RSS

Category Archives: alone time

Your Loss Is Your Gain

Thought I’d stop and check in on you. How’s your holiday been so far? It can be a tough time for a lot of people and divorced parents are no exception. There’s something about the season that can make us focus on what we’ve lost rather than what we may have gained. Whether or not you have a good relationship with your ex, the
griefholidays have a way of reminding you of the un-whole aspect of your family and then unceremoniously throwing it in your face. It may be because you’re not with your kids during the holiday. It may be because you are. It may be because you’re all together but in a very different dynamic than you were a few years ago. It may even be a very positive and happy time. But it’s still a reminder of what used to be and that things may be patched, but in some ways they’re still broken.

Believe me I get it. The hard part is that there really is no “fix.” As with the loss of a loved one, all you can do is that which fate allows, which is to acknowledge and move on. Be strong. Lick your wounds, stand up straight and use your experience to your advantage. In many ways the hurt strengthens us. There’s a grit to it that allows us to know we’ve been there and made it through. It doesn’t erase the negative or fill the emptiness, but there’s something about having lived through adversity that humbles us and reminds us that we’re human.

Look, I could sit here and do my best to pump you up with words of encouragement; telling you not to focus on the pain. But honestly, I think sometimes we need to morn our losses. We need to give our souls a chance to heal. To ignore the pain is no more healthy than it is to dwell on it. If you’re sad, that’s OK. Give yourself an opportunity to grieve. It’s a part of who you are and to ignore it would be to ignore an important element of the whole “you.” So embrace it. Accept it. Carry it with you. Hold it dear rather than bury it deep where it can do
the-only-cure-for-grief-is-actionmore damage. I believe that in each of our defeats there is a victory. In every mistake a lesson to be learned. The new year represents a new dawn and an opportunity to take the sum of our experiences and build on them. To create new goals and new aspirations. To find renewed determination to make it better. And in order to do that we need to remember the hurt as much as the pleasure. Let it inspire you. Let it motivate you.

Recognize that life is a mixed bag. Too much sugar isn’t healthy for the body. We need a proper balance of emotions to feel complete. So shed a tear for the losses, share a smile for the gains and look to tomorrow for new opportunities to sore higher than you’ve ever flown. And use these moments of emptiness to remind you of where you’ve been and how amazing it will feel to be full again. Then when you’ve given yourself a chance to take it all in and come to terms with it, it’ll be time to take action and put it all behind you.

Take advantage of this time to reflect on the past year, both good and bad. A new year is right around the corner and anxious to take you on new adventures. Let’s be ready to go and see where we end up!

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Weight of Their World

I feel incredibly fortunate to have kids who will let both myself and their mom know what they’re feeling. Many amazing insights come from this truth. Sure there are things they keep to themselves, and it pains me to know that from time to time they likely sit in their silence living through the pain of the divorce thrust upon them. But on more than one occasion they’ve offered insights as to what our divorce means to them and how it affects them.

One such insight is how easily they can feel completely caught in the middle. Wanting so badly to please both their mom and I but being forced to choose. They often feel that to make one of us happy they’re going to havedo-you-ask-your-kids-to-take-sides-after-a-divorce to let the other one down. To come to that realization is hard. It’s also a wake up call as to how easily they can feel torn between the two people they love the most in this world.

Neither their mom nor I consciously try to put them in that position. Life simply reminds them from time to time that their parents have separate lives. That we don’t live together. That more often than not, we aren’t going to all be together at the same time. And that to spend time with one of us, usually means leaving the other behind. And for a kid, that’s the definition of hell.

With three kids, we often shake things up, especially on weekends, to provide the kids one on one time with both of us. It can be tough though as it often means breaking the schedule. To innocently ask a child of divorce, who has great relationships with both parents; “Do you want to stay here or go with mommy / daddy?,” can at times unintentionally be the same as placing ten 1000K barbells on their heart. For some, especially the sensitive ones, it is an immense weight beyond anything they can bare.

