As I’ve written previously, I started on a creative journey pretty soon after the pandemic hit and we all went into lockdown. (I also turned to gardening, so I’ll probably write about that on here as well. Our tomatoes went crazy and I’ve also turned to canning in order to keep up with my crazy tomato plants!)
Like crocheting, I have found painting to be a very meditative process. It allows me to focus on something other than the many thoughts swirling in my head. A high school friend had painted some whimsical insects and I commented on them. She told me about Tamara Laporte at Willowing Arts who had just launched a taster session called Kaleidoscope, which offered about two weeks worth of free art lessons. Obviously, the hook is to get you interested in the free lessons in order to hopefully get you to sign up for the full course, which I subsequently did. From Kaleidoscope, I heard about Lifebook and it is there that I heard about Effy at Effy Wild. She offers weekly journal prompts and so all of the above is to say that today’s post is answering her journal prompt.
Explore hope in your art journal. What are you hoping fo right now? How can you represent that? What does hope feel like in your body? How can you express that?
(So obviously, I’m not doing this in an art journal (I plan to buy one or a few for next year), but thought this would be a good topic to explore.)
I’m going to take this to a micro then macro level. Hope feels me with wistfulness. It means to me that I long for something to be true even if it may not materialize. The sensations I feel in my body can be described as an anxiousness that is not necessarily the bad kind of anxious. I also feel optimism that what I hope will be true because most of the time, my hopes are the things that are generally within my control. Right now, what I hope for is that I will get to see my grandkids over the holidays. This should happen as we try to take the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe. Even though my husband and I travel, when we return from traveling, we automatically self-quarantine for the requisite fourteen days. We also wear masks, observe social distancing to the extent possible, use hand sanitizer religiously and don’t hang around in large crowds.
I also hope that my parents continue to remain healthy and don’t come down with COVID. Their age and their health puts them at heightened risk if they were to get it. My mom had to be tested this past week as she had some of the symptoms (which are also typical of a cold), so we are waiting for the results of that. I just want all of those that I love from my parents, kids to grandkids, to friends to all remain healthy through this crisis. I don’t want to lose anyone and so this hope is one that creates anxiety because I cannot control what happens to my loved ones.
On a more macro level, I’m hopeful that we will have a vaccine sometime next year. That with the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris that our country will start repairing itself from the damage created by the current president and his GOP enablers (he who shall not be named on this blog). I’m hopeful that we will return to a more loving country and return to the ideals that have been set forth in our constitution. (Unfortunately, we have never, even gotten close to achieving these ideals.)
What is your relationship with hope? Do you embrace it, even when what you hope for seems impossible? Or do you reject it for fear of being disappointed? If you let yourself fully hope for something, what would that feel like?
I’ve been one who most people view as optimistic and one with a can-do attitude. I’ve always tried to approach life from the viewpoint that I could achieve anything that I set my mind to. Hope is what drove me to go back to school with three young children, it is what drove me to pursue each pathway in my career, it is what drove me to try to save my marriage, it is what helped me through the dating process and finally, to say yes to marriage to my new husband (even though I was really, really scared about being hurt again). The biggest disappointment was the end of my marriage and yet for six months, I had hope that it would work out in the end. The fact that it didn’t was a huge learning process for me because it taught me that as much as YOU may want something, sometimes it doesn’t happen and while you may have scars and emotional bruising, in the end how you choose to deal with that disappointment will define how you deal with any major disappointment in life.
So what are you hopeful for?
(This may trigger some who are new to this journey of a run-away husband or a cheating spouse.)
Does the title of this post make you think of maybe someone who did something embarrassing in a kind of “ha, ha, I can’t believe I did that,” kind of way?
What if I told you it was from someone who labels herself as a “divorce coach” who helps people who cheated come to terms with cheating? And wants the person who was cheated on take some responsibility for the actions of the cheater?
