5 MBK Memoir: How to do hard things

5 MBK Memoir: How to do hard things

January 20

Ok the story I wrote last night really cleared my head. I feel SO MUCH better today. I even have a clear head and good space about G today (regarding the audacity on his part and my honoring of us having a “part-time” relationship – aka seeing each other 2-3 days per week – and what absolute bullshit that is)! Although I am still finding him stalking my thoughts… 

January 21

I went to Al Anon for the first time today. It was overwhelming and somehow, a home I’ve never known before. I have to go back. I was pretty solid today from waking until now (just before bed). I think having my phone docked in the bathroom from the kid’s bed time until morning helps me unwind and relax more. I feel capable and realistic today. Al Anon felt like confirmation from the Universe that I’m on the right path. Great day with the kids today. Spent 1:1 time with both, just playing together.

This day. Wow. I’ll start from the beginning. Feeling at peace and at home with myself. Felt a little unsure of seeing G for the first time in almost a week (he came to watch the kids while I met with Jimmy’s mom and went to Al Anon). He was distant, but fine. 

Al Anon. Woah. I think I found my people. I was so overwhelmed – overcome with waves of emotion. Today just knocked on the door of that dark closeted vortex of all my headaches and pain from being married to Tyrel. I am starting to see how much his illness shaped who I became during my 20’s.

I’m ready. This is my year. But I’m shakin’ in my boots, scared as hell. I don’t even know what demons are waiting to see my face behind that door. But here I go! Watch me do this!

G went rock climbing with us – SO FUN! On the way home, I said, “Thanks for coming with us.” And he said, “Thanks for inviting me!” Then he looked me in the eye with a side smile and said, “It’s nice to be invited to do stuff with you guys every now and then!” I laughed and said, “Oh… yeah…” I guess he feels the distance/change lately. I don’t want him to feel lesser than what he is to us, but I just can’t do more right now. It’s just too much still. I’m a Petty Betty still and that needs work… and time… As much as it takes. I feel very resolved and in touch with the goal today. I am working on ME and I am committed to learning about myself.

Today I thought about how fucking back and forth I can be and thought, “Man, it’s not just because of Tyrel, G, my kids, my hormones, my mom, in-laws, or other people’s problems. I FEEL DEEPLY… ALL THE FUCKING TIME. It’s just who I am. But I don’t have to let it RULE me. I can learn new outlets to help and skills to process better instead of mulling and obsessing until I wear myself into the ground.”

I think I have some heavy, hard days before me, but I can do hard things. And I’m believing this will give me a different story in the future – for peace, for love, and for my family. And THAT is more than worth the discomfort that’s coming my way.

January 22

Feeling calm and empowered today. I have a lot of peace about working to provide for my family as I remain committed to my creative inspiration and writing (Big Magic influence). Had fluttering glimpses of hope for my future love story – just having a partner who is fully in tune to me as I am to him.

Kids were good. Filling their love tanks over the weekend is paying off.

Peaceful today. Felt solid about my feelings toward G: I love him dearly but I want someone who WANTS and LOVES me AND my kids 24/7, not every couple of days. I want affection, all-in, rock-my-world, life-changing commitment. Not “I’ll take you when I feel like it” kind of love. But I’m also excited to be open to this idea of letting him love us how he can and wants and remain in our lives, potentially always. I love doing stuff with him, and the kids’ love for him is so precious too. I hope I can settle out soon so he and I can find a good friendship rhythm.

Feeling confident about working with C, continuing to write and chip away at my dreams to get published, buy a house with property on the lake and get two goldendoodles!:)

I’m thankful. So thankful for my family, our health, and this life I’ve been given. 

January 23

Solid. All day. Great time connecting with kids. I worked, lunch with a friend, worked more, wrote, dinner with G, we all went to Peter’s basketball practice (G too), then peaceful bed time and Facetime with L. G didn’t stay, which was perfect. He misses us. We love him. It was a sweet time. I felt fine and stable about it all mentally. We’ve been keeping in touch the last week about Jimmy (he’s not doing well).

I am happy and hopeful about my choices and the journey I’m on and life.

My mind was running a little too hot last night–couldn’t sleep for an hour thinking about this:

I think I have only been able to love (G, in particular) and receive love one-dimensionally. Meaning, if it didn’t fit my preconceived idea about what it should look like, I would self-implode. If he loved me in a different way, I wouldn’t know where to store that or how to absorb it. And if he needed love in a different way, I would feel like he doesn’t see/understand me and is asking me to compromise who I am and my sense of peace.

I could be wrong here, but it seems to fit pretty accurately. I need time to myself to expand my understanding of love and reign in some fanatical (fantasy-based) ideas about love, partnership, and commitment. Because really, I can’t deny how steadily G has shown love to me and the kids for two solid years – storing my storage at his house, time, fun family dates, wrestling, recitals, birthdays, holidays… the man shows up. And that MEANS something. I just don’t know what yet.

And also, I realize now how my hasty breakup recovery over the summer was such a slap in the face. G was collateral damage of my Dating Rep (aka mixed up sense of self) habits. He deserves an apology for that one!

Two days till Book of Mormon at Bass Hall with him!

M: Me

Tyrel: My first love, husband and my abuser 2005-2015, father of my children, died by suicide September 2016

Children: Jane and Peter

G: Ex-boyfriend and best friend

S: G’s ex- girlfriend

A: Widow and close friend (one of the “hos”)

L: Younger sister (12 years younger) and close friend. Technically, my half-sister (her father is my stepdad, R)

R: Stepdad, father figure from age 11 on, and Opa to my kids

Z: Widow and close friend (one of the “hos”)

H: Older sister (two years older) and close friend

W: kindred spirit, beloved friend, licensed therapist

I began my self-study by documenting myself in my everyday life in hopes that after a few months, I could see patterns and understand some of my own rhythms. I kept 3 journals (the — symbol represents distinction between journals 1 and 3): 

  1. An emotional/mental well-being journal where I daily jotted 1-3 sentences about my overall internal stability.
  2. My mind-body-spirit (aka moon phase) journal, which was a calendar where I noted my hormones, diet, activity, and overall feelings about myself each day.
  3. The mamma-jamma journal (the main chunk of this memoir) where I painstakingly detailed out my experiences and my every thought about those experiences.
5 MBK Memoir: How to do hard things

4 MBK Memoir: How to withdrawal from toxic emotional cycles

January 15

Good (with moments of overstimulation). I’m proud of myself. I find myself drifting into “neutral” thoughts – not about G or other relationships. I missed Tyrel – the sweet, good man. I feel such a fondness for him. I guess that will never leave. Worked with C a little today for the first time. 

