Oh No You Didn’t!

Um, yeah I did!

See the picture on this post? Those are the hands of a 40 year old woman mechanic!

Okay, so it’s a picture of my hand. And I’m not a mechanic. But, I just changed one of the headlight bulb’s in my car. ON MY OWN!

In six months I’m amazed at what I’ve done on my own.

  • I separated from my husband of 20 years
  • I made the decision to take charge of the direction of my life instead of letting someone else/others/societal expectations decide it for me
  • I moved out on my own – for the first time EVER in all of my 40 years
  • I signed up for a hydro account
  • I arranged rental insurance for my new place
  • I negotiated cable terms for a new cable contract
  • I bought furniture
  • I took my car in to get serviced and fixed
  • I bought winter tires for my car to ensure my own safety
  • I went to a conference by myself
  • I sought legal advice for myself
  • I went tree-top trekking and zip lining
  • I renewed my passport
  • I changed a light bulb in my car

And those are only some of the tangible things I’ve done.

Some of the intangibles include:

  • Taking ownership of my life
  • Growing in understanding of myself and my place in this world
  • Seeking out the things that make me happy and learning to follow my spirit within/listening to my divine inspiration
  • Finding value and worth and love from within

I cannot ever underestimate the power I hold to direct my own life. My thoughts are the only barrier to evolution and transcendence of self.

The question was not, “WHY CAN’T I change the light bulb in my car?” The question was, “HOW can I change the light bulb in my car?”

Question not the ability to do. Instead, look only at how it can be done!

Evolution of Change

It’s been two months since my last post. I wasn’t sure if I should come back. I thought maybe I should create a new blog and start fresh but, after much contemplation, I decided that this whole “journey” of mine is a continuum. To start a new blog would only serve to negate one part of my story, one part of my life, which isn’t separate from me at all, but is fully part of me.

I slipped and fell. Not literally, but figuratively and so very deeply emotionally.

I think if I were to ask an impartial party they would say it’s okay. Right now, I believe that too. But I feel some shame in what I’ve allowed to happen. Yes, some shame, but I also realize the tremendous amount of change that has occurred in my life over, most recently, the past six months, but also over the past two years, and I can’t really shame the progression of learning and self awareness and understanding that has transpired.

  • I am still separated from my husband. He continues to drink. I don’t think I thought this would be how things worked out. I’m starting to realize that I truly thought my leaving him would shake his world and stir some change. Well, it shook his world alright but he’s viewing this as a tragedy rather than an opportunity. He’s sad. He’s angry.
  • Six months into a separation and while this is totally what I wanted I’m feeling a little lost in who I am. Alone at 40? It’s only a plateau, I realize this, but it’s just a really, really uncomfortable part of the cliff on my climb to the next level of me.
  • I got lost in trying to identify a new me in the shadow of the loss of the old me as “wife”. The shift involved a dietary lifestyle in which I lost quite a bit of weight and started down a very dangerous, yet familiar, path. I’m on shaky ground, even now, but I am filled with more self-love and awareness and I know what I need to do to remedy this. This is the part that I feel shame about but am understanding that I still, realistically, am only two years recovered from an eating disorder. I have areas to work on still but I’m stronger in mind and spirit and self this time and can get back on track more easily. As Ralph Waldo Emerson so eloquently put it:

The glory is not in never falling but in rising every time you fall.

Yes, I have fallen but I see that each fall is an opportunity to learn and grow and when I rise a new me has been formed and I continue on my way until it’s time for greater change again. And this is the evolution of me.

RE-POST: Reality – 1, Expectations – 0 | Fat Ballerina

I had to Press This blog post from Fat Ballerina. It brought me back to many memories over the last few years and made way for some deep reflection.

Reality – 1, Expectations – 0 | Fat Ballerina.

Here are my thoughts and what Fat Ballerina’s post has conjured up in me:

As a young girl I had expectations. It started with the expectation of a family. My family was broken through separation and (the constant threat of) divorce very early on and so I found refuge in the Sears catalogue. I would sit for hours and thumb through the pages looking at all the models – male, female, children. From the pictures and settings I would put together my ideal family and imagine the comfort of such a thing.

As I moved into adolescence and through into the teenage/young adult years, my expectation was for love from a boy. This of course would lead into marriage, a family, and a happily ever after. But I was lonely and shy and the boys never came. I watched other people kiss and hold hands. I watched movies where men and women had beautiful romantic encounters. I longed for love but my reality was loneliness.

Nearing 21 years old, someone stepped up. He thought I was beautiful. He treated me well. He took care of me. Right from the start of the relationship he was clear that he was in pursuit of a girlfriend, not just another girl friend, and that he would one day marry me. I was smitten. I jumped on the bandwagon of the first person to ever show a lasting interest in me.

He wanted me so, in turn, I wanted him.

And I expected from him what I’d dreamed of as a young girl. A beautiful marriage, a romantic relationship, emotional connection, a family. But I’d never shared that dream of mine with him. What he wanted I always conceded to because I didn’t want to lose my chance. I thought that eventually the expectations would become a reality. I just had to be patient.

It’s not a fair way to enter a relationship, but I didn’t know any better.

We married 10 years into the relationship. I dreamed of a beautiful wedding filled with love and romance. I didn’t know it at the time but the wedding, to him, was a party and an excuse to get kick-ass drunk. The day after our wedding he left the hotel hungover and went home. I stayed and had breakfast with our overnight guests. Alone. After breakfast, and making excuses as to why my new groom wasn’t around, I went home too where I spent the remainder of the day binging in solitude on leftover wedding cake and throwing it up in the toilet.

I expected an emotionally charged and connected relationship. But the reality was, I married an alcoholic. He’s a functioning alcoholic – he works, has a good job, pays his bills, saves for retirement, and makes sure the basic necessities are provided for. But, beyond that, he tapped out of the relationship emotionally, and has never been back.

I truly thought that by being obedient and honoring him and helping him and being a dutiful wife, that in turn, he would be won over by my Godly conduct.

The reality is though, that over the years, constant concession on my part eventually led way to resentment. I did, I did, I did and gave, and gave, and gave. But nothing was coming back to me.

The relationship began to suffer. My eating disorder got worse. The anger overcame me. I began to point fingers – YOU, YOU, YOU.

I expected so much more.

At the crux of it all, I was mid-way through treatment. My emotional state was dangerously low. The fights were constant and my anger was like a volcano ready to erupt. The emotions were difficult to contain. Hope was dying. I was dying.

But I kept trying. I kept searching. I was in the middle of reading two books at this point, one on assertiveness and one on co-dependency. Both books were resonating strongly with me in the area of expectation.

Getting lost in expectation was taking my control away and I was starting to blame everyone else for failing me.

Two ideas from each book were so important to me in helping propel me out of helplessness and I go back to them time and time again as a reminder that I am in control of one thing only – myself. I’ll share them here.

From The Assertiveness Workbook by Randy Paterson:

Recognizing that we don’t control others is not really a helpless position. This knowledge prevents us from attempting ultimately futile tasks: controlling how others think, feel, or act. A feeling of helplessness does not come from tasks that we cannot accomplish; it comes from impossible tasks we want to do, try to do, and feel we should be able to do. You seldom feel frustrated that you can’t fly like a bird, because you don’t feel that you should be able to do so. It is the belief that things should be otherwise that causes the frustration…your behaviour is your decision, and others’ behaviour is up to them.

The other is from the book Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. There are so many things in this book that were important for me to read. One part, in particular, was striking. I confronted my husband so many times about the lack of emotional commitment and about his alcoholism but was always responded to in a way that made me feel as if I was being ridiculous. This point hit home and gave me hope that I wasn’t alone:

Maybe we’ve been taught to not trust ourselves. This happens when we have a feeling and we’re told it’s wrong or inappropriate. Or when we confront a lie or an inconsistency and we’re told we’re crazy. We lose faith in that deep, important part of ourselves that feels appropriate feelings, senses truth, and has confidence in its ability to handle life’s situations. Pretty soon, we may believe what we are told about ourselves – that we’re off, a tad crazy, not to be trusted. We look at people around us – sometimes sick, troubled, out-of-control people – and we think, “They’re okay. They must be. They told me so. So it must be me. There must be something fundamentally wrong with me.” We abandon ourselves and lose faith in our ability to take care of ourselves.

And so began my process of detachment, of letting go of the things I could not and cannot control. In some ways, it’s a sad process.

I have let go of any expectation of my husband. I have zero expectation anymore in the realm of emotional and relational responsibility. He is not capable of providing the emotional stability that my heart and body yearn for. And I don’t hate him for it. In some ways, by letting up and not pushing him to perform in ways that he is not capable of doing, he has been less confrontational with me. I’m starting to see that expectation can sometimes be more of a hurt for someone else than a disappointment for me. I think my high expectations scared him. He knew he would fail so he stopped trying completely. I am actually remorseful, to some degree, for having placed such a burden on his shoulders.

I still want more from my relationship. But I’m not sure I’ll ever get it. I’m not even sure that if it came that I could welcome it. In some ways, there’s a wall up that prevents further damage. By detaching from him and giving up my expectation, my relationship with my husband has evolved into a mutual friendship. He’s a dear friend and we share many laughs together. But I’m not sure I could ever welcome him back as a lover, as a romantic partner. He doesn’t know me well enough. He doesn’t know me at all.

It’s really not all sad. Whether it sounds this way or not, I have come to happily accept that which I cannot change and instead joyfully welcome what is possible.

There is joy in simplicity. My expectations of life have dwindled and continue to do so as I age. The only enjoyable moment is the present one I’m living, not the distant one I’m hoping for. It may never come.

Knock, knock…

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7

I asked, sought, and knocked for 20 years. There’s no way God’s plan for me included being defeated by an eating disorder.

I liken myself to the Israelites wandering the wilderness for 40 years. I wandered blind for most of my 20 year ordeal – flailing, searching, falling – but never did I think that recovery was an impossibility.

Finally, the door opened.

Just Imagine…

Entertain – to admit into the mind; consider.
“entertain.” Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 24 Apr. 2015. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/entertain>.

You have to fight like hell to be well. But hanging on to an eating disorder is also a constant battle. The only difference is that one of the fights will eventually end with victory; the other will never be won.

You have to at least entertain the idea that winning is possible. You don’t have to know how or when, just don’t ever cross off winning as an option.