Lean On Me

Lean on me, when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend…I’ll help you carry on…

A friend invited me over to eat take out on her back patio last night.  We drank wine, ate pizza and talked for hours.  Well, I talked for hours while my friends listened, advised and supported me with stories of their similar experiences.  Even though I wasn’t there longer than 4 or 5 hours, it was rejuvenating to reconnect with them.

We talked about every topic under the sun.  We exhaled all sorts of emotions into the night blooming jasmine scented breeze.  And I felt that spark again in me.  A short flicker, but one I hadn’t felt in a long time.

I think that when we get so huddled in our situations, we limit our thinking.  We isolate ourselves (at least I do) and then it’s like we’ve boxed ourselves in until someone comes along and opens the box or we push our way out of it.  Maybe that’s human nature.  But I know that it’s not healthy and last night’s experience was! because it got me out of my brain.  It let me set aside my thinking and listen with my heart.  The last 2 days of blog posts and comments have helped immensely too.  And I am ever grateful to all of you.

I lost touch with my essence in all the madness.  Fearful of how it would look that my kid failed, the disbelief that it happened, the anger, the sadness, the bereft feeling that I had for him, the disconnection, the anxious feeling I felt in regards to the imagined reaction from my ex and his family to my perception of my own bad mothering because my kid failed while living here so obviously it’s all my fault – had me not thinking clearly anymore.  So tied up in knots, I felt like I was drowning.

That song Lean On Me keeps looping in my head.  I awoke with it this morning and it hasn’t yet left me.  I’m sorry if by posting a few lines of the lyrics that it’s now in your head too.  But maybe that’s a good thing.  A connection thing.  A feel good way to start the day.  Please know I’ve got my arms wide open ready to embrace you all.  Thankful for your taking the time to read and to write to me.

You’ve got a friend in me….and so do I in you.

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Single Parenting Older/Adult Kids

Thank you for reading yesterday’s post and thank you to all who took the time to comment and to share your experiences.  I can’t tell you how much better I feel after reading all that you wrote.  When I felt your support and read your wisdom, I felt like I wasn’t so alone in this situation.

Because I have to ask myself the question –

Do I know what’s right for my kid?  At 19 years old, does he have a say in the trajectory of his life while he’s living under my roof with me paying for everything?  Am I obtuse in my thinking that to finish college in a timely manner is the only way to go?  Because now he’s failed one full semester so he’s already behind his friends/peers.  What I thought would keep him studying was that he didn’t want to fall behind.  That he would want to celebrate life’s accomplishments at the same time as his friends.  But when I realize that he’s lost many friends because they went away to school and because he wasn’t involved in the community college, his friend group has diminished.  So whereas that would be important to me, finish college on time, it’s not such a priority for him.  Or maybe that’s just my thinking about what he’s thinking…

The right balance of letting go and being there to be supportive and not smothering is the key I think.  I’m so glad he has an appointment with his therapist this coming week.  And I have one with mine which will help me.

Be thankful if you have adult kids who aren’t rocking your/their boat.  Especially today because I’m still reeling from it all.  Thanks for your support, caring and kindness.  Happy Saturday to all.

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College Kids, Anxiety And What Can Happen

I’ve been asking for the past semester’s grades from my kid who left University and came home to the local community college in January.  He has anxiety and is on Lexapro.  He has some depression as well after the divorce.  Frankly, he’s been a shell of the vivacious kid who always asked, “Why Mommy?” to everything.

I thought that in his moving back home to commute to the local college that he could have the comforts of home while I watched him.  There have been suicides in my family tree (none close to me), but I am always worried about that even though he’s not shown signs of it.  However,  you never know and I can’t have that on my watch.  So I’m watchful.  I’ll admit, I’m annoying and a nag at times.

He didn’t like his classes, nor the community college.  He’s really bright so he thought the teachers, the classes and the work were beneath him.  I kept telling him that if it’s so easy, he could get A’s and move on to another college in the fall.  At least that was my trajectory.  Instead, he lost momentum.  I nagged him to go to class and to do his homework.  He asked me to stop nagging him and assured me that he would do it.  So I stopped pushing since I wanted him to have the freedom to choose to do his work and he kept saying that he wanted to be responsible.  He told me that he was responsible and to stop treating him like a kid.  So I did.  Instead, he chose not to do it.

