Unapologetically Adultish

Just a reminder, lovelies, that you can follow me on Twitter @AdultishAlyssa for more daily sass and adulting mishaps!

You can also email me at alyssagoesadulting@gmail.com with comments, questions, concerns or topic suggestions!

Have a great weekend!

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Me, too

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, you’ve undoubtedly seen a slew of your friends, family, acquaintances and other social media connections tweeting/posting it:

#MeToo

So,

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Sort of.

According to this article from “W” magazine,

Since the first reports of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged history of sexual assault and harassment came out more than a week ago, countless people have come forward to share their own experiences with sexual violence from people in positions of power. This weekend, to further underscore just how widespread sexual violence is in Hollywood and beyond, Alyssa Milano started a hashtag that has since gone viral.

On Sunday, Alyssa, who appeared on Charmed alongside Weinstein accuser Rose McGowan, shared her idea for the new movement on Twitter. “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet,” she wrote. “Suggested by a friend: ‘If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.'” In the less than 24 hours since she posted the message, Alyssa’s tweet has since been retweeted more than 14,000 times and garnered more than 29,000 likes.

While more than 39,000 people have replied to the original tweet, countless more have simply tweeted “#MeToo” themselves, with or without further details about their experiences. According to Twitter, the hashtag has already been used more than 200,000 times. Among these are celebrities like Lady Gaga, Debra Messing, Evan Rachel Wood, and Hamilton star Javier Muñoz.

It turns out, the movement actually started more than 10 years ago with activist Tarana Burke — a fact Milano has shared.

According to this CNN article, a conversation with a young girl in 1996, when Burke was a youth camp director, about her abuse was “the genesis of the movement — to help young women of color who had survived sexual abuse, assault and exploitation.”

In the last few weeks, the hashtag has spread rapidly not just in the United States, but around the world.

The “W” article makes another really good point, though:

As brave as all of these people are for sharing their stories, however, it’s important to note that survivors of sexual assault and harassment should never feel pressure to name their trauma. Several Twitter users shared this sentiment using the #MeToo tag. “Reminder that if a woman didn’t post #MeToo, it doesn’t mean she wasn’t sexually assaulted or harassed. Survivors don’t owe you their story,” one wrote. “We shouldn’t have to out ourselves as survivors in order for people to grasp the magnitude of how systemic assault & harassment are. #MeToo,” another added.

I think more than the hashtag itself, the use of it has sparked some really interesting and meaningful dialogue among men and women, and what I feel are sort of “side effects.” Three of them primarily being:

  1. A slew of other victims coming forward to name other possible predators. In the past few weeks we’ve seen allegations emerge against, among others, Brett Ratner, Kevin Spacey and now NPR’s top news editor Michael Oreskes. 

2. A lot of conversations about what #metoo means, and whether women feel it’s their “right” to identify with it. I’ll get to more on that shortly.

3. This — Now a movement has started to give a voice to the countless women who can’t speak out, called #hertoo

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So, naturally, I’ve asked myself, where do I fit into all of this? Like the people in many articles I’ve read and in conversations with some friends, I was hesitant to put myself out there with #metoo for a couple of reasons. The first reason was, I’ve never — thankfully — been sexually assaulted. I went through a lot of the same self-talk, self-doubt many people did when #metoo started to spread, things like “Well, practically every woman gets sexually harassed,” “My examples aren’t that bad,” “I feel like I’m just jumping on the bandwagon,” “I’m not emotionally scarred by any of it,” etc.

Then this article came out, calling forth yet another offender: Dustin Hoffman.

(Side note: I fear we’ll discover all of our favorite actors are total letches before this is over.)

I’m going to paste the first part of the article below:

This is a story I’ve told so often I’m sometimes surprised when someone I know hasn’t heard it. It begins, “Dustin Hoffman sexually harassed me when I was 17.” Then I give the details: When I was a senior in high school in New York City, interning as a production assistant on the set of the Death of a Salesman TV film, he asked me to give him a foot massage my first day on set; I did. He was openly flirtatious, he grabbed my ass, he talked about sex to me and in front of me. One morning I went to his dressing room to take his breakfast order; he looked at me and grinned, taking his time. Then he said, “I’ll have a hard-boiled egg … and a soft-boiled clitoris.” His entourage burst out laughing. I left, speechless. Then I went to the bathroom and cried.

The first several times I told this story, I left out the soft-boiled clitoris. When I finally started including it, my voice sometimes broke. But it got easier. When I spoke to a reporter recently and she told me she would have to track down people from the set to verify my account, I felt queasy. What would they say? I could only imagine them shaking their heads: “She didn’t seem too bothered by it then. She sure laughed a lot.”

Here’s the thing: this basically happened to me, the bolded part, only it was more personal to a comment about my body. I’m being intentionally vague, because I have to be. There were disciplinary actions.

What might be most surprising is, the disciplinary action wasn’t brought about because of anything I said or did. Just like her, I laughed. Unlike her, I wasn’t 17, I was a “grown woman,” and I was drinking among others. I remember feeling like “It was my fault too, we were drinking and I was being ‘friendly,’… he just had too much and said something inappropriate. Nothing that one of my male friends couldn’t have said in a bar setting!”

When I found out about the disciplinary action, I panicked. I felt guilty. After the incident, I was OK — I wasn’t even mad! I didn’t complain, I thought frantically. I’m OK, I’m fine.

But it wasn’t OK. And other witnesses decided that for me, and that was that. These witnesses were all men, by the way, and they should be applauded.

Perhaps most importantly, in part thanks to this #metoo movement, I see now that even if the incident didn’t have a strong impact on me, it easily could have had a terrible impact on others had this behavior been allowed to continue, unchecked.

Sometimes it’s not just about one of us; it’s about all of us.

I think my story is, sadly, very rare. I had other people stand up for me when I didn’t stand up for myself.

As I said, I didn’t feel particularly victimized when it all first went down. I think this is in part due to a sad fact that rings true for too many of us: I’m used to it.

I’m used to guys freely making comments about my body, whether I like it or not. In high school my mom had a nickname: thunder thighs. Mine? Tankass. I’m not sure how many people actually called me that, but if one or two did, isn’t that enough?

In study hall sophomore year, a bunch of boys were snickering at the table next to me, when one of them said, “Hey girl, you’ve got some nice DSLs.”

If you don’t know what that means (I didn’t at the time), just look it up.

A guy on the football team I barely knew once told me he enjoyed watching me run around the track during practice (ugh, cross country interval day, amirite?!).

“You’ve got nice, thick legs,” he said.

Whatever that means.

I don’t really have ill feelings about those comments either, at least not anymore. Some of them I took as weird compliments of sorts. Others, (thick legs, what?) were just puzzling. This post isn’t about calling people out… but maybe I should be asking questions like: Is it right? Is it OK?

And what does it do to our psyche? Where does our focus on ourselves go, based on the feedback we’re getting?

No matter my personal thoughts or actions, the time for silence, fear and complacency appears to be facing a shakedown.

It’s about time.

Fighting Fair

Yesterday, for the first time in awhile, Luke and I got into a decent fight.

I say decent not because it was good, but just that it was a big enough fight that there were tears, I left the apartment for awhile and we didn’t speak for hours.

Here’s the thing. I am a terrible fighter. I take everything to heart. I cry. I get loud. I pout.

I used to say mean things I later regret — that thankfully has gotten better over time.

A few years ago, I got into a big fight with my best friend, Katie. It didn’t even have anything much to do with the two of us- originally. I was visiting, my flight got canceled, I had a meltdown, she tried to get me to calm down, and I lost it on her. It wasn’t our first time. We had it out a few times in college and beyond, but I remember clearly that last time, it was pretty much all on me. She told me my words were hurtful, that it was harmful to just spew whatever I wanted to say when I was upset. Somehow, it really sunk in that day. She didn’t deserve it. Even if I apologized and didn’t mean everything I said, it was wrong to say it at all. I had to be more careful, more caring. I couldn’t just keep spewing venom and then try to erase it later. I don’t want to hurt the people I love.

I really struggle with this stuff. I blame in part my parents. They are terrible fighters. So were my mom’s parents. I definitely did not learn by example there.

Fighting is important, though, especially for couples. The other day a friend shared news of a longtime couple that was possibly splitting up. The reason? They’d chugged along happily for years and suddenly started fighting. They didn’t know how to fight, and things were falling apart.

As my friend said, never fighting is not the answer, because fighting is in part how you grow. I thought she made a very important point. The key is, you need to know how to fight fair, to fight with purpose. It also seems that fighting about the same thing repeatedly is a sign of a larger problem. When you fight, are you making any progress? Are you coming to any new understandings?

Back to my own fight with Luke, I made a lot of mistakes. As I mentioned, I left the apartment. This was in part because I needed to go get my car that I had left 2 miles away the night before. I thought a brisk anger-fueled walk might calm me down, but I was also fleeing the scene, which typically is frowned upon. It didn’t really work either, as the fight continued via text message, and when I came home, we still didn’t talk for hours. After time had passed and I’d finally calmed down, the remorse set in. Also, the fatigue. I was done not talking. There was a Packer game coming up, and we needed to get past this nonsense. So I just walked up and hugged him, and he hugged me back. Apologies were said. All was well.

I’m still thinking about it today, though, because while neither of us was completely in the right (he did apologize, too, after all), and I may have learned to tone down the venom-spewing, I still haven’t learned how to fight fair. I recognize that. I decided to do a little research today, and came across this article — “All Couples Fight. Here’s How Successful Couples Do It Differently.”

For “fun,” I’ve decided to grade myself, based on yesterday’s behavior, in the categories included in the article. So here we go.

1. They don’t run from fights. 

Couples in it for the long-haul don’t shy away from discussing topics that could just as easily be swept under the rug. They ask the big, scary questions ASAP — “When, if ever, are we going to have kids?” “What are we going to do if you get that job in another state? I don’t want to move to there!” — so they don’t become bigger isssues in the relationship later on, said Diane Sawaya Cloutier, an author and relationship expert.

 

“When taboo or uncomfortable topics remain unaddressed, they can turn any benign event into a big drama that could have been avoided in the first place,” she said. “Couples who talk about it can manage potential dramas.” 

Alyssa’s Grade: F

I mean… I left the apartment, right? Not right away, but we certainly hadn’t resolved the dispute when I stormed out. Granted, I was super worked up and hoped the walk would calm me a bit, so I could be more rational when I got back. Like I said, that didn’t exactly work as my hurt feelings and anger just swirled around and around for a few more hours. Even in the text exchange, Luke said, “If you had stayed to talk some more we could help each other understand.” Fair point. He’d hurt my feelings and I wanted to wander off and lick my wounds. Not exactly mature, I guess.

2. They start slow and take turns talking.

Arguments generally end the same way they began, said Bonnie Ray Kennan, a marriage and family therapist based in Southern California. Couples who’ve mastered the art of arguing fairly take things slow, addressing difficult conversations with a soft, reassuring tone and dialing it down whenever things get too emotionally charged.

 

“Starting a difficult conversation softly and respectfully dramatically increases the chances of a good outcome,” she said. “Conversely, a ‘harsh start-up’ is very hard to process well, especially for men.”

 

Couples who argue with finesse also know the value of give and take: “One person speaks and the other person truly listens,” Ray Kennan said.

Alyssa’s Grade: Uhhhhh, have we met? F!

This is probably Luke’s major pet peeve with me. I am just all-around terrible at #2. I don’t even know where to begin and end with all of this, so let’s just say I suck at this one and have a long way to go.

3. They don’t name call. 

Happy couples in long-term relationships rarely get into knock-down, drag-out fights because they don’t lower themselves to school-yard tactics: no matter how heated things get, there’s no name calling, eye rolling or biting sarcasm.

 

“Both partners understand that contemptuous behaviors are hard to take back and have a corrosive impact on a relationship,” Ray Kennan said. “Over time, they’ve become mindful of the effects of such dirty fighting and so they take it out of their repertoire.”

Alyssa’s Grade: C

I do think I’ve improved on this one… but I’m not there yet. Biting sarcasm? Yup. But I think I did without the name-calling. I mean, in this case, I was more on the defense. Still though, I could act a bit more like an adult, that’s for sure. I just take things so personally. That’s really, really, really hard to unlearn.

4. They know how to cool down. 

When things do get out of hand, savvy arguers know how to get a grip on their emotions. They value taking a time out, whether that means counting to 10 and taking slow, deep breaths or simply telling their spouse, “Hey, can we revisit this in the morning?”

“These couples know how to acknowledge and honor their emotions without getting overrun by them,” Amy Kipp, a couples and family therapist in San Antonio, told HuffPost. “They use self-soothing skills to make sure they’re at their best. When both partners are able to soothe themselves and take breaks, they’re usually able to reach a resolution (or agree to disagree!) with more ease.”

Alyssa’s Grade: C

So, that’s sort of what I was trying to do by the walk. I just failed to do any of my self-soothing exercises during that time. And did I calmly say, “Hey, I just need to cool off, so let’s revisit this when I get back, OK?” ? What do you think?!

5. They set ground rules for arguments. 

It’s not that long-time couples have never resorted to low blows or have said something regrettable during an argument. They have in the past — and then they learned from the mistake. Once the emotionally charged fight ends, smart couples lay down some ground rules for arguing so it never gets out of hand again, said author and relationship expert Mario P. Cloutier.

 

The ground rules could be specific — “We will not interrupt each other when one is giving his or her perspective” — or more big picture: “It’s not about being right. It’s about getting to a common ground and resolving the problem,” suggested Cloutier. 

Alyssa’s Grade: Incomplete

Look, we just haven’t quite done the assignment yet, so I’m not going to 100 percent blame myself on that one. I think taking heed of the first 4 points would go a long way.

6. They acknowledge each other’s feelings and points of view.

They may be bumping heads but couples in happy, long-time relationships try their best to see the other side of the argument, Kipp said.

“They may say, ‘I know you see it differently than me, but I appreciate that you are listening to my perspective,’” she said. “These positive moments decrease defensiveness and allow for a more productive conversation.” 

Alyssa’s Grade: D

I get so wrapped up in my hurt feelings, and I don’t want to peel back the curtain to look at why what’s being said is being said. I mean, I do later, but in the moment? No, thanks. So I need to work on being able to do that sooner, without all the fuss. And if I can’t, I need to do better at #4 and take some time to cool off- but without skulking around or storming out. Good luck to me!

7. They give each other the benefit of the doubt. 

Partners who are able to have healthy and productive arguments don’t jump to conclusions in the middle of fights. They aren’t quick to assume their S.O. wants to jump ship and leave them just because he or she is a voicing a concern. They quiet their insecurities, listen and try to give their partner the benefit of the doubt, Kipp said.

 

“Healthy relationships mean that people assume their partner is doing the best they can at the moment,” she explained. “In an argument, this means assuming both partners have the same goal: a mutually beneficial resolution. This allows arguments to be a team effort to achieve the goal rather than an adversarial ‘fight.’”

Alyssa’s Grade: C

I try to do this. I mean, fighting with Luke is particularly frustrating at times because he’s such a good guy. So you know he doesn’t mean to be hurtful even if it happens. We have very different ways of communicating, and we’ve gotten better about recognizing that. I have to continue to work on putting my pride aside at times and not making mountains out of mole hills, as they say.

8. They never forget that ultimately, they’re a team. 

Even during their most tense arguments, healthy couples never forget that they’re a team: for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…  and until the argument exhausts them and both parties agree that they’d rather call a timeout and get a bite to eat. 

“Couples in satisfying long-term relationships are able to remember that, no matter how angry they may be, life will continue after today,” said Stark. “Because of that, they don’t want to do lasting damage. Even in an emotional state, they are able to hang on to the long-term value of the couple. They’re a team, protecting their future together.”

Alyssa’s Grade/Our Grade: A

Duh, this is why we’re still together! I think we are very good at recognizing that. Now that we’ve been working at this for years, fights don’t spiral down into a threat to the future of our relationship, even if I get really upset. We have to remember we’re just trying to make each other the best we can be, to understand each other better, to grow.

 

Overall, this is a pretty dismal report card, but — I’m going to study up, guys! I promise! Blogging about this is in part me trying to take responsibility and adult, after all. Nowhere to go but up.

 

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Note: I cleared it with Luke to blog about this since it’s pretty personal to our relationship. I told him hopefully he would find it interesting and informative, as I did, and also see that I actually want to address my shortcomings in this regard. Yay, adulting!

The Slump

The deadline for the annual fee to maintain my blog is coming up — yes, that’s right, I pay to chronicle my adulting misadventures — and I realized that today marks 3 (!) months since I’ve written a new post.

I’m in a slump.

It’s been a great summer and looks to be a promising fall. Luke and I are loving the new apartment we’re in (seriously: everything happens for a reason. Peace OUT, MPM!) and things are generally going pretty darn well. In my life, anyway. The world? Shit show.

I never try to force myself into writing anything, but now that 3 months have passed, I feel like I’m overdue. I need to write something! I’m even considering resurrecting Alyssa’s Diaries — that’s how uninspired I am. OK, no, I can be more inspired than that.

A couple weeks ago, a friend suggested I blog about smug parenting. There are for sure some smug parents out there, but not being a parent myself, I don’t know how I feel about making any judgments on that topic.

I don’t want to talk about Trump. I don’t want to talk about Charlottesville. (Sorry if this makes me an “enabler” or whatever terms people are slinging at each other these days. I care deeply without feeling that I have something valuable to contribute to the discussion at this time. And that’s the truth.)

It reminds me of the SATC episode where Carrie is in a writing slump.

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At least this isn’t my job. I’d be out on the street for sure!

…Maybe I’ve just mastered adulting!

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OK… you didn’t have to laugh that hard. Sigh.

I’m gonna come clean here and say I really was hoping a topic would come to me while I was rambling on like this. But alas, it still hasn’t.

So HELP ME! Suggest a topic. Tell me something that’s bugging you about the adult world or people like me who are still on the waiting list. Pretty please? Maybe I’ll give you some cheese.

Uninspired,

Alyssa

Bathing suits and big-girl problems

UGH, bathing suit shopping, amirite?! ‘Tis the season…  Every year I tell myself the last thing I need is a new bathing suit. I think last year I actually managed to make it the whole summer without buying one. But this year, as I embarked on my first pool day last Sunday, I came to two realizations:

  1. A fair amount of the bathing suits I own need to be tossed out. I may never wear them again. IF I get down to a future weight where what I own is too big, I can reward myself with … shopping!
  2. My retro high-waisted bikini that has saved my life for the past two-plus summers is starting to wear out in the lining. I’m thinking it may not make it past this season. When I went on Amazon to try to reorder the exact same thing, it was no longer available.

Here’s where the fun begins!

