Holiday In The Wild

Netflix has a new movie out called Holiday In The Wild starring Rob Lowe and Kristin Davis (Charlotte from Sex In The City).  It’s a bit Hallmarky (is that a word?) but here’s what Netflix says about it:

When her husband abruptly ends their marriage, empty nester Kate embarks on a solo second honeymoon in Africa, finding purpose — and potential romance.

It’s a short movie and if you like elephants or dream of taking an African safari, it’s a good one.  But what I liked best was that it was about finding yourself again.  And isn’t that what we’re all searching for especially after heartbreak?

You’ve got to pick up the pieces of you and mold them back together in a new way once the shock of the heartbreak has decreased.  When the question of What am I going to do now? enters your head, you want to begin the healing process to find a solution and that’s not easy to do.  Because if you’re like me, I lived, breathed and loved my role as wife and mom.  And even though I was still a mom after the breakup and divorce, I didn’t know who I was if I wasn’t the ex’s wife.  And it felt like I was on shaky ground.

But like the movie character, I found myself again although it’s been a long process and I’m still working on it.  I’ve remembered who I once was and looked inside for that kernel that is Janie – Authentically Me – and started there, at my core, to rebuild.  While I haven’t rebuilt my life to where I want it to go, I’m on the path.

This movie may touch you with some inspiration if you’re in a similar situation.  I like movies about relationships and surviving life’s challenges and embracing the changes that life throws at us.  Those curve balls aren’t meant to wreck you.  They’re meant to inspire you and to help you change.

When my life crumbled into a huge heap of nothingness, I sat on the floor in a pity party, digging through the mud and trying to find answers.  Finally I had to pick myself up, dust myself off and rebuild my life.  It hasn’t been easy, but the fact that I get up every morning thinking that it’s a new day and a new opportunity, I guess that’s a good start.

I just thought I’d share since I watched the movie the other night.  It’s Friday and for those of us who are single, we may need something to watch this weekend!  Let me know what you think of it!

 

 

 

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How Becoming A Single Parent By Divorce Changed Me And My Kids

More than five years ago, my now ex husband suddenly announced, I don’t want to do this anymore.  I was stunned to my core, but in hindsight I realized that our marriage for the past few years before, had been one-sided.  He hadn’t been invested in our family, nor our marriage.  I thought it was a stage he was going through and while I was concerned, I never believed he’d actually walk away.  But he did.

He walked away from the marriage and from being a father.  Call it mid-life crisis, mental breakdown, narcissism or whatever happened to him, he became even more withdrawn and angry with everyone.  I tried many times to help him, encouraging both he and our kids to have a relationship, but now so many years later, the relationship is tenuous, strained and unfortunately occasional when they communicate.  So I have been parenting alone for longer than the years we’ve been separated and divorced.  He now lives the bachelor lifestyle and the kids live with me, only seeing him at Thanksgiving, Christmas and maybe a few weekends a year when he visits his relatives who live nearby.

What has grown after he left has been a strong sense of family without his presence.  While the kids mourn that he is alive, but not a part of their lives, they struggle with missing him and have for a long time.  But that has been changing recently for the better.  They still hang on to the vestiges of hope that he will be more fatherly or take more of an interest in their lives, but it’s fading.  And I think that’s been healing, yet sad for them to accept.

Being Mom and Dad to my kids has been a transition, but one with many benefits.  My kids have bonded as brothers.  While I am still Queen Mum (LOL), we are bonded in such a way that we make united family (the three of us) decisions.  Whether it’s what to eat for dinner, school troubles, sometimes necessary discipline or life’s challenges, we work it out together as a group.  As a family – where everyone is important, loved and feels that bond, knowing that this is our home, our family and we all count!

An interesting part that’s emerged is that when I need to occasionally discipline (because they’re good kids), whichever kid is in the hot seat is met with a loving mom and brother who explain and help him to improve.  A few times I’ll admit that they have bonded together and I have been the one in the hot seat which was hard, but we worked through the situation with love and kindness.  And I think it’s been because I can take criticism.  I’m not a perfect parent nor are they perfect kids (but we’re darn close – LOL!).  So any type of criticism is given with love and kindness so that it can be heard.  I am still the parent in charge, but on certain subjects they have more of a say than in most families.  Because of their ages, late teens to early 20’s, they are old enough to have a significant voice here in our home.  They are not babies, but almost full-grown adults who need to know about some of life’s challenges.  This does not mean that they are in the midst of every decision having to do with our lives.  But in certain situations, they have an almost equal say as is due the members of our little trio called a family.