Sometimes he was too sick to his stomach to go to class.  He had anxiety and it manifested in nausea.  He would look at me with those sad eyes pleading to let him stay home.  Sometimes I did.  Sometimes I didn’t.  Now I wonder if during those times that he was supposed to go to class, did he?  Or did he just leave in his car and go somewhere until class was supposedly over.  I may never know.

What I do know for a fact is that he didn’t pass any of the classes he took.  Not one.  All F’s.  For a kid who never got an F before, he’s devastated.  As am I.  And I want to ask him how he’s surprised when he knew what was expected in each class and how much work he did.  The problem is that he’s very smart and never had to study before so that wasn’t the issue – the issue were the papers that he couldn’t be bothered to turn in or to do and the classes that he missed because attendance counted.  He wasn’t motivated and he chose not to do it.  Whether it was the anxiety or the depression or just plain laziness or stubbornness, the fact remains that he failed all the classes.  And I am having a hard time with it.

I’m trying not to lose my cool or have a meltdown.  I want to scream though and I want to ask him WHY???  incessantly as he did to me when he was younger.  When I did ask WHY? he shook his head and mumbled I don’t know.  Then he just hugged me.  And what else is a Mom who’s riddled with guilt to do except to hug him back.  Because we all make mistakes.

But that’s no excuse.  I was raised by strict parents who demanded A’s and would have lost their minds had anything lower arrived on a report card.  I remember the first C I received and how all hell broke loose for weeks afterwards so I tried never to do that again.  Part of me wants to let out my inner parental voice that sounds just like my own parents and berate the kid for failing.  Make him feel so bad that he does better.  But he’s not wired that way and I hated it when it happened to me.  It had the opposite effect on me than what my parents intended.  It made me shut down and feel belligerent although I still got good grades because I didn’t want to be hit again.  And I have never hit my kids because I hated when it happened to me.

He sees a therapist weekly and I’ve already informed the therapist of the recent events.  He’s a good guy so I’m sure he’ll be in touch sooner rather than later.  Thanks for reading and letting me vent here.  My ex doesn’t co-parent nor keep in touch with the kids so I’m on my own.  I’m embarrassed that my kid failed.  I’m sad about it.  I’m madder than hell about it.  I feel guilty that I had no idea that he was failing because he wouldn’t let me see the grades and colleges don’t allow you to see the grades without the kid’s permission.  What the hell is that?  I mean, guess who’s footing the bill?  ME!  And maybe, just maybe we could have gotten him some help instead of me realizing all too late that I just threw my money out the window.

I know, I know.  There’s always a bright side to learn from your mistakes.  But damn, I’m sobbing here.  I’m tired.  Overworked, upset, feeling guilty, wanting to lash out because of the situation we are in because his dad left us and all the messy bunch of emotions associated with it.  I feel like I failed the kid too.  I wasn’t on top of the situation enough.  I didn’t monitor him.  I wasn’t a good single parent.  I can’t take away the anxiety and depression that came after the divorce so I’m guilty of everything.  I could go on and on berating myself.  But that won’t help in the long run.

I told him that we need to find something that works for him because obviously, this situation didn’t.  I don’t know what the answer is but we will find it together.  I told him that he’s not alone.  And he’s not.  Obviously a cry for more help?  Help was here and help will stay.  I just don’t know what the next step is except to make another appointment with the therapist.  And I will.  Tomorrow.  Wish me luck.

If you have experienced anything similar, please don’t hesitate to comment.  But if you want to beat me up for being a bad parent etc., please keep it to yourself.  I can do that quite well on my own.  I don’t need to feel worse in that area.  Thanks.

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Happy Mother’s Day To All Women

I know that traditionally Mother’s Day is for Moms.  But there have been women in my life who have mothered me and aren’t ‘Moms’ because they’ve never had kids and certainly aren’t my mom either.

So Happy Mother’s Day to all of the…

Step-Moms, Pet-Moms, Like-a-Moms, Moms-to-Be, Adopted Moms, Grandmoms, Mom Friends and All the Moms in between.

Today, I want to honor all of the women who have mothered me over the years when I needed some extra mothering.  Because I have needed extra mothering.  Haven’t you?

Especially now that I’m divorced, I’ve found that there are just sad moments when I need a little extra caring in my life.  You  know, like the good moms do.  They hug and push your hair back from your wet cheeks after you’ve been sobbing.  They’re the ones who cup your chin in their palm, make you look up into their eyes and smile at you with love.  Usually they tell you something inspiring when they do that or at least tell you how much you are loved.

Maybe I’m just remembering how I wanted to be mothered because certainly nobody’s done that for me so dramatically.  But I’ve had friends who have mothered me by giving me a hug and holding me for a few minutes while I cried.  And I’m so grateful for them.

Because when you’re a single mom, you’re all you’ve got.  You’re the alpha and the omega.  You’re the pillar of strength and if you need a hug, well, hug yourself.

It takes a village to raise kids and I’m grateful for the village I’ve got which includes a bunch of friends who I can rely on and who can rely on me.  We’ve bonded as women, friends and extra moms.  Because you just never know when you need to be mothered.

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Managing Expectations Vs. Reality Single Mom Style

It’s Mother’s Day weekend and I’m engaging what I’ve learned in order to survive it.  Managing expectations vs reality.  Because my rose-colored glasses expectations would be the boundless adoration of my kids, a meal out without me cooking or cleaning up (along with a glass of wine and a good steak) and some quality bonding time with the kids after having opened beautiful cards full of love and gratitude for all the sacrifices I’ve made throughout their lives.  Yes, I live in my fantasy world sometimes…and I like it there.

But it doesn’t help me when the reality is quite the opposite.  Single Mom of 2 college kids who are still in the thick of exams means the full adoration party isn’t going to happen.  I couldn’t help myself and I did let it ‘slip’ that it’s Mother’s Day weekend in case they didn’t know.  Now I have to lay off and allow whatever is going to happen to happen.

I’m keeping my options open, but I’m also not going to sit on the couch alone in a pity party.  While most of my friends will be celebrating with their families, I’ve got a tentative date to Starbucks drive thru for a mocha frappuccino and a slice of the lemon pound cake which is a favorite pick me up treat.  Then if the weather’s nice, I’ll take a drive and maybe go to a farmer’s market nearby so I can pick up some flowers for myself.  I am pretty simple in my needs/wants and some peonies would do nicely.

What about you?  What are you planning for Mother’s Day weekend?

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Narcissists Spin The Story

To keep you on your toes, narcissists spin the story of whatever they’re telling you.  Listen closely, because depending upon whom they’re talking with, the story may change.  Outright lies, embellishments of the truth and even small nuances are part of their cleverness which keeps the non-narcissist baffled.  The scope of the audience is also a factor in how the story changes, depending upon the need of the narcissist for adoration and attention.

I chalked the story telling discrepancies up to forgetfulness or his need to brag when he wasn’t feeling very confident.  “He just stretched the truth a bit,” I would think when I knew the dynamics of his audience and imagined that he felt a little inferior, so he was boasting.  Sure, I would raise my eyebrows when he did it or downplay after he told it in order to smooth the truth into the story.  But that never went over well with him and our relationship deteriorated until I found myself just allowing him to embellish and I stayed mum about it.  My friends knew the truth, so to me, that was all that mattered.

But as time went on, the embellishments grew exponentially to outright lies.  Stories would vary extremely.  It was as if he didn’t remember the truth.  Answers to point blank questions from me became some version of the truth until I completely stopped believing anything he said.  I had put my head in the sand, constantly giving him the benefit of my doubts, before I caught him in too many outright lies and then I had to face facts.

The narcissist is an illusionist.  Even when confronted with cold, hard facts they will not relent.  They will twist the story to evade blame and make it someone else’s or even better, your fault in misunderstanding.  It doesn’t matter how small the fact is that they’ve lied about as it can never be their fault.  Narcissists are not to be criticized, otherwise you will be punished.  Because in their heads, you deserve it.  You doubted them – even when the facts say otherwise.  It is a personal affront and you will receive their vengeance for your disloyalty.

As an empath, you can drive yourself crazy with this lunacy.  You don’t know whether you’re coming or going.  You know the facts, but this is your beloved so maybe there’s a reason why what he’s saying doesn’t add up.  You question yourself over and over again.  Then you begin to use your detective skills to sleuth, citing that you just need to know if he’s really lying this time.  Over and over, the truthful facts outweigh the stories he’s telling you and everyone else.  No more giving him the benefit of the doubt, even though in your heart you want to believe in him.  Until you can no longer.  And it’s over.

Caveat:  You can still be triggered to wanting to believe him even years later.  But stay strong.  Stay centered.  Do not waver.  He has not changed his stripes.  And he knows what works with you even today, years later after you broke up.  Do not be fooled.  Facts are facts no matter how he may try to twist them.


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A Single Girl’s Lesson From Divorce

It took me awhile to learn this lesson, but it’s an important one.  I don’t need a man to complete me.  That being said, I would like to find a nice man to get to know and to one day have a relationship with that’s happy and full of love.  But in the meantime, I’m ok on my own.

When I was married, I loved being married to my then husband.  In the beginning it was wonderful as marriages often are – because why else would we marry?  After he abruptly left, I was grieving, floundering and had lost sight of who I am.  Because who was I without being his wife, partner and part of a family?

But time has healed many of the wounds and I’ve found an inner strength and knowing that I’d forgotten I’d had.  Because I’d been lost in the marriage.  Too focused on his needs, the kids’ needs and I’d left my needs buried somewhere, abandoned along the way in trying to be the perfect wife, mother and family.  I looked to him as my protector and the head of our household.  We revolved around him.  I was just a supporting player (yet the heart) in our family dynamic.  And it’s my own co-dependency, the pattern that we evolved into and my need to keep the peace that kept me bound in that role.

Breaking out of my comfort zone hasn’t been easy.  It’s like being reborn, but I will say that the growing pains, heartache and life lessons have been well-worth the evolution to becoming Authentically Janie.

I have full custody of my kids.  I am home to them.  I am my own boss, pay my own bills and my schedule has more freedom than before.  I am no longer tied to my ex, his schedule, nor his family.  I am free to be me.  I have let go of worrying about what people say about me.  I know I live my life with integrity.  I am far from perfect, but I am a good person.  I make mistakes, but not intentionally.  I forgive and I am grateful that he left.  Freedom came at a steep price, but it was worth it.  While it wasn’t what I would have chosen, it’s been a blessing in disguise.

My life is similar, but different than when I was married.  I am still responsible for the kids, but I parent alone.  That has been a hard struggle, but I have a bunch of friends who are in similar positions and we discuss as needed when we need help.  I sleep alone which took time to get used to, but now I enjoy stretching out and hogging the covers!  I am grateful for all the little and big things in my life.  I know that I’ve made them happen.  I know I can rely on myself and friends/family to help me.  I’ve left toxic friendships that I’ve outgrown.  The friends I have may be few, but they are true, steadfast and loyal.  The kids and I have an even closer relationship since we’ve been through so much together.  While I wish they hadn’t experienced the heartache, we’ve bonded in ways we wouldn’t have otherwise.

So if you’re having a hard time transitioning, take heart.  It takes time, but the journey is filled with newfound experiences that enrich us, shake us to our core and center us in our authenticity if we allow ourselves to get out of our own comfort zone.

You can do this!  Believe me.  If I can, you can.  And maybe someday, I will meet someone who will appreciate the woman I’ve become and we can enjoy time together.  In the meantime, I’m enjoying being me.  Aren’t you?

Posted in divorce, finding happiness at 50, love | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments