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?
I literally found my match on Match – or rather, he found me. After spending about a year and a half on dating websites, I received a message from a man about 14 years older than me. The message alluded to the fact that he was out of my age range of what I had in my preferences, but he was hopeful that I would give him a chance.
I took a look at his profile and what he had written about himself. (For anyone dating and on dating websites, writing a good profile is key to finding someone worthwhile.) The part that stuck out the most for me was that he had been married for 48 years and he was a widower. I wanted to find out more. I sent him a message back and after texting each other a few times, we agreed to meet about two days later. He earned even more points when he agreed to drive out to meet me, rather than me having to drive to meet him. I don’t expect men to do all the work when pursuing a woman, but admittedly, these small gestures add up!
We agreed to meet at a local bookstore/coffee shop that was close to my place. It was on a Friday afternoon. Another dating tip that I learned was to set a time limit on the first date and have plans lined up so you can end it. This works for two purposes: 1) if it’s a bad date, you can leave and 2.) if it’s a good date, he/she won’t mind and will most likely want to see you again. Also, if they get upset that you have plans, it serves another purpose, you know early on that this is a person you may not want to spend more time with (because we all know that we put on our best fronts when we first meet someone).
He arrived first and was sitting near the back at a table. I walked in and my first thought was he looked better in person than his pictures. He has really beautiful blue eyes and salt’n pepper hair. I walked to where he was sitting, introduced myself and sat down. We talked for a straight two hours. Time flew by, but in those two hours, I learned so much about him and I knew that I wanted to see where this would go. I had plans to meet a girlfriend afterwards, so I ended the date. He was very gracious and he walked me outside.
About fifteen to twenty minutes later, I received a text from him. He said in the text that he wasn’t sure about the proper protocols and that he was hoping he wasn’t breaking any of them, but that he wanted to see me again. I was going away the next day for an overnight trip with some other girlfriends, but I told him we could get together again when I returned on Sunday. That Sunday we met again and we have not been apart since then.
I moved in with him about three months later and exactly one year after our first date, he asked me to marry him. We got married on October 16th.
I truly never expected any of this. I am thankful that he took a chance to message me
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.
In the summer of 2019, I was dating and talking to a few men. I actually started dating soon after I asked my ex-husband to leave our home. While dating soon after the end of a long-term marriage/relationship may not be the recommended thing to do, it is what I felt I needed to do to help me move forward. A year and a half into the dating world, I was getting discouraged. I really wanted a relationship where we both wanted to spend time together, go on dates, and just have some companionship. I had met one man fairly soon after I started the online dating apps. We would reconnect off and on, but for whatever reason, he wasn’t really ready to offer what I wanted.
So summer of 2019, I was trying to decide if I wanted to continue to date or just give it a break for a while. Dating can be both encouraging and discouraging. I think the biggest thing I learned about dating is that you have to be open to possibilities, you can’t get your hopes up too soon, and you have to figure out what your personal boundaries are and be okay with the decisions you make. This is your life after all and if you choose to sleep with someone on the first date, just know what the risks are and take the proper precautions to stay safe.
One of the pitfalls I ran into is that I would start connecting with someone and then I would start building future plans in my head with this person. Then when it didn’t work out, either because we met and there was zero connection, or I would get ghosted (which is very painful when you’ve been abandoned and/or betrayed), or for any of the various reasons it didn’t work out, I would spend some time mourning that “loss.” Depending upon how long I was talking to that person, it might be a brief sadness or it might be spending the day in bed crying.
As a 50 something woman, I really had no idea if I would find someone again. We are often told as women that as soon as you hit forty, you are no longer viable to the other sex. We are told that men want younger women because it helps their ego. I ran into some of that in the sense that the options available to me of men within my age range was somewhat limited. Then you run the other end of the spectrum with really young guys being into the whole “MILF” and/or “GILF” fantasy. I went on a few dates with men much younger than me just to have the adventure and (probably) to boost my tattered ego. None of these younger men though were what I would want in a long-term relationship.
That’s why it is so very important to look at dating as a way to find out what you want and don’t want, have fun and not take yourself and the men you date too seriously. It really is a numbers game. The more people you date and the more you expand your scope in dating, the more likely you will end up finding someone you really connect with. You can still be picky and stick with what you want in a partner, but you also can’t be so picky that you end up not dating at all. Dating helped me determine what I both wanted and didn’t want in my next relationship. I became more willing to let someone go if I didn’t see it working and not worry about bruising their male ego. I always tried to be honest with my intention and tried to never lead anyone one if I didn’t think it would work for me.
Even though I was having fun and not trying to take things too seriously, I was ready for a break.
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.
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.
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.
