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

Once a Cheater Always a Cheater?

We’ve all heard this phrase before and I wonder if it’s entirely true.  This is one of those gray areas that always has an exception to the rule and isn’t so black and white.  I think if a man or woman has the propensity to cheat, then it is a pattern of behavior and self-sabotage that will continue throughout their life no matter who they are with.  Why men cheat is very different than why women cheat, yet both share similarities.

Both men and women that have a propensity to cheat, have a deep seeded need to feel desired by other people, due to some form of insecurity deeply rooted in their psyche. For men, sometimes it is an insatiable compulsion to feel as though they’ve conquered the forbidden.  Men that tend to go outside of their marriage to seek attention from multiple women, have a selfish need to be in a committed relationship, but have a compulsion to be secretive and seek out flirtatious relationships with other women to feed their ego. This appetite can never be filled and the compulsion will always need to be fed. Then there are the men that cheat because their needs aren’t being met or the relationship with their wife is on shaky ground.  Up until this point, they were faithful, loyal men who never thought they would be tempted to cheat on their wife, but they turn to someone at the office for attention and friendship…and the next thing they know, they’re in a full-blown affair.

This is typically why women cheat. I don’t want to sound bias or sexist, but women usually cheat because the marriage has been in trouble for some time and they feel like their husband doesn’t desire them or appreciate them anymore. All it takes is for one decent looking guy to show them the attention they’ve been craving and she finds herself intoxicated by desire. I suppose there are women who may be habitual cheaters that also have an insatiable appetite for sex, but you must admit– it’s very rare.  Biologically, women are not as driven by sexual desire for other partners when they are in a committed relationship.

Women are conditioned to desire stability, protection and the need to be with one partner. The end goal for most women is to settle down and raise a family.  For most men, settling down with one woman for the rest of their lives is either extremely scary or a death sentence. The phrase, “the old ball and chain” never applies to husbands and you damn well know it.  Women don’t stand around at a bachelorette party lamenting about how this is it for the rest of your life and getting one more cheap thrill in with a stripper before the nuptials, but men tend to treat marriage as the end of their life as they know it.  No more fun, no more women, just boring sex with the same woman every two weeks if you’re lucky.

Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule. Women can be just as damaged as the men who feel the need to cheat. Which brings me to a level of compassion for both genders who never fully love or trust in anyone. They will never be content with the one they are with and will spend their entire lives lost in the lie of adultery.  I use to demonize people who are perpetual cheaters, but now I just pity them.  What kind of life will they lead if they are always searching for something more, someone different?  How sad it must be to spend your entire life not realizing that the person who loves you is enough.  Love is so precious and at times, hard to find.  To value sex more than love and being loved by your family is a lonely shallow place to be. You will never know true love. You will never feel good about yourself because you are constantly chasing a fantasy that isn’t real.

There are always situations when you just married the wrong person. I can understand how someone who is deeply unhappy in their marriage can fall into the arms of another person, wanting to escape and end up forming very real feelings for that person. Unfortunately, the fairy tale happy ending rarely applies in these situations.  On the flip side, I have seen cases where someone has met a person that makes them truly happy and they risk everything to be close to that person.  Love is a powerful force that can make good people do things they never thought they were capable of doing. The trick is not to confuse lust for love.  Lust is just as powerful and even more deceiving than what you thought was love. It’s hard to decipher when you’re caught up in the passion and irresistible attraction to someone new.  This is how families get destroyed and hearts get broken.  I suppose if couples were more honest and communicative about what they need and want, these affairs may not happen, but once the damage is done, there’s no going back.

This brings us to the question of “what is considered cheating?” Now, this is a tough one and the lines are blurry for some. My personal definition is that if you do something your spouse would feel hurt or betrayed by…. it’s cheating.  In this age of “virtual sex” or “cybersex” people try to justify that if they haven’t “actually” touched the person, then it isn’t considered cheating.  Really? Would your spouse be happy with the fact that your talking dirty to another person online and masturbating in front of a web cam? Would your spouse be okay with you sending dick pics or nudes to someone they know nothing about? I think not. So, don’t tell me that isn’t cheating. What about emotional affairs that never get physical? Still cheating? Would you tell your spouse about it? Then yes, I hate to tell you… it’s cheating.

