Bent Not Broken

I recently celebrated my 45 birthday. Damn… is that hard to say. Getting older is even more daunting when you’re single because you are way past your prime and well on your way to being an AARP member. I’m not one to get depressed on their birthday, but I do get a bit reflective. I reflect on the past several years and wonder how the hell I got here.

If you asked me on my 40th birthday where I would be in five years, the answer would have been very different. I was just finalizing my divorce and although it was scary, I had hope and excitement planned for my future. I would’ve told you that I pictured myself in love with an amazing guy who was my best friend. I would’ve told you that perhaps my career had taken off and I was financially secure doing something that I loved. I would’ve thought by 45, things in my life would be going my way and I would have put the pain of the past behind me.

Well, sadly none of those things has happened. In fact, the opposite is true. Everything has gone down the shitter. I’ve had a string of disastrous dates, crappy boyfriends, not so great sex and I’m broke as hell in a dead end job. Again…how the hell did I get here??!! I did a fucking vision board and not one of those “visions” has come true! I’ve been living in this state of purgatory waiting for one good thing to happen in my life to help me make sense of it all. I’m getting sick and tired of waiting. Where is my silver lining? Where is my happy ending? I can’t even get the “happy ending” with a good sex life for God’s sake!

Then I get off my pity pot, stop my ranting and raving and realize that nothing happens by accident and this is all a part of my journey. I take a step back and look at all the things I am blessed with in life. I have a supportive loving family, three beautiful kids that I adore and an amazing group of friends that fill my life with laughter, unbelievable support and love. I have EVERYTHING I need. Everything that is truly important in life and I am grateful for my wonderful life. I went through these hard times to learn something I needed to learn. If I hadn’t gone through the pain of my unhappy marriage, the ups and downs of divorce and the devastation of losing my job…I wouldn’t have found my love of writing. I wouldn’t have shared my story in order to heal and help others. I wouldn’t have found the depth of my strength and perseverance to make it through life’s challenges. I learned that I’m bent, not broken.

You see, all the heartache and challenges in life are here to show us who we really are…our purpose. For some, it might be the wake-up call they needed to get out of a toxic relationship that made them feel unloved or unworthy of love. For others, it may be to find your passion in life and to focus on loving yourself, so that someone can love you the way you deserve. For me, it was both. The real truth is that I was stuck in purgatory during my marriage. I didn’t know that I deserved better. I didn’t know that it was stifling my own dreams and potential to become who I was put on this Earth to be. This is my silver lining….this is my happy ending and I don’t need a man to feel complete. I am complete all on my own. I am enough…right here…right now. That’s the lesson I needed to learn at 45 years old and I’m grateful for all that it has taught me. Find your lessons and believe that the scars on our hearts are proof that we did not break.

With Faith, Hope and Love,

~Teresa

How To Spot the Red Flags

After being on the dating scene for over five years, I’ve definitely learned a thing or two about how to spot the ‘red flags’ a mile away.  I’d like to say that I am pretty good at seeing through a person’s bullshit in the early stages of dating and was able to see the writing on the wall before I got in too deep. I always listened to my gut and let my instincts tell me whether this person was good for me or not. Now looking back, I realize that I was protecting myself from being hurt again, so I was dissecting every possible flaw they had as a reason to push them away. A good friend of mine says I’m cynical when it comes to love and relationships and perhaps there is some truth to that statement. I’m trying really hard to be more open to a person who may not seem like the love of my life on the surface but could have the potential of making me happy.

So how do you decipher between good instincts and the hard protective wall you’ve built up over the years?  How do you know if you’re just trying to avoid feeling the devastation of betrayal or fear of rejection again? Well the simple answer is…you don’t. It took me years of countless dates to realize that I was being too critical, because I’d be damned if anyone was going to fool me again.  I would find the slightest little things to convince myself that he wasn’t my type or he was a little shady—I even thought about running background checks on them after I stalked them on social media.

Granted I was right about most of them, but there were a few that now, in hind sight, I’m kicking myself for letting them slip away.  If you follow my blog, you know that I only wrote about the complete disaster stories, but there were ones in between that I should have given a chance. Unfortunately, I was a little too gun shy to let my guard down and way too cynical.  I still consider myself as having good judgement when it comes to spotting scum bags, but its’ the good ones that make me question my bias against men.

One example is the guy I dated a few years ago who was a middle school teacher in a town about 30 miles away from me.  Looking back, I can see that he was probably a really nice guy, but if I’m honest I really didn’t give him a chance. On our first date he was a complete gentleman and took me out to dinner. He was funny, smart and a good family man, so I knew he had potential. The second date was dinner and a movie, but the third date he invited me out with his friends to watch an MMA fight at the casino. Now, at the time I thought it was too soon to be introduced to his friends and didn’t think an MMA fight was very romantic, but he knew I was a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, so I guess he thought it would be something I was interested in. It turned out we had a great time and all his friends were great, but he kept making comments that I was “too classy for him and his friends”.   I wasn’t sure if that was supposed to be a complement or a judgement.

Sure, his friends were a little rough around the edges, but I would never judge anyone based on socio-economic status alone…I genuinely thought they were great people. He didn’t need to have a fancy house and booshie friends to impress me. I just want a good person to spend the rest of my life with.

We continued to talk, but on the fourth date, he invited me over to cook dinner and wanted me to watch his basketball game at the local rec center.  He was a decent cook and an even better ball player, but he blindsided me by not telling me that his family might come to the game to meet me.  I was sooo uncomfortable!  I barely knew this guy and felt that he was moving way too fast for me. He didn’t even introduce us until after the game, so the woman that was sitting next to me making small talk was actually his sister. I was so embarrassed and slightly annoyed.

I quickly let it go, but this is when the red flags started to wave. We went to a local dive bar where his team hung out after the game and had some laughs about how his sister and niece approved of me even though I thought they were strangers at the time. The guys on the team started in on him for putting me in that situation, but I could tell he was genuinely surprised they had shown up. As it turns out, his sister was just being nosy and tends to be protective of her little brother.

