Happiness on the Rise

Wow.

It’s incredible to me that as the days and weeks roll by, I continue to feel an increase in happiness. Like, it’s been nine-ish months already, and still, I feel happier with each passing day!

I feel at peace.

I feel content.

I feel excited about the future. And then more excited!

I have stress in my life, and work has it stresses, and living with teenagers obviously has unpleasant moments… but none of that seems to be able to drag down my upward trajectory of increasing happiness, increasing joy.

It’s amazing.

I spoke with another abuse survivor the other day. She’s been out for over 12 years, maybe longer. And she said that she STILL wakes up thinking, “Wow, so THIS is how life is supposed to feel?” And it just keeps getting better.

This blows my mind, even though I’m feeling it myself.

How bad must the abuse have been that literally just living life has me feeling better than a trip to Disney ever could? How bad…

So I am enjoying the days, the weeks, the months.

I am happy.

I am free.

I am content and at peace and relaxed.

I am… me!

Love Languages

At my work, in an effort to appreciate each other more and bond and be family… which are all wonderful goals… our leader asked us to take a love languages test. I guess there’s a new one out, more scientifically based, that shows there are seven instead of the five that Chapman identifies. We then shared out results with each other. You can see it here if you’re curious about taking it yourself: https://www.truity.com/test/love-styles-test

So I took it. Honestly, it was triggering. Not really majorly for me, I made it through without any kind of melt-down or tears, at least on the outside. I definitely felt emotional though. I answered the questions as asked – assuming an intimate/romantic partner. I came out equal parts intellectual (no surprise there, and this is the one I shared with my teammates) and physical. The physical is no surprise to me either in a romantic relationship. I like to be very physical, all the time. Hugs, hand holding, touching, just being together all. the. time. made me very happy. And my marriage consisted of that the first 10 years. The next five it lessened… and the last five were pure torture for me on this level.

Funny thing is, outside of a romantic relationship, I’m not really that physical at all. I’m not a hugger. I definitely don’t find it natural to reach out and touch someone, put my hand on their arm/shoulder, etc. I have to think about doing these things. Even with my own children, I have to be conscious about doing it or it may not happen.

Which is why, I suppose, when I answered questions about physical touch, it made me so sad. I don’t have that any more. And I don’t really have a place to get it. I don’t want just hugs from anyone, it doesn’t really feel amazing to me. But I do miss those hugs from him. From the one who was my everything for so many years. The one I felt safe with… or convinced myself I felt safe. I mean, I did on most levels. Basically, as long as I made him happy I felt safe, and being the giving person that I am, that was easy…for the first 10. I miss that carefree bliss. I miss the being held. I miss the arm around the shoulder, holding hands on walks, kisses on the cheek.

Ugh. I really liked being married.

But even including these things that I now grieve, I’m still happier now than I’ve ever been. I’ll take this touch-less life over the last few years a million times over. Physical touch can only go so far in any relationship. It can only provide a certain level of safety. At some point, true safety must shine through and be present in all realms.

So I grieve. But I also remind myself that even with this loss, I am better off here and now.

And that is a good thing.

Self-love/ self-care is something I now get to work on. It’s an adventure I intend to enjoy!

Oh, and as part of that journey, I’m scheduling myself massages more often – figure it will help alleviate some stress, provide relaxation time, and also give me some physical touch. So far it seems effective!

Triggered

I don’t feel like “triggered” is something I experience strongly. I’ve used this word the most when talking about how I feel when my children do something that my ex used to do. Such as gaslighting, or lying. I get very mad, almost unreasonable, very quickly. I feel panicked. I feel like most of this happens on the inside, and definitely no violence erupts, but my children can feel it, and often the conversation escalates quickly. It isn’t good. But I’m aware of it and working on it. It seems, to me, like the weight of their entire futures hinges on me dealing with (read: eliminating) that negative behavior RIGHT NOW. Intellectually I know that they can do these things occasionally and it’s no big deal. We all do some of these things at times. But it’s triggering because in that moment when I am being lied to, I lose that cognitive awareness that it isn’t this one incident that matters, it’s the pattern; I turn it into a huge deal when maybe it should have been a small bump.

This past week it felt like maybe I was getting triggered in a new way. I met a friend who I haven’t seen in a long time, and asked how her kids were. She replied that the kids were great, she was not. She and her husband were getting a divorce. She didn’t want it. She was madly in love. This is tearing her up from the inside out. She’s in such pain.

And then I felt it. Again.

I know how that pain feels. That was me last Fall. When Ex asked for a divorce, told me that divorce was our only option, but I didn’t want it. I wanted him. I loved him. I wanted to fight for the marriage. But that was before I realized I was dealing with a cognitive disorder. That was before I realized the extend of the abuse both on myself, and my daughter; that Ex had been sexually grooming and then active with her for a significant period of time already. That was before I was able to shed light on it for her, and let her escape and start to reclaim her life. Before she asked me to NEVER be with him again. Before I made the decision that divorce was the only way, and it would be permanent – request granted.

When I realized all those things, all that hurt and desperation that I had felt just simply disappeared. Or so I thought. But it didn’t actually go anywhere. It just became totally overwhelmed and covered up by the adrenaline of rescuing my family from an abusive predator. It was drowned out by the urgency of doing what I needed to do to keep us safe.

But it was still there, that hurt. It never went away.

So when my friend, in just that two minute interaction we had, told me how much mental and emotional pain she was in, I felt it to my core.

And now I can’t un-feel it.

I went to a quiet place and just cried for a while after talking to her. I cried the next morning as I was making breakfast. I’ve cried a few times here and there, in a quiet moment, alone.

What he did to me hurts.

Never mind that after I discovered the whole picture, divorce and permanent separation were the only viable options. Never mind that he’s lost so much more than I have in this split. Never mind that the kids are all relieved it happened and are glad he’s gone. Never mind any of that. It still hurts.

I promised faithful-forever, and I meant it. But that was if faithful-forever was also promised to me in return. It hurts to lose a dream, to be betrayed, to be rejected.

Ugh. It’s good to cry. It’s good to feel this pain. It’s part of the healing process, I know. It just isn’t any fun, and it really zaps the energy for getting actual work or socializing done.

I guess being triggered by this was a good thing. Learning to manage these triggers will result in being triggered less, and maybe eventually not at all.

And I guess that has started me into a new phase of healing. I don’t know what that really looks like. But I’m here to find out. And I want to be there for my friend in whatever capacity she needs me.

Always forward, even when forward is a puddle of tears on the kitchen floor.

Finalization

So he signed back at the end of March. It took more than three more months for everything to finally get completed. There were some forms that had to be taken care of at first, but it literally sat waiting for a judge’s signature for like a month! It’s ridiculous! Of course he couldn’t be paying child support in the meantime (yes, he could, but whatever because I’m doing fine and he can just wait and get it taken care of once the paperwork went through), but I got papers from the state saying they’re getting the process started and what he owes these months in back support.

I re-read my March post about him signing, and the outward feelings of relief and excitement aren’t as strong this time around. But the deep, true peace and relief is settling in. I’m tired. But I’m happy and content. It’s about time I had a document to back up our current status!

So, where does that leave me?

Mostly, it leaves me being a mom, full time! That’s really where my focus is and where I’m putting my energy. That’s not an easy job and more often than not, I feel like I have nothing in common with these amazingly frustrating teenagers living in my house. But we are trying to build some bonds, good memories, and pleasant emotions!

I’m on a short break from my real job, the one that pays the bills and provides the insurance and assures that I can put my kids through school. But I think I’ll be ready for that once I go back. It’s been good to have some time off with my kids this summer.

So overall, we’re doing well! Hope everyone out there is also doing well. Have a good weekend!

Not a Fan…

Wow, life has been busy so I haven’t written as much as I would like. Maybe once schools starts up again and summer is over… lol, we shall see.

So it’s summer and hot here like almost everywhere. I’m usually on the colder side of things – I always say that if I am feeling hot, everyone else around me is probably dying. So my kids had a fan going. It was late, they were headed to bed, and my youngest asked if he should turn the fan off.

“Sure, I’m not a fan of the fan…” I immediately started laughing and so did he – and we both said “No pun intended” at the same time.

Such a silly little thing. Me laughing. Him laughing. Us laughing together over my use of the word fan that was a bit funny and silly.

It was such a pure moment. He’s a pill most days, let me tell you. But there are moments when it’s just a pleasure to be around him, and it seems like he might even actually like me.

I need these moments, these glimpses and reminders that life is better now. That little interaction might possibly have happened before, but I doubt I would have actually laughed out loud, and he wouldn’t have been as likely to either. We both just feel freer and more relaxed these days.

It was a good reminder. A breath of fresh air.

