past few months, but was able to make them go away. He described an overwhelming sadness today after spending the holidays together, then coming home to his dad’s new house. “It doesn’t feel like home here. Even Dad says it doesn’t feel like home”. He couldn’t make the tears go away this time. During the conversation, he tried to stop crying by using slow breathing techniques. God, he is so precious. I kept telling him that crying is the best way to release this pain he’s been stifling, and that it’s unfair he has to deal with this situation.  I agreed that the house was not like our home. The room has a bed and a dresser in it. That’s all. I suggested we buy some things to make it more “homey”. He didn’t think that would work, because they are just “things”. This kid is smart. So, I suggested we come up with ways to create new memories there. When they visit their dad, other than watching TV together, they don’t do anything. This is how it was when my husband lived here, but wasn’t as noticeable to the boys because they had me doing things with them. Now that I’m not there, it’s pretty noticeable that all dad does at night is watch TV and stare at his laptop while drinking wine.

His tears finally slowed down and we went upstairs. I told my husband of our talk, and about our plan to create memories in the home. He said “there’s nothing homey about this place at all” and starts rattling off what he doesn’t like about it. Luckily, my son was in the bathroom when he said that. I cut him off, “stop saying that in front of him”. No wonder he’s sad going there….he hears his dad complain about it not feeling like home, then spends the night alone in his room. Jeez.  My husband did not look excited about the plans to “make memories”, but I did not give a shit, at this point. My oldest suggested they buy a chess set for over there, as they had played it today. We came up with a few other ideas, and it seems as though we have a plan. My heart softens, as the crisis subsides. I ask my husband if he would come over to have dinner with us tomorrow….and he says “no”. He has plans. I can tell by his face, along with his vague “plans” description, that it must be a date. I look at him, with the “look” and look at my son. The son who was just crying for 2 hours and wanted his dad to come to dinner tomorrow night. My son says, “It’s fine” and stares at the TV, with tears welling in his eyes again. He stifles them down, and I let him. All I can think of is me as a child, always responding, “It’s fine”…when it definitely was not fine. I look at my husband again. He says, “It’s fine. I’m taking them skiing on Thursday, that will be plenty”, like it’s his call to decide how much time together is enough for our distraught son. I pretend I’m not furious with him, and gather the boys to leave. I let them head to the car first, and I shut the door. “Do you have plans specifically for dinner tomorrow?” and he says “yes”.   “Can you switch it to Tuesday, or even later tomorrow night?” and he says “no”. No elaboration. I can tell he’s feeling defensive, as he says, “What’s the big deal if I come over the next day?” In my head, I’m thinking “the big deal is that your son has been crying for 2 hours about us not being a family anymore. The big deal is that your text said you ‘felt so bad for him’.  The big deal is that you are not coming to dinner with your hurting son because you have a fucking date”. But I don’t say any of those things. I just leave. Because if I say those things, we end up in a fight. And if we end up in a fight, we don’t parent well together. So, I hold it in…I stuff it in the box inside my soul and save it for this blog.

Once we get home, the tears are gone. We actually had a great conversation for almost an hour, talking about different medical careers (my son is FINALLY interested in talking about his future), colleges….all kinds of things. It was a great conversation that we probably wouldn’t have had if this crisis hadn’t occurred. He commented on what a great talk it was… we made a good memory tonight, after all.  He went up to his room to play Xbox online with his friends. I think he feels better after letting those emotions out, and hopefully better for not having to stifle them or make excuses for them.  I know that makes me feel better when I’m feeling like he was.

I know this will get better. I know he has to have his ups and downs processing the death of his family unit. I know my husband will continue to disappoint me. I know I will cry probably more times than my kids will. But I have a tool box now. One that my husband doesn’t have. I keep adding to it, every chance I get. Eventually, it will hold enough tools for the both of us, so we won’t notice how empty his is. And I’m filling my kid’s tool boxes, too. Mine was completely empty at their age, and we can all see how that worked out. Teaching my children how to deal with pain, instead of hiding pain…and validating their emotions are two of the biggest gifts I can give them. They are gifts they won’t even realize they are receiving, but that’s OK. I don’t want them to have to realize it. I want validation to be normal for them, not something they unknowingly crave their entire lives. Fingers crossed….

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