Here’s to a New Chapter

Social media is great in many ways, but man, sometimes it sucks! Going through a breakup is one of those times I hate social media, and this time was the worst.

“We can still be friends,” he says as he’s breaking my heart weeks ago and saying he wants to move out.

I cried, “I don’t want to be your friend. I want to be your girlfriend.”

I wanted a piece of him still, even if it meant without a romantic relationship, so I agreed to be friends. I noticed how he’d pulled away suddenly and how his actions were contradicting his words, but I was so lost and confused in the center of the storm that I didn’t consciously think much about it. During the several day period where we were in the middle, in purgatory, with him still living with me after he’d said he wanted to end it, but then changing his mind and saying he wanted to keep trying, everything he was saying was telling me between the lines that he was leaving. Deep down I knew he was gone for good and that someone else had his attention already.

“If it doesn’t work out, I know you’ll be okay. You’re a strong woman.”

“You’ll find someone new who will be your forever, I’m sure of it.”

“I’m just going to focus on me and my kids,” he says, but then one breath later, “You should get out and have fun and meet new people,” and, “Be young and wild and free.”

Why? Why do I need to get out? Why do I need to meet new people? Why are you pushing me out there and then encouraging me to go party of all things? How fast are you moving with someone else to be coming at me with this stuff when you still have belongings that haven’t even been moved out of my house yet?

I’m not stupid. I may have had some serious denial going on and even been foolish for all of my hoping, but I’m definitely not stupid, and I knew exactly what these statements meant. These statements meant there was already another girl. These statements meant he didn’t want to feel guilty and if I quickly found someone else, he wouldn’t have to. I knew this was true because it was only a matter of days before there were flirty statuses going up on Facebook from him that were clearly intended for one person, and it wasn’t me. Wanting to continue with the goal of being friends and knowing it would just take some time to not be so sensitive to that stuff, I simply unfollowed him.

I pushed forward with my life without him. I started working out, I quickly found a support system of just a few friends that I could talk to and rely on, and I started focusing on the important things in my life that had nothing to do with him.

One of my most important tasks was to find a second job. I was terrified of what that could mean for me and scared that I would have to work 7 days a week. I’m a mother and my children, even though they are teenagers, still need me. I have to take care of me to take care of them and it’s hard to take care of me if I never get a day off of work.

Well, there have been some rapid changes over the last few days. One is that I got hired and start working a second job next week. The manager was very kind when I talked with him about the hours I’m looking for and what my schedule is like for my main job. He said he intends to work me 3 evenings a week and understands that I’m still hoping to get one day off a weekend so that I have one day off from both jobs and will work with me on that too.

Another change is that I actually went on a date. It was wonderful. It was with a friend I’ve known for years and he was incredibly sweet and gentlemanly. It was a lovely reminder that I’m still a woman and more than just a mom and employee, that I am desirable, and that I am wanted. I won’t go into details here, but I can say that I’m very much hoping we’ll get together again.

The last change is that yesterday when I was getting ready to start work, I thought to myself that I’m in a great mood and I’m getting over the old relationship and maybe I can look at his Facebook page without getting upset. I was immediately greeted with the confirmation of what I already knew to be true. There’s a new woman. I was taken aback. It’s not that there’s just someone new in general, because I already knew that was the case within days of him moving out, but to already be posting together and putting pictures up. . . I’ll spare you all my thoughts on this, but I will say that I realized in that moment, being friends is unnecessary. Clearly, it doesn’t matter what I think and feel to him and that’s not what friends are. I didn’t cry when I saw it. In fact, I wasn’t filled with any intense emotion (can I get an amen for healing?!), and I was proud in that moment that I wasn’t tempted to lash out at anyone. It was time to take my next big girl step and hit the unfriend button. We weren’t friends before we dated; there’s no need to be friends now. I clicked that button and smiled. Chapter closed.

Waking up today and getting everyone ready and out the door for the first day of school, I have been in an amazing mood. I’m handling my business. I’ve got my own back. I feel happy again! Finding a job took away a ginormous amount of stress. I now know that I have a plan. I know what has to happen to get our necessities covered. I also know that the activity of working another job will help my weight loss along. All of these things will make me feel better emotionally and mentally and once again, confidence will shine through. Just as I mentioned in my post The Weak Hunt the Wounded about how broken people attract more broken people, the opposite is also true. With me feeling great and confident and happy, those are also the people I will attract in my life.

So, my friends, things are good! I’m onto a new chapter and new adventures and I couldn’t be more excited for it. Here’s to a new page turned!

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Grace

Grace. Just 5 short letters, and yet such a big word. I do not mean elegance or beauty; I mean something so much more. I mean as dictionary.com says:

mercy; clemency; pardon:

He was saved by an act of grace from the governor.

Synonyms: lenityleniencyreprieve.”

I saw a meme on Facebook last night that inspired me to write about this. Well, honestly, it was more than the meme. It’s been completely relevant to my life lately. The meme said “Philosophy: In the end, it all comes down to one word. Grace.”
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Grace. Mercy. Shown favor. Leniency.

We all need a little grace in our lives. Sometimes, we require a little more grace than other times. This is true for everyone.

Have you ever been driving in traffic and someone else makes a mistake or they cut you off or do some other action that makes you angry and you’re tempted to shake a fist (or worse) at them? Well, I’m asking you to have some grace. We all go through hard stuff and many of those around us have no way of knowing when that is true for us. I accidentally cut someone off the other day. I cringed thinking about how that person would react not knowing that I’ve been having a really tough time and have a lot on my plate. That person had no way of knowing that this month has been excruciating for me, that I’ve cried thousands of tears, or that I’m standing on rocky ground. He had no way of knowing how much impact it would have on me if he were to react negatively. Thankfully, that person did nothing. No profanity, no bird flipped, nothing. He showed me some mercy, and I needed it.

While I have been in a state lately of needing much grace, I’ve also recently been reminded that I need to give the same of others. I realize that I am not the only person having a tough time lately. As much as we need to soak up grace for ourselves, we need to give it freely to others as well. When you have that friend that seems to be extra cranky, don’t get cranky back. When you have that coworker that is on your nerves, remember that that person in human too and also in need of grace.

We are all busy. We all have stress. We all have commitments and responsibilities that have to be tended to even when we don’t feel like it. Have some mercy when you feel someone around you falls short. Grace is a beautiful thing, and we should share it freely.

I Did It!

Sometimes what we think is medicine is poison and what we think is poison is in fact medicine. Think about this for a minute. It has been my life experience that some of what felt so good ended up being painful and bad for me. It is also in my experience that some things that stung so badly to begin with turned out to be the best thing for me.

Life has been very chaotic for me lately. I’m adjusting to all of the recent changes and have even decided to push forward with some hard changes I’ve decided for myself on top of the changes I didn’t exactly choose. I’m getting used to going to sleep by myself. I don’t wake up thinking about heartache every morning now. I’m not tempted to request his attention. I’ve put active, conscious effort daily into focusing on myself, work, and my children. I redirect my thoughts when they go to an ugly place. I’m adjusting.

As I’ve gone through so much stress the last couple of months, my desire to cope with it by picking up a bottle of that tart amber liquid has increased. Where my normal 1 or 2 drinks was never a problem, lately has become 5 or 6. While I haven’t been up to anything crazy, and I for damn sure don’t do the whole falling down drunk thing, I just don’t want to be that person that has to drink all the time to deal with life either. So because of this, I’ve made the decision to not drink at all.

I’ve decided that not only can I not use alcohol to cope with stress, but that in order to be successful, I need to find something to replace it. Of course, I always have my writing, but I need something more. Since I have recently started working out, it only makes sense to use that. In my blog post “I Lost Him, But I Found Me” I mentioned my new beginning of self-care. I also mentioned that a friend of mine had encouraged me to jog (and how ridiculous that first sounded to me). I said I wasn’t ready to begin yet for a few reasons but that I was committed to starting eventually. Well. . .I did it!!! I freaking jogged for the first time in my adult life last night!

My afternoon and evening yesterday was rough. Once there was one tough moment, it was like a damn mudslide and it all kept rushing downhill. One hard moment after another, one blow after another, the stress kept coming. I found myself at 7 o’clock last night wanting to pull out my hair, scream, throw some mean punches, and have a drink. Since none of that was really an option, instead I put on my workout clothes and tennis shoes and knew that I needed to push myself. I needed the release of energy. I needed the increase in endorphins. I needed to show myself that I can not only do this, but I can do it well.

When I announced that I was going to Rebecca’s house to go jog, my daughter wanted to come too. For a second, I wanted to tell her no. I didn’t want her to see me be vulnerable, to see how hard it is for me physically, and I was embarrassed. I decided though, it’s good for her to see the example. It is a good thing for her to see all of my recent hurts and struggles and for me to work hard to overcome all of my hurdles. I have to teach her that even when something is hard (even really freaking hard), she can tackle it and overcome. I HAVE TO be that example. So along she went.

When my friend wanted me to warm up in the front yard, I hesitantly looked around first to make sure no one was watching. I didn’t want to be seen. I wanted to be invisible. I was ashamed at how hard it is to do simple things. But I knew my sweet girl was standing right there watching, her eyes on her mama knowing that none of it was easy for me. So I did what I knew I needed to; I ignored the embarrassment and started warming up right there in the front yard where anyone could see.

For those of you that don’t know me personally, I am by medical definition morbidly obese. I am carrying around 100 extra pounds that I shouldn’t be. So for me to get out there and do any exercise bouncing around is difficult and discouraging. My friend that has done all this recent working out with me is a tiny little thing and like I’ve said before, she’s into fitness. She’s completely on board with helping me get to the me I’m supposed to be—both physically and emotionally. I’m so thankful for her because she knows just how to push me and encourage me.

We started out and as my music played loudly in my right ear and she was pushing and encouraging me in my left ear, I tried to ignore the discouragement in my own mind. I did my best not to wonder what each person driving by was thinking, or not to think about each person out in their front yard and what they were wondering about this slow jog we were doing that was clearly hard for me and so insanely easy for Rebecca. We set goals, “Okay, make it to this corner and then we can walk to the crosswalk,” or “When you are completely out of breath, you can walk, but only until you can control you’re breathing again.”

It was tough and every ounce of the physical me wanted to quit after just 20 feet. Hell, who I am kidding, I didn’t even want to start. But I thought about my precious girl, eyes on me. I thought about all the people who have sat back and claimed I would fail or those that get to ignore my hurts and continue on with their own fun lives. I thought about how for 16 years, I’ve had this “mom bod” and never lost my pregnancy weight. I thought about every hard thing I’ve endured lately in general and every hard thing from yesterday afternoon. I pushed. I pushed until the muscles in my legs were screaming and burning in pain. I won’t lie, most of our 2 miles was still a walk, but the point is, part of it was not! It was freaking hard and I pushed myself anyway! It even got to a point where I realized I wasn’t pushing my walk hard enough and so I picked up my pace. I wanted to feel the sweat run. I wanted to feel my lungs burn. I wanted to take every stress, hurt, and blow to my heart and use it as motivation to keep pushing.

When we got back to the house and stretched, I realized that already, that 2 mile loop isn’t as long as it was when I first did it. I can already see progress. Where the love I felt was medicine has revealed itself to be poison that was hurting me. Where working out seemed like poison to me, I’m seeing that it is some of the best medicine I’ve ever had in my entire life.

Through this roller coaster, I’ve been continuously learning how to care for me. I’ve been learning life lessons that I needed. Lord knows that I’ve cried many tears wishing it didn’t have to be this way, but as I washed the sweat out of my hair in the shower last night, I had a sudden realization—I needed this! I was on a dark path in a few ways and I needed this wake-up call like I need air to breathe. Where my heart once hurt so much, little by little, day by day, I’m seeing the blessing in this. I’m going to be so much better off now. I’m taking care of me, I’m working out and working on weight loss, I’m being more loving where it is most deserved—loving on me. I can already see that within months, I’m going to be in so much better of a spot in life. I’ll be thinner, healthier, stronger mentally, and have built a stronger foundation for which to build the rest of my life upon. There will come a day at some point in the future where I will meet a man who is going to wonder how he was ever so lucky to meet someone like me. There will come a day when I understand why it has not worked with anyone in the past. There will come a day where I’m not only happy in general, but I’ll be happy with a new loving life partner. There will come a day where I look back, smile, and proclaim, “I did it!”

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A Different Kind of Love Story

I have recently mentioned a few times about the importance of friendship between women, and I can’t express enough how true that need is. As a woman, women are the ones that know you’re heart deeply. Your female friends are the ones that will understand what you’re not actually saying, will truly get what you are saying, and will be the most knowledgeable about how to best be there for you.

I personally have not had many long-term friendships. In fact, I’ve had only one. My friend and I met through church the summer before we started high school. We were both rowdy, feisty, and rebellious in our own ways. It was not a love at first sight friendship, but by the time we talked, we were hooked and instant “besties” from that first night.

We were young and wild and thick as thieves. We had fun together and rode the waves of high school and teenagerhood together. We had each other’s backs as we navigated that awkward stage of life where you’re no longer a child, but you’re not yet an adult. We got into trouble and ditched class together for no good reason during the week, and then we were angels in church as we soaked up the Word on Sundays. We were busy figuring out life and who we were, but we did it all together. We were an intense duo.

We were close, but these were the days before cell phones and social media, so when I “ditched” her to go to an alternative high school after acting up at our school, she felt abandoned (and rightfully so), and we drifted apart. We ended up stopping talking and put our friendship on pause. Neither of us knew just how close we would be again and just how much we would have an impact on each other’s lives in the future, but it would be revealed years later.

A few years went by after high school and we both led very different lives. I was going through the end of a failed marriage with elementary-aged children, and she was newly married with a baby when we were reconnecting. I was going through a disaster in my life and she was a sudden ray of sunshine to burst through the clouds in the middle of my storm. My entire life had fallen apart and I’d lost everything—my marriage, my house, my vehicle, 95% of belongings, and more. I was dealing with being a first time single mom in my early 20’s, divorce, overcoming drugs and their multiple impacts on my life, grief from the loss of my child, and then some.

MySpace was where she tracked me down, and I immediately clung to her like my life depended on it. I can’t remember how soon it was after she messaged me, but I dreamed about her. To this day I remember how in the dream she was standing in front of me with her child on her hip (I can still even remember her posture in the dream) and the message was that I needed her and she was going to help me. Almost 10 years later now and I can’t even begin to explain how true that has been.

She has been my support as I pulled my life out of the gutter. She has been my backbone as I have gone through being homeless, going through breakups, going through the loss of jobs, going through ongoing grief, going through heartache, and all of life’s toughest moments. She has watched me doing the ugliest of ugly cries. She has watched me rejoice in positive life changes. She has shared in my grief and hurts and my joys and happiness. She’s been there for everything. I’ve told her the things I can’t bring myself to tell anyone else. We’ve cried together over the worries of the world that hurt us both. She knows me better than anyone else on earth, including my family. Her and I, we are soul sisters.

When I talk to any woman about women needing a close girlfriend, this beautiful gift from God is who I picture in my mind. Everyone needs one of her. She is the peanut butter to my jelly, the colors to my book, and the soul to my mate. It’s totally a love story, just a different kind than the movies are made about.

For women, we have to lift each other up. We have to carry each other’s burdens. We have to look each other’s hard moments, greatest fears, and heartaches in the face and say, “We are getting through this TOGETHER.” We ALL need and deserve this kind of love in our lives. So ladies, be there for each other during the good and bad life moments. If you don’t have a friend like this, then be it for someone else. You’ll find it in return. And always love each other and yourselves. It’s important.

Be blessed, my friends.
Moonshine Niki

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The Weak Hunt The Wounded

The weak hunt the wounded–what a strong and true statement! I’d love to say I came up with it myself, but it would be a lie. You see, I have this friend that has listened to me vent, cry, and ramble for 2 weeks now. We’ve been the kind of friends to talk over Facebook and the phone for a couple years now (we know each other in real life, but we don’t live near each other anymore), but lately, he’s been one of a small handful that have been supportive, listened, and been there for me over and over and then over again during this time. He’s one of my safe people because I can trust him and there’s no pressure to be anything but me. He’s smart, honest, and witty and makes me laugh when I want to cry. We are very different people though and this allows us to talk about all kinds of life aspects and see each other’s different points of view.

Last night we were discussing dating, sex, friendship, and all other things real, adult life. We were talking about his standards for romantic relationships and mine and how they are different, but then the topic came up about people that prey on the broken. It was completely relevant and something that another friend and I were recently discussing as well. We were talking in reference to how he said that he thinks women have an easier time finding men than men have finding women. I had disagreed and said I felt it was the same for both sexes. He disagreed still and said he didn’t think women knew how hard it was for men. It was friendly banter to kill time and boredom when I had said it must be easy for anyone and how they only have to target someone below them. Then this blog post topic bloomed. He told me how that’s lazy and wrong and gave me that line “the weak hunt the wounded” in his response.

While we were talking about “casual encounters” this actually works all across the board with dating and life in general. In my most broken moments in life, I have attracted the most broken, unstable, predatory, ill-intentioned people. In my strongest, most positive life moments, I’ve attracted the strongest, most positive, stable, well-intentioned people. For whatever reason, hard times can bring the worst people into one’s life.

This is something everyone, especially women, need to be aware of. When one is going through something hard, not coping well, making poor life choices because of the pain, and is easily seen as not having his or her stuff together in life, the creeps will come out of the woodwork, I promise. The predators will come out to hunt you down and they can smell you from a mile away. So in your low moments, guard your heart, because it matters.

While I personally am not a fan of casual sex, my friend is, as are many other people in our society. That’s okay, we’re grown-ups and you’re allowed to make your own choices. But, please be aware. Make sure that you’re not making that choice to fill a broken piece of your heart, because I can assure you that afterwards, that hole you’re trying to fill will not only still not be filled, it’ll likely be bigger. If you’re seeking a partner for casual fun, that’s totally your choice, but remember, the weak hunt the wounded.

 

Stay safe, my friends.

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I Lost Him, But I Found Me

When he first told me he was leaving, I was understandably devastated. I couldn’t believe it and was in total shock. It hurt deeply and every day since has hurt. I didn’t think I could live without him. But (and it’s a really big but), I’m doing it! I’m healing a little one day at a time. Where my heart has been pained, I see it sting a little less every day. Where I once couldn’t imagine life without him, I’m getting used to the idea of it. Where I thought I couldn’t be happy without him, I woke up happy today. I wanna cheer! I want to get up and do a happy dance because I didn’t feel strong initially and it took me only a short time to be able to see that I am indeed strong.

You see, I felt like when I was losing him, I was losing me too. Who am I without him? Who am I as just Niki, and not B’s girlfriend? How and what is my life by myself? You know what though? I’m still losing him, but I’m actually finding me! I can’t emphasize this point enough, but keep reading because I’m going to tell y’all how.

So since this all started, I’ve been talking to a few friends about my heartache. One day, one said, “You know what helps? Running.”

I laughed it off and said, “Have you ever seen a picture of me? I’m not going running.”

He assured me, anyone can do it. He gave me the name of an app that even beginners can do. I downloaded the app but then left it for days without doing anything about it. I was being swallowed up by my hurts and just didn’t care about starting. That was on top of my normal issues that get in the way of exercise (especially something hard on my joints). I struggle with chronic pain, I have a busy life, and let’s face it, I’m just really good at making excuses. The idea stayed in the back of my mind though. I even mentioned it to one of my dearest girlfriends (who happens to LOVE fitness and exercise). So on Saturday morning, when I texted her about the anxiety that seems to come in waves right now, she immediately followed up with telling me to get my tennis shoes on and get my booty outside. She told me to use it as fuel, to go until I can’t breathe, and put all of that negative energy to use. So you know what I did? I put on my tennis shoes! She offered to put her kids in a jogging stroller and go with me, so that’s what we did. It may not seem like much, and I definitely didn’t start with jogging, but we power walked 2 miles with much of it being uphill. When we got back, I literally had sweat running. Wanna know something else? It felt so good!!

I kept myself fairly busy the rest of the day and tried to focus on anything other than letting my brain go into overdrive about what I can’t change. I had a planned date on Saturday night with another girlfriend and was happy to get out and do that. Unfortunately, that meant not getting much sleep, and the sleep I did get was poor. But you know what I did when I woke up Sunday morning and could feel sadness and loneliness seeping in? Yep, you guessed it! I put on my tennis shoes! Without my friend this time, I took the dogs around the block, dropped them back off at home, and then did that same 2 mile loop. I pushed myself hard. I got home again covered in sweat and feeling on top of the world.

I went inside and went to get in the shower and paused to look in the mirror. I looked at how red my face was and how my hair was wet from sweat. I looked at my deflating belly that is already noticeably smaller with my breakup weight loss. I stood there and appreciated myself for the first time in I can’t even tell y’all how long. I saw beauty in my face where I’d forgotten it was once there. I saw attractiveness in my body where for several months I’d just been able to see fat. Where my self-esteem had once plummeted dangerously low, I saw and felt my worth for the first time looking in the mirror that day.

In this recent heartache, I’ve had more time on my hands. I’m not rushing anything to spend time with a partner, so I have time to focus. I’ve started lovingly taken care of myself. I take great care in the little things that I’ve previously not done as often or done hastily. I’m taking the time to shave my legs with care, to take good care of my feet, brushing my teeth, washing my body, moisturizing my face, lotioning my skin. Most of these things are obviously things I was doing, but doing them now is different. It’s with love and affection for myself. It’s done slowly and well. All of this is with new exercise and good water intake. I’m not consuming soda (okay, well except for that night out drinking hehe). I’m not consuming junk food. My initial weight loss was from stress, but hey, since it’s started, now I’m going to take it and run with it (literally as I haven’t yet started to actually jog, but I promise, I’m getting there). I deserve to be well cared for and there’s no one better to do it than me.

I lost him, but it’s giving me the chance to find me and make the changes that should have been made a long time ago. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but I’m dedicated to this new self-care thing. It’s about time that I seek no love but my own. So hello, me, I’ve missed you.

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I Am Strong

Every day is hard right now. There’s nothing to fix it except to just keep feeling it all until it stings less and to develop a new routine and norm. I’m so used to my days starting with his kiss, to coming home to his goofy grin and humor, to sleeping cuddled close. Now I wake alone, I sleep alone, I live life alone. I love my children to pieces, but they can’t fulfill the “need” of having an adult in my life. I know with all that I am that I will get through this without crumbling, but I also know it’s not easy. I have no idea when I’ll stop feeling extreme anxiety in the afternoons. I have no idea when I’ll stop aching for his touch at night. I have no idea when it will stop being uncomfortable to be at home. I just know that eventually all those things will happen. There’s peace in that knowledge too. This is not the first time in my life I’ve experienced heartache. It’s not even the worst heartache I’ve ever endured (though it’s the worst in a really long time). I know I’m going to be okay though because I’m already experiencing moments where I feel at peace and have less moments filled with sorrow. At this point, the scariest part is the finances and not being sure if my employer is going to be able to help (which miraculously is a possibility) or if I’ll have to get a second job. Whatever that solution is, there will still be so much more peace once I have it figured out. Knowing that the financial aspect is the most worrisome part is also a giver of peace. I’ve grown to start disliking the phrase about being a strong woman, but it’s totally true. I am strong.  And at some point, my strong, cute ass will look back on all this and smile at the lessons learned and where this will take me. This doesn’t break me. I am not broken. No one has that power. I. Am. Strong.

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