Four

Photo from outside the courthouse August 9, 2017

Four years ago, at 4:19pm my high conflict, 748 day divorce battle was officially finalized by the judge.
Happy 4th Divorcery to ME!
Each year on this day, I celebrate the end of my over 20 year marriage and beginning of my new life. If someone had told me on that day in 2017 how much would change in my life, I would never have believed them. I actually laughed that day and thought that freedom just felt good enough for me.
Over the course of our 20 year marriage, my wasband was unfaithful numerous times and I always looked the other way. I knew it would never last long, and truth be told, I was focused on my kids and did not have the time or energy to deal with his nonsense.
I have told my story many times now and continue to tell it as to educate and empower others. Earlier in the week I wrote a post about an event in August of 2014 that put things in motion. He yelled at me in public. He was comfortable enough and empowered enough to demean me in public…..and that was pivotal. I spent the following month questioning everything.
October of 2014 was our 20 year anniversary and we went to dinner (his favorite place not mine) and midway through dinner, several of his buddies joined us. Yes, I was celebrating my anniversary …3 men and me!
As the days and weeks progressed, I started asking more questions about money, bills, and changes on credit cards. I started asking questions about work hours and over time. I started looking for proof that the cheating was not in my head this time….that I was not “crazy” (as he called me over and over)
Christmas that year lead to physical battles over checkbooks, bills and cashflow. I was not allowed to have access to the checking account because I was “bad with money” and given an allowance even though I was a full time working professional.
Spring brought more bills, more utility disconnections, more unexplained (lies) charges and more fighting. I continued to compile evidence.
May of 2015 was D-Day. I confronted him which led to a huge fight. I moved his things down to the ‘extra’ bedroom. We lived in a war zone for weeks until I went away for a few days with the kids. When I got back he had taken several plastic tubs of clothing and left.
July 23, 2015, I filed for divorce and he was served.
748 days later, our divorce was final.
1,461 days later, I am free.
The past 4 years have not been easy. I have done a lot of work on myself and made a great deal of changes in my life. I have given up on worrying about other people’s expectations of me. I have given up carrying baggage that is not mine to carry or is just too damn heavy for me to carry alone. I have given up the feelings of shame and failure that often accompany being divorced. I have given up the anger that I was not enough. I have given up the sadness that I wasted years of my life. I have given up regrets.
I am slowly reclaiming parts of the woman I once was and rebuilding my life. I am creating new and better relationships with each of my children as well as my friends. I am finding new things I love about teaching and returning to my roots in education. I am realizing that I have gifts and talents that need exploration. I am constantly being reminded by those that love me that I am worth my own time, effort and love. That I am worthy, I matter and not to devalue myself.
I was asked recently if I would date/love again. The answer is complicated. It is not a simple yes or no. I am in love with my life (even the shitty, difficult, uncomfortable parts) and enjoy my own company. I would love to share my life with someone, however, that person would have to add value and not complicate the life I have and am creating for myself. That is a tall order but I believe that person is out there. I have not given up on love!
Each day of this new life is a gift and I do not take even one minute for granted. I try to live it all to the fullest. I take chances and make mistakes. I learn from my mistakes and move forward…one step at a time. This 4 year Divorcery is one of the best yet! I continue to grow and make progress! Each day brings more joy, more love, more happiness!
So today, just like each year on this day, I remember the courage it took to free myself. I remember how hard I fought to save my family. I remember how hard I fought to save myself and create a better life for my children. I remember the mistakes I made and all the lessons I learned in the process. Instead of focusing on the pain, I find comfort in the good times and growth. I know, deep in my soul, that I am stronger and capable of so much more than I ever imagined. I am moving forward, focused on the future.
If I can do it, anyone can! I am here to inspire, assist and support you in any way possible!
I am courageous. I am brave. I am empowered. I am free.
And you can be too!
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Timehop

I have a love/hate relationship with Timehop and the daily memories it shows me.
I hate it because it reminds me of memories I would rather forget but I love it because it reminds me of all the good times and, more importantly, how far I have come.
Today, today was one of those not so great memory days. It is funny because yesterday something triggered this memory. I scrolled Timehop today to see the photos of that day and it all came flooding back….like watching a rerun of an old TV show I had seen a million times.
It was a Tuesday. My girls were already in school and we had to take a drive to take the jet ski out of the water near my parents home as it was the end of the season. My wasband, young son and I loaded up and drove out there. We spent the day on the beach and I took one last ride on the jet ski to end the season.
As was the routine, I walked up, got in our truck and headed to the boat slip while my wasband drove the jetski to meet me there. It was already an odd day and we had not spoken much but I no clue what was coming.
I pulled up and waited for him. When he arrived, I started to back the trailer up as I was instructed. I don’t know if y’all are aware of how difficult it is to back up a boat trailer while driving a full size suburban when you can not see said trailer. It was as if someone flipped a switch on the wasband. He started screaming, yelling, cussing and berating me. To be honest, this was not new but this was the first time in public. Other boaters and the harbor master just stood there. After a few minutes the harbor master walked over and calmly asked my wasband if he needed any help. He told him no and brushed him off. The HM then walked past the front of the truck, looked at me and mouthed,
“You ok?” I nodded. All the while, my son is laying on the floor of the back seat trying to hide.
Could the wasband jumped in the truck and backed it up himself? Yup…..but he didn’t.
Once the jet ski was out of the water, he complained that there was not a dry/unsandy towel for him to dry off…..
I suggested that we go eat something thinking he was hungry. We went to a local Brewery and when we were not allowed to sit at the bar because our son was with us? Well, the hostess was well aware of his displeasure. I took my son to the rest room and was again, asked by a stranger (the hostess) if I was ok. I said yes and made excuses.
We drove home in silence for over an hour until I apologized for suggesting the trip and not backing up correctly.
I knew something was wrong that day. I knew my marriage was in trouble. What I didn’t know was that it was not my fault. My wasband was already having an affair at that point. It would be a few months before I would have face that reality.
That was 7 years ago. The jet ski was parked in the garage that day and never used again. It was sold 5 years later after we were divorced. The battle and sale of the jet ski is another story for another day.
Back to my love/hate with Timehop. I was determined to create a new memory for today. So I took one long look at that old picture and it clicked. I needed to go to the water. I packed up my bike and headed to the lakefront. I rode for 20 miles along the Lakefront, taking in the beauty of the city and all the while releasing that woman that I was on that day(and other days like it). I repeated over and over, “You have come so far. There is peace in your solitude. There is happiness in your heart.”
I stopped on the ride back and looked out over the choppy lake water. I realized that I had weathered the storms that were meant to sink me. I had learned to keep my head above water, swim and eventually surf all the waves of emotion. I took a beep breath and forgave myself for that day. I made a promise to myself that I would never again lose my sense of direction again. I promised myself that I help other women like me find themselves again. I promised to love myself again.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Alone

A friend recently said to me, “I really want what you have“
She is not happy in her marriage and wants out. I told her to be careful what she wishes for.
Am I finally at peace in my life? Yes! Did I fight like hell to get here into this place? Hell yes! Do I work hard every day to maintain my sanity and peace? Yes! It’s not an easy task. And there are plenty of pitfalls.
I hear all the time “You are so strong!“ “You are such an inspiration!“ “I do not know how you do it!” along with all sorts of other similar platitudes. And all of that is great. But I still get lonely.
Would I rather be alone and lonely then in a loveless marriage and feeling alone? Hell yes! Would I rather be alone and lonely than surrounded by people that make me feel alone? No question!
There are plenty of people that are angry about where I am now. There are plenty of people that are jealous of where I am now. There are plenty of people that are envious of where I am now. None of that matters to me. Not one little bit.
What matters is that there are things that I miss. I miss the little things…the family events that didn’t take so much work or planning. The holidays that were not shared with so many different families. The dinners with other couples….to name a few. However, what I have gained and the daily sense of grounded peace I feel…I would not trade that for the world. That is what matters to me most of all.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Rebuilding

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

re·build
rēˈbild/verb
1 .build (something) again after it has been damaged or destroyed.

In order to rebuild, there has to be something rebuild to begin with.  Something that has been damaged. As the definition states, it is to build again after it has been damaged or destroyed.
So what was damaged? That would be me. My children. My family. My faith. So much has been damaged that rebuilding will not be easy, nor will it be fast… but it will happen.  
I am starting to find my way. I have been collecting the tools I need for this project for a long time.
It is finally time to put them all to use and build something stronger and better for the future.
The telling of my story no longer makes me cry….at least not as much as it used to and for entirely different reasons now. Thus I know I am on the road to healing. I am ready to share this rebuilding process in the hopes that it will not only help me but help others as well. The journey will take twists and turns and the road may not always be without danger, potholes, and other nastiness but what is life without at least one wild roadtrip?
So …here’s to soaring again….

