Archive | July, 2012

Trying to Trust Through the Fear

31 Jul

Trust is such a difficult thing for me for a number of reasons.  One is because of my personality.  I’m a very type-A, get things done kinda girl.  I’m usually firmly in the camp of “if you want something done right, do it yourself.”  My husband’s sex addiction and affair don’t do anything to help my trust.  His lying habit virtually demolished any vestiges that remained.

Despite all of that, I have come to realize that I can’t go through life without trust.  I can’t be in this marriage without being vulnerable, without giving up some control.  I have to trust him with some things, whether I really want to or not.  Whether I feel 100% confident that he will follow through and do it in a way that I would have or not…  Cue stomach knots.

I am now working on my codependence issues and learning to let go of things that aren’t in my control.  It is one of the hardest things I have ever done.  How do you all do it?  What keeps you trusting?  What helps you reassure yourself that it won’t be the end of the world no matter what happens?  How do you keep your hope?  I really want to know.

Being in this community is so rewarding because I get to connect with so many people, hear their stories, get support, and gain understanding of myself and what we are all going through in one form or another.  Reading blogs gives me a fresh perspective, challenges me, and makes me really ponder things.  At the same time, I see and hear so much disappointment, pain, fear, and oh so many lies.  It is disheartening.  Sure, there are lots and lots of stories of hope and healing.  Still, those painful ones really stick around in my gut.

Those thoughts ping around in my head and make this struggle to trust so much more difficult.  Especially after nights like last night.  Mr. Mess and I are fine – great even – so don’t worry about that.  It’s just that disappointment crept in, slowly but surely.  I was able to support a friend, but not in the way I had hoped.  Our carefully laid plans (so we thought) were blown out of the water.  I could feel how despondent she was, and there was really very little I could do about it.  I didn’t have any control over the situation, the outcome, or her feelings.

I wanted to, because boy do I hate seeing someone I care about in pain.  But I had to let go of that desire.  I had to just be there.  Just listen.  Just be supportive by caring – not by controlling the situation in any way.  I had to remind myself that I didn’t fail.  That I wasn’t the cause of the disappointment, I couldn’t have changed anything, and just being there was enough.  Even though I couldn’t have done anything to fix her situation, that was my utmost desire.

I wish I had a magic wand that could solve all of the problems in the world.  That is such fantasy-land thinking, though.  I have to let go of it.  I have to just do what I can do and be content in the knowledge that even a glimmer of normalcy, fun, comfort, validation or care does make a difference.  Small things can matter a lot.  I know that has been true for me.  Seeing that “Like” on my post, getting a response – positive or negative, just knowing that there are people out there that care enough to take time out of their day to read what I have to say, and then offer their thoughts…  Those things are huge in a way that is hard to describe.

But trusting that things will work out?  That is tough.  Trusting that I really am enough – no matter what happens – seems nearly impossible.  I have this internal battle going on inside.  It is between what I know in my head and what I fear.  Those fears, some irrational and some completely possible (maybe even probable), well up inside of me.  The urge I have is to freeze, to let them paralyze me.  I am fighting it with all that I have.  Because the reality is that I will be fine.  I am strong.  I am capable.  I am worthwhile.  I have to trust my own decision to trust (twisty I know), because that is the only way to defeat my fears.

I have a confession to make…

30 Jul

I have a problem.  With shopping.  Most of the time I can control it.  In fact, 85% or more of the time you would think the opposite – that I am tight-fisted and even downright cheap.  The majority of the year I don’t buy myself a single thing – not one piece of clothing, not even a soda or bag of peanuts at a convenience store – nothing.  I save nearly every extra penny that I have.

The normal exception to the rule is the month or two leading up to Christmas.  I generally can’t control myself when it comes to buying gifts for the people that I love.  I have always prided myself on thinking things through and finding the perfect gift for each person – something they would treasure, something that fits their personality or interests, something they have probably wanted but just didn’t splurge on for themselves.  I would also make sure that all of my gifts were wrapped up really pretty and had a special feel.  No cop-out gift bags allowed!  Sometimes half of the fun is unwrapping a gorgeous gift, anticipating what may be inside, and seeing a peek, just the corner, before revealing the prize.

The last few months, though, I have blown all of that out of the water.  I made my Christmas spending last year look like a minor blip.  Even at Christmas-time I usually don’t raid my savings.  I’m just not putting all of my spare cash in there like normal.  This time around it is a whole new ballgame.

Here are some examples.  In the last month and a half I have spent probably $400 at Victoria’s Secret alone.  Yeah.  Damn you semi-annual sale!  I have spent $530 at my chiropractor and need a “refill” for my next 10 adjustments of another $530.  I spend a few hundred on a new tattoo and piercing, and I plan to spend another few hundred on another tattoo soon.  I have spent over $1,000 on my diet products and paraphernalia (scales – both for food and my body, shakes, juice, diet drops, multi-vitamins, specialty products like coconut oil, green tea, etc.), not counting the food.  Eating healthy is way more expensive!  I am the queen of deal sites like Groupon, Living Social, Woot, and others.  I have spent money on t-shirts, kitchen gadgets, clothes, shoes, and more.  When I see something I like or want, I just buy it.  I have never been like this ever.

My husband’s birthday is also coming up really soon.  He isn’t someone who does a lot for birthdays (a point of contention with us in the past), so he also doesn’t expect a lot.  He would be happy with a “Happy Birthday” and a kiss.  I just cannot accept that.  I have to do more.  It is a compulsion.  I don’t even know how much money I have spent already on his birthday, mostly because I don’t want to know.  Everything I have gotten he will use, he will love, and he has either talked about wanting or fits in with his current interests.  That’s not really the point, though, is it?

This is a new experience for me.  It is a new feeling.  Not caring how I spend my money, getting whatever I want, indulging myself, splurging without guilt.  Well, not entirely without guilt.  I wouldn’t be writing this otherwise, right?  I know I am worth it, but does really mean I need to spend it?  I know the answer is a resounding “no.”  Still, when I get a new email from Victoria’s Secret or Yankee Candle or Amazon, I can’t help but look.  And when I find that next thing I want, I may just go ahead and buy it.

When I take a hard look at all of this I know it is just another way to make myself feel better.  It’s a self-esteem thing as much as it’s about the “stuff.”  Do I really make myself feel better in the long run by spending money?  No.  Because at heart, I am a saver.  I feel good when I have security.  When I have a “back-up plan.”  When I can open up my savings book and see a lot of zeros.  At the same time, it does feel good to be a little out of character.  To think about myself first, for once, and not worry about “what ifs.”  It feels nice not being the “responsible one” all of the time.  Now I can see the draw of being a bit reckless and rash.

I think what I need to find is a little balance.  Some moderation.  I’ve officially decided that I am done with my shopping for Mr. Mess’s birthday.  I also deleted an email from Victoria’s Secret this morning without checking out the cute dresses that they have on sale right now.  I am trying to stop when I have the urge to buy and see what’s really behind that impulse.  Feel whatever it is I am feeling.  Give myself an hour and see if I still want it.  So far so good.

I don’t think I’m going to go a year anymore without buying anything for myself, though.  That’s too frugal.

I need balance… Just not this kind.

Anti-Gay Businesses Hear From Consumers

29 Jul

I am adding my voice to those of all the consumers making a stand with their wallets against hate and discrimination. You will not get my business!

Making My Own Happiness

27 Jul

This post will probably be a mishmash of lots of things.  First, I realize that even though I posted twice yesterday I never mentioned what I did for myself.  The answer is that I dressed up for absolutely no reason.  I wore a pretty floral dress, did my hair and make-up, and put on my pearls.  I wore these adorable new high-heeled Crocs I have that are brown with pink insoles.  I felt gorgeous all day.  Now if only I could find my sparkly silver nail polish!

Today I’m not sure what I’m going to do for myself.  I already downloaded the Thompson Square CD (actually MP3), and have been listening to it at my desk and in my car.  I will be sharing my current obsession with you later in this post.  I also officially put in for a vacation week today.  I will be taking a full week to do nothing except relax, have fun, and take care of myself.  I’m planning a haircut, possibly a new tattoo, plenty of sleeping-in, and maybe a shopping trip or day adventure somewhere.  It’s Friday, though, so I’m going to do at least one more thing for myself today.  🙂

This week I have started realizing the real value in focusing on me.  This past Saturday I went to my first ever S-Anon meeting.  It was a really great experience.  In our area SA and S-Anon meet at the same time in the same location.  The Saturday morning meeting is one that my husband has decided to go to, and last week I made the leap and decided to go along.  Since starting Codependent No More I have a completely different perspective on myself.  It shined a light on the fact that I have plenty to work on, too.

So, back to last Saturday.  The SA meeting seemed to be pretty packed judging by the number of men I saw coming into the building and slipping into the room where Mr. Mess went.  They all seemed to be fairly early, too.  Yet, here I was, the lone woman.  We were pretty early ourselves, so I wandered down the hall to a table with information and brochures.  It seems like this place has a group, 12-step meeting for everything.  Everything, I tell you!  They have SA, S-Anon, AA, Al-Anon, Overeaters Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Debtors Anonymous (never seen that one before), Gambling Anonymous, and maybe even a few others that I can’t remember.

Anyway…  The scheduled time of the meeting 9:30 am quickly approached, then passed with no other women appearing.  I was fairly certain I had the right room, and I knew I had the right place and time since I was staring right at the schedule on one of the flyers.  There was really only one entrance, so I was also pretty confident I didn’t miss anyone.  Conveniently, the number for the group contact person was on said flyer.  I gave her a call at that number, and the answering machine listed another number (her cell) as the best place to reach her.  I called that, and a cheerful woman answered and quickly assured me that she was in the parking lot, and she just caught sight of a few other women walking in.  Leave it to women to be fashionably late for their own support group!

Sure enough, within a few seconds two women walked in.  We made our way to the designated room (the one I thought it was), and quickly turned on the A/C to try and combat the humid stickiness in the air.  Not too long after a third woman appeared.  It was the one I had talked to on the phone.  We started chatting a bit as everyone got settled.  Funny enough, I wasn’t the only newbie.  There was one other first-timer in the room as well.

Since there were just as many newcomers as old-timers at this meeting, they decided to do a welcome meeting.  They didn’t have any extra white books with them, but I had brought my own 12 steps and the women were very willing to share for readings.  Another lady came in during the initial introduction and reading of the 12 steps and 12 traditions.

I won’t bore you with all of the minute details, but I will say that everything really resonated with me.  Some of the readings had some hard truths that I will have to dig into more before I really know how I feel, but overall it was a comfortable, uplifting experience.  Each of the women shared some of their story, what brought them there, how long they have been in recovery, where they are on their personal journey, and that sort of thing.  Their stories all touched some part of my experience.  The other newbie was in tears basically the entire time.

Another woman showed up about half-way through, and shared her story as well.  Both of us first-timers also shared, although we didn’t have to.  Everyone was extremely supportive.  I could tell immediately that this was a group of women who wouldn’t let each other get caught up with the addict.  Crying, anger, and other emotions are definitely welcomed, but wallowing, blaming, and focusing on the sexaholic instead of ourselves is a no-no.  No one really had to say that, it was just the vibe in the room.  We are here for us.  We can’t change them.  But we can strengthen ourselves, set boundaries, decode our codependent behavior, and change our own patterns.  It was empowering.

