Monday, March 31, 2014

What Today Taught Me

I'm tired, I so badly need a shower, and my inner beast is surfacing so yes, it's time to start getting ready for bed.
But I couldn't NOT post tonight.
I just couldn't!
There is no excuse that is good enough right now for me to not tell you how I feel.

I feel grateful. Today was an amazing day. Shall we just relive it a little bit? Yes, let's do that!

This morning, after dropping P off at school, Spidey and I headed to my mom's because she was going to watch him while I went to math tutoring---bleh. Math and I have been enemies this semester. A few weeks ago, I was ready to call it quits. I couldn't handle the pressure and I couldn't handle seeing my grade (63.7%) get lower and lower. I emailed my teacher and told her I'd be dropping the online class and that I'd take it this summer at the school.
Her response caught me off guard. It went something like this: "Suzanne, I'm happy to withdraw you if that's what you really want but I would love to work with you to bring that grade back up. Don't give up yet! I'm going to open chapter 3 quiz for you and I want you to try it again. Don't hesitate to ask questions if you need to and utilize the math tutoring center."
I was very hesitant. I didn't think I could do it but that email gave me hope. I knew I needed to try.
I re-took the quiz and brought my quiz grade from an F to a B. I re-did some homework and brought those grades from D's to B's. Today I went to math tutoring and got 100% on all of my homework assignments! This is huge, people! My grade is still a D but there is now a cute little + in front of it.

So I was feeling good when I went to pick up my Lil Mr from grandma's house. We came home, I signed on to Facebook before we were going to head out to the gym and I saw that my cyber-friend was having a crazy morning.
Let's back up a bit with the story of my new friend. I'd like to start by pointing out that I have 100% utilized this year's word, brave, when it comes to making this new friend. I read a blog post last month that TC had written about National Eating Disorder Awareness, which inspired me to write this post on my blog. I wanted so badly to write her a message on Facebook but hesitated because that isn't just a thing you do to people you don't know. Anyway, a few weeks later, I saw TC post on my daughter's school Facebook page and realized our kids go to school together! For some reason that made it seem less creepy so I messaged TC and gave her my life story. Just kidding---kind of.
So we became cyber bff's and planned to meet someday soon.
Flashforward to "someday soon".
Last night, TC and I were texting because I realized we are in the same stake! Is the world seeming smaller yet? I thought it was so funny that we were a teeny bit more connected than we were before. Today TC was having a crazy day and I knew exactly what I was going to do. I FB messaged her and asked for her address and favorite snack.
She didn't respond.
I texted her and asked her for her address and favorite snack.
She didn't respond.
I threatened to look up her address if she didn't respond.
She didn't respond.
I texted her to tell her I was on my way.
She didn't respond.
(Would it be important to tell you she was painting her house so the lack of response wasn't because she thinks I'm as crazy as I actually am?)
So I got brave and showed up at her house with a bag full of different snacks.
You guys, I was so afraid she'd think I was crazy but since I felt insta-connected to TC, I hoped she wouldn't call the cops.
Don't worry, she didn't. And my bravery won me a new friend today. A real new friend.

So I left, feeling happier than happy. And it wasn't even the "service" kind of happy, it felt like a real happy. I felt like this day could be the first day of the rest of my life. Cheesy, right?
I digress...I went to the gym and kicked the crap outta my mile run. I shaved 30 whole seconds off of my run. Booyah.

This afternoon, we needed to clean the house. Really badly, we did. But the kids were oh so whiney and cranky so we started with a bike ride. I even mustered up a little bit of patience and jogged next to Spidey so I could help him with the two-wheeler he's known how to ride for 6 months but thinks is scary. He mastered it beautifully and by the end, was riding almost as well as his pro-bike-riding sister. Another booyah.
We got a little bit of cleaning done before the whining and crankiness started up again so we stopped for a dance party, including but not limited to shaking our booties, jumping on my bed, wrestling, and a crud-load of laughing. It was perfect for a minute---a minute is accurate.

So today was great and the cherry on top was posting on our neighborhood page to see if someone could grab me some conditioner if they were at the store tonight {because this girl is in serious need of a shower right now} and having a wonderful friend send her daughters to the store just to get me conditioner.

People are so freaking amazing.

Tonight I decided something that was probably already decided but was reiterated a thousand times over today.
This girl is going to be just fine.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Distant Memories

 Sometimes it seems unreal. Sometimes it seems too much to try and remember the good.
Because the good from back then is just a distant memory.

It isn't because I don't want to remember or even that I can't remember but once everything came crashing down---not last August but 2 Augusts ago, I felt like that was when my life changed forever.
The tension was different.
The hope was different.
The trust was different.
We were a dying bush that needed so badly to be nurtured. We needed care and patience and we got that, in the form of marriage counseling.
Because my marriage didn't survive, you might think I'm not a believer in marriage counseling but wholeheartedly I am. Marriage counseling brought something dying back to life for a while.
Marriage counseling taught me. I believe marriage counseling made it so when I was abandoned---a word I don't use lightly but that describes exactly my feelings from that day---I was able to pull through and not break down completely. I was able to function as a mother and I was even barely functioning as a person in society.
Marriage counseling showed a less active dad how to become more active. Those memories are now foggy and hard to fathom because if we were doing well, why? If those memories were ones of joy and laughter, why? Maybe we were just doing well raising our kids together...

I feel a lot of betrayal. Betrayal, abandonment, and betrayal trauma are words I think of when describing all of this. This wasn't a death, it wasn't abuse, but it was traumatic. Going from learning to trust someone to realizing you trusted someone at the very moments you shouldn't have has made this all an experience that feels like a thorn in my side.
I feel stupid for not recognizing the signs, for not recognizing the problems. I feel stupid for not seeing the lies or trusting my gut---because my gut was telling me there were problems.
I feel a huge pressure to be this awesome person and this awesome mother all of the time and when I fail, I'm harder on myself than ever. People often tell me how strong I am and how amazing I am and this buoys me up for a bit before I started questioning why they believe that.
Do they just read my blog? Are they just an acquaintence? Is this someone that spends enough time with me to recognize how imperfect I am?
This is Satan, my friends. Everything I just described above is Satan. It is his way of reminding me that he will always be there, tempting me and telling me I'll never get better and that I'll never get away from horrible things. He tells me not to trust. He tells me not to believe in my future. He tells me that I suck at being a mom and that I'm too fat and too stupid to succeed.
 He doesn't want me to be carefree and to find my brave self. He doesn't want me to believe in a world where I can be mother, friend, counselor, and even a good wife again.

But I do.

Yes, I struggle with these beliefs often right now but they haven't completely left. When I fail to be the mother I know I want to be, I can work harder the next day. When school seems like it is too hard to handle, I take it a day at a time and just try. And when I'm feeling like it would be impossible for a man to love this person that I am, I try to remember that God has placed me on this earth for a certain reason. He sees the potential I have. He recognizes all of the good I have.

I just need to start recognizing it with Him.

Friday, March 28, 2014


I have a lot of sisters.
Growing up in a family of girls (until age 10 when we adopted my brother) was one of my favorite things about growing up.
It's funny how I perceive the girl fights and the drama because mixed in were a lot of laughs and late night talks.
It was worth the drama.
My sisters teach me. This certain sister in particular has taught me more about how special we all are.
She doesn't speak at all but she's amazingly smart and I love it when I get to see her smile.
 She happens to be the only sister younger than me and I loved being her older sister. I am grateful for the experience of being close in age to her because I got to teach this sister a lot and spend a lot of time with her growing up.

I'm grateful for the 'olders' too.
 I remember many times laying next to my older sisters and having them read me books and falling asleep to their voices.
 I remember the "We're best buddies, yeah!" chant this sister and I made up as kids and I still consider her my best buddy.
 I remember matching clothes and Easter dresses and shopping together many times.
 I remember loving to give gifts...can you tell? Even in the picture, I'm motioning to make sure everyone knows I got her that "rad-i-cool" shirt!
 I remember when my bestest buddy broke my collar bone---because even sisters fight dirty sometimes. :) And I still loved her and wanted to be her best friend.
 We took many family trips and sang many car songs together. On top of that, my older sisters and I have sung on numerous occasions together in church and even at the ASU basketball games.
 One day, we all grew up. We all became mothers (besides Candace---our awesomely special needs sister). And we are all still friends.

We are all different and unique and live different lives but we love each other so much.
And our dad loves to throw pillows at us when we're taking pictures together...

The End!

PS: Mostly I wrote this because we are having a girls night tonight and I can't wait to spend the night with my sisters and mom {We'll miss you, Karin!}. I'm one lucky gal.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Happy Sad Angry Unfair Grateful

I wanted to make myself get right back on here after that last post and shout from the roof tops how grateful I am for life! I hated leaving things on such a negative note. I always hate doing that. But it was real and I'm trying to just accept that and move on from it.

Moving on means trying to be a better person, a happier person. I succeeded on Monday. Monday was a better day and I knew God had given me that because of my feelings from Sunday. But things go up and down around here. I'm not always happy and I'm not always sad. Some days that are hard still have incredibly happy moments mixed in. It isn't all bad.

I promise.

The memories are still hard. I'm still trying to work through this new phase of hard. It feels different than the others because it isn't just something I can stop or erase. Memories are there forever and blocking them out will do me no good. Trust me, I've successfully done that before and it didn't help.

I keep wondering if we were really happy, if I was really happy. What did that feel like? What changed it? When did it change? Is there something I could've done?
I look at pictures to remind me that I was happy. It wasn't an act. This was real. I was living my dream life, being home with my kids {despite the many opinions of others before and after this big life change}. And the thing is, I still am living that dream life. I didn't have to pick up and go back to work full time. I got lucky that I'm able to be in school full time---even though, at the moment, it doesn't feel lucky because school is hard and a lot of tears have been shed today over that stress. But that is another subject that I hope we never talk about because there would be a lot of whining and feeling sorry for myself.

And the kids were happy. That is another thing I have a hard time fathoming. I have a hard time remembering those days before the added anger and sadness. I have a hard time remembering the differences from before, when life seemed a lot more secure for them. Everyone says that maybe they are just in phases because of their ages and that could be partly true but as their mama bear, I know things have changed in them. I see it. It breaks my heart and I want to take it away.

Petey will often complain about how life isn't fair anymore and you know what? She's right! Life isn't fair for her. It isn't fair to have to choose between your mom and your dad. It isn't fair that most of the time, she only has one of us available to her. It isn't fair that she has to go to bed at night with kisses from one parent and never both. It isn't fair that she had no say in this. There wasn't any way for her to put up a fight or ask us to reconsider and she just doesn't fully understand.

Someday it might make sense to her but today, it isn't fair.

The funniest---or not so funny---part of my last post and the outreaching I received afterward is that I feel that way a lot of the time. There are a lot of hard days and hard nights but I don't like talking about them all of the time. If I'm completely overwhelmed, I talk about the really hard stuff but when I'm in between, I will often shy away from talking because I want to feel normal. Almost all of my friends are married mothers who have husbands that come home at night and I want to feel like I fit in, like I'm not some center of attention because my life is so sad.

I don't think my life is so sad, by the way. I truly don't. The hard will get easier. I believe that 100%. A divorce isn't the worst thing that could've happened to our family. Life changing as it may be, it isn't an end all.

So today, I'm alive and I'm grateful for so many things. On the days or nights that I can't seem to find that gratitude, I will rely on my Heavenly Father to buoy me up and keep me going. I know He loves me. I can tell you that as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, God loves all of us and knows what we need. We are never alone. Ever.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Getting By

 Let's get real.

Life doesn't always feel like it'll get better and I don't always end my thoughts on a positive note.
I know, my blog would usually say otherwise.
But it's easy to clear my thoughts here and write down things I believe or hope. It's easy to remind myself of the good and forget about the bad for a minute.

But sometimes, the bad is overwhelming. Sometimes, the bad envelopes me and I get panicky and I cry or get really bad anxiety and nothing seems to make it better.

Lately, I've been feeling a lot like this girl below...
...and less like this girl...
...because I feel stuck and confrontational and easily offended and needy of attention. I have a hard time accepting that little girl and all of the "bad" she seemed to be and I revert back to her when I'm feeling that way instead of protecting her for all of the good that was in her.

Sometimes, I feel like I'm drowning and I'm scared about the future.

Sometimes, I'm not ok. Tonight, I'm not ok. I kept thinking of memory after memory and trying to weed through the lies I've been told in my life. What was real? What wasn't? Will I ever trust again? Will anyone ever love me again? Will my kids be ok? Will I be ok?

My goodness, my brain is filled with doubt and worry tonight. This is reality tonight. Although I'll have better days, tonight is not one of them.

Life happens. I learn each and every day. Sometimes all I learn is what not to do---like how I'm probably not ready to weed through old blog posts and remember things I can't handle remembering right now. Someday, it'll feel ok to remember but today, it doesn't. All it does is hurt.

So tonight, I'll get by and hope that tomorrow I can handle more than 'just getting by'.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Finding the Good

I was feeling defeated early in the week. A lot of things seemed to go wrong all at the same time and I wanted to give up.
But I mustered up some patience and decided things could get better still.

So I strapped on my big girl boots on Friday and showered myself and even got around to doing my hair.
I felt good---and extremely sarcastic because I posted that selfie on Facebook.

It took a lot to realize it's actually been a good week, with some harder days and some easier. I just need to find the good and hold it tight.
 Good #1: Petey performed at the Suns basketball halftime show and was incredible. I know, I'm her mom so of course I would say that but I'm being serious. Petey isn't always super confident and she often looks to the other girls in her group to see what she should be doing next. Well, not this week! This performance, my girl was confident and smiling while doing the moves slightly ahead of her group. I know normally that isn't a good thing but I was proud that she knew the dance all on her own. Go Petey!


 Good #2: Yesterday was a fun date night in our family. Petey was headed to the daddy/daughter dance at school with her dad so Spidey and I got fancied up and went out to dinner. He was the best date ever and he even held the door for me. I love my boy so much!

Good #3: Then, today, my goodness today has been good to us. We started out by cleaning the church (Thanks for waking me up with a reminder, Lacey Lou!) and then went on a 3 mile bike ride---well, Petey rode her bike {her two wheeler!} and I jogged with Spidey in the jogging stroller. We stopped at a park 1.5 miles away and got to play together before heading back home. Then after grocery shopping, which was the only disasterous part of my day, we headed to the little park to play some more with friends.
I felt like an overachiever because I don't always play with my kids at the park. I let them play with their friends and I sit and talk to my friends. But I got up and helped Spidey play baseball with the big kids and he loved it. It felt awesome to get up and be with them instead of just sending them off like I usually do.

Should we top off this week with the end of the "goods"? Good #4: Tonight I cooked dinner! Is it silly how happy that makes me? And not only did I cook dinner, I cooked extra chicken that I'll use throughout next week in meals.

Weirdest part of today? At 5pm, before dinner mind you, Spidey said he was going to lay down and when I went to tell him dinner was ready, he was fast asleep. Fast forward to 7pm, Petey came over and said goodnight and just put herself to bed. Seriously. I did nothing. I guess that's what a full day of playing will do to you!

I feel like this week had so much good in it and that makes me so grateful to my Heavenly Father. It doesn't matter if I struggle, there will always be good in my life and I'm so thankful for that.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Victimhood is a Choice

 Many years ago, when a horrible shooting happened at an Amish school, I remember my mom printing off a quote from one of the parents whose child had died in the shooting that had made her think.

"Victimhood is a choice."

I remember walking past that quote many times in her laundry room and wondering if that meant something to me personally. I knew I could be the victim of my childhood and how hard life was. Or maybe I could be the victim of an eating disorder. How about a victim of depression? What was I choosing to be a victim of? Anything? Nothing?

Then one sunny day in August, actually August 17th to be exact, I was walking in to Liberty Market with my sister to pick up her birthday food when I got a call that changed my life. I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I struggled with secondary infertility for 2.5 years and the only reason I no longer "struggle" with it is because I'm single. That day in August, I slipped down into a deep pit. I felt like NOBODY understood. I felt like everyone would judge me for being sad since I already had 2 kids so I was sad alone. The first few months, we were in it together {we being my husband and I}. Then we went through a period where one of us was still heartbroken and the other one wasn't as sympathetic and understanding. It was hard. I chose to be a victim to infertility for a long time. I didn't function as well as I should've in groups of people. I got angry when people would announce pregnancies. I was playing the part of victim extremely well.

But I wasn't very happy.

You see, choosing to be the victim becomes overwhelming. It runs your life. It makes you bitter.
At the time, I was praying daily and nightly but not for peace---I was praying for a baby.  So the bitterness came easier and easier every month when I would find myself NOT pregnant.

So one day, I made a choice. I started praying for God's will. I prayed for peace. And I lived my life, actually in my life.
I believe that is one of the hardest things about becoming a victim. It's really hard to see past your fears and doubts when you focus on being a victim.
But it's a lot easier to be the victim. It's easier to feel like you can blame your mistakes, your attitude, and your choices on something or someone else. Being the victim creates a way for you to do this.

When my husband left me, a huge part of me was thinking, "Welcome back, victim card!" because I had an easy way to blame life on someone else. I was crushed and depressed and my heart was breaking---but at least this was his fault, not mine. I had confidence at first. I was ready to date and put myself out there because I knew I was a good person. I had faith in myself.

But I was numb and wasn't dealing with my feelings. All of that faith had been an act because I was scared as all heck on the inside. I was playing the "poor me" card and hoping someone would find me broken and pick up the pieces. I was doing things the exact opposite of my infertility experience because on a cold day in January, I decided I had never been good enough. I decided not only was this all my fault, I wasn't worthy of love. I went from one extreme to the next, both of them involving me playing a victim.
Some days, I'm still the victim. Some days, I feel sorry for myself. But most days, I live in the moment and am grateful for life today.

Life today doesn't involve a husband. Life today doesn't involve pregnancy {and thank goodness for that!}. But life today involves happiness. Those things don't go hand in hand.

Although I play a victim every once in a while, I am not a victim because victimhood is a choice. I choose not to be a product of divorce or infertility. I choose to focus on the good things God has given me. I have the opportunity every day to make choices that involve me being happy or sad or angry. Most of the time, I choose happiness. Sometimes, especially at night, I have a hard time choosing the happy and the anger or sadness sets in and overwhelms me but it's ok! It's ok to grieve the life I once had as long as I pick myself up and try to find happiness again the next day.
Happiness is found everywhere around me. I just have to choose whether I'm going to seek it out.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

"Our Own Kind of Family"

 I had a post almost finished this afternoon before leaving it to go pick up some things from my sister's house.

And then things changed.

After a pretty good day, we took a turn for the worst tonight when the kids had a random melt down at the same time about the divorce. This happens on occasion but tonight was different. Both kids were crying and telling me they didn't like living at my house. They explained that they miss their dad so much and want to go live with him.
Petey said, "I don't want you to be sad so I'm just going to tell you I like living at your house instead of telling you the truth!"
Spidey called his dad and said, "I'm so sad that you and mom are not married. I want you to live all together again!"
So many more things were said and we ended our drive all in tears, all needing some time to cuddle on the couch and talk some things through. I had to explain that mom and dad weren't going to be married ever again and that we wouldn't ever be living together. The kids were heartbroken and couldn't seem to grasp that things would never be going back to the way they were. Petey cried and brought me our favorite book to read on really hard "divorce is hard" nights.
I got a giftcard to Shutterfly in January and knew I wanted to write my kids a book about our changing lives. Maybe it seems corny but this book has really helped my kids to understand all of this in a more simple way.
So here we go. You get to read my book. :) I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

As you can see, the main point of the book is to let our kids know they will ALWAYS be loved. Always, always, always. Nothing is ever going to change that. I hope that is something I can instill in their minds so that when things feel rough, they know they are loved.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Loving Myself: Escaping My Masks

"I catch myself trying to cover up the parts of myself that I don't accept. It's like a mask. I think masks say, "Approve me. Accept me. Love me." (but) masks don't say, "This is me.". So what am I without the masks? What am I from the inside out?" -Sabrina Ward Harrison-
I'm covered in masks, big and small. I think we all are to some degree. Some of us are more comfortable in our own skin than others and we show others who we are more often but we all develop masks.
When you experience heartache, do you really feel it? Or do you have a mask that is comforting in those situations?
I do.
My biggest mask is sarcasm.
I don't like to cry so I make jokes instead. It doesn't even feel like a nervous habit, it is natural now. I have a hard time feeling.
I feel like smiling has also been a mask, even though that isn't always the case. I smile genuinely but I also smile when I don't want anyone to know what I'm feeling.
Last week, my divorce was final. It's been an interesting week filled with interesting remarks. Obviously, after 6 months of paperwork, ups and downs, and feeling so stuck in limbo, it was relieving in a lot of ways. I got comments spanning from, "It's a new beginning" to "I'm a bit jealous that you get to date again" to "I'm really, truly sorry". It felt like it's own mini-rollercoaster.
If you'd like to know what one of my masks is, it is me saying I'm excited to date again. Ha! I was never excited to date. I am scared out of my frickin mind! What I am excited about is the possibility of the mature decisions I am able to make to benefit my future. I am not excited to date and feel rejection and happiness and more rejection and more happiness and all of the ups and downs that come with dating.
{Maybe it'll end up being better than it is playing out in my mind? One can hope.}
Being "finally" divorced {in what was actually a pretty quick and painless divorce} just seems so final, so personally unstable, and so sad. I know I'd choose to do it all over again and not only because of the two children who are now mine forever. I'd choose to do it all over again because it was real love and we were really happy and life was hard and good. I've learned way too much to give any of that up. And my ex-husband (Could someone find me a better name than that? And not baby daddy...weirdos...) is my friend and we are both still invested in our children and their future.
But I'm still hiding behind so many masks because I'm afraid of change and the future and possibilities---because some possible outcomes aren't great and others are wonderful. 
 I lost 17 pounds and posted the above picture on Facebook because I was proud. But I almost immediately felt guilty because this picture was a mask. I haven't been losing weight because I love myself, I've been losing weight because I feel inadequate.
It's a hard balance because I feel like weightloss will make me more loveable, more beautiful, more everything but I know I should focus on the fact that losing weight will be good for my health. I choose to focus on the first part more than I should. I often do feel inadequate and I'm trying to make up for that in some way. I'm trying to wade through mucky fields filled with thorns and thistles and come out on top. I choose the hard way way too often. I blame myself for things that have happened because if I just would've been better, seen these things coming, been more giving, etc., they wouldn't have happened, right?

I use the phrase "I deserve this" a lot when it comes to my heartache but yesterday, while riding my bike to a park a few miles away, I had this overwhelming feeling of happiness and freedom and the very first thought that came into my mind was, "You deserve this!"

It's been a while since I've felt that way, so free and full of life. I thought the events from the past few years had stolen that from me but they haven't; I just lost it for a while.
So without any masks, who am I?

I am sensitive; more sensitive than I feel comfortable with. I'm trying to embrace that and just understand that I am who I am. My feelings get hurt easily but I'm also quick to forgive.
I am bubbly. I love laughing.
I am way too loud.
I speak before thinking.
I am insecure.
I want to be a good friend and a good mom and a good daughter and sister. I am a people pleaser.
I am afraid of people leaving me.
I have a strong testimony that Jesus Christ died for me and that He alone understands my pain.
I have a positive personality and can usually believe that things will get better when they're tough---and when things are good, I recognize it.

I'm trying to work on shedding some of my masks to be comfortable with who I am.
Because who I am should be good enough.