Tag Archives: struggle

Why you should never ‘white flag’ the ‘red flags’ in dating

If you are constantly having to explain yourself- your whereabouts, who you’re texting, who you’re talking to, looking at, eating with, meeting with, talking about, and who may or may not have your attention at the moment – you need to leave.

If you feel yourself tense up at the thought of having to tell your significant other that you will be late, need to work longer than expected, or had a crisis come up with family that needs your attention – you need to leave. You are not free.

If you find yourself constantly defending his actions with friends or loved ones, because he has more stories than life – you need to leave. He only deceives.

If you have a nagging voice inside your head that constantly tells you this is ‘not the one’ no matter how much he tells you he ‘is the one’. Listen to it. The voice is smarter than you because it has no emotion. You need to leave. Let him be. He will be just fine without you. After all, he was fine before you, and no matter how much you’ve opened his eyes and heart, they will likely close back up for a while after you go. But now that he can remember how it feels to be in love, he will likely find it again with someone better fitted for him. You will both be better off, for the lessons learned in heartbreak.

Love does not have to be difficult. If it feels more like war, it’s not love. What you actually have is the battle of the egos between two people that are highly attracted to one another, but have no tenderness because there is no room for spirit when so much ego is involved. Sure, couples can work through this, but in truth, they shouldn’t have to – especially during the ‘dating’ phase. My mom always said that if you need a counselor when you’re just dating, you should just – leave. Life is much too short to spend it fighting, defending yourself, defending him, picking up his broken pieces, rationalizing his actions, or constantly trying to make him happy by making yourself more miserable.

We all deserve more.

It’s easy enough to believe otherwise. I know this from experience. After two failed marriages, my thoughts were that it must be my fault. It didn’t matter that both of them had addictions that interfered and broke down the infrastructure of us. I felt like the only common factor was me.

It wasn’t until I embraced the idea that I really do have so much love to give, and that someone out there will receive it without repercussions, that I discovered the him that gives me no reason to leave. I had to love myself and feel that I deserve more than pain and doubt, that in fact what I deserve is to receive what I offer – trust, honesty, belief, support, and unquestioning, unending love.

If your relationship does not lift you up, it’s dragging you down. Raise your flag and surrender to yourself, not because you’re ‘too weak’ to withstand the turmoil, but because you’re too smart to believe it’s your destiny.Image

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Anticipation Proclamation

It’s been 26 years since the passing of my dad from his terrible suffering here on Earth, to the warm comforting arms of Heaven. It’s been 25 dreaded Father’s Days for me, his only child. Yet, for the first time since his passing, I am actually looking forward to this Father’s Day, and I had forgotten what it was like to anticipate, even become giddy at the thought of celebrating the life of a father. I am meeting the parents of my boyfriend for the first time this Sunday, and I could not be more honored. As an only himself, Doug’s relationship with his parents is incredibly strong. How could I not love these parents that created and raised such an amazing son?

As my mind has played around with this notion for the past week, I’ve experienced everything from shyness and hesitation to excitement and anticipation. Meanwhile, Doug has assured me that they will absolutely ‘love me’ every step of the way. That’s how he rolls, after all. As I step back, four days out, I’ve come to realize some things. Fatherhood is every bit as important as motherhood. Being raised (after the age of 11) by a single mom, and being one myself, I tend to take for granted the roles that fathers play in the lives of their children. Whereas moms are typically the ‘easy’, father’s take on the more difficult role as the ‘heavy’. I’ve seen this with my own 13 year old’s father, but it’s only now that I’m truly understanding the difficulty in assuming that role.

No matter how much you love your child, as a father, you are expected to always be the parent, the disciplinarian, the ruler. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen fathers that would sooner shoot themselves in the foot than take on that role. But in the case of Doug, that simply was not the case. When it was time for the business of parenting, the tough-love to come into play, Jim was the man for the job just as my dad had been. That sort of ‘no-nonsense’ parenting has fallen off the wayside with many in my generation. Yet I know, for a fact, that it’s effective. Tough love can mean the difference between raising a self-sustaining adult and an adult who still possesses entitlement issues, expecting everyone and anyone to come to their rescue. I’m not saying that mother’s cannot also demonstrate this style of parenting, of course. My mom, due to circumstances, had no choice but to parent this way. But by and large, for most two-parent families, this is the norm, and fathers tend to get sadly overlooked.

So this Father’s Day, if you have a dad, give him a big hug and say ‘thank you’. I’ve had a stepfather for the past 16 years, and he took that role on in the most loving and selfless way, even though I was already an adult when he officially stepped in. Even after my mom’s passing, he continues to succeed in his role, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Dads are strong, protective, and wise. Let’s give them their due. Without them, we would be in a much darker place.

Lucky Charms

Anyone who has ever experienced the joy of being in a new relationship with an old friend can attest to the butterflies that take up residency in the pit of the stomach; the nerves and anticipation at joining two worlds together; and the crazy infatuation that, if given the right nourishment, can blossom into the deepest and most transcendent of loves. Yet there are so many logistics that play into this major shift in lifestyle that the sheer ‘getting together’ can seem more like a chess game than the organic progression of spirit that falling in love should be. Somehow, if it’s right, the headaches that should logically play into planning seem to dissipate, and the whole world opens itself up to possibility where there once were only tightly locked chamber doors.

This is my life right now, and I simply could not feel more blessed. The only problem lies in the cluttered messes that have resurrected in the lives of people around me. When you’re in the state of unending bliss, it isn’t always easy to come up with solutions for people that aren’t in the same neighborhood. I find myself wanting to wave the magic wand my hand seems to have latched onto, and POOF there lives right into the same worry-free lightness in which I now live. My heart is exploding with a love that is both unconquerable impenetrable. I want to bless everyone and everything around me. While I’ve been in love before, it’s never felt like this. And I know that no two loves feel the same, but I’ve never been in love without worry, without doubt, and without some ominous gut-feeling that something unknown is lurking in the shadows threatening its very existence. Yet now, without that worry, I find myself strong enough to try and save the world from drama, natural disasters, scary scorpions hiding in the dark shadows of my best friend’s bathroom…whatever! But I am helpless.

I absolutely know that I would not be where I am without Faith, but I want that same Faith to quickly rush in and save everyone around me before they give up on God. It’s frustrating to look around and wonder (very quietly) what more can go wrong in peoples’ lives. Can’t I just swoop in with a bowl of lucky charms, four leaf clovers, and rainbows, and promise them that every obstacle is just a stepping stone toward the direction they are meant to travel? Sometimes I do participate in talks with God and actually say, ‘Can’t you just give her an inch? You gave me a mile!’. What I’ve learned is exactly that. I asked for an inch and have been given a mile, or a thousand miles really. My only prayer at this point is gratitude for what I’ve been given, and a large pleading cry for help for those around me that are facing some of their darkest hours.

All I know for sure is that those darkest hours turn into the brightest sunrises. They always do in time. It’s just the waiting that makes us edgy, cranky, hopeless, and (let’s face it) human! God’s time is always right on time, sometimes we just have to wait for it.

For What I’m Worth

We’ve all had those relationships. The ones that begin with fireworks, passion, crazy butterflies and the warmest of explosions. We think that because of those goosebumps, because of those daydreams, and because of those kisses, this one is ‘special’. Maybe the relationship grows, becomes exclusive. Maybe we relate ourselves to that other person and give him the title. He’s ‘mine’. She’s ‘it’. Hopefully, it works out. Oftentimes though, it doesn’t. Where is the line between ‘it’ and ‘isn’t’?

For one of my really good, long term friends, this has been a years-long struggle. She became involved with a man in California, and he had two boys from a previous marriage. He pursued her at a time in her life when she seemed quite capable of standing on her own two feet. He convinced her that he was worth her time, until she believed him. They ended up dating, living together, and eventually she became a mother to his sons, though they never married. 

Three years ago, she made the choice to move back home because of her mother’s illness. At that point, she probably should’ve severed ties with this man. As it were, she had fallen in love with his children, and had accepted them as her own. She could not break free from the three of them, even though she now lived 3,000 miles away. She has had many relationships since, but has kept the ‘dad’ on the back burner all along. A part of me has always encouraged her in this, as I believed if their love was strong enough to survive the distance, maybe it was truly ‘meant to be’. In reality though, the only reason this relationship has endured the distance, the arguments, and the hurts is because of one lone factor. My friend does not feel ‘worthy’ of anything more than this man has to offer.

When she lived with him, she was injured on the job, which led to physical inactivity, which led to weight gain. My friend’s boyfriend ridiculed her, calling her fat and lazy, even though she had become the sole caretaker, maid, cook, and financial planner for their household during her recovery. He became psychologically, emotionally, and even physically abusive. She put up with it because she believed herself unworthy of anything more. She had been raised in a similar environment, and like many people in her position, was doomed to keep repeating the cycle…all because she didn’t know any better. She’s worthy, she just needs to believe that about herself.

Until she does, her path will remain unchanged.

I was just like her. I also believed myself unworthy of full acceptance and support. I wasn’t raised in that environment, though. I was loved and accepted by my parents. There was no abuse or neglect. But I had pretty severe self-esteem issues from an early age, resulting from being a ‘chubby’ child, and getting bullied by neighbor boys & stuck-up classmates. I didn’t get asked to prom, barely dated, and never saw myself as anything beyond a reclusive ’emo-before-it-was-a-thing’ nerd. Even though I was intelligent, well-educated, and somewhat attractive. I had a mother, best friends, and lots of family who constantly told me what I ‘deserved’. It didn’t matter. Until I saw it, believed it, and asked for it, I would never get what I ‘deserved’. And while I always say, ‘deserve has nothing to do with it’ – deeming yourself ‘worthy’ has everything to do with what you actually receive.

My point is this; you will get out of life and out of relationships exactly what you look to find. If you do not see yourself as ‘worthy’, you will receive far less than yourself. If that’s what you want – fine. That’s probably not going to make you happy for very long. All you need is a little bit of vision, a great bit of confidence, and a whole lot of ‘worthy’. Only then will you get your heart’s worth.Image 

 

 

Life Blossoms

Life Blossoms

The sun is popping out of its long and frozen hibernation like a kernel of corn, transforming into yummy popcorn goodness. It’s not stretching. It’s a freebird. It’s sprinting from those guarded gates of winter, like it’s spent the last decade in dark captivity. The sun is inspiring, as are the daffodil blossoms, the small buds of baby growth on branches, and the faces of everyone out enjoying this circus we call life. You find them in parks, stores, coffee shops, hiking trails, restaurants, bars, book stores, and right outside your front door. They are life blossoms.

We are life blossoms. We have hope because of the holy spirit, and we have life because of God – just like the sun, flowers, buds, and even (yes) the popcorn! The miracle of spring is simply this; we know that every year the cold will sneak in, take-over, and eventually begin to smother us in its hopelessness. For a while, we hold onto it like a blanket, until we realize that its more of a grudge than a blanket. Enter our yearning for spring. We remember its splendor, if only vaguely. We reminisce. We dream. We long for the kind of hope that only happens when the Earth starts rousing in her sunrise.

Eventually, the universe grants us our wish through it’s masterful Creator, and we transcend from sorrowful and hopeless has-beens to elated and enthusiastic can-bes. And life is worth it again. It’s a cycle. We can’t appreciate Spring without first experiencing Winter. Not entirely anyway.

This picture was taken almost a year ago. I’ve lost my mom since then, and my boys have grown a combined 7 inches, and 15 shoe sizes. I’ve been through more heartbreak in one year than some go through in a decade. But I’m not complaining. I’m savoring.

Those sorrows have led to a deeper appreciation for life, so much so that Spring lives in my heart now. I don’t need to wait for it. It was in there all along, beneath the cold snow-frozen ground that encapsulated it. I don’t resent the Winter, the coldness, nor the sadness. Underneath it all lies me and the hope that lives in the knowing that life goes on, Love lives within, and Spring has sprung brighter because of the darkness.

Good Genesis

gen·e·sis  (jn-ss)

n. pl. gen·e·ses (-sz)

1. The coming into being of something; the origin. See Synonyms at beginning.
2. Genesis Abbr. Gen. or Gn See Table at Bible.
The coming into being of something; the beginning. What thoughts come to mind when you hear that? What emotions ensue?
There are so many for me, none of which includes boredom or complacency. It’s fresh and exciting; new and invigorating. That’s the beginning of anything, because the beginning of anything is the first step into the unknown. When you begin a trip, you may know where you want to end up, but you have no idea what adventures you’ll encounter along the way. When life begins, a baby is born, you have an idea that there will be many sleepless nights. You can assume the baby will grow, need baths, drink milk, learn to smile & giggle, but it’s all so exciting to see this little being that is just a seed of what it will sprout into and become.
Mondays, the most dreaded day of the week for most, are even exciting. A new week is a new possibility for growth and beginnings. Even January, which is the coldest month of the year for many, is riddled with possibility at the start of a new year. Everyone makes resolutions, commits to change and improvement, and hopes for the best year ever.
This year is particularly exciting for me, probably because last year was so bad that this year almost has to be better. I truly have no doubt that it will be the best year I’ve had in a very long time. While I’m starting the year without my mom, I’m also starting without the dread of her becoming more sick or worrying that the Cancer will finally win its battle. It already did. But I have every reason to believe that my mom was the true victor, as she is now pain-free and blissfully happy.
Which brings me to the ever-so-anticipated, post-grieving epiphany.
I am happy. Almost exactly 6 months after my mom’s death, my mind has returned to its full splendor. She told me not to make any big decisions before 6 months was up. And while I heard her, and even quoted her ad nauseam, i did not listen. I made tons of mistakes, lots of bad choices, had some glitches and even some explosions as I acted and reacted to every challenge out of impulse and emotional erraticism. But…and here’s the moral….I survived it, and so did everyone around me that had to put up with my insanity.
When it comes down to it, beginnings are chances. And chances are good. In a sense, they put you back in the driver’s seat, where you’re in control, at least for a little while. If you’re lucky, you may even stay there. There will be bumps & mountains along the way, sure, but if you stay focused on the hopes that drove you in the first place – in the beginning, it’s easier to stay the course, and remain on that journey to fulfillment.
My resolution for this year is to do just that – fulfill without distraction. It’s ‘easy’ to give up hope, and cling to complacency. It’s more difficult to focus your sights on fulfillment and tread through the struggles to reach that goal. But, in the end, fulfillment brings happiness where complacency gives life to apathy and ultimately…emptiness.  So in this new year, I challenge you to ‘fill’r’up’ with consistent and persistent hope. Don’t settle. Live to dream. If you want something out of life, you first have to see it. Find the means. To every means, there is an end, and to every end, there is a beginning.

Finding Bottom

“I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner that keeps on trying.”  Nelson Mandela

What makes you try? What is it in you that lights your soul on fire and sparks your motivation when you’ve been knocked down time after time?

We’ve all known people who seem to take all of life’s punches with dignity, and keep getting back on their feet. Nothing stands in their way. Period. And just when you think they can take no more, they do.

There are two sides to this phenomenon, at least from my perspective. The first side is that you have to wonder, why must they have to keep overcoming obstacles? Why must some people face so much adversity, when others of us face so little? Where is the justice? Of course, that question comes from a very concrete and human place. When things aren’t neatly tied up with a pretty silver bow like Hollywood would have us believe, we become disgruntled. Things should make sense. Everyone, at some point, asks ‘why do bad things happen to good people?’. But good things also happen to bad people. So, while there is balance, it isn’t the kind of balance that makes logical and judicial sense. Quite simply, we believe that ‘good’ people shouldn’t be punished and ‘bad’ people shouldn’t be rewarded.

The key to understanding this is to not understand it at all, but to (in a sense) give it to God. There is a reason for everything. There is always a reason. If we’re drowning in the details of our mess, we never seem to notice that we can actually touch the bottom and stand if only we stop flailing around, out of control. It isn’t until long after we’ve recovered sometimes that we notice the bottom was there all along, and so was the security. Sometimes we need to get shaken up just to balance out. Yes. We’re like juice…shake before opening!

The other side to this is the resiliency of some people. This has everything to do with that first side, because it has to do with Faith. Have you ever been enraged by something that’s been ‘done to you’ only to realize minutes later that if you had been in their shoes, you may have reacted the same way? Self-awareness makes Faith an easier thing to grasp. But Faith also means understanding that, though you may not feel you deserve what you’re going through, there is a reason. Just like there’s a reason that you’ve been through everything you have before, and survived it.

When I was a Senior in high school, my least favorite english teacher gave us one of the most interesting assignments. She said for each of us to prepare a Valedictorian speech. I would’ve been the Valedictorian too, if it weren’t for the good grades part. But I remember it clearly. My theme was that ‘hope is survival, and survival is hope’. Even as a 17 year-old girl with terrible grades, no motivation, and no prom date, I grasped a bit of this Faith thing. I had survived the death of my father, countless broken hearts, a heaping helping of disappointments, and constellations of pimples, but I still managed to cry myself to sleep only to awaken the next day with hope and a smile.

While that was (sadly) 20 years ago, I’ve learned that my resilience pales in comparison to so many people I’ve had the pleasure of encountering. Yet, in each and every case, the one constant has been Faith. None of these people have been perfect, all have been sinners, but not one of them surrenders to adversity. Faith is contagious. Resiliency is the badge of Faith, but when it’s all said and done it’s the waking up that matters and builds strength. And realizing that you don’t have to hit bottom to know there is one, is reason enough to keep on trying.