I got a list of other women in the program with their email, phone numbers, and whether they text or not.  I supplied them with all of my information.  At the end there were hugs all around.  I didn’t know these women, but already I felt connected.  They can understand me.  They are me, in some ways.  All it took was one meeting, and I know this is where I belong.  I am already encouraged that I will be going with another person to their first meeting on Monday.

I was resistant to the idea that there was anything I needed to do, since this is “his problem.”  Now I know differently.  I know that there are things I can do – for me.  To get healthy.  To have a better response.  To feel complete, worthy, and lovable.  To stop making the same bad choices, to get off the roller-coaster, to feel at peace.  I can do it.  I also read something yesterday that I understand in a way I couldn’t have at the beginning of this process:

“I know now that I can’t choose to love or not love DH [dear husband] but I can choose to have him in my life or not.”

It’s true.  I don’t have control over what he does.  I don’t have control over his commitment to me.  I don’t have control over whether he cheats on me again.  I don’t have control over whether he lies to me.  I also don’t have control over the fact that I love him.  It’s just a fact at this point.  I do, however, have control over whether I accept his behavior and allow it in my life.  Everything else is up to me – my happiness, my boundaries, my self-esteem, my mental and physical health.  He can’t control those things, either.

So, today I am feeling encouraged and inspired.  I am smiling, tapping my foot, and jamming to wonderful music right now.  That is how I want to go through life.  Speaking of fantastic music, I promised earlier that I would share the song I can’t stop singing along to all day.  Here’s the video:

And here are the beautiful lyrics that are really speaking to me today:

Tryin’ to live and love
With a heart that can’t be broken
Is like tryin’ to see the light
With eyes that can’t be opened

I think I am finally realizing this.  I have to put my heart out there to possibly be broken again, no matter what course my life takes. 

I’ll let you look inside me
Through the stains and through the cracks
And in the darkness of this moment
You see the good in that

I have just as many issues and problems.  They aren’t the same because we have taken different paths to get here.  I have to be just as open about my stains and cracks, and work on mine.

We may shine, we may shatter
We may be pickin’ up the pieces here on after
We are fragile, we are human
We are shaped by the light we let through us
But we break fast ’cause we are glass

True and very profound.  We are shaped by the light we let through us, so I’m going to let as much light through me as possible.  I’m going to stay positive.  I’m going to remind myself that I am human.

He Will Be Getting A Vasectomy

26 Jul

London at War - Birth Control

TMI Warning!

I just got an IUD – the Mirena – this week. It was extremely painful because I haven’t had children; therefore my cervix is very unwilling to be opened up. After quite a bit of needles, poking, clamps, stabbing pain, cramps, bleeding, and hand squeezing it was in. I then had intense cramping for about 3-4 days. However, we are now set on birth control for 5 years.

I told Mr. Mess in no uncertain terms that he WILL be getting a vasectomy sometime before July 2017!! He graciously agreed considering the alternative would be no sex since we are firmly in the child-free camp. 🙂

Seriously, though… Why do men always seem to leave it up to us to control contraception? We are both participants in the sexual play and debauchery. We both agreed we don’t want children. Why should my body be the only thing affected? Why should I have to adjust my routine every day to take pills, pump my body full of hormones, and endure physical pain for all that pleasure minus the consequence of a screaming new life? No more. This is my last round of birth control, then the ball is in his court (pun intended… heehee).

Finding Internal Motivation

26 Jul

Image Source – Own work by Louis Waweru / CC-BY-SA-3.0

My heart is aching today for a fellow blogger and friend who is going through a really difficult time.  I won’t share what has been happening specifically since it is her story to tell.  She has shared some on her blog – Repairing Shattered Pieces.  It is almost all I can think about today.

When she described how she felt last night, it made me think of being exposed and vulnerable in a very dangerous place, like laying in the middle of the road, powerless to keep from being run over.  Again.  Because at this point she has been hit hard.  I can imagine the waves of debilitating pain and hurt washing over me again and again.  The helplessness and despair.  I feel all of this by proxy, so I’m sure it’s amplified a thousand fold for her.

The positive glimmer in all of this for me has been Mr. Mess.  I have been sharing with him what is going on as she discovers more details.  He has been incredibly supportive and insightful.  He has offered his knowledge and assistance, if needed.  More than almost anything else, the way he has been talking has caused me to realize how far he really has come.

The other night he started talking about his own journey and how that has given him so much perspective on what it takes to get well.  He went through almost a year of denial over his sex addiction.  During that time he wasn’t really addressing his issues.  Sure, he went to therapy, he attended SA now and then, he said the things he thought I wanted to hear.  But he didn’t really believe, deep down, that there was anything he needed to do.  Some days when he felt down he could accept that there was a problem, but most of the time his denial, justification and rationalization were in full force.  He did the things he did because he knew it was the only way to keep me.  That’s it.

He said yesterday that if someone isn’t doing the all of the work they should be to correct their issues, then they don’t really believe they have them.  It really is that simple.  When he wasn’t going to SA it was because he believed he didn’t need to.  When he skipped therapy and stopped going altogether it was because he wasn’t invested and didn’t trulybelieve he needed the help.  He stuck with marriage counseling because he did want to repair our marriage.  But he still couldn’t accept that there couldn’t be a stable marriage until his addiction problems were corrected.  He wanted things to work out, but his motivations were largely exterior – the pain I was in, the tension in the house after a lie, the guilt he only felt afterwards, the shame of discovery and seeing my disappointment, the regret of a poor decision, and the list goes on.  He was focusing on me – my pain, my desires, my boundaries.