Learning new things can be so annoying sometimes, like the kind of recipe that requires an immersion blender or food processor. Maybe you have all the right ingredients and tools, but you’ve never actually used them and there’s an entire cookbook full of recipes you’ve avoided/ignored simply because they require you to actually learn how to use your tools to create a new culinary masterpiece. And week after month after year that you ignore those recipes and tools… well, they just become all the more annoying and burdensome in the back of your mind, looming over you, lurking in the unknown with all that unmet potential. This same idea could be applied to new workouts at the gym, pursuing further education, implementing new techniques at work, and of course, RELATIONSHIPS!

This is me cleaning up my mind. I’ve always asked other people to clean it up for me. For the first time, I actually WANT to do it myself. It’s strange and foreign to not be asking G to assist me or look out for me during this breakup. I (keep reminding myself) don’t need him to make any concessions or gestures to make me feel secure. I’ve already mapped my plan according to what is best for my mind and heart and his choices don’t affect that. IT’S SO FREEING! It’s empowering to (keep reminding myself) know that I am worth more – time, affection, tenderness, etc. Also, writing in these journals has helped me not feel the compulsion to TALK so much… to anyone who will listen. I usually say more than I’d really like and now I am able to temper that almost effortlessly. Magic!

We all just want to belong and fit in – maybe not with everyone but with someone. Think of the last time you walked into a party or a function where you weren’t familiar with the location or you didn’t know anyone there. Finding ONE soul you can connect with (aka cling to) means so much!

January 16

Another very good mental day:) I felt overstimulated several times throughout the day, but realized it and turned music off or took deep breaths. Worked with C some and got a leg workout in at the gym. I enjoy life on my own – today at least. So I’ll take that! 

I’m so happy when I have glimpses of how this healing of my mind is going to help change my future. I get excited to think how I will behave differently in a relationship than I have previously. But then right after the feeling of excitement, I panic. “I’m not ready yet. I need at least two, six, eight more months!” I just don’t feel like I’ve nailed “this” down yet or practiced it enough. But really, I just need more time to get to know ME! I’m almost jealous for this time. Now THAT’s a full one-eighty! I wish I could have gone through this transformation in my 20’s, but I guess better late than never.

I think it was there all along, just waiting for me to make space for it and want it enough to let it come take over.

Today, “Thank You, Next” by Ariana Grande came on and the kids said, “G told us what this song means!” And I thought, “How ironic… because this is the song L sent me when he broke up with me.” But I solidified his explanation by giving them the example of he and I then quickly clarifying with, “But I didn’t say that to him and I like that Ariana talks about how she is spending time with herself…” THEN I went to text G but didn’t really feel like talking to him today (he slept over last night and was just so quiet and distant. I wonder sometimes if we’re even friends who know about each other’s lives anymore. Or maybe he just has NOTHING to report and doesn’t care to ask about my life. Whatever. IDC). So, I decided instead to put the little story in a note on my phone to send another day and after I wrote it all out, I thought, “Wow. That sounds awful. And mean. Almost cruel. Which is not my intention. Why did I seriously think sending that would be funny? OMG.” The note saved me! I deleted it and threw out the whole idea. 

Wow, putting myself through a quick filter (a note in my phone) might be a game-changing tip for me! I still can’t believe how awesome I thought that would be to text, when really, at best, it would be like, “why the fuck did I spend ANY amount of time typing that?!” Yikes… learning a lot about myself.

January 17

Watched a stupid Netflix show about people trying to give it another shot with their exes and I had a pit in my stomach the whole time thinking that’s how me and G will feel in three, 10, 20 years. Or maybe we won’t. I feel wonky and uncertain. Can’t shake the sinking feeling in my gut. Started bleeding today. Took the morning to rest and write and allow my body to relax. First half of the day was great, then I sat down to work and I watched that show. Dammit.

Cleaning up my head… 

I don’t know my natural hair color. Not only do I not know my true natural hair color, it turns out, there’s a lot more I don’t know about myself. This is very off-putting to me. Almost insulting. Because I take pride in how observant I am of “my people”. I know my friends inside out–their idiosyncrasies, bents, insecurities, deepest fears, tendencies, and patterns (even when THEY don’t). I know and love that I channel my way through their unintentional fronts or walls and I love them deeper and closer to their true selves.

But for myself? Well, I was under the impression that I instinctually ran the same tabs on myself, but I have become aware that this is sadly not the case. I have masqueraded behind some artfully picturesque versions of myself for most, if not all, of my adult life. Not to say I wasn’t really ME, it was just a less-of-a-mess, more “acceptable” version of me. I call this living with or through a Representative.

I had many Reps over the years, the strongest being my Dating Rep. This Rep stole the show, got many marriage proposals (but only accepted one), and caused me to live only a piece of my full true self for I guess it’s been 20 years now.

So, here I am, 35 years old and I’ve cleared out all the Representatives and I’ve committed to spending the rest of my life as an “observer”. I’ve decided to make space to spend time alone. Now I invite myself to learn more about ME, to pay attention and even take notes on my patterns, hangups and habits. I have promised not to judge, criticize or even ask “why” anymore. (As a natural self-critic, “why” can be categorically disastrous on the mind). I’ve got my sight set on ME this time for literally the first time in my life.

In order to be true to this process, I have eliminated and reduced the things I now understand I have used as crutches (my phone, alcohol, socializing, and… dating). The point is not to have a bunch of restrictions, but whatever I’m doing, I want it to be supportive of me observing myself and truly creating space for me to be the MOST authentic version of myself as I possibly can be.

I am so freaking excited, I can hardly stand it! I already sleep WAY better. I’m less stressed. I have more energy during the day, and most of all… I have peace. Peace in my home. Peace with my family. Peace in my relationships. AND PEACE OF MIND! My mind has been a battlefield for as long as I can remember, so to be able to live in a habitual place of mental peace would be one of my greatest wins. I’m on my way!

As my hair begins to grow out and my natural hair color is revealed to me and the world, so it will be with my true self. This is not a box to check, a New Year’s resolution, or a conquest. This is the beginning of the next 35 years for me.

Wooooowieeee!

That stupid Netflix show… It’s so difficult today. I miss my friend and companion–that feeling of closeness and being touched. But I still want more for myself than what he G’s able to give.

I’m feeling the withdrawals hard today. I am not allowing myself to invite him over tonight and it’s like I’m refusing to call my dealer. It’s taking everything in me to remember why I decided to get clear: I want more for myself and my kids. I want security in knowing how my partner feels about me. I want intimacy. I’m worth fighting for, making compromises with, and the work it takes to create a fulfilling relationship, damnit!

But I just miss talking with him and cozying up to him and relaxing in his arms. I miss showing him how much I love him and letting him use my body as his expression of love. All that I’m holding out for (and he is holding out for) is hypothetical… but HE is real. How does one continue to resist what is in front of them in hopes of a successful search for more?

I sure as hell don’t know, and today I’m fumbling through it. I hope I make it to tomorrow without trying to get a fix. I know if I did reach out to try to get him to covertly answer a question for me – Am I still important to you? Do you miss me too? Do you want me? Do you love me? – I would only have to start the process from square one (where I was on December 30th), and I DO NOT want to go back there. Those are dark feelings and horrible lows. At least now I’m nearly 3 weeks clean.

I think I’m actually getting nervous about next Friday (January 25th) because we’re going to Bass Hall for the Book of Mormon Show, dinner before and maybe coffee after? What will we talk about? Does he even want to know me anymore? Is he going to share anything about his actual life with me? Or will it be clear he’s locking me out of his heart – keeping me from getting too personal or too close? Which would only confirm that he is mostly here (still engaging with me) to remain in the kids’ lives. Aggh! It’s maddening today!

It’s only 5:00pm and I’m ready for bed. I’m stuck in my head. I think I’ll try to write a short story tonight to escape myself.

January 18

I need AA. I’m a fixer.

I went mental today with Jimmy today. He looked the same as Tyrel did the last day I saw him, and my head started storming. I felt like I alone needed to fight/plead/beg for him to keep living. I was so overly emotional–it was weird in hindsight. What snapped me out of my egocentric power trip (as if I have the ability to keep someone I hardly even know from continuing to use drugs or from killing himself), was a phone call to an AA lady to inquire about Al Anon for me (and Jimmy’s mom). She said, “Ok, you don’t need to get dragged into this. You need to just stay focused on your own journey and bring his mom to meetings with you.”

It was a reality check. First, that I go mental when I feel like I’m about to lose someone (Mitchell) or something (my relationship, boyfriend, whatever). I throw all my cards down in an attempt to save something/someone. It’s a dramatic and unnecessary display. I am beginning to suspect there are more sound, mature ways to approach these things. Second, I need to go to Al Anon. I need to address, feel, and heal from a 15 year life alongside an alcoholic/addict. Today triggered me BIG time. And I now see how I’ve never actually healed or acknowledged the world of addiction he (yrel) dragged me into. I’m ready. I go to my first meeting on Monday.

Wow. Unexpected day. Ended with a movie and wine with Mercy at my house. Thankful for the path unfolding before me as I commit to cleaning up my mind. Very grateful.

January 19

I’m trying to focus on allowing different kinds of love into my life – like allowing G to be what he is to my family and who he is and appreciate it for all that it is instead of wishing it was more or something different.

Also, I’m concentrating on being present in today – my moments of rest or play or time with the kids. Instead of fearing the future or regretting the past.

Today I’ve felt very stressed about everything and nothing. I’m just tossing my mind back and forth from the past and the future which makes me anxious.

Breathe. Recognize the moment. Be in it. 

Better headspace today. I do feel that I’ve allowed G to become a stalker in my mind though. He’s not always on the forefront, but he seems to almost always be lurking just around the breakfast we just ate or the plans we’re making for the day – ”What if he came with us? What would be different? How much more fun would it be?” But I simply cannot get past the sinking feeling that could – and would most likely – occur if he didn’t come upon my invitation (utter disappointment). So, I swat that thought bubble away and move along my day.

I long for the day when he’s no longer lingering in my mind. And I am so very thankful I rarely have thoughts or images of him with other women. I try to just pretend he already IS fucking someone else or in a relationship with someone else and treat him/approach him that way.

Did I mention how I moved ¾ of the way for a snuggle last week when he came over? He froze and a few minutes later moved further away from me. Now I understand that when he jokes and pretends he doesn’t like me invading his space, that means he actually really doesn’t want me in his space and his silence means, “No.”

We haven’t seen each other since and have hardly talked. If I allowed it, the curiosity would consume me – is it me? Is it him? Someone else? Does he love me too much or not anymore? It could be anything! And that questioning could easily go both ways too–I’ve never behaved the way I have the last month.

Who the fuck even knows what’s happening? 

Upward and onward!

M: Me

Tyrel: My first love, husband and my abuser 2005-2015, father of my children, died by suicide September 2016

Children: Jane and Peter

G: Ex-boyfriend and best friend

S: G’s ex- girlfriend

A: Widow and close friend (one of the “hos”)

L: Younger sister (12 years younger) and close friend. Technically, my half-sister (her father is my stepdad, R)

R: Stepdad, father figure from age 11 on, and Opa to my kids

Z: Widow and close friend (one of the “hos”)

H: Older sister (two years older) and close friend

W: kindred spirit, beloved friend, licensed therapist

I began my self-study by documenting myself in my everyday life in hopes that after a few months, I could see patterns and understand some of my own rhythms. I kept 3 journals (the — symbol represents distinction between journals 1 and 3): 

  1. An emotional/mental well-being journal where I daily jotted 1-3 sentences about my overall internal stability.
  2. My mind-body-spirit (aka moon phase) journal, which was a calendar where I noted my hormones, diet, activity, and overall feelings about myself each day.
  3. The mamma-jamma journal (the main chunk of this memoir) where I pain-stakingly detailed out my experiences and my every thought about those experiences.
5 MBK Memoir: How to do hard things

3 MBK Memoir: Learning How To Find Your Lost Soul

January 10

Today was good. Still felt the undertones of being untethered. Feel like I’m in Phase 2 of detox from a relationship (maybe I’m being generous there), or maybe I’m only half way through Phase 1? Who cares.

Went by G’s house after volunteering to pick up Peter’s basketball. G asked to come over tonight. I was nervous about how it would go (sexually). It went great. When I felt like reaching out to touch or “win” him – I stopped myself and reminded myself of what I really want beyond just familiarity and companionship. I’m proud of my shaky courage and restraint. Excited to start working on writing again (after months off). Stressed about $$ but trusting something will come up as it always does.

I am not the sum of what I have experienced…

This keeps tossing around in my head. I’m not simply a child of divorce who thrusted herself into a doomed marriage prematurely because of her underlying “daddy issues”. I am not a victim, a project, or down-trodden. I am creative, capable and destined for LIVING.


Via Big Magic:

I need to focus on just sharing my story as I write instead of teaching a lesson. My life is my course. My course is creativity. And my creativity is living in the center of my soul.

Here I come, Soul. I’m committed to finding and nurturing you. I enjoy being creative and making choices that promote creativity and self-expression.

January 11

Today was pretty solid. A few short “squirmy” moments where I was feeling unsure about myself and my actions, but mostly I was just livin’ Rep-free, enjoying my freedom and choosing to write. Peace of mind and peace in my home.

I’ve started writing in three different notebooks instead of Google Docs. This is a terrible decision for backup purposes, but excellent otherwise. Because right now, I can hear the rain falling outside. To be more honest, I can hear the rain drumming down the drainage pipe – but whatever. The point is that I’m not lost in a screen and I can simultaneously eat a very crumbly cookie without pausing the writing. Amazing!

A few things on my mind today: last night’s journey of the mind and today’s landing.

(Sip tea. Ready to dive in)

First, last night: G suggested he come over for dinner (asked if I wanted him to, more specifically). I was a little uneasy about this because I had JUST been missing sex with him the day before and hadn’t had time to reevaluate my mental (and sexual) stance on him for the day yet. He played with the kids while I cooked, per usual. All seemed normal. I wasn’t sure if we’d drink wine – I didn’t really want to, he didn’t ask. There was no wine. I wasn’t sure if he’d stay after I put the kids to bed. He cozied up in my bed and found a show called Narcos: Mexico.

For the first time since January 2017 (or December 2016), I actually didn’t feel the need – nay, the compulsion – to share with him all that has radically transformed within the deepest parts of my soul in the last few weeks while we have safely, silently distanced ourselves from each other. Geronimo!

Another marvelous win for my new way of living! We lasted two episodes (50 minutes each), one head rub (I asked/begged for – my grow-out from shaving my head has reached perfect softness with a feel-good peak), and one bowl of fruit without delving into connective, deep conversation OR affectionate touch. Seriously, winning!

Although… while he was massaging my head, he moved to my temple and then down to my neck and occasionally swooped down my back just a little. I thought, “is he going to take this further? Do I want him to? Not really. I don’t actually want HIM right now. I just love to be touched.” I decided to remain frozen and I silenced any cues of pleasure I could have released. Ultimately, I don’t want to have sex with him. I want more. I want someone who can’t stand the chasm of my body pillow between us. I want someone who drips with curiosity about me – over hours, even days, especially weeks. I want desire and a need/craving for intimacy with me. Anything less would be cruel and torturous. I only reminded myself of one thing and that seemed to be enough for me to stay platonic and not march toward the flame of seduction that feels SO instinctual lying in bed with someone I love and used to crave and fantasize about. Go me! I think perhaps… I might actually be growing.

Moving on.

Today I steadily kept a pulse on my need vs. neutrality towards G (or anyone/anything else). I checked in with myself and evaluated my “pulls” several times throughout the day. “We hung out last night, do I want more today? Am I waiting for him to reach out, start a convo, or lean in at all? Do I assume or expect a text, call, or invitation today or in the near future from him?” etc. Mostly I was solid all day. The only slight detour happened right after we got home from school and I was thinking it would be so much more fun if G would be here for hot chocolate/popcorn/movie night. That lasted… maaaaybe… 3-5 thought blips then I realized it and invited myself to enjoy my home, my children, and my peace without another person around. The evening was boring and lovely and snuggly. Everything a single mom could ask for.

January 13

Good day. Finished a short story, spent some time with the kids (good mom day), then G came and got them and took them to some play place while I volunteered at the rodeo with the horse ranch. G was a little rude on the phone (probably just hungry or moody) and I thought, “I’m SO glad I get to not like this about him and not have to live with that for the rest of my life and not have to try to sugar coat that behavior or make it seem OK when I hate it to my core!” 

He would have eventually been that way with me (potentially always) and that’s not the kind of life I want or deserve. (Hmmm, I guess that’s what he meant when he said, “you deserve better.” Ha!) Anyways, I was more than content – THRILLED – to get to come home, put the kids to bed and spend the evening alone not making concessions for ANYONE at all! 🙂

January 14

So great! I’m doing well. Had brunch with the hos today, spoke with C about working for him again, engaged with kids. Feeling happy and hopeful. Wrote some, rested, cooked… it was a fine day. Thought about G – hoping he’s not upset or struggling regarding me (he’s probably not – ha!). Working to be conscious of those stories and thoughts I create when I’m unsure of how he (or someone else) feels or thinks about me. 

P.S. I love Big Magic.

A few thoughts on my mind today regarding this “No Rep/Self-Love” Lifestyle.

First, I keep finding myself at the same crossroad in my thoughts that sounds like this:

“Wow. I could easily continue what I’ve always done and make choices to drink more, reach for my phone when it’s too quiet, wallow in what I wish I had, use people for their beauty or benefits to me OR (now there’s a new option) I can invite myself OUT of my habits/addictions/patterns and allow myself to NOT be addicted and then live with more peace, more love for myself and others, and more contentment in the moment.” 

Although this other path is unfamiliar, it isn’t necessarily scary because it resonates with my soul in a way none of the other things on the first path (my usual path) do. The idea gives me pause and sets me in awe of all that I’ve been missing out on in the new world I’ve just opened up for myself.

Second, when I let my mind wander, it goes all over the place. Today I was playing out a very different scene than the ones that usually play in my mind. I imagine how when I go dancing or out with friends and a guy asks me to dance or to chat – usually, I receive them almost as an intruder, trying to get/steal/win/buy something out of me – my time, attention, affection, approval, etc – and I immediately resent it and more often than not, REJECT it. “I don’t need you or your attention/drinks/dances. I’m quite fine on my own so bug off, asswipe!” (How inhuman and cruel.)

Today I caught myself imagining quite a different scene. One where I accept dances or drinks as an invitation to connect with another human (as long as they don’t smell like B.O. I’m not a saint, I have my limits). So, instead of being put off, I allow space (maybe just a tiny bit at first) to see if there is a conversation or a connection to be had other than “you obviously think I’m hot.” So, if he’s fat or dog ugly or old or dumb, that really becomes irrelevant as long as he maintains respect for me… as a human and a woman.

Woah! Mind blown… by my own mind! Ha!

If this idea could catch on, then men could learn to look for signs of a woman’s Rep Meter (No Rep or Heavy Reppin’) and know better when and how to approach her (thus finding less rejections while understanding the deeper reasoning has little to do with HIM)! And women – oh, ladies could have soooo much more fun and freedom!

And finally, thoughts on G: Early on he said my “manners” were bad, later revealing, no, it’s just that I’m “inconsiderate”. Ok, not the first time I’ve heard this. And now, what I’m about to say is not about one of us being right or wrong, it’s just something I’ve never (ironically) considered – Where he sees inconsideration, I see a scheme to spend more time together, and/or share experience. For instance, he had the kids up North and I was downtown, about a half hour away. He asked if I wanted him to meet me at my house (20 minutes South of where he and the kids were eating) and bring me dinner and I said “sure”. But then changed my mind because I would have 10% preferred to not be in rodeo volunteer, hay-covered clothes while I ate, but 90% was scheming to get him to come over and spend the evening with me. But then I remembered how deeply he values consideration, so I called back and told him I’d meet him so he didn’t have to drive back to my house which was very much out of his way. Over dinner he pointed out how proud he was of me and how much I’ve grown which made me want to roll my eyes, because I realized all along that what he saw as inconsiderate, I saw as an opportunity to get closer. And there you have it – the chasm between our two personalities and why (without recognition and intention to meet in the middle) we do NOT match.

I often think of myself “in relation to” someone else or a particular situation. For instance, in relation to G, I operate at say a level 200% and he at maybe 100%. In order to even come close to satisfying my hunger for sex, conversation, curiosity, intimacy, time, attention, etc. the man must give 100% all the time. Where if I matched him in his efforts, it would only require a piddly 50% of my potential energy/depth/effort.

Bottom line: although this isn’t SURPRISING, I never realized this about myself before and take great comfort in knowing G hasn’t failed me or resisted meeting his full potential – he simply has a lower operating level, whereas mine is double that. Again, neither of us is wrong or bad. One level isn’t better than the other. We’re simply not an organic match, meaning, to make it work, greater compromises would have to be reached to close the gap between our natural bents.

It’s fun to know this about myself. In considering a life partner, finding someone with a “higher threshold” for connection/relationships will suit me very well, I think. It has been a week of “consciously observing” myself without judgements or criticism and I am thoroughly enjoying the understanding and peace that it comes with. Although this is just the beginning, I suspect by six months in I’ll quite possibly be catatonic with leisure and restful soul syndrome! Ha!

I wake up and go to sleep everyday choosing to support and create an environment in which I can thrive.

Oh, and on the subject of dating, I’d like to revise the language. It’s not necessarily a year of no dating – the timeline is indefinite. The point is I have allowed myself permission to “not look” anymore. So every single male I encounter doesn’t have to be subject to my immediate categorizations and evaluations. They are not meat to be seduced or won anymore. They are human as I am human and because I am not expecting anything or searching them to provide me with something, life can proceed as normal when I enter a moment with them. IMAGINE THAT! It sounds so stupidly obvious when I write it, but to know how this simple gesture has changed the very state of living for me is – well, equally embarrassing and revolutionary.

M: Me

Tyrel: My first love, husband and my abuser 2005-2015, father of my children, died by suicide September 2016

Children: Jane and Peter

G: Ex-boyfriend and best friend

S: G’s ex- girlfriend

A: Widow and close friend (one of the “hos”)

L: Younger sister (12 years younger) and close friend. Technically, my half-sister (her father is my stepdad, R)

R: Stepdad, father figure from age 11 on, and Opa to my kids

Z: Widow and close friend (one of the “hos”)

H: Older sister (two years older) and close friend

W: kindred spirit, beloved friend, licensed therapist

I began my self-study by documenting myself in my everyday life in hopes that after a few months, I could see patterns and understand some of my own rhythms. I kept 3 journals (the — symbol represents distinction between journals 1 and 3): 

  1. An emotional/mental well-being journal where I daily jotted 1-3 sentences about my overall internal stability.
  2. My mind-body-spirit (aka moon phase) journal, which was a calendar where I noted my hormones, diet, activity, and overall feelings about myself each day.
  3. The mamma-jamma journal (the main chunk of this memoir) where I painstakingly detailed out my experiences and my every thought about those experiences.
5 MBK Memoir: How to do hard things

2 MBK Memoir: How to begin to make peace with yourself

January 8

Good. G ended up having to work so we went rocking climbing without him and it was great. Enjoyed the last days with the kids before school starts again.

January 9

Ok. Overall pretty clear head although today was the first day I have missed sex with G. I try not to think about it too much though. Trying to be more conscious and observant of myself and my thoughts. As bedtime comes, I’m missing the routine of G in my bed and tv shows and sharing fruit bowls, but I know it will pass. Tomorrow I volunteer at the horse ranch again and I’ll begin writing again so it should be a good day.

This year I plan to respond to the open invitation I’ve given myself to be here. To be present and awake for the discovery. I know my closest friends’ quirks, patterns, intricacies… but I don’t know mine… or at least fully. I know I’m hormonal, but when are my mood swings? What are the specific moods? I will make notes and ask questions and observe. I will, however, NOT ask why.

When I was in the Christian world, I became obsessive about why I acted, spoke, thought the way I did. If someone else didn’t like it, that meant there was something wrong with me – something so deeply ingrained in my psyche that I was unaware of its hold on my life. It meant excavation was in order and I went mulling through any possible “pain” I could remember or even think about remembering.

And if someone approved of me or my thoughts or actions, well, then I must continue to do/think/be THAT. What could have been perceived as so “healthy” (self-help) and productive, turned into a systematic shaping of myself that I had little choice or joy in. The result? Ah, that’s the sad part. The result was living a life full of Representatives and devoid of… ME. I got lost in the heap of shit I was digging up in my past and when that phase finally ended with my separation from Tyrel, I got buried alive in chaos, stress, trauma, and eventually, grief.

I’m six feet under and it’s time to pull me out and let me breathe and dance and LIVE again. I see this year as an “undoing” of all that’s been “done” over the last 15-20 years. I’m unraveling the tangles of trauma, the knots of abuse, the cords of grief and disappointment, and I’m laying them all out in straight lines. They’re all pieces of who I am, but none of them single-handedly define me. I am not just a sum of all that has happened to me. These things are part of my story, but they aren’t who I am.

I am a living, thinking, choosing organism. I change and grow. I morph and expand. I shift and contract. Of course I’m worthy of life and being known. This part of my journey is more about being at peace and being allowed to not produce and perform. I get to sit back and watch from a different point of view – as an unbiased observer. I’m not judging or even fixing anymore. I’m simply noticing. Who I am. What makes me tick. What motivates or immobilizes me. I’m not trying to be anything for anyone else this year. I’m just learning who I am at ground zero – before I was mom, before I was wife, before all the responsibility.

So anything that doesn’t support me observing or creating space to be me, goes. So far:

  • Figuring out “why” is out.
  • Liquor is out. (This is a mindset and here is mine: Wine is conversational and reflective for me. Liquor is to feel tipsy and get lit.)
  • Dating is out. Even “looking”. The pursuit, the idea, and desire for it distracts me from ME. I don’t know how to date yet without making it all about what HE wants or without my Dating Rep, so it’s out for now.

At the end of this year (which really could be six months or six years), I see myself at a New Beginning. A new startline, where my past is just my past and not a constant reminder of pain, trauma, and disappointment. This is the emergent year for me, where I make peace with the first 35 years and neutralize them, allowing the next 35 to be new, fresh, and complete with me being fully ME.

I am so excited! This has come over the last few days and in the wake of navigating my first hormonal/ovulation-induced week of “blues” without G or any other person or drama around to mask it (or blame). I need this. To be with myself and get to know every part of me without the messiness of another person’s opinion clouding mine.

For instance, working out. I’m doing it now when and because I want to. Not to look good for G or attract a certain kind of guy.

My phone. I don’t need it. I don’t want it. It’s a crutch and an escape route out of my loneliness and it’s a way of finding attention/affirmation when I’m feeling insecure or small.

My free time. Made for peace and rest now, not serving someone else or figuring out my place in the relationship or the world. I just get to be whatever I am – insecure, happy, lonely, fulfilled. All of it or any of it. I don’t have to run away from myself anymore.

I’ve invited myself to be present in my life – for my kids and for peace. There is actually no timeline, although I’ve penciled in one year. This is a practice. There’s no specific end goal. I’m just giving myself the gift of time and attention.

On the other side, I know I will have found my voice. I will be the kind of partner I want. I will not be wrestling with my past. I will not be a slave to my mind. I will be open to and ready for love… my Great Love.

Up until now, I’ve wanted a man to come along and usher/draw/push me into finding myself and peace in life. Now, I don’t want anyone else involved in my bloom. All this time I thought it was about my career and making my own money, but as I’m writing this I just realized it’s about THIS. I keep telling my friends I’m not ready “to commit” or “settle down” with anyone because I need to “make it” financially first and prove to myself that I can. But really, I just need to give myself freedom to BE. Alone. Wild and free. Coo-coo and nutty. Amazing and creative. Loving and passionate. For myself.

XO,

M

P.S. I’m reading Big Magic by Liz Gilbert. I’m going to be like a nun for 2019 only instead of serving God, I’m going to serve myself. Although I know part of that invariably means serving and loving others better and more. Oh how “worship” changes for me over time! LOL

M: Me

Tyrel: My first love, husband and my abuser 2005-2015, father of my children, died by suicide September 2016

Children: Jane and Peter

G: Ex-boyfriend and best friend

S: G’s ex- girlfriend

A: Widow and best friend (one of the “hos”)

L: Younger sister (12 years younger) and best friend. Technically, my half-sister (her father is my stepdad, R)

R: Stepdad, father figure from age 11 on, and Opa to my kids

Z: Widow and close friend (one of the “hos”)

H: Older sister (two years older) and best friend

W: kindred spirit, beloved friend, licensed therapist

I began my self-study by documenting myself in my everyday life in hopes that after a few months, I could see patterns and understand some of my own rhythms. I kept 3 journals (the — symbol represents distinction between journals 1 and 3): 

  1. An emotional/mental well-being journal where I daily jotted 1-3 sentences about my overall internal stability.
  2. My mind-body-spirit (aka moon phase) journal, which was a calendar where I noted my hormones, diet, activity, and overall feelings about myself each day.
  3. The mamma-jamma journal (the main chunk of this memoir) where I pain-stakingly detailed out my experiences and my every thought about those experiences.
5 MBK Memoir: How to do hard things

1 MBK Memoir: What “doing the work” actually looks like

For the first few months in 2022, I will be sharing some of the entries from my personal journal from 2019. This journal dictates the part of my transition from unconscious emotional literacy to conscious emotional intelligence. I am not saying I hadn’t done any work on myself before this or that I have “it” all figured out since then. What 2019 brought me was the foundation to build a new relationship with my emotions, my past, and my authentic self. We are all made of light and shadow. We have all heard one way or another how it looks to “discover yourself” or “heal your past” or “do the work”. My journal is what that journey looks like realistically. This particular chapter of my story shows how raw, fragile, and messy meeting and fully accepting the shadow can be. This is a memoir. All of this actually happened. 

My hope in offering this vulnerable piece of my life with you is that you may find hope to keep fighting to reach your soul, your divine intuition, your most authentic self. Maybe you’ll get an idea of how you’d like to document your own healing process or perhaps you will be inspired to reach out for new resources to support you along your path home to yourself. At a minimum, I hope you can get some entertainment out of reading my trainwreck happen in slow motion, and the beauty in the aftermath.

I debated on whether I should title this memoir Shadow Dance, Finding My Authentic Self, or simply, Cringy. (Perhaps, as you read, you can offer title suggestions.) I’d like to make it known that I know how excruciating and difficult this will be at times to continue reading (you may find yourself chanting, “Don’t do it! C’mon, you know better!”). Stick with it at least through June (in the memoir), it’ll be worth enduring through the cringe that precedes.

A little background before you begin reading the first entries:

2019 was the year I decided to change a lifelong pattern of “emotional addiction”, although I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing when the year began. When 2019 started, I was hoping there was another way to live, but I had never experienced anything but the agonizing torment of being tangled inside the web of my own mind and heart up until that point. Self-sabotage was as natural as breathing.

Emotional addiction is a compulsion to find and stimulate emotional “hits”—the highs followed by the lows of entanglement with another person. “When they are good to me and give me what I want, I am floating and invincible. When they fail to show up or they disappoint me, I am thrown into disarray and I usually have a physical reaction to the emotional let down.” It is a chaotic and addicting way of life. And it isn’t just with romantic partners – parents, friends, coworkers, children are all common proxies for this addiction. 

This is my account of the year I got sober from a lifelong enslavement to a broken system of (unconscious) thought.

Here’s a list of people mentioned (I have changed some of their names/abbreviations for the protection of their dignity):

M: Me

Tyrel: My first love, husband and my abuser 2005-2015, father of my children, died by suicide September 2016

Children: Jane and Peter

G: Ex-boyfriend and best friend

S: G’s ex- girlfriend

A: Widow and best friend (one of the “hos”)

L: Younger sister (12 years younger) and best friend. Technically, my half-sister (her father is my stepdad, R)

R: Stepdad, father figure from age 11 on, and Opa to my kids

Z: Widow and close friend (one of the “hos”)

H: Older sister (two years older) and best friend

W: kindred spirit, beloved friend, licensed therapist

At the end of 2018, G broke up with me after a nearly two-year sometimes deep, sometimes casual relationship, noting “I know I want kids of my own and that’s not an option with you,” (because I knew I didn’t want anymore children from my body by then) “and, mostly, I think you deserve better than what I can give you.” This break-up wasn’t a simple undoing. G was my first kind and lasting romantic relationship after I left my abusive marriage in 2015. My kids adored G, and he was a regular part of our family rhythm. G and I were also best friends who truly wanted the best for each other, even if that meant us not being romantically connected. I know everyone says that, but we actually meant it… probably.

After the break up, I decided I didn’t want to do what I had always done before when the latest relationship expired (jump to distracting myself with new men). I wanted to, you know… take a peek behind my own walls. I began my self-study by documenting myself in my everyday life in hopes that after a few months, I could see patterns and understand some of my own rhythms. I kept 3 journals: 

  1. An emotional/mental well-being journal where I daily jotted 1-3 sentences about my overall internal stability.
  2. My mind-body-spirit (aka moon phase) journal, which was a calendar where I noted my hormones, diet, activity, and overall feelings about myself each day.
  3. The mamma-jamma journal (the main chunk of this memoir) where I pain-stakingly detailed out my experiences and my every thought about those experiences.

I had no idea what I would find swarming inside my soul… 

* I have not edited the content of these entries as will be clear very soon!

2019 Journal Intro

This is an observation journal for the year 2019. After a series of life events and recent circumstances, I have decided to step back and take the position of “The Observer” (aka “The Watcher” as Ekhart Tolle says). Not that I won’t be living or being “present” in the now, but rather that I am my new project of sorts. Instead of finding other things and people to fill my time and mental energy (scrolling the gram, texting my friends, binge watching Netflix), I am going to focus on getting to know myself this year.

This means, of course, I will live with no Representatives (read more here), only bringing and being my true self in any given moment or situation. I have only recently realized I’ve managed to live my entire adult life with a slew of very helpful, self-deprecating Representatives. The strongest being my Dating Rep. While it hasn’t been a struggle to live without them, more enlightening really, the hole my Dating Rep leaves is rather deep and it has made me aware I have some things to figure out. 

If approval, acceptance, inclusion, and affirmation are no longer the driving force for LITERALLY EVERYTHING I do, then what am I? Who am I? What’s to know? I’m sure it’s good stuff, I just couldn’t say specifically “what” it is. And so… I quest.

December 30, 2018

I was in a good headspace until I dropped by G’s to unload some Xmas stuff. His high school buddy, J was there. That was the first time I’ve met J, and G was energetically playful with the kids – almost like he was showing off. But that was all fine. J seems extremely insecure.

What did me in was G mentioning tomorrow he could only come by for an hour after work because he’s “gonna go to…” then he stopped himself from telling me where (maybe because of J, but probably because of me). Instant knots.

After I got home I could tell I was shorter with the kids. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Am I jealous? Do I really expect him to only be with us all of the time? Why do I feel like this?

I texted him to not feel pressure to come over tomorrow “we can do firecrackers with you another night,” then asked what he was doing tomorrow night. He said, “Ok cool. I’ll come over on the 1st for longer… Nunya.” More knots.

He doesn’t want me to know which makes me think the worst – some other chick – but IS THAT SO BAD? Isn’t this the plan anyways? Why is this bothering me AT ALL?!

I also saw a pic of him on IG with some other people from work and I sank lower. He’s doing things in business and personal life that I know nothing about. It’s absurd. That I always take it in the worst ways, but moreso, that I still want him to pick me, invite me, choose me, want me.

I desperately need to belong and I’m sinking. What am I supposed to focus on when I feel this way? Oh, yeah… gratitude. 

It helps 20% and I listen to my breathing. Then I remember!

*When I am desperate for someone to give me something I am lacking, I need to give it to myself!

So, I invited myself to spend time alone writing tonight. And tomorrow, I’m inviting myself to play SORRY! and drink hot chocolate with the kids in my bed for NYE, then drink Korbel and watch movies alone and rest in my aloneness…

Because it’s actually what I choose for myself.