I’m not sure which is worse. A one night fling or an ongoing emotional affair? I always thought it would be easier to get over a fling that doesn’t mean anything, but honestly it isn’t. I’ve experience both in my sorry excuse of a marriage and I couldn’t get over either one.  The trust was broken. Once the trust is broken…it’s over.  Plain and simple. I know of people that try and work through it. Believe me, I spent 3 years trying to forgive my ex for cheating when he was overseas serving in the military. I told myself that being deployed for a year and a half was a long time to go without having sex for a man.  I tried to forgive him. I really tried.  I just kept coming back to the fact that it wasn’t hard for me to stay faithful…cheating never even crossed my mind. I was too busy raising our three children and managing the house while he was overseas “serving our country”…turns out he was serving a lot of other things too. He was always a habitual liar and was extremely secretive. I never had proof, but there was always suspicion that he was up to no good.  Even when things between us were great.  He is the kind of man that has deep seeded insecurities and lacks the ability to share true intimacy with anyone. In this case “once a cheater always a cheater” may apply.  I feel bad for anyone who gives their heart to someone who doesn’t have the capacity to be loyal and honest.

Listen, temptation is real for everyone. What you chose to do with it defines your integrity as a human being. Don’t let the illusion and seduction of someone new, cloud your ability to see through the facade. It won’t fill the void; it will only make you feel less of yourself if you give in to it. The stupid saying “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side” are simple words to live by. The next relationship won’t be any better than the last if you don’t take a good long look in the mirror and recognize what you need to do to be a better partner and an honest person. If they’ve done that, then yes, maybe a cheater isn’t always going to be a cheater. There is always hope for someone to transform their life, but just be leery of entering a relationship with someone that has been a cheater in their past, because sometimes a leopard doesn’t change its spots.

With Faith, Hope and Love,

~Teresa

R.E.S.P.E.C.T

R.E.S.P.E.C.T

Find out what it means to me…just a little respect is all Aretha and women really want. Is that too much to ask? Seriously fellas, I feel bad for the guys who get a bad rap because of all the disgusting men like Donald Trump out there.  I don’t want to get all political or come across as an angry feminist, but the latest incident with another pig of a man has me all fired up.

Last weekend, I was at a Halloween party with some old colleagues that I used to work with and we’re all having a great time guessing who’s who and picking out our favorite costumes, when this guy tries on a creepy scarecrow mask and proceeds to walk towards me and grabs my chest and then reaches around and grabs my ass! I removed his slimy paws immediately and yelled, “what the hell!?” and walked away wanting to kick this guy in the balls. Luckily I didn’t because this guy was a cop and I might have been thrown in jail for assaulting an officer. (I’m sorry, but I would never date a cop and this is one of the reasons why…most of them think their above the law). Last time I checked, that was considered sexual assault and yet he seems to think it was okay.

respect

I went over to a group of my friends and they could see that I was pissed, so they asked me what happened.  Now, two of them were guys and they just stood there with their mouths wide open in shock.  One of them said, “I can’t believe anyone would do that” and the other said, “I don’t care how drunk he is, a man should never put his hands on any woman like that.”  This made me feel a little calmer and validated my reaction to this unwanted advance.  Hell, I don’t care if the guy looked like Brad Pitt; no woman wants to be groped like that!  Hold that thought…yes….sadly, there are woman who allow men to act like that and that’s the damn problem!

We live in a world of contradiction. On one side we have self-respecting women who are completely turned off by misogynist creeps like Trump (and many others like him) and then on the other side you have women who are so desperate for attention from men that they welcome these sleazy advances or do nothing to stop them.  Are men the problem or the women who allow it? If women were clear and consistent about being treated with respect and not like sexual objects for men to fondle whenever they feel like it, then perhaps we would have a lot less douche bags in the world grabbing a woman’s body without permission!

The guy ended up coming up to me again and I just put up my hand to him and said, “You can stay right there.”  He had the nerve to put his hand on my knee and say, “Aw, I was just joking around.”  I just gave him a look and said, “NOT funny!”  His face turned serious when he realized I was upset and he quickly apologized.  He proceeded to apologize several more times throughout the evening and I could tell he was sincere. I don’t know this guy well, but I always thought he was a nice enough guy.  Guess not.  This led to further discussion of another incident that happened with another cop with someone else and we wondered if the environment they work in breads this kind of behavior? Are certain vocations that are dominated by men a breeding ground for knuckle dragging Neanderthals? I’m not just picking on cops, by the way, there are plenty of other industries where this happens as well. For example, my daughter is an engineer for a manufacturing company and she gets hit on all the time. Not only hit on, but has had men, suggest that if a woman can run one of the machines she is training them on then anyone can do it. That is the kind of bullshit that women put up with every day. That misogynistic sexism that makes women like me wonder if there are more of “them” and less of the “good guys”.

I have to say that most of the men I know are not like that…at least in front of me anyway. I don’t want to chastise all men. What I really want is for women to have more R.E.S.P.E.C.T for themselves.  Men are constantly getting mixed signals from society and I think they have forgotten that women should always be treated like ladies, even though some industries perpetuate the objectification and sexual exploitation of women.  You know I love me some Beyoncé, but she shakes her ass and humps the floor just like a stripper on a pole and makes millions doing it. I’d rather my daughter and all the young women out there emulate Alicia Keys who never sells her body on stage because she has too much self-worth than that.  She is a true artist that is sending a message to all young girls to love themselves for who they are as strong intelligent women and not cheap imitations.

Okay, I’ll get off my soap box now. I know some of you might be rolling their eyes thinking I need to chill out with all that feminist shit, but some of you are yelling “HELL YEA!”  Those are the kind of ladies I respect and so do men…good men.  Just think about it.

With Faith, Hope and Love,

~Teresa

Joy and Pain

It’s been two weeks since I’ve written my last post and it’s been an eventful two weeks to say the least. I’m finally back to work doing what I love to do, which is running enrichment programs for kids at a local school. I’m very grateful to be back to work and the people I work with are so great, but unfortunately the salary is not enough for me to live on and it certainly doesn’t reflect my skills and experience. I guess there is always joy and pain in every transition in life. Especially when it comes to divorce.

I find myself in a constant state of limbo over the last several years. Like that reoccurring dream when you’re stuck in quicksand and you think you’re almost out, but something happens to suck you back in. That has been my experience up until now at least. I try and stay in a place of gratitude and joy, but then my car breaks down for the second time in two months and I come up short with the mortgage payment (yet again), I find myself sinking and powerless. I feel like I just can’t catch a break and I’m stuck between the joy of being free from a miserable marriage and the pain of having to make impossible decisions that will affect my future and my kids.

A perfect example of this is that I recently interviewed for a big job that would pay me a six-figure salary and would allow me to be financially free for the first time in my life. If I get the position, I give up doing what I love and would have to take on a potentially high stress job. The other factor is that if I accept the position, I will have to move to the city within 6 months. It would be a big change and a stressful one, but I’m open to what a new life has to offer.  This could be the opportunity of a lifetime or the biggest mistake I’ve ever made, but I just have to trust my gut and listen to that little voice that always guides me in the right direction. I can feel that I am on the precipice of having a real breakthrough and having a positive change in my life. It’s right there in front of me and I can almost reach it.

The biggest thing that is keeping me stuck in the quicksand is my damn house.  If I sell it, I will lose quite a bit of money on it and I will be in even more debt. If I don’t sell, I’ll probably end up in foreclosure.  Just the thought of that gives me major anxiety. I constantly ask myself, how the hell I got into this mess and the answer always points back to one person….my fucking ex-husband.  Now, I know I have written a lot about finding forgiveness and letting go of anger and bitterness, but let’s just be real for a second; you tell me if it’s at all fair that for the sake of having an amicable divorce, I took on half the debt that he accrued (without my knowledge) and a house that’s under water to keep my children in their home?

Meanwhile, he gets to walk away– making double what he was making at the time of the divorce and pays nothing more in child support. I’m stuck with managing the house and taking care of the kids, while he goes on expensive European vacations with his new wife. That son of a bitch had the nerve to bark orders at me telling me to sell the house so it doesn’t affect his credit and suggested that I’m not taking this seriously.  Really dude???!!! I’m the one taking care of EVERYTHING and he has the fucking nerve to tell me I’m not taking this seriously??  I’m the one lying awake at night worrying. I’m the one taking care of the kids and the house all on my own. I’m the one fighting back the tears everyday trying to stay strong…and you have the fucking nerve to tell me what I should be doing while all your worried about is your next vacation to Mexico?!  Boy BYE!

When I saw this condescending text, my blood started to boil and I hit my breaking point. I decided I was not going to allow this man to place all the burden on me and get away with this shit anymore. I picked up my phone and as I’m finally giving him a piece of my mind and telling him he’s a selfish bastard, my heart is racing and I can feel the heat rise in my cheeks. My hands are shaking as I hesitantly press….send. This was the first time since we went through the divorced that I cussed him out and told him how I really feel and it felt AMAZING! I sat there after sending it and cried. Not out of sadness or fear, but out of relief.  I felt like all that pent-up anger and resentment had been released and I could feel my body relax for the first time in a long time. All those years of swallowing my true feelings for the sake of “getting along” with my ex—all those years of letting him off the hook because I didn’t want to rock the boat were finally over. I felt free. I felt powerful. I felt like I found my voice again.

For all those years, I was so concerned with keeping things cordial between us that I didn’t realize I was suppressing my real feelings and allowing him to get off the hook.  Sure, he was willing to help me here and there, but it was always on his terms. I was sinking in quicksand and he was flying above me feeding me scraps.  Well, I’m done! The gloves are off and I’m not going to carry this burden alone. If I have to, I will take him back to court for the back child support he owes me and ask that he pay for what we may lose on the house. My mama didn’t raise a push over, that’s for damn sure.

I ask myself, what kind of man buys himself a new Jaguar, a motorcycle, expensive watches and travels all over the world on fancy vacations while the mother of his children struggles to pay the mortgage on the home where his children live? What kind of man abandons his children and doesn’t care to spend time with them or barely calls them? Not a man that deserves my respect or my kindness.

What I thought was finding peace and harmony having a “conscious uncoupling” approach to divorce was just me taking all the shit he left behind and letting him get off scot-free. Well, screw that …the bitch is back and I’m not taking sole responsibility of our children anymore. Time to ante up and take some responsibility!

If you’re in a similar situation, please find your voice. Don’t allow your ex to continue to walk all over you. If you swallow your feelings because you don’t want to make waves, you’re only allowing them to manipulate and control you. Suppressing your truth only makes you internalize thoughts of helplessness and pain which will eventually cause you to suffer emotionally and even physically with illness or fatigue.

All these writers or “divorce coaches” that tell you to approach everything with joy and love are full of shit. Not everything can be brushed off. Divorce can’t always be loving and accepting like many people would have you believe. Sometimes it’s ugly. Sometimes things will need to be said that are uncomfortable, but as long as it’s coming from a place of truth and fairness and not bitterness and anger, it will always bring you that much closer to healing.

Never swallow your truth to avoid releasing your pain. Hopefully you can work it out like mature adults, but if you’re the one in the divorce that is always getting the short end of the stick, you have to stop allowing it.  That is the lesson in all of this. Finding the balance between feeling your pain and finding your joy is absolutely necessary to get through divorce. There’s no easy button. There’s no way around it. You have to face it head on and find the blessing in every lesson that you learn along the way.

With Faith, Hope and Love,

~Teresa