There’s an unspoken rule here that everyone has a voice and is heard.  We share more than most parent/kid relationships that I know.  Subjects have no limit so we talk about everything.  We share meals together.  We talk about life, relationships, university, friends, problems, etc.  There’s nothing that they can’t come to me to talk about if they’re concerned.  They’ve shared private matters with me that I would have never shared with my parents and perhaps they should have shared with their dad, but since he’s not around, Mom’s it.  Sometimes those types of conversations can be uncomfortable, but the trust is there that we are here for each other.  I love that they feel they can trust me and tell me things when they need advice.  And the highest honor is that they seek my advice, so I don’t ever turn them away.

It’s not easy being a single parent 24/7/365.  My life revolves around my kids.  I’m grateful that we’ve forged such a bond that for the most part, we’re all happy.  We’ve dealt with anxiety issues that still have us on edge and that are worrisome, but hopefully things will keep improving, even if it’s ever so slowly.

It breaks my heart that my kids now come from what’s commonly known as a ‘broken home,’ but their lives are still good because we’ve made the necessary sacrifices that are needed to keep things good.  They’ve chosen what they want to role model from each of their parents and respective families.  They have bonded together like no other set of brothers I know – each taking turns being the big brother with the undying support that unifies them together.  Because they’re in this together.  As much as I’d like to think that I know how they’re feeling, I don’t have the same experiences from the divorce that they have and lucky for me, they’ve chosen to talk about it and not stuff it down to fester.

They walk a fine line between their parents now that the ex and I don’t speak (his choice).  I no longer have a relationship with his family either (again not my choice) so there are occasions when the kids feel in the middle as his family demands the kids’ presence at certain functions without warning.  I have given in more times than not to keep the peace for my kids’ sakes.  And they appreciate it and can see what is happening clearly in the push/pull that has developed.  It’s not pretty at all and could have been completely avoided, but things are as they are and we roll with it.  There’s nothing beneficial to my making things harder on my kids as long as they understand that Mom’s not a pushover, but a peace-keeper for their best interests.  I have had to put my foot down occasionally when the narcissists have over-demanded and it made it harder for my kids.  But in the end, it was a life lesson for them and resulted in a learning experience like no other.

So if you’re in a similar situation, I get it.  It’s not easy.  It’s frustrating and time consuming and exhausting.  But the benefits!  The benefits of being HOME to my kids in every single sense of the word is more precious to me than all the money in the world.  I will always be their Mom and parent and friend.  They are loved here as no other place on Earth.  They have the freedom to be themselves and to be appreciated for who they are.  And someday, when things are little bit easier for us all and the right man for me comes along, we will hopefully make room for him in our little family and they will enjoy his presence as he enjoys theirs.  That’s my hope.  Someday, I will find a man who holds dearly what I do, loves with his whole heart and wants to be a part of our family.

 

 

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Brittany Runs A Marathon

Amazon Prime Video has a movie called Brittany Runs A Marathon.  I watched it last night.  While I’m not a runner myself, nor 30ish anymore, I will tell you that I found it a good one.  Not spectacular, but thought-provoking for different reasons.

I dislike it when reviewers give the plots away entirely in book reviews or movie reviews, so I’m not doing that.  But I will tell you that it made me revise my thinking or expand it and that’s what I like!

I identified with some of the experiences Brittany and the other characters go though, but in a 50ish way.  The realization that Brittany was stuck in limited thinking and unhappy with her situation felt familiar.  The toxic friendships and relationships that didn’t feel right anymore, but somehow she kept because they’d once worked.  The desire to have help, but the stubbornness in not wanting what she deemed as pity instead of how it really was – people wanting to help her.  The moment in which she takes that leap of faith and simply tries, one small goal at a time, to succeed.

I hope that I didn’t give too much away with the prior paragraph, but that you get what I mean.   I think we get stuck in our ruts from time to time and it feels like it takes herculean efforts to dig ourselves out from them.  We feel like it’s our fault.  The blame is all on us and we have to do it ourselves because we put ourselves here.  We don’t accept help, especially if/when it comes from strangers.  And yet, that is how we bond and grow our tribe.  When we let others in, we can grow to new levels.  But first we have to see from the observer point of view that our life can improve, one baby step at a time.

