Monday, January 26, 2009

Building A Life

This past year and a half has been such a period of growth for me. In a wierd way much like the military. Think about it. When most young men join the military they do so to transition from a boy to a man. They have an identity in highschool or so they think. They go away to boot camp and the drill sargent strips them from their previous life and breaks them down. They are told that the life they previously had or their sense of self as they believed it to be no longer exists. They are torn down so the military can then build them up their way. Boot camp is incredibly difficult. Some do not make it. The ones that persevere learn a new way of living. They become stronger mentally as well as physically. Now, do not get me wrong, I am an ardent liberal who has always struggled with the conservative, military approach to life. However, I have softened a bit to the military approach when I see and watch my son-in-law. He was in the military for four years and is such a hard working, honorable man. He knows how to set a goal and do the hard work, the discipline, necessary to achieve that goal. He is not afraid of hard work. I admire him a great deal. When it comes to his conservative political leanings I am still working on him, maybe Obama in 4 years?

The point of this entry is to make an interesting comparison. In 2006, my life changed. I ended a marriage. It was a horrible marriage and the man I was married to was a human train wreck but that process changed my identity. I was no longer a wife. This past year has been a metamorphyses of sorts. I was stripped of all I knew in life, all that did not work and helped to rebuild a stronger, healthier me. I realized all the things I was not and had alot of difficulty comprehending what was left. I was not a wife. I was not a mommy (my kids were grown...sort of...LOL). I was not a nurse or healthcare provider. I trained and worked in that field my entire adult life. I knew I was not beautiful as I gained weight and basically, let myself go after my divorce. I knew who I was not. I had all the negatives down completely.
You may say...Wow, she had no self-esteem and you would be correct but is it having no self esteem if all the negatives are true or just a reality check? I knew one important thing even when I was actively living in "negative land". I knew I was not done living. So, if I was not done living then what kind of person was I and what kind of life did I want to live or was I created to live?

I decided to embrace what I knew that was true. I was a mother and a grandmother. I worked hard for both of those titles and would not trade them for the world. I was a sober woman who had / has a chronic disease. I am no different than a person suffering from diabetes. As long as I make the correct choices each day, pray, talk to my support system and attend meetings I keep the disease in remission. I knew I wanted to build my legal consulting career. I had years of medical knowledge and a master's degree in medicine. I could apply my knowledge to a legal career and build a career into anything I wanted. I had and have a terrific position as a consultant for a law firm.

The above was a great foundation. I then decided I would focus on the person I am and would like to become. What are my values? How do I want to be remembered years down the road when I am gone? I sat and wrote out my obituary. It sounds grim but think about it, it truly is the tribute to one's life. By identifying how we want other's to think about us, we acertain what are values really are. Are we living those values? From this, I determined I want to be a person with integrity, a person who is not necessarily the most popular but one who has guts to stand up for herself and for what she believes in. I want to be a person who values her health and has lots of energy to play with her grandchildren as they grow. I want to be the fun grandma and a role model for my grandchildren. I want to be active with them ie: taking them swimming and bikeriding. I want to learn how to be a photographer. How to take beautiful pictures. To do this one has to appreciate the world's beauty and take pleasure in the simple things like a rose blooming and the sun setting. What a great start.

Now, what steps would I need to take. Just to have the dream is not good enough. A dream has to materialize otherwise, it takes up wasted brain space. On Saturday, I joined the YMCA. I am going to go nightly after my meetings and use the equipment, walk on the track, swim in the pool, use muscles that need to be used. I also began weight watchers on Saturday, to focus on healthy eating. I began vitamins and began drinking water. Life is progress, not perfection. I have plans to take a photography course. I want to learn the basics. How to develop black and white pictures at home. How to take 35m pictures of the people in my life and the world around me.

A friend once was describing walking toward a goal. He said imagine walking on a beach. Way down the beach you see a lighthouse. It is small just over the horizon but you can see the light off in a distance. As you walk down the beach, you sometimes struggle walking through the sand, stepping on shells. Waves slow down your step as they wash across your feet but if you keep your eye on that lighthouse, the light gets brighter and it grows above the horizon. Eventually, you will reach the lighthouse if you keep it in your sights and walk in the right direction.