When we talked about it later, I was told quite plainly, “I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. If I didn’t go I
sad%20child(1)knew I’d probably regret it, but if I did go I was afraid I’d cry myself to sleep knowing I left mommy behind on her day.” Now, both our child’s mom and I knew that there had been plenty of days where it was the other way around. And despite the reassurances and attempts to just make the decision for them and move forward, the very idea that they had to let one go to be with the other simply broke their heart. It was as simple as that. They were caught in the moment; frozen as there was no clear correct answer for them.

Eventually we guided them through the “now.” And in the end, all was fine as we knew it would be. To have that time with just the two of us was pure gold. No other kids to compete with, no work, no TV, no facebook. Just the two of us building legos together and sharing a cup of tea before bedtime. Breakfast was epic as was the calm, quiet ride to school.

I share this with you for no other reason than to remind you to once again be aware. No matter how crazy the timing, no matter how hurried you are, stop and consider what your child may be going through before you act. Not always easy when you’re rushing or transitioning. But these are defining moments. When they occur, simply be as reassuring as possible that it’s not a big deal. Guide as much as you can as opposed to “pushing.” It may very well mean putting your ego aside and saying something reassuring that may not come from the heart. But know that once you get over the hurdle that is that moment of angst; they usually do just fine once they realize their worlds are both very much in tact and everyone is more than OK.

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

On-Line Dating

Those who read LAADD know that I tend to avoid the topic of dating. It’s a tough one. And honestly I have limited experience in that area. But recently I’ve received several questions about on-line dating services so I thought I would break down and share my own, albeit brief, story and thoughts on the subject.

One day, not very long after my wife and I had established separate addresses and our divorce was final, my daughters started to promote the idea that I should get a girlfriend. The eldest then sent me a link to Match.com and both encouraged me to sign up. And of course as soon as you change your relationship status on Facebook, within minutes you’re inundated with ads encouraging you to find someone special along with links that can accommodate your heavy heart.

When your world has been shattered and the love of your life has grown to be, let’s just say, not so much the love of your life, the ability to search for new love on line is a tempting one. An irrational one, but a tempting one none the less. And of course, like many of you, I signed up for one of these services and gave it a shot. Forked over a good chunk of change and eventually went on a lunch date or two. I managed to meet one or two interesting people through the process, but for the most part I found the experience remarkably disappointing and disheartening.

I left with an opinion that on-line dating services were really just preying on lonely people. People who were searching for a sense of feeling attractive and loved. I personally have a problem with companies that take advantage of people who are vulnerable. And truthfully, my initial experience did nothing to change my mind, in fact it only reenforced it. Then, of course someone suggested the big daddy, e-Harmony. “They’ve got it down to a science” I was told. “They’re commercials are awesome!” And so, somewhat reluctantly, and against my better judgement I gave it a shot. Shelled out $60 for a month and gave it a look. And within 4 days I felt the same sense of being taken advantage of and quickly called for a refund. That’s when the fun started.

“Unfortunately sir you’re outside the 3 day trial period and therefore a refund is not an option for you.” I heard this not once, but about 50 times through four calls with six service representatives. I explained the circumstances and that I hadn’t noticed the three day requirement and eventually offered to pay for the time I was on, but felt $60 for 4 days was a bit ridiculous, thinking any rational individual would see that truth. But to no avail. They just kept selling and selling and sticking to their policy with no wiggle room. Their script was well rehearsed and their reps very well trained to refute any rebuttal. They had my cash and weren’t letting go. If I didn’t have a bad taste in my mouth before, I certainly did now. For me this just confirmed my belief that, while it may work for some and there are likely success stories, for the most part they’re just a business that preys upon the lonely.

Obviously, this was just my own experience and obviously I was skeptical to begin with. But then I looked around on line and started to find story upon story from people of all walks of life that sounded very similar. You may find success with these on-line companies, but my honest opinion is that they’re more song and dance than substance. It’s a game of percentages and for them apparently every penny is sacred. It’s a business after all and whether you find success or just spend a few days (more than three anyway) on the site looking around; don’t expect to get any money back if you’re not thrilled with the product.