This is her exact quote as shown on Instagram:
“You didn’t plan on cheating. Your marriage was in a shitty place and one thing led to the next, and you did something that you’re not proud of.”
I didn’t realized my marriage was in a shitty place at the time he chose to cheat. I would not have just bought a house with him, taken a loan out against my 401K to help purchase the new house and to help furnish it, had I realized my marriage would essentially be over (for him) two months later.
I will always, always maintain that I did not cause my ex-husband to cheat on me. Were there things I could have done better as a wife? Absolutely. I take responsibility for being human. I take responsibility for any of my actions that may have caused him to be unhappy with me and with us, but I refuse to take responsibility for him involving a third party in our marriage. It was the cowardly thing to do. It was something I beat myself up over and over again as I tried to do and be the wife (for a hellish six months) he all of a sudden wanted as he had one foot out of the marital door.
It occurred to me today that through our three decades together, he was unhappy many times. He was unhappy with the first job he quit, and I was there. He was unhappy with the second job he quit, and I was there. He was unhappy with third job he quit, and I was there. He was unhappy when he was fired from the next job, and I was there. And, I was there for the next and the next and the next job. I was always there to assure him that WE would get through it as I typed up and printed out resumes for him, as I took over the bills so as not to stress him out. I was there when our kids were small and I was trying to go to school so he wouldn’t feel all the pressure. I was there when our house was almost foreclosed upon and trying to not panic because my income wasn’t enough to cover a house payment and we didn’t have health insurance to cover a family of five.
I was there because I thought we had a partnership. I thought we had an agreement that when things got tough, we would figure out a way to work through them together. When things got tough for him, I was there. When things got tough for me, he was there for another woman.
He apparently didn’t have the same idea. So when I was unhappy with where we were headed as a couple about two years before our marriage ended, and expressed my unhappiness to him, instead of him trying to work it out together, he turned to another woman. Not my fucking fault.
People have choices to make. One of them is when you are unhappy with your spouse, you fucking talk to them. You don’t talk about your issues with someone else, like a co-worker, who has no relevant information about the history between the two people intimately involved.
Can you imagine being a counselor to a rape victim and asking her what she did which caused her to be raped? It’s the exact same thing when you ask a person who has been cheated on what they did to cause their partner to fuck someone else who is not your spouse. If this is your way of thinking if you are marriage and/or divorce counselor, I urge you to leave this field of work before you cause irreparable damage.
I don’t think that anyone with true, deep feelings for someone else, ever stops loving them. I know that for some getting to a place where you stop caring for the person who betrayed you is the end goal and I’m here to tell you that it’s okay if you never stop caring. I think what is important is acknowledging the feelings and working to a place of acceptance. My ex will always be an important part of my life because of how he helped me to become the person I am today. And the fact remains (as I’ve said before), I could not have asked for a better dad for our kids.
I often told people I would never marry again. I never wanted to experience the intense pain that I experienced at the end of my marriage. I’m also a person who enjoys companionship, intimacy, being in love and having my person. I had to be willing to move forward and be willing to risk having my heart broken again. And it was more than once during the time I spent dating. I would have my hopes built up and then dashed over and over again. It was necessary for me to go through it because each time I experienced a little heart break, it showed me my resiliency.
In my head, I would tell myself have fun with dating and maybe I will be one of those women who has a lot of fun being single. For the most part, I enjoyed dating and getting to meet new people. I truly tried to look at it as an adventure and not to take it too seriously (but I also catch feelings pretty quickly) and just have fun. Live a life I didn’t get to experience when I was younger because I married so young.
I didn’t expect to meet anyone that I would want to spend the rest of my life with and yet I did.
When the pandemic hit and everything went into shut-down, it hit me hard. I’m a people person (an ambivert, actually) and enjoy going TO work and interacting WITH people. Being stuck at home in days that felt like the movie “Groundhog Day,” left me very depressed for about six weeks. My poor boyfriend didn’t quite know what to do with me in this state because of how upbeat I am most of the time.
