“Expectations are resentments under construction”

Today is my 18th wedding anniversary.

23 years together, 4 apartments, 5 houses, foster kids, Johnny, hardships, losses, joys and love.

After all this time together I think I figured out the secret to a lasting marriage… not giving up, at least not at the same time.

Kevin and I have dealt with a lot of issues in our years together, hard issues like alcoholism, medical hardships, taking care of ill family, ill children, financial bankruptcy, and separation and near divorce. We were foster parents for 14years. I am pretty sure the kids are the only reason we stayed together, whether we were happy or not.

Early on expectations of each other is what catapulted us into arguments. Eventually, we never argued. I know now not arguing is a very bad thing for a marriage. It means you may be ignoring the issues that are causing you resentments and anger.

Kevin and I separated for 2 years. 1 of those years we lived in the same house the other year he bought a condo a few blocks away. We raised the kids together better than ever when we were separated. Kevin was always available to help out at the house, more than ever. It gave me some time to myself which I learned scared the shit out of me. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was always taking care of someone else.

During those two years I learned how to care for me. I was forced into it by the separation. I learned that men are not our knights in shining armor and will not save us from ourselves. I learned how to make friends with woman, all types of woman! I learned how to live sober alone, happy alone. I lived my life constantly challenging myself to try things I never did. I traveled to Ireland solo for the first time to see my dying mother. Normally, I would convince my bother to go with me. However, I did call or text my brother constantly asking for positive affirmations and guidance. I started a Non-profit for my son’s school with other moms and raised over $22K the first year. I started my own business negotiating a “divorce settlement” from Kevin because he refused to get a divorce. I took care of my dying father for 9 months with more grace then I give myself credit for. I let go a little (just a little) of Johnny, my growing boy with the trifecta of disabilities (autism, CDH and Epilepsy). Letting go is the hardest thing I have ever done, and I am still working on that.

With everything I did, I didn’t do it alone!  I had a posse of woman or community behind me cheering me on, telling me I am crazy and loads of constructive advice. They empowered me!

At some point, Kevin and I came back together. I attribute that separation to what saved our marriage. It allowed me to grow as a woman, mother and human. It allowed Kevin to watch me grow without him. He had to know I could do this without him. He also needed time to catch up in his growth and spirituality. But, that is his journey to tell.

What I love about marriage in our 18th year seem so silly, but defines who we are and how we love.

  1. Eating!

We went out to dinner for our anniversary. We talked and laughed a lot while eating with full mouths and sometimes even making a mess. As we sat there we watched a couple across from us. They sat so tall and prim. The woman had a napkin on her lap and wiped her mouth after every bite. The guy chewed with his mouth shut and covered his mouth when he laughed. I asked Kevin, “Do you remember when we were shy eating in front of each other?”  He just smiled and said “Not anymore!”  Dinner time is so much chiller and laid back. We don’t overdo the manners and we surly don’t wipe after every bite, anymore.

  1. Dating!

We are raising a family and so damn tired by the end of the night. Just after our afternoon anniversary date at the spa, dinner and a trip to Costco, we were home by 5pm, we crashed at home. At 7pm we both wondered when John will go to bed because we are exhausted. Dating is exhausting at this point. Staying home on the couch and watching a movie isn’t exhausting. My favorite is when Kevin pauses the movie to tell me something about his day. Or when I start talking and he pauses it so he can hear me. That is my kind of date!

  1. BFF

Yes, he is my BFF, my partner in life. I tell him when I am constipated or when I have my period. He tells me about the Port-a-potty issues on the job site. It’s what best friends do, talk about the things that we shouldn’t talk about. We laugh a lot!

  1. Who cares if the dishes get done?

I don’t!!  Neither does Kevin but he does them anyway. I used to harp over who does the dishes and how I hated waking up in the morning to a pile. I never even gave anyone a chance to do them. I just complained while I did them. Eventually, when I started stepping away things got done without me. Imagine that? I step away and stop doing it in my fix/manage/control way and people step up and get it done in their own time. Ahhhh…..

  1. Marriage is NOT 50/50

Sometimes marriage is 80/20. Sometimes it’s 90/10 and sometimes is 100/0. The person who said marriage is 50/50 didn’t have any hardships or loss. When John was born I had to quit my well-paying job to stay home with him. His medical needs were so overwhelming that for me working was not an option. I was his nurse. Kevin was the bread winner now. I took care of 80% of John’s care from advocating, doctors’ appointments, school, nursing care and so on. Kevin took on 100% of the financial burden. We both could have easily been resentful of the other for doing more or less. Resentments just lead to anger and isolation. Today, we work as partners. We have clearer expectations of each other and help more with the household duties. We talk about what we need help with instead of expecting it without asking. Someone told me once, “Don’t let him disappoint you”. Tell him what you want or need instead of waiting for him to fail because he didn’t know or understand.

  1. I’m not his mama

I don’t need to control him. He is a grown man and the decisions he makes in his personal dealings are his to make. I can only offer my opinion and pray he makes the right choice, most cases he does. Which leads me to the next one…

  1. Forgiveness is easier

When I am mad at Kevin I can let my thoughts spiral into a sad sad story of our lives. I script future conversations about divorce. Thankfully, I never speak a word of it! I have trained myself to fall into positive impressions of Kevin. By training myself I mean, I call a friend who loves him and tell them why I am mad. They usually side with me but always justify Kevin’s side. It allows me to take a step back from anger and look at him in a positive light. I talk about how great of a father he is, how he is always fixing things around the house, about that time he built a new garage in 2 days and put up a new fence. I talk about the way he holds John when John is sick. How he gives him a bath every night and I get to hear them laughing. He doesn’t resent us, he loves us and loves spending time with us. We know this through his actions. So that one time a month he pisses me off, is so much easier to forgive. I hope Kevin feels the same about me.

  1. We agree to disagree

I am notorious for stopping in the middle of a conversation we are debating and saying “Ok, you are right.”. And walking away.  Kevin usually laughs at me but I feel like it’s a ‘drop the mic’ moment and I have actually won. This is what I tell myself because in reality I would rather be happy then right. This little tactic has saved us from hours of the silent treatment. Best one ever!

  1. We don’t need gifts

Gifts were great in the beginning. At this stage in the game I just want him to take the lil man to Chuck E Cheese for two hours so I can catch a nap. In reality, it’s the day to day things that get done or how he shows up, that is the real gift. Most Sunday mornings he lets me sleep in but leaves a cup of coffee by my bedside just in case I want to sit up in bed. Sometimes he throws in a bagel or a bowl of fruit. My dear friend Ann always says, “It’s about the season, not the day”.  What we do for each other all month long is a sweeter gift then flowers and thigh thickening chocolates on sweetest day! I’ll take the season over the day.

  1. Our love is unconditional

Before Kevin and I separated I vividly remember telling him on a drunken night that I hate him. I remember saying it and thinking, once I say this I cannot take it back. It is my greatest regret in our marriage. However, it is also one of the things that got us to the place we are now. I remember the hurt on his face when I said it. It was all over money, paying bills and how we parent. Our love was conditional, if you pay the bills and help me parent I will love you. The recession hit us hard, we had a house in foreclosure and we owed my father a lot of money. This sort of thinking takes years to change but if you are invested in spiritual and personal growth, change can happen. After I got sober I began working the steps. This is when I realized how unrealistic my expectations were and how conditional my love was. I pushed people away by hurting them and drank to feel better about it. Today, we are partners. When we can’t pay the mortgage it’s up to both of us to make it work. If I cannot contribute financial I can contribute emotionally. I can tell him I will support him and help look for a solution. I can pray and reassure him that I still love him.

It took me years to remove the labels that we assume when we get married; romantic, knight, lover, money etc… What we thought a husband should be is not the reality. If more people went into marriage with less unrealistic Expectation of each other, the marriage would last.

My favorite words of wisdom when it comes to marriage:

“You can tell a lot about a marriage by the way they treat each other through the bad times.” – I have no idea who said this but someone did and I remembered it.