I’m certainly a fan of that!

Ewww!

Really, that’s how I feel about the Ex these days.

He’s trying a new hair style. Ewww.

He sends me texts about how much he misses me, loves me, hopes we can be together again someday. Ewww!

He came and got the last of his stuff (I sure hope he doesn’t come try to get some more!), and just being in the same room with him… EWWWW!

He tried to hug me I think – I backed up and he ended up squeezing my hand for a second before I jerked away. EWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

That one actually got to me. I was doing OK until then. After that moment (thankfully he was almost done getting whatever he needed), I had to step away and even cry for a bit. What he has done to me, to us, to my daughter, to our family, to our friend-circle, to our churches, to God… I am just so repulsed. And a bit angry. Mostly just grossed out right now. I don’t even want to see pictures of him.

I wish the papers were signed by the judge already. There’s a hold up that we can’t seem to get completed and until that paper gets submitted, nothing moves. I just want to be DONE.

Fortunately, I did get his signature on all the other documents here I needed to, he has his stuff, so all the logistical issues are taken care of, it really just is that final legal piece to make it a done deal. Really, really hoping this week is the week it happens.

When I think of him, ewww. That’s pretty much it. I still cry, grieve, hurt. But it isn’t so much for him as it is for the illusion of what I thought we had. I want the real deal. I thought I had it for a while. It makes me mad that he made such harmful, stupid choices.

But unlike him, I do not lie awake at night dreaming of what once was. I do not try to sniff his scent in old blankets or clothes. I do not surround myself with items that remind me of him (his lucky day, I gave him everything he asked for so that I could go get brand new stuff that doesn’t have his memory attached – he gave me more of the money so I feel completely comfortable doing that).

So ya. Ewww. I just don’t want to give him much space at all in my head any more. Ewwww. Just ewwww.

I’m looking forward and am just so excited to see what the future holds!

Grieving an Illusion

Grief is a work not for the faint of heart. It’s exhausting to deal with. It is draining. I am tired.

But I refuse to not grieve. I refuse to not feel this pain. It hurts, but I’d rather feel pain than be numb at this point in my journey. In six more weeks I’ll have a break from work… so kind of holding off a bit on things until then, but really I am just trying to deal with things as they come right now.

I think when I have a bigger break I will schedule some time to just bring on the tears. To go through albums. To relive memories. Watch videos. Ugh. I really don’t want to do that stuff. Maybe in six weeks I’ll be ready. Maybe not. But I kind of just want to go through it. To be done with some of it.

I’m really crying a lot more. I even cried in front of the kids the other day. Wasn’t necessarily planning to, but just did. There are a lot of big decisions floating around my life right now; that’s stressful! So when a memory or something else pops up that triggers some grief, I am having a hard time holding it back. But if at all possible, I don’t even try to.

Music makes me cry. Going to certain places makes me cry. Seeing Facebook memories pop up makes me cry. People talking about being married (and joking about it or loving it) makes me want to cry.

I am definitely in the stage where I am grieving. The loss is real.

I miss having someone to hug and hold. I really enjoyed that. But if we’re being truthful, I’d been missing that for years already. So perhaps that’s why I haven’t really felt a huge void, even though I miss it.

I miss having someone else to send the kids to if I didn’t want to deal with the question they asked. Though the truth is that I don’t miss the crappy feeling that came with doing that, or the dread of what his answer might be, or the hopeless/helpless feeling that came with having to enforce some of his utterly ridiculous mandates. So perhaps that’s why I haven’t really felt a huge void, even though I miss it.

I miss having another adult to share life with, talk about nuances with, discuss the future, the choices of our children, and more. But honestly, I’d been missing that for years already too. So perhaps that’s why I haven’t really felt a huge void, even though I miss it.

Wow. I guess I’m not really missing as much as I thought… or maybe as I thought I should.

Maybe I should write on what I actually ENJOY more now. Because even though I really am in the place in the process where I am tempted to feel a bit sorry for myself and I just want to curl up and cry a whole lot of the time, I’m actually doing well.

As I write this, I see that the things I miss are honestly just missing the illusions of things. Because I didn’t really have the things themselves – at least not recently.

Grief sucks. Tears are a pain. Crying isn’t always convenient.

But it is healthy. And being healthy has always been important to me. Why would I stop now?

So I cry. A lot. And life continues to move on.

Tomorrow will be brighter.

Especially if I have worked through the grief, dealt with the pain, lived in the moment, embraced the loss, and look forward to what is to come.

So even though so much of what I miss really is just an illusion, it is still a loss and I will treat it with the respect and consideration it deserves.

I choose to grieve well.

And Then the Adrenaline Stopped Pumping…

Four months. It’s been four months since I told my kids to pack an overnight bag and we left. Four months since my tears (and there were an abundance of tears prior to this) evaporated almost magically, and were replaced by adrenaline. Four months since the “wondering what was wrong” and not knowing what to do disappeared. Four months of knowing exactly what needed to be done, and working hard to do it and make it happen. Four months of people being so supportive and encouraging and pushing me to do what I already knew needed done. Four months of nearly holding my breath as I exposed him, as I tried then to not engage and yet still work things out amicably on our own. Only two months since I filed for divorce and then hoped and prayed he’d cooperate… Four months of looking forward to a finalized divorce and a financial agreement that came to include selling the house.

But I’m not really looking forward anymore. Not for those things.

We’ve arrived at what I was looking forward to.

The house is sold and the money is in the bank (woot woot!). The papers have all been signed and any day now we will have official word that the divorce is final… Thankfully we still have a bit of time to find somewhere new to move into as the new owners are giving us a couple of months. What a gift. So all the big stuff that I have been working towards and anticipating is now done, not urgent, in the past. Which means I don’t have a real need for adrenaline to be pumping through my veins the way it was when I took the kids, or prepared to hold my ground on the divorce terms.

No, the adrenaline is dissipating, and it is leaving me exhausted.

I am so tired – yet I don’t even want to go to bed. My brain is still overflowing with thoughts and feelings. In fact, I’m feeling a whole lot more things now than I have for the past four months.

And it hurts. It’s healthy to feel those things – but they really hurt! What has happened to me, to my family, in my life – it is so much. It is horrible. It is reprehensible. It should not have happened to us! My marriage was supposed to last a lifetime. Love was supposed to be real. Timeless. Authentic.

But mostly, I’m just exhausted. Mentally, physically, and spiritually maybe even a bit too.

And since I fell asleep while writing that last sentence, I guess that’s simply proof that it’s true!

Single Parenting

Being the only one to take responsibility for the boundaries I lay down, the “no,” or the “yes,” and just all of those things is a slight bit overwhelming. The good news is that my kids see this change as a good thing – they get that they have more freedom to be who they are and to do more things now. So overall we are good. But when one of my kids wants to go somewhere and do something that I’m not quite comfortable with, it’s hard to say no.

Especially when it is simply that I don’t feel comfortable with it – not because we had other plans. The fact is that last time I said yes to a really big thing (which I didn’t think was actually that big of a thing…) he completely blew it and even got in trouble with the police. So. There’s that. So when I don’t feel comfortable with something, I am just going to say no. I’d rather say no and have a kid mad at me than have a cop calling me.

So I feel firm in my decision. But it still sucks. I’m the only one to get mad at, or at least frustrated with. I will admit to blaming their father for all of the restrictions before…because it was true! But now it’s just me.

Oh well. I love my kids. I want them safe. I want to see them happy, to gift them with yesses and experiences. I also don’t want to have to lock them down again, to back up from our forward momentum. So I will continue to say yes most of the time. And when I say no, I will try to make sure it is with a lot of soul searching and compassion.

But when my gut says no, that’s a no. My gut has been right before and it took me entirely too long to act on confirming that. I will listen better in the future.

Finally!

I am FREE!

Ok, we still have to sell the house, and buy something, and move (and hopefully in that order!). May have to move into a rental if nothing pops up. Trusting that one to God.

But he signed the papers!

I think there’s still something I have to sign, and it has to be made official through the state, so I don’t have that paperwork. But HE SIGNED! My lawyer called me with signed papers in-hand.

I am so relieved.

I am so happy.

I did shed some tears a few days later. But I don’t really know what it was about. I don’t think it was that. Just the stress of packing, thinking about needing to make this decision to buy a house all on my own… it’s a bit intimidating.

But I am FREE!

I can’t even express really how I feel. The light at the end of the tunnel is actually starting to take shape as land, as a future, as something OUTSIDE of the tunnel, not just as light at the end. I am beginning to emerge. And the horizon looks gorgeous!

Now to just get this house sold and figure out where we are going to live….

One day at at time.

But did I mentioned I AM FREE!?!?!

Praise God!

I. Am. Free!!!