Ideally, I’d love to be able to wear something like this:

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But let’s be serious! I haven’t been able to wear anything like that since high school/early college, and I didn’t even think I was thin then. (Ha! HA! What I wouldn’t give to have my 19-year-old lifeguard body back OMG….)

But alas, the above is generally what you see when you peruse the aisles of Target over your lunch break, for example. I’m literally laughing out loud as I sift through the racks, holding up an “extra large” bikini bottom that more closely resembles a fucking headband.

This would probably be tight around my head, actually.

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I mean, what’s with the cutting of the material on the sides?! Like there was too much there to begin with?!

What about one pieces? Well, the thing is, they’ve never really been my thing. Just like rompers. When I go to the bathroom, I’m not keen on having to get completely naked, OK? Not my jam.

Also, yes, they sell “skirts” and “shorts” as bottoms, too, and I’ve tried that. They’re OK. But what if I just want some basic COVERAGE of my rump and belly area akin to how I suck it in all day wearing a silkier, nicer version of basically granny panties, but in bathing suit form?! Is that really too much to ask?!

So with that in mind… the comeback of this style is the best thing ever.

This is actually the bathing suit I ordered in 2015.

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Thank you, thank you, thank you, fashion gods, for giving me this gift. I love this suit. But like any normal girl … I get bored. That, plus the lining problem, and I’m shopping again, and I don’t want to just buy another polka-dot retro suit.

Enter phase 2: Finding things you love, but then not being able to customize the top and bottom.

Me likey a lot … but a larger top ain’t gonna work.

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What’s up with that?! Are most people really that proportional that they’re like, oh, yep, medium bottom, medium top, I’m done! For YEARS, clothing or otherwise, my tops tend to be smaller than my bottoms. Even when I was thin, I’ve always had a booty and pretty generous thighs, but my boobs are a larger B/smaller C at best, and until more recently, I was pretty petite around my torso and arms.

Ugh. Anyway, I actually made that mistake when I ordered the blue polka dot suit in a larger size. The top was way too big, and after a couple incidents of flashing everyone, I bought a completely different blue polka dot top that kinda sorta matches.

Do you see how exhausting this is?!

Now, today, I did stumble across some cute stuff on Mod Cloth, which does separate the tops and bottoms. But it’s pricier, and if you’ve been reading my blog at all, you know I’m not all about that. I just didn’t find anything that totally worked.

So I went back to Amazon, and just ordered some retro-style (read: full coverage) bottoms in various colors to try to mix and match with some tops I have. I also did order one one-piece, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m telling you though…. trying to hike that thing back up after you go to the bathroom and it’s wet… I’m already thinking of returning it.

Best of luck this bathing suit season, ladies! Xoxo.

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Another year older… and wiser?

A couple weeks ago, I went to mark my calendar for a friend and fellow Gemini’s upcoming birthday dinner, and for the first time it dawned on me that my own birthday was only a couple weeks away.

It really crept up on me this year! Bathing suit season always does (amirite?!), but I’m usually pretty aware of my own birthday. I had the foresight to schedule a baseball outing for it in advance, but other than that, I hadn’t really thought about it at all recently.

So, today I am 34…. whooo. hoooo. It’s off to a rockin start:

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It’s a pretty unremarkable age. At the same time, I feel really good about life right now. The past year has probably been one of the best of my life, in terms of personal growth. I was just looking at this post the other day that I wrote at the end of 2015 in which I refused to make official New Years resolutions, but I acquiesced to making some “resolutions in progress,”  as I called them.

In this post, I decided to do a little check-in with myself on these goals. The italics are from my post in December 2015.

  1. Stop comparing myself to others.

Envy is a deadly sin for a reason. It’s so unhealthy, and more than that, it’s pointless. It really is. First of all, you never really know what’s going on in someone else’s life. More than that, though, so what if someone gets something you desire or don’t have? We’re all winners and losers on any given day of the week. That’s life. I’m wasting way too much time and energy on this instead of just appreciating all the things my own life has to offer. I want to be genuinely happy for others’ successes and support them in their struggles, and get that in return. When I find myself putting that into practice, it actually works.

UPDATE: I’m pretty much nailing this one. I was approaching some of my relationships with a toxic envy filter a couple of years ago, and I’m grateful I got a hold on it before I lost them. I think it has to do largely with being really secure in myself and my own life. I also feel in the past I was constantly looking for validation from other people on my life and my decisions, and now it’s more about, is it working for me? Is it making me happy? Then fuck ’em.

2. Stop trying so hard.

Part 1: Now, I’m not saying don’t stop trying. But sometimes I try way too hard to appease people. And here’s the thing — sometimes I’m not even right. I’m off base in what I think someone wants to hear or expects from me, so I just wasted my time doing something I didn’t even want to do. How stupid is that?!

UPDATE: I’m doing well on this front also. If I don’t feel like doing something, I don’t do it. If I don’t know this song or that band or have tickets to that event — oh well. Good for you if you do. I have what I have.

Part 2: There’s also something to be said for “it is what it is,” and while efforts make inroads, sometimes it doesn’t matter. People are going to think and feel how they feel no matter what, so you might as well stay true to yourself in your own comfort zone (assuming it’s a healthy place for you).

UPDATE: Yes, sometimes people want to try to mold you into what they think you should be. RESIST. Resist unless it’s something you really want. Yes, it may cause friction with people who don’t agree with you, but either they will come to accept you as you are, or they won’t, and you’ll either have to move on from the relationship, agree to disagree, or politely ignore the demands they keep trying to put on you because in reality, they are unhappy and nothing you do is going to change that. It’s very liberating to get to this point. Freeing.

3. Love Myself.

Ickkkkkk, right?! It just sounds lame. But it’s actually something I really struggle with. I’m very self-critical. I try to make it humorous a lot of the time, but it’s pretty clear I don’t trust myself, and sometimes, I don’t even like myself. But part of that relates to #2- I’m way too concerned about where I stand in others’ eyes. This is my life.

UPDATE: It’s going. I have made strides in not feeling ashamed for not having certain things, like a house or children or a more healthy bank statement and waistline. But this one is more day by day, as I’m sure you know. There are good days and there are bad days. I would say the good days outweigh the bad.

4. Be a better partner.

Always a good thing to strive for, in my book. {Luke} is an inherently good and genuine person in a way that I find very unique and special, and that inspires me. He really motivates me to make positive change, and he’s one of my biggest cheerleaders. You can work toward this in your friendships and family relationships, too, but don’t forget it’s a give-and-take — you need to know when to keep fighting, and when to walk away.

UPDATE: Hmm, you’ll have to ask Luke, haha. I’d like to think I am doing very well on this one. Sometimes he probably feels like I’m nagging him about various things, but as I tell him, I’m just trying to help push him to his best limits. He’s so laid back, and I’m so not (well, I’m better than I used to be), so we balance each other out well. If he would just look at that damn calendar…

5. Separate work and play.

This goes BOTH ways. I’m guilty of taking care of personal things at work, but I’m just as guilty of checking my work email and fretting about things when I’m at home. Both need to stop. If I discipline myself to be more productive at work, I can relax more in my spare time. Conversely, if I shut work out during my spare time and enjoy myself, I can feel more refreshed when I return to the office. It’s actually not rocket science!

UPDATE: I would say I’ve made bigger strides in saying “eff off” to work on my own time than I have in not thinking about personal stuff at the office, haha. I do think I’ve gotten more productive.

6. Give it time.

This is huge. I’m so reactionary. A lot of times, things will resolve themselves if you just give it a minute. This trickles down to the most basic things, like making social plans. Being with {Luke} has opened my eyes to a whole world of “chillin.” That man gets riled up about very little, and very rarely makes any kind of advance plan. While this drives me nuts at times, there’s something to be learned from it. For one thing, without a plan, you can’t exactly freak out when the plan changes. Now, clearly, there is a happy medium here. There are some things I can’t not plan for, but I can take a pretty big step back from the level of planning I’m currently at, and probably be a lot happier. I’ve tried it here and there, with mixed results, but I think the majority of the time, it makes things better, not worse.

UPDATE: This one has its good days and bad days, too. I feel like I’ve made tremendous strides in at least trying to go with the flow when things go wrong. Like when you sit in traffic on the way to Miller Park for a Brewers game only to find it’s cash only for parking and you have to leave and find an ATM. This may or may not have happened on Sunday. It was not my original plan.

In summary, perfection is not attainable, and that’s something I’ve had to grasp as well. Just because I’m not doing it right all the time doesn’t mean I’m not doing well. Everyone fucks up here and there. But I’d like to think I move on from these fails more quickly than I used to, and I try to learn for next time. I try not to let the pitfalls and setbacks completely derail me from the path.

So, with that, covfefe! Ole! Let’s celebrate!

‘Til death — or disillusionment — do us part?

Yesterday I stumbled upon an article that I absolutely love.

The title, “I Didn’t Quit My Marriage. I Survived It.” caught my eye right away. While at first it seemed either a tad dramatic or possibly about domestic abuse, as I began to read it, I found it was neither. Rather, it reflected almost exactly how I feel about my own previous marriage, minus all the stuff about children, as I do not have any. The best part about it, though, was that it very accurately conveyed a lot of how I feel, and even though the author does have children, she was able to make a lot of points that still work even though I don’t.

You can read it by clicking the link above, but I am also going to paste it here with my own commentary.

With the exception of my photo caption*, italic text is from the article and regular text is mine.

I recently read a post by the talented Elizabeth Gilbert of “Eat, Pray, Love” fame. She was offering support to a friend who was struggling through a divorce while at the same time publishing a book about marriage.

Her post was filled with such warmth and understanding and had a strong message of encouragement for women going through a divorce.

 

The support offered called to mind all of the people who reached out to me when they realized that I was getting a divorce. I was private about my divorce during the process. I quietly removed my relationship status on Facebook and did not offer a replacement or post publicly about it.

I relocated my children and never mentioned my now-ex again.

When the situation became apparent, I received an outpouring of love and support, which I will forever be grateful to have received.

However, I often hear talk of how people “just give up” on their marriages. While there are those who treat marriage and divorce casually, I would say that most of us went into our marriages filled with hope and ideas of forever.

Every woman I know who is now divorced fought like hell to save her marriage—before finally deciding to save herself instead.

Absolutely. I do not take marriage lightly. I do not think many people say yes to a proposal, plan a wedding and take vows, thinking “eh… maybe, maybe not!” Certainly not me. I even wrote my own vows, so I took them very seriously. As things with my marriage began to unravel, I often referred back to those vows — mine and his — which I had saved, often even carrying them around with me as a source of inspiration and strength to keep pressing on, believing we could get through this and come out on the other side, together.

Wed

*Trust me — this is not the face of someone who thinks they’ll be filing for divorce in 4 short years.

It takes two, though. Oftentimes, I felt like I was the only one fighting for the marriage. Or at least, the only one trying to meet halfway. This came down to some major personality clashes: extrovert  (me) versus introvert (him); emotional (me) versus practical (him); romantic (me) versus… I don’t even know.

We both had problems, things to work on (who doesn’t?!), but I felt I was the only one who was willing to at least admit my faults to be addressed. Everything was about me and what I was doing wrong and needed to change. It was exhausting. One person cannot possibly do ALL of the work to make a relationship work. It was like talking to a wall. In the end, it became extremely unhealthy, in which I almost felt like the child to a parent, constantly disappointing, constantly being lectured. And in turn, I began to act somewhat like a child rebelling against an overbearing parent — becoming increasingly resentful, pulling away and even sometimes doing things I wouldn’t normally even do because of the constant pressure.

At a certain point, we realize that the ship is sinking, and so many of us have children who need rescuing. So, yes, we get off the damn ship and start looking for a lifeboat—a whole new life.

We didn’t give up.

We saved ourselves, saved our children.

We didn’t quit our marriages; we survived them.

When we realize that we can’t single-handedly make a relationship with another person work, we have to choose ourselves. We begin to hear our hearts screaming for us to get out. We begin to honor our intuition, which tells us that this situation isn’t healthy for us, that we must do whatever it takes to make our lives better. We figure out that we cannot save our partner, that they are no longer our partners when they choose not to fight for the relationship.

We realize the relationship is over already, and we begin to take the steps to make that final.

The thing is, I didn’t even pull the trigger on ending the relationship. As I will reference a bit later**, a big life event in part kept me from even considering walking out at the time. It seemed to me like that would be abandonment, giving up. Heartless.

But even though I didn’t make the call, as I stated above, I began to pull away. As my ex became increasingly introverted and depressed, sometimes not leaving the house or putting on real clothes other than PJs (he worked from home) for days at a time, I started going out with my friends solo more and more often. It was like we started leading separate lives… and his life was largely on the internet. He was a gamer.

The depression I did understand and tried to address. I encouraged him to get counseling. I did help him to find a support group, and I read books on how to help loved ones cope with loss.** Looking back, sure, maybe I didn’t quite grasp the extent of his sorrow, his heartache. Maybe I could have been more supportive. But I know for damn sure that I tried. I wanted our life to continue together, not come to a halt. I wanted us to be happy, but I couldn’t take away the pain and fix it.

So, to explain further without going into details, a few years into our marriage we had what I like to refer to as a **”Traumatic Life Event” — in our case, a major death in his family, after which you are never the same. When these things happen, it shakes people to their core, and when it comes to couples, especially “newer” ones, it seems you either grow together and weather the storm, or you drift apart. And you can see where it’s going in our case.

So like I said, I continued to be social, and he began to go deeper and deeper into his online world. He had online “friends” that he talked to every day. Sometimes he had meetings about various games, meetings that would take priority over things that were going on in what I considered the “real world.” We were completely losing touch with each other, and it seemed as the days passed we had less and less in common. I began to wonder what I had ever seen in him as a potential life partner. Clearly, we were completely different people. I wasn’t sure that I even liked him anymore.

It was an awful feeling. And of course, I felt guilty. I wondered if I had changed in my feelings and this was my fault — maybe he’d been like this the whole time and I was just blind to it, focusing on the wrong things. I can say that I know I did change a bit from our years in Madison. I met people and learned about things and discovered things and began to realize more about who I really was and what my priorities were — and they increasingly were not in line with his. So it certainly was my fault, too, that we grew apart.

Still, I wasn’t just going to give up and walk away. Like I said, we took vows. I didn’t enter into this like any other past relationship. This was a marriage. I meant what I said. I was just hoping against hope, it would get better.

But it only got worse, culminating in him finally pulling the plug himself, telling me he wanted to go to California, and eventually moving there. The day it happened, I felt so many emotions — shock, first and foremost, but also anger, shame, regret, sadness and yes, relief. I was relieved on some level. I had fallen out of love with him, and now I could finally admit that to myself and start the healing process and move on. But I was indignant and hurt of course, feeling like I was the only one who tried. Feeling betrayed that despite all my misgivings, I’d stuck around, trying, and now he was just going to walk away. But one of us had to, and as someone who didn’t take all that many leaps that I knew of, I give him some credit for taking that one. It was the right thing to do for both of us.

We take the steps toward divorce, no matter our circumstances, no matter how difficult it will be to live without this relationship or the financial support of being coupled. We leave no matter how counterintuitive it is to walk away from something in which we’ve invested so much of our lives. We leave, all the while grieving what our children will have to experience as the children of divorced parents.

This isn’t a matter of giving up or quitting. This is a matter of accepting things as they are and choosing to live the best life that we can.

Exactly. We just weren’t right for each other, at least not anymore. We’d grown apart. Why stick it out until the bitter end when you could be so, so much happier, be yourself, with someone else? I know there are people who would argue against that. I know no relationship is easy, that there are ups and downs. But I can say with absolute certainty that he and I do not belong together. We were the wrong fit. We deserve to be happy, and in our case, we were happier calling it quits.

I’ve found that many of us come out of these trials only to be painted as the villains. We become the bad guys in another’s story, because that is so much easier. And when we go through a divorce, we often lose the support of people we had long considered family as they choose to believe this story.

Divorce isn’t easy, no matter how it may seem from the outside. It changes us in so many ways, and it often makes it more difficult to trust others. It’s important to support one another through these difficult times.

The support we need is often just a listening ear.

We don’t need unsolicited advice or the secret to how your marriage has worked. We don’t need judgment or commentary about how easily people leave their marriages these days. We don’t even need encouragement about our future relationship prospects at this point. We need our support system to stand strong with us through the process.

In my case, I wasn’t the “villain” to the bulk of people because I didn’t call it. Particularly my friends and family who knew I’d been unhappy but unwilling to give up were, like me, angry when he decided to get out. But that was only temporary for most, as it was what was best for everyone. There are some people who choose to hold on to anger over it, and I always encourage them not to. I’m much happier now. He did the right thing for us, even if he did it in somewhat of a nutty manner. It was a means to an end that needed to come.

I was deeply private about my divorce when I went through it. No one can completely understand a relationship from the outside, and I’ve been mindful of respecting the relationship between my ex and our children. I share the story of my journey through—and coming out the other side—in hopes of helping others hold on the difficult days that seem impossible to manage.

If I can offer a lifeline to someone who feels like they’re going down with the ship, then I’ve turned my struggle into something strong and beautiful.

Divorce has been transformative for me. It’s been the catalyst for many new life choices. I’ve been able to dream again and create the kind of life with my children that I’ve always wanted. It’s allowed me to be strong, and perhaps more authentic than I’ve ever been. Sure, I lost my ability to tolerate any level of bullsh*t, but in losing that particular filter, I’ve been able to be real and raw about my struggles, which has allowed me to build closer relationships with the people I love.

I processed all of the old stories I’ve always relied on to define me, and began to create a new life story for myself.

I’ve started unpacking my baggage and traveling a hell of a lot lighter, endlessly manifesting joy and turning my pain into beauty.

We can allow our struggles to define us or transform us, and in the difficult process of simply bearing up under them, it’s essential that we feel love and support around us. In the end, we did whatever it took to save ourselves when we could no longer save our relationship.

When I see another man or woman struggling through that process, I often offer a kind word and a listening ear, knowing that they would certainly rather have the happy marriage with the promise of forever than the divorce court and legal fees and heartache of a dissolving union.

We’re not giving up; we’re choosing to live the best lives we can under challenging circumstances.

We’re not quitting; we’re choosing to survive, to thrive and to create joyful lives.

Yes. I can say that if it weren’t for this relationship, it’s not that likely I would have ended up in Madison. It’s true that I never really planned to stay in DC long-term — it’s way too expensive for a journalist — but I’m not sure where I would be today. I certainly don’t think I would have ever met Luke, and now that I know Luke, I can’t imagine life without him. I feel he is my person. It’s somewhat of a messy storyline to be married and then divorced in order to meet your person, but it’s my storyline, and it has a happy ending.