Saturday, April 21, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: S

S = Strength

Strength.  This is a word that made my stomach turn when I first became a single mom.  I had so many friends who told me that they weren't worried about me or that they knew I'd be okay because I am "stronger than I realize".  Literally, I got told that so many times that it came to a point where I was concerned I would fly into a homicidal rage toward the next person who said it.  You know what?  It was true!  I really am stronger than I initially realized.  I'm also more resourceful than I knew I was.  By feeling more secure in my ability to meet mine and my son's needs without having to rely on a significant other, I feel like I'm a stronger person.  I feel more capable and that makes me more independent.  I am also aware of the fact that I pull strength from my friends and family.  Initially, I felt that by allowing my friends and family to help support me through these tough times, that it somehow only lent me artificial strength.  I was under the false impression that in order to have real strength, I needed to somehow bear the burden on my own.  This could not be any further from the truth.  Any strength that you gain from any positive source (i.e. "liquid courage", a.k.a. alcohol, is not a positive source of strength!) is still strength. 

What are your sources of strength?  How have you found strength during tough times?

Friday, April 20, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: R

R = Relaxation

Aaaah. . .that beautiful (yet, elusive) word. . . RELAXATION.  While I most definitely do not get an opportunity to relax as often as I would like, I also recognize that it is important to take some time to relax and rewind whenever possible.  There are always a million things that "need to get done" but I have to find time to relax for my sanity.  I'm a better mom when I have had a moment to rest and recharge myself.  Sure, it might mean that the dishes don't get done right away or there are dust bunnies (more like dust buffalos!) hiding in my corners but I am learning that those things don't matter nearly as much as a happy kid who is well adjusted and a Mommy who has some modicum of sanity left. 

What do you do to relax? 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: Q

Q = Quiet

I'm finding that having a dose of quiet time each day. . .or whenever I can manage to find it!. . . has been both very therapuetic and very scary for me.  Having pure peace and quiet even if for a short time is a foreign concept to me.  I'm always on the go.  Always having something else to work on or try to get checked off the to-do list.  Therefore, when I find myself with some quiet time, I don't fully know what to do with it.  Also, it scares me.  When its quiet, my brain has an opportunity to slow down and think about all of those things that often times get pushed to the back.  You know, those things that I push away because I don't "have time" to deal with it at that moment.  In reality, I just don't want to think about it.  Maybe it hurts too bad.  Maybe it makes me angry.  Maybe it's embarassing.  Whatever it is, I try to avoid having to deal with it.  Having quiet makes it come to the front.  It forces me to deal with it.  That's a scary thing.  But, it's necessary in order for me to process the things that I have going on right now.  It's necessary in order to start/continue the healing process. 

So, how do you find quiet?  What do you do with it? 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: P

P = Phenomenal Woman

Today's post is slightly different than other posts in this challenge.  Today, I'm posting a poem written by Maya Angelou which I have always found to be very inspirational to me.  It's true that I'm a sappy and emotional person but this poem strikes me on the deepest level of my being.  I truly admire Maya Angelou and can remember "borrowing" an autobiography book that she wrote from my mom and reading it when I was quite young (12ish?) and being in awe of the struggles that she overcame in her life. 

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.
-Maya Angelou-

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: O

O = Optimistic

This post falls on the most perfect (or ironic?) of days.  You see, I'm having a breast biopsy done in a couple of hours to try to get to the bottom of a health issue (scare) that I've been dealing with for the last few weeks.  During a routine OB-GYN appt, my doctor found a lump in one of my breasts that she was concerned about.  So, she ordered an ultra sound.  Coming from a family of women who seem to have the lumpies and bumpies in the chest bump area, I tried not to be too concerned.  Plus, I didn't have a million other things already going on in my hectic life or anything (sarcasm).  However, at the ultrasound for the boobie bump issue, I learned that the initial lump that landed me in the ultrasound hot seat actually wasn't anything to worry about.  Whew! 

However, there was something that they found that they are concerned about.  It's a solid mass that was hiding behind the non-issue cluster of cysts that my doctor originally felt and sent me off to get checked out.  So, today, I'm back for a biopsy.  I'm trying to be optimistic.  Let's put it this way: In my opinion, I have two choices in this matter. . .I can either freak the freak out and spend my time fretting over what may never happen OR I can try to positively self talk myself into believing that I'm fine and that I have no reason to worry until the doctor delivers news that there is, in fact, reason to worry.  I'm trying really hard to stay in the space of the latter.  That's not to say that I didn't have a mini freak out session this morning. . .because I did.  That's not to say that I didn't stare at a picture of my precious Baby Bear this morning and wonder if today was going to be a day that changed my life forever. . .because I did.  And, that's not to say that I didn't go through my filing cabinet last night just to reassure myself that I was appropriately covered by enough life insurance just in case anything were to come of it. . . .because I did.  But, now that I've done all of those things, I hope I can focus on just getting through today and figuring out what this thing is.  Right, wrong, or indifferent. . .I keep telling myself that 29 year olds don't have major breast issues and that this "mass" has no choice but to be benign.  How's that for being optimistic? 

Have you ever faced something that was scary and uncertain?  How did you get through it? 

Monday, April 16, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: N

N = Now

As in, Live in the NOW.  I've spent a lot of time and energy during my lifetime living in the past.  Hung up on things that have happened in the past.  Reliving and Rehashing them.  It is with the help of my friends and therapist that I have started to realize that you can never relive the past so there's no use trying.  You can't change it.  All you can do is live in and focus on what's happening right NOW.  This is alot easier said than done.  After all, I have things in my past that have caused me a lot of hurt and angst.  Things which aren't all that easy to just "heal" from and put away forever.  The worst thing that I can do (and I've learned this the hard way) is to put something away and not allow myself to heal before trying to move forward.  However, by not living in the NOW, I'm bypassing too many opportunities to experience joy and the great things that my blessed life has to offer. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: M

M = Motivation

This post today is going to be very short.  Motivation.  Here is a short (read: NOT all-inclusive!) visual list of what motivates me:

The T man. . .he motivates me to get out of bed on those mornings where I'm sure that its impossible to do so.  He motivates me to work harder, push through it, and provide him with the best life that I possibly can. 

I'm not going to lie, I'm totally motivated by money.  Anyone who says that they aren't is either lying or has too much of it.  Money buys stuff and stuff makes my life easier.  It's true, money may not buy happiness. . .but having some of the conveniences in life that having money makes possible does make me happier.  I'm nothing if not brutally honest.  Money = Motivation in my book.  More Money = More Motivation.  Easy Squeezy.

The beach. . .the sand. . .the water. . .the sun. . .it motivates me.  It revives me.  It rejuvenates me.  And in many cases, it burns me.  Well, the sun does.  But, I am motivated by it, nonetheless.  

What motivates you? 

Friday, April 13, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: L

L = Let Go

Over the last few months, I have learned that letting go of the hurt and anger is a very long and difficult process but that eventually, it's important that I find a way to let it go.  I have come to the realization that holding on to that much negativity only hurts my own well being.  Allowing myself to feel the pain and anger of what I'm going through allows me to start my healing process.  It sounds counter-intuitive,  I know, but both my mom (a mental health professional) and my therapist have advised me not to try to rush through it.  Take the time that I need to process the emotions.  Believe it or not, following their advice has made the healing process (so far, at least) alot easier.  I'm not going to lie, it sucks.  IT SUCKS BAD!  To basically force yourself not to reach for the band aid (whatever your "band aid" of choice might be) when you're feeling the worst pain you've ever felt.  It takes time for the pain and anger to subside enough that you can see clearly but when you can, it's amazing.  It really is alot easier to start letting go of the painful emotions and negativity in your life when you've given yourself the time to really feel them and process them. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: K

K = Knowledge

"Knowledge is Power".  That's a quote that I've heard several times throughout my life and it never had as great of an impact on me as it has in the last few months.  When D. moved out and we were during one of our periods where we weren't speaking or seeing each other, I started to realize that there were alot of things that I relied on him for.  Whether it was fixing something around the house or just having a second opinion on something, I relied on him alot.  At some point, I made a vow to stop letting that dependence on him run my life.  I needed to start finding the answers to whatever questions that I would have asked him or figuring out how to do things on my own.  That is when I began harnessing the power of that little thing called the internet.  What a big bad world of power that little gem is!  In the past few months, YouTube and have been my buddies!  I've gained a new sense of independence and strength that I didn't have before but I've also gained knowledge.  I'm finding that I'm less stressed out because all the knowledge that I need can likely be found just by Googling whatever the issue is.  It's true. . .Knowledge IS Power!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: J

J = Joy

Being a single mother brings alot of challenges.  There's no question there.  While I wouldn't wish for anyone to find themselves a single parent unless it is specifically what they want, there is also a lot of joy in being in this situation, you just have to find it.  For one, I'm alot stronger than I ever imagined I could be.  I find joy in this.  I have found joy in being able to accomplish tasks that I might have otherwise asked Ty's father to complete for me.  There is also a lot of joy in the one on one time that I get to spend with my son.  He has these moments of pure sweetness that I just adore and he typically only brings them out with me.  When he's around his dad, he acts all macho and "manly" but with me, he sometimes lets that act slip and shows mommy what a softie he is on the inside.  I've also found joy in the fact that I can run everything in my household again.  If I don't want to do laundry. . .I don't.  If I don't want to pick up after myself. . .I don't.  If I want to eat oreos for dinner. . . I do. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: I

I = Instinct

There's not a whole lot that I can say about this other than. . .you've got them, you need to trust them.  We were blessed with instincts and too many times, we overrule our instincts.  Being cheated on by my son's father proved to me that I need to trust my instincts.  In my head, I already knew I was being cheated on.  There were too many signs.  I allowed my heart to overrule my head and my instincts.  "He wouldn't do that to me". . . "He loves me". . . Instincts told me what was going on but I didn't want to believe them.  I sure as hell do now.  After all, it was instinct that drove me to get into my car and drive to his house the night that I caught him cheating on me.  Instinct told me that he was lying about where he was.  Instinct told me that I needed to find out once and for all. 

Trust your instincts. . .they (YOU) know more than you think! 

Monday, April 9, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: H

H = Healing

Healing from those things which have hurt us in the past.  I am in an extended period of healing right now.  There are a number of things which have hurt me and have caused wounds/scars in my past.  Some of these things, I have dealt with very quickly and have healed easily.  Some of them, however, have been long lasting wounds which have caused a delayed healing.  For example, I was sexually abused when I was a child by a non-family member.  This abuse went on for three agonizing years.  Once I did speak up (at the age of 12 or so), I was immediately put into counseling by my mom.  I can't remember exactly how long I attended counseling but it seemed like a short amount of time.  I quickly moved past the abuse and went about my teenage years thinking that it was behind me.  It wasn't.  It wasn't until I was an adult that the lasting effects of the abuse came back to wedge itself into my personal life.  It affected my self image, my relationships and trust in people, and my sexual relationships with the men in my life.  Rather than be promiscuous like some sexual abuse survivors are prone to doing, I became extremely closed off.  I didn't trust people not to hurt me so I had extreme difficulties with the most intimate of activities.  It took years of therapy and individualized work to begin the healing process from that experience that I had as a child.  Even now, 20+ years later, I still won't go as far as to say that I'm completely healed from that experience but I can say that I've put it behind me.  Unfortunately, there are other things in my life that I'm working on being able to heal from. 

Throughout all of these experiences, I have come to realize that healing is something that only you can do for yourself.  Yes, there are therapists, friends, and family who can help you through the process.  But, you cannot heal from anything until you are ready to do so.  Until you have opened yourself up to healing.  Healing also takes time.  Time has sometimes been my worst enemy.  I'm an instant gratification type gal.  I don't like to wait for things.  I have come to (somewhat) understand that I can't rush the process.  Another really shitty point to it is that there is no timeline.  Nobody can tell you how long it will take.  It takes as long as it takes and you just have to be patient.  Difficult for someone like me.  I don't do patient very well.  I'm learning.  I want to heal bad enough that I'm learning how to be patient. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: G

G = Grateful

Grateful for what I do have vs. what I don't.  Sure. . .I don't have a lovingly devoted hunky husband that comes home to me every night and helps me cook dinner while helping our insanely gorgeous children do their homework, I don't have insanely gorgeous children ("children" = plural, I only have one insanely gorgeous child), I don't have a huge house with fine furniture and expensive cars in the driveway, I don't have the pleasure of taking luxurious vacations in exotic locales, I don't have a never ending flow of money,. . .I don't have a lot of things.  And the fact that I don't have these things isn't specifically because I'm single or a single mom.  It's just a fact of life.  But, I do have a lot of really great things in my life.  It's for those things that I'm grateful.  I have my moments where I get down on myself (we all do, don't we?) and labour over the things that I don't have  But, for the most part, I make a choice to be grateful for what I do have.  I'm much happier when I focus on those things instead of what I feel that I'm lacking in my life.  After all, I could one day find that lovingly devoted hunky husband to make those insanely gorgeous other children with, but he could be dirt poor and then I still wouldn't have the other stuff that I don't currently have.  So, what's the point?

Friday, April 6, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: F

F = Forgiveness

I'm sure you thought I was going to choose "Finances" for this letter, right?  I mean, the other side of the blog is basically dedicated to money and how to make less of it go further.  But, I figured I'd mix it up a little bit.  Plus, I can talk about money all day long any day.  Today, on the lone day of the week that starts with F, I want to focus on Forgiveness. 

Forgiveness is a concept that I'm not entirely sure I've understood very well up until now.  I've always heard the term "Forgive & Forget" so I always just kind of thought of those two concepts as existing in tandem.  It wasn't until recently that I realized that this just isn't the case.  Its possible to forgive without forgetting.  I am just now coming to the full emotional realization of what this means. 

It's not secret to anyone who knows me well that D. and I have had our issues for years.  I understand that most of you who have been following this blog since its inception don't even have the full story yet.  I've put out there the very beginning of our relationship story and then one post dedicated to something that was discovered in the recent past.  Would you believe me if I said that there's even more recent history that may possibly indicate that we could move past the crazy shit that I walked in on?  Yeah, I'm not sure I fully believe it either. Trust me when I tell you that our relationship is hard for even me to understand so I can't begin to think that anyone else could understand it. 

Anyways, after being hurt by D. on a level that even I'm not sure I fully comprehend on most days, I'm starting to understand what it means to have the ability to Forgive.  The journey down this incredibly screwed up road has taught me that I'm not in this thing alone.  I also didn't get to where I'm at on this journey without some action and culpability myself.  Don't get me wrong here, I'm not excusing or even forgiving anything that D. has done.  What he did and what I walked in on was an act of true selfishness and betrayal.  However, I feel strongly that he didn't get to the point where he made the decisions that he made on that ill fated night alone.  Our relationship had been struggling for quite some time and I'm not without my share of responsibility in that.  Did he have other options?  Yes.  Could he have spoken up and officially broken off the relationship? Absolutely.  Do I think he's an immature asshat for doing what he did?  You bet your ass I do.  I'm not at all saying that it takes two for one partner to cheat on the other (well, technically, I suppose it does take two people. . .but, you get what I'm saying, right?) and I'm in no way saying that every scorned woman (or man?!) who has been cheated on should do some self reflection to identify their own responsibility in their partners' infidelities.  Nope, that's not it.  What I'm saying is that in my relationship, I had a part in allowing our relationship to become as caustic as it was.  The cheating is all on D.. . he made that choice and I won't own any part of that.  And in some ways, on some days, I idolize that Bobbit lady who cut off her ex's schlong.  I have a newfound respect for her.  But, I can't honestly say that when the cheating occured that our relationship was all sunshine and roses either.  We were in a rough place.  Not the kind of place that was causing me to go out and seek anything with anyone else but that's my own ethics at play.  D's moral code is obviously more questionable than mine.  And he's obviously not that bright if he thought he'd get away with it. 

With all that being said, I'm in the process now of realizing that forgiveness isn't for the person who has done wrong.  It's for the person who is still harboring the hate, hurt, resentment, or otherwise toxic feelings that come along with being wronged.  I'm not seeking forgiveness to set D's heart or head free, I'm doing it for my own.  I don't want to live the rest of my life with all of that toxicity in my space.  So, I'm seeking out the path to forgiveness so that I can be set free. 

