Friday, July 30, 2010

Welcome to Holland

One of the things I have come to learn about life is that it IS a journey; a journey through happy moments, crises, boring days, ecstasy, tragedy and simple moments. I believe the key to a well-lived life is how you handle each of these situations. We may not have choices about where our journey goes or what experiences we face, but we always have a choice about our attitude. If we do not like something, we can learn to live with it or change it. We can look a crisis in the face and crumble or we can find the strength to work through it and come out stronger on the other side.

I certainly would not chosen to have my marriage fall apart, to find out that the man I loved had cheated on me, betrayed me, put our son's safety in jeopardy and hurt other people. I would not have chosen to be a divorced only parent. I would not have chosen to have to explain to my son why his dad chose to commit suicide rather than get help for his many problems. I would not have chosen to raise my son alone.

But there are also many positive things that have come out of my journey. My son and I developed a very special, close & trusting relationship. I learned that I was stronger than I ever thought I could be. My son is learning coping skills early in life that will help him as he grows. I have an extended network of family and friends (my village) that truly enhance my son's and my life. I have connected with other single moms (mainly through this new blogging adventure) who give me support for the present and hope for the future.

When I worked with children with life-threatening illnesses, I came across this piece written about the experience of raising a child with disabilities. The story is powerful as well as transferable to many situations where you end up in a different place than expected. I hope that it touches you as much as it touches me.

Welcome to Holland

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......
 
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.
Emily Perl Kingsley  1987

Random updates

  1. I have a new home at http://myeverydayjourney.net   Yep - a custom domain name!  I had tried to get the .com, but it was taken.  Hopefully the .net won't confuse people.  If you have a link to me, you can update it if you want or blogger will redirect you automatically.
  2. I was interviewed yesterday by Mandy at Since My Divorce.  It was enlightening to tell my story again and I am looking forward to seeing what she does with it.  It has really made me realize how much I want to connect with others who have similar experiences.  I want to share my story...to help myself and to help others. 
  3. I found out about meme's yesterday.  Looking for any single mom blogs that have meme's that I could participate in.  If you know of any, let me know.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Family Time

People always talk about family time.  Quality time spent with your family...perhaps gathered around the dinner table or a favorite board game or any number of activities.  It always sounds so nice to have mom, dad and kids together enjoying each other and catching up on everyone's activities.


But what is family time when you have a family of two?  My family is me and my seven year old son.  After my divorce I went through a period of time when I questioned whether or not we were still a family.  I realized that just because we don't fit into the traditional mold does not mean we are any less of a family.  All families are different.  But, back to the question of family time.

All of our time as a family is spent together - me and my kiddo.  There are no other immediate family members to draw into the circle.  Sometimes that is hard.  Sometimes it is nice.  But I do miss being able to have a conversation over dinner that involves more than two people.  I miss the dynamics of a group rather than a duo.

When we are at home, it is often just the two of us.  This does get switched up a bit now that he has friends over more often - for play or sleepovers.  When it is the two of us, sometimes we do things together, but more often it seems we are doing parallel things.  He might be playing nintendo or reading while I might be on the computer or cleaning.  We do both enjoy time to ourselves but I also want to have that QUALITY family time.  That is truly the struggle.  I have the quantity of time, but do I have the quality?

I am trying to find out more about how other single moms of only children manage this issue.  Do other people have different ways of looking at it?  Do others even think about it like I do?  So far I have not found much about it in the blogosphere but I am still looking.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

5 Random Weekend Thoughts

1.  Telling my story WORE ME OUT!  Wow.  I expected it to be hard...but then it wasn't as bad as a thought...until I was done.  That is when I realized how hard it was to process all those things again.  I must say, the last few posts were not as "polished" as I wanted them to be but I just needed to be done.  Glad I did it.  Hope that I can find a way for other people in similar positions to "find" me,  But right now I am just glad I am done.

