Women’s March in DC

Well I didn’t die yesterday. No crazy bombers blew up the Women’s March. In fact, it was an amazing, positive, inspiring experience that I’m grateful to have been a part of. It reminded me that I am part of something much bigger. I am not alone.

People from all walks came together to show solidarity and support one another. Organizers expected 200,000 people, and instead over a million people showed up in DC. And they didn’t just march in DC, but around the world. Everyone was friendly, smiling, cheering. People said “excuse me” when they bumped into each other. Every now and then you’d hear a few people chanting nonsensical chants, such as, “Let’s start the march now,” at the beginning after we’d waited for an hour to start marching. Turns out it was too big for anyone to move for some time, and we ended up going everywhere, off route, because there were just too many people. Towards the end, everyone was walking in different directions, and it didn’t even matter because we were there to show support for each other.

Some of the signs were funny. One sign read, “Don’t turn back time. Let Cher do that.” Another sign read, “There’s too much shit to put on one sign.” Quite a few signs read, “We shall overcomb,” with a picture of Trump’s combover. Oh, and one more: “Melania, if you need help, blink twice.”

I saw a few police and military people, but they were not unfriendly, and one police officer had classical music playing from his van. People were climbing on towers, trucks, bleachers, and no one minded. People were standing on the balconies of buildings, holding signs, wearing pink “pussyhats,” pink t-shirts, scarves. It was a sea of pink.

My mother would’ve LOVED it. I like to think she was there in spirit, shaking her fist in the air in the feisty way that characterizes her personality.

Most of my pictures from the march didn’t turn out so well, so instead I’ll link to this New York Times article with pictures from around the world.

Peace and love,

TCH

Love

This may sound crazy, but I feel I should make this public somewhere, and Facebook isn’t where I’d want to post this. First of all, I don’t think anything will happen. And I do not have a suicide wish. But if something terrible happens today, ie, if a crazy person bombs the march, and I die, please know that I died with hope and love in my heart. I love you all.

Finding Joy

Miracles are starting to happen. I can feel it.

Yesterday I woke up feeling sad, but I did what I needed to do, as time dragged by. I had the day off, so I did some writing, went to Zumba, talked to two friends, did homework, laundry, and then I went to class last night.

The class is called Foundations of Health and Wellness, and the school recommends that we take it our first or second semester, which I didn’t do because I wanted to focus on the hard classes without the distraction of busy work from fluff classes. I’d thought of it as a fluff class, designed to make us feel better, because eventually we’d be taking chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, etc. As students, we stress out about how much of this we’ll need to remember for our clients, and we question how much we can retain—even those of us without a science background.

The professor, who I’ll call Joy, was like a ray of sunshine on a stormy day. She’s just cute. She wore this cute little hat wrapped around her head, with white hair peeking out the front. An unrecognizable accent, half Australian citizenship, half American. She wore a beaded necklace of turquoise with a crystal in the center, and peapod-looking things for earrings. She just laughed at everything. And she was funny. I would write more but I live in the DC area, and I’m going to the Women’s March today. Joy’s going to the march too.

The focus of this class is self-care. How to do it for yourself, and how to offer it as a tool for your clients. She talked about the importance of attitude, and what a difference just a smile can make in someone else’s life. She talked about the contagiousness of laughter, and showed us the video at the end of this blog post. It was true. Her cheerful attitude was infectious. I thought to myself, I want what she has.

Self-care places importance on finding balance in life, and making equal time for sleep, fun, socializing, relationships, exercise, and spirituality, in addition to work. She showed us a pie chart of all the different aspects of life, and said that we need to make equal time for each slice. One student asked what I was thinking, which was how we could make equal time for each of these. And fun? What is that? She’d said most of us make too much time on one of the pie pieces, and I couldn’t help but think of how my whole pie consisted of my relationship.

When I got home I spoke to my friend who I’ll call Molly on the phone about our plans for the march. Her voice was crestfallen, devoid of the excitement I felt at participating in such a historic event that signifies, for me, hope and change. Four years ago, and the four years before that, I could’ve gone to the Obama inauguration but I didn’t, because I didn’t feel as passionate then. I felt like the world was a safe place and the good things we deserved were happening and there was no need to take action. Someone else was taking care of it; I didn’t have to do anything. Now life is different. If you want positive change in your life, you’ve got to make it happen. Be the change you wish to see. And pain inspires change. Not living a comfortable, easy life. I’ve had to hit rock bottom before I tried a different way.

The negativity of my friend’s attitude I took personally. Now she’s in a bad mood, I’m not going to have a good time today, I don’t want to deal with this. The other friend who I’m meeting today posted on Facebook that she guessed she’d be going alone to the march because all her friends and family had backed out. What’s up with the pity party? We had plans to meet there. What is she talking about? Is it just me, the friends I choose, or a combination of the two? Molly’s attitude reminded me of my ex-boyfriend. Everything seems exciting and fun, and then out of the blue it’s a catastrophe. I absorb it like a sponge. Where are all the shiny, happy people? Do I change friends, or do I change my attitude? Or both?

Regardless of who the President is, today will be a day of hope and gratitude. I’ll tell you what Joy told us last night: you have to laugh at life. If you don’t laugh, well then, you know what your other option is. I will find peace and joy from the pain. You can, too.

Finding Gratitude Through Hardship

We finally reached an agreement about breaking up, which is to separate for three months and focus on our own lives in the meantime. It was his idea, and at first I disagreed, thinking that one works on one’s relationship issues while IN relationship, not off an island by themselves. I came close to telling him to forget it, I’m not doing a three-month separation, he can take his self-care and focus on it all he wants for the rest of his life for all I care, and good luck finding someone who’d treat him as well as I have… but these are words I don’t speak. I wanted the strength to put closure on this, and I don’t know if it was my pride, weakness, or an inability to let go completely, because I just could not do that.

Then I found this blog and realized this may not be a bad idea at all. As the writer points out, a separation would give us each time alone to sort out our thoughts and feelings.

What I think may happen for me is that I will no longer want to be with him at the end of that three months. A part of me hopes for this because I suspect it will make the experience less painful, easier, and I’ll feel more empowered. What I really want is for him to change, or at least makes an ongoing effort to change, and commit to the relationship, and not overreact so much to the things I say. Do I believe that will happen? Doubtful. What I’ve been trying to do is learn to accept him as he is: someone who has mood swings that affect how he treats me. He gets upset and refuses to talk to me—refuses to listen to me–and that right there I find incredibly painful. Having grown up in a family as the lost child, the forgotten one, I find it unbearable to be ignored. One thing’s for sure. If this relationship does not work out, Rule Number One for my next relationship: I will not allow myself to be ignored.

I suppose that should be a new guideline if our relationship works out, for it to work. But then, what if he can’t help it? If I were to accept that part of him, would that be growth for me, or would it be allowing someone else to treat me badly?

Here’s what I want. Let’s say he can’t help but have an episode of darkness in which he needs a couple of days alone. Then he can say, “I love you, and I still want to be with you, but I’m having an episode right now, and I don’t feel like myself. I need a couple of days alone.”

That seems so easy to me! Instead, what happens is that I say the wrong thing at the wrong time, ie, I express a negative feeling that’s unacceptable to him, and he says forget it, this is over, you don’t understand me. It’s like I gave birth to a teenager.

What if I gained a sense of empowerment, used my voice, and he allowed me to speak, and we stayed together in the relationship? That’s just crazy talk right there. But who knows? Crazier things have happened. We will both have to change for this relationship to work.

Enough projecting about an unknown future. In the meantime my focus lies on taking everything one day at a time.

In The Language of Letting Go, Melody Beattie writes:

“One simple concept can get us through the most stressful of times. It’s called gratitude. We learn to say thank you for these problems and feelings. Thank you for the way things are. I don’t like this experience, but thank you anyway.

Force gratitude until it becomes habitual. Gratitude helps us stop trying to control outcomes. It is the key that unlocks positive energy in our life. It is the alchemy that turns problems into blessings, and the unexpected into gifts.”

It’s an eye-opener for me, to take a grateful attitude for the hardships in my life. To know that this difficulty can become a blessing, a gift, something that one day I can look back on and feel grateful to have experienced—that I can be grateful for this today–because it’s allowing me grow into the woman I want to become. Good things are already emerging from this. For one, I’m spending more time on my friendships. And I’ll have more time for school. At work, I’ve kept a positive attitude and stayed busy. I made a decision to have a can-do attitude about both work and school. Maybe I’ll take an extra class next semester and try to get through school faster. Maybe at some point I will become a manager at work while continuing my education. I can do whatever the hell I want, and I have no one else to consider. Freedom.

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This is an affirmation from Louise Hay that I’ve used for my daily mantra the past few days. My life gets better all the time. Good is coming from this. If I forget what the words are to whatever affirmation I pick for the day, I just improvise: I’m a good person, God loves me, I deserve the good things that are coming my way, I’m learning valuable lessons, I’m strong, I have a good life. And I do. I have a lot to be grateful for.

Lately I’ve been listening to the “Happy Folk” station on Spotify. While I can’t say it completely lifts my mood, it saves me from losing my mind. I like to think on some subliminal or subconscious level it’s helping to create new grooves of positivity in my brain. The lyrics offer hope in a world of darkness. If the songwriters can pull through their hardships and create an inspiring song for others, I can get through this.

While I still feel heartbroken, and it’s hard sometimes to offer someone a genuine smile, like the kind that comes from the eyes, I just keep repeating these mantras and focusing on the positive. It doesn’t mean I’m covering up my feelings of sadness, but I don’t want to wallow in self-pity or allow myself to stay in those dark, hopeless places for too long.

And I want to remember this time. Someday when I’m bored with the routine and mundane acts of everyday life, I want to remember how piercing and grinding this pain feels, so that I can appreciate not being there. I want to appreciate this time now too, for the good things it will bring, for the good things it’s already brought to me. One day at a time.

I like this song because it reflects how we can’t rely on other human beings to rescue us. Only faith in love—God—can save me, because God is love.

Keep On Keepin’ On

I used to think I had to go off by myself and get my shit together before I could get into a relationship. People told me I could do that while in a relationship but I didn’t believe them. Then I finally learned, through my relationship with my ex-boyfriend, that growth happens through relationships. Growth does not happen when I go off on an island by myself. All that happens there is solitude, which can be peaceful at times and lonely at others, but if I’m completely alone with no relationships then there’s nothing to work on. Then I can just do what I want, and who cares? If I want to grow, I must have relationships, and with relationships inevitably come hardships. It’s through those hardships that we have a real opportunity to grow.

When it comes to romantic relationships, the honeymoon period doesn’t last forever. Hopefully something deeper develops in its place. I know that only from observation; usually I leave soon after the honeymoon period is over. I’d hoped that in this past relationship that wouldn’t happen, but he made the decision for us and there’s nothing I can do about it. He’s still uncertain about whether or not he wants to get back together, and his indecisiveness and uncertainty is absolutely maddening for me. With each day that passes without an answer from him, the stronger my loss of faith grows. I just want an answer!

But that’s not really true. I don’t want us to break up. What I want is for him to come back to me, to say he knows this is the right decision, to say he wants to stay together and work through this. This experience has been incredibly humbling. The feeling of rejection kills my pride. How many times have I rejected others without so much as a teardrop in my eye? Sure, I felt guilty, but guilt is nothing compared to the pain of rejection, of feeling so unloved, unaccepted, unworthy, not good enough. It makes me want to find another man, and let him see that plenty of others out there want me, and he missed out because he couldn’t commit, and doesn’t he feel sorry now? But I know I won’t do that, because I don’t want to, and it would delay my healing process. If he doesn’t want to get back together, I need to spend this time as a single woman, working on my friendships and my career. I could have worked on my friendships and career while in a relationship with him, and he can do the same for himself, but that’s beside the point. I don’t get a choice in the matter. You can’t make someone else love you. He says he loves me, but it sure doesn’t feel that way to me. If he loved me he wouldn’t abandon me four months after my mom, who I loved more than anyone in the world, died suddenly of a stroke, and now there is not a single living soul on this earth who will ever love me as much as she did.

My ex-boyfriend says he feels he needs this time alone to focus on his own mental health, which he’d neglected throughout our relationship. I’m thinking, What about MY mental health? What about what you’re doing to me right now, right after Mom died? How would YOU feel if one of your kids died, and I broke up with you four months afterwards?

Instead I wrote some of what I’ve written in these paragraphs in an email to him, about how I too used to think I had to be alone to get my shit together, and his reply? That it’s a beautifully written email. Maybe if you read my blog and had an interest in who I am as a person you’d already know that, I wanted to scream at him. But then, that’s not entirely true either. I know he’s interested in me—or was—and it’s not like I read his boring textbooks—though I will say I read many parts of them! I did!

What I’d forgotten was that I did the same thing to my first husband. He had a troubled relationship with his dad, who died suddenly, and then a short time later was Father’s Day, and it was either on that day or soon after that he discovered I had cheated on him. I had fallen for another man and had no interest in trying to work it out with the first husband. Then I married the second guy, and eventually left him. Now he’s getting married to someone else. Two men I’d briefly dated after him are also engaged to be married, and I’m thinking, How did they have time to fall in love and make a commitment? Forgetting I did exactly that myself.

Feeling like I got what I deserved does not serve me. The reality is that people hurt each other even when they don’t want to, and we have to learn to forgive each other if we want to move on.

Love is more than a feeling–it’s an action. It’s a choice. Infatuation doesn’t last forever. Eventually life becomes routine, boring sometimes. When someone realizes their relationship isn’t working out, they don’t get to pick the right timing for that. Sure, we can stay with someone out of a sense of obligation, but if our heart isn’t in it, then it’s not being true to ourselves or to the other person.

I believe that people are meant to have partners. I personally do not want to go through life alone. I would like someone by my side as I grow older. Of course there are no guarantees, and even if I got married tomorrow I know it wouldn’t mean I’d be with that person forever. I would love to find a man who wants to be in a relationship, willing to work together through the hard times. The constant doubt and insecurity that it won’t work out becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and I can’t take it anymore, in any aspect of my life—not just with relationships. You pick something and you do it.

I know someone who prefers to be single. She lives alone, she doesn’t talk to the few friends she has very often, and she hates her job. Maybe that’s her preference, and it’s great for her because she never has to deal with anyone else’s shit, ever. But it’s also a very lonely life. She’d tell you she’s fine, but it’s clear to me that she’s depressed. Ironically she tells me she can see that I am depressed, that maybe I’ve been depressed all my life, which may be true, but felt like judgment. She told me of how she’d created a sign as a child that read, “Keep on keepin’ on!” It felt to me like she was bragging about her own innate resilience over mine. And though I know my feelings are more about me than her, it doesn’t make my feelings less valid. And her lifestyle is her choice. I don’t have to live that life. I have a lot going for me. I am smart, strong, and capable—not that she doesn’t have these things too, but I often forget these things about myself, and there are lots of other people who don’t have that. So I will continue to try to find gratitude in my life and I’ll do everything I can to improve my life, no matter how dark it gets at times. And it’s pretty fucking dark right now.

Night before last I had a dream in which I found the perfect dress and then before I could buy it, before I could even try it on, it was lost. I couldn’t find it anywhere. It was that feeling of complete and utter loss of something you didn’t even have yet, a glimmer of hope you’d clung to, dashed, how you’d thought, this is it, and then poof! Vanished. Gone.

Then last night I dreamt I found a bunch of jewelry, mostly rings and wedding bands, none of which belonged to me, and then realizing my own earrings were in this pile of jewelry. I was standing in muck, about to wash a pile of dirty dishes, my new shoes filthy from the grime, and then thinking, Maybe the dirt will come out in the wash. Maybe it will be okay. Maybe I’m standing in muck right now, but I’ll be cleansed from all these feelings of anger, hurt, frustration, and resentment eventually. I’ll be okay. A glimmer of hope. Keep on keepin’ on.

Forgiveness and Self-Love

When you’ve done something you know was wrong or hurtful, and you regret it and wish you could go back in time and undo it, and all you can think of is how you destroyed something beautiful, it’s helpful to remember that you are a child of God, and everything you do is forgivable in the eyes of God, or a higher power, whatever you want to call it. God is love. When love is present, there’s no room for blame, shame, and fear. Everyone makes mistakes. That’s what makes us human. We can grow and learn from our mistakes. You can learn to forgive yourself, even if the other person can’t do it. You can learn to forgive the other person for not forgiving you.

Every morning I get up and make myself a cup of coffee, and I start writing. I tell myself one of these days I’m going to spill that coffee, and I should be careful, and then I try not to think about it because I know it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more I try not to think about it, the more I’m still thinking about it. Today I finally spilled the coffee. And the world did not end. I spilled it all over this cube I keep at the end of my bed, and I cleaned it as best as I could, and thought, if I have to buy a new one, it will be okay.

With my ex-boyfriend it was the same thing. I had this feeling that one day I would say the wrong thing, something irreparable that I could never recover from. I had this feeling that I could not speak until the time was right, and the time never seemed to be right anymore. It doesn’t stop me from wishing I hadn’t said this particular thing, especially when I know that his interpretation of my words is much worse than my true feelings or intentions. But he just cannot trust me. He couldn’t really trust me before this, when he was having an episode; he’d told me he can’t trust anyone but his kids during those times.

Right now I have an opportunity, and that is to learn a new way of thinking. I can learn a new way of thinking if I want to get through this and come out stronger. I can talk to myself as if I’m my own best friend, or sister, or child. I can tell myself that I love myself no matter what, that I know I am a good person no matter how flawed, that those flaws are what make me human and lovable. I am lovable. I have a lot going for me. I am smart, capable, and strong. I’m resilient. I have loved, and I am loving. I have tried incredibly hard to do the right thing in all my affairs. I’ve done the best I knew to do at the time throughout my entire life. I’ve been through some hard times and I’ve gotten through them, and I can do that again. Life has taken me down a winding and rocky road, and that’s what makes me interesting.

Yesterday my mind wanted to take me down a dark path, that feeling of not wanting to be on this earth anymore, of wishing I could be as lucky as my mom and have a stroke and die instantly, because I don’t have the courage to pull the trigger on myself. It seemed as though life will never get better, that I’ll forever find myself back in this same place again of not knowing who I am or what I want to do with my life. Everything had seemed to be going so well. I thought I had it all figured out. I felt like I was finally okay, that life was finally good, and then boom! Mom died. I felt so devastated I didn’t think I could feel any deeper pain, but it was also beautiful because I knew it meant my love for her was stronger than anything, and I knew she loved me. Then I just lost all interest in school. Now my ex-boyfriend is indecisive about whether or not he’ll take me back after I said something unforgivable in his eyes, and the heartbreak is almost unbearable. I feel unloved and rejected, like a horrible person who can’t do anything right.

I have not felt suicidal since I was drinking, and I hope never to feel this way again. I started taking medication a few weeks ago and I do feel that it’s helping, but it takes time to work. If I want to climb out of this pit I need to do everything I can to get out of it. Of course I don’t want to die. Life has so much more in store for me. Pain is the touchstone of spiritual growth. This is the biggest opportunity for growth I’ve ever had, and I can and will get through this. God does not give us more than we can handle. There’s a reason for everything. And all those other cliches. One day I’ll look back and this and say that this was the one of lowest times of my life, and the pain was enormous, but I became a better and stronger person because of it. I can feel angry at him but I don’t have to blame him, and I can feel sad but I don’t have to be a victim. I’ll be okay whether we get back together or not. I will grow stronger either way. Hard times will come either way, and I can overcome them regardless.

One good thing about this is that I can relate to other people better as the result of this experience. In the past I chose men who were easy to dominate, control, and manipulate, men who’d stay with me no matter what, and I felt safe because I didn’t have the fear of rejection. At the same time, I didn’t have an intense love for them, and quickly grew bored. I longed for the kind of love I have now, except now I’m realizing that I developed an unhealthy dependence on this man. How many women have I known who were heartbroken and went on and on about the love they lost and the struggles they had in their relationships, and how many times did I feel I could not relate?

My friends have shown up for me in ways I have not shown up for them, and that has been a real lesson for me. I can take a few minutes out of my day and be there for them, instead of looking at the clock when I get an inconvenient phone call or an interruption from work.

My boss/friend sat down with me for what seemed like an hour last week and let me cry, and told me I am a good person, that she can see me become a manager there, that I’m a good worker. She said that the manager at the other location may be moving, which could put her in that other store, and me as the manager at our location. This scares me. I don’t feel like I’m manager material, and don’t want the responsibility or the hours. Not that the hours really matter unless I’m in a relationship, which feels very much like it won’t be happening now or any time soon. On the other hand, becoming a nutritionist terrifies me because that would mean even more responsibility, and I don’t feel capable. The problem is I have no idea what the future looks like, and I’m terrified that I won’t be good at it.

Another good thing is that school will keep me busy. Pathophysiology is incredibly hard and we have tons of assignments due, so I’ll have no problem staying busy when I’m not at work. Maybe I’ll take more classes next semester to stay even busier, and then I’ll get out of school faster. Because the thing is, if I can learn a trade and do it, I’ll be financially independent, and I can buy my own place, a townhouse or tiny house or whatever, and I can support myself in my own space without living in a house with five other people. I am capable.

I can do this, and I might spill the coffee again, and maybe it will even get on my cell phone or laptop next time. But I will survive, and there will be no apocalypse. I can do this, one day at a time.

 

Waiting

No matter the outcome of this particular phase of my life, I must know that good will come of it. If I rely on my higher power and trust that good will come, I can find serenity and strength. Life may not turn out the way I think I want it to right now, and if so, later it will become clear to me that better things were in store for me.

These are the words I tell myself as I wait for my ex-boyfriend to decide if he wants to get back together or not. If he cannot get over his anger and hurt, and he can’t forgive me, then maybe it’s just not meant to be. I don’t want to be with someone who can’t forgive me. It’s a terrible feeling to feel so unforgiven. To feel that you fucked up beyond repair, that you destroyed something really beautiful, to feel that no matter how hard you tried, you could not be perfect. All I can do is surrender. I cannot be perfect. I will make mistakes. I will hurt people, and they will hurt me. We’re human, and that’s what we do sometimes, even when we don’t mean to.

If we get back together, it won’t be the same. When the honeymoon period is over, hopefully something deeper will develop, and in this case, that’s a big question mark. I told him I want someone who can tell me that they’re willing to work with me on this relationship just for today, and he replied that wasn’t too much to ask, not realizing that’s exactly what he’s not doing right now.

If he decides he wants to get back together, is this what I want?

Yes. Do I think that means it will work out forever? No. There are no guarantees, and I have no idea what our relationship will look like if we get back together.

I can’t help but remember how I’d cheated on my first husband, and he forgave me, and still wanted to get back together. Couples do that sometimes after infidelity, and in this case, I did not cheat, yet this man struggles to trust and forgive me. I had to explain to him for an hour and a half that he’d misunderstood something I’d said, and afterwards he felt better, but I did not.

Whatever happens, I can and will heal. If we don’t get back together, maybe it’s for the best. As much as I want this relationship to work out, it’s not really up to me to decide. As much as it feels like it’s my fault, that I ruined it, I have to know that I did not singlehandedly ruin this relationship, that if he cannot forgive me for something that isn’t even true, then it wasn’t meant to be. I can and will grow stronger from this.

I just want time to hurry and pass, because this is so incredibly painful I want to take some extreme action, like leave the country.

Maybe it’s for the best if he can’t forgive me. He’s losing out because he’s unwilling to do the work it takes to be in a healthy, loving relationship. If he decides to stay, maybe it will bring us closer, and maybe our love will grow deeper and stronger. If not, maybe something else amazing will happen, and I will simply become stronger. I’ll become stronger either way.