As far as forgetting. . .not a chance in hell.  I'll never forget what he did.  There aren't enough environmentally unfriendly chemicals existing in this world at this time that could erase that from my memory.  Some days, I wish for Alzheimers.  Until then, I have wine. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thank God for (Not Always So) Little Blessings

As I have started to settle into this Single Mom thing, I've started really paying attention to the situations of other single moms (Note to Single Dads: Dude, I get that you guys are out there.  Hell, if you're reading my blog, I'm THRILLED.  I mean absolutely no disrespect in always referring to something as a "single mom" issue, but for me, that's what it is.  I'm sure you encounter many of the same issues as us single gals.  And for that, we love you.  We respect you.  And we beg for your forgiveness.  Thanks!) around me.  Right now, I'm being more observant than participatory in nature but I'm noticing that even though our "situation" of being a single mom might be shared, our actual situations with our baby daddy (or daddies?) are all very different.  So, in trying to find something positive to post in what feels like a very unpositive time in my life, I will share this.  A list of the sometimes tiny, sometimes not so tiny blessings in my single mom life right now:

  • My son loves his father and his father loves him.  There's no denying that.
  • D. does not try to back out of his parental duties and would (and has!) gladly taken our son on extra days whenever I've asked (maybe to study, go out of town for work, or just have the occasional night out with girlfriend whose custody/visitation schedule is opposite of mine) and his schedule has allowed
  • He's involved--whether that be as the football coach, Scout Leader, MVP (Men Volunteering @ P******- the school where my son goes) member, or all around Daddy of the Year, he's active and involved in our son's life.
  • He doesn't tolerate Ty disrespecting me--even though D. finds no fault whatsoever in disrespecting me in front of Ty, he at least steps in whenever Ty is being especially sassy, disrespectful or just an all-around Pain in the Ass.  At times, I feel like D. is underestimating my ability to handle my own son, but I know think that he's doing it more from the place where he knows that boys shouldn't treat women that way.  Great job, Mama to the D. . you did a wonderful job in teaching your son that he can disrespect the mother of his child in front of said child but that the child should never show his mother disrespect.  Makes perfect sense.  In any regard, I'm thankful that he doesn't allow Ty to show me disrespect.  Even if it does mean that I have to explain to Ty later why Daddy said the same thing and he didn't get in trouble. . ."No, honey. . .it's just that Mommy has recognized that your Daddy is a total asshat.  But Mommy wants better for you.  And for my future Daughter-in-Law.  So, do as Daddy says. . not as Daddy does.  Mmmkay, Baby?"
  • While I do not get any child support from D., he is usually pretty good about reimbursing me any medical expenses that Ty has that I've had to pay out of pocket.  It's not always paid back in a timely manner but as long as I keep the proof to remind him that he owes it, he usually pays it.  I wish D. had a better sense of style and could dress our son a little bit better (or recognize when Ty needs new clothes because he's outgrown the old ones) but at least he buys clothes for Ty to keep at his house and doesn't put the burden on me or expect me to pack a bag for Ty to go over to his house every other weekend.  
  • In relation to the last point, D. has even paid for activities for Ty to participate in that I simply can't afford at the time.  Typically, if D. wants Ty to do something (usually a sport) and I can't afford to pay the extra costs involved, D. will pick it up if he's able.  Granted, I may get reminded 48123571125840 times of his immense generosity in doing so but at least Ty still gets to participate in these activities whereas he might not have if his father wanted to stick to the "split it or forget it" mentality. 
  • Ty has a great time when he's with his dad.  Sure, he misses me when he's there and he misses his Dad when he's with me, but I'm fairly confident that he is happy and secure when he's at either house.  I thank God that my son doesn't get upset when he's got to go to his house and I'm very thankful that I don't have to witness that kind of emotion.  It would absolutely break my heart. 
  • I don't have some crazy new girlfriend/wife/mistress/hoebag/bitch that I have to encounter or battle with.  Yet, at least. 
  • As of yet, there has not been some sort of knock down drag out custody battle which has made me want to serve consecutive roundhouse kicks to D's crotch and slash the tires on any one of his multiple prized vehicular babies.  For the most part (notice that I didn't say "in absolute total completion" or anything else that had valid finality to it. . .because this rodeo sure as hell hasn't been without its bucked off cowboys--that bull can be a bitch when it wants to be), we've been fairly civil with one another and have (mostly) seen eye to eye in how we wanted to proceed regarding our son.  I cross my fingers that it remains this way but I have to find a healthy balance between agreeing with him for the sake of our son in whats fair and right and placating him just to avoid what could be (or would be--this Single Mama can spit fire and poke some eyeballs out if she's backed into a corner--there's a reason why my son refers to me as the "Mommy Dragon"!) a nasty court battle.  Let's just play nice in the sandbox and we won't have to go there.  Mmmmkay?
I'm sure there are more things that I should be thankful for but when it comes to my Baby Daddy, I realize that even though he makes me crazy 99.9999% of the time, he's not the worst thing that could have happened to me.  Oh no, some of you other ladies have kindly demonstrated that.  Thank You!

April A to Z Challenge: E

E = Efficiency

As a single parent, we quickly learn the concept of Efficiency.  After all, there is only one body trying to handle the task list of what would (normally?--as if anything is "normal" these days!) typically be handled by two people.  While another lesson that I've learned being a singel parent involves knowing when to let go and stop beating myself up over the fact that I didn't accomplish all 10,287 things on my to-do list in any given day, I've also learned a great deal about efficiency.  Some things still need to get done (you know, like eating. . .and showering. . .occasionally) so it helps to be able to attack things in an efficient manner.  Here are just a few things that I do to try to make everything run more efficiently in my house:

  • I try (okay, I fail miserably most times but the actual concept still works!) to menu plan our meals at least a week in advance.  That way, I can pull things out of the freezer a day or two in advance or pick up necessary items at the grocery store that I might need.  By doing this, it helps tremendously in my grocery spending (I don't spend hours at the grocery store buying random things that I don't need that week or trying to menu plan a weeks worth of meals while standing in the produce section) and how much I spend in eating out.  You see, I have this horrible tendency to stand in front of an open fridge/freezer and immediately become discouraged or tired and say to myself "Screw it, I don't feel like cooking/there's nothing to eat in here/I don't have time to make something. . .we're going out for dinner".  Plus, I hate to waste food, so when there's chicken already thawed out for a meal that I've planned that night, I am less likely to pull the eating out card.  Also, by menu planning, it allows me to recognize what nights we may need to eat out on account of an activity or something that we have going on (which makes cooking difficult/impossible) so I can either pre-plan a "brown bag dinner" of sorts and bring it with us or I have more time to figure out how to eat out cheaper by using coupons or a "Kids Eat Free" restaurant.
  • We pick out our clothes for any given day the night before.  This allows Tyler some extra time to figure out what he wants to wear (who am I kidding?  He's six and he's a boy. . he doesn't care what he wears!) and eliminates the time spent in the morning trying to pick out clothes and any battles over what he might wear.  Plus, he's at the age where he can dress himself so I just get him up and out of bed and he can do the rest.  That allows me to actually get myself ready and out the door.
  • We pack any lunches the night before and get our breakfast "halfway ready" the night before.  Ty can pour milk into a bowl of cereal but I don't want him attempting to stand on a chair to actually get the box of cereal down.  So, I pour cereal into a bowl the night before, put a paper towel over it and put milk into a cup for him.  The cup of milk goes into the fridge and the bowl (with paper towel over top of it) sits on the counter over night.  In the morning after he's dressed, he pours the milk into his cereal and eats his breakfast.  This, again, gives me time to get myself ready in the morning.
  • All errands are ran on a schedule that works for me in terms of timing and less gas usage.  As we all know, gas is getting ruh-DONK-ulously expensive.  Therefore, I try to conserve wherever possible.  But, my time is extremely important to me too (HELLO. . .we're talking about efficiency!) so I try to run all of my errands on a schedule that allows me to spend less in gas and keep more of my time to myself (or to the other 10,286 things on my to-do list!).  For example, we grocery shop on Thursday nights.  There's no specific rhyme or reason to why it's Thursdays. . .it just is.  I also fill up my car with gas on Thursday nights after grocery shopping.  If there are any other errands to run, I either try to coordinate them so that they can be ran on my way to/from work (saving gas) or I save them for a day when I have other errands to run (if at all possible) and try to pick the most central location that has all of the places that I need to hit in close proximity to one another.  My friends have been subjected before to the irritable-ness that ensues when I have to drive across town for a one off errand.  I HATE THAT!! 
  • I spend any "down" time (waiting at doctors offices, Tyler's school, sports practices, etc) doing whatever I can to be "productive".  That may mean that I'm cleaning out an email inbox from my phone, surfing the internet (again from my phone) to find deals and steals, or writing ideas for things in a notebook that I carry with me everywhere.  Whatever it is, I try to spend those few moments in between things being productive. 
Those are just a few tips/tricks that I can think of right off the top of my head.  What kinds of things do you do to be more efficient with your time or money?  Please share!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: D

D = Dependence

Becoming a single parent was a harsh wake up call on how dependent I had become on D.  On many different levels: financial stability, emotional stability, an extra set of hands to help with Ty or housework, the muscle necessary when things are too heavy or a project was too overwhelming, the knowledge that he has (and I lack!) about cars and how house stuff works, etc.  The list goes on.  Once our relationship and communication started falling apart, I quickly realized that I had allowed myself to become dependent on what he offered in just being around.  This has led me to a place where I feel like I have to start taking some of that dependence back and learn how to depend only on myself.  Of course, this makes me feel as if I'm shutting myself off from ever being able to open up and allow anyone to offer me anything in the future.  But, for the time being, I recognize that I need to learn how to depend on myself, and only myself, for the things that need to get done. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: C

C = Change

Like it or hate it, being a single parent means being accustomed to change. Whether it be the change that one must go through during the process of becoming a single parent (and I have yet to meet someone who didn't go through an enormous amount of change during this process!) or just the fact that things sometimes change drastically daily, change is simply a part of a single parent's life.  To add insult to injury, we're often caught between managing change that's happening around us or to us and trying like hell to maintain some sense of structure or consistency for our kids.  After all, kids need structure.  They need consistency.  Right?  Yeah, I think some parenting guru mentioned that at one time or another. 

Whether it's big change or small change, we single-tons are having to manage it constantly.  I totally recognize that change is a natural occurence regardless of whether there is one parent or two. . .it's just that when there's only one of us to tie the shoes, fix breakfast, button up the shirt, put on the bandaid, feed the dog, clean up the spilled milk, switch the laundry, check the homework, pack the lunch, and turn off the coffeemaker all in the next five minutes before being dreadfully late to that early morning meeting. . . well, nevermind, the plans just changed!

Monday, April 2, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: B

B = Ball Busting Busy (Do I get extra points for multiple 'B's?)

As a single mom, I'm Ball Busting Busy all the freakin' time.  I'm often overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that I have on my to-do list at all times.  With the need to compartmentalize almost every aspect of my life in order to get everything accomplished, I've found that I actually start to feel very lost whenever I have a free moment where I don't have what feels like a million things waiting for me to get done.  Being busy is just a part of my life.  Love it or Hate it, it seems like it is a constant state of being for me.  At least for the foreseeable future.

For example, it is now the 2nd day of April.  For most people, that would be inspiring. . .the second day of a new month.  For me, it's terrifying.  For one, I haven't paid my monthly bills yet.  I HATE sitting down to pay bills.  Not only is it a task which I find utterly boring and far too adminstrative, but it truly sucks to see a large-ish sum of money in my bank account quickly dwindle down to mere dollars (and we're not talking double digit dollars here!) once the bills are paid.  It's stressful.  It's painful.  It makes me cry 11 months out of 12 (with the one exception being the month after I've received my tax return).  In addition, I'm also always thinking of the homework assignments that I have due for the month.  Then, there's the different appointments that either Ty or I have in the month.  How many days I need to "re-arrange" things at work to accomodate appointments or other conflicts that I have coming up.  Of course, there's the list of neverending home improvement or DIY decorating projects that I seem to always be in the middle of.  Rarely ever "just starting" and never ever ever "finishing up". . .always "in the middle".  For once, I'd love to get finishing some of them up.  On top of all of that, I've got SO much work to get done this month in preparation for graduation in the beginning of May.  I have family coming in town and am planning on having a BBQ over at my house for friends and family afterwards.  Of course, this is adding to my neverending to-do list and causing me great anxiety and stress. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April A to Z Challenge: A

A = Acceptance

Acceptance for things that I cannot change about my situation or BD.  Being a single mom has shown me that there is alot of joy and alot to be thanful for but it has also shown me that some things just down right suck.  I have a choice between fighting against those things that suck and ultimately being exhausted 24/7 or just accepting that some things are going to be hard, unfair, or unpleasant.  I wish I could say that I've mastered this, but that's just not true.  I'm trying very hard to learn more and more each day how I can be more accepting of those things that cannot change and not allow them to interrupt the great opportunities that I have around me. 

April A to Z Challenge: Get the Low Down. . .

WOW, it's hard to believe that I've been out of the blogging saddle for almost a month.  A month ago I started on what has turned out to be a very very rough journey for me.  I've done alot of hurting, thinking, healing, and changing in this short month.  As much as I hate to admit it, the blogs had kind of faded from the forefront of my mind over the last month.  It wasn't until I was checking my email yesterday that I realized that the April A to Z Blog Challenge was starting today.  I made a commitment back in March to participate in this event and I think it might just be the perfect reason to get me back on the blog and participating on a regular basis.  After all, we all have to get back in the saddle eventually, right? 

You may be asking yourself what in the world I'm rambling about. . .What is this April A to Z Blog Challenge?  Well, it's pretty simple, actually.  Each day in April (with the exception of Sundays--but since today is April 1st and it's a Sunday, even that is an exception!), bloggers who are participating in the challenge will put up one post that starts with the letter of that day.  Each day, we move through the alphabet until we get to the end which will also coincide with the end of April.  Cool, huh?!  The challenge is already up to over 1500 participants and there's still time to join in if you want to jump in with us!!  For more info or to add your name to the list of participants, jump on over to the Challenge home page to get the real skinny on what we're doing here:

With all of that out of the way, I'm going to focus each of my monthly alphabet posts on something that I've learned or experienced as a result of being in the situation that I'm currently in.  Some may be deep and serious and some may be easy breezy. . .we'll just have to see how it goes.  So, I hope you'll join me on this journey. . .cuz it seems like it's going to be an interesting one! 

Monday, March 5, 2012

What's up, Doc?

I realize that I haven't put my entire relationship story out there yet and I had intended this post to have a completely different spin.  However, that's not how it turned out. 

Over the last few weeks, D. and I had decided that we were going to attempt to work out our issues by going to counseling.  This was, in my mind, my last ditch effort to try to salvage our relationship.  When I asked him if he would be willing to go to counseling with me, he agreed immediately under the condition that I was asking him to go because I truly wanted to work on our relationship.  He said that he didn't want to go if I was just trying to find a way to exit our relationship painlessly.  Of course, that wasn't my intention.  I wanted to work on us.  I wanted to find a way so that we could (hopefully) be together in a happy and healthy way. 

Tonight was supposed to be our first session together with a therapist.  Unfortunately, that just isn't the way it turned out. 

I still can't write too much about it because I'm in so much tremendous pain over it but I found out (with my own two eyes) over the weekend that D. wanted his cake and he wanted to eat it too.  While he, apparently, wanted to maintain the control over me of knowing that I was still in love with him, he also wanted to have his fun.  After catching him in a lie, I also caught him in bed with someone else.  The last three days have honestly been the worst days of my life.  However, I'm taking the steps that I need to take at this point to try to move on.  I'm surrounded by good friends who are really trying to be there for me when I need them and I'm seeing a therapist to try to help me through the pain and trauma of what I'm going through. 

Due to what I'm trying to navigate through right now, I may not post as often as I would like here.  I've put a temporary suspension on posting over at Living on a Dime or Less but I'm hoping to be able to find the time and energy to post over here on Single Mama Stuff.  My therapist is encouraging me to write as much as I can during this time so I'm looking at this blog as an outlet.  I just need to get myself to the point where I can manage to eat and sleep on a normal schedule again before I can focus on writing. 

While this side of my blog is still very new and very young, I truly appreciate all of the support that you have shown me so far.  Please know that I need it more during this time than ever.  Thank you for your comments and your words of encouragement! 

Until next time. . .

How many sticks do you really have to pee on?

Welcome back to mine and D's relationship story.  If you've missed the first two parts, go check them out here and here.

It was Monday, February 21, 2005 and I was driving back to my office that morning.  By this time, I had taken a promotion and followed my boss to a bigger office which was closer to where D. lived but it was still a good hour and half to two hours away (depending on traffic).  We were still seeing each other almost every weekend and most of those weekends I would make the drive to see him.  He was the one with the busy life.  I just had my apartment and my two cats.  Outside of work, I knew no one so there was really no reason for him to come to see me in my apartment.  Sure, I lived at the beach.  There were plenty of things to do where I lived but he always seemed to have things that he needed to get done on the weekends.  So, it was me who fought the beach traffic and the military traffic (there were multiple military bases around where I lived at the time) for hours on Friday afternoons just so that I could travel to see him.

  Sure thing, honey.  No problem. 

It also meant that I was the one who would get up early on Monday mornings and drive back.  I would get ready at D.'s house and drive straight to work from his house.  Two-ish hours in the car on a Monday morning (every Monday morning!) is enough to start anyone's week off on a bad foot.  The only positive thing about that was that I didn't have to be at work until 10am on Mondays.  That's probably the only reason I put up with it for so long. 

Anyways, I was driving to work that morning and I started feeling pretty blah.  Not surprising though because we had gone out over the weekend and had partied pretty hard.  In fact, that Friday night I had drank far too much and had paid for it dearly on Saturday.  I pretty much spent the entire day in bed on Saturday being tired and nauseous.  On Sunday, we had driven around and looked at cars for D. since he was wanting to buy a new car and I can remember looking at myself in the side mirror thinking that I wouldn't be surprised if someone mistaked me for a walking corpse.  I looked awful.  I felt awful.  Anyways, when I started getting waves of nausea on Monday morning, I just figured that I was still hungover/sick from Friday night.  I went into work like normal and felt pretty crappy all morning.  About half-way into the afternoon, it dawned on me that most of my co-workers in the office had been off at one time or another the week before on account of a stomach virus.  "That's it!", I thought, "I'm not still sick from this weekend, I'm just getting what they had last week.  Duh!"  So, I got most of my work done for the day and I went home to rest.  The next day, I felt a little bit better but was super tired.  I just figured that my body was working really hard to fight off the virus and it was making me tired.  So, I went into work and explained to my boss that I was feeling a little better but that I was just a little bit tired.  He looked at me and said "Girl, you're not sick.  You're pregnant".  I think I looked at him and uttered a few four letter words that aren't appropriate for even this liberal blog.  It was at this point that he so kindly (and inappropriately, I might add) said "Look, I'm pretty sure you're pregnant because your boobs have gotten huge".  If he had been anyone else (other than my boyfriend's best friend), I would have slapped him and filed a sexual harrassment complaint.  Instead, I told him that I'm glad he had chosen to take up the task of deciding if I could make the cut at the next Hooters job fair but that I was pretty sure that I was in control of my own menstural cycle and that I was most definitely not pregnant. 


Then, I rushed to my calendar and secretly tried to figure out when I had last gotten my period.  Since I had never been great at tracking these things, I honestly couldn't remember.  But I did know one thing. . . .

It had been awhile since I could remember seeing Aunt Flo last.  Ummm. . .shit. 

Nevertheless, I brushed it off and decided that there was no way that I was pregnant.  Afterall, I was on birth control.  That stuff had a job to do and I trusted that it was doing what it was supposed to be doing. These things don't fail.  At least, these things don't fail on ME.

The next day (Wednesday), I was still feeling kind of crummy but I went to work anyways.  Every time I made any sound, movement, or any other illustration that I was even a living breathing human being, my boss made a sound like a baby crying.  He was convinced that I was pregnant.  I was convinced that he was out of his mind crazy.  Before I left work that night, I told him that I was going to take a test that night and I was going to keep the urine drenched stick and drop it on his desk for him to find the next morning just as proof that he didn't know what he was talking about.  At that point, I was pretty sure that he didn't know what he was talking about.  I guess a little (teeny tiny) part of me was a little curious since I wasn't able to determine exactly when my last period had been.  The last time I could vividly remember having my last period had been before Christmas.  It was now almost the end of February.  I guess I was pretty sure that wasn't necessarily a good sign, but, like I said before, I wasn't always good about tracking the timing of my cycle.  Plus, I worked a very high stress job and I knew that sometimes had an effect on whether or not my cycle was predictable or not. 

Basically, I wasn't really sweating it. 

On my way home that night, I stopped by the grocery store and bought a two pack of pregnancy tests.  I figured I'd have a back up just in case Mr. Nosey (my boss) felt that he needed immediate proof that I was not, in fact, pregnant and that he just needed to shut it and get off my non-baby carrying back.  So, a few hours later, I decided to go ahead and get it over with.  I dutifully did my pee-pees on the stick and waited the requisite 3 or so minutes.  At that point, I looked at the pregnancy test and what I saw concerned me.  According to the directions, if the test was positive, there would be a "+" sign.  If it was negative, there would be a "-" sign.  What I was looked like this "l"  Yes, I got a straight up and down line.  That's it.  So, I figured that test was broken and I took the next one out.  Downed a few glasses of water (I needed more pee!) and waited until it was time to try again.  Next test delivered the same thing.  I was perplexed.  I looked and looked all over that test but all I saw was one straight up and down line.  And it was a DARK pink straight up and down line.  So, I called a friend of mine from college.  I don't remember exactly what was said, but I do remember her saying that she didn't think that the straight up and down line was a good sign.  Instead, she told me to go back to the store and buy a digital test.  She said those things are fool proof.  I was quite annoyed that I needed to go back to the store and buy more pregnancy tests just to get a confirmation that I wasn't pregnant.

Those damn things are expensive! 

But, I did it.  At this point, my curiosity was kind of getting the best of me.  So, I bought not just one double pack of digital pregnancy tests, I bought three boxes.   If you're bad at math (like me), that's six digital pregnancy tests.  I'm sure the young cashier guy either thought that I had lost some sort of bet within my sorority or that I was extraordinarily paranoid.  The look on his face screamed "WTF?"  But, I gave him the stinkeye which basically told him to mind his own business and high tailed it out of there.    Not before spending over $50 on digital pregnancy tests, of course. 

Got back to my apartment and AGAIN, piddled on a stick.  By this point, I had kind of lost enthusiasm for this whole exercise so I deposited the test on my bathroom counter and went back into my living room to finish watching tv.  I think it probably stayed on my counter for 20 minutes.  When I went back into the bathroom and saw what the test said, I was pissed.  ANOTHER damn test was broken.  With this type of test, a positive result would say "Pregnant" and a negative result would say "Not Pregnant".  Mine was broken. It was missing the "Not".  I called my friend back and told her that I had bought another pack of defective tests because this one was missing the "Not".  She got very very quiet (I think she was waiting to see if I would finally come to the conclusion on my own--I'm slow--I didn't) and after a minute or two, she quietly said "Sweetie, I don't think the test is broken.  I think you're pregnant".  Now, it was my time to get quiet.  And quiet, I got. 

All of a sudden, the full force of what was happening sunk in.  Actually, it hit me like an 18-wheeler truck.  I didn't start crying, I started freaking out.  As in full out sobbing, couldn't catch my breath, shaking uncontrollably f-r-e-a-k out.  I probably screamed "OH-MY-GOD" over and over for 10 minutes.  Since my friend was 2000 miles away and probably wasn't sure what to say, she begged me to call my mom.  So, I did what any sensible girl would do after just finding out that she was unexpectedly pregnant. . .I curled up in the fetal position on my bathroom floor, rocked myself back and forth and begged the test to be wrong. 

After I had convinced myself that it was just a false positive (yes, because those things happen ALL the time--clearly denial was not a part of my life at the time), I grabbed the other test in the pack and took that one.  This time, I didn't leave it on the counter and walk away.  This time, I laid it on the counter, squeezed my eyes shut and said 180 prayers to God before opening my eyes again.  When I opened them again, I was met with the same result (DUH!) but this time, my denial card had run out and I started to realize that I might have actually fallen victim to an alien invasion of my uterus.  I called my mom.  I think the only coherent words that she got out of the conversation were that I was pregnant, that this wasn't supposed to happen, and that I needed to get to D.'s house and tell him.  She begged me not to drive two hours to his house.  At this point, it was 10:00 at night and by time I got to his house, it would be midnight.  She reasoned with me that I was in no condition to drive.  That, instead, I should wait until Friday when I was already scheduled to go to see him and give myself some time to let this sink in.  That way, she said, I would already had some time to be able to figure out my own thoughts on it (yeah, because two days is plenty of time to process your own internal thoughts about a completely unexpected pregnancy!) and could break the news to him in a less emotionally charged state.  Plus, she said she was worried about me being on the roads that late. What can I say?  She made sense.  So, I told her that I wouldn't go and promised to call her the next day. 

Then, I called my boss, told him that I wouldn't be in the office on Thursday or Friday.  I didn't even tell him why.  I just told him that I was going to be out.  I still remember clearly what he said: "I'm sorry, sweetie.  Believe me, it will be okay in the end.  You'll see."  Then, I packed a bag and headed to see D. 

I know I had told my Mom that I wouldn't go, but I had to.  There was no way that I was going to make it two whole days knowing what I knew and not tell him.  Plus, I needed to know what his reaction was going to be.  If he was going to laugh in my face and tell me to get lost, I figured it was better to know earlier rather than later. 

I cried the entire two hours to his house.  By time I arrived, my face resembled a sunburnt marshmallow.  With smeared mascara and tear stains.  Oh yeah, and I was clutching a plastic trashbag for dear life because I was all of a sudden convinced that I was going to throw up at any minute.  When I pulled up to his house, I didn't have a plan.  In fact, it wasn't until I pulled into the driveway that I considered whether he was even awake.  Afterall, it was after midnight.  Rather than ring the doorbell and wake him up, I just let myself into the house (I had a key).  He and a friend of his were in the kitchen drinking beer.  When he heard his front door open, he immediately came out into the hallway and his face registered straight shock.  I'm not sure whether it was the shock of seeing me standing in his house when I lived two hours away, the fact that it was after midnight on a Wednesday (now Thursday) and I was standing in his house, or the fact that my face looked like I'd gotten into a fight with a beehive (red, swollen, & misshapen).  As soon as I saw him, I immediately broke down again.

And then, I ran. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The first year and a half. . .

Welcome back. . .if you've missed the first part of the relationship story, go read about it here

So, we woke up together on Saturday morning and I immediately became uncomfortable.  Not so much embarassed (after all, we were both fully clothed!), just uncomfortable.  I was alone in my apartment with this guy who I had just met less than 24 hours earlier.  And I had just spent a night cuddled up to him on the floor of my apartment.  So, in true me fashion, I kicked him out.  I wasn't rude about it, but I didn't really leave any room for debate.  I told him that I was supposed to go help a friend with a party that she was throwing (I left out the minor little detail about the party not actually starting until about 8pm that night--like I said, minor details.) and that I most certainly was not going to leave him alone in my apartment.  After all, we had just met.  So, I packed him up and sent him on his way.  A three hour drive home. 

Throughout the next couple of days, I didn't really talk to him too much.  However, on Tuesday night, I got a call from him on my cell.  He asked if he could come back to my town and see me.  I said that would be okay (I guess he was kinda starting to grow on me) and asked him when he'd like to come back.  He said the next day.  I asked him if he was crazy.  That was a Wednesday night and he clearly didn't understand the concept of being an adult and having a j-o-b.  But, he said that he had a friend of his from out of state who was coming in town and he wanted his friend to meet me.  I was kind of flattered at this so I agreed to let him come back into town.  This, of course, meant that he AND his friend were going to have to stay with me in my tiny one bedroom apartment.  I made sure that he understood that meant that he and his friend would be sharing my tiny little couch if they were going to crash at my place.  He said that he would sleep on the couch and he would bring an air mattress for his friend. I agreed on the condition that my best friend could also come and stay with me (I didn't fully trust this dude yet. . .and I was a little nervous around him).  Again, my friend obliged but she had her own conditions this time: no shots of rum.  I sheepishly agreed to her terms and muttered another apology.  She's a good friend. 

So, D. and his friend traveled the three hours down to see me the very next day.  We all went out that night and had a great time but I needed to be home at a relatively early hour so that I could get up and go to work the next day.  The next morning, I got up and headed off to work and at the same time, D. and his friend packed up and left my apartment.  They said they were going to grab some breakfast at IHOP before they headed out of town.  About two hours later I got a call at my office.  It was D. asking if he and his friend could stay one more night.  Ummm. . .okay?  At the time, D. said that he and his friend had really had fun the night prior and that his friend had taken a liking to my friend.  So, his friend was asking if they could stay and hang out one more night.  I later found out (about a year later) from said friend that this was a total lie.  D. had pretty much strong armed him over breakfast into agreeing to stay one more night.  It was D. that hadn't wanted to leave, not his friend.  This time it was just the three of us that hung out (my girlfriend had to work that night) but we, again, had a great time.  Friday morning, they left (they had not choice this time, D's friend had a flight to catch three hours away!) and I headed off to work. 

Throughout the next week, we talked daily.  Nothing major. . just chit chat about our day and the normal getting to know you on the surface stuff.  The following Wednesday I got an instant message from him at work.  He said that he wanted to see me again.  That night.  I was starting to think that this guy was obviously crazy but I was also really flattered.  It had been a long time since I had felt this kind of attention from someone.  Then again, it was Wednesday.  The middle of the work week.  And we lived three hours away from each other.  This was craziness!  I asked him exactly how he planned on us seeing each other--that night--and both of us still getting to work on time the next morning.  Since we both got off that night at 8pm, it wasn't really feasible for either of us to drive three hours just to spend a couple of waking hours together and then turn around and hop back into a car early the next morning so that we could be at work on time.  He suggested that we meet half way.  HUH?  He said that he had already called a hotel in a town that was roughly half way in between his town and mine and they had a reservation pending for him.  All he had to do was call back and confirm it.  "This dude is nuts", I thought.  If it had been anyone else, I wouldn't have even considered it.  But, he was my boss' best friend and I trusted my boss.  After confirming with him that this guy wasn't going to a) kill me or b) try to take advantage of me in the hotel room, I agreed to meet D. halfway.  After I got off work, I headed north to meet him at the hotel.  After driving for about an hour and a half, I was nearing the location so I called him to see how far away he was.  He was already there and said he had been for about half an hour.  I questioned him on how he could get there so quickly if we had both gotten off work at the same time.  He replied that he was excited to see me so he had driven fast.  He gave me the room number and said he couldn't wait to see me. 

When I got to our room, I was a little surprised to see that it had two double beds.  He explained that he thought that I would be more comfortable with the option to have my own bed so he had specifically requested two beds.  Now, THAT actually made my heart melt a little.  I know my parents probably won't believe this when they read it, but it's the truth: our first time spending the night together in the same room and we slept in seperate beds.  We stayed up that night talking until probably 2 a.m. and then both went to sleep in our own seperate beds.  Next morning, we headed off in seperate directions.  I think I smiled the entire way home.  It was just so nice to spend time with someone who was funny, sweet, and wasn't pressuring me into anything that I wasn't ready for.  That day at work, he called me and asked me if I would come up to see him in his town that weekend.  I (excitedly) agreed. 

After that, pretty much every weekend was the same for the next year and a half.  I would travel three hours north to see him or he would travel three hours sorth to see me.  Occasionally (about once or twice a month for the first few months) we would meet up half way in the middle of the week so that we could see each other.  Other than our weekends together, we would talk on the phone but that was about it.  Our weekends consisted of hanging out, working on his newly built house, partying with his friends, trying new restaurants, and traveling.  Due to the fact that we both made great money at the time, we were able to afford some very nice vacations together: went to Vegas, snowmobiled in Wyoming, rented a cabin in the mountains of Tennessee, went boating during the summers, etc.  It was so much fun. 

I was in love.  Head over heels for this guy, in love.  As far as I was concerned, he treated me well.  He wasn't the most romantic guy that I had ever met, and he certainly wasn't forthcoming in sharing personal details about himself or his past, but he was easy to get along with and oh-so-charming.  He was kind to me and seemed very proud to call me his girlfriend.  Whenever we would go out with his friends, I was always right there beside him and he never made any attempts to downplay our relationship or how he felt about me in public.  To our friends, everything seemed perfect.  To me, at the time, everything was perfect. 

Due to the fact that we spent only weekends together during the first year and a half of our relationship, we never really had much time to have any issues.  There would be the occasional spat every now and again but I don't really remember there ever being anything major.  Then again, as I would figure out later, it's hard to truly get to know someone when you've only spent a few days consecutive days with them at any given time.  I remained in my town with my job and he remained in his town with his job.  We were both very career oriented and weren't sure how we were going to make it work in the future (with the distance between us) but we weren't stressing too much about that at the time.  We were happy just living in the moment and enjoying the time that we did have to spend together on the weekends. 

Up until this point, the D. that I knew was funny, charming, outgoing, and instantly friends with anyone that he met.  That was the only side of him that I had ever seen.

Monday, February 27, 2012

How we met. . .

Over the next handful of posts, I will start from the beginning and bring you up to speed on everything (well, everything that is important, I suppose) you need to know about mine and D's relationship and how we got to where we are now: me being a single mom and not entirely sure where my relationship with my "Baby Daddy" stands. 

I had been working at my company for about 4 months and I had just recently gotten a new manager in my office.  My boss had transferred to my office from an area of Virginia about 3 hours away and knew no one in the area.  He was a few years older than me and had a great sense of humor.  Almost instantly, we clicked.  But not in the way that you might be thinking.  No, my boss was happily married.  However, his wife was still in their old town trying to get their house sold and tie up loose ends before she and their young daughter made the move to the new town.  Because my boss and I were both alone in our town (I worked constantly and really didn't know anyone in town since I had moved from out of the area), we kind of hung out with each other.  Never anything inappropriate. . .just running out to grab lunch occasionally and we often found ourselves working late at our office since we were in sales and were always busting it to meet (and exceed!) monthly goals.  Anyways, this gave my boss and I ample opportunity to get to know each other.  After I had been working with him for a month or so, he said that he thought I should meet one of his best friends.  This guy had actually worked with him in his prior office and my boss thought that he and I would get along.  The guy was D.  I kind of blew it off because I had gotten out of a serious relationship earlier that year (about 6 months earlier) and was still trying to nurse my wounds from that breakup.  However, occasionally when my boss and I would be working in the office after hours, my boss would call D. and put him on speaker phone and we'd all three just sit around and shoot the bull on the phone for a little while.  I could tell that he was funny and like my boss, he had an outgoing personality.  After that, D would occasionally call the office during the day and ask to speak to my boss but he would always spend a minute or two chatting me up and making me laugh.  I found out later (from him) that these phone calls were not actually to talk to my boss, it was a sneaky (or not so!) attempt to get me on the phone.  Since we had caller id on our phones, D would sometimes call the office and my boss would pick it up knowing it was D.  D. would tell my boss to hang up so that he could call back because he wanted me to answer the phone.  Sneaky, sneaky! 

One Friday at work, my boss approached me and told me that D. was coming down to hang out with him that night but that there was a problem.  Since my boss was staying at a friend of a friend's house (who he didn't know very well), he didn't feel right asking if he could have a friend stay over.  Plus, he said that there was no room for D. to stay at the house.  He asked if I'd consider letting D. stay on my couch that night.  To be honest, I was really uncomfortable with it.  I mean, I had never met this guy before and I am NOT in the business of letting random dudes sleep over on my couch.  I was very hesitant but my boss insisted that D. was a nice guy and that there was nothing to worry about.  I agreed on one condition: only if my best friend (or pretty much my only friend living in Virginia) was available to come and stay in my apartment with me that night.  If I was going to have a random dude spending the night, I was at least going to have my friend there for back up in case this guy had any funny business on his brain.  Luckily, when I called my best friend, she was totally understanding and said she'd be there later that night to rescue me from the random stranger.  Later that afternoon, I was working at my desk and this totally goofy looking guy comes walking through the front door of our office.  He had a blue super man shirt on and a matching blue superman visor on his head.  Except, the visor was turned around backwards and upside down.  He immediately started striding toward the back of my office toward my bosses desk.  "Who is this dude who clearly doesn't own a mirror?" is what I was asking myself.  Little did I know, crazy dressed dude was my bosses best friend.  Yeah, it was D.  Once I realized this, I was immediately regretful that I had ever allowed myself to get sucked into this whole phone threesome that my boss, myself, and this guy who couldn't dress himself had gotten accustomed to.  This dude screamed "Frat boy" to me.  Therefore, when my boss formally introduced him, I smiled politely from my desk and kept working.  "Avoid eye contact and you'll be fine" was pretty much what I was reminding myself at the time.  After my boss and D. had spent about an hour talking and joking around with each other, my boss announced that D. would be heading over to my apartment with me so that he could shower and I could get ready to go out with them that night.  Excuse me?  Nobody had ever said anything to me about having to be anyone's tour guide that night.  In fact, all I had done was (stupidly) agree to let some random stranger crash on my couch that night.  In my head, I was reminding myself never to agree to this type of thing again.  My boss quickly pointed out the fact that he knew no one in town and how was he supposed to take his best friend out and show him a good time if neither one of them knew anyone in town?  I just as quickly reminded him that I had just moved to town a few months prior and knew no one either and that I had called in my best friend who was driving 45 minutes to come and stay with me so that I could offer HIS friend a place to stay that night.  To which, my (very clever, I'll admit) boss replied "Great, four people makes a small party.  We'll all go out together!".  Cunning, indeed.  So, off I went begrudingly to my apartment with this guy who I knew nothing more about than his name to not only invite him into my tiny one bedroom apartment but to allow him to use my shower.  A shower, which I should tell you, was directly connected to my bedroom.  Fabulous.  So, while he showered, I stayed in my living room and tried like hell to avoid the urge to flee from my apartment and never return.  I don't know if any of you ladies have ever had a guy taking a shower in your apartment that you just clearly weren't interested in, but trust me on this one: it's not all that great of an experience. 

I heard the water of the shower turn off and I started to get really nervous.  Not in that butterflies-in-your-belly way, more in the crap-now-I-have-to-face-this-guy way.  About 10 minutes after the water turned off, the door to my bathroom opened and out walked a complete stranger.  As in, not the guy who walked in.  No, the fashionably challenged, immature, little frat boy who walked into my bathroom to take a shower had been replaced by a man dressed in  a polo shirt in the most perfect shade of blue that hugged a muscled chest and arms that I swear weren't even there 20 minutes before and a pair of jeans that clung to all the right places.  It was at that time that I noticed the most gorgeous green eyes that I had ever seen.  Who. was. this. guy???  I swear, it took all the focus I had to make sure I wasn't staring, drooling, or brushing the floor with my jaw.  I think I even mumbled something about hoping he had enough hot water.  Bonehead.  I then fled to my bedroom so that I didn't have to be in his presence and risk saying anything else that was completely stupid and void of any charm whatsoever.  I tried to gather my focus and senses to pick out an outfit to go out in that night and all of a sudden realized that nothing in my closet was right.  Great, nothing to wear.  I managed to pull out a pair of jeans and a stretchy fitting red top that, in my opinion (and come to find out later, D's opinion too) accentuated everything that it would need to be accentuated in order to capture and keep the attention of a certain good looking stranger who was currently hanging out in my living room. 

By a sheer stroke of good luck, my best friend arrived at my apartment pretty much at the same time that I was done getting ready.  This, thankfully, saved me from having to make small talk with the guy in my apartment who I still wasn't really interested in (remember: I was still gun-shy from a previous breakup) but was all of a sudden finding somewhat physically attractive.  Damn it!  So, my friend of course turned on all the charm and was making friends with D. from the very get-go (kind of ironic since they soon became somewhat at odds with one another) and they relieved me from any obligation of finding topics to talk about.  Boss man also showed up shortly after so we were all able to head off to dinner.  We decided to try a restaurant downtown which none of us had ever been to before. 

Throughout dinner, we had a great time.  The four of us got along very easily and conversation was flowing.  I'm normally a very outgoing person but the three of them (best friend, boss, and D.) put me to shame in that department since they are all uber outgoing personalities so there was never a dull moment at dinner that night.  In fact, after about three hours of sitting at the restaurant and chatting it up, some burly looking dude approached our table and busted up the fun.  Burly looking guy in black looked at me and my friend and asked to see our I.D.'s.  Apparently, the restaurant that we had chosen turned into a night club after 9pm and this dude in black was wanting to validate that my friend and I belonged.  Unfortunately for us, we didn't.  I was only 20 at the time and my friend was only 18.  So, we were curtly told that we were going to need to exit the establishment quite quickly.  I knew that D and my boss were both 25 so this was quite embarassing for me.  Fun night busted because the girls are underage.  So, as we walked back to the car, I started trying to figure out a plan for how D. could get back to my apartment that night.  I naturally assumed that the guys were going to want to go out to a bar or something.  Afterall, it was only 9pm on a Friday night.  So, I explained that I would take the guys back to my apartment (where their cars were) and that I could give D. my address so that he could find his way back to my place later.  Both of the guys looked at me like I had sprouted an extra head.  My boss quickly suggested that maybe we should all hang out at my apartment.  He tried to hem and haw about how going out would be a hassle and then they'd have to drive back to my place and then my boss would have to drive himself home and blah, blah, blah.  So, everyone agreed that we'd hang out at my place. 

Once we were back at my apartment, my friend pulled me into the bathroom and told me that she thought she had a crush on D. and wanted to "go after him".  Umm. . .did I mention that I wasn't all that into him?  Yeah, that changed right then and there.  I don't know if it was the threat of competition or if I had just been repressing my true feelings but I pretty much said "Like Hell You Are!" in my head while nodding at her and smiling a thin tight smile.  Next thing she knew, I had challenged her to a game in which she and I competed to see who could take the most shots.  Hers were rum.  Mine were water.  Yeah, she lost that game pretty much as soon as the rum kicked in and she got drunk and passed out.  Now is the time where you're probably thinking that I'm a God awful person who has no regard for others, right?  Yeah, I'll admit it, it was a totally low thing to do.  But, as my best friend, I inately knew that he just wasn't the right match for her and I was saving her from making a big mistake.  Who am I kidding?  It was an awful thing to do and I was acting like a childish little bitch.  There, I said it.  If you must know, I have confessed my misdeeds to my friend and she's still to this day one of my best friends, if not my BEST best friend.  Plus, she totally agrees that he wasn't a good match for her and that I was saving her from making a big mistake.  Of course, she didn't fully come to see this until about the time that we both started realizing that he can be a total asshole at times.  More on that to come later.

Anyways, after my girl had passed out (hey, I made sure she was comfy, safe, and in my bed) that just left my boss, D. and I to hang out.  I honestly can't remember what we did but I think we played cards for a few hours.  About the time that midnight or 1 a.m. rolled around, my boss decided to head home which left D. and I alone to hang out.  We decided that since my friend was passed out in my bed and my apartment was pretty small, we should hang out on my balcony so that we could talk without fear of waking up my friend.  So, it was out on my balcony that we spent the remaining hours of that night talking, laughing, and then in the middle of a random conversation, it happened.  He kissed me.  And it was great.

When we were all talked and laughed out, we headed back inside my apartment to try to catch some sleep before the sun came up.  Due to the fact that my friend was passed out in my bed, my couch was pretty tiny, and D. wanted me to stay with him, we ended up having a campout on the floor of my living room.  D. was a perfect gentleman and kept his hands to himself except for at some point during the night where we ended up cuddling up to one another.  The next morning, before D or I woke up, my best friend left to head home and that's where she found us: cuddled up on the floor of my apartment using the same pillow and snuggled up to one another.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Where do I go from here?

I obviously haven't posted much about my relationship history yet and I hope to do so soon so that you will be able to better understand the place that I'm currently in and just how I ended up here.  However, I'm a little hesitant to start posting about my relationship's demise simply becuase I'm a little afraid of how many wounds that doing so may open up for me.  I'm already in a very very volatile place right now and I'm terrified about making it worse. 

To give you a little bit of insight, my ex and I haven't really been speaking much in the last month.  He moved out of my house almost a year ago but we have been off and on quite a bit throughout the time since he moved out.  I suppose we naively thought that we'd use this time apart to work on our relationship.  So, we pretty much went about the relationship part of it but did it from two seperate places.  Inadvertently though, the same issues which were part of the reason that he had moved out in the first place would quickly rear their ugly head again and we'd start fighting.  This is where I learned that there's a huge difference between fighting with someone you live with and fighting with someone that you have this immense history with but you live in two seperate places.  When you're in the same household, you have time to cool down and can pretty much come back together fairly easily and talk it out.  Or, if all else fails, you just get over it when the other one does something silly and makes you laugh.  Not so when you both have your own places and spaces.  Especially when you're as hard headed and stubborn as D & I.  Nope, the two of us would slink to our own seperate corners to pout and punish the other one.  This would usually last no more than a day or two but over the last (almost) year, the time in between the fights and the "lets make up" talks would get longer and longer. 

I also need to be very clear about something: D is much more stubborn than I am.  At least, he has a much stronger will than I do, it seems.  I was always the one that would give in first.  I was the one who would initiate any "I'm sorry", "I was wrong" or "Let's talk about this" talks.  Always.  It's just the way it was.  So much so that it almost became a game to see if he could pinpoint the date and time that I would call him to make up.  I guess I should have gotten a clue then.  Well, there were ALOT of times that I should have gotten a clue.  My parents & family, my friends, my therapists, my own intelligence (when it wasn't so dang wrapped up in him that I couldn't see straight). . .all of them have been telling me for years that this isn't working.  I needed to move on.  But, I just couldn't. 

Anyways, we would drag ourselves through this cycle time and time again.  Each time I could feel a little piece of me dying inside.  Each time, I would get a little bit angrier and angrier at myself.  Not for the damage that it was doing to me.  Not for the stress that it was adding to myself.  You see, it wasn't just D & I dragging ourselves through this cycle.  We were dragging our son through it with us.  Each and every time that innocent little boy got caught up in our drama.  There was nothing good about the fighting and this vicious cycle that we lived through when we were in the same house but it was exponentially worse when we were both in our own houses.  Not only was our son able to tell that we were at odds with one another, he had to constantly deal with seeing Mommy & Daddy together and enjoying the time that we spent together as a family and then be thrust back into spending time with only Mommy or only Daddy whenever we were on the outs.  It just isn't fair to him.  The poor little guy never knew what was going to happen from day to day.  That made two of us. 

So, about a month ago (a month ago Sunday, to be exact), we had another one of our episodes.  D had lied to me about where he was going to be that night.  I found out.  I got angry and desperate.  I tried calling him and he turned off his phone.  It only got worse from there.  Let's just say that I got very little sleep that night.  The next day, I went over to his house and we ended up talking about it.  But, not the kind of talk that we normally had.  I asked him if he wanted to be single.  He said that he did kind of want to be single.  So, I calmly stood up, quietly whispered goodbye and walked out of his house.  I was determined this time not to be the one to cave.  I told myself that I was too tired of living in this cycle.  It wasn't fair to me.  It most definitely wasn't fair to our son.  And it wasn't healthy for anyone.  I've spent 8 1/2 years of my life with this man and alot of that time has been spent being in some immature fight or battle.  Enough was enough.  Or was it?

Over the last month, I've been really trying to focus on myself and my son.  I've been spending more time with friends which has been both good and bad since I can't seem to handle being around friends who are happy right now.  There are two girlfriends in particular that are in similar situations to mine and while hanging out with them reassures me that I'm not, in fact, alone in what I'm going through, it's also kind of depressing!  Our times together tend to consist of talking about our issues, crying for ourselves or each other, and generally just being sad.  Not sure that's working out too well for me at this point.  I've also been focusing on school and since it's my last semester, the workload is damn near impossible to keep up with.  School has been a good but stressful distraction from what is going on in my personal life.  It's hard to focus on school when I'm in the emotional state that I'm in.  Trust me, the last thing I want to do when I'm feeling lost, hopeless, tired, nauseous, and heartbroken is to sit down and write a three page paper on the Globalization between the U.S. and Mexico.  But, I've been trying really hard not to dwell on the relationship (or lack thereof).  There have been a few slips in resolve.  I've text him a few times to tell him that I miss him or to wish him a good day to which he will usually respond that he misses me too or that he hopes I have a good day.  We've talked very briefly over the phone a time or two but nothing too deep or too personal.  That is until last Tuesday night. 

In a meeting with my therapist, we were discussing some of the issues between D and myself.  The therapist point blank told me that there was no chance in hell of this relationship working if we didn't get ourselves into couple's therapy.  We've been there done that.  D. stormed out of the last therapist's office and vowed never to return.  So, I didn't think it was going to be an option.  But, on my way home that night, I decided to see if there was one last hope for our relationship.  I know, this is the time where those that know me are banging their heads against the nearest brick wall.  But, I felt like I owed it to someone to try.  I'm just not sure yet who that someone is.  So, I called him.  I asked him if he would be willing to give it one more try in therapy.  He admitted that he was caught off guard and didn't really know what to think.  But, in the end, he agreed to go back to counseling.  He said that he loved me and that he would do it for me.  I was actually proud of myself when I told him that was the wrong reason to agree to do it.  I told him not to waste his time or mine showing up to a counseling session just because he "loved me" and that I didn't want him to turn it around on me later if the sessions didn't go the way that he envisioned and throw it in my face that he was only there because I had somehow lured him to do it.  Again, another brief glimpse into the depths of our despair.  D. is manipulative.  And he has a cunning way of always blaming someone else for everything.  I honestly don't know if he could admit to one thing that he's ever been at fault for in his life.  Everything is always someone else's fault.  I knew that he wouldn't hesitate to throw it back on me later that he was only coming to counseling because of me.  Or, he'd twist it around later to make it look like he was doing me some grand favor by being there.  So, I told him that the only way I wanted him to go was if he recognized that he needed it as much as I needed it.  And that the only valid and acceptable reason to go was to do it for the relationship not for me.  He said that he understood and that he would still go. 

(Somewhat) Happy Ending, right?  Not quite.  So, then comes the time to schedule the appointment.  I have appointments scheduled with this therapist already for the next three weeks.  None of those dates and times work for D.  He has appointments scheduled at work for that day or he doesn't want to miss our son's Scouts meeting that night, etc.  It took about ten minutes for me to realize that he was willing to do this but on his terms only.  Am I surprised?  No.  Welcome to the last 8 1/2 years of my life. 

Thus, leads me to my question and the title of this post.  Where do I go from here?  All I want is to be happy and healthy.  I want to be in a relationship with someone who loves and respects me.  At times, I think that D. really could be it if only we could get over some very specific (and extremely deep seeded) issues in our relationship.  At other times, I am confiident that he's not the one for me.  That he'll never be mature enough to be the man that I need for myself.  That he will never truly stop being self absorbed enough to love me the way I want, and feel that I deserve, to be loved.  In my head, I can rationalize everything that's going on and I can see that maybe this just isn't the right relationship for me.  But, my heart. . .oh, my heart.  It's broken right now.  Sometimes, when things are broken, they just don't work, right?  When your heart is broken, it almost goes into overdrive and spills toxic and painful emotions everywhere.  With nowhere for those things to go, they just invade every part of your body until you're left tired, nauseous, and in pain so deep that you'd swear that even your fingernails were screaming for mercy.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

New Addition Here at Living on a Dime or Less

For the readers who have been with me for a little while, the fact that I'm single may not come as a shock.  I've mentioned it here and there over on the other side of the blog but I haven't really gone into too much detail about my situation.  When I started Living on a Dime or Less, I wasn't exactly sure what direction that the blog was going to go.  As much as I want (more like NEED) to live my life on as little as possible, I knew that I desired to write about more than just my budget.  I longed to write about the reasons WHY my budget was as stretched as it is.  I wanted to share more about my life and the various things that I go through on account of my situation.  But, i just didn't really feel that my main blog was the place to do it. Hence, the new addition. 

I'm a single mom.  Some of you know this, some of you may not.  While I plan to continue sharing my budget related and DIY projects (for now. . .I may even spin DIY projects off into another page one day. . .who knows?!) over on my main Living on a Dime page, I also wanted to start this other segment of Living on a Dime or Less to share my experiences as a single mom.  There's alot more to me than just my budget and my (very slow to be completed) projects.  I'm a mama who is going through a very difficult process right now as I find myself being forced to rely on myself more and on my ex less.  I may not post every day and I may not even post on this side every week but now that I feel like I have a place where I can share the more intimate details of my life and my struggles (and successes!), perhaps I won't feel so restricted in what I post.