When your marriage is in turmoil or when it falls apart completely, it’s natural to look to others for a sense of feeling attractive, worthy and wanted. There’s comfort in that. And perhaps these on-line dating services help in some way to provide that confidence again as you receive “winks” from other members who want to get to know you better. But before you pull out your credit card, first take a look on line to read about other people’s experiences. Then take a good hard look at where you’re at in your personal rebirth. Are you seriously ready for a new relationship? Are you prepared to move forward? Is your heart truly healed and your head prepared to focus on someone new? And by all means, be prepared for what you’re getting into and keep your expectations realistic. The dating scene is a tough one whether off line or on.

Personally I’ve come to believe you really need to first focus on being comfortable with yourself and feel good about being alone. Get to know who you are and how great it can be to be self sufficient. That’s not to say you shouldn’t lean on others. It just means the more you can be OK being alone, the less likely you are to put too much pressure on a relationship, which in turn will make it healthier and balanced.

Remember, there are people out there who see your vulnerability as a chance to make a quick buck. They’ll promise you love, riches, lower interest rates, a free i-pad, even hair if they think they can tap that insecurity of yours and get you to pull out your credit card. Am I cynical? Yup. I’m also a hopeless romantic. But experience has taught me that all good things take a lot of time, a significant amount of effort a little luck and most important of all, the right state of mind. That last one is key. I’m a passionate person, but have learned the hard way more than once, that a decision based on emotion can really bite you in the ass (and the pocket book).

Have you had any experience with on-line dating services? Would love to hear about it good or bad.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Oh CRAP!

Life is like house training a dog. Just when you start to get comfortable with the situation and are convinced your hard work has paid off, you find an undetected new pile of crap you have to deal with. The trick is learning how to deal with that revelation as it means you’re not quite as far along as you thought and still have some work to do.

I had reached a point where I was getting pretty good at accepting those little set backs. Then a few weeks ago I noticed myself slipping back into my old habits of letting the little piles irritate, well, the crap out of me. I was getting edgy again and found myself feeling overwhelmed and having a difficult time getting out of my funk. I was getting mad over stupid things like my football team losing, not finding my keys, and yes, our new dog taking a dump in my office. I was also getting irritated with my ex over things that really weren’t relevant or that important.

Early on, when I first started this blog, I wrote about being aware and how that’s the first step toward reaching new levels of peace and personal growth. I still believe that and put myself in time out one evening to think about what was going on and why I was so irritable. So I sat back and tried to assess the changes that had taken place and recognized that although I’d made tremendous strides the past several months regaining control of my life; I had ignored some fundamental truths about myself that needed to be readdressed. Biggest one on the list?; I had stopped running and getting exercise. I’ve written multiple times about the importance of giving yourself that hour and the difference sweating and physically pushing yourself can have on your mental state. Yet, somehow I’d managed to ignore my own advice and had allowed a busy schedule to get in the way of maintaining that balance I’d come to rely on.

The other thing I’d manage to do is forget to being ok with saying “no” once in a while. I was putting pressure on myself to make everyone happy and it was taking its toll. Especially since professionally I was increasingly busy, which was a good thing. The problem was, I was also trying to be the perfect dad, friend, neighbor, blogger, brother, son, dog owner etc. And in doing so, I not only ignored my own needs, but I also overextended myself which inevitably led to far too many situations where I felt like I was constantly catching up. And as you well know, when you spend an entire week or even month continually five to ten minutes behind, ultimately you’re going to get warn out both physically and mentally. It honestly felt like there was no time to sit, no time to breathe and no time to recharge and though I consider myself an extrovert, my inner introvert was failing fast. I was ignoring a fundamental truth; we ALL need a chance to recharge.

The problem with all of this is that by trying to be all things to all people, no one gets what they need. And that only leads to more rushing and anxiety as you feel even more overwhelmed and guilt ridden. And of course, being a guy, the last thing I was going to do was ask for help.

So I stopped. I knew I wasn’t being myself and the person I’d worked so hard to grow into. Life kind of helped as baseball / softball season ended which freed up no fewer than 4-5 nights a week. I also asked my ex for some help with the kids so I could focus on some extra projects that had come in. I made a point of forcing myself to go to bed at a decent hour. And I started running again. Even if it was only two miles on the treadmill, I was giving myself a chance to clear my head again. Within 48 hours I noticed a difference. I became more focused in whatever I was doing. I regained my composure and felt less panicked. I started finding myself on time, on target and on task.