As the night went on, I found myself doing what I always do and analyzed everything he said. He told me stories about his father being a drug addict and exposing him and his sister to a lifestyle that no child should ever see. I found compassion for him, but I had to admit that I wondered if we just came from two different worlds. It began to snow pretty hard that night as we left the bar and because the drive was long he offered to have me spend the night.  Normally I would have taken my chances with driving into a ditch rather than stay at a guy’s house so soon, but I trusted this guy because I could tell he was very sweet despite being brought up in a dysfunctional home.  He gave me his room and he slept in his daughter’s room.  The next morning he brought me breakfast in bed and told me how beautiful I was– even with bed head and no make-up on. (I knew he was full of shit.)

I left later that afternoon after he cleared his driveway for me and I knew that this relationship wasn’t going to last. Why, you ask? He was too good to be true.  Even though I trust my instincts and knew he was probably a genuine guy, I kept thinking he was trying too hard.  That was the red flag.  A man that tries too hard to impress you usually has hidden skeletons in his closet that he doesn’t want to reveal. They will come out eventually, but they will have a spin on them that he only sees from his perspective.

We went out a few more times (okay maybe once more) but ultimately I was right. He had done things to disrespect women in his past that I would never tolerate. He was a good father, but resented the fact that he had to pay his ex-wife child support. When I argued that it’s his responsibility to help support his girls financially, all he could see was the resentment for his ex-wife.  That my friend does not fly with me and shows me that he lacked integrity. As a single mother myself raising three kids on my own, I felt like he wasn’t a good man if he felt like he didn’t have any obligation to support his children. I broke it off shortly after that conversation.

As women, we want to see the good in the men we are dating that we often overlook the glaring red flags. You can tell a lot about a man by how he talks about his past lovers. (One of the tricks I’ve learned along the way). My advice to all women is let the walls down enough to be open to love, but really listen to what a man says.  More importantly, pay attention to their actions.  At first they want to wine you and dine you, but as time goes by, you need to start peeling back the layers to see beyond the sweet talk. People are very good at telling you what you want to hear and boosting your ego, but the real truth is shown when you read between the lines. There are 5 things you should ask someone you’re dating to avoid the pitfalls of falling for the wrong person:

  1. Ask them how they feel about their past relationships.
  2. Ask them what they are you looking for in a relationship. What are your turn-ons? What are your turn offs?
  3. Ask them about their relationship with their kids and/or family.
  4. Ask them if they’ve ever cheated in their relationships.
  5. Ask them where they see themselves in 5 years.

Now, the important thing to know is to not only to listen to what they are telling you, but listen to what they’re not telling you.  Listen to the tone of the conversation. Are they willing to share openly or are they negative and defensive? This is how you can spot the red flags. A person who is honest and trustworthy will be reflective of mistakes they might have made in the past and take responsibility for their own choices. If they don’t ‘own it’ then that means that they haven’t learned from it.  A person who lacks emotional intelligence will place blame on everyone else and deflect any responsibility of their own. Always listen to your gut. If your intuition is telling you something is wrong or you don’t like the way they treat you—get out now! Yes, people can change, but only if they’ve done the work and take responsibility their mistakes, so that they can break the pattern.  If they treated other people badly in the past and justify their behavior they will do the same to you. Always remember my favorite quote:

“When someone shows you who they are….believe them.”

                                                                                                                                ~Maya Angelou

 Yes, I may be a tad mistrusting and slightly cynical, but I’d rather be that way then end up in another shitty relationship with someone that doesn’t treat me the way I deserve. It’s not being cynical it’s being smart. It’s not being closed off it’s knowing my self-worth. Call me a cynical bitch if you want to, but I know that someone who’s kind and good will see beyond that tough exterior and love me despite my deeply afflicted soul. (At least I hope so).

With Hope, Faith and Love,

~Teresa

Are You Feeling Stuck?

One thing I’m never going to do is candy coat the fact that divorce sucks. I’m also never going to lie to you and tell you that after you do xyz and have given yourself a couple years to work through it, you will magically feel back to normal.  The truth is you will never feel ‘normal’ again. Life as you know it will never be the same again and that is exactly what you have to accept. Quite truthfully that is the hardest part and the reason why some people stay stuck.

Trust me, I’m speaking from experience, just when you think you’re over it…something happens to smack you in the face and remind you that you are SO not over it. For example, my ex-husband just bought a big beautiful new house with his new wife at the same time the kids and I are losing our home.  To be perfectly honest with you it really pisses me off. I’m sorry I can’t help it and I’m not going to deny my feelings about it. I really want to be the bigger person and be happy for him, but I can’t help to wonder how someone could not care that their children are struggling and just move on with your own life taking fancy trips, buying expensive cars, a brand-new motorcycle and leave their family drowning in debt with a house that’s underwater? Well, this is when I go through a 3-step process to let go of these negative feelings.

The first phase I call the “Owning it Phase.” You have to get real with your emotions and own it. We all have that inner bitch that wants to trash talk them and wants to see them suffer, but that’s your lower level thinking and you have to rise above it. It’s important to identify the feelings and not beat yourself up over feeling badly about what triggered it. If you’re angry, be angry. If you’re jealous, be jealous. Allow yourself to cry about it or throw something if you have to…just don’t hold it in and deny the feelings. That could lead to long term problems like depression or needing to enroll yourself in anger management classes.

The second phase is when you ask yourself, “So, what can I do about it?” The answer is nothing…absolutely nothing.  All you can do is feel the anger and resentment and move past it as quickly as possible. I call this the “Acceptance Phase”.  This is point after you have dealt with the negative thoughts and feelings that you recognize that it doesn’t do any good to hold on to all those negative feelings. You have to take a step back from the emotions and look at the bigger picture, so you can find acceptance and gratitude for all that you have. For me, the bottom line is, I know I don’t want that man in my life and if it means that I have to struggle on my own, then I’ll do it with a smile on my face and faith that everything will work out just fine. I can accept that he has moved on with his life and I have too. I refuse to let him and his decisions get to me and give those negative feelings any power.  There is nothing I can do to change it, so why bother holding on to the resentment? I visualize my own future with positive intent and I know that material things (even a big beautiful house) does not make you happy.

The next phase is the “Releasing it Phase.”  Personally, I go out in nature or find a quiet place in my house and I use a type of meditation to release the feelings. I find that higher level thinking that allows me to let go of the negativity and allows me to wish him well.  I look at him as a part of my family and that will never change. After all, you may not always like your family but you still love them.