I started writing a book, but it wasn’t what I needed. I continued to sing on the “Smule” app, which filled a little bit of my creativity muse, but not quite. I crocheted a hat for myself, which was fun and I still need to finish the one for my boyfriend. Then I saw a post on Facebook about the art subscription box “Let’s Make Art,” which promised to teach me how to paint (at least that’s how I interpreted it). So on a whim, I went with it. My very first painting was of a peony and my first attempt, sucked. However, what I noticed immediately is that it felt like meditation. Like seriously, meditative to the point that I lost time during the process and when I emerged, couldn’t believe the time that had passed. I re-painted the peony and this time, I paid more attention and was able to create something that I was pleased with. It felt like release. I ended up painting a few more things through the tutorials offered and I really enjoy the banter of Sara and her husband and the easy-going way Sara has about teaching others to do art.
Then my daughter tagged me to an artist on Instagram named Allison Lyon. And I did a couple of her tutorials. Like Sara, she has a very relaxing way of teaching and drawing you in. A couple of weeks after, I saw a post from a friend who has always been a creative, artsy person. She shared a painting she had done of a kind of quirky insect. I commented about how I loved how it looked. She shared with me the website called “Willowing Arts,” and I literally felt the world shift. Willowing Arts is led by the absolutely beautiful soul, Tamara Laporte. When I first started following her, she was hosting an art taster session, called Kaleidoscope. After just doing a few session, I knew I had to purchase the whole course.
The underlying theme through all of this is that each one of these artists have chosen to share their gift with the world and have decided to teach in order to spread the beauty. My plan is to share my art journey on this blog. I wish I would have found this outlet earlier, but am so glad I found it when I did and recognize too, I found it exactly when I was supposed to.
My friends who have followed me on this journey, I am so thankful that I had a place to share and heal. When I first started this blog, I was married, living in a rental house with my (then)husband. We were on our way to being empty-nesters and I knew that this might be a rocky journey for the both of us. My intent when I started this blog was to share my willingness to try new things, albeit I was hoping it would be with my (then) husband. We were looking at a place to buy, selling our home, and I thought, heading towards a life where we could enjoy/rediscover each other now that our kids were on their own journeys of adulthood.
If you have followed my journey, you know that none of this happened the way I planned, but it happened exactly the way it was supposed to.
Life is a journey and it is up to us to face each part of our journey head on, even though at times, the pain and sadness can bring us to our knees. Guess what? Joy and love can bring us to heights never anticipated, but I’ll get to that soon.
Last year, I was doing a podcast which explored the break-up of my now ex-husband. As those who have listened to the podcast and/or followed my journey in other ways, you know that my ex-husband ended our marriage pretty abruptly. Yes, we “stayed” married for six months after, but I realize now that he was done with the marriage the minute he said the words, “we are done.” I wasn’t sure what my life could be like without him in it. And as a result, I did some very irrational things as I saw my world as I knew it to be, ending.
One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give is PLEASE do not involve your children. It really doesn’t matter if your children are adults when your marriage breaks up. They love both parents and so, they should never be made to feel like they have to choose a relationship with one or the other. Let them figure out a relationship with both parents on their own terms. This does not mean you cannot disclose why the marriage ended, but try to keep it as non-emotional as possible.
I needed to take a break from my podcast. I may return to it someday. Right now, I’m enjoying other endeavors which speak to my creative soul. My future posts will be about what I’m doing now and what has transpired over the past year when I left my podcast.
Thank you for reading and thank you for following my journey.
My brother called me stupid
All the time when I
was a little girl
I now have a bachelor and a master’s degree
My husband said he couldn’t
stand the sound of my voice
at the end of our marriage
I now have a weekly podcast
I refuse to let the limitations
of others define my own
©christal hall 2019
Sometimes change happens, even if you don’t want it. If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I was thrust into a change that I never anticipated, nor wanted. And I’m still working on what the change means for me and for what kind of life I want for the remaining days (and years, I hope) I have on this planet.
