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 then 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 about 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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*Update*
Looking back, I can see where I was naive in this relationship, and it inevitably ended. While things didn’t work out for us, I am still so proud of and in love with this blog. Those partners of parents that are parenting in every way from disciplining, to cooking, to enduring 317 episodes in a row Spongebob, to kissing boo-boos, and running endless errands–those parents deserve a better title. Many people choose to forego marriage these days, and to say those partners are no more than “Mom’s boyfriend” or “Dad’s girlfriend” is something I think needs updated to catch up with society. While we still haven’t created one yet since the original posting of this blog two years ago, I stand by my original statement… You can just call each of us Badass.

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?

Happy???

Happiness…

 

What is it? Why are so many people searching for it and yet it remains elusive? What is the key to it? I’ve been thinking about these questions lately, not only for how it relates to my own life, but for those around me too.

 

I’ve been searching desperately for happiness since I was a teenager. Back then, I searched in all the wrong areas—some of which I continued with for many years. I searched for it through my friends and their poor choices. I searched for it with my body and the affection of boys. I searched for it high and low and had an intense longing to feel this happy that everyone speaks of. It was nowhere to be found though.

 

I spent the years of my 20’s still searching for happiness as I struggled with so much more than most even know of. While dealing with my abusive husband, while taking care of little ones I had so close together, while crying alone with no friends and no support and hating myself, I continued to desperately seek happiness. I desired it so much that while drowning in the misery of my life circumstances, I sought it out with my physician in the form of an antidepressant, then a different antidepressant, then another one, and then with anti-anxiety meds too. Do you know that antidepressants do not equal happy? Most people realize this, but when I was a desperate young woman clinging to the hope of feeling better, I did not. In my naïve state, I also did not realize that there weren’t any drugs in the world that could fix my life circumstances and the impact they had on my health and well-being.

 

Over time, much of my situation got better. I left the abusive husband, I left the town and bad friends I’d gotten into trouble with immediately after my marriage ended, and I moved back to the safety of my hometown. But guess what? I still wasn’t feeling happy. Don’t worry though, this one is really a happy story (no pun intended) and a breakthrough was in the making…

 

*****

 

Don’t get me wrong, I had moments I felt happy when my life was really hard. My children obviously were something to feel happy about. I would occasionally have friends to talk to too and that made me feel happy. But overall, miserable would be a much more accurate adjective for my life through my 20’s.

 

The breakthrough…

 

A pivotal moment in my life was when I decided to go back to school (for the 3rd time) and…I succeeded! I had tried twice previously and stopped going. The first time I began college, I was already enrolled and waiting to begin when my daughter passed away. I thought that I could still do it, but I was wrong and couldn’t handle it. The second time I went back, I managed to succeed one semester and was onto my second when I finally had the guts to leave my husband. The downfall of that was that my entire life fell apart at first, including my attempt at college. So understandably, I was incredibly scared to try again. I feared failure more than anything for several reasons (other blog posts will happen later to describe those events). Taking the step to get back into college was scary. Two years later when I finished that last class and knew my degree was coming, I was on top of the world! I had endured working full time, a breakup, the daily life of being a mom, and so much more, but I still did it. That coming on the heels of having to get myself out of a very large hole that I’d dug myself into without any support or help from anyone else (again, as I referenced in my very first blog post, there will come a time I’m ready to write about that, but that time is not here yet) made me feel like I was on top of the world. I was starting to make something of myself finally in my late 20’s!

 

Would you like to guess what came about with that success? That’s right—happiness! It was my first step in adulthood that I was truly proud of and could share with everyone. I finally felt like I was worthy in this world. I finally felt like I could contribute to society instead of feeling like I was a problem. For the first time, I finally felt like I was more than a teen mom, more than a screw up, more than just someone for my family to gossip about and look down their noses upon. It was truly joyous for me.

 

After that came more baby steps to being a better person. I continued working, I improved many areas of my life through hard work and dedication, and then came a pivotal moment…I learned that I am more in control of my own emotions, thoughts, and feelings than I could have ever guessed.

 

I have a dear friend that told me one day that I could indeed control my feelings. I was shocked and thought she was maybe being a little self-righteous as she was explaining that it was something she works on with herself. She talked about training one’s thoughts and redirecting oneself when the mind turns to negative thinking. I thought she was crazy. Now…I wonder how many people think I’m crazy when I talk about the same thing—because it works!

 

As my life has changed as time has gone on and I’ve gained some wisdom with age, I’ve also become even more independent and self-sufficient. I’ve worked on controlling the negativity in my head and that’s something I continue to work on daily. When I get weighted down with thoughts that aren’t positive, I remind myself that that’s not where my focus should be. It’s constant redirection. In that focus on positivity, I’ve made much personal growth.

 

When I went through a break-up a year ago and began to struggle severely financially, I didn’t cry about it, I didn’t take to Facebook to whine about it, and I didn’t expect someone to fix it for me. I went out and got a second job. I worked my tail off to get myself into a better financial state and was able to quit the second job. I felt so good knowing I could depend on myself and take care of my own needs. I felt…you guessed it—happy!

 

I’m not without struggles now. I have normal stress just like anyone else. I deal with financial issues, teenagers, household stress, and hurts. I just choose to put my focus on my blessings. I’ve taught myself (with the help of others) how to be happy.

 

So let me share this; if you’re longing for happiness, it’s not something you will magically find. It’s definitely not something that you can purchase. And it’s not even something you find in someone else. We each hold happy inside of us. It’s each person’s job to pull it out of him or herself, and it starts with deciding…I’m happy.

Healing in a Hat

When I told my boyfriend this morning that I was going to write a blog about my new hat, I literally laughed out loud. It sounds like such a silly thing, but there’s a big reason behind it.

 

Let me backtrack for a second and explain that on Sunday morning, as the skies were blue and the sun was bright and the day was already heating up towards 70 degrees, we were preparing for a day outside in the sunshine. We stopped at good ol’ Walmart for a few necessities; water, sunscreen, a couple pairs of shorts for The Littles, and sun hats were on our list of needs. As we rushed through each department grabbing the items we were in search of, we ended at the sun hats. I personally would rather have my children’s faces shielded from the sun than to continuously slather them in sunblock, but the big deal for me was deciding what to do for myself. My 13 year old picked a mesh cowboy hat that complimented her personal style and I knew would be worn several times over the next few months of sun. The 5 year old picked a sun visor that matched the hat of one of her favorite people in the whole world—my 13 year old, and the 3 year old picked an adorable black traditional sun hat. I looked at the wall of choices that I’ve seen several times over the years when the weather turns warm, and I was secretly nervous.

 

So many times, I’ve walked by that wall and thought there were many cute choices, but I was too afraid to stop and try any on. Why, you ask? Because like many women in today’s times, I struggle with insecurity. This time, I was stopping because it was a true necessity, but I still worried about judgment. Am I too old to try the cute mesh cowboy hats? Are the big floppy brimmed hats too “old” for me in my early 30’s? Is there something in between that would be seen as more appropriate for my age and weight and looks? Would people judge what they see with me wearing one of these choices? Would younger/skinnier/more attractive women giggle to each other if they walked by while I was trying on hats with my kids? I was flustered at the thought of it all.

 

I realize that to many, it would seem silly to be so worried about picking out a hat, but for me, it’s something I’ve always been really self-conscious about. Lately, I’ve had a hard time in general with self-esteem. I seem to have periods of time that I feel confident and attractive, but then I have other periods of time where I feel fat and ashamed and unattractive. I’ve been struggling greatly with the latter these days. This is in part due to the fact I was recently a victim of Internet bullying. To have another human being put me down and shame me for my looks was a little bit of a hard pill to swallow. To have some woman that I don’t even know decide to single me out, taunt me publicly on social media, and then message my boyfriend about it all and put together a side by side picture of her and I pointing out how she’s thin and “more attractive” was more difficult to deal with than I thought it would be. That had a bigger impact that I thought possible. Every picture I’ve put on social media since, I’ve thought of people like her. I’ve wondered who is judging. I’ve wondered who is looking at it and thinking I’m unattractive and unappealing. I’ve wondered if there are those that think to themselves, “Oh, she’s pretty.” My point is, I’ve spent way too much time worrying over these things.

 

Back to standing in front of the wall of hats…my daughter and my boyfriend made it fun for me to try on different ones. I wanted one that was cute, but more than anything, I wanted one that greatly served the purpose I was looking for—to shade my face from the sun I would spend my entire afternoon standing in. As I picked up different styles and colors to try, I relaxed a lot with my fears of other people seeing me. I realized that to anyone walking by, I would look like every other Walmart patron and that most people wouldn’t even notice, let alone care that I was trying out hats. It was in that moment that I took a leap of faith and said to myself, “F’ what anyone thinks,” and I bought the big, floppy billed hat that I knew would be best for blocking the sun.

 

Looking back now just a day later, I can’t believe that I was really considering sacrificing the safety and comfort of my skin over what people ~might~ think of me. I decided to not care about what other people’s judgments might be. I put that hat on in the parking lot as soon as we left, and I proudly wore it all day long, and guess what? It worked wonderfully and protected my face, ears, and the back of my neck from the sun without the use of sunscreen, and I didn’t catch a single person looking at me funny because of my choice. I’ve decided that I need to take this approach with the rest of my life and all of my insecurities. I refuse to be a victim anymore to the mean people of the world. At the end of the day, while I may not be everyone’s cup of tea physically, that woman that chose to be cruel to me is much more ugly than I could ever be. She’s a special kind of ugly on the inside and no matter what the outside looks like, when you’re that ugly in your heart, you’re ugly everywhere.

 

Oh! And guess what else I did yesterday? I took a picture in my favorite new hat…and I put it on Facebook for the world to see.

“Man, I just love…”

I laid in bed at 11 o’clock last Saturday night and listened to the wind howl outside. I’ve always been soothed by storms and listening to it that night reminded me of an early memory from my childhood.

 

I must have been about 3 years old and I was awake in the early morning before my mom was. It was windy outside and as I sat on the couch with my face in the window, I was trying to figure out how it was that I could hear that wind howling through the house. I remember feeling a twinge of fear at how big the weather was and how small it made me seem. More than fear though, I felt comfort deep in my soul. That feeling has stayed with me even now in my 30’s. There’s something about the chaos of storms that soothes whatever chaos I have going on inside me. To me, storms are a reminder that I’m in control of so little in this world, I’m like a speck of sand in the desert, and that reminder calms me.

 

Lying in bed that night, with the wind in one ear and the soft snoring of my love in the other, I felt total peace in my heart. I felt an overwhelming calm, happiness, and contentedness. So much in my life right now is falling into place. Knowing all the children were cozy, sleeping in their beds, knowing I had no stress to worry about in that moment, being soothed by the wind storm outside, and enjoying that delicious feeling of comfort at the warmth of my sweetheart next to me, I knew I would later sit down to write a blog post about all the happy things going on right now.

 

*****

 

He finally said it. He said those 3 magic words I’ve been waiting almost 5 months to hear from him. As the days have turned into weeks and the weeks have turned into months, I’ve yearned for him to acknowledge love in his heart for me. I was totally head over heels, crazy in love by the time we were a few weeks in, but he was not. His pain was still fresh and his guard was high. This was something I totally understood, but it didn’t make me feel any less anxious for it. As time went on, I would have moments that would stop me in my tracks and I would be so filled with love and think to myself, “Man, I just love him so much.” This made me a little fearful that I was so completely in and yet I was unsure of what was going on in his head. I became fearful that I was going to get my heart broken.

 

You see, I’ve never in my entire life been in a relationship where it just felt so right. He made it so damn easy to fall for him and when I got scared, I started wondering if I was going to have to prepare for the heartache of a lifetime. I was so confused. He wasn’t telling me he loves me, but his actions definitely were. B is more sweet and tender with me than I’ve ever experienced in a romantic relationship in my entire life. The moments he would look lovingly tuck my hair behind my ear, or the way he would caress my skin without thinking while we were watching a movie, or even just the way I would look up and catch him looking at me–all of it screamed love. The only thing that didn’t was his own mouth. I allowed myself to become fearful despite that whole “actions speak louder than words” thing that should have given me reassurance. But let’s face it, anyone who knows me personally and anyone who reads these blogs knows that I am an animal driven by emotion and words. I can’t just feel things, I have to tell people what I feel. Constantly.