Recently, I stumbled upon an online class titled, “Manifest New Love” by Jennifer Grace, find the link here. Now some of you might find the title a little corny or “out there” but I always listen to these types of things for research and insight. Well, there was an exercise she walks you through that blew my mind.  She asks you to close your eyes and picture yourself in an open field with your feet deeply planted in the ground. She walks you through this visualization that has you imaging that there is a cord attached to your solar plexus. For me, the cord was like an umbilical cord, for others it may be a chain or rope. She then says to look up and suddenly you see your past love attached to the cord a few feet away. You look at this person and say, “Thank you—I forgive you” and repeat it three times.  Next to you on your left is something to cut the cord and when you cut it, your past love turns and walks away.  Now, this is where I couldn’t believe what came to my mind…I found myself reaching out saying “don’t go.”  I told this story to my friends at brunch the other day and they were shocked! My good friend hit my arm and said, WTF??!! I laughed and said, “I knew you would have that reaction and believe me, I was shocked too!”  Not in a million years would I think I would EVER have that reaction.  I thought I had done the work…I thought I had let him go…I thought I was over it until I realized you never get over it and you never truly let go.  We have children together and we will be bonded together through them for the rest of our lives. Now, don’t get it twisted, this doesn’t mean that I want him back or that I’m still in love with him—on the contrary, I just realized that I still need him to be present for our kids because I love them. He is a connection to them that only he and I share. Mind blowing, right?  I thought so too.

As painful as it may be, it’s so important to process all of this stuff in order for you to get “unstuck”. This is  allowing more space in my life for that new love to come in. In order to feel lighter and free from the past, you must really feel the pain, the sorrow, the fear and then let it go. Holding on to it only leaves you stuck carrying your burdens like a large boulder on your back. It’s time to let them go and cut the cord.

With Faith, Hope and Love,

~Teresa

What Not To Do On a First Date

I’m gearing up for the dating season and what better way than to reflect back on some of my own ‘first date’ disasters and use them as a guideline for what NOT to do while giving solid advice on how to have a successful first date.  I was actually inspired by a new show produced by Ellen DeGeneres, appropriately called “First Dates”.  I absolutely love this show! Not only because I can totally relate to the struggle of going on a first date, but also because I love to be a voyeur into other people’s dating experiences.  The first show is a must see…it made me laugh, cringe and sob all in one episode. The premise of the show is to bring complete strangers together in a restaurant in Chicago and film them on their first date. Sound like your absolute worst nightmare? I thought so too at first, but now I’m considering signing myself up for the show. (I’m dead serious.)

They bring people together from all different walks of life and set them up on a blind date to see if they will find love.  Some dates are complete flops while others have an instant connection. There was one older couple that had both lost their spouses and this was their first date in many years. The woman had talked about living life to the fullest after she grieved her husband and had a bucket list of adventures that she wanted to share with someone special. One of which was flying in a hot air balloon. The gentlemen was a down to Earth self-proclaimed  nature lover who spoke of how he cared for his dying wife with such love and compassion that the woman took his hand from across the table and said, “I love you” with tears in her eyes. The moment they shared was so touching. I found myself balling my eyes out, realizing that it really is never too late to find love. The show followed the couple months later and showed them flying in a hot air balloon and very much in love. My heart felt so full of hope watching that episode, but also made me realize that you can’t predict whether two people will find a connection or not. It made me question whether it’s always ‘love at first sight’ or can you initially not see a person in a romantic way until you’ve grown into love with them? What I’m learning is that neither one is always the case when it comes to love.

I’ve seen both situations play out differently than expected. You can have two people that had an instant connection on a first date, but then the relationship crashed and burned.  Then another situation when I’ve seen two people put each other in the “friend zone” and they ended up falling in love like the movie  ‘When Harry Met Sally’ (which is one of my favorite movies of all time).

I know what you’re thinking…you didn’t know I was such a softy did you? I guess I’m feeling like love is in the air because its’ spring time and the fact that quite a few of my friends have gotten engaged recently. Believe it or not, I’m much more open to finding that kind of love again and would even consider marriage again. (I know…shocking).   I use to say I’d never get married again, but now I wonder if it would be a possibility when I find that someone special.  Perhaps it’s just the next step you take to solidify your commitment to each other. I’m happy with being like Oprah and Stedman or Goldie and Kurt, but maybe just maybe there will be wedding bells in my future. Don’t think I’ve lost my senses and the cynical bitch you know and love has fallen into La La Land; I just have a new perspective on love and want to open my heart to the possibilities…that’s all. First I need to find a date I suppose…

This brings me to my list of Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to first dates:

  • Don’t seem too eager or desperate to find love. If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again…appearing desperate is a complete turn off and people can smell it a mile away. Instead of smelling pheromones all your date will smell is BO.
  • Don’t talk about your ex unless you are asked about them and be sure to keep it short and sweet. If you talk about your ex too much or about how horrible they are, you’re telling the other person you’re not over them. This can make you sound bitter and negative and that’s not the vibe you want to put out on a first date…or second…or 50th….
  • Don’t brag or talk about yourself the whole time. I know this is hard for some of you because you’re wired to be the peacock fluffing your pretty feathers, but you just end up sounding self-absorbed. Be a good listener and ask questions about the other person. It’s not all about you boo boo.
  • Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Be yourself and don’t try to morph into what you think this person wants you to be. Being authentic and sincere is much more attractive than being phony and superficial…unless you are inherently phony and superficial yourself.
  • Don’t be too honest. Yes, be yourself but don’t tell them all your bad habits or share your opinion about everything. Remember, opinions are like assholes…everybody has one.
  • Don’t talk about politics, religion or money. Sure, I want to know if you’re a Trump supporter or a bible banger before I agree to go out with someone but beyond that …keep it light. There is nothing romantic about talking about these topics, especially on a first date.
  • Don’t drink too much on the date. You should have no more than 2 drinks on a first date, otherwise you’ll end up having drunk sex or acting like a fool instead of letting them get to know the real you.
  • Don’t talk about your kids all night and pull out pictures of your last vacation. This goes for Fido and Fluffy too. Yes, your kids and pets are adorable but let’s face it…no one really wants to scroll through five hundred pictures of them on your phone.
  • Don’t use your phone! This is so rude! Keep your phone in your pocket and if you have to text your nosy friends to let them know whether you need them to send that ‘emergency text’ (wink wink) then do it in the bathroom to avoid suspicion.
  • Don’t fight over paying the check. Fella’s, I’m sorry but if you want a second date or to retain your reputation …you’re paying the check. Ladies, don’t be fake and reach for your wallet offering to pay…you know damn well you’re not paying for this date, so stop being phony. Yes, even a feminist expects the man to pay and that’s not going to change until women are making equal pay to men. 😉
  • Don’t go past kissing on the first date. Fella’s don’t be a pig (like the guys I’ve been out with) and keep your hands to yourself. Ladies, don’t be too easy and sleep with a guy on the first date. Men like the chase so make them wait. Sex complicates things, so if you’re just looking for sex then just be honest about it, but if you’re looking for more, then keep your pants on until you get to know each other. Besides, anticipation is way sexier—trust me.
  • Don’t wait to call or text. I love when a guy texts me after a date to see if I got home safely or to say they had a nice time. If I don’t hear from you that night or the next day, I’m hesitant to go out with that person again. To me it shows that they aren’t thinking of you or considerate of your feelings. This is a big no no in my book.
  • Don’t play games. Put on your big boy/girl panties on and be 100% honest about how you feel. Don’t try to save their feelings by stringing them along—just tell them that you’re not interested or tell them that you are interested.  There is nothing worse than playing the guessing game and wondering if the person is feeling the same as you.
  • Don’t keep calling/texting without following through with a date. I’ve had so many guys that keep in contact with me, but they never do anything about it. This makes no sense to me. Is this a modern day version of a pen pal? Please just ask to go on a date for goodness sake! The worst thing that could happen is they say no and you move on…your ego can take it so just make a move.
  • Don’t keep texting or calling if they don’t respond. If I haven’t text you back the last four times you text me then take the damn hint and stop trying to contact me. If I’m ignoring your call, ignoring your text, ignoring your FB message and ignoring your DM on IG can you please take the hint??!! I’m NOT interested.
  • Don’t be too serious. Have fun on the date and enjoy getting to know someone new. Dating is exciting—even the bad ones…at least you have something to laugh about with your friends the next day (or write it in your blog like me lol).

Well, that is all the DON’TS and I’m out of time to write about all the DO’s, but all you need to DO is be yourself and go into the date with an open mind and an open heart and you’ll do just fine. Good luck with the search for love—I hope it finds you soon.

With Faith, Hope and Love,

~Teresa

 

Love Is In The Air

Ahhh…Spring is finally here. The warm air and the flowers blooming makes us feel alive and gets us in the mood for love. Why is spring so intoxicating? Maybe it’s the birds singing, the bee’s buzzing and the sun shining. Maybe it’s just the feeling of happiness we all get when winter breaks and we are done hibernating from the cold. Whatever the reason is…love is in the air. Every year around this time I’m ready to shed the winter flub and get out there and date again. Yep, I get suckered in just like the rest of them thinking that this is a good time to find love. The million-dollar question is where does one find Mr. Right?
I’ve done it all. I’ve been set up with friends of friends—no luck. I’ve been on most of the dating sites and if you’ve read my blog, you know how well that went–complete disaster. I go out with friends all the time and never meet anyone decent out there–ever!

In fact, just last weekend I got hit on by a guy that was probably a foot shorter than me and his opening line was, “Hey, we’re gonna do shots.” So romantic, huh? I just looked down and said, “No we’re not.” He then asked if I had something against short guys. I’ll give him this, he was a funny guy, but humor only goes so far. He cracked a few jokes and we started to banter back and forth. He said he loves tall girls and he always looks for the tallest girl with blonde hair and a nice ass when he walks into a bar. My jaw dropped and I knew he was just trying to get a rise out of me, but I felt compelled to give him a little word of advice. I gave him the evil eye and told him if you’re going to try to talk to women you might not want to talk about their ass and focus on their eyes or their intellect. He replied by saying, “Oh, maybe that’s why the tall blonde I was just talking to walked away.” I just rolled my eyes started laughing and said, “You’re a real charmer aren’t you shawty?” We joked for a while because I love a sarcastic sense of humor, but even if this guy was a decent human being, I just can’t get past the height thing either. I know it’s superficial, but I’m a tall woman and I just hate towering over a guy. My ex was too short for me and this time around I just want a big tall guy that doesn’t make me feel like I’m an amazon woman. Is that too much to ask? Is there a dating site for tall people? I would totally try it…
Sorry my ADD is kicking in again…let me get back to the subject. The thing about finding love is that your heart must be fully open and that’s when it will come to you. As I’ve said before, if you are still holding on to resentment for your ex or fear of being vulnerable, Mr. Right will walk right past you. That’s how the universe works. Another ‘fact of life’ when it comes to the birds and the bees, is if you haven’t worked through the pain, you will end up falling for another jerk at the bar trying to buy you shots to get you in bed. That’s not love…that’s just sex and you need to be able to distinguish between the two. Now that I’ve done the work and let go of the past, I want the real deal and I’ve been waiting patiently for quite some time now. The key is that I don’t mind the waiting. I can wait for as long as it takes for the right one.

I’ll wait for the person that gives me the kind of love I’ve always wanted and the kind of love I’ve always wanted to give. The truth of the matter is my ex was a very hard person to love. He had so many deep childhood wounds that made him feel he wasn’t worthy of love. Once we got a little too close, he would do something to sabotage it. He held on to his fear and pushed me away every time. This time, I want to find someone who isn’t desperate for love, but someone who is open to giving his heart to me and only me. My soulmate (yes, I believe in soulmates). He could be anywhere right now, but we will find each other when the time is right. It might be at a grocery store, online, at work or at a random party, but we will find each other. I always ask people in love how they met and it is always the most unexpected place because you don’t find love, it finds you. You just have to ask yourself honestly if you are ready. If there is any hesitation or fear it will pass you by and wait until you’re truly ready.