Other change is what we want to see happen because we aren’t particularly satisfied with something. Right now, that’s the kind of change I’m seeking and I’m working on motivation. I do not like feeling fat. I do not like feeling lethargic. I get trapped though and part of it is because I have this constant voice in my head to NOT DO THE THING I want to do.
This is the voice of self doubt and worry of what other people think. I hate fucking hate it.
This is the voice that keeps me inside of my apartment instead going out and exploring. Living the life I want instead of the life I’m imagining.
So I’m challenging myself right now. On this blog. Holding myself accountable publicly!
This week I will:
- Take myself out to dinner on a date with myself
- Go jogging three times
- Plan a quick week-end trip to some place I’ve not been before.
I’ve thought a lot about forgiveness over this past year and a half. I am not there yet for more than a few people in my life. And I don’t think I will ever be there for my brother. What he has done is not forgivable. As I work through my shit, I realize more and more the connections from my childhood to me as an adult. My brother was a shit brother and he is a shit human being.
I’ve spent a whole lifetime working on getting rid of his voice in my head. The one that constantly ridiculed me as a girl. Who never stood up for me and in fact, made sure that every day I knew how much he despised me.
Think of this. You are a young adolescent girl. Kind of awkward and unsure as your body is changing, getting pimples, budding breasts that bring attention you don’t necessarily want. You enter your brother’s room to tell him something from your mom. His friends are in there with him and he starts with the usual, “hey ugly, get out of my room.” Ugly was a noun my brother used to describe me daily. That with fat and stupid.
Here is the other secret.
My brother started sexually abusing me when I was about 7 years old. This went on for about 7 years. The only time my brother was nice to me was when he wanted sex from me. Then I would hear nice things from him. I was no longer ugly. I was no longer fat. I was no longer stupid.
If you know about trauma bonding, know that it happens when someone is cruel to you and then shows you love. You live for the moments of love.
I knew two things might happen when my parents would leave me to babysit my younger siblings. Either my brother would be nice to me so that he could do sexual things to me OR my brother would torment me. There was never any in-between.
One time when my parents left, my brother got very angry with me. I don’t remember exactly what for because the reasons never justified his behavior. His anger turned to aggression. My brother grabbed be by the hair and dragged me over to the stove-top. The burner was turned on. He forced my face inches from the burner.
I think that night the police were called because the neighbors could hear the yelling and screaming. I was too scared to tell the police what really happened. My parents were furious. I was too scared to tell them what really happened.
Another time my brother choked me to the point of blacking out.
I really never knew what he was going to do to me the moment my parents left the house. As I said to my therapist, my home, the place where you should feel safe, never felt safe when my brother was around.
So no, I can’t forgive him. I want no part of him. There are others that he has victimized. Theirs are not my story to share. However, I know that I wish I would have done more. I wish I would have stood up sooner.
I don’t forgive
in order to bring
I forgive as
an act of defiance in
the face of your
I forgive as I
refuse to let any
part of you hold
christal hall ©April 2019
Something that I have done a lot of over the year and half since the ex dropped the bomb is listen to podcasts. There are a lot available out there to listen to and cover everything from politics, true crime to self help. Prior to the bomb drop, I was partial to true crime podcasts, like Serial and Undisclosed. Then during the tumultuous months of trying to work things out with the ex, I found myself listening to Rabbit, which was fantasy type story. It kept my attention diverted to something that was both riveting and mysterious.
In the past few months as I work on determining what I want (besides a solid relationship which seems to be as elusive as a unicorn at this point), I’ve turned to the category of self-help. The one podcast that I enjoy the most is by Cathy Heller who is the host of “Don’t Keep Your Day Job,” which is all about finding the thing your passionate about and working on trying to make it your hustle.
