10 years ago…

Ten years ago I graduated from my undergraduate work.  I work at a university so this time of year always brings back fond memories.  I cannot believe so much time has passed.  It is so hard to see how much we have changed and all that we’ve endured unless we take the moment to do so.   Here are ten things I’ve learned since graduation:

  1. Your parents want what what they think will increase happiness and decrease pain, not necessarily what is best for you.  They do this through the lens of parent love, but their wishes and hopes for you may not be what is in your best interest.  Take it with a grain of salt, consider their love for you, and do what you feel is in your best interest, not what will make them happy (I’m still learning to do this).
  2. Education is always beneficial, but it doesn’t matter what your degree is in… as long as you finish it.  So, make sure you spend the four years of college (or 11 in my case since I went on to get a PhD) studying something that inspires you.  You get a job through who you know and who you are as a person, not solely because you have the “right degree”… it doesn’t exist.  But being smart, creative, and an agile thinker will always serve you well.
  3. You will regret more of what you don’t do than of what you do.  It is better to make a move and make a mistake than to never move at all.  I saw a bumper sticker with the quote, “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” ~John Bingham  Amen to that!
  4. Don’t stoop to another person’s level.  Since entering into the “real world” I’ve realized there are a lot of lazy, lazy, lazy, uninspired people out there… don’t be one even if you find yourself surrounded by them.  They may make more than you, have a better office, have a better title, but at the end of the day you know that you did your job to the best of your ability and then some.  Always take pride in your work.
  5. Don’t compare yourself to others.  I am very guilty of looking at others and thinking, “wow, they must have it all, they must not have the demons in their head like I do”.  This is false.  All the perfect people and families you see on Facebook are just facades.  There is always more going on than you can imagine.  So don’t compare yourself to others.
  6. Learn to forgive yourself.  I have an easier time forgiving others than I do myself. It has been one of the hardest things for me to learn how to do and I’m still not good at it.  The compassion you show others should also be shown to yourself.
  7. Never lose your enthusiasm for life.  Marvel at a sunset, take time to smell the flowers blooming, be in wonder at the beauty of a butterfly, let music wash over you, jump for joy when you hear the ice cream truck, trick or treat, believe in Santa for the night, do everything that you did as a kid.  Just because your body ages doesn’t mean your soul has to.
  8. Great friends are there when you are at your worst and at your best.  They are there when you make mistakes, they are there when you are successful.  They provide support when your soul is crushed and they laugh when your spirit soars.  You will only find one or two that are truly great friends… count your blessings when you do.
  9. You will never stop learning who you are.  The 20’s were a wild ride and so far the 30’s have been a great period of self-discovery, but you will never “figure it all out” or have a complete understanding of what you need in this life.  But always make time to get to know yourself along the way.  You may be surprised at what you learn.
  10. Serenity.  I love the serenity prayer because it is so relevant, “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  The last part is the hardest for me… the wisdom to know the difference between that which I can change and that which I cannot change.

~AA

Ready… Set… GO!

So, J comes back this weekend.  I have been really anxious about it for the last few weeks, but I feel that I’ve come a long way and that I have some really great support from my friends and group.  I don’t feel like I’m as anxious about it as I’ve been in the past.  In a way I’m looking forward to being able to come to some resolution about the situation.

J is an engineer in the oil industry.  One of the things that we talked about when we first moved here is that he may have the opportunity to work expat.  I remember in early 2011 we were having this conversation.  He really wants to have children and so do I.  But I told him that we would have to wait until after he did the expat before we had kids because I didn’t want to be pregnant or have children alone.  I think I came off pretty firm about this.  His reaction was that I was basically not being very reasonable, that the money was really good (which it is), that it isn’t a big deal to be pregnant and by yourself.  (Much of this conveyed through patronizing remarks, tone, and boy language).  Prior to leaving for his most recent time overseas, before I told him I wanted a divorce, his “plans” included the option of me getting pregnant before he left (i.e. the first trimester alone).  I told him that was not going to happen.

