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

Divorce

Monday, August 15, 2016

Divorce. That was not a word that was used in my family. It was a dirty word. A word that was whispered. A word that was for others. A word that was like a scarlet ‘D’ on the chest of those “other people”.
I was born and raised Catholic. I went to Catholic school and even Catholic College. I devoted my life to teaching my faith to children, other children and my own.  I was taught, at home and through my faith, that we do not divorce. We pray. We talk to the priest. We go to Mass. We say the Rosary….we DO NOT divorce. Divorce is a sin.
My family does not “do” divorce. No one got divorced. No one talked about problems either. People stayed married in my family. That is what I wanted when I got married. I was made to believe that divorce was for quitters. People that did not do the work before or during marriage were the ones that got divorced. So I planned to do everything right. I was going to pick a man that was ready to do the same.
I dated lots of guys but when I found “my Guy”, I looked at his family. Everyone was married and no one divorced. Yea….good role models.
When I got married I was in it for the long haul. I was dedicated to my husband and would soon start family. As the family started to grow, my dedication and activity level grew too. I was “that” mom. I took the kids everywhere. We went to zoos, museums, sports, dance….you name it…I had my kids doing it. What I didn’t realize was …it was just me. I was the one doing it all. I excused it all because my wasband was working. He was always working (Or so I thought).
So I did what good moms do….I “mommed”. I worked and I “mommed”. I lived for the nights my wasband was home for dinner with the family or nights he would treat me like a queen by taking me out to dinner.
Years passed and the kids grew.
People always say that the wife is the last to know….that is so far from the truth. The wife is the FIRST to know. She is usually the last to admit it to herself and others. That was me. I knew. I knew the first time it happened and I listened to the excuses from my wasband. I let it go and thought that it was a one time thing.
The second time it happened….I let it go hoping it would go away…and it did.
The third time? Well..that was enough. I had had enough. My kids were older and other people knew about this affair.  I knew about the affair. What I didn’t know then was that this was not number 3. This was, well, let’s just say a number more than number 3.
I knew for over a year before I was ready to admit it to myself. I knew. I knew and I knew I was done living like this.I knew and I knew both my kids and I deserved better. I knew and I knew that I needed find the courage and strength to leave this toxic marriage. I knew…And soon it was time to let my wasband know what I already knew…..D Day was upon us.
Here’s to soaring again…..

Healing

In the June of 2015 I filed for divorce. That was the beginning of what would become a long, drawn out, high conflict divorce from an abusive narcissist. The divorce was final 2 years later on August 9, 2017. That was not the and and there are battles being fought but those battles are few and far between now.
I digress. Prior to the divorce I was seeing a therapist. I continued to see her throughout the divorce and long afterwards. Those visits were, and still are, a sanity saver for me. She encouraged me to write it all down to hep me process my feelings. I kept a paper journal and still do. In 2016, about year into the process, she suggested a blog. Her suggestion was to keep it as a private blog until I was ready and strong enough to share my story. I needed to heal a lot more before I could open up to others.
I recently got a notification that the blog was going to be archived. So I went back and read some of the entries. I was triggered all over….but in a different way. I no longer was overcome with fear and anxiety. I didn’t start to hyperventilate. I smiled. I realized that that woman no longer exists. I have come so far in my healing process that the trigger is pride. That is not an emotion I am used to or comfortable with in my life. But I am getting used to it! So, I decided that it is time to publish those blog entries and some of my journal entries. Why? I didn’t know what I know now and didn’t have anyone to talk to about what I was experiencing. I thought that what I was experiencing was ‘normal’. I thought I was alone. What I have come to realize is that my experience was not normal and I was not alone. It was just that no one wanted to talk about it.
If even one person is inspired by my story and chooses a life of freedom, then it will have been worth it.
The next few entries will be dated and posted exactly as I wrote them in 2016
Peace.
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

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

Stop

I used to be really embarrassed about telling people that I was divorced. I used to be mortified to walk around my community. Why? My wasband chose himself and infidelity over our family. 
But then I stopped giving a shit.
Unless you have been cheated on, you have no idea what it is like to trust again.  Unless you have been abused, you have no idea what it is to deal with that kind of trauma. Unless you’ve been divorced,  you have no idea what goes into making a decision like divorce.
No one just wakes up and decides to get a divorce for no reason…especially when kids are involved.  Divorces are really, really hard.  Your whole life gets flipped upside down and you have to start all over again. 
Let’s be real, no good marriage ends in divorce.
I tried….for years. I tried everything to make it work but then I realized I was the only one doing the work. I was the only one changing. I was the only one being faithful. I was the only one being abused. I was also the one showing my kids what to expect from marriage.
So I made a decision to save myself and my kids. I stopped feeling embarrassed or guilty and so should you.  
I realized that the people who are passing judgement have no idea how hard it was for any one to have to make the decision to divorce. They have  no idea how much work gets put into the marriage to try to make it work before coming to the conclusion that divorce is the only option. They have no idea how difficult it is to deal with lawyers, courts and the legal system. They have no idea the financial and emotional toll that divorce takes on the entire family.
Not everyone is going to understand your divorce.  Not everyone’s going to agree with your divorce. It would be amazing if family and friends supported us and our choices.  It would be awesome if people kept their opinions to themselves. However, sometimes those things are just not possible.
People are going to be judgmental regardless. So let them judge! 
That is on them and not you or me.
I stopped giving a shit…and so should you.
Peace.
#tutulady
#forwardisapace