2.  I love this summer.  It has been different than any summer yet.  My kiddo played baseball which mean I hung out at the ball field 2 - 3 times a week & LOVED it.  Got some great photos, fun times with friends and saw my kiddo improve so much over one season.  We also have been enjoying the pool.  I have avoided it in the past - because I am fat - but this year I decided that was stupid.  I am trying to get in shape, but I decided not to postpone my life any longer just because of the way I look.  That has been very freeing.  And the best thing has just been having fun.  No matter what we do - camping, sleepovers, parties, hanging out...we just seem to be having fun.  And that is GREAT!

3.  I miss my sister.  For the last few years we talk on the phone every morning while I drive to work.  After watching Oprah's special on cell phones and distracted drivers I decided to try to stop talking on the cell while driving.  It is not that hard, except that I miss that time with my sister.  It is hard to find uninterrupted time to talk on a regular basis.  I wish there was a solution.

4.  I have been working hard on finances after taking Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace class last September.  I really liked the majority of the class.  He is more religious and conservative than me, but I took what I liked out of the course and really made some improvements to my financial life.  There is a freedom that has come with knowing where all my money is going and being in control of it.  I have managed some big expenses (new car a/c + suspension = $900, dental work = $700, etc.) without going into debt.  That felt great.  I was also able to find room in my budget for some "extras" like someone to mow my lawn, which has been a huge relief and time saver for me.

5.  I had my first pedicure this year.  I cannot believe I waited so long.  I have always hated my feet, but I love my new polished toenails.  Fun to get pampered once in a while.  Taking care of myself is something I usually put on the back burner.  Now I know a pedicure is not the ultimate in mental health or anything - but it sure was fun!



That's it for now - Happy Weekend!!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How I Got Here (Addendum): Just When You Thought it was Over

A divorce should be the end of the story, right?  It wasn't.

Three months after my final court hearing I found out there was another story playing out parallel to my divorce proceedings.  Approximately six months after I filed for divorce he was arrested by a police detective posing as a 14- year-old boy on the internet.  My husband had been "talking" with this "boy" online and eventually traveled about an hour to meet him for oral sex.  When he arrived, he was met by the local police department...think "Dateline: To Catch a Predator" without the TV cameras.  He was arrested and charged.  He was convicted as a sex offender the week before our divorce was finalized. 

I should not have been surprised.  Eventually his actions were bound to escalate.  I was shocked and saddened but glad he had been caught.  I had worried about people he might hurt, but never had any specific knowledge or evidence that I could take to law enforcement or children's services.  He served 30 days in jail and had to register as a sex offender.  Now I knew why he dropped any requests for unsupervised visitation with our son.  I was incredibly sad that it came to this, but I did have a sense that justice had prevailed.

But that was still not the end of the story.

It was now almost four years from the day I found the list, two and a half years from the finalization of my divorce.  My furnace had a crack in the heat exchanger and had to be replaced.  I had taken the day off work to get quotes since it was October and getting colder every day.  The mail came and I saw an envelope from the Child Support Enforcement Agency.  My first reaction was that he had finally lost his job (I had always expected this to happen) and child support would be ending.  My only thought was NOW?  When I needed a $4000 new furnace?  When I opened the envelope,  I stated reading a motion from his attorney to end child support due to his death.  WHAT?  His death notice was attached.  I cannot begin to describe how this news affected me.  I was distraught.  I cried from the depths of my soul.  But I was also relieved.  It was finally over.

Over the next few weeks I was able to confirm that he committed suicide, read the police report and his suicide note.  I got some answers.  Basically he had created a new life based on the same lies and it was unraveling beneath him.  Even in the note he played the victim, took no responsibility for his actions and made hurtful comments towards me and his son.  It was sad.

I never wanted him to end his own life, but I was not surprised by it.  He was a sick man and he refused to get the help he needed.  Even if he would have sought out help, I am not sure he could have gotten better.  In some ways, his death finally gave me some closure.  He was no longer out there.  I did not have to keep wondering if he would show up some day and try to see our son.  I did not have to think about what he might be doing.  It was over.  Really over.

It has now been almost two years since his death.  I have been able to grieve his death and my loss in a different way.  I have been able to allow myself to remember some of the good things about him.  I have been able to continue to move forward.

The whole thing is unreal.  And tragic.  But it is real and it is part of my story.  My story is part of who I am, but it does not define me.

How I Got Here (Part Five): No One Gets Married, Planning to get Divorced, except maybe Larry King.

I work in the medical field and I know that we speak a different language than normal people.  I know the hospital lingo and as a oncology social worker, often find myself in the position of interpreting "medical speak" to the patients I work with.  Patients who have been diagnosed with a cancer often describe it as walking into a foriegn country, not knowing the language, the landmarks, etc.

When I first sat down with my divorce attorney, my immediate thought was, "This is how my patients must feel the first time they meet with the doctor."  I was immediately thrust into a world that I did not know or understand.  Motions, filings, subpoenas, hearings, continuances, hourly billing rates...OH MY!  It was overwhelming, especially in my fragile emotional state.  I was "lucky" in a few ways.  I did not have any second thoughts about what I needed to do.  The extremity of my husband's actions made the decision clear.  NOt easy, but clear.  I also found an excellent, well-known (read expensive) attorney who specialized in complicated divorce cases.

My state is a no-fault divorce state.  This means than no matter what he did, he was entitled to half of everything we had.  Period.  However, if we could come to an agreement and a judge approved it, it did not HAVE to be that way.  I put my cards on the table:  I wanted to keep our 2 bedroom middle class house.  I wanted full custody of our son.  I would only allow supervised visitation of our son, for obvious reasons.  I did not want to pay my husband any money or "buy him out" in any way.  HE did this and I wanted to do everything I could to ensure that I could get out of this in a financially secure manner that would allow me to care for my son in the best way possible.

He fought me...every step of the way...for over a year.  His attorney kept sending us letters with demands.  We kept saying no and requesting a deposition.  I was not afraid of testifying in front of a judge.  I had nothing to hide.  This was key.  He had everything to lose by his secret life becoming public.  The one thing he did not fight for was the right to see his son.  In fact he dropped all requests for visitation because he said supervised visitation was unacceptable to him.  This broke my heart in many ways, but it was also a relief, because I did not feel that my son was safe with him at this point in time.

The legal posturing went back and forth for a year until he finally lowered his demands to an acceptable level.  There were still two things I did not want to accept.  First, he demanded more than half of our son's college savings.  Second, he refused to keep our son as a beneficiary on his life insurance policy.  As a mom, I hated making these concessions.  I remember crying in my attorney's office and saying that I could accept him wanting to hurt me, but how could he take these things from our child.  But my attorney advised me to look at the larger picture and the fact that I was getting all of the things I had classified as most important.  He was right, but it still made me steaming mad.  In the end, my husband did not even show up at the final hearing.  He had filed with the court many months earlier that it was too emotionally difficult to see me at the courthouse.  Whatever.  So there in the magistrate's office, across a big wooden desk, she made the end of our marriage legal.  Then she looked at me and genuinely wished me the best.  And it was over.  I only saw him two more times after that, when he came to pick up his things that I had packed and placed in our garage.

Those are the facts...but the emotions are such a bigger part of the story.  The week I filed for divorce and he was served with papers was traumatic for me.  I cried non-stop.  I don't think I went to work.  Friends and family stayed with me around the clock and helped care for me and my son.  I was a wreck.  Slowly, I began to function again but the whole year was filled with roller coaster emotions.  I would start to develop panic attacks every time I saw a grey envelope from my attorney in the mail.  It was a bad year, but it got better.  I got better.

Counseling helped immensely.  One thing my counselor said over and over were that there were three things I needed to remember, "It's not fair.  It will never make sense.  There will never be justice."  I kept searching for understanding, kept trying to make sense of all of it, but it was impossible.  My counselor also told me to try to look at it in this way, that I crossed paths with insanity but I got out with my sanity intact, for the most part!

I moved from crisis mode to survival mode, which lasted several years.  Just this year I feel that I have started to live again.  I still have my moments.  I still cry at night sometimes wondering what in the world happened.  But I have learned how to take care of myself.  I still make some unhealthy choices - like emotional eating - but I am working on it.  It's a process.  It's about choices.  It's life.  I may not have ended up where I thought I would be, but I ended up somewhere pretty good.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

How I Got Here (Part 4): The Next Four Months

After the phone confrontation, he told me I would never see him again.  He had planned all along that if anyone ever found out about this, he would kill himself.  I considered if he was using the suicide card as manipulation, but my gut and my training as a social worker told me that he was incredibly unstable.  At that point, my anger and hurt at the betrayal was replaced by my desire to keep him alive.   No matter what happened with us, I did not want him to kill himself.  I desperately pleaded with him to come home or go to a hospital.  I told him I would be at home waiting for him.  I left my son with my dad and went home to wait.  I remember sitting in my empty house imagining the scenarios that might be playing out.  Not knowing if he was dead or alive was agonizing.

He eventually came home around one in the morning.  It was surreal when he walked in the door.  We talked, cried, embraced...for a moment I saw the man I loved.  But I knew he was a different person.  It was incredibly confusing.  He promised me that I knew everything now, that there were no more secrets and that he wanted to get better.  He seemed to be at rock bottom.  Then began the "honeymoon period" during which I actually felt closer to him than I had in months.  It seemed like everything was on the table and we were committed to working through it. 

The next four months played out in a pattern:  something resembling normalcy, retreat into depression/moodiness, lies, explanations, acceptance and repeat.  He never truly apologized for what he had done to me.  He portrayed himself as a victim who was powerless and not responsible for what he had done, because he was an addict and sex was his drug of choice.  I struggled with the issue of his homosexual experiences.  He continued to say that this was a sex addiction and he was not gay.  I did a lot of research but was still confused.  Was he gay?  Was he bi-sexual?  Was he an addict?  Was he just making excuses?  I still don't know those answers.

Looking back on it I am amazed that I went through it so long without seeing the truth.  But when you love someone and you desperately want to believe, you miss signals that seem obvious in hindsight.  You tune out those gut level instincts.  I don't see it as denial but rather the process I needed to go through.  I had taken a vow for better or for worse and did not want to abandon him if he was truly sick but was committed to getting help.  And he did get help:  counseling and a 12 step group.  I made some adjustments like never leaving my son alone with him and I stayed.  And yes, I did get an HIV test - cried through the whole thing.  Luckily it was negative.

One thing that was prevalent during this time was his ability to make me think that I was the crazy one.  Every time I would suspect something or feel something was wrong, he was able to turn it around on me.  What I know now is this was part of the manipulation:  keeping me off kilter and confused so that I would not discover the truth.

Things culminated in April, 4 months from when I found the list.  I was having a tough week and decided to visit my sister out of state.  I was contemplating separation and needed to think away from home.  When I returned, our fighting continued and I asked him to leave so we could have some space to think.  He checked into an extended stay hotel. 

A few weeks later I noticed a gas charge on our credit card bill from the weekend that I was gone.  The charge was from a gas station over an hour away on the turnpike.  He said he had just gone driving to clear his head but I did not believe it.  This time I followed my gut which I had ignored for so long.  I checked the cell phone log and found a number of calls that weekend to an out of state area code.  I had a friend call the number.  It was a woman whose name was on the list.  A woman he dated in high school.  He had previously denied an affair with her and said her name was on the list because of emotional support she had provided him.  I always suspected he had an affair with her but I had no clue it was still going on.  At this point I knew our marriage was over.  I had given him so many opportunities to come clean, but he continued to lie.

It was Tuesday and I knew he should be on his the way to his 12-step meeting.  I called his cell phone.   I had never felt anger like this...from deep within my soul. I told him that I was going to give him something to talk about at his group.  I told him he should talk to his group about why he was continuing to lie to his wife after all the support and forgiveness I had given him.  I asked about her and he admitted the affair.  He went into a rage and said he was going to kill himself, that he was sick, that he was a monster and hung up. He called back and left two of the ugliest, rage-filled messages I had ever heard.  I finally picked up and told him I could not make any promises about our future but I begged him to go check himself into a hospital.  Regardless of what he had done, he could get help and I wanted him to live.  He hung up.  Once again I waited, unsure if he was alive or dead.

He called two hours later from the emergency room to tell me he was being admitted to a psychiatric hospital.  With his permission I went to clean out his hotel room.  I asked him what I would find there and he said I would find a letter from her that I did not need to read but might as well.  He also told me about things in our house that he had hidden.  I found all of it and so much more...notes, cards, lists, letters, photos.  I spent hours reading and processing what I had found.

I went to the hospital the next day and he presented me with a letter stating he had hit bottom and was coming clean with everything because he had nothing left to hide.  He was cold, angry and distant.  That letter hit even harder as I once again realized that there had been more secrets and more lies.  The biggest shock was that he had abused children when he was a teen and that he remained sexually preoccupied with minors.  Some of the names on the list had actually been teen boys.  I was physically sick. 

I told him that he could not come home.  I filed for divorce a week later.

Friday, July 9, 2010

How I Got Here (Part Three): The Day My World Turned Upside Down

Things had been increasingly difficult for a few months. He was more depressed and harder to get along with. The mood in our house was stressed. But he had accepted a new job with great potential and I was convinced that this would be the turning point. Since this job had a level of security that he had not had before, I was able to accept a new job with less hours, allowing me to stay home more with our son. This was the best of both worlds for me: being able to work in a field that I loved and feel more of a balance with my family. Life was looking up.

It was near Christmas and we had a rare night out planned with friends. I was searching the computer for my babysitter info sheet so I could get things set for the evening. I am usually pretty organized but I could not find it for anything! I started to randomly open folders in the hope that I would find the file and not have to retype the whole darn thing. As I searched, I found an unfamiliar folder and opened the first document.

It was a list. A list of names. I recognized a few as his past girlfriends. My name was on there. But then came more names - of both genders. And graphic descriptions of sexual activity. And locations - some in our own home. I was paralyzed and just stared at the screen. He was cheating on me with women and men. For the first time, I felt he was a stranger. I had no idea what was real and what was not. The world was swirling around me. I knew that I needed time to figure out what to do so I printed out the list and decided to wait until we were with our counselor to confront him. It felt like the best thing to do as I was unsure how he would react. I no longer felt safe.

Well, you know that phrase about best laid plans, right? Well, he found the list I had printed out. Guess I am not a good secret keeper. He knew I knew. But then he asked ME what it was, claiming he had never seen the list. He said a virus must have placed the document on our hard drive. Really? Did he think I was THAT stupid? Well I played dumb, because I did not want to go any further without a third party. I put on my brave face, went to dinner and no one ever suspected what was going on beneath the surface.

Over the next two days, he stuck with the virus story. Our counselor even seemed to believe him. She suggested that the best way to get this behind us was to have a computer expert look at the computer and figure out how it had been infected and the origin of this document. I just laid low for the rest of the weekend, the whole time feeling like I was in a fog of confusion deperately trying to get my bearings.

On Monday morning, we both woke up and got ready for work. He left before me. I took my son to daycare, called in sick to work and drove directly back home. I called a computer expert to do a scan of the hard drive to find any deleted documents, web pages, etc. I knew enough to know that just because you delete something doesn’t mean it is gone.

I needed support, so I called a good friend and asked her to come with me. Probably the hardest thing she had ever had to do. The computer expert started scanning and found too much - photos, messages, personal ads. My fears were validated. He had betrayed me and violated my trust in a manner that I never thought possible. I did not know this man. I had no idea what my future would hold but somehow I knew exactly what I needed to do. My emotions went on a back burner. I was in crisis management mode.

I had a mirror image of the hard drive made and gave it to my friend. She stayed and went through files, saving things to a CD that I could access as needed. I picked up my son from daycare and met my dad who took my son to his house. I told him under no circumstances was he to allow my husband into the house. I called an attorney. I was advised to get everything valuable out of the home and to a safe place. I went to the bank, stood in line in tears, walked up to a teller-in-training and told her I wanted to withdraw half of the money in my joint account. She probably thought I was an abused woman leaving her husband. She started crying too and asked if she could hug me. It still felt unreal. I took the money, cleared out the house (paperwork, financial documents, legal stuff, jewelry, sentimental items), went to my parents’ house and waited.

When he got off work, I called him on his cell. I told him that I knew. He played dumb. I told him I would not be home when he got there. He said he didn’t understand. I told him to stop playing games because I knew. He explained. He made excuses. He said he was a sex addict. He said he chose to be with men so that it wouldn't be like cheating on me. Seriously? He said none of it meant anything. He said he was sick. He said he did not want to lose me. It was not making sense, but I SO wanted to believe him. I loved him and did not want this to be happening.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Anonymity

                 As I work on sharing the story of how I came to be an only parent, I am finding myself thinking more and more about privacy and anonymity.  I am not ashamed of my story.  Telling my story is not only therapeutic but it may help someone else out there feel not quite so alone.  But a dear friend emailed me today and asked if I had thought about any potential impact to my son in the future if he were to come across the blog or if his friends were.

Now I HAD thought about this, but now I am thinking more.  There is a line between being open/honest and maintaining some privacy for the sake of family members not being harmed in any way.



So where does that leave me in making sure that I can openly express myself but also protect him?  I could use some feedback here!  : )

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How I Got Here (Part Two): Marriage, Family, Love & Life

I loved being married:  coming home to someone who was genuinely interested in spending his life with me; feeling love; giving love.  Now, I did not have unrealistic expectations of marriage.  We both knew it would take work.  But we were happy.  We bought a house in 1999.  We took some fun vacations.  We enjoyed each other.  After four years of marriage, we were blessed with the birth of our son in 2002.  Becoming parents was hard at times (as any parent knows) but we truly loved our son and enjoyed moving from being a couple to being a family.

Of course, not everything was sunshine and roses.  Life certainly threw us a fair share of curveballs:  deaths of his grandparents, a medical crisis for him, two job losses for him, a medical condition with our son, major house repairs, depression, financial challenges, etc.  Sometimes it seemed that there was a black cloud over us and bad things just kept coming our way.  At times our marriage was stressed, but I was always convinced that these were the ebbs in the "ebbs and flows" of marriage.  The relationship got harder, but I just kept telling myself that if we could get through that particular crisis, things would be better, he would be happier, we would be happier.

Then, in December 2004, came the day when my life was turned upside down in an instant.

Monday, July 5, 2010

How I Got Here (Part One): The One

Telling my story is something I want to do.  It is the story of how my life turned upside down in an instant and how I got to where I am today:  a single woman and only parent to a seven year boy.  I am a little scared to do it, but since a big part of my story involves someone else's lies, deception and manipulation, there is something freeing about wanting to get it out there, be honest and stop keeping someone else's secrets.  My story no longer defines me, but it is definitely a part of who I am.  The more I understand it the more I understand myself.

I dated a lot in high school and college.  I went to all the homecoming dances, proms, date parties, etc.  I had boyfriends (some serious some not).  I had break-ups (some my choice, some not).  After college, things changed.  I realized how much harder it was to meet people out in the "real" world.  So I dated here and there but often picked men who were not good for me.  Then I had one of those Aha moments.  I still remember that turning point when I realized it was better to be alone than to be with someone for the wrong reasons. 

At this point I had graduated from college and grad school and had a great job that became my career.  I was living on my own and was proud to be an independent woman.  I often wondered if I would ever meet anyone that I could see myself marrying.  Sometimes I felt like I would always be single. 

Then I met him.

We "met" under completely random circumstances.  That sounds so mysterious, doesn't it?  It was the early days of dial up internet (when a 14.4 modem was high speed) and America Online.  On AOL, I had a profile and my screen name contained the name Snoopy, my favorite cartoon.  He randomly "found" me when he was searching through the AOL community for people with similar interests, long before online dating.  About 3 months in, we discovered that we had mutual friends.  It was a "small world" kind of moment.  I took the opportunity to "check him out" and got great reviews.  People who knew both of us thought we would really get along.

I already felt I liked him, but was not sure how it would be in "real life."  It took some coordination but after months of long distance communication we met in person.  I remember that date like it was yesterday.  How comfortable the conversation was.  How much I wanted him to kiss me but was impressed that he didn't.  How I came home and called my mom and said that I could picture myself marrying this guy.

After that weekend, we saw each other almost every weekend for over a year and talked almost every day.  I was continually amazed at how he did not play games.  We could both be ourselves, be real, be honest.  We both commented on how refreshing that was.  We dated for a little over a year when he proposed to me.  I was thrilled.  I had found "the one."  The one who made me laugh, sent flowers for no reason and let me be ME!  It was not always easy.  We successfully made it through a career change for him, a job change for me, a move for both of us and normal relationship growing pains.  We married about a year later...on the 2nd anniversary of our first date.  It felt right.  It felt real.  I could not imagine my life without him.

 http://www.flickr.com/photos/clion52/2479389912/

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Open Windows

I love summer days when it is warm enough to have the windows open but not need the air conditioner.  At night, I love the cool breeze through the windows, just chilly enough to want a blanket while you are sleeping.  We have had a few of those days this week, but I can tell it is coming to an end.  Tomorrow is supposed to be 90 degrees with more humidity....but tonight the windows stay open!  Quintessential summer.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

good choices

Just for the record:  I made pretty good food choices the last few days.  Not perfect, but good.  And I went grocery shopping tonight and except for the white bread hot dog buns I was proud of everything I bought.   I wanted bratwurst for grilling for the Fourth of July, which is definitely not a healthy choice.  But I found some turkey bratwurst that were half the fat and calories and tasted yummy with the fresh cherries we found!

I am not kidding myself that one day of good grocery shopping and turkey brats are going to solve all my problems...but a step in the right direction was all I was looking for!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

unexpected reaction

I have worked in the field of pediatric hospice and oncology for 17 plus years. I have seen a lot of joy, healing and survival. I have also seen a lot of pain, suffering and death. But today I am reflecting on the second. I read a blog post from a mother, Sarah, recounting her last day with her 7 year old son, Conner, who died this past week from Cystic Fibrosis. I found this blog through my friend Stacey who recently started blogging her experience as a 34 year old with CF.


Experiencing the death of a child is not new to me. Her story was familiar to others I have heard or been present for. But my reaction to it was new. I could not even read it at first. I saw the post and navigated away from the page because I knew it would be too much for me. Today I decided to read it in it’s entirety. I knew I would be sad, but I think I experienced it in a different way because of several reasons. First, my son is also 7 and I found myself thinking of him as I read Sarah’s words. Second, I have been through some trauma in my life and I find that sad things bring me much quicker to tears than they did before. Third, the part I did not expect, was that it made me think of my struggle with my weight and health. Odd, huh? Here’s why: I have been seriously thinking about my weight and it’s effect on my health. I have been increasingly concerned as I see my weight increasing and my belief that I am string enough to do anything about it decreasing. I have been thinking about what I will think if/when someday my weight causes life-threatening health complications. Will I look back on this time and say to myself, “You KNEW there was a problem and you did NOTHING about it?” Will I realize that this was a pivotal point in my life story and I did nothing? Will I regret that I did not make significant changes that would have dramatically changed my weight and health?

I think I would.

Regrets suck. Especially when you had the power to do something differently. A lot of the decisions I have made over the past five years have NOT resulted in regret. I have been proud of how I handled the implosion of my marriage, my decision to divorce and related issues. I have not had regrets because I made good choices.

I talk to my son regularly about choices. I praise him when he makes good choices. I help him understand when he makes undesirable choices and help him learn from them so that he will be more equipped to make better choices in the future.

But here I am (the adult, the mother, the role model) making bad choice after bad choice about food and weight and exercise and health.

So, back to Conner and Sarah. As I read the story of her last hours with her son, I thought about life and death. I am my son’s only parent. I hope that he lives a long and healthy life – which will mean that he will have to grieve my death. That is a part of life. But I do not want it to be a premature death because I made bad choices.

So insert your favorite cliché here: This is where I put my money where my mouth is. No more excuses. (Cringing because I know I have said this before…)

I have a lot of reasons why I eat and why I am overweight. I have a lot of excuses. I will probably blog about those at a future date. But I only need one reason to get healthier: To live a long, healthy life…for me, and for my son.

The doubts are already surfacing….but I need to remember how I feel right now.