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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Welcome to my happy place

This post has been bouncing around in my head for a few days, and I think I'm ready to blurt it out finally....

It might end up being a bunch of rambling, but hey, I'm good at that!

Most of you know my history, but if you don't, here's the shortened version:

Marriage #1 lasted from August 1999 until October 2004 (3 kids).
Short-term relationship in Spring/Summer 2005 resulted in the 4th kid.
Marriage #2 lasted from March 2006 until May 2009 physically, with the divorce not being final until January 2011 (5th kid).

Before my first marriage, I spent most of my adult life bouncing from one relationship to the next with little to no time in between. See how history has continued to repeat itself?

When Jeff and I split in May 2009, I knew that the marriage was over and that there was no going back. We had been on shaky ground for a long time, and I was done at that point. We had split and reconciled many times in the short time that we were married - but that was it. I was done.

I spent a lot of time alone after Jeff and I split. And for probably the first time in my life, I used that time to really look at myself. I admit that I went into a deep depression - probably deeper than even my closest friends really realize. I was miserable. I had failed at two marriages and ended up with five kids with three different fathers - who in their right mind does that?

I did. And looking back now, I know how it happened. I was so desperate to be with someone - to have someone love me - that I grasped at anything or anyone that I could find.

But I didn't like myself. In fact, I hated myself. I wasn't happy, and I was looking for someone else to make me be that way.

Guess what? That doesn't work.

I don't know when I had the "aha moment" and realized that I wasn't happy with myself. I don't know that it was a "moment" - but maybe it was a gradual realization as I endlessly analyzed every detail of my life. A close friend was going through a lengthy breakup of his relationship during this period and as I tried to counsel him on it, I kept telling him that he had to find his "happy place" - that he had to be happy with himself before he jumped into another relationship (which he was considering at that point).

For once, I listened to myself. I think as I talked to him, I realized that I had been doing what he was doing - I wasn't happy with myself, and was looking elsewhere for that happiness.

The ironic part about all of this is that as I was coming to this realization, I was losing everything around me. I lost my house, my van, almost lost my kids, had no money, no job, nothing. I had to suck up my pride and get some assistance to get a place to live and to get a vehicle, and then I started working on getting my daycare up and running again. I was starting to feel better about myself, because I finally felt like I was getting somewhere.

So I put myself out there and I started dating. Nothing serious, just a date here and there. It was fun, but none of them felt "right".

Then Jeff died, and I was thrown into a whirlwind of emotions that I had no idea existed. I was an emotional wreck. I mean, really, he was my ex-husband. We had been separated for nearly 2 years but only divorced for 20 days when he died. I had no idea how extreme the emotional rollercoaster would be - and I realized again that I wasn't ready to be with anyone else. I was still not happy with myself. So I stopped dating anyone and continued to work on myself. I started training for the half-marathon, and as I got into better physical shape I could feel my emotional well-being improving at the same time.

I had been told by so many people that I would never accomplish something like that race. I wasn't sure if I could do it. But I did it - and it felt like a turning point in my life. If I could do a half-marathon for the first time at the age of 40, after having 5 kids and a total hip replacement, I felt like I could pretty much do anything.

Financially, things started to fall into place as well. Not many people know this, but Daniel and I both receive survivor benefits through Social Security - I knew that Daniel would, but I had no idea that I would qualify as well.

(Let me stop right here and point out that on the Social Security website, it indicates that "If you are the divorced spouse of a worker who dies, you could get benefits just the same as a widow or widower, provided that your marriage lasted 10 years or more. (You would not have to meet this length-of-marriage rule if you are caring for a child under age 16 or disabled who is getting benefits on the record of your former spouse. The child must be your former spouse's natural or legally adopted child.)" Yes, I have to point that out, as there have been some people who have not been happy that I receive benefits since we were divorced - but as a dear friend says to me, "it is what it is".)

Anyway, with the financial weight of the world off of my shoulders, it has given me the freedom to be able to do things for myself. I've been able to go on some trips and to buy a dependable vehicle and to get some bills paid off. I've been able to do more things for the kids and be able to spend more time with them without having to worry about working.

As things have started to fall into place, friends have suggested that I start dating. So I did - or attempted to - but for whatever reason those attempts never worked. I finally just decided that I wasn't going to do it. I was alone, but you know what? I was ok with that.

I was happy with myself. I didn't need someone else to make me happy.


And then I met The Dude. Totally unexpected. Wasn't looking for him, but there he was....and is.

He and I talk. A lot. About everything and about nothing. In fact, he's cheering me on while I write this, and although he has an idea of the topic, he doesn't know the details - he's encouraging me to say what I need to say, in contrast to people in my past who basically told me to just keep my mouth shut and not talk about my feelings.

I never thought that I would find anyone who would be even remotely willing to "jump in" like he has - and he surprises me more and more every day. He was over here tonight and the kids were fired up (putting it mildly) and he didn't even flinch. In fact, he helped referee a couple of fights in between eating dinner, fixing my printer (yay!), and engaging in some roughhousing with me and the kids.

While I thought that I would be terrified to get into another relationship, I'm not. I'm comfortable. This is a good thing. I'm happy. For the first time in a very very long time, I can honestly say that I am happy. I am happy with myself, I'm happy with my life, and I'm happy in a relationship.

And for all of this to happen, all I had to do was find my happy place, enjoy it a bit, and then open the door.

32 comments:

  1. It's crazy how it takes life to make you become happy with yourself, isn't it? I love you. Just so you know that. <3

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  2. 1stTimeMama - I love you too! I can't thank you enough either!

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  3. Funny how sometimes, when you look back, you are amazed to see how far you have come. Isn't it? One step at a time, and yes, "it is what it is".
    Big Happy Hug.
    B

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  4. Thank you, B - you played a big part in getting me to where I am today!

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  5. Nope. That was all you. You just had some friends along the way.
    B

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  6. Yeah, friends who were willing to kick me in the ass when I needed it! ;)

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  7. Beautiful Post Lady! I am so happy for you! You have worked really hard to getvwhere you are and deserve to enjoy every second of it!

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  8. Let me preface all of what's about to follow with the understanding that (I'm about to do a weird 3 person thing here) The Dude and Nonstop had a little deal going here that if she'd post this, I'd chime in with what is my side of things.
    Now, I could go about this in one of two ways, I could simply address the things that she said in her blog posting tonight... but frankly, that wouldn't really be emotionally honest, now would it?
    So I'm going down my own personal little rabbit hole here, I hope that between the 2 of us, that we touch someone's life, as she and the kids have touched mine.
    With that out of the way, I... and I hope everyone else agrees... I want to thank you Amy, for digging deep into some personal things, things that I'm sure are painful to think about, let alone write about. To share them with all of us... to share them with me fills me with pride, joy and humbles me all at the same time.

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  9. Amy and I have went about the self discovery of a happy place in completely different fashions. I seemed to seek out semi to full blown self destructive people to surround myself with for years. It took me awhile to figure out why I did that, I did it because it gave me an out for my own short comings "Well, at least I'm not like so and so". This was both in some of my friendships and in the vast majority of my relationships.
    Now, I managed to not have any kids, for reasons that I'll explain if someone asks, Amy knows, which is all thats relevant for this little tale. I never got married, although a relationship that ran for 5 years was very close to walking that aisle. That relationship really was the beginning of my path to the rock bottom almost everyone has to face before they can discover they're nowhere near the aforementioned happy place. In this particular instance one of my self destructive friends turned my fiance onto meth... which turned into a sex for drugs trade off...
    From that point on, I did alot of dating and relationship jumping and couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong, why was it that I seemed to be attracting only the crazies? Turns out it was a self inflicted torture, because I was far away from being happy with who I was.
    After a relationship ended, during a crucial time in my life, while I was trying to heal from a car wreck, I had that epiphany... why would anyone love... you know what change that, why would anyone even like me, if I had no respect for and didn't like myself?
    That begins one of the most difficult tasks and periods in my life. Getting to know who I was, what I liked and didn't like about myself and then making the moves necessary to change those things I didn't like. There are numerous examples, so I'll provide one of each, just as a frame of reference. I have always liked the fact that I thirst for knowledge, information... this inquisitive nature doesn't make me millions of dollars, but it provides me with the means to do things I love and gives me frames of reference for all kinds of things in my life. I realized that I didn't like the fact that I tended to deflect my shortcomings onto other people, it didn't really matter the situation, I did everything in my power to pass blame for any given issue onto someone else. Now what I've done to correct this involves a few things, a couple examples are that I try to think more about what I can or could do to make a situation more positive and I really try hard to accept when I'm at fault for something. Not the easiest thing to do, mind you, when you've had 10 years to hone the skills of kicking the can.

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  10. I tried so hard to get my stuff together, not always successful, but having a good rate of return, I ran into another problem, I'd spent so long involving myself with destructive women, that I couldn't seem to shake that trend. I'm still not sure why I did that after I got to where I liked myself... maybe it was about giving myself a little perspective in a subconscious way?
    After my last relationship ended, I had all but aligned myself to the idea that I might be that poor S.O.B. who's in the nursing home alone, trust me, when you contemplate something like that with any seriousness, things have got to be not looking good!
    But, I continued to work on myself, continued to take care of the people in my family who need my assistance. That's when the stars aligned for me and I was blessed to meet Amy. I have got to tell you, building a relationship with someone else who truly likes who they are, who's comfortable in their own skin... who's found that Happy Place. Well, I don't like to brag, but it makes the bonding, the communication, the whole building of lives together just easy.
    I think, and this is my opinion, that I'm able to focus on being there for Amy and the kids, due to having worked on my own stuff, overcoming some of my personal flaws. It gives me something to draw from in situations like tonight when the kids wanted to tangle with one another, you'd think it'd be stressful, but really, it just wasn't, I saw an opportunity to give Amy a break and a chance to give the kids some of my tools.
    I know that neither of us are perfect creatures, but armed with that knowledge and the two of us meeting in the middle, where our happy places touch, we will be able to set positive examples for her little brood and that, coupled with being with Amy makes me one of the happiest men on this planet.
    Doing the right thing, even if it sucks sometimes and putting the kids first, thats the philosophy going forward.

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  11. That's it from me folks, if you made it through all of that, I'm glad and if any of this helps or motivates I'm glad for that as well. I have to admit an ulterior motive though, I really wanted to show my support for Amy, to expose myself a little here as a way of giving her something tangible to look at whenever she might need that little push.
    Amy, you mean the world to me, babe! I'm out!

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  12. just in case some of us readers weren't moved to tears from Amy? Lol... So touching, from both of you! I love, love, love the line "meet in the middle, where our happy places touch" that is where love belongs. Where good relationships start and end...
    Wishing you both even more happiness to come!

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  13. And if there was any question in anyone's mind as to why I am crazy about this guy? Yeah. See?

    He's one of the few people on this earth who can leave me speechless.

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  14. Let me just first of all say WOW on both accounts... Just WOW. You guys rock! Ames, even in your rough times, I've always looked up to you. You proved to me that you can be happy post divorce and by George!...You fix things!...without a man! You're truly my hero!

    Ames, I love you to pieces and Dude, well I don't know you yet but you make my Amy happy and that is enough for me!

    We've both finally found our happy place and wow, it's great! I was starting to really wonder where mine was but it was here inside me all along. I just had to get rid of the hate and discontent I had inside and forgive all of the bad things in my life and mostly forgive myself. I'm a little slow at it apparently but I made it! It was my own little Half marathon :) I'm blessed to call you my friend and I could not be happier for anyone. You guys have found your solace!

    -Kells

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  15. I love both of your stories. I can see why you like him Amy. :-) I am still working on finding my happy place, but reading both of your stories, I know I will find my happy place too. Hope you both have a great holiday!

    ~Christine

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  16. Kells, I love you, girl! And you will meet him, in less than a month, so remember to keep that date open for us! You are an amazing woman, and you are raising an amazing son, and for that I applaud you because I know what you've been through. I am happy for you too!!

    Momma G - Both of us speechless at the same time is a scary thought, no?

    Kateri - I've been happy dancing a lot lately - and he's even seen me do it a few times! ;)

    Christine - You'll get there. I know you will! I didn't think that I ever would, but here I am! :)

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  17. While I've only known Amy a little while, and don't know Kerry at all (except through here & FB) I've got to say I've never been happier for 2 people in my life or felt they were more deserving. I'm glad that you 2 have found each other, and despite the path that brought you here it will only give you reason to appreciate what the other brings to the table more & more. I hope you both many years of happiness, and honestly see it happening. Ya'lls is the love fairytales are written about, I've said it before & I'll say it again!

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  18. AMY AND DIDE,

    YOUR VERY LUCKY TO HAVE EACH OTHER. KIDS TOO. JUST CLOSE YOUR EYES AND VISION ME DOING THE HAPPY DANCE. IT'S A WONDERFUL STORY.

    GRANNY

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  19. CRAP, I WISH I COULD POST JUST ONCE WITHOUT A MISTAKE. DUDE NOT DIDE. CRAP AGAIN.

    GRANNY

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  20. Love this. Well-written; compelling; oddly-uplifting; honest. Never let anyone silence you--amen.

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  21. What a wonderful post BUT it should have come with a tissue warning! Now my mascara is running!

    So happy for you Amy. I, for one, read this over a few times. I learned from it, so know that you have influenced someone waaaay over in California...lol!
    I have been thru a messy divorce and fight to keep balance everyday. I am looking for my happy place and you have given me hope that one day I will find it. I feel better all ready.

    Thank you for sharing such personal information.

    Hugs, Beth

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  22. now that was beautiful! i'm so happy for you and your Dude :)

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  23. Kristine--facebook followerDecember 16, 2011 at 5:13:00 PM CST

    Read it! Love it! Love what The Dude had to say!! Yay for happy places and intelligent men! :)

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  24. Hmmmm okay, well I read your post, which by the way I am over-the-moon happy to read. But I waited, like the good little skeptic I am....lol. Yeah, I found my happy place now too, but I'm still protective over my little family. My how far we have all come.

    I do say I approve so far of everything I have heard and seen. Especially after talking to you today and hearing your voice. You are happy my friend and it shows. That makes me so happy too :)

    Kerry, it takes a LOT of balls for a man to come right out and stand there saying what you think and feel. Not only that, but to stand at the side of a woman as deserving as Ames and open your own vulnerabilities as well - to strangers at that.

    I'm not going to make any 'well meaning' friend threats because frankly, I don't believe I have to worry about that with you for some reason. I am quite aware of what you have there my friend. She is a rare jewel. She stood at my side when no one else would, helped me pack my life and stood there and sent me away knowing I had to go and being unselfish enough to be there for me even though it hurt her. That is true friendship, love and family. She isn't just my freind she is my sister. I was there when Alex was born.......boy was that a story and a half. Always trust my gut right Ames? LOL

    Anyways, life finds you in unexpected places and for some reason we are so much more aware and grateful and maybe deserving of the joy because we have been through trial by fire and come out the other side.

    She is special to a lot of people and I'm glad she has someone around who appreciates that. She isn't used to it so make her behave lol. She will get used to it ;p and should. Be assured we will meet soon though lol. You were warned :p

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  25. "meet in the middle, where our happy places touch"

    Yeah, okay this one got me too.......

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  26. So, there's hope for 40 yo moms of 5 kids? Here I've been wallowing, thinking, "what man in his right mind would want to take on a perimenopausal woman & 5 kids?"...LOL! But sounds like you found a good one Amy & you know I have nothing but hope for you that this one goes the distance. You know my story, so you can only imagine the emotions The Dude's philosphy of "putting the kids first" brought out of me. Does he have a level headed brother? :)

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  27. Yay love!! Yay keeping hope alive. You inspire me and I just adore you. So happy you are feeling some joy. thank you for baring your soul to us, and more so to yourself. So much love.

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  28. Well Amy, there are just no words! (but I will find some anyway lol)
    THANK you for sharing your story with us and being open to letting the Dude share his as well...
    WIshing you nothing but life's very best...for the BOTH of you.
    HUGS to you both...
    Mare

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  29. Hey Amy.... I've just been reading all these blog posts that I've been a little absent about. Love the Dude. He sounds awesome. And I love your happy place. I'm working on my own happy place right now. I think you rock. just so you know.
    Kristen

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