Regret Versus Guilt

So by now you must know I carry a lot of guilt. Waxes and wanes, but always peaking its head around the corner daring to be seen, guilt is ever present. At times I am able to assuage this annoying and often incredibly persistent emotion. While other times, I succumb to the drowning effects.

Certainly regret and guilt are not mutually exclusive. They seemingly both stir up negativity in many ways. But for me, in my case of divorce, one does not mean the other. To clarify – because I carry this guilt does not equate to regret. Admittedly, the weight is slowly lifting. And yet, I truly don’t think will ever completely disappear. The definition of being a parent surely includes feeling guilt. Somewhere in there it must state “be prepared to go to bed many a night feeling guilty.” But, I did not choose divorce in that I ultimately had no choice. Despite the many good “things,” some of the best were not shining through or even present. For example, I want my boys to witness love at it’s core; to experience first hand what respect looks and feels like between two people who have promised their life together; to sense compassion; to taste the sweet, sweet taste of undying selflessness; to witness patience and self-control; to appreciate the ups and downs are to be travelled together.

Yes, there is a possibility that I will never be able to personally exemplify all of this for them. But, they are no longer living in a place where the opposite exists and teaches them all that should never be taught.

Guilt? Yes. Regret? No.

This morning I read a beautiful post. It was the reminder I needed. My boys are strong. And I think that maybe, just maybe, I am too.

‘Honey, that challenge was made for you. It might hurt, but it will also nurture wisdom, courage, and character. I can see what you’re going through, and it’s big. But I can also see your strength, and that’s even bigger. This won’t be easy, but we can do hard things.’                        -Glennon Doyle Melton

 

Be

I’m trying, trying to demonstrate how I want my own boys to be

How I hope they will treat others…

But I am pushed back, not by them

I am not allowed to provide them the example I wish for them to witness

I have done all I feel I can, and then I try more

And my heart starts to ache, my breathing increases, but shallow

Don’t they deserve more?

Who are their role models?

How will they be better fathers and husbands if they haven’t witnessed a better example?

My purpose in my life was without a doubt to be a mom

And I will always work to be better at my purpose

 

Be kind, be considerate, be unselfish, be giving

Be love, be happiness, be compassionate, be alive

Be nurturing, be supportive, be forgiving, be strong

Be a hero in your future children’s eyes

….and do not allow a moment to slip by when you can be everything to them

 

Gratitude

It’s been awhile, I know. While  much to say, I just couldn’t find the time to sit and write. But I have been processing…a lot. After four years of contemplating meeting with a counselor, I finally made the decision to talk with one. And she is perfect. Funny, she did ask me “So why are you here? You seem to have it all together?” My answer “Guilt. I don’t want to feel guilty anymore.”

With my meeting Ellen (that is my new counselor’s name), my runs, my now daily sun salutation practice, my now daily meditation practice, and my overall being a bit more present, I have found a new place inside of me. However small, it’s new. And one strong realization of this place, is that as much as I feel more present, and I am able to think clearer, I am still very aware of my avoidance of feeling. It’s a blocking actually. Surely, it’s a defense mechanism. It’s an unhappy place and reminiscent of my past. And I so don’t want to go back to that feeling.

Which brings me to the purpose of my post today…gratitude. In the words of my yoga teacher “Find something to be grateful for, we are all fortunate people,” I am doing just that. Every time she speaks these words, my mind immediately thinks of my two boys and my lips curve into a smile. Gratitude does not have to come from something momentous. Find it in the smallest of spaces – like a cup of hot chocolate or a vase of fresh wildflowers or a warm fuzzy blanket. So much surrounds us, so many itty-bitty miracles. The only thing preventing us from seeing them is ourselves.

So in no particular order, here are 10 tiny, itty-bitty parts of life that hold space in my tote bag of gratitude…..

My adirondack chairs that welcome pause…my handmade tea cup molded with my manager’s hands and so thoughtfully given to me…my Runner’s Magazine for all it’s inspirational stories and words of motivation…my camera to capture so many amazing moments that I can reflect upon…my new sneakers because they make me feel like I am running on clouds…my barn door because other than being exactly what I had wanted design wise, it was built just for me…my thieves oil for starting my mornings with a calming smell…mason jars for their versatility and simple beauty…the candle in the window I plug in every night as a small gesture for our soldiers…my hair elastic for just simply pulling my hair back.

What are you grateful for?

Blocking

All thoughts. All feelings. All emotions. It became a mirage. An illusion. “Thank you for Christmas morning. Now everyone put on your happy faces and have a good afternoon.” The insanity of it all makes me question “Did I really live my life like this all these years?” How can that be? All of it creates doubt in the corners of my mind. But that’s intentional right? He even asked T “What was your mother doing in the car?” He thought somehow T would see this as my fault. But T knows. His reply “Mom didn’t do anything” indicates he knows. But why should he be subjected. There was a calmness in my response that I repeated after every yell “you can not treat me like this.” In a sense, it was my mantra. But the threat yelled at me on the highway “DO YOU WANT TO GET OUT OF THE CAR?” was truthfully tempting. I did actually.  The music was then intentionally turned up so loud that T could not hear me in the back seat. The speed of 80mph was intentional as our newly licensed son tried to follow us. D saying he just wanted to drive alone or with his younger brother simply because “I just want to drive” was only a cover for not wanting to be in the car with him. It’s suffocating. So toxic. So the hour long drive, I retreated to a place of nothingness. Because truly being present in that moment would have resulted in a catastrophic breakdown. I was texting my mom however because it all was boiling inside of me and I needed to vent. And then retreat. It was a game I played with myself in order to hold it together. My brother started to then text me to come to his house. Oh, how much I wanted to go there. And so as my insides turned and twisted, I put my game face on and held it together. Not for me though. For them. For my boys. But really was that the right thing to do?

Christmas Eve!

It’s Christmas Eve! I would LOVE if I could just pause this day. So many wonderful memories since I was a child are wrapped up in this holiday. My boys are the same way. My youngest was given a writing prompt at school to write about Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. He chose Christmas Eve. Mentioning family, tradition, his cousins – he “gets” it. My oldest loves the lights as we drive home from my parents at night. Should I even mention that their father has chosen to spend the night with his girlfriend – forgoing an HOUR with his boys and seeing his nieces (my brother’s girls) who adore him because “my time is limited with (her).” Hmmm….but his time doesn’t even exist with his youngest son tonight. The very night that T holds close to his heart. And D just asked “why isn’t Dad coming tonight?” How do I answer that? And why is that my job? And by the way, if I did answer that question honestly, it wouldn’t sound very nice. But I digress.

Tonight is going to be wonderful. Amazing. And I intend on soaking up every single minute. Some traditions change. Life evolves. Right now I am looking forward to new adventures. New memories. New.

I wish everyone a very, Merry Christmas! May your night be filled with moments that you can cherish.

Thanksgiving – Top Ten

A time of year to reflect on being thankful. It reminds me of 50 Happy Things…. and then some. When you take the time to focus on gratitude and positivity, happiness flourishes. So without further ado, this Thanksgiving I am giving thanks for…

having a purposeful job – helping to change families’ lives for the better

a strong enough body – one that carries me to all the places I need and want to go

access to beautiful, tasty, and healthy food – and the ability to create meals for my boys

my home – it keeps us warm, holds our memories tight, and safely tucks us in at night

the crisp fall air – it replenishes, repletes, awakens

connections – to family, to friends, to co-workers, and to strangers

forgiveness – the freedom that accompanies, the lightness

hope – and the momentum it carries along

moments – being present, recognizing

my boys – without a doubt the greatest gift and one I will be forever grateful for

 

I wish everyone a peaceful Thanksgiving, one filled with moments, hope, and maybe even forgiveness.

 

Her…

So…a week ago I met her. Leading up to the moment of seeing her for the first time, I was in denial? I know there was a part of me that blocked all feeling. But, I did feel strong. And ready. I couldn’t help but notice her hand shaking as she tried to pass the money to the employee.  She insisted on paying for my tea as well. We made general introductions, shook hands, and sat down. Peering over our cups of tea, our eyes connected and of course a bit of uncomfortableness permeated the air. “Ask me anything,” she said. But, I made it clear – I hope – this was not a test in any way. Only a means to make things easier for all, but most importantly my boys, as we move forward.

My goal was to relay two points. Two views, maybe even two hopes.

Firstly, I do not want my boys to feel bad or as though they are somehow betraying me when they ultimately spend time with her. I want to be able to ease their concerns, worries, possible confusion by letting them know it is okay. And I wanted to be able to do this from an honest stance. A personal stance. And so I simply expressed I’m trying to make this easier for all. Realizing D was sixteen now and has the right to express not wanting to meet her, of this she was understanding and it was she in fact who expressed this point. “Whatever you (both) feel is right.”

Secondly, I desire to grow my family, not diminish it. I explained how important family was to me. Holidays and Birthdays being a gathering I wish to continue for my children – they are the heart of both. I let her know, although I understand it will take time, I hope she can join and welcome her as a part of these celebrations.

We talked much like new friends, sharing our histories at a level. Our education, our children’s sports, places we lived and why, jobs, and even more personal matters – one being her recent experience with Breast Cancer were all discussed over the course of our two hour meeting.

By all accounts, she was intelligent, pretty, hard-working, a dedicated mom, and while seemingly strong, a hesitant, soft, vulnerable, yet loving core was evident.

Each step I make during this process, I think “this was the hard part right?” There have been so many “hard parts” I am starting to think there will be no end to them. However, I’ve noticed I am getting stronger. And more aware. But as with most, there is more work to be done. Shifting perspective, saying goodbye and saying hello. It’s change.

 
“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates