Monday, December 31, 2012

2013-My Vision

It's amazing to me, the power of just saying what you want outloud to the universe.

Of course, nothing just happens. You have to take every opportunity that arises, you have to stare fear down in the face, you must be willing to embrace change and failure as signs, not as dead ends.

I was reading some of my tweets from last New Year's. I tweeted on the eve of 2012 that this time next year, I wanted to change careers and begin working with my husband full time. I didn't know how we would do it. And I still really don't understand how, but just this past month, we made it happen. We are running the business of my dreams together as a team. We work from home, we have our business meetings together in our living room or on walks. Work doesn't feel at all like work. I am living my passion alongside my life partner who is also living his passion, and our work is changing lives. Our marriage is rock solid.

Last year I resolved to make this year more balanced, avoid drama, and to live with gratitude. After a rough year, I'm there. Last minute, but I'm there :) I began writing my daily gratitude down every day, and even do my own separate version for my husband. It keeps everything in perspective, and makes me realize that I have absolutely nothing to complain about. There are no longer any "shoulds" in my vocabulary. Just what is.

This year I created a vision board for myself full of quotes, pictures of people and places I love, places I want to visit. It makes me happy every single time I look at it. I'm reminded of all the things that already bring me so much joy, and that the world is full of possibility and opportunity. I believe in the power of visualization and thoughts becoming things, so here are my thoughts for 2013:

1. Declutter. From our bedroom to the kids', I want minimalism, and simplicity. Easy to clean up, less distraction and drama.

2. Spending diet. We are cutting expenses everywhere we can at this moment to make room for our dreams. We aren't eating out, at all. We're making everything from scratch. I'm cutting the girls' hair. We are cleaning our own house for the first time in 9 years.  Instead of material gifts this Christmas, we tried to give our kids experiences or really thoughtful gifts. Concert tickets, pet fish, scooters that get them outdoors more. Less stuff, more use. (In case you're skeptical, it was declared best Christmas ever) Even if our budget opens up and money became no object, this is something I want to stick with.

3. Laughter. 2012 was tough, but I made it through with laughter. My husband makes me laugh all day long, my kids crack me up regularly.  Laughter is a huge priority for me in 2013.

4. Passion. I am so incredibly passionate about the work I'm doing, and I want it to spread to others. A big goal of mine is getting the people around me to catch the fire in my heart and start a grass roots movement of change.

5. Meditate. This is a new skill I've been working on that I believe has helped me with anxiety. I've learned to be completely in the moment, to just listen to sounds, see colors and sights, feel textures without judgement or thought. I practice while driving and waiting in lines and it has been an unbelievably calming activity. I'd like to expand on this.

6. Happiness through intrinsic gratification. Happiness from helping others, self-growth, finding joy in every day. I'm going to live every day exactly the way I want to and trust that the universe will align to support it. If I want to write, I'll write. If I want to rest, I'll rest. No stress, no busy for the sake of being busy, no apologies, no guilt. If I want to weight train, I'll do that. If I'd rather run, I'll do that. No more "sacrificing for the greater good" or chasing something that never comes. Goals are great but daily happiness is most important.

7. Move. Another thing I started this year that I want to expand on is moving as much as possible. I've been working out for a few years now, but it's really starting to sink in that this is not enough when you work behind a desk all day. I'm trying to get up and move around, to walk every day in addition to my workouts.

8. Do it now. Procrastination and lack of focus are two major issues I work against every day.  I started a journal where I've been writing down the 3 big things I need to accomplish that day. Until those are accomplished, no email gets checked, no social media, no texts or phone calls. This has helped but I still have some work to do in other areas besides work, like keeping the kitchen clean and not having things pile up in "I'll deal with it later" piles.

9. Helping others and positivity. The past year I have watched one truly miserable person cause so much wreckless damage to so many people, and it's been eye-opening. If one angry, sad soul, left unchecked can do so much external damage, what would happen if that energy was put to positivity and selfless acts instead? One person can touch so many lives around them, and I want to not only be responsible with that knowledge but to put it to good use. Every act, every word that comes from me I want to be positive and good-intentioned.

10. Unwritten. I have a very big thing that I want for 2013. I don't even want to say it out loud, but here I am asking the universe to open up a way for it to happen, because right now I don't know how.

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012: Reflection

Every year for the past few years, around New Year’s, I have gone back through my iPhone photos, pulled the best, and made a collection to document our year.

This is a really great way to photojournal how our past year went and a fun reminder of all that transpired.

This year I began looking through the photos, just to begin to choose the best ones. When I scrolled back through the beginning of last year and then all the way through September, I began to shake and feel anxious, to my surprise. I was seeing the photos but remembering the feelings, instantly recognizing the smile I pasted onto my face as an empty one.

I realized that I could look back on this year as a bad one, but lately that has not been my style. I had a legal battle with my ex that was so incredibly stressful and difficult, but in the end I ended up getting what I deserved and the kids so deserve. I fought a major, major battle with depression this summer that almost killed me. My relationships were strained in the process as I struggled to hold on to those that I love most.

But all of that hardship, just as it always has, brought me to a deeper understanding of so many things. I feel for the first time like I am really beginning to understand happiness and higher living. As I searched for a natural and homeopathic cure for my depression and anxiety, I found answers right under my nose.

I realized how little I actually need to be happy.

I realized that gratitude is the answer to just about every problem that surfaces in my life.

I realized that there is so much power in my thoughts that I need to control the way I think.

I realized just how in control I am of my thoughts.

I realized that life is really not supposed to be stressful and packed with things and activities and commitments.

I realized that simple is better.

I realized how much judging others hurts ME.

I realized how little all the “stuff” of our head actually matters in the end.

I fell in love with the outdoors again.

I fell in love with laughter again.

I learned to say thank you for every good thing.

I learned how to inspire myself.

I realized that the only moment I have is right now, and worrying about the future or the past is a waste of emotion.

I learned to avoid drama by reacting from a place of peace.

I decided that I would live every day exactly the way I want to live it, no chasing of dreams or putting anything off…I find happiness daily and love to wake up in the mornings and experience it.

So maybe this wasn’t the rosiest of years but it was necessary for my growth. I feel fully in control of my life now, I feel happy and am certain that no matter what life throws at me, I’ll be just fine.

I’m the luckiest girl in the world, actually.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Heart Walking Outside Your Body

I should be working, but I just can't.

Like every mother and father out there, every aunt and uncle, everyone who has loved a child, I can't get past what happened on Friday.

This is not just a news story that I can turn off. I have turned off the tv, avoided social media, and yet every time I am alone with my thoughts, a movie starts playing in my head of some crazed soul walking into my daughters' classrooms with a semi-automatic weapon and shooting. My six year old is afraid of thunder. She is afraid of the dark. My nine year old is too young to see the movie Twilight. I just can't stop thinking about what these kids saw, how much they probably wanted their mommies, and how a band-aid just isn't enough this time.

I can't look at the photos and names of the victims. I feel selfish for that, because I want to grieve them for the sake of their parents and brothers and sisters. But the brief glance I did see of the list showed names and faces of kids who look just like my own six year old and her friends. How would I ever go on without one of my children? I just don't think I could. I can't imagine a pain worse than this, and knowing how scared they probably were....I couldn't.

I sent my babies off to school today for the first time since this happened. They have been in school for 1 hour and 14 minutes, and every minute has been excruciating. I don't feel that sense of peace and safety that I felt before. Kids---babies---were off limits before. They aren't now.

This is a slippery slope for someone with depression and anxiety. I am trying to use everything I've learned to get through this, including writing my feelings down here. I am intensely grateful for my three children, always, but now I can't stop staring at them and thanking the universe that they are safe, innocent, and still naive to the events of Friday (I did tell my oldest because I knew he'd find out on Facebook). I've tried to see what good I can see in the situation--the donations pouring in, the outpouring of love from our nation to the families. It's hard to wade through all the crap that has also come out, the fight over gun control and even mental illness. But I'm trying.

I have only recently come to believe again that there is no true death, only the end of our physical form. This has helped me a little. I feel a tiny light of peace that I would not have felt otherwise.

But overall, I grieve with the rest of the country for the loss of innocence, extending from the ones lost, to the ones who saw, to the families affected, to the town, to every parent and child who now doesn't feel safe at school.

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” -Elizabeth Stone

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Journey to Now

I've been on a journey lately that may be one of the most important things I've ever done in my life.

I mentioned in my last post how I try to think of my mental illness issues as a blessing instead of a curse; as frustrating as the downsides can be, I sometimes think that I am able to use the symptoms to my advantage. I may feel a little more deeply than other people, which of course is bad when the feelings are bad, but when they're good? It's amazing. I think they call it flying close to the sun, which is exactly how I picture myself.

I've had so many epiphanies and "lightbulb moments" this past month that I don't even know where to begin. I've been working on my happiness, and fighting depression and anxiety with medication but also with thought and perspective changes. At least, that's where it started.

Sometime after my last post, I was sitting out on my back patio, sipping coffee and checking my phone. It was a normal morning, cool and still, and my dog was in the backyard with me. She had been lying in the grass and I guess heard a squirrel, and got up to check it out. As I looked up from my phone and watched her, I had this overwhelming sense of tranquility that I could not explain. It wasn't just happiness, it was something almost holy. I don't remember ever experiencing anything like it. It lasted for about a minute. I noticed the wind moving the trees slowly and it was like I was in tune with every leaf.  I saw her moving towards the squirrel quietly, I noticed the temperature of the air, the way the sun was hitting everything, and the moment seemed to last forever. Then it was over, and I felt so peaceful. I had no idea what had just happened but I knew I had tapped into something that I wanted more of.

The next day I tried to explain what had happened to my husband, but coming up with words for that experience is nearly impossible. And when you describe the actual moment, it sounds so insignificant when in reality, it was enormous.

I moved on not knowing what to think about that moment and kept trying to recreate it. The closest I could come was on my walks out in nature, but nothing ever came close to the perfection and the stillness I had found on my patio.

I read several blogs and websites about happiness and peace these days, to aid in my journey to finding permanent happiness. I kept seeing the book "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle mentioned on these blogs. I had heard of this book years earlier and even remember watching Mr. Tolle speak on Oprah back when I had time to watch tv. It was on my radar, then one afternoon I was scrolling my Facebook feed and someone had asked "What are you all reading right now?" and someone mentioned this book. That was all I needed that the universe was trying to tell me something, so I bought the book on Kindle and began it that night.

In the first chapter, Mr. Tolle describes the moment I experienced in perfect detail! I couldn't believe it! I was obviously meant to read this book, and it turns out to be the answers that I was seeking in "How can I get more of that". His explanation is a tough one to recreate in my own words, but basically, once we tune into the present moment then we are in touch with our own spirits--the "us" that is free of the thinking brain; and only then can we find true peace and happiness. The book is his teaching of how to accomplish this feeling even through our darkest hours.

I've written here before about how I lost my religion after my father's brain tumor disaster. I just couldn't believe anymore in the God that I grew up knowing, it didn't make sense to me that someone was up there making decisions or allowing things to happen and it was all part of some larger plan. At first I called myself an atheist but I think that was more of an anger thing with a God that I still believed in on some level. Eventually I let that go, and I could not deny that there was still "something"...I just didn't know what.

I think I'm starting to understand that now; my belief of what there "is". It's a connection between all human beings, all living things. And not our "egos"--which make us do crazy things, but our souls. We are all one.

This has been tough for me to wrap my mind around. In nature, it's easy. I love nature. I can look at a tree and feel my one-ness with it, no problem. Trees don't have egos, or thinking minds, and a tree has never hurt me. People are a totally different story. I've been hurt by people. People completely mystify me in their behaviors. People make me anxious--I practically never leave my house these days out of fear of people. But I'm still learning and trying, and my goal is to completely eliminate my anxiety.

Our thoughts are completely controllable. We create dramas and anxieties with our thinking minds that cause us so much unnecessary pain. By worrying about the future we create what Mr. Tolle calls an "anxiety gap"--a gap between the present moment and the future that causes pain. The future hasn't happened yet and it is insanity to focus on it instead of focusing on right now, the perfect present.

It turns out that I already knew this on some level. When I was reading about the anxiety gap I remembered a conversation I had with my youngest a few months ago. She was suddenly terrified of dying someday and couldn't sleep at night because of thinking about it. It broke my heart to watch her suffer from the same anxiety I've had my entire life, and I taught her to ask herself "Am I ok right now?" The answer is ALWAYS yes, and she got over her fear of dying very quickly.

When the book described letting go of so much unnecessary thought and anxiety I began to cry. I want my brain to stop thinking so much. It's like a constant current of noise and when it was turned off momentarily, the silence was so beautiful. 

36 years of habit is going to be tough to undo. I feel like I'm undergoing a major transformation in thought and just like changing to a healthy eating lifestyle, it's not going to be easy and will take lots of time and attention. But all to have more of that peaceful moment on my patio back? Completely worth it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Pursuit of Happiness

I'm ok, really I am. You guys hear from me on my bad days because this is my outlet for the pain, the place I turn when I'm feeling awkward and misunderstood. But I am having many more good days than bad.

I've had so many people share their stories of depression with me and I thought I would share a little bit more about how I am fighting it, not just with medication.

I came across a blog post about a month ago that was fitness related, but was so inspiring to every aspect of my life. It talked about having a virtual "vision board", something in e-form so you could copy and paste inspiring quotes and images easily and paste it into your blog or word document.

I started off just recording 5 gratitude statements per day. This was a good start but I would record the statements and not really *feel* them. I started work on my virtual vision board, made a list of all the things I wanted to do and see and experiences I wanted to have. It took a good week to finish but I made it my sole priority everyday to get a little bit of it done. It started to feel like the difference between getting better and sinking further into despair.

It was difficult at first to have a clear vision for what I wanted for my life. The travel part was easy, I love to travel and see the world. But what would fulfill me until then?

This is going to sound so completely cliche and SOOO 2006, but The Secret movie has always really inspired me. I know that most people think it's hocus pocus. But I have lived by the principles in the movie in the past and it was the happiest I had ever been. This dawned on me last week, and I remembered that it was available on Netflix. So I cued it up on my iPad and watched it in my kitchen while making dinner.

It all came rushing back to the joy of life is in the gratitude for the things we do have, how the attitude of gratitude brings about more of what we love, how our thoughts are the glasses we wear to see the world around us. I was reminded of how when we have ideas we should go forward with trust and no fear--how you don't have to see the top of the staircase to take the first step--how with action, the universe will open doors where there were only walls--how we create our own heaven on earth.

I followed up The Secret with a documentary also available on Netflix called "Happy". This movie totally drove the point home that happiness is not in any material things, situations, people...happiness is a perspective. The movie opens with a family in a third world country. The father is being interviewed and talking about how great his life is and how happy he is. He says "We have a great house that shelters us from the rain, and a great community"...and they show his house and it is nothing but a shack with a tarp for a roof. But he was joyful because in that house was the family that he loves, and surrounding his house were neighbors who were a supportive community for his family.

Another interesting point in Happy is that happiness is that feeling you get when you are doing something you love, something you could do for hours and not notice the time has gone by. Whether it's rockclimbing, or hiking, or playing with your kids, we should find the activities that bring us that type of mindless joy and fill our lives with those moments. Tomorrow or even the next minute of our lives is not promised, so living in the present is the key to tranquility. For someone who suffers from severe anxiety, reminding myself of this has helped me SO. MUCH.

I finished up my virtual vision board and even made a physical one for my office, that sits right next to me. Here are the quotes I read everytime I look over:

-Happiness is a direction, not a destination.
-Thoughts become things.
-Tell the story of your amazing life, the law of attraction will make sure you receive it.
-It's really important to feel GOOD. The more you feel GOOD, the more GOOD things you will attract.
-Say THANK YOU for every GOOD THING.
-Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.
-The happiest people are those ho think the most interesting thoughts. Those who decide to use leisure as a means of mental development, who love good music, good books, good pictures, good company, good conversation, are the happiest people in the world. And they are not only happy in themselves, they are the cause of happiness in others. 

I am beginning to try and look at life differently. I'm seeing my mental illness as a blessing instead of a curse. Yes I have horrible awful days, but without them I might not appreciate the good so much. Yes I have an overactive mind that is riddled with anxiety, but if I really focus, I can use that overactivity and channel it into being incredibly productive and creative.

Whenever I have one of those blissful moments, in my mind I say "Thank you". I recognize the moment and really feel the joy in it. In turn, everything around me is changing. The attitudes of the people I love are suddenly different. They were never the was always me. Realizing this and really wrapping my mind around it has been HUGE.

My creativity has been at an all-time high since I've been working on this little happiness project, and I have some pretty inspired ideas that I just need to make sure I follow through on. I am not expecting everyday to be roses and daisies, because this *is* chemistry in my brain, a physical illness that could take hold at any time. But even in those dark moments I will meditate on the fact that no matter what my body does, I am in control of my thoughts, and I can change them. I will aim to view the hard days as part of the process and a lesson in what is good in my life.

I have so much to look forward to and I have woken up the past couple of days so excited just to be alive and make my bliss. I feel like I have a clear picture of what the rest of my life should be. We're not meant to be so stressed out. Life is supposed to be relaxed and happy, everyday.

It's a work in progress, but progress it is.

Monday, October 29, 2012

"Don't Be So Hard On Yourself"

When your own mind is your greatest enemy...

When other people's big moments are overshadowed by your own flaws...

When no one around you can take it anymore...

When you realize for the first time that you don't know if it is going to get better instead of worse...

When your brain is so fired up that you can't sleep....

When nothing you are trying seems to be working...

When your biggest struggle during the day is to get your thoughts under control...

When you're sick of explaining and excusing your fuck ups...

When you're sick of your body failing...

When the thing you hear the most is "don't be so hard on yourself"...

When you feel weird and freakish around "normal" people because you just can't get it together...

When the ones you love say they miss the old you, the joyful happy version...

When out of nowhere chemicals in your brain decide to take over and slam you into the ground...

When you feel completely alone...

This is where I am today. This is my low. I'll move along, I'll get through. I'm tired of mental illness.

I'm just so fucking tired of it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Happy Anniversary

Monday was the one year anniversary of the day Mr. Wonderful and I said "I do".  And I am so *relieved* to report that I was feeling so good, better than in months, that I was able to fully enjoy it and wrap myself up in the happy emotions of the day.

I've been on the anti-depressant medications for almost a month now. And while I'm just now getting to this point, I am so, so thankful that it is working. I feel happiness. I feel joy. I feel love.

There are side effects, the least favorable being the additional anxiety on top of my already highly anxious mind...but I will take a little teeth grinding in order to escape suicidal thoughts, self-harming, and laying on the shower floor wailing. All for no circumstantial reason...just that overwhelming feeling of doom and guilt and failure. I am so relieved to have that cloak lifted from over me that I could sing.

I'm 35 years old and have dealt with this on and off since I was a pre-teen, maybe younger. I don't think I fully understood this disease until this last horrible bout with it. I thought I was overly emotional, damaged from all I've been through, weak for wanting to just give up. I think this had to happen in the middle of the happiest year of my life thus far for me to fully realize how much of a physical disease this is.

My heart breaks for those who constantly struggle with this. I won't be taking myself off the medication this time around. It took me too long to wrap my head around not being able to control the depression with diet, exercise, and supplements. I'm so anti-medicine that I almost lost my own fight on principle. Stubborn as hell.

While I'm feeling the full range of emotions again, I am still pretty shellshocked after the trauma of it all. But a day at a time I am adding little things back order of priority. One of these days I'll be back to my normal.

We spent our anniversary snuggled up on the couch with a bottle of wine we bought in Napa on our honeymoon, saved for a year just for the occasion. We listened to our wedding playlist, reminisced about the most perfect day ever, and how happy we are to be by each other's sides.  I'm so lucky to have that man as my partner in life.

Finally, reading this post I found through a CNN article, written by comedian Rob Delaney, was a turning point for me in realizing how much of a monster I was actually just up against. His description of his episode is almost word for word what I just encountered. And as he says:
 This episode drove home the knowledge that, like alchoholism, depression demands respect and attention. Whether it’s a “good” thing or a “bad” thing, I cannot pretend to know, but it exists and it can kill you dead.

Friday, August 31, 2012


I feel like I can honestly say for the first time in almost 2 months that I am somewhat myself again.

It has not been easy, especially stepping back into my social life and working life. The thing about depression is that not everyone has been through it and so they don't really understand it. Maybe they've been sad before and depressed about their circumstances, but not as many have had their brain taken over by chemistry and hormones and just lost it for no real reason. And the thing about those people is that they tend to say and do the things that are super triggery. I'm in no way blaming them, it's just hard to know that you're going to face such a thing and then to actually do it.  Guilt rules my world when I'm depressed, and when you've disappeared for 2 months, you're going to have to deal with the guilt of being gone. Such a difficult, slippery slope to navigate.

But so far for the most part, I've been able to do it and handle it. And I'm glad I have, because I missed my friends and laughing and just the lightness of day to day mundane life.

The plan for me was to take it slow back into reality. I came out of this "episode" right as my kids were heading back to school. I spent my days last week running the three of them to buy school supplies and clothes, haircuts, doctor and dentist visits, school meetings and events, etc...all that mom stuff. As busy as we were, it felt so good to be able to concentrate fully on them for the entire week, and it also opened my eyes to how pulled thin I feel the majority of the time. I'm trying to run two businesses and be a stay at home mom, and I just don't think it's working. I loved the feeling of being helpful to them, spending time with them, talking to them, laughing with them, without worrying about all of the other things I should be doing.  I gave myself permission to just let those things go for a period.

I knew last weekend that this coming week would be a difficult one for me, considering what I've just gone through, and because it was going to be hard no matter what. My youngest, my baby girl, the one I was 8 months pregnant with when I first discovered that my first husband was cheating...started Kindergarten on Monday. I don't think either of us were ready. It snuck up on me, I guess like it did with the first two.

I've been dreading Kindergarten since her first day of Pre-K last year. Even with her in preschool, I've had her home two full days a week, and I saw her every morning and dropped her off at school, even when she spent the night with her dad. Now he drops her off at Elementary along with her big sister on his mornings, and I don't see her for almost a full 24 hours. And I struggle with my depressive thoughts of "Why did I have to get divorced and split my time with them?" "Why did I agree to this custody arrangement?" It's so hard not to get caught in that thought cycle. I feel like a bad mom even though I KNOW it was not my fault. And dammit, I just miss my kids.

Next week I plan to tackle my work again. All extra-curricular stuff is on hold until I find my footing again.

While the medication does seem to be helping, it's not perfect, and I have moments that still slip through. I'm sure that will be an ongoing thing that I will have to learn to deal with, and as long as it doesn't overwhelm me and suck me down the black hole that I was in the last 2 months, I should be ok.

My wonderful husband is getting me away this weekend, one last distraction while the kids are with their dad so I'm not sitting around being sad about it. My ex has decided lately to wage another war against me, luckily I've been able to laugh most of it off. I actually feel sorry for him, he seems to be stuck in a place of anger and hatred, all aimed at me. I'm removed enough to see it for what it is and as long as he's not threatening my time with them, it's all just sad.

Monday, August 20, 2012


I'm slowly emerging back to life.

I remember very little detail of the past few weeks. I don't know if it's because I had to medicate myself so heavily just to be able to deal with the pain, or if I was just that detached or in my own head. I have pictures in my phone I don't remember taking. I have texts I don't remember sending. If I didn't have what I wrote here I would remember very little of how it felt. I don't know if that is my brain's way of protecting me or what, but it feels bizarre.

The anxiety effects of the anti-depressant seem to be getting better, although my jaw feels almost bruised from grinding my teeth. I'm starting to sleep again. My husband said he was glad to see my smile back this weekend. I have spent a lot of time with him and my puppy, alone. Luckily it was my kids' weekend at their dad's, and it was nice just to have the pressure off of being *needed* for a few days.

I admit that I'm still completely isolated, and feel awkward trying to come back from that. I don't want anyone to ask me where I've been and have to explain. I am so sensitive right now to anyone needing anything from me that I'm terrified to even reach back out. I don't want to go backwards. I don't want to be triggered back into the oblivion and guilt of the past few weeks. I need to get stronger and back to who I was. I need the medicine to take full effect. I need so many things right now so that I can have my life back.

But the steps are being taken, albeit small ones. I'm eating. I'm exercising. My kids are home and I'm tending to them. I left the house this weekend. I worked a little bit Friday. I had dinner with my best friend and our husbands that night, and could smile and even laugh.

I don't have much to say. There's a lot of empty space right now where the pain resided before. I'm sure that it will fill back up with the happy hum in the weeks and months to come, and just being able to say that says that I'm a million times better than I was before.

To my friends and those who left encouraging comments, thank you and I love you. To those suffering, hang in there. It does pass. Reach out if you have to. I'm scared to think of where I'd be right now without having done so.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Less Than Human

Stop the world, I wanna get off.

Sometimes, in my deepest and darkest moments, I wonder if depression is truly just a chemical imbalance, or if we as humans or maybe just Americans have made life so ridiculously difficult for ourselves that our brain chemistry cannot keep up and forces us to just stop.

I literally cannot make myself do....anything. The exercise is starting to go, too, which is just unheard of for me. I can't make myself eat. I have work piled up around me for miles. I have a new business I was getting off the ground that was doing really well that I've just....let fall apart. I can't face it. I cannot accurately describe the terror in my chest when I think of all the responsibilities that I face that I cannot make myself tackle. It's too much. Soccer forms and signups and school supplies and emergency paperwork and laundry and dishes and cooking and planning and keeping myself in shape and keeping my kids healthy and is my son depressed, too? and is my marriage starting to suffer? and there is too much crap in my house and so much work to do on my business that pays my bills and so much studying to do on the business I want to transition to so I'm happier and friends who are also suffering who probably need me right now and my ex husband wants to know if I'll start alternating holidays with him which I've NEVER done? and I'm letting my husband down by not getting my work done and making money and putting more pressure on him to pay our bills and this is definitely starting to wear on him too as well as everyone else in my life and there's ANOTHER soccer email coming in saying we need to fill out more forms and I haven't registered my baby for kindergarten yet even though it starts in a few weeks and they all need haircuts and backpacks and clothes....

and all I can do is try. I really, really try. I have every intention, every morning, of getting out of bed and just getting it done but my body seems to weigh a trillion tons right now, and making any contact with any person causes my chest to squeeze. I just want to stop feeling sad and anxious and worthless and I don't want one more person to ask one more thing of me.

I don't understand what has happened to me. I don't recognize myself. I was motivated and driven and happy. I'm just broken now. I'm less than human trying to become human again.

My husband took me to a doctor Monday and I shakily admitted to her that I have every single scary symptom of deep depression. I am a very proud person, and to sit there across from a stranger and my husband and admit that I am no longer in control of myself, and my thoughts, was humbling to say the least.

They started me on new medications which, as you can probably tell by the tone of this writing, are currently making me highly anxious. I hate feeling like a lab rat. I hate taking medication. I hate all of this. I need to accept it, I know.

I've also contacted a psychiatric program recommended by a good friend. I'm trying. I want to ask the world to forgive me but the world won't stop long enough to let me.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

And it rages on.

I've been researching various treatments both holistic and medicinal. I have been able to keep up my exercise routine. I took a break from exercise, too. I adjusted my calorie intake when I discovered that my lack of appetite had translated into me eating half as many calories per day as I should. I've tried listing out the things that I am grateful for, I've made every attempt to participate in the activities that give me joy. My wonderful husband made an all out effort this weekend by taking me for a massage, to my favorite restaurant, out for coffee. I can't imagine how frustrating this must be for him.

The only time I feel any relief is for the 45 minutes that I am working out and am forced to think about what to do with my body instead of the racing thoughts, and for some reason, during hot showers.

Even sleep brings no relief as my nightmares and dreams have been just as cruel as my waking thoughts.

One thing I don't know that people understand about depression is how very physical it feels. Everything buzzes. My vision feels skewed and like I'm looking through thick plastic lenses. My arms and legs weigh a thousand pounds, and I have a cramping in my gut that has no origin but makes me want to cry.

Some days, it's anger and numbness that are the primary emotions. Other days, I just feel so raw that I could cry at just about anything.

If you've ever been depressed then maybe you will sympathize with the long journeys that your thoughts take, the deep wells they descend, the epiphanies about life that you think you have, that are never good. There are so many thoughts that hit me all at once in a millisecond.

When I had to make a list to remind myself of the things that I had to live for, when I found myself angry for having people in my life who would be hurt if I disappeared forever, somewhere deep inside my sanity spoke up. I thought about driving myself to the ER, but decided to just try and make it through the night, and here I am writing this.

I told my husband that I couldn't take the pain anymore. He is taking me to the doctor. I wrestled with feeling like he is just as sick of me as I am of myself, but the sane part of me texted that to my best friend and she gave me the right words, as she always does. He does love me. It's hard to even type that because I don't believe anyone loves me right now. But he does.

Not to be dramatic emo girl, but the song below is sometimes the only thing that gets me through. This, to me, is the musical translation of what I've been feeling the past month or more...not just the lyrics, but the entire sound.


 Say I'm okay
I'm bleeding fire
Eating nightmares

So tell me how to do away with love
I'm a maze
Can we say goodnight now?

Take this world away
And strangle it with wires for a lifetime

Make a pretty face and say I'm fine
I'm okay
Only in the nighttime

Take this world away
Strangle it with wires for a lifetime

Make a pretty face and say I'm fine
I'm okay
Only in the nighttime

Love was the only thing I ever needed, I ever needed

Love was the only thing I ever needed

Love was the only thing I ever needed, I ever needed

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rants of a Lunatic

I'm a cliche.

That's what I'm thinking right now. As I sit here in what must be the seventh or eighth day in my latest bout with depression.

The bouts that seem to be coming more and more often as I grow older. Or does it just feel that way.

It's humiliating to type. I hate. HATE. feeling out of control. I hate admitting my weaknesses.

I'm hoping that just writing it down this time will turn it around, and like so many times before, tomorrow I'll wake up and feel like my normal self. Stable and in control. Emotions in check with reality.

But right now, I'm coming out of a day of raw emotion and pain and into a day of mind numbing fog and isolation.

Frustrated beyond belief that I thought this was under control once with diet and exercise, and yet it reared it's ugly head. Frustrated again because after an extremely humiliating and weepy visit to my local clinic that up until now, only my husband and best friend knew about, I thought the medication they gave me was working.

Yet for the last week, I've felt less and less like talking. Or working. Or mothering. Or cleaning up. Or bothering to get dressed. And yesterday, emotion so raw and painful that it physically hurt. Every second was a battle to get through. Today is a fog of numbness, I imagine the brain's way of compensating for the rawness of yesterday.

"What is it? What are you thinking about that upsets you like this?" my husband asks helplessly. Do you have any idea how hard it is to explain depression to someone who has never really had it...there's nothing wrong, but EVERYTHING IS WRONG.

The racing thoughts. The problems that felt normal yesterday that feel completely insurmountable today. The overall feeling of doom and self-loathing. The endless spiral of "I am so fucked up" that makes you feel even more fucked up that makes you feel even more fucked up. The desperate mental searching for an end to the pain, anything to alleviate it, even a little.

And today I felt like crawling under the covers and telling everyone to fuck off. I hate myself like this. I hate me today. Somewhere on some level, the normal me is watching and is horrified at this version of herself. She feels sorry for everyone in her life. She is disgusted at herself for not being able to cook, work, and mother her children. Round and round and round we go.

But this is all I have today. I left my house today, and it took everything in my being to do it. Being self-employed is the greatest blessing and curse when you suffer from depression. I can hide if I need to, but really, I shouldn't be hiding. Every step I force myself to make is one step back to normalcy.

I'm trying to think of this as illness so I'm not so hard on myself and can deal accordingly. Then the guilt of all the illnesses I ALREADY BATTLE besides depression...the Meniere's, the anxiety, the autoimmune disorders...and the "I am so fucked up" starts again.

I feel guilt hitting the publish button on this post. I feel that everyone wants to hear about the happy hum and I should leave it at that. I'm a story somewhere in la la land that will cheer them up, and here I come along and fuck that up too with my negativity. SEE HOW THIS WORKS.

And then I choose not to hit publish for the 80th time since I've begun this blog. Except this time. Because I'm tired of isolation. I'm just. so. tired.

Please just let me wake up *me* tomorrow.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Happy Hum

I don't have long to write because life has taken me on so many new and exciting journeys in the last several months, I don't have a whole lot of time to self-indulge and write about it.

But the weather has changed and like it does every season, this change makes me nostalgic. Recently, I began musing to my husband "remember when we..." and he finally looked at me and said, "why are you so nostalgic all of a sudden?"

And then it dawned on me that it was summer, and really just beginning to FEEL like summer. And summer is when my life changed forever, 3 years ago. July 18th to be exact.

That is the night that I walked into a small music venue with my bestie, having just declared myself Done With Men and Single Forever. It was that night that his friend hit on us and asked us to join his group of friends. That night that I scanned the faces that I now know as his buddies, and found myself drawn to the shy one sitting furthest away. That's the night that he asked me who I lived with, expecting my answer to be "roommate" or maybe even "boyfriend", and I held my breath, answered "my three kids", and waited for the hasty retreat that I was used to (or maybe the even dumber response I had from one moron who actually lifted my shirt up to see my belly).

That is the night that we talked until our voices ached, exchanged numbers, and he vowed to take me out for the short time he was in the country. The night I went to get breakfast food with my bestie afterwards, looked at her with my head in my hands and said "Amy, he's 27 and drives a Corvette WHAT THE FUCK am I thinking?" as he sent me a text while driving away, telling me goodnight.

And now, life is life. There is no big excitement, no staying up all night talking, just what I like to describe as the Happy Hum. Maybe I don't get butterflies in my stomach everytime I look at him, because most of that time we're either solving problems, discussing the kids, cleaning up dog poop, etc. Ordinary life. But every single day, I thank the universe that he is my husband, my partner, my absolute soul mate, and that I found him. My needs are all met, and if they aren't, I can bring that to his attention and he ACTUALLY ADDRESSES IT. Things are exactly the way that they are supposed to be. This is what marriage SHOULD feel like. I feel equal, I feel heard, I feel loved and cherished and supported and valued.

Then there are the evenings that we are discussing plans for the future, our goals and hopes and dreams, which we do quite often. We look into each others eyes with the knowledge of what we have and how lucky we are to have it. And it hits me how much we are actually on the same page and I do get chills and butterflies all over again.

Nostalgia is my way of respecting what brought us here to the present, which is where I am the happiest. I love to think of those nights, picturing him attempting to memorize my kids' names, but watching it in my mind with the knowledge that those names are now his children too. It blows my mind.

As the summer goes on and starts to change to fall, I'm sure the wave of nostalgia from just a year ago will begin to hit me as well. September 10 will be our 1 year wedding anniversary. I think of us sitting in a dark movie theater in September 2010, looking at my iphone, and choosing the date 9-10-11 based on visitation schedules and birthdays, and it makes me giggle.

I don't want to say that my life began 3 years ago, because everything that happened up until that point brought me to exactly where I needed to be to have my Mr. Wonderful. I'm so grateful to now be living in the Happy Hum that I never knew existed. It has wiped away all of my fears and anxieties that I brought into this marriage.

Equally I see my kids enjoying the Happy Hum as well, and I can't help but wonder what would have become of them if they never got to experience it. What happened 3 years ago, July 18th, was just as important to their futures as it was to mine...if not more important. They not only adore their stepdad, but they bask in the stability of our relationship, and our happiness. They share in it just as a family should.

And with that, back to the Happy Hum.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

For Tracey

Many people who read this blog found me through one of my best friends, but most likely it was Tracey's blog that brought you here.

So most of you know Tracey's story, and I don't really want to re-hash it, because we don't really like to re-live it.

If you don't know, I can tell you that a little over two years ago, I was holding Tracey in my arms at a 5K event as she fell apart. I had just become engaged two weeks prior and was at the happiest point in my life yet. I looked at Tracey huddled up in my arms, pale as a ghost, a completely raw and open wound of a human being after finding out that the two closest people in her life had betrayed her, that her reality for the past year or more had not been reality at all. I held her as she sobbed and I was so. fucking. scared. How do you get past that? How do I console her and reassure her that it would all be ok, because to be honest, I wasn't sure that it would be?

When my Dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor, we had lots of people come to us and say "I know so and so who survived a brain tumor, this way...". It gave us hope, it gave us a direction to look.

But when this happened to Tracey, everyone around her was basically like me, mouth agape, this just doesn't happen. I don't know the course to recovery because I don't know of anyone to go through this.

I did the best I could and told her that it *would* all be ok. I didn't go through anything like her situation, but at the time it was the worst thing I could think of and I did survive...not only survive but my life was so much better off now. I clung to that and that was my mantra to her over the next two years.

There was a man by her side at that time who supported Tracey and stood by her, even through the darkest times of anyone's life. When I first met him (and this is his FAVORITE story about me), I waved my finger in his face and told him to back off, let her heal, leave her alone. I underestimated them both.

M was exactly what Tracey needed. Had M backed off, I truly believe that Tracey never would have been able to trust another man again for the rest of her life. Her story was different from mine. She was able to heal and grow and learn and thrive again, but she also needed proof that there was still good in life...that there are men that can be trusted and value morals and honesty as much as she does. She needed M to heal; his unwavering devotion, his unwillingness to let go of what they have - he was living proof that not all human beings were capable of such hurtful actions.

Tracey and I like to use the hashtag #twinlives when we are texting about our situations. Like me, she is marrying a man with no biological children of his own, an independent bachelor who likes his space and alone time yet for some crazy reason is dead set on joining this nutty, chaotic life of three kids and a busy work schedule no matter how hard we tried to push them away. We had the same transitions, I usually about a year ahead of her. How many times have we sent texts to each other "HOW DID YOU HANDLE THIS"! I call her my Yoda, because even though I am already married, she has got this shit down. She knows how to focus on the good, process and release the bad, "bubble" herself and her family.

8 months ago on my own wedding day, I cried alone because I missed my friends so much. Tracey had written to me that she didn't think she could be any happier for me even if it were herself getting married. This week as we prepare for her wedding, I feel the exact same way.

Not many know what it is like to pick yourself up and rise from the rubble of a disaster with three young children by your side, looking to you for guidance when all you really want to do is lay down and give in to the pain. Then to have the courage to take the step forward, not having any idea where you are going, knowing that the three little faces at your side need for this to be the right direction. Then to one day, after much time has gone by, look up and realize that you somehow managed to not only find your way out, but you've made it to paradise. The way it should be, the way it was supposed to be but never was. To realize that there is now another hand holding onto the little ones, and they are beaming up at him with the same respect and trust they have for you. That you both know exactly where you are now headed, together.

If my wedding day wasn't the perfect metaphor for that feeling, I don't know what else could be. I was a witness to Tracey's own devastation, I watched her fall and get back up again with her babies in tow. I watched her analyze every situation with her children's best interest as her only factor of reasoning, their happiness the only factor of moving forward. And here they will all stand together this Saturday, together, happy, but just one step in the journey of the rest of their lives together. And I am so honored to be there to see the resolution, the happy "beginning".

I'm terrible with words, I am. There are really no words I could think of to describe the feeling and fulfillment of watching someone you love secure their own happiness after not knowing how they would get through, and also knowing firsthand how that feels. But I know that no words are needed, she is my best friend and she knows I know.

*Cheers*, to Tracey and M.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Perspective in a Timeline

Recently my Facebook page switched over to the new "timeline" format. At first I hated it as I hate all change, but then I realized that with just the click of a button, I could look back at what I imprinted in time with previous status updates, pictures, etc. I decided to check it out from the beginning, which just so happened to be 2008- the same month that my ex moved out for good.

My Facebook page is mostly used for business reasons now, but back then I had a feed linked from my twitter account, which was pretty personal.

I have a general memory of my life after he left. I remember that it was hard. I remember primal screaming in the closet at the sight of his clothes still there and collapsing on the floor in a heap of pain. I remember that my youngest child, 2o months old, was difficult at the time, probably sensing my own pain. I remember being so anxious that I couldn't relax my muscles, even through a massage. I remember not sleeping and being comforted by the distraction of tv at night so I couldn't hear my own thoughts. I remember having trouble setting boundaries with my ex husband.

But to see the words of those moments, the translation from situation to writing, even in tiny little 140 character thoughts, well, it brought it all back.

I read pages and pages of tweets like a novel, seeing it all happen again in my head. Most of it I had blocked out, whether that was for survival or lack of sleep or anxiety medication, I'm not sure. But to see me back there living it was jarring. I didn't write much about my feelings on the divorce, because I hadn't told many about it. I wrote about my toddler, who at five is now so angelic and sweet that I don't recognize her in my writing, screaming constantly. She screamed to be picked up, then when I picked her up, she screamed to be put down. She screamed to eat, then threw her food on the floor. She refused to sleep, would climb from her crib everytime I put her in, and would eventually fall asleep standing up screaming against a door or a wall, at 3 or 4 in the morning. If she did fall asleep, it was was like she could sense me heading to bed and would wake guessed it...screaming.

I wrote about how I was sure there was something wrong with her, and took her to the doctor...nothing wrong.

I wrote about one night, I was the tooth fairy for my oldest, and everytime I tried to sneak the tooth away and slip a dollar in, he would stir. After midnight, I was so desperate that I was ready to wake him and tell him the tooth fairy was a lie and just hand him his dollar. I finally slipped the dollar under and the minute I crept from his guessed it...the toddler, screaming.

Aside from my toddler's issues, I wrote about my crazy work schedule. My ex left me weeks before the busiest time of the year, and it just so happens, turned out to be my busiest season to date. I wrote of editing photos until 3 or 4 am, photo after photo of happy families, crushed by the dissolution of mine, the failure I felt I was both to myself and my children in not being able to make mine stay together. (oh if I could have only seen into the future then)

I wrote about my son's 4th grade teacher, who did not understand my child one bit, and was negative to me on a weekly basis. Emails of "he's just terrible. I can't control him." Which I had NEVER heard from a teacher before and have never heard again since. I wrote of meetings with the principal, desperate for a resolution so that I would have one less thing to worry about.

I wrote about all three of my kids sharing illness after illness after illness. And not just colds, no. I was thrown up on in the middle of the night constantly. They had strep back to back. They had flu. They had a mystery bug that made them have insanely high fevers. My youngest spent time in the hospital for pneumonia. My middle child got an ear infection so bad that we had to rush to the ER in the middle of the night.

I wrote about my already difficult toddler being on breathing meds and steroids for her pneumonia, and her behavior elevating to cracked out status. Throwing things at my head, walking in a room and screaming at me not to sit there.

I wrote of shuttling children to dance practices, soccer practices, gymnastics, guitar lessons, PTA functions, birthday parties, and friends houses, hosting slumber parties at our house...all alone.

I wrote about my sick beagle, who had epilepsy so bad that she would have seizures that made her lose her bowels, bladder, and stomach, and then after dragging her out of that mess I would have to hold her down so she wouldn't attack anyone during her twilight times of recovery for a period afterwards.

I wrote of one friend, because that was all I had at the time.

I wrote of nights out alone...but just once a week, because that was the only time my ex was relieving me of parenting duty--Wednesdays for a few hours. Other than that, it was all me, doing all of the above.

I wrote about my ex showing up with cupcakes for the kids, then leaving me the mess to clean up and the sugared up kids. On a regular basis.

I wrote about attempting to buy groceries with three kids in tow every week, one usually screaming and escaping from the seatbelted cart, one usually begging for everything he saw, and one who once spent an entire trip lifting up my dress to look at my underwear, over and over.

And those were just the things that I wrote about.

What surprises me the most when I read back over that time are three things:

1-I had a pretty good attitude about it all back then, all my writing is done with humor and a smile, only a few times does the pain crack through. You see me making a valiant effort to enjoy the little moments with my children in between the painful ones. And I do remember telling myself that the logistics of it all weren't nearly as awful as living with a lying husband who makes you sick to be near.

I'm not that person anymore. The PTSD of that time period has made me harder, slightly more negative (as a defense mechanism).

2-The most unbelievable thing to me is that the worst was yet to come. I tweeted about one man during that entire ordeal, and it was my father. My father, who lived 1/2 a mile away, and would drop everything to come over and stay with children so I could take one to the ER, or run to the grocery store to get milk or diapers, or would bring me dinner when I just couldn't make it happen. My father who would meet the tyrant toddler and I for lunch every week so that I could cry on his shoulder. My father, who would be diagnosed with a brain stem tumor in January of 2009, just 5 months after my husband left. He is alive, but let's be honest, I lost my father in March of that year after the surgery destroyed all of his motor functions, and his after care destroyed what was left of his brain. I couldn't bring myself to read any of those tweets. For some reason, I seem to remember every second of those months.

3-I honestly don't know how I survived it all. I don't know how I'm alive. It is a grand testament to how much I care for my children, and to the new friends I made who came to my side and didn't leave, even when I was a horrible person to be around, and to the family like my mom, brother, and sister-in-law who took me under their care at the moments when I just couldn't take anymore.

As depressing as this all sounds, hold it up next to what I have today. Yes, I have a pain in the ass ex husband who hasn't paid me child support in months, trashes me to everyone we know, won't sign papers to end the legal battles, and shows hatred to me in front of our kids. But otherwise?

The reality is, I have a true partner now. No matter what happens, what kid gets sick in the middle of the night, what crisis comes up, I have a partner I can rely on to not only be right next to me helping me figure it all out, but with his arm around my shoulder with loving encouragement and support: something I never had before, ever. I have someone I can trust without hesitation or reservation. I have three kids who are happy, social, thriving, excelling. I have the resources now to spend time with each of them and nourish our bonds. I have a true co-parent who shares the same values and ideals with me.

I have the family in the pictures, for real this time.

It will make me think twice before I whine about my schedule, my legal battle, my ex husband.

Because my life is awesome now. And without seeing the depths and darkness of the bottom I may have never recognized the beauty and light of the top.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


I apologize for leaving the "story" hanging, but after that horrible lawyer meeting I just didn't feel like revisiting that entire evening in writing; it upset me enough to send me into a two week funk and the worst episode of Meniere's (vertigo) I've had yet.

I'll say this, my husband came to support me, didn't say a word through the entire thing. We let my lawyer do most of the talking, but my ex did address me directly several times, and even though I shook from head to toe through the entire meeting, I had clear answers for him, and he was stumped. My husband actually said he was impressed with how well I handled what was thrown at me (like my ex saying my son needed to be with him more considering the way my son has been behaving at home, which is a whole different blog post). My ex was livid, shocked that I was unwilling to come down to his offer, and left angry. I was actually worried for my own safety, and so glad my husband was there...I pictured him waiting for me outside the meeting. I don't know why, because he has never harmed me in any way, but he was so angry that it scared me.

Since the meeting he has sent over another low offer, and I countered and was rejected. So as of right now, we have a hearing for a temporary order set up in 2 weeks, in which I will have to go before the court and testify, and listen to my ex testify against me.

This is just one aspect of crisis in my life right now, and the only one I can discuss here. I will just say this: nothing, NOTHING could have ever prepared my husband and I for bringing him in as a stepfather to three kids with a dad they are close with. Nothing could have prepared me for the stressful dynamics that occur when three children are your only children, but you are not their only father. Nothing could prepare me for the unbelievable stress that comes with every aspect of blending this family, as smoothly as we thought it was going and would be. I feel constantly torn---I don't know what is best for everyone, and I don't know if that is the same thing for everyone, and I feel like it is all on my shoulders to decide.

Life is an ebb and flow, I do realize that happiness and smooth sailing is never guaranteed. I have no doubts that I will turn this around, and I spend every day right now trying to figure out how to do that. Knowing that I've done it before and can do it again is just about the only thing keeping me sane. I am lucky to be surrounded by the most amazing friends anyone could ask for, and one in particular who is no stranger to crisis, and is my touchstone during times like this. She reminds me to do what I can every day to care for myself, and get myself better so that I can be there for those who need me, like my husband and my children. There have been days lately when the most I can do for myself is get showered and dressed, and some of those days, that has been in late afternoon. My doctor has me on additional anxiety medication which is helping with the vertigo most of the time. I haven't worked out in 3 weeks, which is the longest I've gone in several years. I'm trying to practice what I preach and eat nurturing, healthy foods that won't make me feel worse but perhaps better. On days when I feel like I can take it, I turn on the cheesy pop music of my youth and listen to it. My husband, who is also struggling right now, and I try to watch as much funny tv as we can.

It took me 3 days to muster up the emotion to finish this post. My court date is set for March 8, and I am in survival mode until then. My husband and I have a small vacation planned for spring break, just the two of us and our dog, to try and strengthen our relationship so that we can better face this situation, all of it. I'm hoping that with further stress management and this little break, the vertigo will dissipate and I can once again return to my saving grace-exercise. Until then I will focus on doing what I can each day.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Re-Divorce

I'm sitting in my health class, staring at my desk, listening to my teacher drone on and on about something health related that neither I nor he cares a lick about.

I have recently turned thirteen years old. My life up until this point has been easy; my family was tight, I had a happy childhood, and the worst problem I've known is being a poor, invisible nerd dressed in plaid jumpers my Grammy made for me, in a middle school full of Cavarrici's and Guess. I wear thick glasses, I have not yet figured out how to control my frizzy curls, and I have silver braces across my teeth.

But recently, there has been some sort of strange and unspoken upheaval in my life. My mother began losing weight, stopped doing anything, and just sits and looks miserable most of the time. I recently overheard a conversation between my Dad and his best friend, and I hear the word for the first time that will eventually become an ongoing theme in my life: depression.

I have just recently been informed, with almost no explanation, that my brother and I will be moving in with my grandparents. My grandmother will now take me to school everyday. I won't be seeing my mother for quite some time, because she needs a break to get better-from what, I'm still unsure of.

As I sit in health class, I feel what is now becoming a familiar squeeze in my stomach. I realize that I am going to be sick soon. I will the sickness to please, please just wait until the bell rings so that I can make it to the restroom without attracting any attention, but my stomach is stubborn and I realize that it won't wait. Why, WHY does my last name have to start with a D, which landed me in the front row of this and many other classes? Why can't I have a cool Polish last name that starts with a Z, like my friend Steven, and be in the back row every period? I am already ridiculously uncool. Now I must stand up and walk out of class, from the front row. Hopefully the teacher will realize what is happening, because he is an adult, and adults are supposed to understand us kids. I am a straight-A student, never uttered a word in class or put up any kind of trouble; he will know that if I am leaving, that I MUST leave, and he won't embarrass me further. I put all of my faith in this, and I rise to my feet.

The teacher stops teaching immediately, freezes mid-gesture, and everyone in the class has their eyes on me, including him.

I turn, and as calmly as I can, defy him anyways, walk through ten rows of desks, and once I reach the back of the room, look back at him. He is absolutely stupified and still frozen, mid-gesture. I don't think he even knows my name to call out to stop me. It is as if he and the entire classroom of 40ish kids have realized for the first time that I even exist, and why the hell is she leaving mid-lecture? Has this quiet, mousy girl been sitting here all along, planning a riot? Should we all follow her out of the classroom?

I then look directly at my teacher, hoping that by doing this I am blocking everyone else from seeing me, and put my hand up to my mouth. It finally dawns on him, and he finishes his sentence. I turn and race out of the classroom, mortified, and if for a second I thought I would make it to the bathroom, that chance is gone now.

I am running down the hall when it happens, sick all over my Grammy's plaid jumper. THIRTEEN! I scream at myself in my head. YOU ARE TOO OLD FOR THIS.

My mother picks me up from school, it is the first I've seen of her in several days. She is the same, maybe thinner even, and doesn't even seem to notice that I'm sick. We pick my brother up from school and she takes us to Arby's for dinner, even though I have just vomited at school. I try to fill her in on the mortification of my day, but I hold back almost all of it, because she already seems so fragile, and I don't want to make it worse by having her worry about me.

This pattern continues for six weeks or so. It's strange to only me that I can't seem to get rid of this stomach bug, because everyone else is so worried about my mom that I am the only one to notice that I'm sick just about every week. Not just my stomach, but fever and chills, and body aches.

Eventually, my mom's depression passes, and we move back home and life returns to semi-normal.

It is only when I am nearly thirty-two years old and writhing in stomach pain while my husband moves his things out that I realize that I have learned to internalize my stress to the point that it has no choice but to present itself physically.

It's like clockwork now. A situation presents itself that is so overwhelming that I just can't take it, and my stomach begins to cramp and feels like knives are penetrating it, and my body temp shoots up to 100 degrees. Every muscle in my body tenses up so that I am literally in a ball.

The past two weeks have been that kind of overwhelming. The child support issue seemed to compound upon itself and branch out into new and ridiculous shit storms that threatened pretty much everything and everyone that I love. The conflict that I despise so much has been a part of my every day. I tried to disappear into a ball in my bed, but then I remembered the story from earlier, and how my mother was so caught up in her depression that she couldn't even see me, just like everyone at school, and I hung onto my children for dear life....they would not suffer because I am suffering.

Today, at 5pm, my husband and I will drive together to my lawyer's office and sit across from my ex husband for a meeting. We will be telling him at this meeting exactly how much I will be filing for in child support-which is almost triple what he is currently paying me and double what he has offered. I haven't sat in a room with my ex husband since almost 3 years ago, when he sat across from me in my office and cried because he couldn't afford child support. I was weak then, and I agreed to the tiny amount, and two weeks later he afforded himself a week-long fun trip to NYC.

There is stress. So much stress. The stress of standing up for myself when I so prefer being invisible. The stress of wondering if this will cause him to alienate my children from me, considering the power I already see him with over my 13 year old son. The stress of wondering what- not if - but what he will do to retaliate; file for 50/50 custody? take us to court? tell every mutual friend of ours what a C word I am? put my children in a car and disappear with them? All of the above? The stress of possible conflict between my new husband and my ex husband; will my ex say something to upset my husband or vice versa, and a shouting match break out? So much resentment between the two of them on so many levels, will having them in the same room involved in the same discussion bring all of that to the surface, and what will the repercussions be?

I just want this meeting to be the end of this chapter in my life. I want the child support money for my children to have what they need from both me AND their father. I want to go back to not thinking about my ex except for when I'm forced to face him at soccer games and school events. I want the fevers and stomach pains to go away, and to get back to exercise and eating and life. I want to be able to concentrate on my children and give them the attention that they need. I want to stop feeling like I am getting divorced all over again.

Please, let this meeting be The End.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I'm standing in the kitchen, in a bathrobe, and suddenly realize I am leaning on the counter for support or I will fall, and that I have been staring at the same spot out the window for the past 5 minutes.

It's quiet today. My five year old is home, playing happily in the living room with makeup and toys and singing to herself. My husband is in his office working. I should be working. But I am not, because it is too quiet, and I feel it bubbling, about to boil over.

My husband, who is taking a break from his work, walks into the kitchen and finds me there, staring, still in my bathrobe at 12:30pm. I meet his eyes, waiting to see disgust or question or puzzlement. But my eyes are met with recognition, with sadness, with helplessness.

"What can I do for you?" he asks as he pulls me into his arms.

I look up at him and wish I had an answer. He has done everything he can, this wonderful man who adopted so much baggage by choosing me as his wife. He has held me and told me it will be ok. He paid for the lawyer that I could not afford on my own. He reassured me when I questioned myself. He believes in me, in my goodness, and knows that I tend to believe and stress over what others say about me.

"I wish I weren't like this. So weak and pathetic." As I speak, I remember back to all the hardships I have been through-my dad's surgery, my divorce and all leading up to it, my parents' divorce. I remember friends and even strangers commenting to me how strong I am. I realize now, as I stand here in my bathrobe, that I am ridiculously weak....not strong at all. Not even close. When the going gets tough...I can't function. If being strong means just continuing to be alive everyday, then sure, call me strong.

He kisses me softly, and releases me back to my leaning. I continue to stare out the window, unable to move, because moving would not only hurt, but it would interrupt the battle raging in my head. Am I asking for too much support? What do I actually need? Am I being money hungry? Did I do the right thing? I know I'm not a C word or a bitch, but am I wrong? Does he have a point? Should these rules apply to him? Should I have at least tried to work it out first?

I answer myself with common sense. My common sense is in control in all of my actions. I let the lawyer file the petition and send my ex the waiver. I cooperate with everything that I know is right. But my thoughts: they are at war.

The next morning, the texts and emails begin to flood in. He has been contacted by my lawyer, and he is freaking out, combative and irrational. I am awoken to emails from the lawyer saying that he has been calling, that he wants a transcript of our conversations, that he will be hiring his own lawyer, that he'll be seeking joint custody. My texts are a barrage of guilt and threats and It's Not Fair's.

I want to answer every text. I want to EXPLAIN why I had to resort to this. He thinks I am being greedy and immature. I want to tell him that I have spent the last 3 years waiting for him to contribute his financial half. That I cannot go by his promises anymore, only his actions. That if he had been paying his half of everything like he had promised before, things would be different now. That it's not fair to me to have to beg and plead for him to pay me for his children all the time.

But I don't. I refer him to my lawyer, and then I sit on my feelings and my answers. And this causes me great stress, and turmoil, and I end up back in my bathrobe...this time curled up in the fetal position on our outdoor couch, which I now feel guilty for having.

I wonder about my best friend, whom I have watched endure a similar situation for the past couple of years. I text her and ask, how in the hell did you do this? How do you not answer when your intentions and integrity are attacked? But I already know the answer, because I watched her put her head down and protect herself as best she could. But I'm even more in awe of it now that I am living it.

So I come here to write, in my bathrobe. I realize that most who will read this are friends or friends of friends and will get it. But I want my voice to be heard somewhere. So I release these answers to the universe and hope that maybe someday they will reach his head and his heart.

I AM NOT A BITCH. I am the mother of your three children, and they are my whole world and purpose for everything in life. EVERYTHING.
I have paid for everything, you have paid for almost nothing, despite your promises to do so in the beginning.
I am not ok with splitting expenses because you promised to do the same thing last time, and you did not follow through. Actions speak louder.
You not having money is your own problem and your own foolish choices. You are insanely irresponsible with money. Cigarettes and happy hours and lunches and dinners out are your priority, not paying the bills for your kids. And you know it.
Having them 50/50 would mean you either pick them up from school on Wednesdays and Thursdays (and every other friday), or having them in daycare. How do you plan to pay for that, if you don't think you can afford child support???
And by the way, NO WAY IN HELL I'M LETTING YOU HAVE THEM 50% OF THE TIME. I spend enough time undoing your brainwashing and damage as it is.

Back to sitting on my hands and waiting for this nightmare to be over.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

In Which I Have a Nervous Breakdown

In case you haven't figured me out by now, I write when I am in turmoil. I would love to be able to write everytime I feel happy or excited, but the truth is that when I feel that way, I don't *need* to write the way I do when I am in a crisis. It's a shame that those who don't know me only see this side of me, because I promise I am a pleasant, fun-loving person. But this blog is my way of working through my problems. After my post about child support, I was able to organize my thoughts into a rational, calm email to my ex husband to let him know what was about to happen. Had I not written through it, I would have continued to argue with my ex in a fog of feelings and confusion and this whole thing would have been more damaging than it has already been.

We called a lawyer after I wrote my other post and set up a consultation. I truly had the intention of only going to her, finding out what was fair and why the state has set up child support the way they have: what they factor in, what they don't, why he has to pay. As I said before, my ex believes that he and I share our kids 50/50 because he takes them one extra night per week than the standard arrangement. I truly want to believe that he just doesn't understand the system, because it honestly confused me as well, enough to accept so little child support to begin with. If he's taking them on Wed and Thu nights, and every other weekend, then he should have to pay less, right? Because they're not with me?

I sat down with the lawyer yesterday and explained all of these things to her. I know my ex doesn't believe me, but with my husband as my witness, I explained to my lawyer in detail all that he does above and beyond standard custody. He takes them overnight instead of for a few hours on Wed, and then he takes them overnight again on Thursday. When it's his weekend, they stay overnight Sundays as well. He pays their health insurance. I take all three as a tax deduction. Surely he gets a break in there, right? I WANTED to hear that I was wrong, because I don't want a fight.

The lawyer looked at me, and god bless her, I could tell she wanted to choke me. As do most people when they hear what I take. She asked, "Do you honestly believe that you are raising three kids on less than $4000 a year? Or, with your "half" added in, $8000 a year? Even if he pays you standard....that's $12K a year....can you provide food, shelter, clothing, activities, medical care, and basic needs for your three children for $24,000 a year???"

I continued to defend him. "But he buys them clothes sometimes, and pays for my son's haircuts sometimes..." to which she interrupted "HE IS SUPPOSED TO DO THAT. Above and beyond what he pays you. He has to care for them WHILE THEY ARE IN HIS CARE, and provide financial support to you because you provide their main household-a house big enough for all three, a car; you drive them everywhere, you take them to doctors appointments, you provide electricity and utilities and everything they need, IN THEIR MAIN HOUSEHOLD."

She used the calculator to come up with the state mandated amount, and deducted for his extra time (which, because he doesn't take them all summer, doesn't even really count)...and it was still more than triple what he pays me now. In fact, he pays less than half of the state mandated amount for ONE child, for his current salary.

Listening to her, I knew I had to do something. She wanted me to move forward immediately, because otherwise, he will become accustomed to his new $20K+ a year lifestyle and it would be even more of a fight. Even though I had agreed with my ex to just talk to the lawyer, and then discuss things with him, I knew he would never agree to a) increase child support on his own and b) give me anywhere close to what is fair. I did ask her to hold off on sending him anything until I could email him myself and let him know.

I've thought and thought and thought about why I am so upset to be "doing this" to my ex. After all, he had absolutely no problems spending my money, sleeping with other women WHILE I was pregnant, and to this day is cold to me in front of the kids. He thinks I am this money-hungry bitch who just cares about getting his paycheck and not about how much time he spends with his kids. As my lawyer said "I just don't think he understands what child support is set up for". He wants to have joint custody, and have the kids 50% of the time, but have me be free daycare for him. If we truly had joint custody, he would have to arrange to have the kids picked up from school and watched while he was at work. He'd have them half the summers, all day long while he worked, or be paying for camps or daycare (the way I do now). And he'd be paying probably double than what I am asking for in child support. I don't know why he can't make that connection. I want him to so badly, because I don't want him to think of me as a money-hungry bitch who is after his paycheck.

And then again...why do I care what he thinks?? When I sent him the emails, he immediately shot back a nasty response. Then the texts "Who are you??????" and then more guilt, and then threats of taking the kids away and fighting me for custody. I knew they were coming, and I knew that he would know exactly what to say to make me feel like scum, yet it still made me want to curl up in a ball and hide. He called me a bitch publicly on his facebook page, for all of our mutual friends to see, and one by one his friends began their arsenal of even worse names. All this because I stood up for myself and didn't allow him the chance to continue to manipulate me...I was called the C word: By a woman...another single mother.

He is like a child who has been told no and hasn't learned to blame himself for his own problems yet. I know this, because he reminds me of one child in particular: our 13 year old son.

Maybe this is the key to why I am having such mixed emotions. My son spent months in therapy learning that if he doesn't do his homework, it's actually NOT his teachers' faults for giving too much. Before therapy, if my son didn't get his way, he would begin a verbal arsenal against me, usually declaring me the worst mother ever, that he didn't love me, and that he wished he could live with his father. He knew the arrows he could aim at my heart that would do the most damage, and if pushed he would use them. My son doesn't do this anymore. I learned how to handle him. He didn't like it, but we're good now, and he can now claim to have a higher maturity level than his 36 year old father.

I now feel like I am at war with my ex husband, which is exactly what I was attempting to avoid when we first divorced. I wish that I had hired a lawyer back then to explain all of these things to me and to give me the backbone that I didn't have on my own. Had I used a lawyer, maybe he'd be mad at the state right now for mandating such a "high" amount rather than at me for actually enforcing it. This was just the first battle, I expect it to get worse as he still doesn't know how much I plan to ask for, just that I've decided to use a lawyer and all communication about this issue from here on out will be done through her. When he hears the number, he's going to lose it.

Rest assured, I have not responded to one of his threatening texts or emails, just one email to refer him to my lawyer and to ask the communication over the subject to cease. I haven't called him names on my facebook page. I won't stoop to his level.

I see my ex as a whole person. Maybe that is my fault. It's not so black and white for me. He was raised with no father around. He was raised by a financially irresponsible mother who taught him nothing but spend spend spend, and that money was for fun and not to be wasted on boring things like bills. He was put in the middle of his own parents' fights over child support when his mother would send him to his dad's and insist he ask for the money owed her. I understand his feelings, sometimes I wish I didn't. Maybe this is a lesson he has to learn, I hope that he will wake up and this will make him a better person. I'm doubtful, but I hope.

Maybe I don't want to admit to myself that I was married to such a person for all those years. Maybe I don't want him to be a bad person because he IS raising my children some of the time. I worry for them...I can see that if my son had continued on the path he was on, he'd be my ex in 20 years. Alone, miserable, blaming the world for his problems, manipulating others into getting his way. That's a really scary thought. I love my children so fucking much. I don't want this for them. I feel like an idiot for choosing someone like this...the type of person who would allow others to call me a C word be the father of my children.

Either way, he makes it easier for me to go after what I deserve. Yes, I can support my three kids financially, on my own, without his help, and without my husband's help too. I did it for 2 years and I am proud of that. But I'm not a martyr.

Just because I can do it doesn't mean I should.

Friday, January 27, 2012


I got this comment on my last blog post and thought it deserved it's own post:
I agree with what Tracey said. It is right for you to be standing up for yourself and getting what you and your children deserve.
I'm commenting anonymously today. You don't know me in real life, but I follow and comment on Jenny and Tracey's blogs/twitter, etc.
I'm in a marriage that... isn't great. Isn't even good, really. There's is no abuse or infidelity (that I know about I guess), but my husband has lost interest and 'checked out' a couple of years ago. We went to counselling, and while he said all the right things when we were there, there was no carry-over. I think he stays because it's easy - I only work part time so I do EVERYTHING around the house. He only needs to focus on his work and his 'fun stuff' (that never includes me). I stay because as the person who's done everything for my 6-year old daughter, I can't imagine not seeing her 50% of the time. It makes me physically ill to even think about it. My husband's brother just divorced and settled for seeing the kids less than 50% of the time and my husband thought that was awful and unfair. So I know he wouldn't be happy with less than 50% of our daughter's time. And he's a good dad, but has a history of being way too critical of people and having such high (impossible to meet) expectations of people that it has ruined many of his close relationships. There are many times that I'm a buffer between him and our daughter when he's going overboard with expectations for her.
So I'm scared to (a) leave her without that buffer 50% of the time, and (b) be without her 50% of the time. And I know that she wouldn't want to be without me 50% of the time.

Good lord, I had no intention of being this wordy. Essentially my question is - I can tell you LOVE your kids like crazy. How did you manage in those early days/weeks/months to let them go? Did they miss you? Do you feel comfortable with them in ex's care?

Again, sorry for all this. I really admire how you've handled yourself through your divorce, and am so happy that you're getting your 'happily ever after'.

I'm going to be totally honest: I was so exhausted with single-mommying a 9 year old, a 5 year old, and a 22 month old who was screaming for her dad until 3 am every night, that I wasn't at first so worried about sharing them with him. It was sort of like when you have a newborn and you are so exhausted that you would do anything for sleep. I was so desperate for help that I was more than happy to let them go on Wednesday nights-I was just in survival mode.

It was only after I started to get my head above water that I started to panic a little bit about them being under his influence. I am constantly compared to Dad. "Dad lets us eat junk food. Dad lets us stay up late. Dad doesn't make us eat healthy. Dad lets us buy lunch at school". My son had some issues early this year where I could see him beginning to mimic his father's attitude of everything being everyone else's fault. Didn't finish his homework? It's because his sisters had the tv on too loud! Late for school? It's the alarm's fault or my fault for refusing to drive him! It was so bad that we had to go to therapy for it, and thanks to that and hopefully the example that my husband and I set for him, he's turned that attitude around completely and beginning to understand choices and responsibility.

So while I do have constant worries about my ex's poor attitude and choices rubbing off on the kids, I don't have to worry about them otherwise in his care, because he really does love them and tries to be a good father. I came to enjoy having built-in quiet nights every week, and while I do miss them, they're back home before it gets too bad. (I also have a unique situation where I work from home, so I'm here the minute they get home from school, and take 2 out of 3 of them to school every single morning.)

When I worry about his influence on them, I feel strongly that it's something I just have to let go of. I had to weigh the pros and cons when I decided to leave him, and when I thought about my two daughters growing up and being stuck in a marriage like I was in, it made me more sad than thinking of sharing time with him. I wanted them (and my son) to see, by my example, that it is not ok to let someone treat you like crap. I wanted them to see that we DO have a choice--we can leave a bad situation and be independent and not only survive, but thrive without anyone's help. And while that would have been good enough for me, my kids ended up getting the bonus of a strong husband, father, and relationship role when I met Mr. Wonderful. Everyday that they see us together, that he takes an interest in them being raised with high morals and standards, that he shows them by example that you don't lie to get out of trouble, that we get through conflict and still love each other afterwards...they are building an example in their subconscious of what to look for as grown-ups, and hopefully they can end up in the same type of relationships.

My own mom stayed with my dad for 30 years, unhappy and lonely and miserable, because she didn't want to disrupt our lives. While I respect her for that and can appreciate where she was coming from, what ended up happening was that I was perfectly fine with the same for myself because it was all I knew. Everyday was "I just need to get through until the kids are grown" "This was the choice I made and now, for them, I have to stay". In a way, when he cheated, it gave me a little bit of an out to leave; and I HOPE broke the cycle for the kids.

I am by no means encouraging anyone to divorce. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life and is one of those decisions that, of course, requires a lot of time and soul searching and research and meditation to say the least. But I always think the best question that helped me in all decisions was, what would I want my own daughter to do? Because we love them more than we love ourselves.

I hope that helped, and good luck to you !!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Not This Time

Yesterday was a horrible day. We all have them, right? I've had a string of excellent days lately, so I guess I was due.

My ex husband has been bragging to everyone, including our kids and my own family, about this great new job he just got and how much more money he will be making. My ex made a pretty average living (low average, but average) before, but has always been truly awful with finances. It was a major source of tension in our marriage as he would never think twice about squandering our entire savings account on ridiculous purchases.

My ex is also a master manipulator. And for some reason, even though I know this, he can get to me every. single. time. When we drew up our divorce decree, he sat at my desk and cried, telling me he just didn't have the money to pay me child support. "You make more money than me! Why do I have to pay?" See this was how our marriage worked. I paid for everything important like the kids and school tuition and our mortgage, he paid for his own car and then anything else he wanted. I was a walking doormat through that entire 11 years. He wanted to continue that pattern in our divorce.

He convinced me with "I spend more time with the kids than most dads! I don't make enough! Dads get screwed! I'll pay for their clothes and haircuts when it comes up! Just don't take it out of my paycheck!"

So I agreed on a ridiculously tiny amount. Truly, I'm too embarrassed to actually write down how little my ex husband contributes to his three children's expenses on a monthly basis, because it barely covers the bread they use for sandwiches.

I felt like I couldn't win. I felt taken hostage. I knew I could survive on my own without his money, hell I'd probably be better off now because at least I wasn't covering his ridiculous expenditures. But I felt like if I asked him for more, he'd hate me, and I was terrified to send my children into the company of someone who hated me two nights a week and every other weekend.

So I dealt with it. I pretend the money isn't even there, and it collects on my state-issued debit card that the money is deposited to every couple of weeks. I think of it as a safety net if anything big ever came up, but that is all.

So when he began bragging to everyone about the new job with the big pay increase, I kept waiting (WHY?) for him to bring up the child support. Finally, an email, saying he would like to help out more financially with the kids. He'd like to start paying for things like soccer fees and haircuts. Wow....could we be moving forward?

I emailed him back and asked how much increase in child support he thought was fair? He was truly taken aback by my question: increased child support??? No no no, he said. He was just talking about contributing to expenses when they came up.


So I wrote him back and said, do you have ANY IDEA how often expenses come up? Every. single. mother-loving. day. School supplies. Haircuts. Orchestra instruments. Co-pays. Medication. Contact lenses. Uniforms. Shoes. My life is a constant series of "Mommy I need..."

Not to mention the fact that despite the fact that I work full time from home, I take all three kids to school, I help with homework everyday, I shuttle to various activities, camps, sports, rehearsals, doctors appointments...I am their after school care, and for my youngest, I am daycare. During the summer for three months, the three of them are at my house being sheltered and fed by me, every single day.

He asks for a list of expenses which I am none to happy to provide for him. He actually picks apart my list, one by one, and tells me what he will and will not help with.

To my expense of "food"- (I didn't even include the electricity, gas money, entertainment) to which I broke down only the portion that I spend above and beyond my half, he meets with "Come on, I'm not gonna be paying your grocery and bills for you, D."

At which point my head almost explodes and I ask myself a) WHY is it fair that he gets to pick and choose which financial needs of our children he will be responsible for...I don't get a choice! and b) WHY am I trying to reason with an unreasonable person?????

His mantra of "But I'm not a deadbeat dad! I spend more time with my kids than other divorced dads!" (he does, but I still have them 80% of the time) is his excuse. Well guess what, I spend all sorts of quality time with my kids too, where's my free pass to stop paying for their food, shelter, clothes, and so on and so on and infinitely so on?

I had to stop conversing with him because he's so incredibly amazing at manipulating me that I begin to feel crazy. He throws out digs that he knows will make me feel guilty..."You have two incomes now", "I don't want to have to worry about not being able to put food on the table for them", "I want to be able to take them on a real vacation", "Why are you making me feel like a bad father"....

In actuality, when I let myself think about it overnight, my ex himself has NEVER suffered. He always seems to have enough money to eat out everyday for lunch, he has cable tv and internet, he frequents bars and happy hours, he takes trips without the kids, he has plenty of new clothes and fun stuff for himself. However, when I ask for his help with birthday parties, haircuts, soccer camps, he never has any money.

I take responsibility for allowing this to go on as long as it has. He has held me hostage with guilt and I've let it happen. I don't mind carrying the full financial responsibility for my children, I love them and they come first and they will never go without. But it is time for me to stand up for myself and stop allowing myself to be taken advantage of.

This time, I'm calling a lawyer.