I have my goals in sight and so it begins. However, I never want to forget as I am working on my goals, that life is what you live while you are focusing on the future. It truly is the jouney...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Life's Lessons & Commentary dated 1/26/09

A few days ago, I was told that this entry hurt someone's feelings. I have debated as to whether I would delete this entry or revise it based on this. After re-reading the entry and talking with objective friends, I have decided I am not going to delete or revise it at this time. When I write my entries, I am very careful not to name names if I am discussing a subject that may be controversial. I write the entry from my heart discussing my feelings and thoughts. I have no intention of hurting anyone by addressing a specific situation which is why I am discreet with regard to names, places etc. These entries are my truths. They are my side of the street so to speak, essentially what I have learned or am learning from a given situation. When I re-read this entry, it is exactly what I feel or have felt. What would I revise? If I delete it then I am saying I centure my writing based on popular opinion and other people's perceptions. If I start doing that, why write a blog at all? What I would recommend however, if you feel strongly about something I write or have written, please offer a public comment. This blog site provides space for comments. I welcome opinions either positive or negative to anything I write. It is how I learn and how I can appreciate another's point of view.

My life has not been an easy one. I have been blessed with two of the greatest children ever created and I know God is with me every moment. Without my family and my faith, I do not believe I could have survived some of life's tough challenges. I believe God puts people and events in our lives to teach us what we need to know. If we fail to learn the necessary lesson, the situation repeats itself in a different form until we do. There is a person in my life these days that deliberately acts to be hurtful, takes advantage of me and does not seem to get it when confronted. Normally, I would cut a person like this from my life however, I cannot do that at this time. This person was invited into my life by another family member. I am forced to deal with this person on a daily basis though I would rather not. I have wondered many times why my loved one sees this person's constant bad behavior and looks the other way or makes excuses for it. What I know, however is I do not have to tolerate being treated badly by anyone. I establish what is acceptable and what is not...for me. I have been looking lately at what God is trying to teach me by this person being here. What I realized was, God is trying to teach me to be strong, believe in myself and stand up for myself. No one has any right to abuse me in any regard. I have held a firm ground, established what I will accept and and what I will not. I have removed any ability to be used. I do not know if I ever will have a good relationship with this person but I know one thing very clearly....both people have to work at a friendship or relationship with the same amount of gusto for it to be successful. My loved one has not learned this lesson and I pray every day he does. He works 100% and the other person barely contributes. As Maya Angelou says, "we cannot go through life with a catcher's mit on each hand, we have to throw a few back." I guess that is this other person's lession.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

"The soul that is within me no man can degrade." Fredrick Douglas

This past year has been a lesson in "self-esteem" and "standing up for myself". I came out of the 10 years spent with the monster man, having no sense of self. The characteristics I use to love about myself; the sassy, outgoing, say it like it is, fiesty irish gal, seemed to be lost. I seem to be rehabing myself similar to a person hit by a bus. I have had to relearn how to be me again.

Last night I went to my regular Wednesday night group. Toward the end of the group the new leader said, "hey Patty, could you stick around for a minute? I would like to speak to you after the group". I said fine. As I began to pull out my chair and wait for the group to leave, she began to yell across the table to me. Instead of waiting for the group to clear out, she yelled some critical comments to me in front of the other group members. I was shocked. I gave her a one word answer and quickly left. As I walked out to my car I could feel the tears welling up from embarrassment. A few members of the group came up to talk with me as they were embarrassed for me. I got into my car and called a few people in my network and discussed what happened and how I felt. I then decided if I do not stand up for myself no one will. I took a few minutes to gather my thoughts and called the leader. I got her voice mail. I left a detailed message including, "I was extremely embarrassed and felt belittle by the way you chose to deliver your message to me". I told her "I felt it was unacceptable to speak with me in that manner" I told her if she chooses to speak with me in the future, please do so in a normal tone in a private setting so we can discuss the issue at hand" I then explained another issue to her that I felt needed an explanation.

I drove home, from that group, with a familiar ache inside. What was it? Was it fatigue? Was it hunger? It suddenly hit me. It was the same, small, useless, sad feeling I felt whenever the monster man would take out his rage on me. I remember sitting up all night feeling that ache in the past and doing nothing about it except stuff it way down somewhere inside me. The monster man is long gone. He sank back into that Georgia swamp a few years back. Once again, this was a lesson about me, not an issue about others. I allow and I teach others how to treat me.