And just like that… I dgaf what G is doing tomorrow night. Or any other night! LOL

December 31, 2018

Talked with A about it all. Feels better to get it out and be reminded of what I truly want – more for ME – a true match for my family and for G to get his dream of his own family.

January 1, 2019

Woke up distantly thinking about G, but I can feel the detachment happening again. That’s good. Feeling better about it and easy to create distance from him.

January 2

I woke up feeling 50% secure – so not solid, which makes me feel slippery and close to unstable. G was being formal and distant which irritates me and makes me feel insecure about how our relationship will pan out. I’m not in control of that though. I have to allow him to be himself and take our friendship one day at a time.

January 3

Woke up worrying. Soccer, $$, bills, career. I feel alone and untethered. I tried to take deep breaths and remember all the love and support I have. Then my mom texted she’d take the kids tomorrow night and I felt such relief. I wondered if maybe just having the kids out of school and a wonky routine is getting to me. Always an excuse for the emotional lows, I guess.

Well, the day got better then worse! Distracted with errands then went to P’s house. Then… I ran a red light and a teen driver hit me (eye roll). I’m so mad at myself, but I’m embracing this as the Universe warning me to get focused and pay attention (I had been texting while stopped at the red light). I’m really trying to listen and not self-loathe. This is definitely a low day. 

January 4

The funk is looming but mom is taking the kids for the night so I’m going dancing with the hos.

January 5

Not. A good start to the day. Very blue. I desperately miss G. I miss our friendship and companionship. I’m tired, hungover, and feeling so lonely. Like really alone. I’ve been thinking (not good) for almost two hours about why… in the end, it doesn’t matter. Two things I’m considering:

  1. Not drinking for a month (or more)
  2. Not dating or even looking to date for this entire year

January 6

Today was much better. I felt like myself again, but maybe with a little added soberness for how rough the last week has been. Would have preferred not to see G today, but sold a mirror from my storage (which is still at his house) and he was home. It was fine. I wasn’t overly uncomfortable. However, leaving, I felt comforted by his engagement with me and the kids. I’m not sure how good that is for me. I guess I’ll find out. He is going rock climbing with us in two days (eye roll). I was undecided about him going, but he pushed for it so I agreed. Not sure if I should be able to decide that for myself or not.

January 7

Feeling so good today. I love the space I’m creating for myself to live alone and free from over-analyzing myself and the “why” of everything in my life. I feel detached from “looking” for attention from G (or any other man). I feel so safe in giving myself room to be alone and learn about myself. I want to learn my intricacies, moods, wants, likes, needs, etc. I want to find my voice…

Somatic Memories: Healing Body, Mind, and Soul

Somatic Memories: Healing Body, Mind, and Soul

Your body remembers significant mile markers along your life journey, even when your mind doesn’t. Today marks six years from the last fight we ever had. My body has been sluggish all week, feeling the magnetic pull to my bed. I only just realized why. I feel it in my spine and tightening muscles around my hips and shoulders–what this weekend symbolizes in my soul. Freedom. Isn’t that strange? My body constricts at the memory of how I reclaimed my freedom. The body and soul are intimately interwoven, and mine are remembering the process it took to get me here–safe, stable, whole again.

Exiting a toxic relationship is never easy, let alone one tangled with gaslighting, bipolar, depression, alcoholism, drugs, and codependency. It was like pulling my head out of a shark’s mouth–painful, bloody, no clean lines. So, that’s what my visceral memory is recounting. It took me four years to finally be able to truthfully declare: I am emotionally stable. And another two years after that to actually feel… I am going to be okay in life. 

Domestic violence is a funny thing, the way it sneaks up on you and eats away at your confidence, personality, and neural pathways… in silence. We assume we are safe inside our own minds, but victims of abuse have learned the hard way, this is not true. Once that is understood, it makes sense that it can easily take years to untangle the complex webs of toxic beliefs that were sown into our psyches. 

I mostly have amazing days, full of laughter, joy, and love. But a few days a year, my body remembers what I came from. I honor this pull. It’s sacred to me–remembering. I never want to forget the horrific lows of what it felt like to be treated less than human by the one who swore to love me for the rest of my life. I want to be able to tap back into those days of hollowing emptiness inside my chest. Why? Because it’s where empathy lives now. It is no longer re-traumatizing for me to think about my days as a victim (after substantial PTSD therapy), so I treasure those memories and emotions. They are what help me spread and teach hope and power to those who are wading through the dark hollows still. 

“Healing” isn’t linear, with clear directions and graduation points. Reconciling one’s past is excruciating at times, and I wasn’t ever actually interested in facing that kind of pain. But I chose to turn into the abyss of lost dreams and try to recover pieces of myself in hopes that I could somehow be able to give my kids something better than what I had. I started out doing it for them, but somewhere along the way, I ended up doing it for me.

As I collected the lost pieces of my soul, I learned the most valuable lessons of my life: I am worthy. I am enough. I belong. I am okay. It was in this learning that I began to accept my story–the abuse, the decisions I regretted, the divorce, the loss of myself. Acceptance didn’t mean it was acceptable to be treated poorly, but it meant it was okay to honor my past for bringing me here today. What follows this brave embracing of one’s self is perhaps one of human’s most precious capabilities: compassion.

When I learn how to extend compassion to myself (for all the things I wish I had done differently), I become capable of showing compassion to others. The same goes for caring for oneself, loving oneself, forgiving oneself, respecting oneself, embracing oneself. If we can get clear about practicing these patterns with ourselves, we will naturally create space and capacity in our lives to do these things for others. It’s magic.

So, yes. I am allowing myself to soberly sit in the memories of what this weekend represents for me: the beginning of my exodus to freedom. It isn’t painful to remember, it’s humbling. And at the same time, I feel immense pride for the six-year younger version of me who was brave enough to say, “No more.” She’s fucking radiant and I am honored to hold her in the deepest parts of my soul today. She has taught me so much, led me home, and reminded me of my humanity. I love her. I love me. 

To all the souls who are still wandering for your scattered pieces:

Carry on. You can do hard things. You are worth the often silent, lonely journey back to yourself. And I see you.

Photo by William Farlow Unsplash

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