We have had enough bad times to pull us a part and back together again and again. Somehow, we keep coming back to each other.

I love my life today, I love my marriage, my home and my lil family!

“Expectations are resentments under construction” – Anne Lamott

 

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Medical PTSD…Gratitude?

On the evenings I am not working Kevin and I put our son John to bed together. It is always filled with laughing, hugs and kisses. John takes a dose of melatonin every night right before bed that allows him to relax enough to fall asleep on his own. He is a happy boy, especially when he is home.

Daddy takes him into the bathroom for P and teeth cleaning while I go into the bedroom and set up the night light and sheets. Some nights I chase him into the bed pinching his little butt while he laughs and swats my hands away. He throws himself into the bed laughing hysterically, so much so his lips turn blue.

“Johnny stop laughing so hard, your lips are blue, breathe!” as Kevin and I look at each other nodding our heads with the look of “Wow, can you believe this kid”.

Kevin and I lay in the bed with John between us. We laugh at the silliness of John and usually mention how handsome or grown up he looks. Tonight, we mentioned how straight his teeth are and how beautiful his smile is. He has Kevin’s teeth, I had braces.

We say the Our Father Prayer with Kevin’s hand across us both. Tonight, Kevin was rubbing my back. John took Kevin’s hand and moved it away and began rubbing my back himself. We all laughed and kissed good night.

Sobriety brought me here….I am forever grateful for these moments that I do not rush and adore so much.

However, sometimes my mind goes to a dark place. For literally a second, my mind imagines the space between Kevin and I in that bed empty, without John. It gives me a knot in my stomach with a weakness I cannot explain. I shake it off quickly.

Death is something I think of a lot. I don’t do it on purpose. My mind just goes there. Sometimes I wonder if it’s my brain preparing me for the “what ifs”. But, my smarter brain tells me not to think of the ‘what ifs’ and to live in the present. I am not sure how to make these thoughts stop. I feel like it’s a symptom of medical PTSD, from all the years of watching him almost die or struggle to breathe.

I just don’t know how to make it stop…

Daily Prompt: Sympathy (Keep it!)

Sympathy

Sympathy: caring and understanding for the suffering of other

Don’t tell me you have sympathy for me as a mother who has saved her child’s life a hand full of times. Don’t tell me you have sympathy for me when you hear I gave him CPR today or we made it through another seizure.

Don’t tell me how you could never do what I do.

You cannot imagine my feelings or what is going through my head while I gave him CPR – How I cried and prayed he wouldn’t die in my hands. How I screamed for the paramedics to hurry up. You cannot imagine how I felt.

I hope you never know how it felt.

Keep your sympathy, give me your heart. Give me your silence so I know you are listening. Give me your time so I know you care. Give me your prayers so I know you love me. Give me your patience when I don’t return your calls. Give me your love when I am angry.

But please don’t give me your sympathy.

Anxiety got me like WTF?!?!

Anxiety just creeps up on me like a bad wedgy. One minute I’m happily dropping my son off at school next minute I’m running scenarios in my head about the things that COULD happen to him after I leave.

School nurses that show up 2 hours late and seem to think nothing of it are assholes.

My son goes to school with oxygen and a nurse is usually there to keep an eye on things. She needs to make sure the tank is full, that he is breathing ok, that he takes breaks when needed and that his oxygen concentrator battery doesn’t run out.

It’s not that hard.

So when a nurse arrives 2 hours late and manages to let the battery on his oxygen run out during her shift – the main job she has – I get angry. Anger is usually my first emotion. The program teaches me that anger stems from fear or hurt.  I have to ask myself why I am angry. I am angry because the nurse isn’t doing her job! Which spirals me into the scenarios of what could happen if John doesn’t have his oxygen.

It’s a vicious cycle that I need to stop myself in the middle of and chant “Let it go, let it go”.

What I do have control over is whether that nurse comes back. I also have control over teaching the aides and teacher what to do if a nurse doesn’t do their job or doesn’t show up.

I have control of how I react to the situation.

Before I got sober I had 2 personalities; confrontational or isolation

Today, I still have multiple personalities but they come from a better place 🙂 I can pause and live in the solution, right after an anxiety attack. I can stop myself from letting the crazy committee in my mind take over and pray, right after the anxiety attack.

I don’t know if I will ever avoid that anxiety but at least I know I can get through it today with a little more grace and dignity then I did in the past.

Now I just need to pray we find a reliable nurse that cares enough to show up on time. And I will continue to be grateful for the amazing staff at his school that support us!

Daily Prompt: Elevate

via Daily Prompt: Elevate

Elevate

When I think of the word elevate I can break it down by my life’s era’s.

In the 80’s, this child could elevate into tantrums and anger in a split second.

In the 90’s, this business woman would elevate an issue to a manager if I wasn’t getting what I wanted.

In 2005, this mother elevated issues to Doctors and Nurse Practitioners if my son wasn’t receiving the care he needed.

In 2010, this woman’s life was elevated to a state of chaos, so badly I needed a program!

In 2017, when I hear the word elevate I think of elevating over my body in a state of meditation and peace of mind.

It’s amazing how life’s perspective changes over the years as we grow emotionally.

I hope I always remain teachable.

Quality Time, please?!

Quality time is so important to me.

I love spending quality time with my friends and family. When the time together isn’t forced and everyone really wants to be there, I feel loved.

I feel hurt when I schedule time with someone and they blow me. That tells me that my time is not important to them. It tells me that I am not important to them. Whatever they blew me off for is more important, whether its work or other people. This is with the exception of emergencies.

I really feel what you put out into the world, you get back in some form. Saturday, I had plans with someone I love and they blew me off. That night I was asked by two people if I would sponsor them. I spent the evening with a new sponsee talking about resentments and personal growth. We talked about owning our part in our story so we can learn and grow from it. Then we went for ice cream and laughed at her 7yr old son’s silly jokes.

The next day I was invited to lunch with a grammar school friend, which I accepted gratefully. Another friend invited me to a Jazz fest which I couldn’t attend because of work and sponsee commitments.

The universe if keeping me busy with people who want to spend time with me. Surrounding me with love the way I need to receive it, in quality time.

Thank you universal friends! Thank you HP for giving me the gift of friendship, sobriety and love!

What’s your love language?

Last night, I wrote a long resentful angry blog about my partner. I did not share it with anyone. Even last night in the midst of my anger I knew it was unfair and I was just venting. I am so grateful for my restraint of pen and tongue these days. Makes life so much more fun and full of gratitude.

This morning I read this blog:

https://12stepwork.com/2017/08/27/success-in-relationships/

Right after crying about feeling left out and unloved…

“… it’s not anybody else’s job to “make” me feel better or different… whenever I’ve left the job of “Make me happy!” up to someone or something else, it ends up causing me a lot of needless suffering… happiness is an inside job.” – Mike Stewart, Life Lover

What a great reminder. My marriage can be lonely sometimes. There is this site that talks about our “love Languages”.  How we show people that we love them. It’s hard when you are with someone that doesn’t speak your love language. You have to constantly remind yourself that you are enough and this is the way they show it.

http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

I took the test.

My results: Words of Affirmation

Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important – hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. Kind, encouraging, and positive words are truly life-giving.

The tight runner up being “Quality Time”.

I am pretty sure that my partners love language would for me would be:

His Results: Acts of Service

Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter. Finding ways to serve speaks volumes to the recipient of these acts.

He likes to fix things for me, build new things and cook. Just tonight I mentioned that I need a new shelf put up at the shop and his eyes lit up while saying “I’ll be by tomorrow to take a look” And he will be by, I guarantee it.

After 24 years together, I am not always happy. As I am sure he isn’t as well. The hardest part about marriage is growing emotionally together. When one person isn’t growing emotionally and the other is, it makes for a tough time. The person growing has to find ways to compliment themselves and feel good in the space they are in. I do this by going to meetings, meeting other woman that can help me grow and talking to other woman that may feel the same way. It lets me know I am not alone and that the negative feelings shall pass. Thank God those negative feelings pass, with the help of some friends.

Take the test, tell me what your love language is.

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