Thursday, June 30, 2011

Timely Message?

I have a dirty little secret. I go on binges of reading horoscopes. I think it is my ridiculous way of trying to get a little control from the universe, or at least try to glean what it has in store for me.

My love horoscope from yesterday:

You have a strong sense of self and you're not too likely to lose yourself in a relationship. With that in mind, remember that it's okay to become very attached to your loved one. You can be part of a couple and still be an individual.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Feeling Crazy and Confused

In the middle of all of my miserable feelings, I feel insecure about my relationship with RJ in that I don't want to mess things up. I am scared of not being ready for him in the way that I want to be. I hope that he is patient in waiting for me to return to Pittsburgh. I hope he is understanding of the mess that I am feeling, which is asking a lot.

Just in general, I am scared of saying too much to him and I am scared not to say enough. I don't want to lean into him too much for support as I am trying to be independent, but I don't want to shut him out or put too much of a burden on him either. I struggle to find the balance between losing myself again and allowing myself to go to him when I could use some comfort. I am tired of feeling like I always have to be strong and I want to feel okay with showing that vulnerability sometimes. I sometimes wonder if I am overcompensating and if I am holding too much of myself back. Part of being a couple is being there for each other. But how much is too much?

I want to crawl into his bed and into his arms. I just want to cry away all of these frustrations and for him to hold me. Is that okay? Is it asking too much? It's not RJ, it's me wondering--to give myself permission to do that.

I miss RJ.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Staying the Course of my own Journey

Have you ever driven down a road where you can see that it runs parallel to another road by the traffic off in the distance? I'm thinking back to my days of college at Bowling Green in Ohio where it is pretty flat and you can see the semi-trucks or the occasional car across the spread of corn betweeen I-75 and state route 23. You sometimes notice the other vehicles in the corner of your eye and other times, even if you know they are there, you almost forget they are out there. Then eventually, a town interupts the view or a bend comes along one road and the other just fades away. It becomes no longer relevant because it has nothing to where you are now and where you are going.

I feel the two roads are a good visual representation in letting go of the dream. It is not at all that I long for that other life again, but that it is mourning what had been and more so a life of what could have been. Initially, it was something that loomed so heavily and I couldn't help but compare where I was and all that had been so carefully planned. Then slowly I began to notice it less as I focused on the new road that I was taking with all of its new adventures and challenges.

I've known that that dream has long died, but finding out that my ex has remarried serves as another reminder with another layer of grief with this whole process of regaining my life. It is forcing me to say good-bye to the dream yet again when I already thought I had done that. But then again, I carried a small fear of wondering how I would feel if I heard that he had married again, especially to that woman. I didn't dwell on it, but felt like I would deal with it if and when it came. That moment is now and all I can do is be honest and patient with myself in allowing me to feel what it is that I need to feel so that I can continue to move forward. I can better identify why I have felt so sad and angy, and now it is a matter of my heart catching up to my head. It is not easy watching a dream die, even if I know it really is for the better. I feel this undercurrent of emotions that just have to pass with time and acceptance. To borrow a familiar line from the children's book, Going on a Bear Hunt , and suggested by my friend, Julie, "Can't go over it. Can't go under it. Gotta go through it!"

And part of me is okay with him remarrying first because despite whoever would do it first, I imagine this process of grief would still take place. At least I get to digest it all on my own and separate from a day so special as a wedding day, a day that is supposed to be full of happiness and love. In facing this loss now, I hope that if/when I do get married that it will free me to focus in sharing my day of happiness entirely with the person I love. I am happy to gain more distance from that road that might have been before committing myself to share in a life with another person. I want to be in a place to fully embrace a new dream.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

In a Glass Case of Emotion

Thank you, Ron Burgundy.


I feel raw, exposed and vulnerable.


The day after, I woke up with a head ache and miserable with that feeling of, "Is this real?" I was feeling angry and betrayed. I wondered who attended the event and stood there to support that crap. And I don't want to hear, "Well, when it is your friend, you want to be happy for them." Well guess what? Some of those people were my friends, too, and it sucks.