The only internal motivation he had was fear:  the fear of losing his lifestyle (house, car, dual incomes), the fear of losing love (acceptance, comfort, my presence), the fear of divorce, the fear of failure, the fear of who knows…  The problem is that fear can only carry you so far.  What he didn’t have was an internal desire to change for him.  Because it would make him healthy and whole.  Because it would make him happy.  Because it would give him the marriage he wanted, the intimacy he wished for, the acceptance and love he deserves.  Part of recovering from any addiction is coming to the full realization that you are worth it.  For you alone.  That you want to change.  For you alone.  That only you can fix you.  That the motivation has to come from within.

I’m glad that he has learned that now.  I am proud of where he has made it to in his recovery.  I feel more secure knowing that he is working on recovery for himself.  It also gives me reassurance that we are on the right path.  I am working on my issues and he is dealing with his.  Is this what an adult relationship feels like?

Image Source –  Own work by Adha65 / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Days Go By

25 Jul

My absolute favorite book right now is one that I am only 36 pages into.  It is a book that I picked up at random from a free book table at our first Retrouvaille post-session.  It has absolutely nothing to do with infidelity or sex addiction.  It is a book for middle-schoolers.  It is called The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.  Here’s an excerpt from the very first page:

“There once was a boy named Milo who didn’t know what to do with himself – not just sometimes, but always.

When he was in school he longed to be out, and when he was out he longed to be in.  On the way he thought about coming home, and coming home he thoughts about going.  Wherever he was he wished he were somewhere else, and when he got there he wondered why he’d bothered.  Nothing really interested him – least of all the things that should have.

‘It seems to me that almost everything is a waste of time,’ he remarked one day as he walked dejectedly home from school…  As he and his unhappy thoughts hurried along (for while he was never anxious to be where he was going, he liked to get there as quickly as possible) it seemed a great wonder that the world, which was so large, could sometimes feel so small and empty.”

I am Milo.  I am always in a hurry to get somewhere as fast as possible, and hardly ever happy to be there once I arrive.  When I am at home I think about things I have to do at work.  When I am at work I think about how much I want to be at home, or I waste far too much time blogging, thinking, shopping, and generally not doing the things I am supposed to do.  I often feel like my life is one long, monotonous stream that doesn’t interest me at all.

Can it really be true?

Yesterday I read a piece of advice that I am going to try to incorporate in my life.  A woman who is part of a spouses of sex addicts support group I participate in said:

“I’ve been working too hard to fix other things in my life since I can’t fix this. And the aftermath of the recent trauma has completely slayed me. So I’ve decided, instead of killing myself fixing other things, I’m going to try new things. Because clearly the old ways aren’t working, right?  😀

Little stuff.  I wear different clothes than I normally do.  I drive a different way to my appointments and meetings to see what’s there and what inspires other thoughts and actions. Shopping for groceries and such in different stores.  Doing the kids’ bedtime routine in a different order.  That sort of stuff.  And it has been very liberating and enlightening.  Gives me a different perspective.”

I am going to try that.  It is a simple idea, but I think it could make a difference.  I am SUCH a creature of habit.  To the point where it borders on OCD.  I take the same route to every place I go, down to when I change lanes.  Yes – that specific.  I do the same things in the same order every morning.  I wear the same basic color palate (can anyone say black?!).  I shop at the same stores.  I eat at the same places (if not at home, which is what I do most of the time).  My life is one big routine.

I am also never fully involved 100% with the thing I am doing – I am the ultimate multi-tasker – constantly working on 2 or 3 things at once while my brain is focusing on something else.  This makes me appear very busy at work and gives the impression of efficiency while in reality I am not really giving anything the full attention it deserves.  I am in the process of reading (I think) 6 different books right now – two on my Kindle (one on serial killers – my “light,” pleasure reading – and Codependent No More), the one I just mentioned, one about sex addiction (Lust, Anger, Love), Emotional Infidelity: How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage and 10 Other Secrets to a Great Relationship, and a Criminal Minds book.  That’s not even counting the dialoguing workbook that Mr. Mess and I go through each night.  I pick and choose between them based on my mood, or even which one is closest to me at the moment.  I can’t even remember where the Emotional Infidelity book is right now.

So how am I going to change?  I’m not really sure specifically.  All I can say is a little at a time.  I’m going to start by picking one book and reading it all the way through before I open another one.  Maybe I’ll take a different way home from the chiropractor this evening, even though I know the one I usually take is the fastest.  What’s the rush, after all?  My husband is home all night (no school), and we don’t have any plans that I know of.  Tomorrow morning maybe I’ll even do my hair before I get dressed (although it really is impractical that way), pick out a top that is a color I haven’t worn in a while, spend an extra 5 minutes with the dogs, or do a cart-wheel or skip down the hall just for the heck of it (remember when you used to do that as a kid?).

Doesn’t she look so happy? It makes me want to go skipping right now!

I’m still trying to do at least one thing every day that makes me happy.  Today it was reading a little bit more of that book.  It just makes me smile.  It is such a fun, yet deeply insightful little book.  Who knows what I’m going to do tomorrow.  Maybe I’ll try keeping track of everything, just to make myself a little bit more accountable for my own happiness.  I hope you are doing something that makes you happy today!  Don’t let life fly by without enjoying it.

Flirting: Where To Draw The Line?

24 Jul

This post hit me hard today. Both my husband and I have been guilty of harmful flirting in the past. It is such an unhealthy behavior, and one I’m glad to see gone from our marriage. This is a must-read!

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

23 Jul

Yesterday morning I logged into my computer to find a flattering surprise and a not-so-great one.  I think I will start with the good news first.  I was nominated for awarded the Very Inspiring Blogger Award from the wonderful Bold Kevin over at Voices of Glass.  His blog is very inspirational, and he received two well-deserved nominations for this award.  I am beyond flattered that he would feel inspired from me after all he has come through.  It is hard for me to grasp that anyone could be inspired by me.  It is a humbling experience that makes me feel very grateful.

Here are the Award Rules…

  1. Display the award logo somewhere on the blog.  – √ Done
  2. Link back to the blog of the person who nominated you. – √ Done
  3. State 7 things about yourself. – √ See Below
  4. Nominate (They aren’t nominations they are actual awards) So give 15 other bloggers this award and provide links to their blogs.
  5. Notify those bloggers that they have been nominated given this award and of the award’s requirements.

7 Things About Me… (that I haven’t already told you at some point)

  1. I have an entire room stuffed from floor to ceiling with books.  That is where I am right now.  I have so many books that my book shelves are double stacked.  I consistently donate hundreds of books per year, yet the number of books I own never seems to decrease.  I think the key to this actually happening would be to stop buying more, but I just can’t seem to make that happen.
  2. I love crab rangoons.  They are delicious.  I could eat nothing but those at a Chinese restaurant.  Now I’m just torturing myself…
  3. I bite my nails.  It was a terrible habit that I had as a kid.  My nails were always chewed to the quick.  As an adult I have gotten a lot better at this, and often even have fingernails that grow to a respectable length.  I am more likely to chew at a hangnail or ragged nail than grab the clippers, though.  For this reason I carry a nail kit (complete with clippers, nail file, and cuticle trimmers) in my purse at all times to help curb this urge.
  4. I love fire.  I’m not quite a pyromaniac, although my father was as a child.  I often have several candles burning in my house, and really, really wish that I had a fireplace.  To compensate, I have both a fire pit and fire chimney outside on my patio.
  5. I am obsessed with Crocs.  They are almost all that I wear now.  I have dressy ones, office ones, several pairs of flip flops, sandals, and even a winter pair.
  6. I had a huge collection of model horses as a child.  I collected Breyer horses from a very young age through my teenage years.  I still have my collection up in my attic.
  7. My husband says I have an adventurous spirit.  I find it hard to accept because I have always seen myself as more of a quiet homebody, curled up with a good book on a comfy chair all day.  I do want to go skydiving someday, and I want to travel the world so maybe he has a point.

I wish that I had the time today to nominate all of the fantastic people who deserve it.  Instead, for now, I will invite you to check out my Blogroll.  These are the bloggers who have touched me and whose blogs I subscribe to and run to check their posts when I get an email.  All of these bloggers have inspired me in various ways.

Now for the devastating news.  I found out that a good friend and fellow blogger is going through a really rough time right now.  My stomach dropped this morning when I saw what she was going through, and my heart is aching for her.  My tablet has been on the fritz this morning.  I think it has a virus or it has just decided to poop out.  I have been using my home computer, which is a desktop, in the meantime to stay connected and do my blogging.  I missed her email early this morning, and am keeping her and her family in my thoughts.

I hope that the rest of you out there are doing well and having a great weekend.  Much love!

Cancer Changes Everything

23 Jul

Note I wish that I could say I am going to write something amazing and wise on this topic.  Many others have much more insightful thoughts and compelling stories.  This is just something that has been on my mind today, and I felt the need to write about it in order to organize my thoughts. 

Cancer.  It is one of the words in the English language that evokes a universal, immediate and visceral response.  It seems that everyone I meet has been touched by cancer in some way – usually negatively.  Sometimes it has also ignited an internal strength that the person didn’t know they had or a renewed vigor for life.  Some people battle and win.  Others lose.  Either way it is life-changing.

Cancer is on my mind today for a number of reasons.  The one at the very forefront of my brain is related to our marriage counselor.  He told us on Saturday that he has prostate cancer.  He was diagnosed in January, and just had his 6 month follow-up.  They hadn’t expected his numbers to go up much (I don’t know a lot about what this means, but it is related to his prostate function and the rate of cancer growth).  Instead, they had more than doubled.  His oncologist told him that he has to take action as soon as possible.  So in about a month he is going in for surgery.  They won’t know the extent of things until they are in there.

English: Micrograph of prostatic adenocarcinom...

Apparently, this is what prostate cancer looks like. It seems like it just shouldn’t be this beautiful. – Micrograph of prostatic adenocarcinoma, the most common form of prostate cancer. Prostate biopsy. H&E stain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am scared for him.  I also have hope because they seem to have caught this early.  Selfishly, I am also disappointed that the therapist we love, who has been wonderful for us, will be out of commission for at least 4-6 weeks.  He was so kind and gentle when telling us the news, and he is doing everything he can to accommodate his patients.  We set up several appointments for the weeks leading up to his surgery so that he can ensure he is leaving us in the best place possible.  I was amazed by his positive, matter-of-fact attitude and compassion for us.  Crazy, right?  He is the one with cancer!  I don’t even want to think of the worst-case scenario for him or us.  I am just hoping that things will work out well and sending him positive vibes.

I have a not-so-pleasant experience with prostate cancer.  It is what they believe my grandfather had before his cancer metastasized and spread to his lungs, liver, lymph nodes and colon.  I talked about losing him and his struggle with cancer in my post Remembering Pa.  Even though he ultimately died from a fall, I attribute his death to cancer 100%.  In the months leading up to his diagnosis he became noticeably weaker.  He used to have the strength and stamina of a bull – moving large rocks for their bulkhead, doing yard work, and being very active well into his 80’s.  We all knew something was wrong before we knew what exactly it was.

The discovery of cancer was devastating.  I still remember the moment I found out like it was yesterday.  I can remember where I was sitting in my office, what I was wearing that day, how my Mom’s voice on the phone sounded oddly calm, and how I didn’t shed a single tear until I told a co-worker.  Then I could barely hold them back.  Later, I couldn’t at all.  We waited for test results, biopsies, scans, information on the best treatment, you name it.  I was out of town when they rated him as Stage IV and again when they said that surgery was no longer an option.  He was so weak after his first treatment that I could barely recognize him – and he could barely remember my name due to the “chemo brain.”  It was such a confusing, terrifying, and emotional time.  I can imagine in vivid details what our marriage counselor, his wife and family must be going through right now.  My heart goes out to them.

Another reason that cancer is on my mind is because of So You Think You Can Dance.  I am an avid viewer of the program, and just love the choreography that they come up with and the amazing dancers on the program.  The talent is through the roof.  It is easily the best competition show on television, and the only one that I watch.  This week they were promoting National Dance Day, which is Saturday, July 28th, by the way.  One of the planned events for the day is a gala in Los Angeles where they will have former So You Think You Can Dance contestants and choreographers performing their favorites from the program – including all of their Emmy winning numbers and the “breast cancer dance.”  Yep – they mentioned that one specifically.

It brought me right back to the time that it originally aired, in Season 5.  In the same week of that performance my Mom had a breast cancer scare.  During her annual, they found lumps.  They were concerned, and she went in for a biopsy the day before the episode aired.  That would be pretty scary in and of itself, but it had even more of an impact for them because my step-Dad’s first wife died of breast cancer.  He went with my Mom and waited while she got the biopsy.  I can hardly imagine what went through his mind.  His first wife’s battle with breast cancer was agonizing, and he was with her every step of the way – supporting her, helping her through her treatments, and ultimately watching it take her life.  He had just married my Mom only a few months earlier, and she is significantly younger than him (right at 20 years – just like my husband and I, but that’s another story).  I’m sure he didn’t think he would potentially have to deal with that all over again.

Thankfully, the lumps they found were just cysts.  My Mom is fine, and my step-Dad doesn’t have to re-live the experience.  Except in his mind.  I’m sure those weeks after the lumps were found and before they got the biopsy results were hell on him.  They watched the So You Think You Can Dance episode together.  She called me the next day and we cried together on the phone.  I, too, had seen it the night before.  By the end of the dance I was sobbing.  It still gives me chills and brings tears to my eyes.  Nothing I could say can ever come close to the power of that dance – putting music, movements, and emotions together to create a masterpiece.  Here’s the video:

I Hate Traffic (& the stupid people who cause it)!

21 Jul

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Trying to go to our first post-session for Retrouvaille, but apparently the slight drizzle is just too much for people.  We’ve gone like 4 miles in the last 20 minutes.  The sad thing is we aren’t even to the area where traffic gets really bad…  😦

My Adorable Cocker Spaniel

20 Jul

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I just found the WordPress app (I don’t know why I didn’t think to look until today), and wanted to give it a quick test.  I thought I would share a picture of the other main man in my life, Buddy.  Isn’t he just so cute?  No wonder I couldn’t stay mad at him over the “present” last night.

Hungry, Hot and Pissy

20 Jul

If you turn that pea into an apple that’s about all I ate yesterday.

That’s how I felt last night.  The hungry part should be self-explanatory considering I’m on a juice cleanse right now.  Yesterday I tried so, so hard to do everything the “right” way.  They said 4 oz. of the special juice 4 times per day, plus 3 snacks.  The program prefers that you use their “snacks” – which I put in quotation marks because they are these big, chalky horse-pill looking things.  It also allows for an apple, 6 raw, unsalted almonds or celery.  I can already cross off celery because I think it is foul.  Just really, really gross.  I can’t even stand the smell.  We had some raw almonds, but they were stale.  Finally, my coach for the program said I should only eat fruit in the mornings.

So yesterday I had the juice, a wonderful Granny Smith apple in the morning and two of those gross wafers things.  Plus lots and lots of water.  All day.  By 6:30 pm or so I was starting to feel light-headed.  Did I mention that I’m also on my period?  Sorry if that’s TMI, but it makes this experience oh-so-much worse.  By the time my husband came home from school I was feeling very weak and tired, and we still had our dialoguing to do.

Thankfully we decided on the dialogue question the day before, which had allowed me to write my answer earlier in the day.  Still, I knew it was far from my best writing.  I was all over the place, struggling to find the words, and could barely think of any analogies or shared memories.  I have never been more grateful that my husband really does seem to understand what I’m feeling, even if my feelings are all over the map.  We managed to get through the dialoguing and even accomplish the goal of relating and connecting to one another.

I don’t hide things very well.  At least not at home.  That is one of the downfalls (and benefits) of being very honest.  Mr. Mess could definitely tell I wasn’t feeling right at all.  I let him in on the light-headed incident from earlier.  He was ready to go tear them a new one – of course, they were closed.  He (smartly) convinced me that having another apple would not be the end of the world or a sign of giving up on the program.  I’m so glad he did!

Not too long after I was entirely worn out and ready to go to bed.  I probably could have gone to sleep at 7:00 pm, but I wanted to dialogue and talk to my husband for a bit.  When we got to the bedroom it was stifling.  We have an older brick rancher that was build sometime in the 60s or 70s (my brain is a little fuzzy right now).  We have an oil furnace and a large AC unit in the den, but there is no central air.  I have had a small window unit for the bedroom since I moved in almost 10 years ago, and it belonged to the owner before me, who left it.  That unit is now on its very last leg.

Usually I remember to turn it on an hour or so before we plan to go to bed.  As I mentioned, my brain is not working so well on this juice-only phase.  Thankfully that only lasts through today, and tomorrow I can go back to the shakes and a 400-600 calorie meal.  Back to the story, though…  I forgot to turn it on, so our room was very hot (it has been in the 90s and 100s for a month or so).  About 30-45 minutes after we laid down our room was still just as sweltering.

I could not go to sleep.  I was tossing and turning, hot, hungry and pissed off.  My period was giving me cramps, my stomach was growling and I was sweating.  I decided to get up and try the couch in the den where the big AC unit was.  My cocker spaniel, who is sweet as can be and who I love so, so much just wouldn’t leave me alone.  He was pacing and panting and being incredibly distracting.  He usually just curls up on a blanket or on the couch and is quiet as can be, which should have been an indicator that something was up.  Again – my brain wasn’t really functioning and I was a hot, pissy mess.

He disappeared to the living room (which coincidently is the room our front door opens into).  All I could think was – I am sooo glad he left me alone.  The lights from the television and various gadgets were annoying, and the noises were driving me crazy – even the ticking of the clock in the kitchen sounded unbearably loud.  I sighed and resigned myself to go back to the bedroom, desperately hoping it would have cooled off at least a little bit.  On the way there I stepped in dog poop.

I turned on the hall light, cursing under my breath, and saw my dog curled up on the tile in front of the door with a guilty look on his face.  I couldn’t be mad.  It was my fault.  I wasn’t paying attention to his signals because I was so caught up in my own self-pity.  I cleaned the floor and my feet, then went back to bed.  The room was still baking and I was still cramping and hungry, but I managed to fall asleep anyway.

Today is a new day, and it is better already.  I realized that I shouldn’t ignore my body’s signals the way I ignored my dog’s.  So far today I feel pretty good.  The hunger isn’t as strong, I’ve eaten my breakfast apple, and if I feel like I need one for dinner I’m going to eat it.  It’s not like I’m talking about an entire chocolate cake or anything!

When I stepped on the scale this morning I had lost 8.5 pounds total.  As my husband reminded me last night, this part of the diet is only temporary.  I should look at that weight column as my motivation.  My clothes are already starting to fit better.  I can see a difference in the mirror, which I’m sure sounds weird considering it’s not really that much weight.  Tomorrow I’m sure that 400-600 calorie meal will seem like the most delicious thing I have ever tasted.  I can’t wait!

Tackling My Body Issues

19 Jul

My body and I have had a love/hate relationship my entire life.  As a little girl I was super-skinny.  This was mostly because I was so, so active.  I was up with the sun (or before – if you ask my Mom), running around the yard, climbing trees, and exploring.  I participated in all sorts of sports from softball to gymnastics to my absolute favorite – horseback riding.  I remember when we moved to our house in the country how ecstatic I was to have 10 acres to run around on and horses in my own backyard.

I was home-schooled and an intelligent and efficient child, so I would get my lessons done (sometimes more than one day’s worth) in just a few hours.  The rest of the day and into the evening – when the sun began to droop and twilight set in – I was a fireball.  My brother, Dad and I started building a tree-house, which ended up being something more like a big platform in the trees.  I would visit that throughout the day and climb the neighboring trees to the very tippy-top, as far as I could go.  I would run through the woods to our back pasture, then through our second set of woods and sometimes gingerly slide between the strands of barbed-wire fence into the neighbor’s fields.

Sometimes I was alone.  Sometimes my brother or sister were with me.  More often than not it was just me and our family black lab.  The horses would sometimes engage with me curiously, but most of the time they ignored me like I was nothing more than one of the gnats flying around their ears.  I can’t even tell you now what I did with all of that time outside.  I know I picked wild blackberries, visited with our neighbors’ horses and dogs, and spent hours daydreaming or singing.

I also did acrobatics on our swing set.  We had one of those metal A-frame types that had different attachments, very similar to the one in the picture.  I used to hang upside down from the monkey-bar-type swing and walk along the top of the swing set like it was a balance beam.  I did the same thing with our acres of fence.  I had excellent balance and loved the challenge.

As an adolescent and teenager I stayed active, yet I slowly gained weight.  In high school I participated in a showchoir where we danced every single day, sometimes for an hour or more.  My body issues really kicked in around that time.  I was fairly insecure all through school because of the incessant bullying that I had to endure – for being the “new kid,” getting all A’s, having big glasses and braces, and being a geeky, awkward introvert.  Showchoir was my element, though.  I had one of the best voices, I was the dance captain, and it was a very diverse, accepting group of kids.  We had cheerleaders, the valedictorian, a few skaters, drama kids, a punk/goth girl, several of the popular, pretty girls – no kid in a wheelchair, though.  We were also more like the “Vocal Adrenaline” group on Glee than the misfit, ragtag group.  We won all sorts of competitions all across the country and were invited to an international choral experience in London.

Despite having a place to “belong” and being constantly activity, I felt fat.  My years as a catcher on my All-Stars softball team combined with years of horseback riding, dancing, and gymnastics left me with huge thighs.  They were also very powerful, but all my teenage eyes could see was their girth – muscle or fat didn’t really matter that much.  I remember being mortified of my junior size 7 jeans.  Now I would do almost anything to get back in them.  Back then I would stand with my arms crossed around my stomach, as if to camouflage what I thought of as a huge flaw.  I also was a slow grower in the “top” department, which made me feel inadequate and not pretty.  I’m now a D-cup, and wish they were smaller.

In my senior year I was dealing with a lot of drama.  Some of it was typical teenage-angst stuff, but mine also went beyond that.  I got it worse than most (though not as bad as some) because I was in a lesbian relationship in a small, conservative, ultra-religious town.  I lost my best friend after she ratted me out to my parents (who were so super-strict I couldn’t listen to anything but Christian music).  I was tortured at school, although I still was able to maintain at least a small level of plausible deniability since I was seen making out with a boy on our London chorus trip.  The concept of bisexuality was almost unheard of and certainly misunderstood in my town, which I was able to use somewhat to my advantage.

During that time my weight plummeted, in large part due to depression.  I was a size two and weighed barely over 100 pounds at that point.  I am 5’7″.  While that might sound like a reasonable (or even ideal) size to some, it was very unhealthy on me.  I was gaunt and sickly looking, and my clothes hung off of me in a very unattractive way.  My showchoir dress was taken in several sizes, which I thought was wonderful.

After graduation my weight swung in the other direction.  I was still depressed, but food was becoming more and more of a comfort.  I was also stuck at home in my parent’s house where I was miserable.  Although I had graduated high school already, I skipped 4th grade and was under 18.  My Dad was adamant that I had to live with them and under their rules until that time.  I was all but chained to my house – only allowed out to drive my brother and sister to school, attend church, and go to my job – where my parents were friends with the owner and knew my schedule.  By the time I turned 18 I probably weighed somewhere around 165.  Again, now I would love to go back there.

I moved out the day I turned 18…  Yep, the very day.  I left in the morning with a bunch of my stuff and didn’t come back until a few days later to get the rest.  Looking back now I know that I broke my Mom’s heart.  I wish I hadn’t, but at that point my Dad was making my life so miserable that I couldn’t stand to be around him for one minute longer than necessary.  Not too long after (maybe 2 months or so), I left on an amazing trip through Europe.  I visited 13 countries, and enjoyed the food in them all!

By the time I was in my 20s I was easily a size 18.  I started having to shop at Lane Bryant.  My weight was right up around 200.  I wasn’t happy with myself, but nothing I did seemed to work long-term.  I went on tons of diets and yo-yo’ed all over the place.  I would lose 20 pounds, then gain 10 or 15 back.  I tried pills, Weight Watchers, supplements, and just about every new “fad” diet that came out.  Nothing really stuck until my 7-year relationship crumbled.  Again, I spiralled into depression, and again it helped me lose weight.  I was down to a size 8-10 in just a few short months.

Fast forward a bit – I met my now-husband, settled into a comfortable relationship, and his Southern cooking quickly added on the pounds.  When we got engaged I managed to lose weight through the South Beach Diet (which my Mom uses very successfully) and Weight Watchers.  I was somewhere around 170-175 on my wedding day.  Then DDay happened.

Depression – again.  Only this time it was back to the food-as-comfort kind.  As much as Mr. Mess has always said that he loves my body and finds me very attractive, I couldn’t find it within myself to believe him.  His pornography and sex addiction coupled with his previous affair left me feeling worthless as a woman.  As a test showed in my post How Does His Sex Addiction Affect Me, my past experiences and his sex addiction still make me feel inferior and insecure.

Even after things got more stable at home the weight didn’t drop off.   My husband started culinary school and practiced all of his French, creme-based sauces and recipes at home.  He enjoys cooking for me and showing his love through acts of service (which is great since this is my secondary love language).  I also LOVE food, especially great food.  I was more than happy to drown my sorrows and accept his love offerings of creamy, buttery, fatty, smothered in cheese and deep fried creations.  The problem?  That just reinforced my self-esteem and body issues.  I can see now that I also allowed my need for control in other areas of my life (areas that I really have NO control over) to serve as a distraction and even excuse for my weight issues.

Not anymore.  I am taking control of my weight.  I am tackling my body issues – by becoming healthier and affirming myself every day.  I started a new diet two days ago.  This time it is with the help of a nutritionist and program.  I am going to learn more about my body, what works well, and how to eat right without sacrificing everything all of the time.

For now, though, I am in the hard part.  I have started a shake and juice cleanse using Isagenix products.  It has been brutal.  Yesterday and the day before I got one “real” meal, two barely tolerable shakes, and a few snacks.  The first day a Granny Smith Apple like the one above tasted like the most amazing thing I had ever put in my mouth and was the highlight of my day.  Today and tomorrow I am on a juice-only cleanse.  As of this morning I have already lost almost 7 pounds (6.9 to be exact).

I will be following that 11-day cleanse with a 40-day HCG diet program.  I am not getting my HCG online or through a company I know nothing about.  Instead, I will have a local support person who I will be working with twice per week to get any questions that I may have answered.  She is affiliated with a good doctor.  My husband and I have already looked up a lot of really tasty-sounding, low-calorie meals.  He will now be testing his ability to plan nutritious and appetizing meals that keep us foodies satisfied.

It will be hard.  But it should be rewarding.  They are guaranteeing that I will lose 20 pounds, and probably more like 30.  We shall see.  Either way, I’m taking the reigns of my weight.  I’m vowing to love my body and take care of myself.  I am getting healthy so that I can feel good – inside and out.  Already it’s been a step in the right direction.

Age Gap Relationships

18 Jul

I came across this post and this blog about two weeks ago. It has a lot of great information about age gap relationships. As you may or may not recall, there is a 20 year age gap between my husband and I. Today I decided it would be a good time to reblog this. Mr. Mess and I might be on a rough road right now, but I truly believe that our age gap has nothing to do with it. In fact, I honestly believe that if I were going through this with someone my age with less experience and maturity we wouldn’t be nearly this far along. In fact, I think we would be divorced. With all of Mr. Mess’s faults, he is becoming more and more self-aware, he is willing to do the hard work necessary to change, and he has the benefit of time and experience which has decreased his temper and allowed him more insight into himself.

our24yeargap

I came across some reading I’d like to share with anyone looking for more stuff about age gap relationships.

Age Gap Relationships

Age gap relationships (or “spring-autumn” relationships) may come in for criticism and ridicule, no matter how balanced or healthy they are. Partners with a significant age gap may find themselves the target of ridicule or outright criticism from family, friends and strangers; or they may worry that there is something wrong with the relationship.

Cultural norms about dating age gaps are based on two assumptions: that the age gap in relationships will be a small one, and that (in a heterosexual relationship, at least) the man will be the older partner. This simply isn’t the case in many relationships.

Psychological Factors in Age Gap Relationships?

There are psychological reasons that some age gap relationships may be unhealthy.

  • It is often suggested that the younger partner is seeking a…

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