What I liked about the movie is that it didn’t completely follow the Hallmark routine.  There were some twists in the plot and we witnessed the ups and downs, but it wasn’t so blatant if that makes sense.  I will admit that I watched it late at night so maybe I didn’t get the whole scope of its predictability.  But it touched me and that’s a sign of a good movie.

Have you seen that movie?  What did you think?  Did you like it?  I will tell you that at one point, I thought about trying to run as exercise and maybe someday I will.  Running the NYC Marathon isn’t for me because I’m not a runner, but I’d think about running if it were for a sale at Saks!  LOL

 

 

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Home For Thanksgiving

So I changed up Thanksgiving tradition this year and honestly, I loved it!  I spent the morning talking to friends who feel like family.  I started to decorate for Christmas and took down Thanksgiving (after we had our version of Thanksgiving meal) and had the best time!

The kids slept late – typical teenagers – and I was ok with it.  I woke them up in time for brunch and that was perfect.  It was so refreshing on a holiday to not have to get up and make food and bring it somewhere or be rushing around because company was coming.  OMG!  It was like a dream come true because I enjoyed staying in my sweatpants all day and so did my kids!

But with this choice, I had some backlash.  My brother and his family were acting cold.  I texted Happy Thanksgiving with love emojiis and received the routine reply minus the love emojiis.  I’m no fool.  I knew it was deliberate because I chose to not go there for Thanksgiving, so I was being punished.  I called to verify and I was right.  He, his wife and kids were still hurt and disappointed and his kids said that we don’t love them because we weren’t coming to their house for Thanksgiving.

Let’s be clear.  I asked them to my house for Thanksgiving, but he didn’t want to leave his armchair football and beer to drive to my house.  So when I told him we weren’t coming, I asked him to understand that I was feeling the same way (minus the beer).  But that didn’t go over well because he wanted us all together.  He could give the excuse, but I wasn’t allowed to use it too.

He went on to say that it wasn’t really my problem and that he and his sad family would have to process their feelings.  He added that he appreciated that I called to acknowledge that they were missing us.  Then he said that the kids are getting older and we don’t have many more holidays with them all together.  While I get what he’s saying in a guilt riddled way, I felt like I was allowed to choose what I wanted to do this year.  And yes, he’s right.  It’s for him and his family to process and allow me to do what I feel is needed this year.  Because I no longer have a boss.  The ex and his family are long gone from my life.  I don’t often have my kids for Thanksgiving and we (as a family of 3) decided to just enjoy each other’s company for once on a holiday.  And I feel like I deserve to be able to decide how my family and I spend the holiday.

If I didn’t think he’d throw an even bigger fit, I’d have told him that I don’t like going there because his kids fight, dinner’s never ready nor warm when served and although I like hanging out there for a few hours, I really enjoy peace and quiet and hanging out with my own kids.  But that’s not going to happen any time soon because honestly, I wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings.

He and I are all we have left for family.  Siblings who get along, but don’t.  He’s a good guy, but there’s this weird vibe since childhood that gets ugly when I don’t follow his suggestions so he gets annoyed and twists everything.  Add to the fact that he continues to defend the ex-husband (I still have a sneaky suspicion they may be a little friendly), and so I don’t feel like I trust my brother completely.

The best part of the day?  At dinner my kids told me that this was the best holiday in a long time because even though we’ve been through hell together, we’re still together and so much closer because of all the ugly stuff that the divorce left in its wake.  They told me, we have each other and that’s all that we need.  It was a great Mom moment!

Thanks for letting me tell you about my weekend.  I don’t know if anyone else had family issues this weekend, but I hope you didn’t.  And if you did, I suggest staying home and relaxing next year.  It’s really wonderful!

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T

It’s been a long road of learning since the divorce.  It’s been a hard journey for me – full of shocking, eye-opening facts that I turned a blind heart to because I didn’t want my life to change.  I loved being a wife, mom and part of a family with holiday traditions.  I was willing to overlook difficulties because I wanted a stable environment for my kids and for myself.  As time went on, I became a shell of the woman who started out in the marriage and when he left, I was empty.  I didn’t know how to pick up the pieces of my shattered life.  I didn’t know what I wanted.  I was confused by the anger and resentment that the ex and his narcissistic family hurled at me.  I wasn’t the one who broke up the family.  I had been the nurturer, the peace-keeper, the one who managed everything so that everyone was happy – except me – but I wasn’t able to see that at the time.

Fast forward and even though I’m still a work in progress, I’m progressing from that scared, depressed self-loathing victim mentality to an authentically confident woman who can stand on her own two feet.  I was never a woman who couldn’t stand on her own two feet, but after years of marriage, I molded into a twisted sort of  Stepford Wife because that was what was expected.  That’s what kept the peace and I craved peace like oxygen.

When I spoke up to the narcissists in my life, I was firmly put down and because I didn’t like to rock the boat, I obliged.  I can honestly now say, I am so much more than that and although I don’t like to rock boats, I can if need be.  And that time has come.

There are all those quotes about how people treat you and how it’s a reflection of who they are and not about you.  I couldn’t see it at the time and took their disrespect to heart.  But no more.  I will not be disrespected.  I no longer am the wife nor part of his family and the rules do not apply to me anymore.  In fact, they really never did.  Now that chapter in my life is fully closed.  Can you hear the huge HURRAH?!  So when they do try to impede on my time with my kids, the disgruntled Momma Bear emerges holding the sign with one word – RESPECT.

Cue Aretha Franklin’s song, Respect!  I find that listening to that song sends empowerment through my veins. Sometimes all I need is that little bit of oomph to revitalize me.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me….

 

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Fighting Thanksgiving

I’m already dreading Thanksgiving.  There, I said it.  I’m not a huge fan of turkey anyway, but now there’s so much wrapped into the holiday that I’m throwing up my hands in surrender.  Here’s the situation….

This year, I have my kids for Thanksgiving and the ex has them on Friday.  Problem is that ex’s narcissistic, manipulative (remember Marie Barone?) mom insists that my kids (and everyone else) have to have a full Thanksgiving meal at her house on Friday.   Not a problem for me.  But my kids aren’t fans of turkey either so now they don’t want a Thanksgiving meal two days in a row.  And nobody will tell ex’s mother the word ‘no’ – not one family member will do it so they’re all having two days of Thanksgiving to keep her quiet!  LOL

My brother’s family invited us for Thanksgiving this year, but my kids don’t want to go there because his wife serves a cold meal every time and their kids fight when we’re there.  Two years ago when my kids were with me for Thanksgiving Day, my brother’s kids had a huge brawl while we were there and my kids were traumatized (as was I).

So, I’m starting a new tradition.  I declined my brother’s invite which didn’t go over well since it’s only us as ‘family’ anymore and instead I’m making a new tradition.  I got an artificial Christmas tree and I’m making steak for dinner instead of turkey.  My plan is to have a day at home the three of us (kids and me) and set up the tree and decorate for Christmas.  I know it’s Thanksgiving, but I’m changing it up.  Now my kids don’t have to eat turkey two days in a row and we get to hang out together.  (I’m just hoping the artificial tree is good as we’ve only ever had real trees and they aren’t happy about the fake tree.  But getting a real tree now is too early.)

The other reason I want to decorate the tree on Thanksgiving is because I heard that the ex’s mom wants my kids to stop by her house on Thanksgiving night to get all her Christmas decorations out of the attic for her.  Why she can’t ask her own son or husband is beyond me.  It’s just another manipulation.  The day after Thanksgiving her tradition was to make all the grandkids decorate her tree which put a damper on our tree decorating which didn’t usually happen until the first week in December.  That woman has been a pain in my life for a long time and I’m done.  The power is back with me where it belongs.

However, it’s hard on my kids.  They’re stuck in the middle and it makes our relationship tenuous at times because ex’s family (mom) is so demanding and my kids feel obligated.  Ex’s family has more money than I do and they dangle it in front of the kids as bribes.  And of course, my kids like the extra cash.

What’s a mom to do?

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Miss, Ms. and Mrs. Titles

Ok, in keeping with the last post…I’m putting this one out there.  I guess I’m working on me again and figuring out my next chapter.  It’s been long coming even though I’ve been divorced for awhile now.  I’m just thinking I may want to venture out of my comfort zone further and see what the next adventure has in store for me.

So, after yesterday’s post, I was thinking about the Ms. title.  My memory of when Ms. first came into my view, I was working in the corporate world and not married.  I used Miss and for whatever reason, I didn’t feel like I was a Ms.  Maybe it was my age or the times or how I felt about me?

Because to me, Ms. was a power statement.  Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s how I felt at the time.  Ms. was the unknown – married or not, it didn’t matter.  Ms. was who she was with or without a husband/partner.

But then, once I was married, I was happy to be called Mrs. Leeds.  And now that I’m divorced and kept my married name because of my kids, people call me Ms. Leeds.  Well, people who I don’t know well, because my kids’ friends still call me Mrs. Leeds.  Old habits die hard and I don’t have the heart to keep correcting them.  Because really, what does it matter anyway?  But it’s weird in a way because I’m still not used to the Ms. title.  Maybe if I had taken back my maiden name after the divorce, it wouldn’t sound so strange to me.  But it does…Ms. Leeds instead of the Mrs. Leeds that I was for decades.

I feel like Ms. is the middle road between Miss (not married) and Mrs. (definitely married) when you aren’t sure of the status of the woman to whom you are speaking.  It’s a form of respect.  Although, I will say that I clearly remember women who were married, but chose the title Ms. in the workplace as what I thought was a statement of defining themselves.

How about you?  What do you think?

 

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Are You Single Or Divorced?

How do you define yourself?  I’m asking for your opinion, if you don’t mind sharing.

If you’re divorced and back in the dating world, do you say you’re SINGLE or DIVORCED?  Guys, what do you say?  Do you say single or divorced?  Because…

I have divorced women friends who say they’re single. 

I have divorced women friends who say they’re divorced. 

The ones who define themselves as single after a divorce don’t understand why the ones who say they’re divorced don’t say they’re single and vice versa.  So I’m putting it out there to you.

If you’re in that situation, what do you say?

If someone asked me, I’d say divorced instead of single because to me, divorced says I was once married (and maybe even implies I have kids) while single seems like I was never married, nor had kids.  Although to me, divorced also states the failure of a marriage contract, which is defining as well.  Is my reasoning too simplistic?  Does it really matter anyway?

On a side note, what do you think of when you hear someone is single or divorced?  Does single (after a divorce) mean something different that I’m not aware of?  Is there some unspoken rule that I don’t know?  Does single not define if you’re divorced or never married?  So there’s an air of mystery?

Anyway, I’m just wondering what you think about the single vs divorce.  You don’t have to be divorced or single to chime in the discussion in the comments.  I love to hear from everyone!  Thanks for taking the time to talk about it!

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It’s Not You, It’s Me

I was watching some video about the saying, It’s not you, it’s me, and how when break ups sometimes occur, that’s the line used.  I guess the, It’s not you, it’s me, is designed to make the person whom you’re breaking up with feel better, but I often wonder if it’s truthful or just one of those sayings.

Have you ever used that line?

I’ve never said it myself, but I’ve been the recipient of it.  In fact, I was devastated by it because to me, saying that is akin to saying, You’re not enough even though that’s not what is technically meant by it.  It’s supposed to feign the blame on the leaver so as to make the other person feel better.  Either way, I think it’s a lousy line to use.

When my ex-husband left, I thought I wasn’t enough and that line came to mind even though he didn’t utter it.  I wasn’t enough for him to want to stay as a family.  Look back on some of my old posts and you’ll see that vein of thinking over and over.

But there’s a clarity that comes after healing.  It wasn’t me…it was him.  Because even though I’m a work in progress, I still know who I am.  I am happy with who I am and even though the kids and I have fallen on hard times, we got even closer and I am still home to my kids.  We share a trust and a bond of family that my ex doesn’t have because he chooses not to have it.  While that hurts the kids, it no longer hurts me.  I feel sorry for my kids’ hurt feelings about the way their dad is, but healing begins once we accept the truthfulness of a situation and find forgiveness.

So many times when we are left in a relationship, we blame ourselves.  We try harder to be what we think the other person wants in us, but sometimes that has nothing to do with the break up.  It’s simply because s/he doesn’t want to do this anymore and no amount of jumping through hoops is going to change it.  And looking back, I’m grateful I didn’t beg him to return or to stay.  I didn’t turn myself inside out to please him once he left.

I’m peaceful with my present situation.  I don’t need someone to complete me.  It’s taken what seems like forever to get to this place, but I am finally here…it’s all about me and my family…and it’s not about my ex.  It’s not me…it’s you.

 

 

 

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