On the second day, I was starting to feel better and felt like a cloud had lifted and I was regaining some focus. Okay, so let's get back to the business of my life. I kept reminding myself of those moments of dreaming during the yard sale and that RJ was coming to visit me this weekend.


By the fourth day, I was feeling over run with emotions again. And it was all just so painful. It was not that I was really thinking about him, but just feeling frustrated and wanting to already be in a place where I really have moved into that space of all on my own. Right now I am still going to school and I am depending on him for support. It ticks me off to feel stuck and feeling like he probably takes pleasure in it or feels sorry for me. Both are equally repugnant. It really stinks that on the surface it seems that his life has moved onward seamlessly and he gets to have his happy despite being the destructive force, while I am still struggling to get my life in order. I want a job and to be supporting myself. While I am grateful for this opportunity to be going back to school and redirecting my life towards what I feel I am supposed to be doing, there are times that I feel like my life continues to remain on hold. And it has felt like that since November 2006, for various reasons and most of which have been beyond my control. That is a really long time to feel like you are in a holding pattern.


And it gets old hearing the instant response to this crap as, "Be happy for what you have in your life right now." True. I am. It is what keeps me going. But don't gloss over what I am feeling right now. I am angry and sad and frustrated and betrayed and powerless and diffident and miserable...even if just for a moment. I need to acknowledge that to be able to move beyond and to carry forward. I need to cry every one of those tears. Thank you to the people who allowed me to do that with them. This news serves as another reminder of the feeling that I failed and wondering if I am just damaged goods. That is the hardest part, the failure.


Then there are times when I do not want to feel like I have to decide where I am going to focus the direction of my life because I don't know where things are going with RJ. I like being in a space of flexibility and just going with the flow. But what life has taught me is that there are no guarantees and life keeps moving. This recent news about my ex has shaken me. It has undermined the confidence I have been working so hard to rebuild and restabilize. And what I am about to say is not a reflection on RJ because I feel like our relationship is in a pretty good place right now.


It is just that I am afraid of building my life around another man only to be left disappointed and abandoned again. I do not want to find myself more invested than the other person. They have to want the relationship just as much as me and be willing to put in the effort.


But I am equally afraid of closing myself off because of these feelings and to miss what could be the best thing to be happening in my life. The resurfacing of self-doubt makes it difficult to trust myself in judging my experiences.


It has almost been a week and there are times when I feel shaky. But today is a new day and I need to get back to kicking arse! I will let Ron Burgundy's words resonate within me, "I'm kind of a big deal."








Top Image: http://www.rufkm.net/, note--appreicate the image and not their political views


Bottom Photo: by Melissa Moseley, http://www.towntopics.com/jul0704/cinema.html




Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sorting Out a Hot Mess

I don't even know where to begin.

Just when I felt like I was getting to that processing point in finding the words and discovering the reasons behind some very significant recent feelings, I am hit with a wall. Being in Columbus has allowed me to do some serious reflecting, for which I am thankful. But what the heck am I supposed to do with this information? Am I in some state of denial? Am I going to feel worse tomorrow morning, in the coming week or month? Will this tsunami of new information come back and test the strength and forgiveness that I have tried to build?

Enter the lovely Facebook...

My ex married the w----*.

Today as I happened across an old friend my ex and I shared, I noticed this friend looked happy and was dressed nicely in a suit. I was thinking, "He must have had a friend get married, how nice." I then thought I would see if his wife, also an old friend, was on his list of friends just to be nosey and to look at the profile pictures. (Honestly, I was curious to see if they were still together because it seemed like they might have been having relationship troubles around the time my relationship with my ex hit the fan. I am very happy they are still together.) As I was scrolling down the list, there popped up the wedding photo as her profile picture.

I was not expecting this. A few of the last words my ex said in my presence were, "I am NEVER getting married again."

I had never known what she had looked like. And I liked it that way.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. My intention was not to probe into his life. I was taking a walk down memory lane, just missing a few people who had been in my life for fourteen years.

It was weird. As I looked at the picture, they looked happy and had they been strangers to me I probably would have thought that they looked like two people who seemed to go together.

And it hurt because it is not easy to think of myself as so replaceable. My next thought was that he has definitely moved on with his life.

Argh! And just when I was getting to a place where I was not comparing the milestones in our lives as a measure of success in my life and letting go of feeling like it was less. I was (and am trying to hold onto) being better able to just let that all go. His life doesn't matter. Focus on myself and be thankful for all of the good in my life right now.

And despite all of the growth that I have made in the last few weeks**, I feel guilty for not being in a place to feel happy for him. I don't wish him harm or for bad things in his life. I have just been feeling at peace--just kind of neutral--you live your life and I will live mine. I don't know if I can feel happy for him. I'm not there yet. How could he have moved on so quickly? It's not about him. What's so wrong with me? And I don't want to hear that if this is what makes him happy that it was meant to be. Then why did I love him for all of those years?

Let it go.

(Important Note: When I originally created my Facebook page, I immediately blocked my ex. I wanted to minimize the chances of him knowing about my life and I had no interest in knowing about his. I knew her name and attempted to block her, but she did not have an account. Blocked a few other ex-in-laws and had not messed with the edits since.)

**Highlights from the previous weeks leading into learning this news...

So, in coming to Columbus for the summer, I have been reconnecting with some friends and getting back in touch with some old classmates. Feeling a bit nostalgic, I've been scoping out Facebook a bit more and it has been fun. And really, where it had sometimes been tough seeing people from my past with their families and children, in talking with them I am really happy for them. It is a very healthy thing.

Part of that I contribute to moving to a place where I can dream again--for myself and in my life. Last weekend, RJ and I went to a bunch of yard sales. I love roaming around a neighborhood yard sale with him. As we were out and about, we went into a couple of homes that were having open houses. RJ wanted to check one out to see how they were restoring the house, as it was in progress. It was fun to appreciate the workmanship. Then I was curious about another house, not wanting to lead the realtor on, but just a peek. It gave me a hint of what a house can cost in the area and how much home you can get and in what condition. It was the first time that I realized that I could really one day own a home again. I think given what I hope to have as an income when I get a job, I think I could one day swing getting a nice, little house. And I think it was important to view this as a possibility that I could potentially do on my own--in the way to know that I will be able to support myself and not rely on having to be with someone to do this. This is NOT a slight against RJ. If anything, I see this as me being able to have more to contribute if we consider more in sharing a future together.

It was refreshing to catch myself in that moment of dreaming and playfully considering the possibilities of my future, especially in such a positive way. It helps me to focus on me and to be thankful for what I have in my life and to not measure my life experiences with those of others. As my friend Karen said, "We each have to make our own happy." And that freedom to accept and appreciate my life allows me to enjoy more fully what others have in their lives for those who have meaning in my life. Again, a very good thing.

Then getting back to that nostalgic bug, Columbus has a lot of selection in music stations on the radio. There are several that play music that reminds me of high school and college. As much as I have tried to fight it, I have been thinking about my ex a bit more. Not in that way where I miss him or want to be with him, but just wandering thoughts of some of the good that we experienced together. I have felt very sad, but it has also been nice not to have vengeful or ugly thoughts related to him (*Oops, that one slipped.). In thinking about it, I wondered if I might be coming to a better place in reaching another level of forgiveness with him in letting go of the bad and the hurt. I am tired of feeling angry and maybe this was a sign that I am turning that corner or something has lifted. Many times I wondered if I could ever look back on the relationship with any kind of positive regard or if it had all been ruined in that my life during that period had been for nothing and a complete waste. But I decided that maybe how I was feeling recently was showing me that there was some good there and it was not all for naught, that there is meaning that I can positively take away for myself from that experience.

And with this new realization and acceptance I feel like I can better move forward in my life, especially in allowing my self to dream and in my relationship with RJ. Letting go helps me to be free and to have that space to enjoy more of life. It gives me better clarity as I work towards deeper resolve and acceptance. I am living my life for me! (Darn it!)

I just hope that I can hold onto that strength and level of forgiveness. I don't know how I will feel tomorrow or the coming days. I have a feeling that I may be in for experiencing a bit of an emotional hangover. Blughhhhh...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lost and Found

When I got home from the gym the other day, I realized that I forgot to put my belt in my bag after changing out of my clothes from work. I called the gym right away and told them about it. They took my information and said that they would call me if they found it. They also asked if I was going to be in the next day to work out and I said yes. There was no call and it was not in the lost and found. I tried to be hopeful that someone would have turned it in at the desk. I was very sad as the realization began to sink in that it was really gone.

It was a really nice belt in the way that I could wear it with quite a few things. It went well with jeans or khakis. I could semi-dress it up for a relaxed preppy kind of look or I could dress it down with a t-shirt and comfy jeans. It was made of soft, worn brown leather with small, flat metal studs and a line of stitching of twine-like threading. It was so me. Soft and casual, yet with a subtle depth of layered detail. It was the perfect belt and I had had it for at least twelve years. It was an artifact from college that remained a classic staple in my wardrobe and I probably would have worn it until well past eighty. I'm a simple kind of person and not always one with a lot of accessories, so for quite awhile this was my only belt. (Why would I even need another one?) But now it is gone. I am so bummed.

But why? Why am I so emotionally invested and attached to the belt? I've tried to shake the feeling because it seems silly to have such feelings of loss over something material. So, what is it about this belt that is so hard to let go?

I guess it reminds me of college and my youth. It was a simple way to recall the past without breaking out an old, smelly t-shirt. And somehow I think the belt served as a way to connect my past and present by representing what was consistent in my identity across time and that certain elements would follow me into my future. There were several times in my life when I struggled with either loosing my identity or figuring out how to reclaim it or redefine it. But the belt was a constant--looking at it I would think, yep that's me.

But then there were times in the last year or so that as I would put on the belt and I would feel sad. And it always felt strange to have that feeling with something that I considered to be a favorite. But there were times that the belt would take me back to that dark, lonely place in my divorce when I felt so lost and alone and like my life was spinning out of control. It was because during that time I lost forty pounds (I had gained thirty pounds during the prior year while trying to get pregnant.). I was at a loss and felt helpless each time I had to pull the belt another notch tighter. I remember when I got to the last notch and it just wasn't tight enough. I felt scared and knew that I couldn't loose anymore weight and stopped stepping onto the scale when it dropped to 98 pounds. That was a low point in my life.

Well after I returned to a healthier weight, I wondered if maybe I should get a new belt. Why keep something that could sometimes draw out hints of sadness? But would I be abandoning something that seemed to symbolize what makes up me has always been there and use it to carry me forward? Is it better to hold onto something and learn to live with that trace of sadness or to come to a place where it is time to let it go and move on?

I guess the decision has been made for me--or perhaps it was my subconscious that decided for me. The belt is lost and gone and I will have to find a new one. I just hope that I can find one that is just as awesome, but in its own unique way. More reason to go shopping!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pittsburgh Half-Marathon 2011

A few weeks ago, I ran in the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon for the second time. My goal was to run the race in under two hours and I am proud to say that I accomplished my goal! I ran the race in 1 hour and 56 minutes at an 8:50 mile pace. This exceeded what I had intended to accomplish in reducing my time by cutting my mile pace by 40 seconds! Two things certainly contributed to this success--a longer, established running base before ramping up the weekly mileage and the hill workouts.

In addition, I think this race was important because this year I ran it by myself. In someways I think it represents how far I have come in rebuilding my life. Last year, I ran it with my friend, Michele, and we were a great team. We supported each other through some tough things and we were each other's cheerleader. As we ran, Michele did a great job navigating between runners to keep our pace, while I kept an eye on the time as we passed each mile marker. This year, Michele was not able to sign up for the race in time. So, I ran solo on the course. I think this was good for me because I could prove to myself that I am very capable of accomplishing my goals independently.





And while I may have been running the race by myself, I was far from alone. I had several other friends who were running in the race and we didn't run together for various reasons--pace, corral assignments, and personal running style. But we sent each other a flurry of texts before the race and it felt like we would all be running together in spirit. It was funny because at one point during the race, I passed my friend, Heidi, who was running a leg in the Relay. It was great to see her and continue in our individual journeys.

Then RJ and his friend also came to cheer me on along the sidewalk next to the course. I was so touched because he postponed a fishing trip just to be sure to see me run. RJ asked me where I thought I might most need an extra boost of support, I gave him the map and told him at Mile 6, just before the West End Bridge. As I was reaching that point in the race, I grew more excited because this year I had someone out there cheering for me! RJ was wildly ringing his cow bell and waving the sign he made for me. His friend snapped a picture as I passed by them. They later told me that they had a ton of people comment on their cow bell playing and would yell all sorts of references to the Will Ferrel SNL skit. It really did raise the energy level. And that is what is great about this race is that there are so many people in the crowd to cheer on the runners. Not only do they support the person they know, but then they extend that enthusiasm to all who run in the race. RJ and his friend then found a spot near the end of the race to give me that last hurrah before sprinting to the finish line. RJ's parents and uncle were there, too, as they came to watch his aunt run in the race.

After the race, I tried to look for RJ and his friend, but there were just so many people. I think we just missed each other, so I headed back to my neighborhood. It was a long walk to my car, but I had so much fun. I loved the crowd support with their cheering, costumes and signs. I loved the music all along the course with a variety of bands. It was great to hear other runners comment on their experiences as we were running. I think this kind of race is great for me because it really brings me into the space of living in the moment--to be aware of what is going on internally and externally and embracing every bit of it.


Once I was back to my neighborhood, I met up with RJ and his friend and we cheered on the Marathon runners along Mile 22. After a quick shower and a change of clothes, it was great to revel in my own accomplishments and to continue to offer support for those still running in the longer race. Yeah, I wore my finisher's medal. What other day can you do that and not look obnoxious? :)


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Personal Authenticity

Strange how life can be cylindrical--the ways in which we slip back to safeguard ourselves and the ways in which we open ourselves up to the world. Shortly after the divorce, there were times when I lived much more free and open as I was rediscovering the world. Then looking back on it more recently, I realize there was a period during the late winter and into spring that I found myself closing up in a protective way. I felt this quiet strain that I was grasping to identify. It was during one of my last classes of the semester that someone commented, "Jamie is an enigma. You never know what she is thinking and I always wonder." I guess people can tell when the hamster wheel is turning, but they cannot always get a read on what exactly that entails.

This remark bothered me a bit. Many friends have said in the past that I am a genuine person or that I wear my heart on my sleeve. I know some of my classes could be a little touchy-feely being that they were about therapy and counseling. I mean it is good to sometimes share and disclose things about yourself, but then it is important to also have a professional boundary. The one class in particular was small and the class got to know each other more. Some people shared some fairly personal stuff. It was tough because I almost feel like maybe I did not reciprocate as much as other people. But then again, I don't have to spill my life out to everyone I meet. I don't like seeming to be that closed off or so distant, but it can be tough to know where to draw that line in one's professional life to build relationships that are warm and supportive without overstepping that personal boundary. Work is work and not everyone needs to know my business. But then, what is that balance to share so you don't seem like the cold weirdo? I do feel like I held myself back some during my Practicum experience. So, I am trying to be more aware of that during my internship to allow myself to relax and be more present and in the moment.

I don't know. I think in the past I did a better job of that balance. But now somehow I feel like there is the extra filter in me so that I don't get hurt. I just hope it doesn't spill over into the parts of my life of where it counts to be more disclosive and real. Someone told me that if you try to protect yourself too much, you constrict yourself. Then you don't allow yourself to feel anything and in the end you suffer. It takes a certain amount of bravery to open up again to experiencing the moment in relationships. I have to be willing to be not only trusting with others, but more importantly, with myself.