 

A couple weeks ago, B and I had a misunderstanding that hurt my feelings. Not because he was mean or intentionally hurtful, but once again, because of my own emotional intensity. I panicked and suddenly was thinking of all the worst case scenarios. I sat at work and wrote out an email to him that explained that I know I’m intense and I know that he cares and I will work on trying to relax a little. Instead of being annoyed with my sensitivity, he reminded me that he’s not going anywhere, that he likes me being me and doesn’t want me to try to change my need to talk about my feelings, and he gave me reassurance in general. He was kind and sweet and once again, made me sit back and think, “Man, I just love him so much.”

 

That conversation helped me to greatly relax. It was the reassurance that I needed to know he may not be proclaiming love to me, but he’s not going anywhere. We’ve had several tender moments since then, a fabulous date day, and two weekends in a row of amazing-ness. The most amazing part though, was waking up early on a Friday morning to get ready for work just like any other normal weekday. There was nothing special about this day, or at least there wasn’t until I got a text from him…

 

“Moonshine Niki…”

 

“Yes?” I asked, and then pretty much held my breath somehow knowing what was coming next.

 

“I love you, I really do.”

 

I sat there staring at my phone dumbfounded at the random revelation. I didn’t know what to say. We’ve had moments in the past where I’ve told him I don’t want him to feel pressured, but I can’t always hold it inside, and I confess my love for him. He always would smile sweetly and wrap me tightly in his arms and kiss me. But suddenly in that moment, I just couldn’t say I love you too. I was at a loss for words (something that is ~extremely~ rare for me) and I just smiled at my phone with what I’m sure was a ridiculous grin. I was filled with joy and happiness. We fell back into our regular texting after that, but I was on an intense high the entire day from it. I told him I’m anxious to be wrapped in his arms and have him look me in the eye and tell me in person. He promised it would happen soon.

 

*****

 

This last weekend was a “Littles Weekend” meaning that B had his children for the weekend. I call them the Littles because my children are teenagers and his are small. It’s a cute, affectionate name for them that distinguishes which kids I’m referring to without claiming “mine” or “yours”.

 

Anyone that has ever had (or even been around) a blended family knows that dating as single parents is not easy. There have been tough moments as far as all of the children go and we never really know what we’re going to get. But every Littles Weekend that happens, we bond more and more and we have fun. This last weekend was no different.

 

On Saturday morning, we did projects and then went to the grocery store to pick up some stuff for lunch. After loading the children and the groceries up to leave, it was in that parking lot as we were getting ready to leave that B randomly leaned in, hugged me, and said “I love you” out of the blue. Nothing else about that moment was romantic. It was just normal, everyday life stuff, and he suddenly made it magical. My heart soared.

 

I spent the weekend on Cloud 9 and was truly happy. There was lots of fun had and I enjoyed the little moments of silliness and laughter. Everything from painting projects, to snuggling a sleepy little one as he wakes up from nap, to just watching the Littles play, I felt full of bliss. I wanted the weekend to continue forever.

 

As we drove home from the kid swap on Sunday, I already was thinking of what we could do on the next Littles Weekend. I now find my heart missing them when they are with their mom. For the first time since B and I started dating, the Littles are on my mind all the time, every day.

 

I sat in my car on my lunch break yesterday and suddenly realized how much I have feelings growing in my heart for those babies. I’ve been guarded with my feelings for them because of the previous uncertainty with B. We’ve always had fun and done projects, they’ve always had stability and consistency with me, and I’ve always been interactive with them, but I’ve worked hard to keep my emotions in check with them. Watching the clouds cross the sky yesterday as I pondered all of the recent changes, I realized that B finally professing love for me subconsciously gave me permission to love his children.

 

In that moment, I thought to myself, “Man, I just love them so much…”