Recently he brought up the fact that he has the opportunity to go expat starting in November.  Another element of this story is that his best friend, who he works with and has been in Europe with for the last three months, is going to go… although that “isn’t a factor”.  He told me on Monday that he thinks he needs to tell them ASAP if he is going to do this so that he doesn’t lose the opportunity.  I told him that considering all that has happened in the last few months, I cannot tell him “yes, go do this”, but if he needs to tell them yes and then back out later, that is his call.

First of all, given the state of our relationship, I find it almost comical that he thinks this is a good idea to even bring up.  Secondly, he’s still in the mindset that he wants kids ASAP, but doesn’t seem to really see the issue I have with being a single mother.  Why be married anyway?  I can get a sperm donor if I want one?  And why did I move here when I could be living where I want since he’s not going to be here anyway?  I guess I feel like I gave up so much to come here and I really didn’t need to.  Although, that isn’t to say that I’m not totally happy in this city and with my job, but you get the point.

So, I have a feeling we will have a lot of “Come to Jesus” meetings when he gets back.  It should be interesting.  I am hopeful, though.  I’ve found a great deal of strength within myself and have a better understanding of what my non-negotiables are in a relationship.

On a side note, I found out that one of my greatest mentors and friends had a heart attack yesterday.  He’s a marathoner, only 56, vegan and a very good friend.  He’s recovering in ICU.  But it reminds me that there is so little time and that we must do what we need to do because you never know if tomorrow will come.

Hope you are all having an inspired day!

~AA

Reality

J will be home in two weeks.  He’s been in Europe since early February.  I told him I wanted a divorce in December, but so much has happened since then that I sort of came to a place where I felt that perhaps we can get back on track.  But I just don’t know.  I’m so scared about him coming back and things just going back to the way they were and my life just going on with me in a supporting role, not as my own leading lady.  I hate this.

People keep asking me if I miss him and if I’m excited that he’s coming back.  This is one of the hardest things to answer…because in all honesty, I’m nervous about him coming back, I’m nervous that I may have shut off so much that there isn’t a way to “get us back on track”, I don’t “miss” him in the sense that I feel like my life is missing something without him.  In fact, I feel more like myself now that he has been gone than I have in years.  I don’t feel self-conscious.  I’m not lonely.  I don’t feel inadequate.  I feel like me and like I don’t have to be ashamed of my desires, my demons, my needs.

What does that mean?  Does it mean anything?

I’m trying to stay open to this entire thing that is about to happen when he gets back.  There is a part of me that feels like I really need to make the effort, but I also feel like I’ve made a significant effort in the past that didn’t work.  Is it really necessary for me to give it another go?  But I guess he really needed to hear that I was willing to leave him because of how unhappy I was.  So, perhaps he needed that reality check before any progress could really be made.   I just hope that I can be open minded.  If I have the divorce papers in front of me, I will want to have that piece of mind that I did do my best, even if I may have already shut down more than I realize.

I guess it all really doesn’t matter in the end… this contemplation.  It will come, it will happen and it will have a result that no amount of pondering will provide until it happens.

~AA

The Worst

What’s  the worst that could happen?  Have you ever asked yourself this?  What is the worst that could happen right now for me in my relationship with J?  The worst thing that could happen is that is over for good.  Okay.  What’s the worst thing in the world that could happen to me?  The worst thing I can think of is losing all of the people I love and being alone, truly alone.

So, that gives me a little perspective in terms of how difficult my situation is.  I have it pretty good, to be honest.  I’m not a horrible person, as I like to judge myself to be.  I’m a human being that loves people, that has made mistakes, but is making an effort to better understand why I’m doing what I’m doing and making an effort to change.  I have friends who love me, I have my health, I have my education, I have drive, I have passion, I have freedom.