So, when you’re alone crying into your glass of wine asking why you haven’t found love, look no further than your beliefs about yourself, your beliefs about your ex, and your beliefs about love. That will give you the honest answer. Until you are ready to do the work and change your perspective just enjoy the journey. Don’t look at it as serving a life sentence in solitary confinement, look at it as a time of discovery into your hopes and dreams for the future. This is not the end of your story, this is a new chapter to an exciting new adventure and you’re the lead character. Do you want your story to end in tragedy or do you want to write the greatest love story of all times? You’re the author of your own story and you can create the happy ending you’ve always wanted. You’re more than this broken soul who plays the victim and feels unloved. You’re the leading lady and you and only you can create the life you desire. Start writing your happy ending and enjoy the beautiful spring weather.
With Faith, Hope and Love,
~Teresa

How to Let Go of Your Ex

I’ve often asked myself if we can ever fully let go of the person we once loved. The honest answer is no…I don’t think you can. This may shock you or put you in a deep depression, but it’s the truth. To some degree we will always hold feelings for our ex’s no matter how hard we try or no matter how much time has passed. You can be happy in a new relationship with the love of your life, but you will always feel that slight sense of attachment to them especially if you have children together. It’s impossible not to! The good news is that having that awareness can help you let go of any negative feelings and the only thing that will be left are those fleeting thoughts of a love lost. There will be times throughout the healing process that you feel like you are totally over them and then the next week you find yourself lamenting about the pain they caused you or making snide comments about them under your breath.  That’s proof that you haven’t completely let go.

I just watched a video called The Limitation Game from Kyle Cease, which had the most amazing message.  He said, “What if that person didn’t break your heart, they just broke your expectations and what if by breaking your expectations they helped you get closer to your heart?” I love this statement because it shifts your perception from being a victim to someone who was disappointed by the other person’s actions and in that process you learned more about what you really deserve.

Over the past five years I have worked very hard to work through the emotions that come with getting a divorce. The first year is like you’re shell-shocked and your adjusting to a new normal. Half of you is happy to be free and the other half is having daily panic attacks worried about making it on your own. You go about your day in a fog hoping nobody notices the fact that you put your bra on inside out or you may have left the house without brushing your teeth.

In the second year the anxiety subsides once you see how everything is not going to fall apart. You’ve made a new life for yourself and realize you’re having fun with friends instead of drowning your pain in a bottle of wine. You can look back and see the progress you’ve made since last year because you are wearing all of your clothes right side in and you have fresh breath again. These are baby steps, but at least you’re headed in the right direction. You still have a lot of healing to do and you are frustrated by the fact that you still cry over your ex from time to time, but all of that is completely normal. You shared a life with that person– you had hopes and dreams for your future and now you have to start all over again…I get it…it can be sad. You are scared to be in a new relationship because you don’t want to be hurt again so you hide behind your fear and close your heart. You may be having a resurgence of anger and resentment because your ex may be in a new relationship and you’re still curled up in a corner licking your wounds.

The third year it gets easier. It’s the time you do a lot of soul searching.  Emotionally you feel stronger and you start to become open to the possibility of love again. You have accepted that the other person has moved on and you find yourself stalking them less and less on social media.  By now you have dated a few losers, but those losers are there to show you what you DON’T want.  Some of you lucky bastards may have even found love by now and you’re navigating the sometimes treacherous feelings of doubt and insecurity that creep into your consciousness. Be careful not to let your past relationship sabotage your next. If you rush into things before you’ve fully let go of your ex or the pain that they may have caused you, the new partner will surely suffer for it. If they’re the ‘one’ then they will there with you through the hard times and heal your heart.

Year four and five are more of the same. If you’re still single then you are feeling a little desperate to find love, but that is completely counterintuitive to finding it.  Desperation is VERY unattractive. Whether you’re male or female; desperation is a turn off and you can smell it a mile away. Don’t be needy or overly anxious about finding a new person in your life. They will come when the time is right…you just have to keep the faith. Settling for someone who’s a bigger jerk than your ex is also not the solution. This is the time when you need to embrace your freedom and enjoy doing the things that make you happy. You’re out of the depression phase and hopefully been able to let go of your past little by little. Now you can visualize a brighter future. If you’re stuck, here are some strategies for letting go of your ex:

Step 1: Remember why you divorce them in the first place. Often we go back to the memories of all the good times and have a bit of amnesia when we forget about all the bad times. Romanticizing our past relationship is something we are all guilty of, but you have to be honest about how horrible it really was or realize that you weren’t meant to be with them.

Step 2: Stop stalking them on social media. Every time you go on to their page you are bringing up negative feeling and holding on to them.  Seeing pictures of them being happy with their new love is only going to make you sad, angry or resentful …so knock it off! You will know that you are letting go when the urge to stalk decreases.

Step 3: Forgiveness. Forgive them for hurting you and be grateful that they can no longer hurt you. Letting go of anger and resentment is the most important step to letting go. If you can’t forgive them and see that they loved you but made mistakes (like we all do) you will continue to hold on the past and never move forward.

Step 4: Acceptance.  Come to the place of acceptance that they have moved on and you will too. Finding acceptance is easier if you see them as family and not as your ex-lover. Wish them well instead of fantasizing about smothering them with a pillow.

Step 5: Visualize the future instead of living in the past. Make a vision board or write a list of qualities you want in your next partner then believe that you will find them.

I know it’s easier said than done, but just make your mind up to do it and you will see how your attitude transforms.  Like I said, you have to understand that you will never be able to completely let them go, but the more you can let go of the pain, the more you can release the hold they have on you. You will always be connected in some way. You will always be family and like family sometimes they can drive you crazy, but you love them just the same. If you can find it in your heart to love them and wish them well you can begin the journey towards your new future. Hopefully that future comes with a good man that can make you smile again. 😉

With Faith, Hope and Love,

~Teresa

P.S. I want to share a great post from my sister’s blog.  She is a functional medicine nutritionist, certified holistic health and lifestyle coach who has helped me tremendously with my own weight loss and nutrition.  Part of my own healing process came from learning how to take care of myself and I couldn’t have done it without her support.  I highly recommend her program because it works! To find out more go to her FB page. She has an expansive knowledge of how your body functions in regards to nutrition, but also has an amazing insight on why we struggle with weight and body image.  She is my rock and has helped me get through all the ups and downs over the years because she has a gift for telling you exactly what you need to hear with love and support.

Let’s Get Real

Did you ever ask yourself why getting a divorce or going through a break-up is so damn hard? What about when you talk to married couples about how happy they are and you get a lot of eye rolling and they usually let out a big sigh and tell you that “marriage is hard and it’s a lot of work.”  Doesn’t that make you pause for a minute and make you realize that both being single and being married are equally as difficult at times and come with their own challenges?

What if I told you that the difficulty that comes from divorce or your marriage is simply a matter of perspective?  What if I told you that you can make it as difficult or as easy as you want it to be by simply shifting your beliefs about either situation?  It’s true– you can. Not by denying when you’re feeling sad, alone or afraid, but by acknowledging those feelings then shifting your beliefs to reflect the truth. We know deep down the truth is that we are happier without them, because in order for you to get to the point that you had to sever yourself from this person, it had to be pretty damn bad in the first place.

Why then, do we lament over the fact that we are no longer with the person that made us miserable instead of being happy that we are free from this toxic relationship that held us down and killed our joy?  The reason is simple–as humans we tend to focus on lack and that whatever our current situation is we want more…we’re rarely ever satisfied.  The truth is humans are greedy and even when you attain what you want….it’s never enough is it?

Let’s just get real for a minute…remember a time when you REALLY wanted something and you thought if only I could lose those 20 pounds…if only I could get that big house…or go on that fancy vacation…then and only then will I be content and happy. Fast forward a little and you lost the 20 pounds, buy the big house and go on the fancy vacation and you’re still a miserable wretch.  You see yourself 20 pounds lighter in a picture and you still hate the way you look and want to lose more weight…you buy the big house and now you hate cleaning it and need to remodel it…you go on the big fancy vacation and all you do is come back and complain about how much money you spent or how the airline lost your luggage and bumped your flight up two hours– now the whole trip was shot to hell because of this one incident.  We are NEVER fully satisfied! NEVER! Sure there are glimpses of happiness and fleeting thoughts of contentment, but when the hell are we ever completely satisfied with where we are in life? I’ll tell you it’s not when we were married that’s for damn sure.

So then tell me, why do we hold on to the pain and believe that we are only unhappy because we’re alone? Society has conditioned us that way—that’s why. Look around you and through a different lens; look at how we buy into the notion that we need the fancy house, the expensive car and the marriage with 2.5 kids in order to live happily ever after. It’s all bullshit! Complete 100% bullshit because I know people that have all of those things and they’re still not happy and content. You might have had it at one point in your life and it didn’t make you happy either.

The point is that we have to learn to look at where ever we are in life (at this very moment) and we have to accept it and realize that we can be happy if we CHOOSE to be.  Those of us that are healing from divorce have to process the feelings, but we also have to realize that our lives are actually better without being in a toxic relationship. Those of you that are married but sometimes feel dissatisfied or wonder if there is someone better out there, need to realize that this is as good as it gets and your spouse is pretty damn awesome even when he leaves the toilette seat up. We have to stop this tendency to never be satisfied with what we have and perseverate on all the negative things that have happened.

Trust me I struggle with this too. Yes, my husband lied and cheated. Yes, I lost my job unfairly. Yes, I’m losing my house. All of those things suck…really bad, but if I just change my perspective, suddenly I can see that I am happy to be out of a toxic relationship with someone who disrespected me. I’m not in a stressful job working 11 hours a day for people who didn’t appreciate my hard work and dedication and I’m getting rid of a house that causes me nothing but stress and drains every last penny out of my bank account.  I AM HAPPIER DAMMIT!  Now, I’m not saying all of these things shouldn’t have caused me stress and heartache, but I am saying that after the pain subsides, I can honestly look at all of these shitty things being a blessing in disguise. If nothing else, I should be celebrating that I have had the strength to get through it without ending up in the looney bin or rehab! That’s a huge achievement…don’t ya think?

Whether you’re divorced, single or questioning your marriage find the happiness where you are right now and stop listening to that greedy little shit in the back of your mind that tells you it’s not good enough.  Your life, right now, just as it is, is good enough. All you have to do is believe that it is just like Glinda the good witch taught Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

Glinda: You had the power to go back home the whole time.

Dorothy: I have?

Scarecrow: Then why didn’t you tell her before?

Glinda: She wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn for herself.

Scarecrow: What did you learn Dorothy?

Dorothy: Well, I –I think that it, that it wasn’t enough just to want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em—and it’s that –if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.

Now, just close your eyes and click your heels three times…

With Faith, Hope and Love,

~Teresa

 

Top 10 Benefits of Being Single

We tend to focus on all the negatives of being single because our brains are hard wired to “need” social connections as much as we need food, water and shelter. In fact, many studies including one by UCLA professor Matthew Lieberman state that, “Being connected is our brain’s lifelong passion…it’s been baked into our operating system for tens of millions of years.”  It’s no wonder why we long for human connection and the need to be in romantic (or sexual) relationships; it’s a part of our evolution and instinctual desire to procreate and expand life on our planet.  How the hell are we supposed to fight the very essence of how we were designed?

Well, we’re not, but we can fight the primal urge to be in a relationship and feelings of loneliness by changing our negative perspective and looking at the benefits of being single.

#1. You don’t have to fight over the remote and you can watch whatever the hell you want.  I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to be married to a man for twenty years that watched every episode of Star Trek a dozen times and forced me to watch every war movie ever made. Now I can watch all the Real Housewives and cry over the Notebook as many times as I want. Rom Com’s for days!

#2. Having the bed to yourself and not having someone hogging the covers or snoring all night (or was that me?) Some people like to be cuddled all night or miss having someone next to them…not me!  I love having the bed to myself and no one to smother me with their arms around me like a boa constrictor. Get off me when I’m trying to sleep!

#3. Being able to go out with your friends whenever the hell you want without the guilt trip. This is a big one for me, because I was an extrovert stuck in a relationship with an introvert that never wanted to go anywhere and embarrassed me at parties because he made it pretty obvious he didn’t want to be there by being a complete downer. He also didn’t like when I went out with friends, so I felt like a caged animal. #20yearsahousewife

#4. Having control over how you spend your money.  I remember feeling like I couldn’t buy anything for myself or even get a frickin’ pedicure once a year without having to hear shit about spending too much money. He was horrible at finances and always had us drowning in debt. Now I’m still trying to dig my way out but if I want a pair of shoes …I get the damn shoes without having to hide the shoe box and receipts. I love being financially independent (well, up until I lost my job that is, then it just sucked not having another paycheck to fall back on).

#5. Being able to flirt, make out, or have sex with whoever you want!  That’s a big plus– don’t you think? Not that it’s all that it’s cracked up to be when you are finding nothing but losers, but they’re good for something now and again. 😉

#6. The simple pleasure of being able to make dinners that you like, instead of catering to his palate of junk food. Or better yet, not having to cook at all! Sure I still have kids to feed, but their old enough to fend for themselves at times…it builds character and independence, right?

#7. Not having to tip toe around someone else’s feelings all the time.  Relationships are a bitch to navigate, especially in the beginning. The constant guessing of whether or not the person still likes you because they stopped texting you all day long or the calls get less and less frequent. Like I wrote in my last article, dating is exhausting and relationships are even more draining, so just do you boo!

#8. Not having to deal with the arguments about whose turn it is to do the dishes or take out the trash. It’s always your turn to do it, so there’s no one to argue with. I use to get so annoyed when I would wake up to dishes in the sink after I did the cooking. Now, if I want to leave a few dishes in the sink because I’m too tired or lazy there’s no one to blame but myself.

#9. You don’t have to shave your legs!  That’s got to be in the top 10! If you want to rock a 70’s bush you can do that too! Just don’t go on any hot dates looking like Sasquatch unless you use it as a deterrent for not jumping into bed with someone like I do. 😉

#10. Lastly, but most importantly you get to discover who you are and what your dreams are in life. You find your strength and individuality.  If you’ve always been in relationships like I have, you never get to figure out what your true passions are because you’re too busy catering to someone else’s needs and desires.

Being single is not all bad. In fact, I think it’s important for people ending a marriage or a long term relationship to be single for a while before they jump into another one.  You have to give yourself the time to heal and the time to find out why the last relationship failed. We should always take the opportunity to look in the mirror and examine what we did to contribute to the break-up or what we allowed in the relationship that we didn’t deserve. That’s how you recognize the red flags and avoid going through the same heartache again.

I honestly think I’m happier being single than being in a relationship. That doesn’t mean I’m not open to finding the love of my life…it just means that I’m strong enough to stand alone until he comes along. You are too; you just have to ignore those primal fears that cause you to feel desperate for companionship. Conversely, you have to fight the fears that are blocking you from wanting to open your heart again because everyone deserves love and respect. To sum it all up in one phrase:

“We need to close our legs and open our hearts to the possibility being loved.”

Remember that being single is not a bad thing and enjoy all of the benefits while you still have your freedom. Freedom allows you the opportunity to look inside and find the passion and gifts you never knew you had. Take the time to explore those possibilities and do the things that give you joy. It’s the only path to finding the person that truly deserves you, because you’ll finally figure out who you really are and the person that can hold your hand along the way.

With Faith, Hope and Love,

~Teresa

Dating in Your 40’s

I’ve been resisting the cold, hard fact that dating in your 40’s is difficult (to say the least). I didn’t want to put that negativity out there and I wanted to stay hopeful that love does exist in your 40’s, but the truth is– it really sucks trying to find it and here’s why:

  • The good men are all married and will stay married. Why? Because they’re good to their women and no woman in their right mind is going to let them go. They are a dying bread…an anomaly really.
  • The good ones that do get divorced are heartbroken and want revenge on their cheating ex-wives and what better way to seek revenge than to date a young 20-year-old or at the very least a girl in her early 30’s that still has perky breasts.
  • Then there are those that are “chronic bachelors”. These are the trolls you find on Tinder. These dudes are usually commitment phobes and typically set in their ways. By the time, they finally decide that they want to settle down, I can guarantee that they don’t want to marry some old broad that can’t give them their mid-life crisis love child…so we lose to the 20-30 somethings yet again.
  • The old geezers are the only ones left and they think a woman in their 40’s is still young, but they need Viagra to get it up and a Red Bull to stay awake. Oh Dios mio!!

Okay, so maybe that sounds a little too cynical even for me, but I’ve recently lost a little hope when it comes to dating in your 40’s. I’ve had so many friends tell me that they don’t understand why I’m still single because I have “so much going for me” then they proceed to compliment my looks, brains and personality then add how I’m not crazy either! Gee…thanks. That makes me feel so much better about myself. :/

The one thing I don’t have going for me (because not being crazy is debatable) is that I’m not young anymore.  Ding Ding Ding! That’s the reason! I hate to admit it, but it’s the truth. Sure, there are a few good single men in their 40’s out there, that just married the wrong people, but I feel like they make up .00001% of the population and they live in the Midwest somewhere. I hear Utah is nice.

Of course, the next response I always get is that I should just date younger men. Why the hell would I invest in a relationship with a young guy that eventually will want to settle down and have kids when my baby maker is boarded up with condemned signs hanging up on the sides of my uterus? It’s a complete waste of time and I’m not going to compete with chicks that don’t even know what Spanx are for…no thank you. If I looked like JLo then hell yeah, I would date young guys, but I look more like the mom from Growing Pains or Mrs. Brady.

Let’s face it, dating in your 40’s is rough. I haven’t gone on a date since last May. Jesus! That’s almost a year! Granted I turned down a few dates since that time and haven’t wanted to get out there much because my winter fluff has turned into winter flub.

Luckily, I’m back on track and ready to eat right and exercise again which will help pull me out of my dry spell, but I’m struggling with getting back out there again.  Dating is exhausting. All my married friends think it’s so exciting and new…well, it’s not…it sucks.

First you have to strike up conversation with random strangers and answer the same stupid questions over and over again. Here they are:

  • Where are you from?
  • What do you do for work?
  • What do you do for fun?
  • Do you date a lot?

Then it gets a little deeper…

  • What are you looking for in a relationship?
  • Do you have kids?
  • Do you want kids?

Then it reverts back to the superficial shit…

  • Do you like sports?
  • Did you see the latest Superhero movie?
  • Do you like dogs?

Then it might get serious again…

  • How long were you married?
  • Why did you get divorced?
  • Did you vote for Trump?

Then it goes left into the gutter because it’s getting late…

  • How tall are you?
  • Are you a real blonde?
  • What are you wearing right now?
  • What color are your panties?

That’s when I end the conversation and do it all over again. Ugh. Single ladies, you know what I’m talking about don’t you?! All I can say is, I can’t wait for the day when that special someone walks into my life and makes me believe in love again. Until then…it just sucks.

With Faith, Hope and Love,

~Teresa

#40andfabulous

Find Your Voice

Often during the process of divorce we feel beaten down and tired of the constant arguing and bickering over dividing up all of the “stuff” that we find ourselves acquiescing, just to find some peace. Others that thrive on drama and are coming from a place of resentment may do the exact opposite and fight over stupid things like who’s going to get the DVD collection that’s been collecting dust on the shelf for 10 years.

Personally, I didn’t have that experience because all I wanted was to keep the kids in the house and all the “stuff” didn’t really matter to either of us.  Of course my ex wanted me to sell it because he thought we couldn’t afford to keep it, but the alternative was trying to find a condo that fit three kids and a big dog that would cost just about the same as the mortgage.

I remember sitting in the mediator’s office one day because we had both agreed to try and keep it civil and have a “collaborative divorce” but he was so angry about me wanting to keep the house. He actually told the lawyer that he wanted a contingency that I could not have another man in the house.  The lawyer just laughed at him and said, “She could have an orgy in that house and you have no say in the matter.” My eyes widened and I looked at the lawyer in shock. I was a little taken back by that statement and offended by the analogy he used, so he quickly changed his tune and said that his point was that after the divorce he would have no say on how I lived my life and vice versa.  That just made my ex even more upset, so I reminded him that he knows damn well I would never have other men around our kids and that I’m not that kind of woman. He started to get a little belligerent and stormed out of the meeting. So much for collaboration!

After a while I was able to calm him down and reminded him that I would have to get my own lawyer if we couldn’t come to an agreement, so we went to another mediator.  By that time, I was exhausted and just wanted there to be peace, so I caved. Something I regret to this day.  I made half of what he made and although he was generous enough to give me 5 years of alimony that would help with the mortgage, I still got the short end of the stick.  I knew it would be a struggle to keep the house, but I just didn’t want to uproot the kids…they had been through enough already.

I agreed to taking on more of the debt, that I didn’t even know existed and I kept the house that was under water. Basically I screwed myself to have a “collaborative divorce” and keep our relationship cordial. He was a difficult man with a hot temper, but I knew how to keep him calm—I had mastered it all those years by stifling my voice and swallowing everything I wanted to say to him.  Until now…

It took me hitting rock bottom, losing my job, losing my house and not having him around to help support the kids, to find my voice.  I had been swallowing the truth about how I really felt and how overwhelmed I was for 5 frickin’ years. Until one day, last Fall he sent me a text from overseas telling me that I needed to come up with the mortgage payments and to take this seriously because it was impacting his credit.  I was LIVID!  I’m not taking this seriously??!! Are you fucking kidding me! I’m over here taking care of everything having a nervous breakdown and you have the nerve to tell me to take it seriously?? Mind you, he had just come back from an expensive vacation all over Europe with his new wife, while I’m barely making enough at my new job to buy groceries.

So, I found my voice and called him a selfish bastard and it felt SO good. I never wanted to be that person and I certainly didn’t want to sound like the bitter ex-wife, but this was affecting my kids and we were really struggling. I just couldn’t sit back and let him act like this wasn’t his responsibility.  All those years of keeping quiet, trying to play nice were over.  I had built up so much frustration and resentment that he gets to walk away and enjoy his new life with his new jaguar and fancy vacations not giving a shit about his kid’s well-being.  His response was predictable and he lashed out at me– he even had the audacity to say that “I don’t appreciate anything and he does so much for me and the kids,” but now all that is over because I stood up for myself.

The funny thing is he really believes that he’s done so much for me and the kids. But, everyone’s perspective is there to ease their conscious I suppose. Sure, he helped me out a few times with the car or fixing something at the house, but perhaps that was out of guilt because he knew I was doing everything on my own and he also knew he should have been giving me a hell of a lot more for child support after his big promotion. But, I wanted to keep the peace so I never said a word.

Now, trust me, I never wanted to use this blog to bash my ex-husband, I only wanted to speak my truth and use my story to help others going through the same pain and frustration. I don’t mean to rant or make my ex out to be a bad person, because he’s not. He’s doing the best he knows how and deep down I know he has a good heart. I shared this story with you to help others find their voice.

Not to start fights with your ex-spouse, but to tell you how important it is to speak your truth and express your pain.  If you don’t, it will manifest in other ways. You may become self-destructive, sick or act out towards others because of misdirected anger.  It may be directed towards your kids or your family. You may lose sleep, drink too much or overeat to try to mask your feelings (I’m certainly guilty of that). We can’t help the way we feel, but if we stuff it down it will make us either turn into a really negative person or really lose our shit.

Swallowing your pain will only create more pain for you and lead to depression or worse. I know some of you may want to have a good relationship with your ex, but is it a good relationship if you’re the one walking on eggshells not expressing what’s bothering you to avoid an argument? No, that’s a one sided manipulation and trust me you’re fooling yourself if you think that “everything is just fine”.  It’s not. It’s killing you inside and you need to find a way to let it out. Even if it means things might get a little messy.

Now, don’t do what I did and lash out calling him/her a selfish bastard. Sure, he deserved it, but that’s no way to voice yourself. I was at my breaking point. I had put up with his bullshit for my entire adult life. I just exploded because I was burning the wick at both ends and took on the entire responsibility by myself. I did it to myself because I was strong and independent, but when everything was crumbling beneath my feet, I had never felt so scared and alone in my entire life. I was broken.  I still am.

“You may trod me in the very dirt but still, like dust, I’ll rise”   ~Maya Angelou

This is an excerpt from my favorite poem by Maya Angelou. It is a beautiful expression of resilience and strength. I carry it with me to remind me that I will always rise no matter what life has thrown at me and I will never let anyone stifle my voice ever again. Now, rise up and use your voice.

With Faith, Hope and Love

~Teresa