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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You Can Just Call Me Badass

Life has been busy lately between work, kids and home life, and freelance writing. It’s been so busy, in fact, that I haven’t sat down to write out of pleasure in a while. I’ve had some things on my mind lately, and I figured it was time to sit down and bang this post out.

Most people know how difficult it is dating as a single parent. In fact, if you don’t know this, I’m going to assume you live under a rock—a very large, dense rock at that. It’s HARD. To find someone, fall in love, blend families, and then live life in blissful peace is the equivalent of our modern-day fairytale because it’s pretty rare that that’s how it works out.

One reason dating is so difficult is because we live in a society that encourages fast paced living, self-indulgence, and frequent changes. You don’t like your car? Trade it in and get a new one! Tired of your job? Quit and find a different one! Aren’t happy in your relationship/marriage? Leave and find a new one! It’s no wonder that there are so many single parents and broken families out there. Dating is hard enough without adding in children’s laundry, daily football practice, piano lessons, dirty faces, and whines of “Moooommmmyy” or “Daaaaddddyy” in the middle of first and second dates and those first few sweet and yet awkward phone calls.

I personally have had a couple serious relationships after my marriage with my children’s father ended, and I’ve also had some time casually dating. Let me tell you what, that shit sucks! In fact, I was seeing someone last year and we were a few dates in. . .and then he witnessed my son have a rather large meltdown. Apparently that was enough for him because the next day, he texted me and said he needed to “take a step back.” So, back into the dating pool I went.

At this point, I was just over the whole thing. I wasn’t looking for casual sex, but that seemed to be all that was desired on all of the popular dating apps. I was a single mom of 3 teenagers, working 2 jobs to make ends meet, and was tired in every way possible. I wanted to find a partner, but it was not going to be through a dating website, and I’d lost pretty much all faith that it would happen at all. Then, a miracle happened. I met B.

We had a lot in common and much that was different too. While I had been in the dating game for a while (around 7 years since I had split with my ex-husband), he was brand new to dating. There were speed bumps and signs that pointed to maybe we shouldn’t get involved, but we were both enamored from the beginning, and so we pushed forward anyway and decided to become an official couple. In that decision, we have obviously become involved with each other’s children. Have I mentioned yet that dating as a single parent is hard…?

When you are in a brand new relationship, it’s easy to get lost in the stars in your eyes and the mush in your heart, but let’s face it, real life doesn’t stop just because you’re falling in love, and one giant reality is children.

When B and I met, my children were 15, 14, and almost 13. Teenagers are hard enough, but as I mentioned before, I have one kiddo that tends to make men turn tail and run. My son is an amazing person and full of charm and charisma normally, but in his hard moments, he is a handful to say the least. I love him and all of my children with all that I am, but I’m more than a mom. I am a woman and I have needs that go beyond my children. I need to be loved, to be desired, to be held, to be listened to, to be emotionally supported, and to be paid attention to from another adult. I never would want to put my children on the back burner, but I wanted a partner in my life too. But if I said that I wasn’t scared as hell about finding someone who fit everything I needed AND was able to handle my son (and children in general), I’d be lying my cute little skirt off. To make it even harder, I was downright terrified that I would fall in love, become vulnerable, let my children fall in love and become vulnerable, and then go through yet another heartache together again.

For B, he was pretty much brand new out of his failed marriage. He was still understandably hurting, tender, and guarded. His 2 children are much younger than mine and he feared not only being hurt in the same ways his ex had hurt him, but he naturally feared his children would get hurt too. They are so young that dating and then enduring another breakup would be so difficult for them to understand. He didn’t want to go through pain again, and he didn’t want his children to experience anymore pain. All of this is totally normal.

So there we were, 2 messes, 2 families, 2 grown up hearts, and 5 young hearts being meshed together. We were scared and yet we moved fairly fast in many ways because…well, LOVE! Before we knew it, we were neck-deep in this appointment, that school event, diapers and potty training, sibling rivalry, dishes, laundry, and grocery shopping together.

B has handled my son’s meltdowns with amazing patience. I have changed his son’s diapers and helped potty train. He has regularly picked up my children from their bus stop and listened with love and support to me complain about my children’s father not paying child support. I have cleaned up his children’s vomit from the stomach flu and listened to him with love and support complain everything unfair at his job. He relates to my children in a way no one ever has and provides support to them. We plan birthdays and holidays together, we discuss parenting, discipline, and consequences together, and we work out our finances to maintain our home and provide for our children—all together. He lifts me up with his silliness and humor, and I keep him grounded with my seriousness, and we navigate life this way TOGETHER.

So, while I’ve rambled a long time about my own personal experience at dating as a single parent, I’m now getting to my real point. To my children, B is just B. He is Mama’s boyfriend. To B’s children, I am just Niki. I am Daddy’s girlfriend. Language evolves over time, and it wasn’t that long ago that people didn’t raise families and cohabit in one household without being married. Because of this, there is no in between word for what B and I are to each other’s children. We are not step parents; we haven’t quite earned that title yet, but we are so much more than just our children’s parent’s significant other. I know there are so many people all over that also fall into this category. So I think there needs to be a word invented that covers those of us in the middle area. When you wipe butts, drive to appointments, cook, get in the middle of kids fighting, deal with bed wetting, buy clothing, and handle pretty much every aspect of parenting for your partner’s children, you are more than just a girl/boyfriend.

We were recently at B’s child’s birthday party and as I was telling people about all of the last minute errand running, putting together presents, and all of the other chaos that happens to all parents right before big events like this, I mentioned my desire for that word and to write this blog post about it.

B suddenly looked over and said, “There is a word already.” I was shocked and thought he knew something I didn’t.

“What is it then?” I questioned.

He then looked me in the eye and said, “Badass. You’re a badass, and so am I.”

And you know what? He’s totally right. It’s not quite the word I was looking for, but it couldn’t be more accurate. We. Are. Badasses.

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Feeling Raw

I feel pretty raw lately. I’ve been trying so hard to climb out of the funk I’ve been in, but I seem to only be sliding further down into it. I feel lonely. I feel misunderstood. I feel like I’m the source of others’ frustrations. I feel like I’m not supported. I feel stretched thin. And did I mention I feel lonely?

This funk has been tough on those around me. I would say it’s also probably accurate that it’s pushed others away. I feel so lost and unsure of how to find myself again. I have been living a hard life for a long time and while it’s hard, I think that people tend to continue with what is hard because it is familiar and change is hard too. It’s hard and scary.

Sometimes all I want is for those closest to me to hug me tight and just remind me of their love and support. Lately, that seems to be in short supply, and the more I want it, the more I notice the absence of it. I just want to feel connected to others. I want to feel that I truly matter. I want to know that someone looks at my face and thinks, “Gosh, I sure am lucky to have her in my life.” I want these things because at the moment, I just feel like life is slapping me across the face every time I turn around.

I need to figure out what to do to help me. I have to figure out what changes need to be made and figure out a plan for them. I have to figure out how to let go of the negative forces—whatever they may be. And mostly, I have to figure out how not to forget that no matter who has let me down or hurt me, that’s not my fault and doesn’t affect my worth. I ~am~ worthy.

Thrivin’ Survivor, That Is Me

*Repost from old blog site*

You’d think that knowing that I am strong, plus surviving some of the hardest things one could experience in life would automatically make me fearless, right? Wrong.

I’m facing a breakup. Lord knows that isn’t easy. After almost 3 years of dedication, 2 sets of children, and 1 combined household, I’m pretty much dreading “the talk” happening. How is that though? How is that so scary when I have been through so much—and survived?!

I’ve been sexually abused multiple times since I was a kid. I have had children as a teenager, gotten married a week after I turned 17 to a man that turned into a raging, abusive drug addict, and endured several years of mental, emotional, sexual, and physical abuse during that marriage. I have watched my then husband overdose, almost die, and recuperate—only to watch it happen all over again. I have battled chronic pain more than half my life that is at times crippling. I have held my infant daughter as her life support was turned off and she took her last breath, battled CPS, and pieced my life back together after meth. I have gotten through being homeless, jobless, and broke. I have battled court systems. I have battled people that wish me harm. And I have battled my own inner demons.

Nothing quite feels as terrifying as one’s husband hitting her in a rage, making her fear and know her life is in danger. Nothing feels as heartbreaking as laying one’s child on a hospital bed and turning away knowing one will never get to pick her baby up again and smell her scent, feel her warmth, nurture her at her breast, or hear her sweet cry again. Nothing is as hard as having to fight for one’s children against a government agency with a vendetta. And yet, I’ve been through all of that and survived and come out on top. I’ve not just survived, but I have thrived!

Even with that being the short list, I’m reading back over it and now sitting here wondering, how the hell am I afraid of a little breakup??? I need to just face it head on. Ready, set, go. 3, 2, 1, takeoff. Get it done, woman. There’s no way in hell that this is what suddenly breaks me! I am STRONG! I am powerful! I am woman—HEAR ME ROAR!!

The Richest Broke Chick You Could Ever Meet

I recently have allowed several things going on to stress me out and kind of takeover in my personal life. I’ve dealt with gossip, work changes, miscommunication with my lover, parenting issues, financial stress, and overall hurt feelings. I started to feel pretty chaotic inside. In this, I started writing and banging out blog posts like my life depended on it. And in that, I started to find some peace. I have been able to sort through the muddled chaos in my brain and start to make sense of it all. I have spent so much time in my head lately that’s it’s almost shocking I’ve been able to be productive with anything because thought are spinning ‘round and ‘round All. The. Time. BUT through all this thought, I’ve finally reached a good, calm place where I’ve had some realizations.

 

I’m so freaking blessed! I’m scared shitless financially because…well…money! I know, I know, money isn’t everything…blah, blah, blah. You’re right, it’s not. But money is how we survive. I need it to keep my house, maintain and run my vehicle so I can get to the place where I earn my money, feed my children, provide all the supplies for daily living my family needs like clothes, toiletries, and household products, and the list goes on. In these recent financial troubles, I’ve started to become overwhelmed with stress. It was all I could think about. I go to bed with it, I wake up with it, and I even sleep with it. Have you ever been so stressed that it follows you into your dreams and ruins any chance you have of getting quality sleep? I’m so familiar.

 

Then, please add in teenagers. ‘Nough said there.

 

Then also add in drama. I don’t even want to go there, but y’all can imagine that with everything else, this did NOT need to be added to my plate, especially to have an impact on my relationship or to hear negative things said about me when I’m trying so freaking hard in life.

 

Anyway, I’m straying from my point here, so please keep following along.

 

I’m blessed. While all of this garbage is going on, at the end of the day, I climb into my cozy bed next to the love of my life. When I found this man, let me tell ya, I knew pretty much from the get-go that there was no way in hell I was ever going to willingly let him go. He’s everything I could have ever hoped for and dreamed of. We are both extremely busy so often the only time we get together is when we are falling into bed exhausted, but those moments are the highlight of my days. Taking a few minutes to talk and laugh and just enjoy each other’s company is a priority. He shows me he loves me through his touch every single day. He gives me affection even when I’m feeling taken over with the crazy. He soothes the chaos in my heart and mind when he pulls me close, kisses me tenderly, and reassures me that he loves me. How many people go to bed lonely and without that? Too many. When I crawl into my bed at night, it’s with a roof over my head, it’s after having eaten dinner, and it’s with knowing my children are safe and sound in other rooms of the house. How many people are lacking those basic needs? How many people don’t even have a room or a bed to go to? Who am I to be stressed out and letting my worries rob me of my joy and blessings?! I may struggle, but I’m never losing this fight, so why do I let my worry take me to places I’d never really have to see?

 

I recently wrote a blog where I touched on one having the ability to control his or her emotions and feelings, and I’m touching on it again here because it’s SO important. Not only am I hurting myself when I let the stress take over, but I hurt those around me. My lover feels when I’m stressed and upset and naturally, it makes him stressed and upset. The same goes for my kids. We are in sync. They feel my intense emotions and it rubs off on them too.

 

It took me several days of feeling like a sourpuss and letting my brain constantly roam every nook and cranny of my stress and hurt to remember and truly realize what damage I’m doing here—and that I can control it! Of course part of me is embarrassed because I’ve had some outbursts and meltdowns and others have been able to witness this, but I’m just as human as anyone else. So, I’ve had an outburst or two, but that doesn’t define me. It’s never too late to decide to pull out of that poor me mindset and change up my thinking, and so that’s what I’m doing.

 

I have to count change for gas money to get to next payday. My daughter has to use an old blue backpack for school until I can replace her broken one next payday. We will have to make creative meals from what we have in the kitchen before I can grocery shop on next payday. I’m super broke and payday is still a week away. But you know what, friends? I’m the richest woman in the world.

Anger

Anger…It’s an emotion we all feel at one time or another. But what we do with it is what is important. As an emotional person, I’m pretty familiar with feeling emotion intensely—including anger, but I have to actively fight against letting intense emotion consume me.

 

I’m a brooder when I’m angry. I sit and think about it and turn it over and under and around in my brain. I tend to let that anger bubble and boil until it’s threatening to boil over. I feel my heart race and my breath quicken and the tension in my chest increase. I want to scream. I want to throw things. I want to RAGE. The uncontrolled me would do those things and hand out “fuck you’s” like candy on Halloween. Unfortunately (or fortunately I suppose), I’m a grownup and that’s not what gets to happen. So I sit and think…

 

I’ve learned in recent years and even blogged about it that I can control my emotion. It’s not easy. It takes much work. But it’s possible. So as I sit here at my desk at work and think about it, I contemplate my reaction. What made me feel so intensely? Why am I taking it so personally? What is the next step? How do I keep my feelings from making it worse? How do I process it in a way that allows me to truly let it go without getting in anyone’s face or making good relationships go sour? The details are private, but I can say that I refuse to let anger control my life. I write to process. I pray and give it to God. I breathe deeply and concentrate on inhaling peace and exhaling hurt. It works. Sometimes it only works for a moment, but then I repeat the process until I’m calm again.

 

I will never be able to get away from being the incredibly emotional person that I am. It’s firmly woven into my DNA. But I can choose to not let it define me and definitely not let it rule me. I make my life choices, not my emotions.

Growing Pains

What do you do when life gets a little messy and you start to fall apart and that starts to have an impact on the people around you…? Well, if you’re like me, you start to write. So here I am, ready to ramble because I feel if I don’t let it all out, I might explode. Or implode. Either way, the consequences of that can be devastating.

 

I have a lot on my plate in life. Those that know me personally know that. Those that know me intimately know that sometimes I don’t handle it very well. But what can I say, I’m human. I work full time (out of town, so add travel time to my full plate), I have 3 teenage children that can be a handful as they struggle with some normal issues and some extreme issues depending on the kid we talk about, I have a shit ton of bills and financial stress, I have an ex-husband that doesn’t pay a penny in child support and I honestly don’t think he ever will, I lack a support system from my family (though, side note, the support from those I do have close to me is pretty freaking amazing, especially since they choose their relationship with me), I struggle with anxiety and depression frequently, and a hundred other things I could list here. My point is, sometimes I feel like I’m drowning and I’m overwhelmed. Sometimes I’m needy. Sometimes I’m emotional. Sometimes I require more love and attention from those close to me.

 

I seem to be in a growth spurt lately, and let me tell ya, I feel the growing pains. Like a child, it hurts, I cry, I accomplish, I laugh, I fall down, I get up, and it all repeats. Growing is hard. I’ve learned many important life lessons in the last year and a half and I’ve lost many “friends” and have had my heart stung through these lessons and losses. I’ve been used. I’ve been ignored. I’ve been treated badly. I’ve felt the crushing weight of stress. I’ve been scared. And through all of this, I’ve had to learn how to care for myself. I cannot put others’ needs before my own needs. I definitely cannot allow the poor choices of others to impact me to the point of me breaking. I’ve had to learn to depend on myself, even for emotional support. It’s been intense. It’s been painful. And in some ways, it’s been fulfilling. I’ve been learning and I’m still breathing and I keep moving forward. I’m succeeding, even through the changes. That’s what life is all about anyway, right?