Monday, December 4, 2017

I LOVE THE HOLIDAYS (And of course a little Ex-drama)

Let’s start with the good—hubby’s family was here visiting for Thanksgiving, and we just laughed our hearts out for 10 days while they were here.  We went surfing, ziplining, eating, laughing, cooking.  Even the hubby got into surfing with us and had a blast, and my brother-in-law forced me out of my comfort zone and I ended up taking him to breaks where I usually don’t go.  Brother-in-law now wants to start a new tradition by bringing the whole family out every Thanksgiving and I couldn’t be happier.  I cooked a yummy Thanksgiving turkey dinner with gravy from scratch, my daughters crushing up pecans as is their yearly tradition in helping with the sweet potato casserole, home made stuffing, green bean casserole, and sister-in-law helped me with the mashed potatoes, everything turned out delicious and yummy.  My heart was so full with them here.  !!  I can still feel the laughter in my belly and the love everywhere, especially seeing my daughters being hugged and read to and just in general enjoying our extended family time together.

After we dropped them off at the airport, DD2 started to cry, so in an effort to cheer her up, we decided it was time to go get our Christmas tree.  Not only did we light it up and decorate it, but we lit up the carport with our holiday lights, baked grandma’s banana bread and gave some to the neighbors, and just generally sent some love out into the world, hurray!

So now the ex-drama:
He was extra ornery with me because he was demanding his make up time for his last minute business trip, which I posted a little about here. Demanding time right when we had visitors was not going to work with me, but we figured out a nice compromise and I thought, okay, finally, now that’s put to rest. 

At the same time, he went ahead and filed for CS modification which I touched briefly earlier at Chez Survive, Live Thrive.  The thing is, I decided not to contest it, even though the figures included half of what I actually pay for the girls childcare/healthcare, but like I said then, it wasn’t worth the numbers to fight it.

Well, while the family was here, I received notice that the Ex has now decided to ask for a hearing.  ????  Ugh.  And after hemming and hawing and even though I’m confident in my information and numbers, the PTSD that’s triggered right now in facing him at a hearing is not worth it to go this alone.  So I’ve retained an attorney to help me make sure the Ts are crossed and the “i”s are dotted.  I know it will cost more $$ than I need it to cost, so I’ve decided to take out a credit card (interest free for first 15 months) and at least get a free airline ticket out of this  (bonus that comes when you spend so much within the first month).  I know I can pay this off in less than a year, so it is what it is.  Now I don’t have to worry about any legal shenanigans on his side and breathe easier.  It still sucks.

And the latest passive-aggressive move?  This past Saturday was a dad week end.  DD1 had a sports tournament, and DD2 was invited to march in a Christmas parade with her girl scouts at the same time.  A couple of weeks prior, I offered to help either take DD2 to the parade or DD1 to  her tournament; when he didn't respond to me, I quietly asked the girl scout moms to reach out to him last week.  He ended up dropping DD2 off to one of the brownie moms instead of responding to me.  (I thanked the brownie moms--and so as not to rock the boat, I would just cheer on the sidelines, because the most important was that DD2 could participate and I really appreciated their help!).  I just feel so bad about the family drama.

Lastly, through his mother, it sounds like he either thinks he "has more time with the girls than mom does" or his mother has interpreted it that way.  (Either way, it’s untrue, le sigh).  His mom mentioned this recently to one of the girl scout moms in DD1’s troop in passing-- so it sounds like there may be some lingering sense of "unfairness" about the outcome of our divorce…which means no, he has not moved on from “losing.”  And which may be the reason why now he’s asking for hearing.  Ugh, I’m tired of the drama.
---------------- (p.s. I don't know why it won't let me change this font size to something more readable, I've tried editing five times.  maybe it's the universe saying, shrink down this drama!! LOL)

I guess this is the life, isn’t it.  Embracing the good things, family, holiday planning (I’ve already been asked by one of DD1’s besties about when we’re having our Christmas cookie baking sleepover, lol), creating care packages for our family far away, holiday shopping and baking for the girls’ teachers and friends.  Vacation planning—we’re not going anywhere, but I’m just taking time off work to hang with them and just in general breathing in a big breath and enjoying this time of year.

And also contending with the aforementioned drama.  Wishing it didn’t exist, sometimes getting frustrated to tears, PTSD-induced anxiety insomnia at times, but it is what it is, and right now I have the strength and means to deal with it.

So love and hugs to the world and to you and your loved ones.  Let’s add love and peace and kindness to the world, because it clearly needs it.  Here’s to hoping for a better world, and for helping ourselves create that world and being the love.  That’s what I’m wishing for.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Happy Holidays

Love, peace, and kindness to the world!  We definitely need more of it.  In case anyone has been stopping by Chez Survive,  Live, Thrive, I wanted to say we are alive and doing well--had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with the family and are heading into the Christmas season with lots of love in our hearts.

The Exie is pulling his usual shenanigans, more of which I will post later, but for now I am just trying to fill up our little corner with hope and peace for good things to come.

Love and hugs!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Happy Early Thanksgiving!

The emotional temperature at Chez Survive-Live-Thrive has swung back to positivity and light and love and laughter.

It’s a kind reminder to accept that emotions—negative, positive, neutral—are not static, that life moves like the ebb and flow of the tides.  It’s okay to embrace the sadness and pain as we have to live through it to get through it.  And it’s more than okay to embrace the love and laughter, because that’s really the icing on the cake of all this life adventure that we’re having.

Halloween came and went with fun-filled trick-or-treating—a last minute rendezvous with DD1’s besties and walking through the neighborhood!  The moms may or may not have carried small thermoses of bubbly along the way to celebrate our festivities and my birthday, lol, and I was so happy my children were surrounded with happiness and laughter.  I think the best part was the great candy swap—where the kids organized their bounty on my living room floor and traded what they wanted and what they didn’t want, lol.  Same time, next year, we said to one another, as we left to take the girls to their dad’s for his time with them.

And in just two short days, my hubby’s family will be here to celebrate Thanksgiving—the girls are beyond excited and I just love my hubby’s fam with all of my heart.  We are going to hang out and play tourists and swim and surf in the ocean and I can’t wait to make my giant Thanksgiving feast for them.  I love watching my hubby and his brother fight over the leftover turkey.

As for holiday dramas with the ex—he is upset because I wasn’t able to swap a week end with him for his business travel that happened the week before last.  And…I emailed him ages ago to start a conversation on how to go about it.  He didn’t reply…for a MONTH…and is now all antsy and demanding about time.  It just is what it is, and hopefully it will all work out soon.

So in the wake of the tragedies of gun violence, sexual violence, our president shooting off on twitter yet again, I’m doing my best to hold my daughters in the love and light that I have for them.  Every night at bedtime, we pray that we can add more love and peace and kindness to the world.  We clearly need it. I’m thankful for this time.  Love and hugs, to the world!

Monday, October 23, 2017

You say it’s your birthday!

So…a birthday is coming up—and not one of my children’s or the hub’s, but mine...  I embraced the big 4-0 a while back with gusto, because I was so grateful to be in a different place than where I was before (getting out of an abusive relationship, single mothering and wondering if I was going to lose my home— and by the big 4-0, all the crazy court stuff was OVER and had been for a while).  That birthday was amazing and I'm so grateful!!

Since then, the mom-birthday has been weirdly anticlimactic, or maybe a little complicated...and not because I don’t love a good birthday celebration, I do.  I really do!!  It's important to celebrate milestones along the way of this crazy journey.  I also think that some of my trepidation is that I’m afraid to believe—really believe, that my life is better.  That maybe I’m so used to being in survival mode, in fight or flight and escape the worst case scenario mode, it’s too scary or weirdly difficult to fully embrace the peace.

I read somewhere that we accept the love we think we deserve.  It was a from an aching coming-of-age novel, the Perks of Being a Wallflower that was made into film.  I resonated with the pain.  I’m still learning to trust the healing.

My normal was living in pain, so it’s difficult to trust with peace.  I get that’s the goal, which is why I started therapy in the first place and why I scratched and scrabbled my way out of an unhealthy marriage into a different world.  And I guess I’m learning that healing takes time, that it needs to come from the inside out and my insides still need a lot of working out.  I’ve made a new life, and yes there are annoyances in place, i.e. Exie’s nitpicking and accusatory bs and emotionally manipulating the girls and the PTSD that comes with dealing with him over every little dang thing.

However, in terms of my home life, the borders of my home, when my babies are within our home, the one we are making that is safe from harm, I have to figure out how to trust that the other shoe is not going to drop.  No one is going to choke the dog.  No one is going to scream and yell and break things and attack and gaslight and make the world a difficult place.  PTSD—I don’t like you.  I’m trying to live without you, I’m trying to heal.  Two steps forward, one step back, I guess.

The point of this entry is—happy birthday to you.  You might not have ever thought you’d make it this far, but you have, despite the bumps and bruises along the way.  Hug the part of you that’s hurting, and soothe the part of you that’s still scared.  Hang in there for another day, and know it’s okay not to be perfect.  There’s a lot of !@#$ going on in the world these days, so make the difference that you can in your own world and if you screw up in one moment due to PTSD, take the next to try and make it better.  My wish is that the peace you are looking for will sink in and eventually replace the familiar pain blanket that has wrapped you up since you were tiny.  One day love will win, it will, even if it doesn’t feel like it today.  One day, normal will not be anxiety and pain, but peace.  I hope.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Once Upon an Anxiety: One Woman's coping while mid-lifing and co-parenting

Mutu's Forbidden Fruit

An interesting discussion on women in their 40s in America, experiencing mid-life challenges and anxieties unlike the women who came before them, and likely afterwards, from Oprah.

There are times where I’m overcome with joy about this new life I’m building for my daughters and me, life with my hubby, my career that is going well (or not so well on some days).

There are times where I come to work and nestle safely in the retreat from the anxiety of my personal life,  where I feel confident in the choices I’m making because work choices are so much easier than personal life choices, because it’s not personal, it’s work.  (Or so I thought.)

And then there are days that as soon as I open my eyes, my stomach is filled with anxiety and I can barely get out of bed (like the women in the article), a holdover PTSD reaction to the stressors of an ex-husband who finds fault in everything I do, with my growing daughters (especially the tween), who I fear has fallen into a pattern of emotional care-taking with her father, with my elementary aged little sister who is still learning to manage her emotions that she wears so openly and lovingly and frustratingly on her sleeves.

That I’m not making life better, but worse.  That even though I know it’s a marathon, I’m losing the race.  That I’m screwing up, both at home and at work.  I’m barely hanging on with my fingernails.

And then something sweet will happen; like a cat will come knocking at our door, and for twenty sweet minutes, the girls and I drop out of the busy morning routine and show our furry friend some love and kindness and milk (lactose free, apparently is okay for visiting cats).  Who nestles us with meows and walks among our legs like she belongs there. Who settles down watching for our return (and who hasn’t come back, but we’re still hoping, lol).

Or big sister is home from school with a fever, but when the drugs kick in, she’s okay and decides to carefully meld a pair of earrings out of wire and fancy pliers and beads and crystals, which she gives to me, and I wear them the next day.

Times where I’m able to cradle my anxiety-ridden baby self who thinks mom, dad, sister, brother, anyone close will disappear, and recognize that is the root of my anxiety, and I’ll figure out how to take a big, giant breath, and soothe and comfort and relieve the fear deep inside.

Times where I’ll stand proudly in my shoes, knowing it’s okay to struggle, that women in my place and my peers have been afforded opportunities the likes of what hasn’t come before, my mother working as a single parent in a male-dominated corporate structure, paving the way for me, and now I’m paving the way for my daughters.  That these lumps of anxiety are part of the course (at least my course), that going to the moon was never going to be easy, and it’s okay to ask for an oxygen mask or three.  Or some shots of whisky.  That huddling up to anxiety part of the days is actually a normal reaction to the complications and challenges that I’ve faced and continue to face. 

I hope I can figure out how to help my daughters be strong and confident in their choices, opinions, thoughts, feelings.  I hope I can help them navigate our complicated world full of pain and beauty, equip them with decision making skills, with love, with boundaries to protect them from harm.  My wish for them is to not feel debilitated by anxiety, like I am. 

I wish there was a magic wand.  I wish I could make anxiety-laden troubles magically disappear.  I guess the only way through it, is through it.  I guess I have to accept the crazy and ride it to a better place.  I hope doing our best is good enough.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Phone visitation--for the birds?

Image here

Phone calls from the children when they are with their dad: has been an ongoing struggle for years. I can tell they aren't comfortable speaking with me on the phone when they're at his house--he's usually right by them, they’re in a hurry, I’m what stands between them and dinner.  And they always ask:  can this be a short call mom?

They sound stressed, like they know they can't really talk to me and are uncomfortable sounding anything close to happy when they do talk to me.

And what makes me sad is that it’s the polar opposite at my house, because I always make time for them to call their dad, never interrupt, etc., let them have as much time.  The handful of times they get the gumption to ask HIM if they can have a short call, 95% of the time he starts needling them as to why, and the short call that they ask for becomes long call.

I’ve tried reinforcing with the girls that the phone calls are for them, not for me or dad, and that it’s okay to want to talk or not want to talk.  It’s funny how they are only comfortable with asking me for a short call, 95% of the time.

The play therapist says to leave it alone, that the girls will grow up and learn that their dad expects one type of behavior from them, and that they will learn that I will listen when they ask for a short call.

I’m trying not to see it as they’re getting into a habit of not valuing talking to me; but we must value talking to him (because I make space for the calls). 

I know it’s a marathon not a race, but sometimes, when they do the ‘can this be a short call’ and if we speak for a minute, and they sound reluctant to talk, I can envision him in the background nodding his head, thinking, see—the kids don’t even want to talk to her.

And I KNOW I have to be the bigger person about this, it just sucks!!!!! 

I also know I need to not take this personally, but last night, my heart hurt.  Being a grown up sucks sometimes.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Image credit

Ironically, the title of this post is not a theme of my coparenting life, although it definitely could be applied in more instances than one!

I’ve been experiencing vertigo since last Friday—and what with all the dizzy walking and whoozing around, I've wondered who has time to be dizzy when there’s work to do, kids to take care of, volunteer work, etc? 

The problem is that the medicine to make the dizzy go away knocks me off of my feet, and also makes me feel depressed, booooo.

I wonder if this is just a sign of getting older and my inner ears are striking.  Or, maybe I’m just a complete and utter anxiety mess and I have to embrace it already.  I have to figure out a way to no let anxiety build up so much.  Therapy and regular exercise is what I've been attempting for the last few years...clearly I have to rethink some strategies...any advice is most welcome!  And obviously, that is my unscientific theory that high levels of stress/anxiety is causing my anxiety, maybe it's not.  I do know that I was under an extreme amount of stress the night before I woke up with the vertigo however...

For anyone experiencing vertigo, however, I’ve tried this half-somersault which seems to help a little bit:

It’s put out there by Dr. Carol Foster, an MD who experienced vertigo herself and the University of Colorado-Denver medical campus posted it online.

This is better than what my primary care physician told me (once I finally dragged myself in to see her): as long as you’re not barfing, go to work! 


And THAT is finding some humor in life—as long as you’re not barfing, you can do anything!