Saturday, June 8, 2013
Do you ever panic? Do you or have you ever had a panic attack? I don't remember having them as a kid... I remember getting nervous in college before exams or before I had to fly somewhere. Usually I was afraid I would forget something important or that I would accidentally leave something behind. I'm not sure I would actually call them panic attacks though. But I don't think I had actual panic attacks. I remember my very first one. It was before I got married. I remember being paralyzed by fear from an image I had. It was, or so I thought at the time, such a stupid thing to panic over, but when I look back now I realize that it wasn't. The image, which I thought to be insignificant at the time, was a symbol for something much greater, much larger. While I couldn't actually ignore it, I did dismiss it. And I would have, what I would later realize, the same panic attack over and over again. Panic attacks, for me, come when I am least active, usually in the early morning or at night, when I am in a fairly relaxed state and the world is quiet. When my body is quiet my brain is not. In fact, when my body is quietest I believe my brain at its loudest. (Along the same principle that things are much scarier at night, in the dark.) Sometimes my panic attacks are short-lived. Sometimes they last hours.
I'm having one right now. My house is quiet. It's 9:00 and the children, save for my youngest who is in my room watching television, are sound asleep. I've been up for 4 hours already and have had 3 cups of coffee. If I had any decaf lying around I'd make another, but I don't and I'm pretty sure the caffeine wouldn't be helping me right now.
I have an anti anxiety pill... somewhere. I've thought about taking it many times. But I haven't. I was given one (and only one!) by my doctor before I had a minor surgical procedure last March. But I didn't take it. I've thought many times about taking it since. Like when I have these episodes. Let me explain what a panic attack feels like. It usually starts with a thought or worry. Even a non threatening image of something. Then suddenly, the thought becomes more than just a thought. It becomes a worry, but bigger - much bigger - and it takes on a life all of its own. And suddenly this thought becomes all consuming and grabs your central nervous system. So that while you want to banish the thought from your head completely you can't. You simply can't. And suddenly your chest gets tight and it's hard to breathe. If you've ever had an asthma attack, that's exactly what it feels like. But there's more to it than that.Your pulse quickens, your heart rate speeds up... you can literally feel your heart beating inside of you, banging really and it's a miracle you can't see it trying to jump out of your skin, because that's exactly how it feels. And then you feel all nervous and jittery and you literally want to climb out of your own skin - much like a snake sheds his own. And your body has this nervous energy that just can't be tamed. Sometimes you feel like you're going to be sick. It's really not a fun thing at all. I'm not really a fan of most medicines. I love Motrin. And Excedrin. Those are my drugs. As far as anything else goes I am not a fan. I don't do well with them and have had some very unpleasant experiences in the past. They don't agree with me. It's that simple. But oh to make this all go away!
I had my first recent attack 3 years ago. I had just had shoulder surgery and was not allowed to drive anywhere for 3 weeks. Friends had to take my children to school, take me to the doctor's, to physical therapy and to the grocery store. When I wasn't being toted around by kind friends I was home. Alone. Lonely and bored. Lost in my thoughts. This is always a very dangerous combination for me. And it most certainly was then. It was the catalyst to my divorce... It was the little pebble that set the rolling stone speeding down the hill, growing larger and larger as it gathered moss until it got to the bottom where, fat and full of moss, it came to a stop.
I've never looked back. I've never regretted my decision. Never. Not once. So that panic attack may actually have been a good thing. And, painful as it is to admit and to speak aloud, had I paid attention to those initial attacks years and years ago, I may have had the courage not to enter into a marriage with someone who was not right for me. But I did. And we did have many happy moments and we do have three amazing children...
And so here I am again... Life as a single mother is not without stress. On so very many levels. I won't bore you with all the details, and I am sure many of you all share the same worries and fears, but I feel as though many of these fall solely on my own two shoulders. And the burden is so large and I must, quite literally, hold up the world all by my own for myself and my three children. Toss in a few other random worries and fears and you have a perfect setting for a panic attack.
I wonder what the symbolism in these latest sets of attacks mean....
Friday, May 31, 2013
First I have to tell you all that my diet begins on Monday. Not tomorrow because it's my Birthday and not Sunday because I will want leftover Birthday cake, but on Monday! I'm dying over here. I have no idea when this happened but my middle and my derriere seem to have expanded over night. I work out several times a week when I can... but I guess I've been hitting the baguette and the cheese and the wine a bit too hard. Ugh! Truthfully, part of me says screw it! I don't care any more, but part of me really does care. I don't love how I feel. I hate my muffin top. Muffin tops are not sexy.
I've talked a lot over the course of the past year or so about body shape and body image. There are skinny girls who are insecure and large girls who are totally at ease with themselves and exude confidence and sexiness. It all begins upstairs. In the head. So much of how we feel comes from upstairs. Our mindset is our greatest asset, tool, weapon and it can be our greatest downfall. To others I may not look any differently, but I feel differently. And it bothers me. Terribly. In three years 10 pounds have slowly crept back on... I've gone up a full dress size. It frustrates me so that some of my clothes are tight or no longer fit and I positively refuse to buy up a size. I've not bought much in the past year because of this. I refuse to. I must get myself back on track. Not because I look terribly, I know I don't. But I don't like the way I feel... that uncomfortable in your skin feeling... feeling bloated all the time. So for me, it's really more about comfort than body image.
I'm not out there to impress anyone. Not even myself.
I know how to put myself together and have become a master at hiding my flaws.
But that's not at all what it's about.
It's about feeling good within. The whole my body is my temple thing... forget it! That's not what I'm after... I just want my jeans to feel loose again. I'm a healthy eater and I eat really well... but I live a fairly social life that has me out and about all the time... and those little calories are hiding everywhere! And let's face it. I'm old. Well, I'm getting older and I definitely cannot eat the way many of my friends can. And as my business grows I have less time to spend in the gym and spend more time out and about. It's a great place to be -I'm not complaining. But still, I'm uncomfortable in my own skin. And no one can say anything to change that.
I talked a little bit about dating in my last piece. I mentioned that for the most part men aren't seeking Barbie or a Supermodel. But some are. I've met a few along the way. Needless to day I basically told them off. I mean, trust me, it's not as though they were any Ken or GI Joe, either. I'm no silent wallflower, as I am sure you all have gathered! I tell people right off the bat - if you're looking for Barbie, then I'm not your girl.
I remember meeting, for the very first time, the man I ended up dating for about 4 months last summer. I remember telling him that my days of diets and starving myself were over. I remember telling him that I worked out a lot and took care of myself but I really enjoyed good food and wine and that I wasn't going to sacrifice anything just to get back into a size 2. I was looking closely at his face to watch his reaction... without a moment's hesitation he said "that's good. I think a woman is much sexier when she has lived a full life..." I remember him telling me that he thought C-section scars were sexy, and that he didn't want someone who hadn't been through and experienced life. I believed him... then and now. He was, I have to admit, hot and I couldn't find anything close to a C-section scar on his body... But you know what? Men, like women, come in all shapes and sizes. And just like us, there are plenty of men who have lived life and they are sexy. I think, you get to a certain point in your life where your definition of sexy/hot/whatever word you choose to use changes. In our youth we wanted looks... Now we tend to go after personality, humor, intellect... Now of course looks are important... but to a certain degree... Chemistry is the ingredient to attraction. Chemistry is what separates the friend from the lover, but there must also be intellect... personality and yes, humor. Chemistry without those simply doesn't last.
You have to know what you're looking for. You have to know what's important to you. You may know this initially, or not. I had a rough idea of what I was looking for, but I think I really knew after dating several people. It was almost like each man had certain traits that I adored and some that I did not. I had to see which of those traits were important to me and which weren't. And then all the pieces of the puzzle have to fit. So the man from last summer who adored women's imperfections, I knew off the bat that this was not a long term affair, but I adored being with him. We had fun and laughter and some incredibly deep conversations... and the chemistry... well it was incredible too... yet I knew that something was missing. And so off I went looking for it... there were a lot of misses (strange, weird, boring, dull, or just wrong) but I kept dating and meeting people and for the most part I thoroughly enjoyed it - the process and getting to know them... but there were times when I was frustrated as well.
Where am I now? I've got a pretty special person by my side and he's been around for a little while now. Where are we going? Who's to say - we have a lot to learn yet... Dating after divorce, especially as parents to teenagers, is quite complicated. We have to factor in a lot more than if we had no children or young children. We potentially bring 5 other people into our relationship - but before that happens, we really need to figure out where we are going, if indeed anywhere, and how those 5 other young people fit in... and will our lifestyles mesh... Can this work out? Is there potential for long term possibility? Dating, when you have older children, is complex. There really isn't a yes or no answer. A friend of mine not long ago suggested that I was over that new relationship hump. I told her that this was not at all the case. I'm still in the thick of everything. You can't know right off the bat if it is or isn't... You just can't. But being in a place where you want to find out what may potentially lie ahead, is a very good place to be. The moment I feel it not to be right, I end it. I've spent too many years with the wrong person - I won't ever do that again. I've got my second chance, as have many of you. And this I can say for certain - I'm getting it right this time!
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
That caught your attention, didn't it?!
Many of us panic and wonder 'what do I do?' and 'how do I do it?' I think the best thing to do is to just put yourself out there. Let others know that you are back on the dating scene. There are some great online dating sites, and it's always a great idea to tell your good friends, neighbors, and work associates that you want to get out there and meet people. Go ahead, ask them if they have any single friends. Chances are someone knows someone. And people, women especially, love to play the role of matchmaker! My friend Allegra was one such person. She tried, boy did she try. My dear friend had more misses than hits with me, but truth I appreciated her efforts and they were good exercises for me.
It's hard to get back out there when you've been married for 14 years. It's hard to get back out there when you're in your 40s (or 30s or 50s) but it's also nice to get back out there when you're in your 40s (or 30s or 50s) and I will tell you why. Truth be told, there's less bullshit. For the most-part men and women want the same thing and there's no game playing. I happen to be outgoing. I happen to love talking to people. I hate small talk, but love deep, intellectual conversation. My view on dating, I think, is a healthy view. When I go out on a date I'm not shopping for a husband or even a boyfriend. I'm simply looking to have a nice evening... maybe with a glass of wine or two, possibly a meal. For the most part the men I have dated were all really lovely, and even if there was no "spark," "magic" or "chemistry" I still had some lovely evenings. Dating can be frustrating and it can be exhausting, but it can be a wonderful experience as well. And let me tell you something. Men love women. Men think women are beautiful. They worship the ground we walk on. And really, why shouldn't they, right?!
But before you are ready to start dating, you really need to ask yourself whether you are ready to do so. You really need to have moved on from your divorce emotionally. You shouldn't harbor anger or feelings of ill-will toward your ex or regarding your marriage. You shouldn't feel sad, remorseful or resentful. If so you may not be ready. How you feel about your current situation will absolutely present itself, and no one wants to date someone who is negative, angry or depressed.
The other important thing is to be physically ready to get out there. For some of us this is the biggest challenge. Body image is at the forefront of our thoughts and worries. We spend too much time obsessing and worrying about our bodies. As we get older our bodies change. It happens and there's not much we can do about it. Add to that the ravages of multiple pregnancies and childbirth and I know there are times when I'd just assume hide under a coat of armor! The physical challenge, for me, was and is the hardest.We are naturally hard on ourselves. We are our own worst critics. I'm not saying men are shallow creatures, though some are, and I have encountered some. Fortunately, most are not. Most men appreciate women as we are... our softness, curves, and the changes that happen to us, naturally, over time. Yes, some men want Barbie, but I am pleased to tell you that most do not. For the most part, men are looking for the same things we are... they are looking for someone to talk to... someone to care for... someone to care for them... They're looking for passion and compassion... someone to go on adventures with... someone to hang out with... I know... Over the past couple of years I've met and talked with a lot of men... I've dated quite a few too... some short term, some a little longer. I really do know what they are looking for.
I'll share some of my experiences, the good, the bad and the positively hilarious in the near future.
I think, as women, we need to tell ourselves how great we are. Sometimes we focus on our weaknesses and shortcomings and pay no attention to our strengths. But we have many and we need to play them up. We're funny and smart and caring and nurturing... and we are beautiful. I truly believe that when we feel beautiful we exude beautiful.
So, your now divorced - or separated - you're not dead. In fact you should feel very much alive! You've just been given a second chance. How amazing is that? You've just been given the opportunity to put your best foot forward and start all over again. This is the most incredible opportunity... So go ahead, take that leap... step outside of your comfort zone and SPARKLE! Maybe you'll even meet your true soulmate. Wouldn't that be wonderful?!
Monday, May 27, 2013
Dear Elsie and Lulu*,
I started this blog - open letter, journal, diary - whatever you want to call it - to help sort my own feelings, fears, confusions, and to share my journey with others. As I entered into this new world I had no idea where I was going, no idea where I'd land and no idea what to expect. In my case, I had to make a decision and take a blind leap of faith. I'd done something I had never done before - I had taken a chance with no safety net below me. I had stepped out of my comfort zone. I had done this while wearing a blindfold. Whether you are making this decision or whether the decision has been made for you, I want to assure you that everything will be alright. Really, it will. I have learned, over the past few years, that everything works itself out - maybe not as we have envisioned, but it does.
In my life, I had never been a chance-taker. I had never been a risk-taker. I wanted and needed my safety net. I had a terrible fear of change. I knew it at the time, but it's become more and more clear. I can truly say that I missed out on some amazing opportunities in my life because of this. And yet, I had some great things come to me because of this as well. I cannot look back. I cannot change. I do not want anything to change.
I have learned and grown so much over these past couple of years and for that I am truly grateful and appreciative. I have lost some friends and I have gained some friends. The truest of friends have been by my side regardless of where they live. A friend of mine said that a friendship is like a garden and it needs tending to. Neglected friendships, like neglected gardens die. The most magnificent gardens have both mature and new plantings and they coexist in the most beautiful ways. Don't forget to tend your gardens, my dear friends, for you'll want them for peace, solace, their beauty and their friendly, soothing voices.
I am not the same person I was 5 years ago, 2 years ago or even last year. This isn't to say that the core of my being has changed - it hasn't at all - but it is to say that I am such a better, warmer, kinder, more understanding person. I'm for the most-part calmer (though I do have my moments) and I am for the most part a much more patient person (though I do have my moments.) I am at peace and I have found peace. The journey, as tough as it was, was well worth it. You will hit peaks and valleys and twists and turns. I hope you can stay strong and sail when the wind is behind you and adjust your sails when the course gets more challenging. And when you think the challenge is just too much and you simply cannot take any more, know that I am here and I can walk and talk you through it. And the knowing that tomorrow is always a new day always helped me. I can tell you this for sure - the sun really will come out tomorrow!
You will want to scream and cry and throw things. And you should. You shouldn't deny yourselves these emotions. But, by the same token, allow yourself to smile and laugh... smiles and laughter are contagious and they will take you far.
I remember how free and liberating I felt when I started this new journey. Don't get me wrong, I was scared - terrified in fact, but I knew that I had been sad and lonely for too long. I knew that the life I was living wasn't mine. I knew the person I was at the time wasn't really me. I knew I couldn't live that life for the rest of my days. And so taking the first step from my old life meant I was taking a step toward my new life. I walked around, for the first time in a long time, full of hope and promise and dreams of things to come. You are both young and your lives ahead have so very much to offer.
I do not see divorce as a death or a terrible thing. I see it as a second chance and an opportunity to live my life the way I want to and to build new dreams and learn new things and meet all sorts of wonderful new people along the way. How many people get second chances? I look at this as the most amazing gift of all.
So, know this, as I am on the other side. I have found my rainbow and my peace. You will too.
Our stories, no matter how different, are really all very much alike. But you are both strong and amazing women and you will be just fine. I promise you.
*names have been changed to protect privacy
Saturday, May 11, 2013
I don't love the day for a multitude of reasons.
I remember a conversation I had with my mother when I was quite young, about celebrating Mother's Day. She said she didn't celebrate it. Her belief was that everyday is Mother's Day. I never really quite got it. I would make a handmade card and my father would take me to the florist, or, when I got older, would give me money to pick out some flowers. I seem to remember getting daisies all the time. My mother doesn't like the fussier flowers, like roses and all. She doesn't like anything to be fussy. And perhaps that's why she was never big on Mother's Day. She had one child and I was perfect. :) All kidding aside, I really was an easy child. I knew my limits and very rarely tested them, even in my teen years. I respected and almost feared my mother. We were/are very close but she was the disciplinarian. She set the rules. She was strict and she was tough. But we had fun and laughter... there was lots of fun and lots of laughter. But Mother's Day always fell on a Sunday, as it does now, and Sunday was truly her day of rest and relaxation. My father always sauntered off to the Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) where he would walk around the world's finest paintings for several hours and I went off to Sunday School. Mom stayed home and did the New York Times Crossword and filled each and every empty square. My father and I returned home by about 12:30 and we'd all have a lovely brunch together and then I would either go play quietly by myself or head off to a friend's house for the afternoon. My Sundays are nothing like this!
Now, I really don't subscribe to my mother's beliefs that everyday is Mother's Day - at all. But maybe I should stop celebrating... or expecting to. But in a sense my mother is right, I suppose. Really, this one Sunday in May is no different from any other Sunday. It's jam-packed and filled with chaos and the same madness that every other Sunday, or day of the week for that matter, has. So you want to go out to lunch? So do all the other mothers out there. Trying to get a reservation to your favorite restaurant can often be as unsettling as the day itself. Trying to get your young children to not bicker, sit still and behave can often be a challenge...
Fourteen years ago I had huge expectations for the day. I thought I would relax and be pampered. I thought the day would be magical - magical in the way we all wish Valentine's Day or New Year's Eve would be. My first year disappointed as did my second... and most that came after. Now I'm not meaning to come across as an ungrateful bitch, but I think my expectations were unrealistically high. In all honesty my husband really tried... I got flowers, lovely breakfasts, gift certificates to salons... all that a tired and exhausted mother could want, but in the end it comes down to the children. Sometimes they cannot be tamed. Whether a colicky, screaming baby or two toddlers fighting or not getting their way... there was always something that put a damper on Mother's Day.
And there were many years I had to share Mother's Day with my ex mother in law. Now, while I like and have always really liked my ex mother in law, I really never loved sharing the day. A relaxed morning would then turn into chaos as we hurriedly bathed and dressed the kids and ourselves to get out the door on time - of course we were late, year after year. And she always prepared a lovely meal but those meals were also perpetually interrupted by one child or another, or all three. Little children can be controlled to a certain degree... I remember having to leave the table during my meal, almost every year, to take care of a child of mine or all three or mine and everyone else's children. It saddened me and looking back I think I resented it. I spoke up a few times, but I think I should have been stronger in my convictions and spoken up louder. So many Mother's Days ended up in tears... mine. I think, really more than anything, I was looking for a break which is what, more than any gift, an exhausted mother really wants.
So now, after 14 years, Mother's Day, to me is sort of sad and melancholy. Perhaps even more so now, as a single mother. Definitely more now, as a single mother. Like all those holidays that have come and gone, I am sort of wishing this one away. Right or wrong, it's how I feel. And I suppose all those childless mothers out there are screaming at me, telling me that I should be grateful and that bratty or not, whiny or not, misbehaving or not, that I should be grateful. And my heart goes out to every woman that has lost a child or has been unable to have a child... I have known many and I know how hard this day is for them as well...
I am grateful for my three...You have no idea how grateful. There is no love as strong as that love between a mother and her child... whether the child is behaving badly or not. And some days when it seems like nothing is going my way, and I am fighting, struggling to make it through the day, the week, the month, the year... I see my own flesh and blood and they are reminders of how unconditional love really can be, even when they are behaving badly. There's something I say to my children all the time when they are not well behaved or have done something to make me angry. I will say "I may not like you very much at the moment, but I will always love you." And then I cannot help but wonder if mothers still feel that way when their children have gone way way way off track...
I have learned to be realistic. I have learned not to expect too much - I have learned to expect nothing at all, really. I have gotten older, wiser and more sensible. I cannot expect my children to appreciate all that I do. I cannot expect them to understand how much work they are - laundry, cooking, chauffeuring, nursing while trying to build a career and balance the checkbook, nor do I expect them to until they have families of their own. But this girl, this mother, is a dreamer. I admit to wanting the fairy tale. Just as a little girl dreams of her Prince taking her away to live happily ever after, this mother wants, just one day where there will be no bickering, whining, conflict... I want the day that ends happily ever after.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
I was recently directed to the following article about Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch on why "he hates fat chicks." This is truly deplorable. It's despicable. He makes me ill.
The article appeared in Elite Daily.
The article appeared in Elite Daily.
Friday, May 3, 2013
|via I know hair|
The following was not written by me. I found it over at HuffPost. But it could have been written by me... or you or anyone that is or has been a mother to young children. It resonated so strongly that I felt the urge to share it with everyone I know.
The piece was written by Lea Grover and was titled Dear Less Than Perfect Mom