The last few weeks I’ve really recommitted to my running and it feels so go.  It is one of the most cathartic things I do.  I love the feeling of my body being strong.  It is also a time for me to mediate.  Running mediation.  I don’t know if it is a real thing, but it should be… like walking mediation, just faster.  I focus on my breath, my feet striking the ground, keeping my upper body relaxed, how my body mechanics are working by taking inventory of what muscles in my legs are doing the work and adjusting as needed.  It is a very liminal experience.  I focus on breathing in the smells and seeing the smallest elements of the world around me.  While I’m doing this, I often listen to music because it helps focus my mind.

Meditating in general can be very liminal.  The focus on specific things gets your mind prepped for meditative moments.  I think it is important to note that meditation doesn’t have to be done over long stretches of time, just doing it little by little and acknowledging those events will eventually lead to longer periods of meditation.  It will be episodic, especially when you are running while meditating.  Although in general your mind tends to be a bit episodic when doing sitting meditation as well.

~AA

Life as a Business

My girlfriend B and I were talking about how it is so much easier to be successful at work.  I have a job I like and have been informed that the executive team “has plans” for me.  I’ve only been there 4 months.  I think I’m pretty good at what I do and B is really good at what she does.  So, while we were talking last night, I brought up the fact that I feel like two different people….the professional me and the personal me.  I’m doing well in on the professional side, but not so well on the personal side.  It can be a bit confusing.  But the personal stuff is, ultimately, more important.  But I know more about how to get things where they need to be in business than I do in relationships.

So, it got me thinking that maybe I should run my life like a business with a Vision Statement, Mission Statement and develop a strategic plan around clear goals, have some definitions.  In my life business, there wouldn’t be “policies”, per se, there would be items of negotiation and non-negotiation that have guidelines allowing for some interpretation, like the Constitution.

Here’s where I am so far…

Vision Statement:  To depart this world knowing that I made others’ lives better, that I experienced all that I could, that I took risks, that I gave myself completely, that I continuously learned, that I never settled, that I stayed true to myself, that I developed compassion for myself.

Mission Statement: To take appropriate risks in pursuit of a fulfilled life.

Goals:

  1. To always love
  2. To be devoted to my family
  3. To be a leader, educator and healer
  4. To understand and incorporate my spiritual philosophies in everything
  5. Take the road of most resistance when necessary

New Year

Happy New Year!  It has been a rather interesting end to 2011, but I look forward to 2012.  I feel optimistic.  J and I met a few times for lunch over the last few days.  He is heading to a work assignment out of state today and will be there through mid-February.  He then will be in Europe until mid May.  It is sad.  I miss him in many regards.  Our meetings have been very amicable and I am grateful for this.

He met with a counselor who specializes in adult children of alcoholics.  I hope this will help him. He deserves such a beautiful life, but I couldn’t do it any more.  I know there are great things for him in his life as there are for me in mine.  This has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life.

And it has given me such perspective on who my true friends are.  B and her husband K have been amazing.  They have taken such good care of me and support me without judgement.  It is a wonder.  I’ve also been confiding in a new friend, M.  This has been very good for me.  My parents don’t really know what to do and my brother is trying to figure it out as well.  So, the fact that I have two people that I can rely on is just such a blessing.  I don’t know where I’d be without them.  They’ve consistently made time for me, listen to me, comfort me, give me perspective, and have helped me begin the healing process.

I’m so grateful for today.

~AA

Better

Today is a much better day than yesterday.  Yesterday was Christmas, as you know, but it was my first Christmas alone.  It was nice and lonely at the same time.  One of my friends Skyped with me for a bit, which was so nice.  I needed to see a friendly face and to be part of some Christmas celebration even if it was virtual.  B had me over for dinner.  It was so nice.  They sent me home with so much food that I don’t even know where to begin!

Yesterday I talked to J for a bit.  I’m pleased that things seem amicable at this point.  He keeps wanting me to reconsider, but I’ve told him that I just cannot.  There are many things he needs to work on and I am simply spent.  I’m a bit on alert b/c he has called my family and my best friend (B), but I understand why he did.  I just don’t want him making an effort to turn them into his tools to get me back.

When I spoke to my mom yesterday, it wasn’t very good.  I know this is a confusing time for them.  She said things like, “you know… it is difficult enough to find someone.”  Later that day, J said the same thing.  I want him to continue having support from my family and B as needed, but I don’t want it to be b/c he is trying to manipulate the situation via my friends and family.  The most poignant thing for me yesterday was the realization that even if my family disowned me for this decision (which I know they won’t), I would still make the decision.  This is my life.  Mine alone and I have to do what is in my best interest.

As B. Clewly Johnson so aptly stated,

Follow your instincts, your intuition. Don’t stay with people who, over time, grow apart from you. Move on. This means do what you think will make you feel okay – even if that makes others feel temporarily not okay.

Be inspired.

~AA

‘Twas the Night…

…before Christmas and I am at peace.  My life has been changed and I look forward to what lies ahead with optimism and an open heart.  This is my first Christmas alone, but I am glad to have some time to myself and I feel so loved by the most important people in my life.  It is time like these that you realize who your true friends are and those who are merely only there for the good times.

I would never say that I have had a plethora of friends, merely one or two good ones along the way.  B has been taking such good care of me.  She listens, she doesn’t judge, she genuinely cares, she loves me and wants what is best for me.  There are few people in this world that I would consider a true friend, but she has been there for me in so many ways.  True friends are the ones that are there even when it is inconvenient, they make time to get to you no matter what when you are in pain, and they provide you with unconditional support to follow your heart.

Today was a good day.  I’ve cried, have cradled my suffering and have renewed hope in the future.  I’m endlessly in awe of the power within us and the range of emotions that we are capable of experiencing when we allow ourselves to do so.

May you all have a Merry Christmas.

Be inspired.

~AA

Support

I’ve been so blessed to have such support.  B has been a trooper.  She’s been there for me whenever I need her and has just been a great friend.  I’ve told my family and they are very supportive of my decision.  I was afraid that I would somehow be disappointing them by doing this, but that was an irrational thought.  They just want me to be happy.  I also have some other emotional support that has been invaluable in this process.

It has been interesting, the comments I’ve gotten from my family and friends.  My dad even told me that J has problems with putting up walls and pushing people away.  He was very supportive of my decision.  I think that was a little bit of a surprise in the sense that I know how much he likes J, but my happiness is more important to him.  I know this, conceptually, but I’ve always tried to be the perfect daughter and always want to make my parents proud.

There are so many factors that go into this decision and for me those included my parents expectations of me and my spiritual commitments/responsibilities.

I talked to J yesterday.  It was difficult.  It always will be, I think, at least in the beginning.  He kept telling me that he felt betrayed, that he thinks I worked myself up into this decision and now I have to follow through for some artificial reason, he asked if it would help for him to talk to my mom (he knows how much I adore her).  His actions at this point are getting very desperate.  It feels horrible that he has to have this experience, but pain is sometimes the best teacher.

I told him that this is what I want and I told him that I simply couldn’t be around him because he has too much power over me and my decisions.  I told him that when he gets back, I’ll either be at B’s place or visiting a friend out of town.  I told him that I have to protect myself and the decision that I have made.  I also told him that he needs to work some things out for himself, things that I cannot do for him.  He’s asked me to stay with him while he works through whatever I want him to work through, I told him that he needs to want to do it for himself, not because he wants to keep his wife.

Yesterday’s conversation was painful, but it was honest and given with an open heart.  I do love him, that isn’t the question.  But I have to love myself more right now and the future that I need, which includes children.  I cannot bring children into this type of relationship.  There are no compromises for me at this point.

I feel strong, but have no delusions that things will not be painful and sad along the way.  This is a healing process and I will allow myself to feel everything that I need to feel.  But mostly I feel hopeful and positive about my future.  That’s all I can really ask for at this point.

~AA