The one piece of advice I’ve heard over and over again is that you don’t have to be an expert and that your experience will matter to someone. I’ve taken this to heart and mulled it over. In my current (paid) job that I have, I help people every day. It is what I’ve always been drawn to do. I get great satisfaction knowing that I can help someone through a difficult situation with their work.
I never thought it would be possible to help others as they navigate this journey of being in a loving, committed marriage to feeling like your universe has been completely turned upside down by the one person you trusted the most – having your husband decide that they are done with the marriage.
So here I am – hosting a podcast called Overcomers: Living a Full-Life After. It is scary, exciting and exhilarating to be putting this out in the universe. Talking to women and helping them through their struggles. It’s something I wish I had when I sat by myself alone more nights than I care to count wondering when my husband would come home.
My podcast is currently on Stitcher and Google Play – links to both are on the left. You can also find me on Podbean at Overcomer: Living a Full Life After.
I belong to a few divorce groups, some are women only and others are a combination of men and women. When I first started on this divorce journey, I mostly sought out groups that were about healing and recovery. There are some groups that are great at this, while others are nothing but bitch/slam fests when it comes to the exes. I think all of this is good in the recovery process as long as it moves you forward.
There have been a couple of posts where I’m left shaking my head and really want to tell the poster that they need to get serious psychological help. Or at least acknowledge that they need help in order to move forward. I know what it feels like to be sad, angry, resentful, and all the other emotions that come from divorce – especially when it’s not something you want.
One group I belong to is specifically for women whose spouses cheated on them. One of the women in the group decided that she would post the name and phone number of the other woman (OW). She asked others in the group to text the OW, or more specifically, “go after the bitch.” And, of course, there were plenty of angry women in the group who were willing to oblige. I’ve been there where this woman was and am not proud of the barrage of texts I sent to the OW who was cheating with the ex. It wasn’t one of my better moments. It has never occurred to me though to ask other people to do this as well.
When we act out like this, we lose our dignity. We give power to the other person. I think we also feed into the dichotomy that the exes have told about us and it justifies their bad behavior to the affair partner as well. In this process of healing, I wish I would not have ever sent the texts that I sent. I cannot change the past, but I can do better now. Despite my worst moments over the past few months, I have not contacted the OW again. I don’t want to give her any more of my energy.
In another group I belong to, another woman had an affair while married. She is struggling with that decision and generally wanted to know how other women who had done the same thing managed with the guilt they were feeling. I applaud her for being vulnerable and posting her story. Another woman in the group though actually tried to justify her bad behavior by stating “that if your needs are being met at home, then you have no reason to cheat.”
Um, fuck no.
This was the same bullshit line that the ex used on me to justify his bad behavior. First, there is this little thing called “communication,” which is essential in any healthy relationship. If you don’t feel like your needs are being met by your spouse, then you need to talk about it. The ex told me he had been unhappy for years after he dropped the bomb on me. He also told me of the things he was unhappy about me, which I then spent a good 7 months trying to correct. I can’t help but think that had he had the courage to have this difficult conversation of his dissatisfaction with our marriage or the with me and really given us the opportunity to work on these issues, we might still be together. Even more importantly to me, if we had tried to work on things and it didn’t work, then we could have agreed to end things together and perhaps the pain that’s been created in this aftermath would not have been as great.
Second, happiness does not come from other people. If there is dissatisfaction, then you have to first examine if it’s internal or external dissatisfaction. The infatuation that comes from getting involved with another person while still in a committed relationship, hides the work that needs to be done. Something I have had to learn for myself is that I was not responsible for his happiness. I think that this is something that the ex is learning as well. I have been working really hard to own my shit, to examine how I got here and have never been unwilling to admit the mistakes that I made in my marriage. We are human and mistakes will be made. Having the expectation though that someone else is responsible for meeting your needs, for making you happy, is an excuse to justify for your bad decisions.
You need to own it in order to grow.