The Big Event

anxiety cat

In The Beginning, I explained how I found myself in a predicament that commenced this journey to learn how to love myself.  The week of “the concert” has now arrived, and thus, my anxiety level is through the roof!

Here’s a brief recap if you missed it:

Soon to be divorced, painfully single woman (me), convinces her best friend to get 4 tickets to see Garth Brooks and promises to find a suitable date.  Single woman pursues online dating to find said date and fails (miserably).  Now desperate, single woman contacts previous boyfriend, with whom she is still in love, and secures suitable date.  Enter anxiety cat …

It’s going to be an amazing weekend!  The date and I will be driving 5 hours to another state together and then spend 3 days with my best friend (hereafter referred to as “Owl”) and her husband.  I splurged and hired a limo to take us to dinner and then to the concert.  I’m 35 and have never ridden in a limo, so I guess I’ll get to mark that one off the bucket list!

So, what’s the problem?  The initial problem is obvious: whatever will I wear?!?!  No really, I’ve gained about 15 pounds right around the middle.  Nothing fits!  Nothing looks good!  But after a week of researching and shopping, Owl and I have each found the appropriate amounts Spanx and outfits that hide our more obvious flaws.  I’ve managed to plan an outfit that says “fun, but not too skanky.”  I’m still planning to do a little shopping, but just for a few accessories.  New earrings are a must!

And then there is that BIG QUESTION, “What does this mean for my relationship with the date?”  As this weekend has drawn closer, he and I have communicated more and more.  I keep telling myself that I’m not ready for a relationship!  I’ve really been working on learning to love myself so that I’m not so desperate to be loved by someone else.  I’m not ready for him to come back into my life.  I still have a mess to clean up.  And yet, I long for him.  AHHHH!

So last night, as my anxiety level hit a fever pitch, I gave it up.  No really, I gave it to God.  I gave him all control and decided to quit trying to force something either way.  Yes, I put myself into this mess, but His grace is sufficient.  I asked Him to take control of the situation and let His will be done.  Then, I prayed for the date.  I asked God to guide his actions as well as mine.

2-timothy-1-7

Last Sunday our Pastor preached about how God cares for his sheep and gives us rest.  He referenced this verse from 2 Timothy, and I felt led to write it down.  All of my anxiety is rooted in fear.  Mostly it’s a fear of what I cannot control.  I made the decision last night to put away my fear and let God fill me with power, love, and self-control.

As you read this blog I hope that you can see the change in tone.  This lonely, desperate, single woman is becoming something new.  I’m not there yet, but the changes are coming.  One small point … I can’t do it without God.  If you are searching for peace in your life, look up.

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The Minecraft Rules of Life

In case you aren’t the parent of a boy (ages 6-12), Minecraft is a video game in which players mine a biome for needed supplies and then turn those supplies into various structures with various functions.  It’s pretty much a digital version of Legos.  The parenting downside of this nifty invention is the guilt over the hours my son spends glued to a game.  The parenting upside: no Legos on the floor to step on!

My son is a minecraft fanatic.  He’s been playing the game for about 2 years on various platforms and has learned quite a bit.  I’ve been waiting for him to move on to the next game fad, but he hasn’t.  This concept got my wheels turning!  Is he obsessed?  Do I need to find a psychologist?  Or is it possible that this game is still engaging for some reason?  So, I began to pay more attention to his game play.

I discovered that he’s building magnificent machines with this stuff called redstone.  It basically works like an electrical circuit.  There are pistons, pressure plates, doors, ladders, and other movable parts that I don’t remember at the moment.  The other day he built a machine that would cook fish for him!  It’s a completely useless item, but it’s really complex and cool.  Then he showed me his combination lock.  This 8-step series of switches had to be placed in just the right sequence in order to open an iron door.  He built that!  Amazing!  My kid is smarter than me!

As I was watching him play, he ran out of wood.  Wood is very useful in Minecraft.  You use it to make pickaxes (very important), ladders, gates, houses, and all sorts of items.  It’s one of the most important blocks.  Without wood, you’d be very limited.  I had been watching him create all these amazing machines and suddenly he was stopped.  He couldn’t finish the next great idea.  Then I saw him do the most amazing thing.  He traveled over to the forest biome and started mining wood.  He didn’t gripe or complain.  He didn’t post of Facebook how disappointed he was with the world or the lack of fairness therein.  He didn’t call his best friend and sob for half an hour.  He just went and cut down about 25 trees.  And after that, he trained a wolf, and went back to building.

It was the purest display of self-sufficiency that I’ve observed in quite some time.  I began to think about the way in which we approach the droughts in our adult lives.  Just this week I’ve run out of patience, energy, tact, and facial cleanser!  I hate to admit it, but I didn’t fare remotely as well as my son did in the face of a crisis.

Hang on, the analogy gets deeper …

Think of the building blocks of your life.  I dream of owning my own home and decorating it the way I’d like it to look.  I dream of a retirement account with enough in it to get by in my final days.  I dream of not having to work every waking minute to make ends meet.  I already have an amazing group of family and friends.  I have a successful business.  I have a church home that grounds me.  But what am I doing about those missing pieces.  Am I cutting down the trees necessary to get them?  Or am I complaining about the lack thereof?

I’m reminded of the quote that I recently pinned on Pinterest.  “Have you prayed about it as much as you’ve talked about it?”  Perhaps it should read, “Have you worked at it as hard as you’ve bitched about it?”

Here is the Minecraft Rule of Life #1: Quit complaining and go cut down some trees!

Evidence of Self Love

What does it mean to love yourself?

This blog began as a quest to learn to love myself.  I’ve been searching for what exactly that means over the past few days.  I’ve asked a few friends and family members what they think that means and I really haven’t gotten a clear answer.  Perhaps that means that I’m on a quest in search of something that I cannot define.  This seems promising 😦

As I’ve reflected, I first had to recognize that a core belief that I’ve diligently lived out has been wrong.  My father was a “shirt of his back” kind of guy.  He instilled in his children a strong work ethic, love of God, and faith beyond measure.  However, he also raised us to produce.  While his love for me was never questioned, I can now see that part of my value as his child was closely aligned to what I could produce.  This pig farm girl learned to work!  Everyday I produce … for others.

This level of work ethic is not limited to my career.  It encompasses every aspect of my life.  I give selflessly to others to the point of self denial.  I forego health insurance (and a need surgeries) so that my son can attend private school.  I worked insane hours while my ex stayed home with our child.  I create elaborate gifts for my family and friends.  I spend hours and hours helping those that I work with … well past 5 pm.  I do this so that these people will love me.  I once became a wedding planner so that a former student of mine could have a fabulous wedding on a $500 budget.  I made flowers, prepared food, and conned family members into service.  The wedding was beautiful and several people commented that the venue had never looked so nice.  I did this so that she would love me.

A couple of weeks ago I drove from Texas to New Jersey and back so that my best friend could avoid getting on a plane for her grandfather’s funeral.  She has fear of flying and of leaving her 3 year old in the care of just about anyone.  So, without hesitation, I got in my car and went.  I missed valuable work time and time with my son to do this.  I did this so that she would love me.

Keep in mind that none of these people have ever indicated that they would love me any less had I not done these things.  I made that decision all by myself.  And this is the reason that I am not ready for a romantic relationship.  If I were to engage in one, such as I did with “him,” I would lose myself again.  I would do anything to make him love me.

In an effort to change this cycle, I have begun to try to discover what it means to love myself.  I began with trying to think of evidence that I do love myself.  I could only come up with one thing:  I left my husband because I loved myself enough to stop the damage.  Of course I told everyone that it was because I saw my son learning terrible lessons that he’d be doomed to repeat.  But the truth is that I had reached a limit.  I loved myself enough to get out while there was still some shred of me left.

I was encouraged by this discovery.  If I could love myself once, then I could do it again.  I began to think of other ways that I could begin to show that I love myself.  At first I thought of buying myself things that I’d always wanted, but would never allow myself to enjoy.  Boots!  And I did go buy one pair on sale!  However, I learned long ago that things won’t make you happy.  I believe that people are what they do and not what they say.  So what are the behaviors that would show that I love myself?  How does someone who loves themselves behave?  Here’s what I have come up with so far:

  • If I love myself, then my physical needs are important.  I need to see the dentist and get this cavity filled.  I need to call my doctor and discuss a possible change in medication rather than just dealing with the side effects.  I need to sleep 8 hours a night.  I need to work towards getting health insurance so that the more expensive medical needs can be taken care of.  I need to exercise and eat healthy so that I will feel better.  My physical well-being is important.
  • If I love myself, then my emotional needs are important.  I need to rethink my relationships with friends and family.  I need to limit my time with people who are negative and draining.  I need to maximize my time with people who bring me joy.  I need to let some people go because in the long run, the ones who really love me already do, no matter what I can do for them.  My emotional well being is important.
  • If I love myself, then my financial needs are important.  I need to make an a plan to get debt free and begin saving for a home.  I need to make sure that my son will be provided for if something were to happen to me.  I need a living space that fits by budget and my needs.  My financial security is important.

I don’t really make New Year’s Resolutions, but I guess this list would suffice as such.  I’m making a commitment to begin behaving in ways that reflect self love.  I better get in bed if I’m going to get those 8 hours in tonight!

Waiting

For the past year I have been waiting.  Waiting for my son to accept our separation.  Waiting for the right time to file for divorce.  Waiting for the divorce to be final.  Waiting for my life to begin.

I don’t know what I thought that life would be.  A part of me feels awkward.  It feels strange to be single.  Like something is wrong.  I think the message that society sends is that being single is somehow inherently wrong.  I bought into that for almost a year and then I had this realization: My life began a long time ago … even before I left my ex.

The reality is that I live in a small apartment.  I own very little of value.  I have faith in God.  I have a business that I’m trying to keep alive and a son that needs me.  That’s it.  And that’s okay.

My life began the day I was conceived.  (not meant to be a comment on when life begins)  My childhood, adolescence, college days, marriage, and 8 years of parenting are all part of who I am now.  Those experience shaped me in both good and bad ways.  What I do with that is what my “life” will now be.

While I may not have all the things that my heart desires just yet, it doesn’t mean that I’m not living.  More importantly, I don’t have to be in a relationship to be living.  I don’t have to be living in domestic bliss to have a life.  I reject the concept that I have to live on pause until I find that man.

Self Respect

I don’t know if I can love myself just yet, but I can respect myself.  And yes, I’m talking about sex.

Without going into the gory details, let’s just say that I learned at an early age what men want.  As I grew into adolescence, I also learned how to use that to get what I wanted.  I told myself that it was just sex; It was meaningless.  If that were really true then I wouldn’t have needed years of therapy.  Here is how this works: Get abused and feel powerless, then find a way to exert power and control over someone else.  I used my sexuality to control men.  While this sounds terrible, I’m sure nearly every married woman has done it.  He washes the dishes so you have sex with him.  The next time he washes the dishes, you do it again.  Pretty soon you have developed a pattern of behavior.  It doesn’t take Pavlov to figure that one out.

So how does this affect me?  Simple, when you do wrong, it eats away at you.  Guilt and disrespect set in.  This is disrespect done to yourself.  You begin to disrespect yourself.  You detest your own actions and thus lose this little thing called self respect.

How do you regain self respect?  First, you must forgive yourself for your previous transgressions.  God has already forgiven you if you have asked Him.  Now it’s your turn.  Accept that you are flawed.  Accept that you were stupid.  But make the decision to change that as you move forward.

I will respect myself.  I will not use sex as a tool to get what I want.  I will keep myself for that real man.  I won’t let anyone use me.  I am special.  I deserve better.  I deserve a relationship where sex isn’t a tool, but a loving expression between two people who don’t need to exercise control.

The Beginning

I’m quite sure that I am not the only lonely, single woman who has begun a blog on New Year’s Day.  Well, technically it is now January 2nd … it has been a long day.  My goal in this endeavor is to find love.  I’m sure that isn’t unique either, however, the love I seek is not that of another human being.  I simply must learn to love myself.

The particulars of my situation are quite common to my age group.  I’m 35, separated, and awaiting a divorce.  I’ve been living away from my ex for nearly a year.  Over the course of that year there have been many days when I thought I had achieved some kind of happiness.  I love being able to spend time with my 8-year old son.  I love shopping and hanging out with my family.  I love having money in the bank.  I love the security of knowing that I can handle life on my own.  But … there is this man

We men online after about 6 months of separation from my ex.  We attempted a relationship for about 3 months.  We were both tired and exasperated.  Long distance was a good excuse to end it, but I knew that he simply didn’t feel the way I did.

I simply cannot get over him.  I’ve tried.  He absolutely broke my heart.  I spent months avoiding the thought of him.  Every now and then we would text.  He sent birthday wishes and such.  I’d send him a funny picture from Pinterest.  Every time my phone lit up with his picture, I’d gasp.  It’s fairly ridiculous.

Then I made a huge mistake.  I invited myself along to a concert with my best friend and her husband.  When it was mentioned I was so excited to see the performer that I really didn’t care that I was butting in.  She insisted that I wasn’t but just asked that I find a suitable date for the evening.  Easy.  I’m a bright, intelligent, woman who most men seem to find attractive.  Surely I could find a decent man to accompany me 6 hours away for a weekend.  All they would need to do is buy me dinner.  I’d take care of the rest.

So I got back online.  10 dates later I was sure that the world was full of single men and that not a single one of them could pass a basic background check or write a complete sentence.  There were a couple that I chatted with for a while.  The lawyer seemed like a nice guy and the former teacher turned heavy equipment operator could at least hold a conversation.  But the moment that “he” offered to make a spur of the moment trip down to visit, they were forgotten.

So, I invited “him.”  It seemed logical at the time.  We get along great and my best friend would like him.  I’m pretty sure that her husband will get along with him as well.  To my amazement, he agreed.  And that is where the ship turned South.  I’m quite sure that anyone who knows me has noticed that I am absolutely desperately in love with this man who none of them have ever met.  I’m sure that you can remember someone from junior high that was insanely in love with the high school quarterback.  Well, I’m 35, and that’s me.  I’ve never had this happen before.

So, I sit on the couch.  I bathe a couple of times a week.  Work is next to impossible to complete.  I haven’t shaved my legs in over a month.  I’m eating absolute crap.  I had pecan pie for dinner.  I drink about 15 cups of coffee a day.  And then there are the naps.  If are between the ages of 3 and 80, you should not be taking more than 1 nap per day!  If he happens to text me, the whole world becomes brighter.  But then it fades until the next one and that could be days or weeks!

Keep in mind that I am blessed to be surrounded by a multitude of friends and family who support me, kick my butt, and cry with me when I need it.  None of them has been willing to say the word until today.  My best friend finally said it.  DESPERATE.

The realization that I was emotionally dependent on “him” for my happiness blew me away.  My best friend has long suggested that I need to find a way to be happy with me before I could ever be happy in a relationship with someone else.  Today we got to a new level.  Here’s the rub: I don’t love myself.  Therefore, I am constantly searching for validation from everyone around me.  The purpose of this blog will be to find a way to love myself … regardless of the actions of anyone else.

More to come …