Divorce sucks. It just does. It sucks whether you want it or not. It is the realization that a promise that you made with the best of intentions is now broken. The future you envisioned is changed. And if you take this journey seriously, you will be changed as well. It will be a painful process, but I firmly believe that if you let yourself feel what you feel, express what you need to express, and work through what needs to be worked through, you will be a better, stronger person. Your life will be one of contentment and with very little regrets for living your life on your terms.
One of the criticisms I often hear is that someone leaving a relationship should not start dating right away. I do think that getting into another relationship right away may be a form of escapism which has the potential of hurting an unwitting partner. I chose to join an online dating website about a month after I asked my ex to leave our home. Getting out there helped me to see that there were others who wanted to be with me, so in a way it was a boost to my confidence. My intent was not to have a relationship with one person, but to figure out what I would want in a future relationship. This could only happen through dating a variety of men.
While dating, I am also working on myself. The damage done during the end of my marriage brought up a lot of trauma that I had managed to bury for many years. This trauma is part of what allowed me to stay for months instead of walking away when the emotional abuse started. If I experience discomfort during dating, I find myself questioning where the discomfort comes from. Every decision I make is mine to be made. Yet there are times afterwards that I find myself questioning how I got into a particular situation.
For instance, I started communicating with one man who I will call Tom. He was a successful businessman who owned his own home, had two older children, and wasn’t looking for anything serious. We started texting each other and things moved to more sexual in nature. I don’t mind sexual talk in texting and think that it is fine between two consenting adults. We decided to meet up. We had a drink, talked and then we had sex. I consented. I wanted the sex as much as he did. Yet, after I left, I found myself crying, angry and sad that I was in this position.
What position is this exactly? I felt ashamed for having sex with a man I had just met. In the moment, I felt no shame. In the moment, I felt sexy and powerful. After the fact though, I felt ashamed. This made no sense to me because I knew going over there that we were having sex, so again, it was a decision I made for myself with full knowledge of what would happen.
I am a survivor of sexual abuse. When you are sexually abused, there is secrecy and shame that comes with it. You are told not to tell and you are made to feel ashamed about sexuality. As a young child, I remember feeling proud of my body. I remember stretching in the morning and just feeling glorious wonderment when I would look at my body. That joy of my body was taken away by my abusers. I let that transfer into my relationship with my ex which impacted our relationship over time. I let that impact my feelings about sex and thus let my abusers have control over my sexuality decades later.
The year since I asked my ex to leave has been a year of growth, self-reflection and self-love. I have learned by dating what I want for my future. I have also learned that I enjoy sex. That I can be sexual on my terms. Dating has helped me, despite claims that people should not do this right after a break-up, for me it was the right thing to do. I own my sexuality and will not let my past define my relationship with it any longer.
A couple of men I have dated and who I felt there was a connection to seemed to want to be “exclusive” right away. According to Urban Dictionary, the definition for exclusiveness in a dating relationship means the following: The state of being with one person, and only one person, without labeling yourselves as boyfriend and girlfriend. I will admit at the age of 52, I’m not fond of the terms boyfriend/girlfriend. I’m also not fond of dating a whole lot people at once because it creates too much drama for me. I have enough trouble keeping track of my own shit without trying to keep track of a slew of other people as well.
So for both men, we talked about exclusiveness. For me, I was adamant that it would mean we agree to disable our dating profiles, which I complied with right away. It also meant not dating other people as we got to know each other. For them, it appears that exclusiveness was one sided only. Both men were adamant about me not seeing other people, but oddly when I checked their online profiles – not only were they active, but they were also online. (Hint to online daters – I’ve tried several online dating websites and all of them show when the other person is online in some way – even if you block the other person!) This is the thing – both of these men ask me to be exclusive with them. I did not bring it up with either person and would have been fine just dating them. In my opinion, if you are still using a dating website, then you are still looking for dates. Called me old-fashioned, but you can’t be exclusive with someone if you looking to engage with other people.
This dating experience has taught me to be firm in my boundaries. Chump Lady has also helped me to see that some people expect us to be chumps in the name of love or strong like and to be excited about the kibbles some provide to us. I want more than kibbles, dammit. And as I’ve told my therapist, I’m worth getting to know and exclusiveness has to be mutually agreed up with both parties abiding by the agreement. And if you get caught, own up to your shit and move on. When you are in your 40s, 50s and beyond, we should be beyond the game playing – yet, some seem to get satisfaction out of doing just that.
My deal breakers right now are dishonesty and not being trustworthy. I have no problem ending a relationship if I feel like you have violated either one. Yet, these men seem to get all butt-hurt when called out on their dishonesty. They also seem to want their cake and eat it too. I put up with that particular bullshit from the ex because I had invested 3 decades with him and we have children and grandchildren. I’m sure as hell not going to put up with it from someone I’ve only known a couple of weeks or months (yes to the latter – I put up with it from someone for longer than I should have because – well, I just did).