Cutting Cords with Love

2017 has been full of A LOT of change for a lot of people!  It seems things are coming up to be dealt with that have been dormant for some time for lots of people in my life.  As I enter my birthday week and my personal new year, I am reflecting on where I have been and where I want to go.  It’s been a particularly tumultuous 12 months…  I have divorced, moved twice, got a new full-time office job, lost friends, gained friends, started a band, lost a band, started another band, legally changed my name, lost co-workers, gained co-workers… There’s just been A LOT going on!

My last divorce was finalized in February but my ex husband and I were getting together regularly to watch Dr. Who on Sundays.  When the season ended, so did the 12th doctor (Peter Capaldi … swoon…my favorite actor ever!!!) and so did the last thing my ex husband and I were sharing in our lives…at least for now.  The regeneration of a Doctor is always emotional but the timing of it made it even more so for us.  We both grieved pretty heavily.

A short time after the end of the season, my ex husband packed up the remaining items of mine and asked me to remove them from his house.  He asked that if I didn’t want any of it, I still figure out something to do with it.  Once everything was out, I handed over the key to his home I still had in my possession.  It was a necessary boundary and a necessary stage but it was painful.  It drove home what I already knew but didn’t quite accept… our marriage was really, really over.  I wasn’t going to get away with just abandoning the things I didn’t want to look at; I had to face them and decide what to do.

Last night, I unpacked a painting I had made for him of a tree created on two separate canvases that lined up together to make a complete piece. There was a heart with our initials that spanned the base of the tree and into the roots.  I signed it on the back and wrote “To the most beautiful man I have ever known”.  It hung in our home until, ironically, the year our marriage started to come to a close.  I meant those words when I wrote them.  I still think he’s a beautiful man; I just don’t want to be married to him anymore and he doesn’t want to be married to me.   I also unpacked wedding gifts, souvenirs from our honeymoon taken at our five year anniversary, a piece of artwork he made for me that used to hang in our bedroom, a plaque with the definition of love and engagement photos.  There are more boxes to go through but that was enough for one night!

I am feeling a bit raw today…  I am grateful he loves me truly and deeply enough to let me go.  I am grateful for all the good times we shared.  I am grateful we are both better people now than we were when we got together.  I am grateful to have been with such a beautiful, wise man and always will be.  I am grateful our split was so cooperative and peaceful.  I wish him to find someone who matches him in ways I couldn’t while encouraging him to be the BEST version of himself as I did.

As I think about my failed marriages (yes, I have had 2), I did a lot of things right, I did a lot of things wrong and there’s SO MUCH I want to do better in the future.  I was still a teenager when I got married the first time.  I was trying to make my mark on the world and did what I thought all ‘good’ women did…. get married and have children.  Our incompatibility and my son’s special needs were just too much to bare.  We split when I was 25 but did a pretty smashing job co-parenting.  My second marriage was between two people trying to fill voids within themselves.  Our hurts and strategies for masking those hurts were compatible.  We were/are extremely mentally compatible and polite to each other.  Too polite… So polite we avoided conflict for almost a decade and when it came up, we weren’t committed enough to our marriage to get through it.    I see now I was trying to create a successful 2nd marriage to prove the end of the 1st one ‘wasn’t my fault’…  Yikes!  The truth is, in any relationship, it takes two to make or break it.  If it’s ending, it’s partially due to what I brought, or didn’t bring, to the equation.  The same is true if it’s continuing.

In all my relationships, I am learning how important it is to speak my truth with kindness and respect even if it’s uncomfortable.  I need to express what I am okay and not okay with but not try to control what other people do.  The only things I can control are my thoughts and my actions.  Everything else is outside of me.

I am committed to making this next year one of my best yet!  My home is already the most beautiful place I have ever lived in and I am excited to have a music room to share!  My relationships in my inner circle are strong.  Healing is happening with those that I’ve been apart from for some time.  I am in the process of getting back on track with my eating and exercise habits.

Life is a journey, not a destination.

Cheers to the next phase of life!

 

From my heart to yours,

 

Thanks for reading

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My Baby is 18 Today

My Facebook feed is currently full of heart warming baby photos. Several of my peers are just starting families. Babies laughing. Babies sleeping. Babies on their tummies. Babies on their backs. Babies doing baby things.

My baby is 18 today. I always wanted to be a mom but I certainly wasn’t ready when I became one. The most common comment I get when I talk about my son is “I didn’t think you were old enough to have an 18 year old”. Watching peers starting families now when mine is almost full grown, I realize nothing can ever fully prepare anyone for for facilitating another human being entering the world. You are never “old enough” to be ready. You get what you get when you get it.

Every child is a gift.

Parenting isn’t all fun and games. In the beginning, my only job was to keep him fed, make sure he got enough sleep, wasn’t too hot or cold and had a clean bottom. Those were the good ‘ol days, and also some of the hardest. I remember being completely exhausted. I remember discovering I put the milk in the cupboard and the cereal in the fridge. My breast leaked. My crotch was sore. My back ached. But the way he looked when he let go of my nipple nursing, his bottom lip still quivering, his arm over his head, eyes closed, completely at peace…. that made it all worth it.

His first belly laugh was inspired by the sound of the zipper on my favorite sleeper of his. I remember it being a blue/turquoise color, thick fleece, full footed with knit trim around the wrists, Carters brand. After a diaper change on the bed, I zipped him up and he giggled. I unzipped and zipped it again and he giggled harder. Again, a little faster…more laughter. Once more, with a dramatic face…Belly busting giggles in response. I don’t know how long we played that game that day but it was the only “first time” he belly laughed that way and I remember it like it happened earlier this week.

When he got to be a toddler, there was no denying he wasn’t developing like his peers. If I wasn’t actively playing with him, he wouldn’t do much other than jump off things repeatedly or run himself into the wall. He started talking in complete phrases he heard from other people or television instead of forming his own sentences. I feared I fucked up my baby….

Much therapy ensued. I feared I would never be able to have a meaningful conversation with my son. I feared for his future, worried he wouldn’t be able to make friends or support himself. It was extremely important to me that he be held to the same standard of behavior as his typical peers. I had watched way too many smart but challenged children get away with poor behavior because they were excused for it instead of being guided to better choices at a level they could handle. I asked all teachers and therapists to help give him tools to succeed instead of dismissing his shortcomings. It was ESPECIALLY important to me that he not be asked questions that weren’t questions (such as “do you need a tissue” while snot is running down his face) and practice asking for the accommodations he needed from the very beginning.

Years went by…. and now I have the honor of being mother to a young man who I am GRATEFUL is very little like most of his peers. He helps me around the house without being asked. He’s a safe, conscientious driver. He’s highly responsible and gets good grades in school because he works until he gets it done, however long it takes. Never have I met a more determined human! He has a job he likes and saves most of his money. The most common comment I get from anyone who works with him is “he’s such a sweet soul”…

I realized I am not nearly as responsible for how he turned out as I wanted to believe I was when he was little. He has a lot of things more together than I ever did at his age. He came to me with his own abilities and gifts. He’s helped me grow. I have done the best I could to help him be a fully functioning member of society and a kind human. It looks like he is off to a great start!

I thought I would feel THRILLED to see him reach this age and be this capable. I didn’t expect tears to fall down my face when I think about him moving out on his own someday. I didn’t expect to be hoping I was a ‘good enough’ mom he will want to keep visiting me once he has. I didn’t expect to miss him as his schedule fills with activities and responsibilities that’s don’t involve me.

I have regrets. I wish I could have been less cross with him. Less critical. More accepting. I wish I could have been happier when I found out I was pregnant and done a better job celebrating all his milestones. I did the very best I could with all I had at the time and I know he knows that. My son has the biggest, most forgiving heart of anyone I know.

He can self soothe. He ‘fact checks’ and doesn’t let other people tell him how to feel. He asks for what he needs assertively and respectfully. He strives to protect the vulnerable from threat. At the end of the day, I couldn’t ask for more.

May his path be ever blessed with safe, supportive people on his journey

Where Attention Goes, Energy Flows

I blamed my employment for stress and lack of time.  It turns out, I am capable of creating stress and running out of time no matter what I do for employment!  I have heard variations of the phrase ‘where attention goes, energy flows’ multiple times in multiple contexts.  I am experiencing how true that statement is first hand.

There are always two or more ways to look at any situation.  The first two are 1) the way I see it now and 2) the OPPOSITE of how I see it now.  In between, there are hundreds of more ways to see any situation if I take enough time to think about them.  My power lies in being able to choose which way I want to focus my energy on.

I am grateful for my fear because it serves to keep me safe.  It’s a warning light that says “hey, something is different here” but that is all it is.  Beyond acknowledging and being grateful for the warning, it doesn’t do me any good to think about fears.

In the major life transition I am experiencing now, I see I have the choice between thinking about how to prevent what I’m afraid of and thinking about how to create the life I want.  If I spend energy thinking about preventing catastrophe, I feel limited, smothered, anxious.  If I spend energy thinking about creating the life I want, taking steps in that direction, I feel light, energized, excited and free!  No one makes that choice for me.  I decide where my energy flows.

I am becoming much more picky about where I spend my energy these days.  I have a list of high priority items which include: peace, joy, satisfaction and purpose.  There are distractions from those things everywhere, all the time, but I don’t have to feed into them.  I can choose peace and joy at any time, no matter what is happening around me.  When I get off track, I remind myself of that fact and move on.  When I focus my efforts on being present and showing up, I am blown away by the opportunities that effortlessly fall into my lap.

My relationship with my son is improving because I am opening myself up to experience the world in his way instead of trying to make him fit into mine.  I can look at all the things he’s not, or I can cherish all the things he IS!  The latter is much more satisfying than the former.  In learning how to focus on his strengths, I am also learning to focus on mine.

I am learning how vitally important it is for me to take time to get quiet within.  It is only in the quiet moments that I can hear my inner most desires and identify what brings me joy.  The quiet moments give me clarity and remind me that all is well in my world now, in this moment.  I am safe and protected.  Life supports me!

From my heart to yours

Thanks for reading

Mother’s Clarity

My mother used to tell me “Everything in life has advantages and disadvantages.  You have to decide the advantages you have to have and the disadvantages you can put up with”.  When I told her sometime in my very early adult life what good advice that was, she confessed the concept came from her grandmother.  As I gain life experience, those words ring more and more true for me.

I have been paralyzed trying to identify the right answer when there wasn’t one.  There are correct answers on multiple choice questions in school.  When asked a question about history, research or written guidelines, there are correct answers based on documentation.  In life, there are choices.  Just choices.  Choices have consequences and some consequences are more desirable than others but I have not found “right answers”.  I’ve just found choices.

It is not possible to know what the future will bring exactly.  The future is the sum of many little moments and decisions made now.  At any given moment, I can make a new decision if the one I made before isn’t working out.  There is SO MUCH freedom in that!

If you would have described my life now to me 10 years ago, I would have thought you were talking about someone else!  I have learned that much of what causes me anxiety is deciding the future will not work out to my liking before the future is even here.  When I feel anxious, I take an inventory of what is going on in my life right now.  I’m usually breathing, with ample food and hydration for my body.  I have not been in physical danger or under emotional attack in those moments.  The anxiety was caused by my agreeing with emotional poison others have flung in my direction and/or worrying about things outside of my control.   The anxiety lessened when I switched my energy to gratitude for being safe now and believing the answers I need will appear when I need them.

It has never helped me to tell myself to stop worrying.  In fact, it’s never helped me to tell myself to stop feeling any emotion.  It does help me to recognize what I’m feeling, feel it, and then decide if I want to keep feeling that way or if I want to make different decisions.

When making decisions, I start with what I want if I could have anything in the world.  From there, I add in the circumstances of reality and see how close I can get to what I truly want with what I have now.  It helps me clear the fog created by other people’s expectations and fear.  I make it okay for me to feel anything, think anything and be anything because I love me and I’m alright.

I decide whether what other people think about me is true.  Most of the time, what they think of me is none of my business.  Sometimes, I need to correct my course because I don’t like the consequences of my choices.  The rest of the time, what other people think of me just doesn’t matter one bit.  I know these things when I’m feeling confident but forget when I’m feeling insecure.  However, I’m getting better about recognizing my insecurity, observing it, and changing my thoughts.  I can do that any time I want!

My son taught me to be this way.  The struggles we’ve experienced together blew up the box I grew up in and opened us up to an entirely new world.  When he tries to make sense of the world in black and white, I see very clearly why that doesn’t work at all for me.

At this exact moment, I’m blogging while my son is on a high school band trip in Florida.  When I sent him a text asking who he was spending the most time with he responded, “many people that I like” and provided a list of names.  My teenage son who I worried so much about and felt inadequate raising, is finding his way in the world!  He’s building relationships and improving himself in accordance with his goals.  My heart is bursting with pride and joy!

Instead of controlling his life, I’m intending to be present in it.  He’s going to be better than okay.  He’s on his way to having a great life of his creation!  For that, I am eternally grateful and am looking forward to being available to him for as long as I live.

 

From my heart to yours

 

Thanks for reading

Grateful for Autism

I’ve spent so much energy worrying about my son’s condition, I have missed what a blessing it is in many ways.

He gives me absolutely no attitude.  If I ask him to do something, he does it, period.  Understanding how difficult it is for him to adapt to change, he works very hard to keep himself under control.  When I say, “I need a minute,” he leaves me alone.  He cooks, he cleans, he loves animals.  What more can a mom ask for?!

I’ve had a few dreams recently where I had autism.  It was like I was experiencing life as my son does and it was extremely stressful!  Much of the time, I didn’t understand what was going on and didn’t know what was going to happen.  I started wanting to hum and flap to keep myself from throwing a tantrum.

Yesterday, after the rest of the family left, my son and I started cleaning his room.  His last guinea pig recently died and he’s come to the conclusion he does not want another pet that needs liter (horray!).  As we were going through old papers, he knew exactly what he wanted to keep and what he wanted to throw away.  Some grown ups I know have difficulty determining that.

After we cleaned his room, we went for a run.  Running is one of the few things we have in common.  I try to learn about his favorite superheros and Greek mythology characters but they aren’t really my thing.  I don’t like to play video games.  I try to support him in his sports but if he wasn’t playing them, I wouldn’t be at the games.

My son is growing into a man!  This blows my mind.  I remember holding him as a baby and wondering what kind of man he would be (At only 19 years old, I was arguably still a child myself).  So far, I see a very honest, kind, hard working, determined man who is going to be a blessing to everyone who takes the time to let him into their lives.

Time flies and if I don’t reflect on and appreciate what I have, I miss out on it completely.

John Lennon said it best with :”Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”.

I am grateful for my life!

 

From my heart to yours

Thanks for reading

My Truth About Relationships

At a few times in my life, I felt like I only had one friend.  Looking back, it was not as much of a friendship as a desperate plea to be accepted.  I didn’t accept myself.  I looked to someone else for that and it made me an extremely possessive, jealous person who couldn’t maintain a friendship.  Thankfully, most of those people are now true friends I am extremely grateful to have in my life!

I am continually amazed at how easily connections come when I am grounded and at peace with myself.  When I look into someone’s eyes, I see a heart, a soul, a spiritual person having a human experience.  Sometimes they seem to glow with white light, those are the ones I connect with the most.

Last night, I was at a party with a lot of people I had not interacted with before.  The environment was one of unconditional acceptance (a lot of genuine theater people).  At first, I felt uncomfortable, not quite sure what to do with myself.  I didn’t want to gorge on the food a few feet away but I didn’t really know what to do either.  So, I asked my higher power what I should do.  I stood around until the answers started coming.  A conversation here, an interaction there, a photo, a game, a song, a dance… It all summed up into a GREAT night!

I think I may have made some new friends!

Relationships are not static.  They change over time.  People change. If people change at a rate or direction beyond what the relationship can adapt to, it ends.  Recognizing this fact liberates one from agonizing disappointment if a relationship does not last “forever”.  It makes me be able to cherish the individual moments of connection with other people, no matter how long I have known them.

I am married to a wonderfully sweet and supportive man.  Our relationship now is not the same as when we got together.  It’s deeper, more trusting, and we do not spend as much time together as we did early on.  Both of us need “alone” time in a quiet space to hear our own thoughts or we go insane.   Thankfully, almost 8 years into our partnership, our relationship has been able to adapt at the pace of our changes as individuals.

I was married once before and as I changed, my husband stayed the same.  The relationship could not withstand our differences.  I wanted it to work out, I tried to do my part, but when I realized I did not like him when he was being true to himself  (not trying to please me), it was time to go.  That was one of the most painful and best decisions I have made to date.

My son is now a teenager.  Our relationship has changed over time too.  I used to be his primary caregiver and now I am more of a cheerleader and guide.  He can pretty much take care of himself and I am proud of the man I see him becoming.

I worry about whether or not he will be able to make friends but then I realize I’m trying to define what friends are to me for him.  He interacts with people he has never met easily.  I’m embarrassed at times but his “autistic quirks” but he does not seem to be.  I am continually touched by how kind people are to him and how they honor his tender heart, deeper than his differences.

One of my favorite times of the year is coming.  Winter…. A time to go inward, reflect on the year behind and look forward to the year ahead.  In this blog, I will continue to share what’s in my mind and on my heart.

 

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

Blessing of Autism

Once I’m on the other side of a struggle, it’s a lot easier to see it as a positive experience.  In the middle of it, it can feel completely and utterly hopeless.

Today I write thinking about mothers of newly diagnosed toddlers.  I remember going to an autism support group, crying through the whole meeting and getting several knowing “ooh, you’re newly diagnosed” comments.  At the time, I was like “what difference does that make?!”.  It does make a difference.

Now that my son is becoming successful in many areas and the challenges aren’t nearly so obvious, I’m thinking back to some good decisions I felt I made. When he was a toddler, all I thought about were the things I did wrong like: I didn’t read to him enough (never mind he wouldn’t sit still and “reading” sessions were more scream fests than pleasant interactions); I didn’t eat well enough when pregnant (never mind I was 19 and trying to adjust to a new marriage that was already rocky and getting through college); I didn’t spend enough time talking to him (never mind I was trying to be a stay at home mom with supplementary income to pay our bills); the list went on…

After the initial slap of having all my worst fears confirmed by professionals who seemed to know less about the disorder than I did, I stopped viewing my son as broken.  I started seeing him as a little person with needs, different needs than many other kids his age but no less worthy of having them met.  I was fearful he’d never pass for “normal” but learned to see that as a gift instead of a curse.  I prepped every educator and therapist on his ability to memorize the order of flash cards and test their boundaries.  If you let him get away with getting on top of the table and running around the room humming when doing therapy, he’d do it EVERY TIME.

I insisted that anyone working with him:

  1. not ask him a question unless he had a choice in the answer (don’t say “do you need a kleenex?”, say “you need a kleenex, wipe your nose”)
  2. if you asked him a question, insist on him giving an answer and respect whatever he said (see first request)
  3. if you wouldn’t accept a behavior in a “normal” kid, don’t accept it from him but give him the tools he needs to be successful
  4. model/teach him how to ask for what he needs (if he needs to have a “free to stim” break, LET HIM HAVE IT when he asks for a break).

Today, I see the blessing in our journey so far together.  In many ways, my son freed me from the bonds of social mores and performance based self-worth.  He made the life I have now possible and I am eternally grateful for that!

Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day.  My son, who’s almost 13 now, bought me a JCP gift card with his own money and talked me into buying flowers for myself (from him).  He’s 5’2″ these days and I remember holding him in my arms when he was first born, wondering how he ever fit inside me.

When he was a toddler, I shed many, many, many tears worried that my baby would never be able to have a meaningful conversation with me, let alone ever know what it feels like to get an A.  He wasn’t putting words together like other kids his age and spent all his free time running in circles or banging into the wall.  Thinking about his bleak future took me to a place so sad that I learned you can’t actually die from grief, but it sure feels like you can for a bit.

We went for a 20 mile bike ride together with my husband and his parents today.  It was a perfect day:  breezy but not too windy, around 70 degrees, sunny.  We rode past freshly planted soybeans, through the woods, along a creek.  Due to our group trip, I was going slower than my normal training pace.  I just felt the breeze and reflected on what motherhood means to me.

My son is growing up fast.  It’s so easy to get caught up in: wash your hands, brush your teeth, remember to flush, eat your breakfast, get dressed, let’s go, repeat… that I forget to soak in who he is.  It’s easy to get so worried about what everyone else thinks, I forget to notice what my son thinks.  Heck, a lot of times, I don’t even know what I think, I’m just trying to get through the next obligation.

Today, I had dear friends text me well wishes for Mother’s Day.  A couple of them almost made me cry tears of joy.  My son is going to be okay.  I don’t know exactly what he’s going to be or what his answers are going to look like but I have faith he’ll get it all figured out in his time.  I’m blessed to be a part of it.  I’m grateful for those early days of struggle, they made me stronger.

I’m looking forward to watching it all unfold and aim to keep my eyes open through it all.

I hope you had a splendid Mother’s Day!