Award

6 years ago I attended a benefit event at the Drake Hotel for Girls on the Run. I would be presented with the Superstar Award for Outstanding Coach at the event. What I did not know is that it would be a night that would change my life forever….just as Girls on the Run has changed the lives of countless girls.
Several weeks prior I had bought a dress on sale. The dress was a total splurge….even on sale for $30! At that time, I never bought things for myself much less a fancy dress! I was not allowed to spend money of “frivolous” things. I felt so good in that dress, so beautiful and powerful. That dress still hangs in my closet waiting to be worn again.
I did my own hair and then my daughter and I drove into the city to Barney’s to visit one of my best friends. My friend is a makeup artist and had never done my makeup before, heck, I had never had anyone do my makeup before! When she was finished, I felt so beautiful!
She also did makeup for my 16 year old daughter, who was my date for the evening. My daughter, who was my first girl on the run and the reason I started coaching the program. My daughter who deserved a fancy night out with her momma.
We arrived at the Drake greeted by valet parking and cocktail hour. I felt so special….and out of place.
I felt like I didn’t belong. I was instantly transported back to the grade school girl who never fit in and was always teased. The girl in high school that struggled with her looks and never felt like an “insider.” The college girl that drank to forget feeling left out.
I took a deep breath and, like a gut punch, it hit me. I was everything I was teaching girls NOT to be…….. I was a woman married to an unfaithful, abusive man.
I went to the bathroom to catch my breath and fix my makeup. I put on my new lipstick, plastered a smile on my face and headed in the the event to join my daughter. I was going to make the best of this night, celebrate Girls on the Run and this accomplishment.
During the day and into the evening, my wasband was texting me. He anger and jealousy was palpable. I was not “effectively managing” my children by going out for the evening, leaving my oldest daughter (18 at the time)in charge. He had been invited but had refused to take the night off work. Seeing me get an award was just too much for him to handle. And, looking back, I am so grateful he was not there.
My daughter and I had a wonderful dinner and I was able to teach her how a live auction works! She tried mightily to get me to bid on things that were well out of our price range but a girl can dream, right?!
After the auction, it was time for the presentation of awards. When my name was called, I walked to the stage, feeling weak in the knees. I straightened my spine, smiled, and stepped up to accept the award, graciously thanking the presenter. As I walked back to my seat I made a decision. It was a decision that would change the course of my future and the future of my children. I made a choice to be done.
I wanted out but didn’t know how to get out. I wanted to leave my marriage but didn’t know how or when it would happen. I was sad and lonely and in pain. I really was done.
I wanted to find a way out and that night showed me that I needed to find a way. I could not preach self love and empowerment to others all while living a lie of abuse and self hate.
I went through the motions in my marriage for a few more months. Soon enough, the lie I was living exploded. I mustered the courage to confront my wasband. I asked him to make a choice….our family and marriage or his “other life.” He wanted both. I knew that would never work so after a few weeks, I secretly met with a lawyer and filed for divorce.
Don’t get me wrong, I did the “pick me” dance for weeks, begging him to give us a second chance. I waited up all night for him to come home night after night only for him to ignore me or fight with me when he finally arrived. His contempt and indifference was something I will never forget. He taunted me repeatedly with, “I will never agree to a divorce…”, “You will never go through with it….you don’t have the guts….”, “Shut up! You will wake the kids….” and “Think about others would you?! She has small kids! Keep your mouth shut….” Over and over…..night after night….until he was served.
For years, every week I taught my Girls on the Run teams lessons in empowerment and self-esteem. What I failed to realize was that I was the one that needed those messages. I was the one that needed to learn to love myself and have confidence in myself. I needed to find the woman I had stuffed down deep inside me. I needed to be my own outstanding coach.
We never know what will turn the tide in our life. We never know when we will be faced with a moment of truth. We never know what moment will be the defining tipping point. However, when that moment does arrive, we need to be brave enough to face an uncertain future and be prepared to ride the waves of change. We have it in us! We just need to dig deep and find it!
We need to be our own SuperStar…..Our Own Outstanding Coach!
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace