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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

If it's Not Broke Part 2

Khalil Gibran
“Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.” 

   So, now what? Only a few days ago your life made perfect sense and now your insides are void of positive human emotions and your freezer is full of ice cream. Oh and to make matters worse, your heart has begun a full fledged game of the "What If's?" What if I could go back and make things a little easier? What if I had started working out? What if I had tried harder to please him/her? You think Cher is the only person that's ever wanted to turn back time? Not likely. My bruised/broken heart is the what if master! The worst part is when you pitch a tent in Denialville actually believing there is something you can undo. Holy shit we torture ourselves don't we?! For the purpose of what? Hope. The relationships that I fought for the hardest killed me the most because they dragged out so long. Why? Hope. When I walked away from my second marriage my heart hurt for my children, but it didn't break from the loss of the relationship, simply because for me, at the point we had arrived at, there was no more hope. We can't help but play what if when the person leaves us with a glimmer of hope, even if it's manifested in our own minds. That's the worst kind, false hope.
     Having hope is just a way of self-protecting. If we grant ourselves even the smallest glimmer of hope we prevent ourselves from having to completely absorb the hurt from the new break or bruise. In other words, we are just delaying the inevitable. What we don't realize is we are torturing ourselves just as much but putting ourselves through this false reality and battling with our own feelings of rejection. All these things are just human nature.

    With that being said, how do we speed up the process? You're not going to like it as much as I hate admitting it. You learn to let go, accept the heartache, absorb the pain and disappointment, and move forward. Now I don't expect miracles, so I say allowing yourself 24-72 of crying in the shower and consuming ridiculous amounts of Ben and Jerry's is acceptable. Avoid alcohol during the first few days, I shouldn't even have to give you all the reasons why. Take Foolish Games, Baby Come Back, and You'll Think of Me off of your playlist and add some upbeat motivating music. My playlist always varies as my taste changes but it has always had Stronger by Britney Spears, start there if you're lost for ideas. (Yes, I said Britney bitch).  Next, stop starting at your phone waiting for a text or phone call to fix it all, guess what, it's not coming. Get moving! Preferably outdoors, walk, run, jog, ride, something somewhere...

     You want the good news or the bad news? Well, you're getting both. The bad news is this probably isn't the last time you or I will hurt like this, that would be too easy. The good news is it gets better. Thoughts of taking your toaster in the bath will soon change into plans to better yourself. How do I know this? I have been used, abused, bruised and broken and some of the best things in my life have come out of these situations. Goals seem attainable, dreams seem just close enough to reach, and creativity has no limits. People tell me so often that I am the strongest person they've ever met and most of them know less than half of what I've been through. You know what? I laugh to myself when they tell me that, simply because very few see me at my low moments. What they see is when I wake up and realize life goes on.

      What I know is this, bad things will continue to happen, but so will good things. This is life. Roll with it. Accept it. Somehow, learn to embrace it. There will be moments when the world will seem very black and white, but don't close your eyes before the color returns, and it always does. I promise this Dorothy has always found her way back to OZ.

To Be Continued....(likely infinitely)


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Veruca Syndrome-I want it NOW!!!

"I want the world. I want the whole world. I want to lock it all up in my pocket. It's my bar of chocolate. Give it to me now." -Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Don't we all get infected with this feeling from time to time? I'm calling it the Veruca Syndrome, and it's a nasty one. You see it comes in all form and many different levels of intensity. It can be over material things, actions we expect from others, or in the worst cases it's simply feeling like you want it all which can be intensified by the impression that you deserve it. The Veruca Syndrome is ugly and very real and unfortunately it's my belief that we all suffer from it. Definition: Selfishness.

Before you get your panties in a bunch and get defensive allow me to elaborate. I am certainly not implying that if we all suffer from the Veruca Syndrome that we are incapable of doing selfless deeds, I am aware that people everywhere are doing extremely selfless things on a daily basis and that is a beautiful thing, however I am fully confident that as human beings it is undeniable that we are born selfish and it takes more effort to overcome selfish feelings and instincts than almost any other negative emotion or action out there. We are born dependent on others for our survival and that is the beginning of it all. Now I'm left having to explain to my 7 year old why she can't have an iPhone even though some kids in her class do. (While I am picturing some little Veruca out there batting her eyelashes at her daddy saying, "I want one daddy, now!" Sucker.) 

So what sparked my desire to write on this topic? Over the weekend I went to visit a friend out of town, in my sisters car which gets far better gas mileage than my POS (and also has a bumper that is properly attached AND power steering to boot!). It was cold and rainy and we were out running errands and he mentioned that a friend of his had lost his car keys in the park. Hushing the Veruca voice in the back of our heads telling us to stay warm and dry, we drove out to the park in search of his friends keys. We parked on the outskirts where they had been days before, and there was only one other truck there. I briefly glance over and see the cab of the truck is filled with questionable smoke-like substance, but my gut says don't look, if you leave them alone they'll leave you alone. We leave the car and walk around the large shrubbery to the clearing and begin looking. As mentioned it was misty and raining, so I left my $400 purse (from the days when I had money haha) and my iPhone in the car so it wouldn't get ruined. We were never farther that 30 yards from the car and walked around for ten minutes. We heard a loud noise resembling gun shots or a car backfire and waited a minute or two before heading back to the car. The scene we arrived upon was nothing short of devastating, a completely shattered passenger window, and all of my things gone in 60 seconds. Including the cash in my wallet that I had just been paid that was meant for Christmas presents for my family and my two little girls. Sucker punch to the heart. 

Do you think the two guys knew for a minute that they were stealing from a single mom sometimes barely getting by, currently with $20 in the bank, a car that runs on hopes and dreams, and no gifts for her children for Christmas? No. What's worse, do you think they even cared? No! The Veruca voice was so loud in their stoned little heads that all they cared about was the fact that they wanted it, NOW. It's been almost 4 days and they haven't been caught yet, although the authorities do have their pictures from Walmart where they attempted to use my debit card to the tune of $300, haha I wish I had that much in there. I'm beginning to accept the fact that more than likely they won't be caught, nor held accountable for their actions and I am left picking up the pieces and realizing we live in a world of Verucas and its going to get worse. 

I don't need to describe all of the emotions I am feeling because chances are you have experienced something like this, we have all had things taken from us. I don't have a solution, I am 30 years old with a grand total of 6 college units from a Political Science and photography class. I can't save the world, none of us can. I have spent the last 48 hours forcing myself to not be bitter, reminding myself that things will work themselves out, that even with so much taken from me I still have so much more. This message isn't for the purpose of venting or whining over my recent misfortune at all. This is a plea to all who will read it. For victims affected by some Veruca out there, don't allow yourself to be hardened, don't look at your misfortune as an excuse to act similarly with others now feeling like you are entitled to it. Do the opposite. My friend graciously gave me $40 so I wouldn't have to drive home with no money and the first thing I did after getting a cup of gas station coffee for the drive was give $2 to the first homeless person I saw on a corner. Why? Not so I could sit here and tell you about it. Not even close. I did it so I could remind myself that I never want to be infected with a full case of Veruca. I never want to get so bitter that I forget that others have it worse. I will choose to keep giving and keep believing that for every bad case of Verucaitice there is someone like myself out there fighting the disease. Fight with me. Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." So be it. I'll end with one of my favorite anonymous quotes that I try and live by daily, "Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty." 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Wants v. Needs; Winning Disguised as Losing

"There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it."
-Oscar Wilde

Before you begin, read that quote again and really think about it. I'll come back to it at the end.

In the times we live in wants and needs have largely become defined as one in the same. The majority of Americans have become so spoiled by modern conveniences that we no longer want, we need. I am guilty of these feelings myself. Tomorrow is Monday morning and my first thought will likely be, "I need coffee." Do I need coffee? No, I would continue living and breathing without coffee, but I want coffee because it's delicious and takes the edge off. You see my point? Of course you do. Most would agree there are three basic, acceptable "needs," food, clothing, and shelter. I feel that there is a wild card that occasionally gets mentioned in songs etc, the fourth human need is love. (And there are at least four people that think all you need is love.) This is the need that's on my mind now, and the effect that it has on our choices. Now, this want v. need theory isn't quite the same in regards to relationships. In relationships, I believe, there are wants and needs, and confusing the two can really screw things up.

I'm going to take it a step farther and tell you a little bit about my journey and explain how wants disguised as needs can really send you down a rocky road. (Not the delicious kind either.) The stories I am about to share are all true, and some of them have taken me over a decade to talk about. I don't need to start at the very beginning because I don't feel it has too much impact on the topic. It's almost ironic because up until this year I could count the people that knew about what happened to me on one hand. My heartbreak I mentioned in the previous blog forced me to do a lot of soul searching and I started putting pieces together and eventually realized that one night really started it all.

When I was 18 years old I was on a work trip with many people my age and early twenties. The week before this trip, my boyfriend at the time cheated on me, and I found out from someone else. My heart was bruised (though I thought broken,) and I couldn't wait to get away. The company put us up in a hotel and we worked all day and then partied at night. I had never really experienced much of the party scene up until this point and was inexperienced with drugs and alcohol. How exactly it happened I'm not entirely sure, but one minute I was in a room with about 10 people drinking and smoking and the next minute I was sitting on a bed immobile and drunk. Next thing I knew, it happened. Everyone had left the room but one guy, and that night he took from me something no one should ever take. The worst part was, I was conscious enough to remember it all, including the sound of my voice sobbing and begging him to stop. I told no one. Afraid for my job, afraid to get in trouble for drinking and being underage, and ashamed. That night my views on sex and love had changed. Sex wasn't special, it was just sex, and sometimes even a chore, and love, well, love was something I didn't think existed anyway. I left that trip a cold, tainted, negative person with my first tattoo I had drawn the night after it happened, a shattered and broken heart with flames coming out.

Now here's the part where things got messy. Most of my understanding has been very recent, when I did the things I did, they were not intentional, I was going through the motions. Despite my lack of belief in love, it is one of the human needs so obviously I longed for it. However, now a relationship required more than just love. I not only needed love, but the next guy I dated had to make me feel safe, because you see, a part of me was extremely traumatized and I was almost afraid of men sometimes. I also wanted to be with someone that I knew wouldn't cheat on me, the only way to ensure that (if there even is such a thing) was to date down. Please remember I didn't know what I was doing at the time, hindsight really is 20/20. Shortly after returning home I began dating one of my managers that I knew was into me. He was over 6 ft tall, and just under 300 pounds, and came fully equipped with a closet full of Raiders jerseys. Very few men would be able to hurt me if I was with him, and at the time I was a cute little blue eyed, light brown haired, outgoing girl with a winning sense of humor...ha.

Fast forward 3 years, one break up, one make up and we got married. Fast forward another 5 months and my stuff was packed and I left with only what I could fit in my Civic while he was at work. So what happened? Why didn't I figure out I couldn't be with him before I married him? If he was what I wanted why didn't it work out? All of that back story was just to get to these questions, so I could tell you the answers, and why I believe so many people have long term relationships that initially seem so good and one day you feel like you are going to go completely bonkers if you pick up one more Q tip that he just can't seem to make into the trash can!

We need love, all of us. The trouble comes when we start to add stipulations to it that aren't permanent. How each of us shows and receives love is a little different. (Please read the 5 Love Languages for more information on this.) Here's what I'm trying to say, Husband #1 loved me, and I loved things about him. Did you catch that? The simple fact that I knew he loved me is what dragged our story out for so long. However, my needs for dating him in the first place lost value over time. Eventually I didn't believe every guy in Target was plotting to rape me in the garden department, and I had been comfortable living in the land of fidelity for almost 3 years. My "needs" changed. More accurately, my need was still love, a mutual love, but my wants changed. When those two things weren't a priority, it opened my eyes to all of the things he was doing to me or ways he was treating me that were wrong. In other words, I saw the relationship for what it really was, and the sad truth was my wants were being met, but my needs weren't. Had I figured this out then, it would have spared me a second divorce. Sadly, I repeated the process, but this time with different wants, which eventually lost value again.

So, how did I figure this out? By falling in love with someone when I didn't want anything. I was tapped out, dried up, all I needed was love. As time went on, I had the best relationship of my life. The bright side to all this heartache was without it, I wouldn't have been able to really know what I needed. I could sit here and list the things about my relationship that made it the best, but they are going to be unique to me. In order for you to have a successful relationship, you are going to have to sort through your own list of wants and needs, and be honest with yourself. If I wouldn't have found this special person, I don't know if I could have done that, because in some ways, I didn't know my needs until he kept meeting them. My theory behind that is I didn't know my needs, because I had a decade old secret, and every day after that I lost a little more of who I was, until on some level I didn't even know myself. I have learned more about myself in the past three months than I have my whole life.

The best advice I can give on how to figure all this out is:
Regardless of your current relationship status, write down 5-10 things that you feel you need out of a relationship. These can be qualities in a partners, mutual hobbies, emotional compatibility, etc. Don't think about it too much, just write the first things that come to your mind because those are likely the most important and likely honest. If you have more than 10 that's good! You know what you want, you're already ahead of most of us. Now one by one, go down your list focusing on each item and ask yourself if this was gone from my relationship in 5 years, but I still loved the person would I still be happy. The ones where you can answer yes, those are your wants. If you say no to any of those things then that becomes a need. Things that shouldn't be compromised or forgotten about. I'll give you an example of one of each for me to give you an idea.
Want-I want my partner to love the outdoors as much as I do.
Need-I need my partner to be my best friend.
It would be ideal if my partner liked to go to the mountains, the beach, and just be outdoors with me. However, if he only came along once and awhile I could live with that. Until my recent relationship I had never dated a guy that I felt was my best friend. This is one of the things I was telling you about that I wouldn't have known was a need without having it. I would not be happy in a relationship unless I felt that way, and that is something I am unwilling to compromise on.

This was a long one, but hopefully you learned something. Now if you remember the quote I began with, hopefully after reading this you can come up with an example or two of your own when getting what you wanted wasn't necessarily the best thing. My life has been filled with moments like that. I'd get an idea in my head and I'd fight for it throwing caution and rationality to the wind. The good news is now I'm aware of it, now I take a good look at each situation before jumping in blindly. It's a conscious effort, and I still screw it up, but I screw up a lot less than I did 5 or even 10 years ago. There's hope for us yet! My thought is that if I can help even just one person do things better than I did than it wasn't all for nothing. Part 2 of  "If it's not Broke..." coming soon. Hope you all have a great week!

Monday, December 3, 2012

If it's Not Broke.... Pt 1

"Hearts can break. Yes, hearts can break. Sometimes I think it would be better if we died when they did, but we don't." -Stephen King from "Heart in Atlantis"


"Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable." -Wizard of Oz

If heart breaks were uncommon they wouldn't be mentioned so frequently. From music, to poems, to novels, movies, TV shows, the list is endless and it is the one disease that every human suffers from at least once in their lifetime. This is a topic that will undoubtedly come up again and again, but for now I have a few thoughts on the matter.

First of all, sadly, some of you reading this are already recollecting your assumed heart breaks and commiserating along with me. At the ripe old age of 30 I have recently discovered that if you asked me at 29 how many heart breaks I had experienced, I would have thrown out a number somewhere between 10-15. Ask me today and I'll tell you my heart has truthfully been broken only once. The other assumed heart breaks I had experienced were nothing more than what I would refer to today as heart bumps and bruises. Allow me to explain: any time you make yourself vulnerable in the love department, and that relationship ends, whether mutually or by the element of surprise (i.e., "This isn't working out, it's not you it's me," "Umm, honey, who's lipstick is this on your shirt?" or my favorite, "I hate to do this to you after all this time, but I really need to do the right thing and stop screwing you on the side." Let me tell you, there are few things worse than finding out you are the side salad when you assumed you were the best damn filet that fool could get. At 18 I had deemed my heart broken so badly that I have a tattoo to show for it. Even that time was nothing more than my heart getting a TKO in one round with Muhammad Ali, bruised but not broken.

Ok, so now you are probably wondering, what is my definition of a heart break then? I think true heart break varies by person for sure. In my heart bruises, I cried for days, felt sick, thought I would never get over it, either ate or starved my feelings, wanted to disappear, tortured myself with pictures, had nightmares, and even tried fixing the situations out of desperation. (Hindsight has left me SO grateful I didn't have success mending any of those prior situations, ha.) The list goes on, the majority of which were all eventually healed with the help of friends, family, time, and Ben and Jerry. My heartbreak had all of those same symptoms, but there were some variations and certainly some additions, the first one being simply this, at a point in my life where I truly believed I had everything to live for and so much going for me, I wanted to die. The quote I began with by Stephen King really hit home when I read it a month or two after the Break. Let me be clear, I wasn't suicidal, it wasn't a desire to die in a literal sense at all actually. I was in such severe pain, physically, emotionally, and in every other way possible, that I just lost all desire for life. My world was rocked., no other way to describe it. It was like I was Dorothy starting out in Oz and got abruptly teleported to Kansas and suddenly my beautiful world was lacking color and a twister was headed straight for me. If you are one of the people who have experienced something like this then you know exactly what I'm talking about. It took about a week before I could even think or process normal thoughts, and one of the first things I realized was exactly what I'm telling you now, every other heartbreak was just a heartbruise in disguise. It was like a tragic epiphany! "Holy shattered dreams Batman! My heart was still completely in tact until now! Ka Baaaam!"

To Be Continued......

Sunday, December 2, 2012

When the End is Actually the Beginning

"Very occasionally, if you pay really close attention, life doesn't suck." -Joss Whedon

I didn't really know how to start, instead of wasting time dwelling on it, I decided to jump in and see what happens. Before I could expect anyone to read anything I write, I suppose it would be appropriate to know a little about me. (At this point you should understand that 'a little about me' will just be the tip of the iceberg, the rest of me will have to come as we go along.) I woke up recently and found myself 30 years young. I'm not really sure how this tragedy happened without my ok, but nonetheless here we are. Alright, some of you argue, 30 is the new 20, PERFECT! Except, that doesn't change my situation in the least. I am a "single" mom, (the quotes are to be later defined as "it's complicated"), twice divorced, (Yes, twice), and have had a love life resembling an album compilation somewhere around the ballpark of Taylor Swift meets Adele meets P!nk with a large dose of Alanis Morissette. In other words, You Oughtta Know it's a Love Story that Set Fire to the Rain....huh, Who Knew?! (Isn't it Ironic? Ok, I'll stop). Back to the summary, from the first marriage I acquired the desire for a second marriage. From the 2nd marriage I acquired two amazing daughters, and an extra 50 lbs to my already 40 lb overweight frame. (I have since lost it all, TY Lord and Jillian Michaels). Since that divorce...or lack thereof as fate and the State of California would have it, (if they are going to make it so difficult to end a marriage don't you think it should be a little harder to get one?!), I have "dated" a player, a bartender, a guy with a Harley and more tattoos than regular skin, a "recovered" drug addict, a thumb war champion, and when I was ready to throw in the towel at 27 1/2 I fell in love with the sweetest guy I had ever come in contact with, he was kind, not tainted, caring, sensitive, attentive, (I'm going to spare you, but the list of his qualities could go on,) and he was aaaaaaalmost 20....but he adored me. To be honest I was at a point where it was easy for me to think that guys my own age (at every age) had screwed me over royally, and perhaps this was my answer. I don't want to get into this too much now, as this is the reason for the previously mentioned "it's complicated," but you can't understand where I'm at unless you know where I've been. So, there you have it. Now you know a little bit about where I've been, I can't wait to tell you where I'm going, and I'll share with you some pretty cool shit along the way. I'm just saying, if you find someone that has failed as many times as I have and is still smiling, I'd probably want to read what she has to say. True, I may not be able to tell you what to do in all situations, but more than likely, I can tell you what not to do.

Side Note--- 10 Things I am Known for:
1. Making jokes in uncomfortable situations
2. Saying "shit" more often than I should
3. Finding the Bright Side in almost any situation (which can get annoying, ask my friends)
4. Owning every color of the $8 Target tank top and wear them year round
5. Drinking Sugar Free Red Bull like water
6. I don't believe in strangers
7. I love birds. Yup, and not just like a little....
8. My cars are always falling apart
9. I have spent the last 4 years of my life almost always being on a mini diet
10. If I had a dollar for every time I wondered if I was on an episode of Punk'd in the last 5 years, I could buy Ashton Kutcher.

There you have it...the introduction into the life and mind of JFox....To Be Continued