Are You A Feminist?

Recently, I wrote an article about “reinventing yourself”, which was inspired by the Women’s March that I felt compelled to attend. The article briefly touched upon my reason’s for attending the march and this is what I said:

The world heard our voice on January 21st and we need to take this opportunity to create change. Real change. Equality will never be achieved if we take a back seat in our own lives. On that historic day, I marched for women, I marched for racial justice and equality, I marched for the LGBT community, I marched for religious freedom, and I marched for the men who support the rights of all people. After the election, I felt powerless and now I feel hopeful.”

Seems pretty harmless…right? The rest of the article was mostly about using the painful experiences in our lives as an opportunity to reinvent yourself and my purpose of writing the article was to inspire women (and men) to turn their pain into something meaningful. My intent wasn’t to come across like an angry scored woman. Yet, a woman that was a part of my private Facebook group took my intention very differently.

She basically came at me saying that she saw no point to the Women’s March and that empowerment comes from within (a statement I made in my entire article by the way). I didn’t want my article or my private page to become a political platform, so I deleted her comment. Well, I guess that really pissed her off because she then proceeded to yell at me and called me a bitter, angry woman because of my divorce and that I should be ashamed of myself for making other women feel bad if they don’t subscribe to the need for the Woman’s March. I’m paraphrasing of course because I deleted that comment and removed her from the group immediately.  Obviously, she is a Trump supporter and didn’t agree with the protest and I’ll just leave it at that. :/

I am all for a good debate and I welcome other people’s perspectives, but the minute you start attacking someone for their beliefs then you lost the argument and my respect. Bye, girl bye!  I created my blog to speak my truth and to inspire others going through the same pain that comes with divorce. If my views about politics creep in occasionally, it’s only because it’s relevant to the message I’m trying to send. We are bombarded with newsfeed and media coverage about our current administration and the last thing I want is to have it seep into this forum. In no way, did I state or do I feel that if you didn’t participate in the March that somehow you are wrong. I have many friends and close family members that didn’t participate and I would never judge them or think less of them as women because they didn’t feel compelled to join a march. That was my choice and I really don’t care one way or another if you didn’t feel like going. I love them all just the same.

With that said, I also feel the need to address the meaning of the word “feminist” because it has come up in conversation lately and is often misrepresented and characterized as angry women that hate men. The definition of the term, “feminism” is simply, “the belief that women and men should have equal rights and opportunities.” So, I ask the question again…are you a feminist? Do you believe that women should get paid less than men do for the same job? Do you believe that women don’t deserve the same opportunities in the work force as men do? No? Then guess what…you’re a feminist! Congratulations!

Don’t you think we should all be feminists? Don’t worry you don’t have to hold up signs protecting your vagina or wear one of those God awful “pink pussy hats”. You don’t have to do anything if you don’t feel compelled to, but you do have to support all those women in history that fought tirelessly for your right to vote and your right to work outside the home and you do have to support the women today that are STILL fighting for further equality. You don’t have to go around voicing your opinions on how frustrated you are about the glass ceiling that still exists for women, but you should tell the guy at work that’s sexually harassing you to shut the hell up or you’ll report him to HR. Grabbing women by the pussy is a crime of sexual assault not an overreaction from an “angry feminist”. If you don’t know the difference, then you and I should sit down and have a little chat.

Now that we’ve cleared that up and we can agree that I am not an angry bitter divorced woman who hates men, I want to share an amazing experience I had last weekend to prove to you that I genuinely love to hear a male’s perspective and I would never say that “all men are the same”.

My girlfriend and I (not my lesbian girlfriend…just a friend who is a girl) went to our favorite bar at the last minute and when we walked in a group of our “guy friends” were there sitting at a table. They were happy to see us and insisted that we sit with them even though we joked about not wanted to cramp their style.  Throughout the night, we joked and laughed as we normally would, but this night was different. I had some amazing heart to hearts with a couple of them that really enlightened me and gave me a new perspective on what it is like to be a man.  Without going into all the details of these amazing conversations, I am very thankful that I could have such deep conversations and gain such valuable insight on topics like why men cheat and how men are sometimes misunderstood.

I’ve written articles about cheating and I’ve always held the belief, “once a cheater always a cheater” and now…I’m not so sure.  I must admit that I gained some real insight from a friend who had cheated on his ex-girlfriend in the past, but he sincerely said that he would never cheat on his current girlfriend and soon to be wife. He thought that a lot of why men cheat is due to the person they’re with having low self-esteem and not respecting themselves. I know…I know…it sounds like a cop out and placing the blame on the other person for your wrong doing and maybe it is, but he just may have a point.  If you know your spouse would never put up with cheating or look the other way, you’re naturally going to be less likely to risk it. Not everyone of course. As I stated in the past, if you have the propensity to cheat you will always be a cheater no matter who you are with. However, if you are with the wrong person and you’re looking for a way out, sometimes people sabotage the relationship to do just that.  Whether I agree or disagree with this guy’s viewpoint or not I will always appreciate another perspective.

The other conversation was with someone that I really don’t know very well, but we had met a few times in the past. He recently lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s which we all know is an excruciatingly painful disease to witness the deterioration of someone you love. He shared with me that when they were first diagnosed there was a period of denial and when it progressively got worse he struggled to cope like many others do. He noticed that he was drinking more frequently and not able to show up for his family like he used to. He felt lost and angry like so many others dealing with this horrible disease do.  He finally went to seek help and he found comfort in a group of men who got together around a fire and shared their struggles. Everyone there dealing with unique difficulties and pain, but all there to share with one common purpose to support each other and ask one fundamental question, “Now that you’ve expressed your fears or frustrations, how will you show up in your life?”

I sat there listening to this man I barely knew share a very intimate and private part of his grieving process and not only did my heart go out to him, but I was honored that he was sharing it with me. He thanked me for listening and said it’s not something he can share with his friends. That gave me pause and at that moment I thought about how difficult it must be a man in our society where you’re always expected to be strong and hide your fears and sorrow.  I was glad to hear that he had this amazing group of supportive men who allowed themselves to show their vulnerability.  As women, we take for granted that we can share everything with our friends and if we cry we are not considered weak.  I wonder how different our world would be right now if we allowed men that same privilege.

I left that night feeling so grateful for having these conversations and to have the benefit of hearing some insight into how men walk through life. Sometimes we must put aside all of our differences and just listen to one another. If you do, you might find that we’re more alike than we are different. Now you tell me…does that sounds like an angry feminist to you?

With Faith, Hope and Love,

~Teresa

Still Dreading Valentine’s Day

Yep, I still hate Valentine’s Day.  I know I’m not alone. All single people hate Valentine’s Day and even some married people. It’s the day that you’re reminded that either you’re still alone or that you’re so called “valentine” sucks because they didn’t do anything to make you feel special. Speaking from both sides of the fence, feeling alone in your relationship can be far worse and devaluing.

Let’s face it, women are sometimes hard to please and men just assume that this is one day of the year when they may get lucky because they bought you flowers.  Well, be grateful for those flowers because all I woke up to this morning was a text from some old fling probably hoping to hook up. You would think this dummy would get the hint since I haven’t responded to any of his texts over the last year.  If you’re too stupid to figure that out, then you’re way too stupid to date me.

I hate to sound harsh, but seriously if someone keeps texting and you don’t respond why the hell won’t they take a hint?!  I feel bad not responding, but why engage in the conversation if I have zero interest?  Sure, he’s gorgeous with a great body but he’s dumb as a stump and I just can’t deal with that.  The last time I replied to be friendly, he asked for a “pic” and when I said I don’t like sending pics, he responded by sending me a gym selfie, as if that was going to make me change my mind. (Insert eye rolling)

I know what you’re thinking…you’re being a bitch and that’s why you’re still single after 5 years. Well, maybe you’re right about me being a bitch, but I assure you that’s not why I’m still single. I’m still single because I learned something very valuable over the past several years and that’s to never settle for anyone who doesn’t treat you like your Valentine every day. If you have to work to make them notice you or you feel like they only want you when they want you, then you’re better off being alone.

One year ago today, I wrote my first blog post. This is a special day for me–not because it’s stupid Valentine’s Day, but because it’s my anniversary.  The anniversary of the day I started speaking my truth and sharing my story…the anniversary of the day I started on the journey to loving myself. Happy Valentine’s Day to me!

This year has been filled with highs and lows, joy and disappointment and best of all—the most valuable lesson I had to learn which is that hard times will happen to prove how strong I truly am. I found my voice. I realized my worth. I opened my heart. It took courage to open my heart to the world and share my inner most fears and pain with strangers and even more courage to share them with friends and people who know me.

If you told me I would write articles sharing my life with people a year ago, I would have told you that you’re out of your mind! I have always been a private person never sharing too much on social media about my personal life, yet I felt a strong pull to share my story and the impact my divorce has had in my life, so that I may help one person know that they’re not alone.

We have all experienced pain and heartbreak and we can all relate to the intensity of its remnants. It’s what songs are made up of… It’s what love stories inspire. Everyone wants the happy ending. That is what I wrote about in that very first article. I wrote that I hoped that by this time next year, I would find love.  I still hold on to hope that maybe next year I will have a Valentine, but I’m not desperate for it. Who knows, perhaps I will find love this year or it may take longer . One thing I do know is that I’ve learned to love myself first and that gives me the strength to stand alone with an open heart.

The truth is I wasn’t ready to be vulnerable again. I held on to the beliefs that protected my heart. I rejected every single one of the men I went out with on the very first date. They weren’t good enough…at least that’s what I told myself. Perhaps they weren’t good enough. Let’s face it most of the guys I dated last year were complete dirt bags, but I wasn’t willing to even give them a chance either.

Granted, they probably didn’t deserve a chance, but even the good ones didn’t even stand a chance. I was scared. I put up this ‘tough girl’ persona right from the very start to let everyone know that they couldn’t pull one over on me.  The problem with that is even the good guys can’t see past that persona. I needed to soften my rough edges to attract the kind of love I desire, but I also needed to take this journey to undo years of feeling deceived. All of us bare scars from past loves but some of us take a little longer to heal.  Don’t let being alone on Valentine’s day make you feel less valued. Own it! Being single is not so bad and it gives you time to figure out what you really need and want. I know now I can love and trust again and this time I’ll know who deserves it. Do something nice for yourself this Valentine’s Day and put aside the pity party of being alone. Do you Boo!

With Faith, Hope and Love,

~Teresa

Will They Ever Change?

Are you the type of person who tries to see the good in people?  Are you the type of person who wants to believe that you can be the one to change a person? If this sounds like you, then you are among the many of us who believed a lie.  The truth of the matter is that you can’t change anyone. If you are with someone who doesn’t truly commit to your relationship or that you fully can’t trust to be faithful to you, then you are only fooling yourself if you really think this person will change.

I hate to sound cynical but I lived it for 20 years and I know what I’m talking about. It is very rare for a person to change who they really are. They have spent their entire lives justifying their actions based on a painful experience that shaped who they are and they have convinced themselves that it’s okay to act in their own best interests. It’s a survival mechanism. It’s self-preservation.

People who treat others badly don’t have the same conscious and emotional awareness that someone who lives their lives with compassion for others. They justify their selfish behavior, because bad things were done to them.  They don’t think of another person’s feelings when they act on an impulse or hold them at arm’s length because they don’t have the capacity to be any different. It’s the ultimate form of narcissism.

Ask yourself if you are typically attracted to people who have a false sense of confidence. Do they display behaviors that come across braggadocios or only wanting to talk about themselves and showing little interest in talking about you? When in a conversation with this person, do they often interrupt the conversation with relating something you said back to them and never have the capacity to bring the conversation back to you?  Is this sounding familiar? Do they often make statements about themselves being a great person or have grandiose stories of things they’ve done to paint a picture of being bigger than what they really are? If that sounds like the person you’re dating or have dated, then chances are you are dating a narcissist or he happens to be the current President of the United States.

When I was on my power dating kick, I was amazed by how many men I went out with that only wanted to talk about themselves and never asked anything about me or my life. Some of them never asked about what I did for a living, or about my family or my viewpoints…it was all about them.  Now, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are a narcissist, but I was acutely aware that all they wanted to do is brag and try to impress me. Little did they know that my biggest turn off is arrogance and being self-absorbed.

This type of behavior can be one of two issues—one, they suffer from deep-seated insecurity or they are a full blown narcissist. How can you tell the difference? Well, according to an article in Psychology Today,” the distinction between self-esteem and narcissism is that self-esteem represents an attitude built on accomplishments we’ve mastered, values we’ve adhered to and care we’ve shown towards others. Narcissism, conversely, is often based on a fear of failure or weakness, a focus on one’s self, an unhealthy drive to be seen as the best and deep-seated insecurity and underlying feeling of inadequacy.”

 

Thankfully, I have been able to grow and mature over the years and realized that the best thing to do is stay away from men with low self-esteem or narcissistic traits. These men don’t have the capability of being a good partner and they will NEVER change. Believe me, I tried! I had a light-bulb moment after my divorce that made me realize that you can’t change a person who can’t take responsibility for their own actions or justifies their behavior because of something they’ve perceived as being done to them.  I will never believe that I can help heal a lost soul, because inevitably they will end up hurting you.

If you still hold on to the belief that somehow you can change them, you’re either (1) an enabler, (2) a doormat or (3) a narcissist yourself. You can only change yourself. You can only learn from past mistakes and want to change your own behavior or you will continue to be in the same dysfunctional relationships you have always been drawn to.  If you want more for yourself the second or third time around then you have to start being more self-reflective and recognize your tendencies to be attracted to people like that you know aren’t good people, due to your own lack of self-esteem.

 Sometimes we want to believe we can change someone, because deep down we don’t believe we deserve any better. We accept the status quo and feel that we can’t find someone that will treat us with respect and honesty because we have been conditioned by the dysfunction in our past relationships.

You can break these patterns. You can change. The first step is awareness and the second step is being intolerant of a person’s inability to value you. If they can’t treat you with respect and take you out and get to know who you are as a person before they automatically objectify you as sexual object, then that’s the first sign that they are the same asshole you’ve dated in the past.

Do yourself a favor and take a good hard look at your past lovers and ask yourself if you turned a blinds eye to what was obviously a one-sided love affair. Did they care more about themselves than they did about you?  Did they have the capacity to give themselves fully to you in the relationship or did you always feel like they took you for granted? If the answer to these fundamental questions is ‘yes’ than you now should take some time to re-evaluate your attraction to these types of people. I know I have. I finally woke up and said, “To hell with trying to fix these broken dudes.” I’m not trying to be Mother Teresa saving the world…I’m done with all that! This time around, I will find someone that isn’t the poster child for “Narcisi’s Anonymous”, no matter how long it takes.

With Faith, Hope and Love,

~Teresa

Reinvent Yourself

Divorce is never easy, no matter how amicable the process may be between you and your ex.  In my experience, once we divided up all the assets (or should I say debt) and the papers were signed, I felt like the hard part was over. We left the court house that day and hugged good-bye and when we let go from our embrace we knew we were letting go forever.

I sat in my car and cried, but they were tears of relief. I felt a weight had been lifted and I was free from the pain I had been in all those years. I realized that I loved that man very deeply as a person, but despised him as my husband. Strange…I know. The truth is, the moment I was no longer tied to him, I looked at him as a man who loved me the best he could. The fact that he didn’t have control over me and wouldn’t affect my life every day, helped me to release all the anger and resentment I held towards him. I knew he would always be there for me when I needed help and we would always be family. Albeit, a distant family but family none the less.

Like every family, there are times when I want to smack him upside his head because he is an absent father going through his little mid-life crisis, but the kids know how much he loves them and they also know he is somewhat incapable of showing the depth of his love.

I realized that what is really bothering me lately is not the divorce, but the simple fact that when I lost my job, I lost my identity and security. Coupled with the fact that now that he is re-married, I couldn’t lean on him the way I wanted to and I couldn’t expect him to take care of me and the kids anymore.  I was paying the price for that freedom I had come to love so much after my divorce. That’s when it hits you and divorce seems hard. When you feel alone…

If we’re honest with ourselves, it’s not the divorce that is still causing us pain and sorrow it’s the fact that we haven’t accepted standing alone.

Listen, I get it. Being alone sucks sometimes, but being in another shitty relationship with someone who doesn’t treat you right is far worse. Agreed? So, here’s an opportunity for you to reinvent yourself. Change your perspective from loss and heartache to view this whole experience as a necessary metamorphosis of your life. All of this didn’t happen to make you a miserable shell of a person…all of this happened so that you can transform from a caterpillar to a butterfly.  My sister used this analogy to go a little bit further. She explained that we can’t snap our fingers and become a butterfly…we need to spend time in this dark isolating cocoon, spend time feeling the ache of change, experience the ugliness of pain and discomfort to emerge in the beauty of our full potential.

This is your opportunity to become something you dreamed of becoming. Think about what it is that truly brings you joy.  Not the fun, “partying” kind of joy, but the kind that makes you feel like this is what you were meant to do in life kind of joy. What is your gift…. your purpose? Do you know what it is? Well, all you need to do is figure it out!  Don’t be a damn moth…be a BUTTERFLY! Now is your time! It may evolve into a hobby that makes you feel at peace and balanced or it may be a complete reinvention of your life.

I may be in the cocoon stage right now, but I’m very close to emerging into my new life. I know my purpose now and I would never have found it without these seemingly horrible circumstances unfolding the way they did. I’m grateful for my divorce—I’m even grateful for losing my job believe it or not. They are a gift that forced me to stumble across my passion and allowed me reinvented myself. Without those painful lessons in life I would have never found it. My silver lining if you will…

This past weekend I participated in the Woman’s March in Hartford and it renewed my faith in the power and strength of women. Watching the millions who gathered throughout the country and around the world was incredibly inspiring. As women, we sometimes keep ourselves small and accept our current circumstances. We put our others needs before our own, especially when it comes to our families. The world heard our voice on January 21st and we need to take this opportunity to create change. Real change. Equality will never be achieved if we take a back seat in our own lives. On that historic day, I marched for women, I marched for racial justice and equality, I marched for the LGBT community, I marched for religious freedom, and I marched for the men who support the rights of all people. After the election, I felt powerless and now I feel hopeful. Perhaps this all had to happen for us to wake up and transform just like the butterfly.

I hope you can use this time and create a space where you can do the same. The lesson is hidden in there somewhere to bring you closer to your undiscovered self, you just need to be open to finding it. It makes all the heartache and disappointment worth it…I promise.

#staywoke #StillWeRise #WhyIMarch #FromHeartbreaktoHealing #OneLove #Revolution #ReinventYourself

With Faith, Hope and Love

~Teresa

A Letter To My Daughter

Every woman wants to raise her daughter to be the best she can be and better than we see ourselves. For some, they want their daughters to be kind, generous and compassionate and for others they want their daughters to be strong, independent and bold. They are reflections of what we wish we could be and a reminder of where we may have fell short. Everything we believe about ourselves, they will believe about themselves. Your words are powerful enough to shape their view of themselves, but the actions that you model are beliefs they will carry in their souls. Be mindful of that mothers, especially in your relationship with their fathers because that will be their teacher for life.

I wanted to take this time to write a letter to my only daughter, a relationship I hold so dear to my heart. I want her to be kinder and more loving to herself than I was to myself. I want her to know the depths of my love and pride for the woman she has become and will continue to become.

To my daughter:

The day you were born changed my life forever. My first-born child when I was still a young woman with no sense of who I was. You gave me that clarity because now I knew my life was bigger than my own, my life had instantly changed when I held you in my arms; I had purpose. My purpose was to love and nurture you with everything I had because I had never experienced a love like this before. A love that was unwavering, indescribable and incredibly frightening. I feared I would make every mistake and somehow damage this gift that had been given to me. I read every book I could find to help me on this terrifying journey called motherhood.
Early on I knew I was responsible for shaping your beliefs about yourself. I wanted you to know how beautiful you were, but that beauty is not only skin deep. I never wanted you to own a Barbie doll because of its false representation of what was considered beautiful, yet there you were begging me to buy you one in the toy aisle and I caved.   I wanted you to know that to be beautiful came from the inside and to know that your value did not stem from your pretty eyes, your high cheek bones and the shape of your body. I wanted you to be better than me. I spent so much time feeling insecure and doubting my worth because my hips were too big or my nose was too pointy. I wanted you to be better. I wanted to pour all my strength into your soul to ensure that no man or cover model would ever define your worth. I may have not always modeled that, but I wanted you to know that a woman’s greatest strength was in how she values herself.

I wanted you to hold yourself to the highest standard possible, so that no man would ever consider you anything less than ” wifey” material. I wanted you to love yourself enough to know when someone wasn’t good enough, you would have the strength to turn and walk away. You are that woman and I’m so proud to call you my daughter. You have everything I dreamed for you. Strength, kindness, independence, compassion, and perseverance.

As you spread your wings and make this journey so far from home, my heart fills with pride more than it does the ache of missing you. I am amazed by your courage and know that you found that all on your own because I am often too intimidated to be so daring. You have everything I wanted to have for myself and more. You are my greatest gift because you have been my greatest teacher. You taught me who I am because you show me my reflection.

I can only imagine the love that will grow when you become a mother someday. Know that I will be there for you every step of the way. In good times and bad…I will always be there loving you right where you are.

The road hasn’t always been smooth and there were many times I know I made some big mistakes, but these things happened to bring us closer and to never take one another for granted. You are my life, my friend and my daughter and I love you more than you will ever know.

Love Always,

Your Mom

New Year New You?

Every New Year people post the same old cliche quotes like ‘New Year New Me” and believe that somehow all the pain of the past year will be magically swept away because they have flipped to a new calendar year. Sure we all need hope that things will get better, but making unrealistic New Year’s resolutions that are gone and forgotten by January 15th will only set you up for disappointment.

That’s why this year; I’m taking a different approach. In the past, I’ve reflected on the past year and looked at all the things that had gone wrong hoping the new year will be different. Don’t get me wrong, the past year has been a real bitch. I left a job I hated at UCLA and was unemployed for six months, I fell behind on my mortgage, my car needed over $6,000 in repairs, my basement flooded, my pool turned into a swamp due to a broken filter, and the only job I could find pays me half of what I was making, so I’m forced to sell my home.  It was pretty shitty if I look at it threw that negative lens.

I decided that I’m not going to do that anymore and I’m going to look at all the things that went right.  The truth is, all of those things did cause me tremendous stress and challenged my strength as a single mom, but all of those things are just that…” things”.  Things don’t matter.  Relationships and family matter.

When I look at all the beautiful times I shared with my friends and family and the joy I found in writing, it puts everything into perspective.  The past year has been amazing from that perspective. I have had the love and support from my family and friends all along the way.  My relationships with people who have helped me and who I have been able to help are priceless. I’ve had so much fun with friends over the year and such meaningful conversations that have brought me such amazing insight that taught me a lot about myself.

The highlight and most precious thing that happened as the year ended, was the journey across the country I took with my three kids. Words can’t begin to describe how healing this trip was for me.  Every day was a new landscape and a new adventure. The long drive gave me time to think about what’s important in life and what a special relationship I have with my children and the joy that they bring me even when their driving me crazy. There was a lot of laughter and time together that would never have happened without this road trip adventure that forced us to be in close quarters for nine days straight. We have lifetime of great memories.

I realized that being angry or jealous of my ex-husband new life was nothing to envy.  Would I ever give up the bond I share with my children and the deep connections I share with family and friends for a fancy new sports car and a hot young husband?  Not in a million years.

I can look back at my experiences (good and bad) and be thankful for everything they have taught me. I will look to the new year and take pause when new lessons present themselves and look at the blessings and not the struggle.  This year will be a difficult one in some ways.  Although I am extremely proud of my daughter having the strength and perseverance to spread her wings and create a new life she has dreamed of, I will miss her terribly. She and my two boys are my world. I can’t contain the emotion I feel for how much they fill my heart with pride. That is all a mother could ask for…that is all that matters.

The close relationship I have with my baby girl makes it that much harder for me to let her go, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I’m so happy that she gets to experience this adventure in California and to live the life she desires. I never got to do that at her age because I was married and raising children, but I’m going to live it now. Leaving my marriage was a gift that allows me to live my life for me.  This year I am letting go of everything that was holding me back. This year will be the year that I let go of the negative perception that these difficult times have been a curse looming over my life and that somehow happiness is out of reach.  Happiness is already here.  Happiness is the relationships that I cherish, not what’s in my damn bank account.

This year I’m rejecting the lie that I’ve been telling myself that life is hard and I’m in a bad place. Yes, losing my home is stressful and I’m not candy-coating the fact that letting go of the home I raised my children in isn’t going to be painfully sad, but I’ve realized that I have to let go of it because it’s tied to all the pain of my failed marriage.  The negative energy and stress that the house has caused me needs to go.  Holding on to my resentment towards my ex-husband needs to go.  He’s move on and so will I.

Holding on to all that negative energy is just blocking the positive things from happening. I want to work this year on being a more positive gentler me. I want to smooth out my rough edges that have only attracted negativity. I’m not going to make this overwhelming list of resolutions that will cause me more stress and anxiety, I’m going to simply look for the lessons during this difficult time of letting go and be grateful for all my blessings. I will find three things every day that I am thankful for and set good intensions for what I want to attract. That’s it! Yes, I want to eat healthy and exercise to feel better, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I fall off the wagon like I normally do. I’m going to love myself and my life just the way it is. I hope you do the same.  Happy New You. 🙂

With Faith, Hope and Love

~Teresa

‘Tis the Season

Oh, the holidays…a time for joy and cheer…unless your slightly cynical like me and think the holidays are a completely overrated, stress inducing, materialistic way to teach ungrateful children excess and greed invented by corporate America. Bah Humbug!

I’m just kidding…even I’m not that cynical. Well, maybe a little bit. Sure, I love the twinkling lights, the spirit of giving and getting together with family and friends on the holidays, but this year the thought of stringing up Christmas lights makes me want to become a Jehovah Witness. When my kids were little, I loved decorating the house, listening to Christmas music chopping down a Christmas tree and snuggling up with a cup of hot coco by the fire place. Now, the kids are grown and even though I try to keep our family traditions going it just doesn’t feel the same.

After a divorce, the holidays can become a painful reminder that nothing will ever be the same. Especially the first year you are celebrating as a single parent.  It can seem overwhelming and at times down right depressing. What was once a joyful family tradition is a somber reminder that the family is broken. We try our best to put on a happy face and reassure our children that things may be different but we are still a family.

I remember the first Christmas after my divorce, I took the kids to our local tree farm, just like we had always done and my son, who was 15 years old at the time, helped me cut down the tree. I remember feeling glad that my ex wasn’t there. He was always so miserable about doing it and he sucked the joy out of things we did as a family. He was always rushing to finish instead of enjoying that precious time with his children. I remember feeling so much happier and felt a sense of accomplishment when I did it all without him. I remember wondering if he even missed all these traditions that had to drag him into. I knew that he had a difficult childhood and felt compassion, that for him, perhaps the holidays reminded him of painful memories. Knowing this, I always wanted to make him feel included during the holidays and wanted us to still do things as a family.  I even invited him over every Christmas morning to unwrap the presents and have brunch together to make it less difficult for the kids and for him.

This year will be different. This year he is returning home on Christmas day from being deployed overseas for almost a year. This year he has a new wife. This year, my sister is hosting dinner and my kids and I are leaving the day after Christmas to drive my daughter to California to her new home. This year we will forgo chopping down the Christmas tree and instead map out our cross country adventure as I fight back tears of her leaving. I know I should invite my ex and his wife over for Christmas brunch, but I don’t know if I have it in me to invite her into our home, nor do I think she would want to. This year will be the last year in our home and everything will be different again. This year will be the hardest year yet.

So much changes after divorce. Some for the good and some for the bad. We know that we are happier without being in a toxic relationship, but we will always lament the memories of past Christmas’ when we were all together as a family. That is the hardest pill to swallow.

My advice is to create new traditions and memories. Let go of the past because it doesn’t serve you anymore. Yes, you have to feel the pain, but you don’t have to stay there letting the ghost of Christmas past haunt you. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and visual what you want your future  to look like. Write it down and be very specific. You will find joy again. You will create new memories with someone who brings you that joy and happiness. You won’t be here forever; this is just a temporary road block until you get on the right path again. Everything that happens from this point on is a lesson we have to learn in order to avoid making the same mistakes again. Get to know who you are and define your deepest desires so that you will attract that to your life. Set your intentions and live by this quote:

 

            “I AM….

                              Two of the most powerful words.

                                                                   For what you put after them shapes your reality.”

 

Merry Merry Christmas to all of you. I hope and pray that we all find joy and happiness this holiday season and we continue to heal in the new year.

 

With Faith, Hope and Love,

~Teresa

All Aboard the Crazy Train

Fasten your seat belts people. You’re in for bumpy ride. For those of you that have recently gone through a bad break-up, a divorce or any type of loss, I wish I could tell you it will get better after a year…even two, but the truth is it doesn’t always work out that way.  There is no magic number or pill you can take to make things feel better again, you just have to buckle up and ride the crazy train.

The process of healing from heartbreak can take years, but the good news is that it’s not all bad, there are ups and downs…good days and bad days.  One day you’re feeling free and inspired to reinvent yourself and the next day you’re feeling sad and depressed curled up in a ball binge watching stupid love stories while balling your eyes out. You just never know.

fullsizerender

There are times when you think you’re losing your f’in mind because you thought things were going well until something smacks you in the face and you find yourself in a downward spiral again. Like when you see your ex profess his love for his new girlfriend on Facebook or your dishwasher springs a leak or your car breaks down and suddenly you lose your shit because emotionally you can’t take another bad thing happening.    I know…I get it.  We’ve all been there and we will be there again, because the truth is, life doesn’t automatically get better just because you find someone new, drop 20 pounds or you get a big raise at work. Life is full of painful experiences and in every painful experience there is a lesson to learn and an opportunity to grow.  If everything went smoothly all the time, we would never reach our full potential or have compassion for others. We would never appreciate the good times and see the blessings in our life.  As bad as things may seem right now, I know you can count at least 3 things you’re truly grateful for in your life.  Go ahead…name 3 things.

Mine are easy; my beautiful kids, my amazingly supportive family and friends that I love and make me laugh through all the bad times.  Knowing that makes me recognize that I have more going right for me than all that may be going wrong. That’s all that really matters to me and that’s what keeps me strong.

The important thing to know is that it is completely normal to feel the ups and downs from time to time especially during the holidays and the milestones in life. It’s also important to feel those feeling and not push them away or mask them with things that numb the pain like booze, sex, shopping or food. Trust me, I’ve used them all and they don’t work.  In fact, they can make it much worse because it just leads to a hangover, being used by a dirt bag, maxed out credit cards and getting fat. That’s not going to help you feel better…that’s just a temporary fix that has negative side effects.

Find more positive ways to cope with the pain, like going for a long walk, reading a good book, talking to a trusted friend or if you’re like me, write it all down on paper. Remembering that there is a purpose to this long journey and it allows you to see the blessings underneath all the pain.

Don’t believe me? Are you rolling your eyes thinking that I’m full of shit? Then I want you to close your eyes and envision yourself a few years ago, in the relationship that brought you all that pain. Do you want to go back there? Do you want to be that person who allowed someone to treat you so badly? I’m guessing the answer is “no”. That is the proof to understand that you needed to move on and get out of a toxic relationship. That is the proof that you are becoming a stronger and happier person.

If you had stayed you would have continued to die a little more each day. Your spirit couldn’t grow and become the person you are meant to be. You’re not meant to be miserable and unhappy. You’re meant to grow and flourish. You’re meant to learn from the past, so that the pattern is not repeated.  We may not be able to see it right now, because we still have some lessons to learn, but we are right on the precipice of jumping off that crazy train and looking back on the experience as a journey that we needed to take to find the person we are today.

Years later, I’m not where I hoped I would be. I thought by now I would have found a great guy and I’d be building a new career as a published writer, but instead I’m still single after 5 years and forced to sell my home because I’m still in a financial hole after losing my job. I’m probably in the worst position I’ve ever been in and it feels really shitty. There are days I just cry myself to sleep. There are days I want to give up, but I don’t. I will never let my circumstances define me because I remember those 3 blessings that keep me fighting and keep me full of hope. I remember that God has big plans for me and I am on the verge of things turning around for me. This journey wasn’t just bad luck. This journey happened so that I could find true and honest love. This journey happened so that losing my job would unlock a love of writing that I never knew I had. This journey happened so that I could understand and help others that feel the same. Nothing is wasted. Nothing is a mistake. Every form of pain has a purpose that is designed to help us find our purpose.

With Faith, Hope and Love,

~Teresa

Top 10 Reasons You’re Still Single

After five years of being single following a twenty-year marriage, I’ve had plenty of time to date and reflect on the reasons why I am still single. The longest relationship I have had was barely four months and I’m convinced I was only dating the guy because I needed a distraction from the trauma of losing my job after 14-years of being dedicated to my career.  Sure, he was a decent guy that wined and dined me, but I quickly realized he wasn’t going to make the cut.  He set off some major triggers when he flirted with a “friend” right in front of me.  I knew he had to go, because I vowed to myself that I would never be with a man I couldn’t trust. This qualification has now significantly reduced my dating pool by about 80% and that’s being generous. Okay, maybe that’s part of my problem…if I hold the belief that only 20% of single men in my age bracket that live in a 40 mile radius are trustworthy, then perhaps that is the reason why I am still single.

single

I realized that I had to check my negative beliefs about men since becoming a lesbian was not my thing.  This is a hard and laborious process. You see my experience with men and dating has solidified a long standing false belief that all men are assholes.  Notice I said “FALSE” belief?  I don’t want to insult ALL men with such a sexist erroneous statement. I know plenty of men who are good, faithful husbands including my father who set a pretty high bar when it comes to having integrity.  How I ended up marrying a habitual liar makes no sense to me other than the fact that I was very young and extremely naive. Now that I’m older, wiser and extremely jaded; I have to reprogram myself to unlearn these negative beliefs. Believe me, sometimes it’s a full-time job especially with the losers I’ve encountered over the past several years. (Reference previous blog “Dating for Dummies” and pretty much any article I’ve written after that.)

In my process of reprogramming and self-analysis, I have recognized that there are 10 top reasons why women might still be single post-divorce:

#1. You live in fear that you will have your heart broken again and to avoid that pain you shut out all potential prospects.

#2. You are jaded and bitter towards men and hold false beliefs that all men are bad and are going to hurt you. (This is a side effect of #1 “fear”)

#3. You are suffering from low self-esteem and don’t believe you are pretty enough, skinny enough, valuable enough to deserve a good man so you continue to date assholes.

#4. You fear introducing someone new into your life and the lives of your children.

#5. You have unrealistic expectations of what you want in a partner and no one will ever live up to your 5-page list of criteria. (Get real honey!)

#6. You’re looking for love in all the wrong places. You think you can change them and ignore the red flags when guys only treat you like a booty call. (Booty call, meet Wake-up call.)

#7. Your negative beliefs are attracting negative people. (This is an important one so check yourself!)

#8. You haven’t learned your lesson the first time and you are still attracted to assholes even when you know they’re assholes.

#9. You’ve watch too many Rom-com’s and you’re a hopeless romantic waiting for prince charming to ride in on his white horse and sweep you off your feet. (Wake up girl…that only happens in the movies.)

#10. You have a serious case of “resting bitch face” (RBF) and no decent guy is going to come near you with a ten-foot pole.

There are many others but these are definitely my Top 10. Do you see yourself in any of these?  I do! In fact, I see myself in most of them.  The bottom line is that you are single because you aren’t in the right frame of mind to be in a healthy relationship.  You are single because you need time to work through these false beliefs in order to attract the right partner.  After heartbreak, you must spend some time being self-reflective and truly honest with yourself. That is when your soul mate will show up. I had to admit to myself that I really wasn’t ready to be in a relationship prior to this moment in time.  I was finding every excuse in the book to push it away when in reality I was just scared…scared of having my heart broken again…scared of letting go of my independence and strength…scared of opening my heart and feeling vulnerable again. Honestly, that never goes away. Everyone has fear when it comes to loving someone and being loved. What finally helped me let go of all that fear is when I realized it is much scarier being alone.

With Faith, Hope and Love,

~Teresa

Current State of Affairs

I feel compelled to write about the results of the election even though it goes off topic from my usual message about healing after divorce.  I woke up on November 9th expecting to turn on the news to see that Hillary Clinton was our new president elect. I knew before I went to bed the night before that the race was unsettlingly close, but I thought there is no way Americans would allow a man like Donald Trump to lead our country.

My reaction to the reality that flashed upon the TV screen was one of shock, disbelief, disappointment, anger, despair, and fear.  I was so confused and disillusioned. How could this happen? Who could vote for a man like him? I got ready for work and called my sister to try to make sense of what had just happened to our country. She and I are very close and very like-minded on many things, but she is less interested in politics and consciously chooses to not watch or listen to the news media.  I totally respect that and I’m somewhere in the middle of a political junkie and a person that is slightly informed. She quickly wanted to accept the outcome and move past it, while I wanted to form a protest and possibly riot in the streets. (I’m kidding of course…maybe).  I knew she was right not to let it upset me to the point of rage and anger, but she understood my need and the countries need to feel what we are feeling.

As I was driving to work, I felt like the world had shifted somehow. I felt a weight, a feeling of loss.  Even though the trees that were there yesterday were as beautiful in their fall splendor as today, there was a dullness that covered my view.  I passed by the same “We support Trump” sign that I’ve been wanting to run over with my car for weeks and now it had American flags surrounding it and it felt as though our country had been taken over by a foreign leadership that we were powerless against. I walked into the school where I work and I thought about the children in this world and how this would impact them and their future. Our school is the most beautiful display of color and ethnicity and filled with love and respect. I have only been there two months but it feels like family the moment you walk in the door. What sets it apart from other schools that I have worked in is the diversity of the staff.  With the leadership of a kind, caring African-American woman, she has created an environment of love and acceptance.  It is my utopia. A place where people of all races, religions, and sexual orientation, teach children how to be kind citizens. I wish our entire country looked like this school.

I sat at my desk and had a strange lump in my throat. I just couldn’t concentrate and shake this awful feeling of dread.  I reached in to my lunch bag to grab my water and remembered I had never taken the eggs I was boiling for my salad off the stove. Shit! I left the stove on!  Oh my God, my poor dog could be in a burning house right now. I ran out of the building and cursed at everyone in my way on the road. Then it occurred to me…don’t be like them. Don’t be full of hate and anger, treating everyone with disrespect. I was referring to “they” as Trump supporters. I finally arrived home to find eggs that exploded all over my stove top, but the house and my handsome pup were fine. I couldn’t believe I was so careless, but I was so upset and in a fog that I wasn’t functioning, I was numb.

I spent the rest of the day trying to process my emotions and spoke to my staff and co-workers about how it felt as though we were morning a great loss…like someone had died.  For some, it was because they wanted to see the first woman president, for others it was that they were fearful about what kind of damage Trump may do in office.  For me, I was upset and disappointed in the number of people in our country that could elect a man to lead our country that has done nothing but demoralize and further marginalize women, African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, the LGBT community and anyone else that isn’t a white male. He went as far as to make fun of disabled person, insulted an honored veteran, and brag about sexually assaulting women and still got elected? How does this happen?  It happens because of the kind of people that are breading ignorance and hate. It happens because Trump supporters who claim not to be racist, passively accept and ignore it’s existence.  It happens because there are people in our country that aren’t taught compassion and acceptance of all people and believe they are somehow better than everyone else. This disgrace to our nation happened because the racism and bigotry that has been bubbling under the surface for generations intensified when a black man became president, now it has risen to the top and Trump has made it socially acceptable for them to spew their hate with visceral words and attacks on fellow citizens. This is racism and sexism… and all the other fucking” isms” rearing its ugly head.

It terrifies me. It makes me feel frustrated and powerless to change people’s views.  I feel a personal responsibility to make change, not just for the sake of my own bi-racial children, but for all children. I want the fear and ignorance to end. If you call yourself a Christian or a person of God and you hold fear, anger or hate towards any group of people, then you are not a Christian…you are not a person of God. God loves all of his people and you are no better than anyone just because you were born with the privilege of being white. Last time I checked white people sin just as much as the rest of them.

Later that evening, I ended up meeting some friends out that night after work and everyone was sitting around the bar watching CNN report the news on the protesting in the streets of seven major cities throughout the country. This made some of my frustration and sadness dissipate. I felt relieved that others in America felt as strongly as I do.  I felt hope that young educated people where moved to action and exercise their right to protest under our constitution. They did what was right and good. They care about their fellow citizens and will raise their children to respect all people.” There is hope,” I thought.

Until I starting noticing that people in the bar weren’t happy about the protests and definitely looked like they voted for the orange baboon. I happened to be sitting next to an older gentleman that we have seen there before and he asked if we were surprised about the results this morning.  I answered that I was devastated.  I could quickly see that he was not upset about the outcome, so I asked him if he voted for Trump.  He said, “Yes, I did but I didn’t think he would win”.  I turned to him and respectfully asked him why he wanted to vote for Trump.  He said the main reason was because of the gun laws that Hillary proposed. He explained that he was a proud NRA supporter and gun carrier and that he’s been shooting since he was 8 years old.  I just nodded and let him continue. He said the gun laws are so strict now that it’s ridiculous.  I said, “Shouldn’t it be difficult for people to buy a gun given what has happened with gun violence in our country?”  He replied that the bad guys already have guns illegally and the laws just make it harder for good guys like me to buy guns. I understand that the illegal market to buy guns is a bigger problem, but I stated that having mental health screening for gun buyers should be important to all of us given what happened in Sandy Hook, CT  just 45 minutes away. He came up with a stupid excuse for that, so I asked a few more questions just out of curiosity knowing this guy was not the most open-minded individual. Then my friend asked what about all the sexist, racist things Trump has said?  He just shook his head and said, “Oh, I don’t care about those things.”  So my friend and I got up and walked away saying, “And that’s the problem.”  Sometimes you just can’t argue with stupid.

Listen, I don’t want to be like them and clump all Trump supports together. I won’t generalize and say that most of them are red-neck, under-educated, bigots who hold on to archaic beliefs and hatred. That would make me just as bad as them.  I will say that it tells me a great deal about your character as a human being if you could support a man who continually insults and violates women, incites violence, openly expresses racist, homophobic rhetoric  and lies about just about everything.  I don’t care if you agree with his policies. He is a horrible man and doesn’t deserve to lead our beautiful country. If you support him then I already know all I need to know about you and you will never earn my respect, but I will always listen to your point of view and respect that.

Our country must come together and have thoughtful conversations about the problems we face. This has divided us as a people and we must heal what has been an opened wound since the first visitors step foot on this land. We can come together if we are willing to listen and understand. We have to stop believing the lies that the media portrays and come together face to face to see that we aren’t as different as we think we are…we just have to see past the skin color, the gender, the religious beliefs and all the things that we use as labels to divide us.  We are ONE. United by love. That is my American dream.

With Faith, Hope and Love,

~Teresa