Today I have decided if that group leader does not call me back I am going to call her again. This time I am going to calmly request a private meeting. A meeting where we both are able to clear the air and hopefully, start out on a better footing. If this is not the outcome, atleast I expressed my feelings. I set a healthy boundary of what was and was not acceptable in my life. I did not necessarily do it for her, I did it for me, for my integity.

I am taking an online course on healthy bondaries. I read the following passage about a woman learning to stand up for herself. It reinforced that I am on the correct path with regard to my self-esteem and the actions I am learning to take to protect it.

Just like getting into physical shape requires a person to build body muscle, learning to assert onself and standup for oneself requires a special type of muscle development, I call it the “stand up for yourself muscle.” This muscle is your voice. It allows you to speak up for yourself and express your opinion in a manner that doesn’t infringe on others while still making your position clearly known. It represents your truth and allows you to be in integrity with yourself.When you speak up for yourself in this manner, you are being assertive and you are standing up for yourself. Speaking up for yourself doesn’t necessarily mean being confrontational. You can learn to deal with conflict without being aggressive. One simple step you can take to help you find your voice and build your assertive muscle is to learn how to say NO! Let people know when something is unacceptable and when your rights are being violated. Don’t feel guilty or explain why you said NO because you have a right to say NO.Don’t lose your sanity, find your voice, speak up, stand up for yourself and enjoy your life today!"The soul that is within me no man can degrade."

Followup: A few minutes ago, about 10 minutes after writing this blog, the leader left me a detailed voice mail message. She apologized for handling the situation as she did. She states she appreciates the fact I voiced my concerns. She said she got most of her information from the previous counselor. The previous counselor only met me once. She would like to sit down and talk to me and she feels I am doing some great work for self improvement.

WOW: Did not expect that response. I was fearful it was going to be a major conflict. I guess because it always was with the monster man whenever I spoke my mind. YIPPEE, the monster man is back in his swamp for good. Maybe, I can finally be me again!!! So optimistic!!!!! It is a good feeling to have my thoughts and opinions matter!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. I love this quote by Anais Nin because change frequently feels like this to me. I have noticed throughout my life that I have stayed with the dysfunctional and unhappy rather than make a change even if intellectually I could say that the change would be better for me. I made change better when I had children living with me. It was easy to make a change for my children but somehow I have not held myself to the same standard. The known even though it has been unhealthy was comfortable while the unknown was frightening. It is why I stayed in such a horrible marriage, I feared being alone. I also held onto the concept that If something was not working that somehow I could work hard enough to make it better. I always blamed myself and never expected the other person to be culpable. Therefore, if a relationship was not working, it must be my fault and I must work harder to fix it. The problem with my marriage was that my ex-husband was a monster. A good friend who is a therapist said he is a psychopath. The only option when involved with a psychopath is to run very fast far far away. Not me, I tried to fix us and him. The definination of insanity is doing the same thing over and over yet expecting a different result. So, my dedication to fixing it combined with my fear of change, I was doomed. There is good news however.

Today is my 1 year annivarsary. I am so grateful for the change that has taken place in my life in the last year. It has been challenging, a year full of insight and hard work. First and foremost, I am divorced from the monster man. My life has to improve 10 fold by that fact alone. Then when you add that to all my hard work toward recovery. Wow, lots of good things materializing.

My goal for the coming year is to embrace change like a warm, loving friend. I realized now that I am never alone even when I am by myself. God is always with me. I have friends and family that are just a touch tone away. I now know the difference between embracing quiet solitude and reclusivity. It is all about motives. In fact, life is all about motives and life is all about change.

I am in a grateful place today. Grateful that God gave me a second chance at life. Grateful for my network of friends and family. Grateful for a program of living that teaches me how to be at peace and enjoy the simple things. A program that teaches how to embrace change because without change we never grow.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Damn The Torpedos! Full Speed Ahead!!!

Yesterday I felt so confident. I had made a difficult decision and I knew how I was planning on proceeding with regard to the legal matters on my plate. I had decided that I was not going to proceed with any legal action against my ex. I left a detailed voice mail on the clerk of court's voice mail box yesterday explaining my decision. She contacted me awhile back wanting me to meet with her and discuss my ex-husband's contempt of the "no contact" order. The order is due to expire on February 8, 2009. If I do not go forward with the evidence I have that he breached the order his case will be dropped and there will be no record of the abuse.

The Judge decided to put into play 3 stipulations in 2007. If SDK complied with them, since he had no other criminal record, the charge would be dropped in 2 years. The first was that he would reimburse me for all of my medical bills. The second was that he had to take ADAPT classes ie: anger managment education provided by the county. The third was that he have "no contact" with me or anyone related to me for 2 years. He did reimburse my medical bills for that period of battery. I have no clue whether he went to the ordered classes. He definately ignored the no contact order. I have phone records, emails and documented text messages showing this. I also have witnesses who are aware, first hand, of his noncompliance. The problem is I am just so done. I am so done with allowing him to ocupy one more minute of my thought process. Having made the decision to focus on MY life, I was truly ready to move on.

Yesterday afternoon the clerk left me a voicemail that would throw my decision out the window. She said she understood my perspective on SDK but she said, "do it for the next woman SDK will abuse". She said if I do not provide the court with my information, the charges against SDK will be dropped and when he abuses another woman it will be punished as if it were his first offense. She said, "do it for his next victim if for no one else". It initially made me angry. My first thought was "When do I get to wake up from this abusive nightmare?" If what she said is true, do I get to blame SDK's first wife for not reporting him? If she had, maybe I would not have been his victim. When does the victim stop getting blamed and stop being responsible for the behavior of the abuser? Then when I calmed down, I began to think differently. SDK is a psychopath. A psychopath will never accept personal responsibility for his actions. It is truly up to the victims, the bystanders, the court officials to recognize him for what he is and put a stop to his path of distruction. I began to understand that I do have a responsibility here. Regardless of what we have endured in our lives, we do have a responsibility to help others and to protect those that cannot protect themselves.

Today, I called the clerk back and left her another voice mail, I said "you name the time and I will come in with my records". She was correct, my actions, with regard to this, have nothing to do with SDK. My actions have alot to do with myself and my responsibility to others. Courage is not proceeding without fear. Courage is proceeding in the face of fear. Today I am a strong woman with a great deal of courage, courage no one can ever take from me.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Life Is Like A Magnifying Glass! What You Focus On Gets Bigger!

In mid December, after speaking with my divorce attorney, I was challenged to decide whether to pursue legal matters against my ex-husband. I knew I was going to have to act by mid to late January but I wanted to be sure the decisions I made were for the correct reason. Through all I have experienced in life, I know the importance of motives.

I was raised by a very goal driven father. In many regards he believed in the concept "the ends justify the means". My life experiences have taught me completely the opposite. The means matter. The means are the steps we take based on our motives. If our motives are not understood and grounded in honesty, our actions will lead us on a journey that is unhealthy and /or distructive.

Arthur Ashe, a wonderful tennis star and role model said toward the end of his life, "the only thing one takes with them when they die is their integrity. It is truly all that ultimately matters". To be a person of integrity, motives have to begin the decision making process. Therefore, I had to ask myself, why should I pursue two legal actions against my ex-husband?

One of the legal actions is for contempt of court. On February 8, 2007, a Judge in domestic and Juvenile Court ordered a two year "no contact" restraining order against SDK. Immediately after this date, SDK began calling me. He sent me email message and made phone calls. They were not threatening. He called me while I was in the hospital and even showed up in a parking lot where I was waiting to meet a friend for work. He wanted to borrow my car. Technically, all of these actions were in contempt of the order but he made no attempt to harm me and made no threats. I was very ill in 2007 and did not pursue a contempt complaint at that time. Since then we have had strange things happen but nothing that made me feel unsafe.

The second legal matter is to pursue a judgement for money owed and property taken. It will cost me a few thousand to retain my attorney to file a suit and probably years of legal battles. SDK is in default with the IRS, VEC, two state Tax Administration and the Dept of Education. He has leins and garnises by all thus rarely works. To get a judgement would be the easy part even though it would take years in court. Once I had the judgement, I would have to stand in line to get any money.

Due to being so ill in 2007, I really did not deal emotionally with the ending of my marriage until 2008. I went through periods of anger, sadness, and an ache which seemed to eminate from my soul. I kept remembering events good and bad. Much of the anger was at myself. Why did I stay in a marriage that was so horrible. I had to come to terms with my bad choices and my failure to respond to all the red flags. I allowed him to to abuse me on all fronts. I was your classic abused wife, afraid with no self-esteem. I had given up on life and somehow did not feel I deserved any better. He had such a way of always blaming his failings on me. If he was unfaithful it was because I was not satisfying him. If he lied it was because I was not a good enough wife. I know it sounds crazy now, but a part of me believed him and thought was to blame.

My recovery in 2008 to present has been on all fronts. I have come to terms with that horrible marriage. I am working to forgive myself for all the very bad choices I made. Many of them were rooted in the character defect of fear, fear of being alone. I was willing to accept living in hell rather than being alone.

I wanted to make sure any decision I made to pursue legal action was not out of some kind of unresolved negative emotion. I did a great deal of soul searching and this past weekend had a moment of clarity. In that moment, I pictured myself driving in my car with the wind in my hair singing Tom Petty's "Free Falling" with SDK faintly in my rearview mirror. As I drove, he was getting smaller and smaller. I am free, free falling. I suddenly had a great sense of Peace and Joy. As they say in AA, if you are going through hell, keep going. Well, I did. I came out the other side and the sun is shining warmth on my face. I am healthy. I am happy. I have wonderful aspects to my life now. I am going to spend 2009 and forward focusing on the positive. Life is a magnifying glass. Whatever you focus on gets bigger. I want to focus on all the good things and people God has put into my life. I look at the money he stole as payment. I paid a great sum to the devil to get out of that marriage. It is gone. SDK is gone. I have no desire to invite him back under any circumstance. Therefore, no more court. No more lawyers. He will have to deal directly with God for what he did to me as I am done with him all together. He is getting smaller and smaller in my rearview mirror as each moment passes and I am driving toward a beautiful sunrise.

I do not consider that marriage with the "walking nightmare" a failure, on the contrary. Thomas Edison was interviewed after inventing the electric light. The question he was asked was how he felt failing so many times before finally succeeding in his invention. He said he did not fail. He just had 25 lessions in how not to invent the light bulb. God needed for me to learn how not to be in a marriage, how not to allow a person to treat me and how not to trust someone. The lessons I learned will prove invaluable to me down the road.

I am strong. I am a wonderful woman created by God. Most of all, I am happy and I am free.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Writings of Masters & My Grandchildren

The question is who do I get my daily inspiration from?

The first part of my blog today is dedicated to my favorite writer and poet Dr. Maya Angelou. The second part is dedicated to my beautiful, awe-inspiring grandchildren, Alley, Colley, and Kenzie. They inspire me, encourage me to appreciate the simple things and make me laugh.

Dr. Maya Angelou started out of humble means, had a child at a young age, sacrificed her morals for survival and redirected her life toward her goals. She is a woman of such integirty. A woman who inspires. A few years ago she was on the Oprah show. She discussed what she has learned from life. It was perfect.

Dr. Angelou said, "I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow."
"I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights."
"I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.
"I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life".
"I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance."
"I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back."
"I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.
"I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one."
"I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back."
"I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn."
"I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

A few months back I took my daughter and 3 grandchildren to Richmond. I had a class to attend and I thought it could be a fun overnight trip. My grandson Alex slept in the bed with me. Early in the morning, he woke up and told me about his dream. I told him that I had a dream that I ate a giant marshmellow and I woke up and my pillow was gone. His eyes got very big. He looked at my belly. He climbed out of bed and found a pillow on the floor, a "Plilo" as he called it. He ran over to me, handed it to me and said, "Look GaGa, You must have burped". I laughed until I cried.

Collin, Alex and I took a long walk around the lake by my home this past fall. There is a path that extends all the way around the lake. When we got to the farside of the lake, Collin began to run ahead. From the area of the path we were on, we could see the road. There was a chain link fense preventing Collin from going into the road but Alex did not notice it. Alex looked at the road, stopped talking to me and ran up to stop his brother Collin from going near the road. He said "Colley, you have to hold my hand, we are close to a road" Collin reached over and put out his hand without even questioning and Alex held it. For the rest of the walk, Alex and Collin walked infront of me holding hands. Alex kept saying to his brother, "I'll keep you safe Colley". It made me smile and cry, both at the same time. MacKenzie has both of her brothers spirit. It is wonderful to watch them blossum into funny, loving, devilish, beautiful, amazing people. Most of all, I get such pride knowing I created the woman that created them. It takes a wonderful mother to produce such incredible children.

I used to wonder what contributions I would make to the world. Going into medicine, would I find the cure for cancer? Would I do something to make a mark on the world at all? Suddenly, watching my grandchildren it dawned on me. I contributed their mother and she contributed them. Boy, how lucky the world is to get such precious gifts.