The funny thing is, I actually have more on my plate now than I did even two weeks ago. And yet, I don’t feel nearly as far behind on things. Sometimes it’s just our perspective. I honestly believe that rest and exercise can really be under appreciated. Working out helped clear my head and helped me sleep better and sleeping better had a profound affect on my mood and ability handle the heavy load. Just stopping periodically gave me a sense of control. Especially when I realized the sky wasn’t going to fall, the sun was still going to rise and people would find a way to continue without me from time to time.

The reality is, you’re constantly going to find surprise loads of crap from time to time. It’s jut how it is. The world is constantly going to drop little turds when you least expect it and what matters is how you decide to handle life’s little presents. You can either allow them to irritate the bejesus out of you or you can scoop em’ up, toss em, light a candle (or incense) and move on with your life. It’s really up to you. The point is to be aware when those little things are causing you to sweat and give yourself a chance to regroup.

Oh, the dog is doing much better by the way. Like me, she’s adjusting and learning. She’s also a great running partner.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Whoa There Partner!!”

So you’ve worked hard since your divorce to pick yourself up and face the world again. You’ve transformed your mindset, taken the high road and grown in so many positive ways. Your outlook has been better, you’re happier, calmer, more content and more at ease. It wasn’t easy, but you managed to see the world from a new perspective and met every challenge head on. You’ve battled negativity and overcome hurdles you never thought you’d ever manage to conquer. You’re approaching anxiety calmly and with a cool head. You’ve remained unrattled even in the most chaotic scenarios. You feel like a new person and you’re convinced you’re on your way to a happier healthier life.

Then this morning you woke up angry, short tempered, frustrated and convinced it’s all falling to pieces. What the hell happened? How is it possible? Where’d the new you go? Now you’re mad at yourself for being mad. And so it reverberates.

But here’s the difference. You’re aware of it. You’ve noticed it. That didn’t happen in the past. The mere fact that you’re recognizing the difference is huge. It’s a new level of consciousness and one that will allow you to weather this emotional storm.

Consider the pace you’ve been going. You’ve accomplished things you’ve never dreamed possible. But you’re only human and at some point your mind and body are going to say, “whoaaa there partner.” It’s inevitable that your system will eventually shut down and require a recharge. If you’re like me, when you’re flying and are forced to stop for a moment, it can be frustrating. You feel momentum and don’t want to stop. But some times we need to pull over and allow our systems to recuperate.

I’ve never been one to believe in the affects of chemical imbalances. But I’ll tell you, my mind is shifting. When you are constantly doing an introspection, considering every aspect of your being and what’s changing day to day, it’s easy to see that something as simple as increasing your intake of water can have a huge affect on your mind and body. Don’t laugh. Try drinking 3 cups of coffee a day for six months and then cutting yourself off. Tell me your body doesn’t reject the idea.

So, you’ve hit a snag. Don’t panic. Give yourself a chance to regroup. Take a few days to give your mind a reprise. Take care of yourself. Workout, drink plenty of water, let the phone go to voice mail, shut off the computer and if you can, spend some time focused completely on the kids. See if in a week or so you don’t feel a difference. I once wrote about life coming and going in waves. Just consider this to be one of those waves you need to ride out. Look for things that may be causing those waves and address them; calmly and thoughtfully. You’ll feel better about yourself again and find yourself headed for calmer waters.

As I’ve said in the past, there really is no finish line. Congratulate yourself on reaching this new plateau of self awareness. To be at a point that you can recognize a shift in your approach is a big deal. It means you’ve probably come farther than you even recognized. So stop, take a deep breathe and just contemplate the amazing things that lie ahead as you continue to grow and move forward.

Peace!

– Side note: As you know. I’m not a therapist. I don’t have a degree in psychology. I only know what I’ve experienced first hand and share it with you in hopes that it may help you through what can be a difficult transition. If you find yourself continuing to have bouts of anger, frustration or depression over long stretches I would strongly urge you to seek the help of someone who is more equipped to get to what could be a deeper root. Meanwhile, give yourself a break. Recognize that you’re human and need to stop from time to time and recharge. This is not a journey to be taken alone. You owe it to yourself to fInd a friend or if you feel it’s necessary, a professional to talk to. 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: