So Much on my Mind

Right now I feel like a could write a book. I’m no good at short versions of anything and so much has been churning inside of my head lately I wish there was a way to get it out as the thoughts happened and into the blog. It all seems so logical when I’m thinking of it, but when I go back to write it, so much seems to slip away and I end up not knowing where to start.

I felt like light bulbs have been turning on all over the place lately. I know it’s all tied up with my current situation in dating. I’m having a moment like I haven’t had in a very long time. My libido is back in full blast and it absolutely wreaks havoc on my good intentions to have better behaviors while dating.

The difference is – now I know it. And I realized I can do something about it. Maybe not the something some might prefer me to do (not drink, not have sex, not date kind of thing). I now realize if I decide to do the things I do, all I need to do is accept responsibility for what they are at face value and stop putting so much more time and wasted effort into wanting them to be more than they are

I’ve simply got to learn to accept that I can have sex, drink, be ridiculous and WALK AWAY once it’s over.

I’m going to stop feeling bad about myself after I make questionable decisions. Berating myself and becoming more anxious is serving no purpose. I need to own it.

The pressure my attachment anxiety puts on me in these dating situations has to stop. I’ve started having conversations with my anxiety similar to the way I would speak to Trixie if she ever materialized (god help us all).

Sound silly? Maybe. But if talking to myself is what it takes to own my behavior and course correct then so be it.

My dating cup is running over and I’m letting it. I feel like I’ve uncovered something big and want to see if I can put thought into practice.

My whole life has been spent looking for male approval. I didn’t get it from my father. I didn’t get it from husband. The first time I felt really and truly solid about myself the “approval” came from the wrong place (married men). In hindsight, I don’t know if that matters to what I have learned. I don’t think the man himself or the situations make any difference to what I took from them. In hindsight, I learned so much about myself and what I needed to feel good in relationship. If I had been more capable of controlling my emotions, these could have been all positive experiences. Maggie and Nichts recently have me thinking about how to reframe what I’ve been through and how I see my past. In all my recent writing about dating, and digging through my past, I finally realize I can stop needing a man to make me feel worthy.

I actually do feel worthy now. I feel alive and powerful more than ever in some ways (and weaker in others). Maybe I didn’t arrive at this place from the traditional “self-love” approach. Maybe I just filter things through my male-approval lens to understand them because that’s how I’ve always seen the world. I think I needed a solid round of decent dates, some quick turnover, some great sex as well as some rejection to realize I’m actually ok. It’s a normal cycle to be rejected one way or the other in dating. I never learned to accept it and still find myself worthy.

I realize I can. I can own the rejection and move past it. I can own the sex on first dates because I wanted it. I am doing my best balls-to-the-wall to push away the anxiety.

I don’t even know if I am making any sense. Like I said, it all sounded so solid and so crystal clear in my head and getting these thoughts into words has proven difficult.

I know I’m going to be fine. It doesn’t mean I won’t struggle with learning how to slow down, not push for more at the wrong time or with the wrong person. It doesn’t mean I won’t obsess a little or overthink situations. Those are just things I do. I just don’t need to overdo them.

Each man / situation gave me a light bulb moment this week so they will each get a post: Mike, Thomas and Charles (yup a new one!).

I can honestly say I’ve never had this kind of clarity around dating before. I feel like I’m seeing myself for the first time. Somehow I think I’m on the edge of something bigger that’s yet unidentified and in front of me. I feel in control in a way I have never experienced before.

It’s good to be on the edge. It’s liberating. It feels like Trixie level excitement without the crazy. Is that a thing?

I guess we are going to find out if it is or not. And hope I’m not feeding myself lip service.

Big Words: Desperation, Communication, Attachment (part 1)

Morning my friends!

Many thanks to all of you who take time to give me insight and advice. I always love the feedback, I never construe it as negative and, in general, unless you are consistently poking at me, I don’t take any offense.

In particular, Jana’s comment from last week resonated with me and I had vacillated between replying directly to Jana’s comment and writing a post reply.

Obviously the post reply won.

First and foremost Jana, thank you. I always appreciate everyone (my whole tribe of faithfuls: KDaddy, Sassy, Morava, Gone, Nich, Maggie, Ann, NBrat) who takes their own time to thoughtfully comment on my blog. It means a lot to me.

So here goes – not everything is in direct response to Jana’s post, but it’s where the seeds were planted for this post.

Quite some time ago, someone on my blog identified anxious attachment syndrome. The first time I heard that on my blog I didn’t know what it was, so I did some research. There is no question I have anxious attachment. Much later, when I went to my therapist, it was one of the first things she identified and wanted me to work on getting back to my inner child so I could determine why and where the anxious attachment syndrome started. I didn’t want to do that work with her at the time. My focus with her then was all about healing, letting go of Tony, learning to be a better parent and building back my confidence. We didn’t ignore the fact that my inner child was crying for help, we did talk about root cause often, but I struggled – and still do – with therapy that makes you go back to childhood to view situations you can not change. Especially when it involves my dead Mother. I do not want to change my perception of my mother because I can no longer discuss any of it with my mother.

I know I am not willing and not ready to take this backwards view. I may never be.

My therapist and I spoke about that. Would I forever be damaged if I didn’t find the roots and forgive myself and the people around me for why I developed anxious attachment? Would I be able to forgive a depressed and anxious birth mother for being miserable her entire pregnancy and affecting my gestational period? Would I be able to forgive my father for loving my mother So obsessively he accepted the fact she wanted children or she would leave him, so he conceded but had no desire to actually raise a family? Would I forgive my mother for the fact that she gave up her life to deal with a depressed and mentally unstable and demanding mother as well as a hyperactive child (who in the 70s was undiagnosed and considered “bad”). Can I forgive them?

Yes. I have already forgiven all of them.

Do I want to think about and try to better understand how those forces built an anxious attachment in me that was created in childhood and then cultivated over 22 more adult years in marriage?

No. I don’t.

I know I have anxious attachment syndrome. But I also believe, as did my therapist, I don’t have to go back to move forward.

I do have to learn my triggers, understand the signals my body gives me and stop neglecting the small voice that says “you are not enough and you deserve less”. Or, more often, “you’ve done something wrong.”

I think, if nothing else has ever come across clearly on my blog – the one thing that has always cut through is my direct and transparent honest about myself.

With that said, this blog is an actual real time blog. I blog entirely top of mind and you all get to look first hand at my craziness, happiness, depression, anger, joy, elation, confusion and frustration. I put it ALL right here in the best words I can find to share with you. I don’t edit myself. I write what I think and how I feel.

Does it come across as desperate many times? Yes.

I am not exactly desperate anymore. I’m sure of this. Do my words sound that way? Sure, I can see that.

But you get a birds eye view of how my mind is churning through every available path and avenue. The choices I can make. The roads I should and definitely should not travel. You’ve seen where Trixie (and her friend Tricia) live. You watch me fold and unfold and refold the same towel a thousand times – fueled by my nervous anxiety.

I felt I needed to be clear about where I am today. I am in a better place than I’ve ever been in my life. My life has taken the best path since February 11th, 200 days ago. I am a drug addict, I have to count the days my head stays straight on my shoulders and I continue to make better choices for myself. I know this.

Right now, I do not believe any man is going to derail me. Do I get sad and frustrated and angry and write about it in the moment? Yes, I do. Because you help me suss out things I didn’t want to see when I wrote the post. Coming back to the comments is like revisiting the crime scene. I have to go through the action again (in my head) in order to reply to thoughtful comments. When I do especially “bad” things – I write about it because it’s the last way I have to hold myself accountable. It reminds me I wasn’t listening to my better senses.

I loved my therapist. I think she did an amazing job in the time we had. I was a big fucking nut to crack in under 4 months. She cut across and gave me tools to manage my family, Tony, getting back to work and developing new relationships. I wish I had more time with her but – as life is – I don’t have the time or money to see a therapist. In place of that, I’ve been educating myself and consuming self-help books by the handfuls, like MMs. It would be ideal to have the resources I needed to stay in therapy for a good long while. It’s just not going to happen right now in my life. I have time for one dedicated “activity” outside of work – my choice is fitness over mental health (assuming there was a therapist who worked in the evening or weekends). This is my choice in life. I’ve learned not to swallow a whale right now. Trying to fit any more in (structure) is going to be too stressful for me. Therapy shouldn’t be stressful. But trying to find the time and money right now would cause even more anxiety. I am fully comfortable with my choice.

There are two very divided schools of thought about how to manage anxious attachment. I always thought this to be be super interesting because the tactics are so opposite one another. And you all definitely reflected the two schools of thought in the comments!

One thought is figure out how to love yourself first.

But the other is – practice. Date as many people as you can and practice identifying and managing the anxious attachment.

Do I love myself? I’m trying. I’m absolutely in the best place I’ve ever been. I consciously work on positive self talk and creating good habits. I will probably always struggle with some form of “I’m wrong, I’m not good enough or please love me and don’t leave me” but I am working on my three worst fears that create my anxiety. Am I desperate? No. I’m not. I experience desperation and rejection within the dating scene, but I am not desperate. I can be alone. I have filled my life with healthy and happy people and habits.

So, along with the agreement of my therapist, we discussed allowing me to practice managing the anxiety through dating. If it became overwhelming I was to stop. And I did – for short periods – if it wasn’t serving me. And now, twice in 200 days I had two back to back events I wrote about that got my goat and I became frustrated. I experienced the anxious attachment in its full form and for the first time in my life I RECOGNIZED my behavior and subsequently controlled it.

That’s a win in my book.

Should it be controlled from the start? Yes! I hope to make that happen. But in the meantime, I’m super proud I had maybe 2 24 hour periods where I worked through it and acknowledged what I felt. I sat with it.

post script: somehow, half this post was cut off and lost. I will try and re-create the second half tomorrow so I can address what I’ve discovered about communication.

How to go Slow?

I don’t know how to do this. I know this. You know this.

I also know it’s something I need to learn now. As in right now.

I have a potentially good thing right in front of me with Mike. I want it to stay that way without overwhelming it with intensity. Any good relationship I know, that lasts, doesn’t start in flames.

Is it already too late?

I question if I have ever had a normal relationship. Something I haven’t forced forward or have forced upon me – because of one or the others passions, jealousy or expectation. It’s sort of frightening as I think about it.

I just want normal. Like really normal. I’m not saying Mike has to be my forever or even long term. I just want a nice guy to date. something that looks like: He likes me, I like him, there is a level of trust and commitment (unsure what that means exactly but feels like it means I can expect him to always call the next day kind of thing and not have to worry he suddenly disappears overnight).

I guess the situation with John affected me more than I realize. Not John himself, he’s utterly irrelevant. The fact I met a man I could envision dating nicely and I allowed it to get carried away too fast.

So, what have I done any differently this time? I still had a too-long first date. We had passionate sex on dates 1 and 2. And….that’s it. Not saying it’s right or wrong but that’s a short list of potential errors for me. I’m normally over my head before date 1.

What’s more important is what I’m NOT doing this time. Communication is at his pace, which can be erratic. Ok, fine. I don’t love it but I am going with the positive self-talk and telling myself “he WILL check in.” I am not revealing every crack and crevice of myself such as my sexual history (we had a brief talk, nothing in depth, I kept it light). No talk of my surgeries or breakdown. No talk of my x or any affairs. Nothing REALLY important. Nothing HEAVY.

I read something about “Baggage Bonding” which means bonding over your previous issues with marriage or relationships.

On the other hand. We had sex. Multiple times. Unprotected sex. That needs a conversation. I know I’m not having sex with anyone else. I suppose I can simply say to him “wrap it up” if you plan to be having sex with others? He has repeatedly said he doesn’t want more than one woman. I don’t take that at face-value because I don’t KNOW him well enough. He may even mean it. But it’s too soon to expect he knows it’s what he wants with me.

I keep repeating to myself: Keep it light, Madeline. Let it develop naturally. Let it be healthy. Mike doesn’t need to satiate some deep hole within my soul, he is a lovely addition to a currently calm and balanced life. I’m doing my own soul work and I’ve been pretty successful in the past 6 months.

But how do you do this after you’ve had such hot sex the first two dates? How do you also get the simmer? Have I already jeopardized it?

I read some articles that all say “have a serious discussion” but this seems pushy to me. I don’t think I want a serious discussion, I just want to know if he wants more, or not. I don’t know how to ask.

And maybe all of it’s in my head and I’m already thinking too forward too fast.

I really just want to get it right for once.

Less Angry, More Thoughtful

After John I absolutely went into an angry swiping frenzy. Ended up speaking to too many men at once and got over it in about 24 hours. I know better.

What I learned over the weekend of angry swiping and needless chatting:

1. My match really needs to have been married with kids. I have yet to find one man who wasn’t that truly understands how important parenting is….unless they want their own family and then we are not a match anyway.

2. My match needs to be aligned socio-economically. I’ve spoken to a few teachers who have off the summer, earn lower-pay, and are generally less ambitious (not saying all, just the ones I’ve spoken to). I’ve been asked a couple times if the career and long hours made me happy. They just don’t understand corporate mechanics. I’m a 30 year corporate veteran, it’s partially what drove me to the success I achieved – there is never a good (or right) answer for “was it worth it.”

3. My match needs to have a desire for “more.” What’s more? I’m not exactly sure but I do know it means not complacent with what you have and where you are for the rest of your life. I’ve spoken to many who have their summer homes on a beach and that’s all they want to do with the rest of their lives – sit on a beach. That’s not for me. Ask me again when I’m 70.

4. On the other hand – My match can’t be hyper-active! I don’t ski, surf, hike, Climb mountains, SUP, scuba or CrossFit. I do exercise every day and have the energy and strength to do more active outdoor activities but I’m never going to be a go, go, go girl. Balance works best for me.

5. My match can’t be too obsessive about my “sexy, thin” body (a common comment pretty consistently now). When the clothes come off, the scars are real. I’m still not convinced it wasn’t what tipped John over the edge so quickly. The man needs to be committed to health and fitness, but not body obsessed. I have also noted that now that I have been with more fit men and am more fit myself, I am less tolerant of someone who doesn’t work out at all. I want to keep this practice so I need someone who is committed to it as well. My life has changed and fitness must remain an important part of my well-being.

6. The man needs to show interest and intellect pretty quickly. I perceive this as someone who knows how to balance a banter with serious questions and is interested in knowing about me and my life and how it matches with his own desires and interests. They will ask about my job, family and children unprompted. When the man is focused on my beauty and we don’t have anything in common, it always feels forced. I avoid the physical match like a plague now.

I’ve realized my long, long list of attributes pretty much shortens to these 6 things (excluding a physical attraction of some sort which always included height). If I can find these 6 things in the initial match and conversation, I will move on.

The other things I want like: kindness, emotional intelligence, travel, trust, honesty, respect and good sex all follow after meeting. I don’t try and dig for these things early in the conversation. If little hints don’t flow naturally, I become disengaged.

As I was thinking about this over the weekend, because I started up too many conversations, I realize that I am quickly drawn in by a natural conversationalist who is quite comfortable in their own skin. All the men I have liked, even a little, post Tony were very successful, ambitious men. I also realized all of them were serious athletes at some point in their lives – which creates that competitive edge I love so much. They were all extremely handsome -even if physically, all very different. And not necessarily handsome to everyone, but absolutely to me.

I have at least narrowed down the characteristics that I am initially attracted to. The ones who meet these criteria, but can’t or don’t back it up with humor and great conversation just fall off the radar.

So who did I speak to this weekend in my swipe craze?

1. Paul – I really liked so much about him, until he told me he was a recovering alcoholic. I actually thought about this for a while and considered if a person who had their own damage might somehow better understand mine…but then decided it wasn’t for me (I’ve been there already). Coupled with the fact that while he has lived apart from his wife for 3 years, he’s still married. We spoke and I sent a text as a follow up to disengage.

2. Eric – handsome and seemed positive until we moved to text. He is a teacher and more than once told me I had “a good life” and questioned if I was happy working the way I do. His text were so dry that it never got off the ground. He was also entirely inconsistent with his text and was boring.

3. Chris – haven’t written him off yet. Handsome (and big which I love!) and divorced several years with a daughter college age. We hit it off and moved to text. He would engage somewhat but never really got inquisitive. If he comes back for another round he will need to show he’s more interested. If not, that’s fine too.

4. Joe – just boring. Nice but boring.

5. Jeff – handsome and interesting but once we began talking and said he had 3 small children, I was out. No more ball games and carpools for me.

There were at least 3 others. All nameless in 24 hours.

I made my excuses to each of them and politely exited.

I am bummed about John and it’s eating me. I felt like “finally” someone! Yay me! And then, nope. Of course it leaves me questioning myself. And blaming myself. For 24 hours I almost let Trixie out to see the light but she never got far…I know my bad behavior (which is why I deleted John from every possible deceive systematically). I know I can not indulge my bad behaviors because it doesn’t really feel good. It’s a temporary fix.

There’s a part of me that is going full force with the negative self talk: it’s something about you they don’t like, you’re too pushy, you’re too relationship orientated, you’re scarred, you’re loud, you’re just it right and you’re not enough for me to want to stick around and get to know you better. I have not resolved this negative self talk and I don’t know how to – I do try, all the time, but inevitably when something like John happens, it comes out again in full force.

Being alone is wearing on me now, I admit. I just don’t think I’m built to be alone. But I am getting better at not wasting my time or anyone else’s with sheer nonsense. When I need the therapy I can’t afford I will write here, meditate, or listen to one of my self help books. I have plenty of down time to exercise and care for myself on weekends. I am focused on keeping myself as positive as possible, but this threw me for a loop – and the others I’ve dated didn’t have this affect on me.

Hinge

So I’m going to try a new dating app called Hinge. Tinder is too much for men who are not serious, Bumble is ok but I’m frustrated after John, and Match is downright disgusting.

So far, I like the app. You have to post 6 photos and there’s 3 questions to answer which can range from funny to serious. There is some required info and some additional info you can add. The filter system is overall better than the other apps. I’ve seen lots of new faces and some older ones from the other apps too. We shall see how it goes.

I’m not pining over John and it may sounded like more than it was since I wrote 3 posts, but it was no more than a good connection he’s not interested in pursuing. That sucks, but such is life.

What did I learn?

There is, in fact, another man similar to Tony in values, communication and behavior. I think that’s what caused the most excitement because he’s the first I found.

My boxes can be checked and I don’t have to compromise. However, it may mean a very long wait for another good man to pop up.

He reinforced that my physical “requirements” in a man are flexible if I feel like there is decent substance. He was 6’1″ but super narrow from his face all the way down – I have always preferred more meat on man. Sex was just fine with a small penis, because he was very good. It definitely isn’t as immediately pleasurable as it is with a larger penis and requires some additional work, but it was nice to learn that doesn’t need to be as heavily considered (and yes, I’ve had almost all large men in my life so I was a bit jaded.).

He was ambitious, kind, emotionally generous and fun. He was a great Dad. He travels often and love the lessons learned from travel. I know my list is long but somehow he checked all the right boxes in the right combination.

I agree too much texting and talking before a date is detrimental. But only because it seems the men can’t manage it – I love it and don’t see how it really matters. I also don’t agree in an immediate meeting without a proper vetting. So I will go back to making good choices and only move forward with the ones I really find appealing so I’m not wasting my time.

So here’s to hoping there are other Tony, Bobby’s and Johns out there who are ready for relationship. And that I can find them through all the flotsam and jetsam of the dating world.

Space to Breathe

Giving myself space to breathe is a really tough thing for me to do.

Why?

Because I laid in a bed or on a couch and stared at a wall or nonsense TV for 5 months straight. FIVE MONTHS.

I am seriously terrified my brain will talk me into going there again. Giving up. I equate rest with giving up now. I know that’s not a logical thought but that’s the thought.

I am trying to rewrite that thought because your body needs rest and recovery time to heal from intense workouts. I have started to change my body significantly, I can see the muscles and I know how much stronger I am.  I need to slow down before I burn myself out. Also, I’m still dropping weight and figuring out the right nutritional balance – I am in just the right place now to make changes for the NEXT 100 day commitment.

So here’s what I’m doing to try and get out of my own head as it relates to exercise:

1. Calendar Commitments

Write out my minimum exercise routine: duration, frequency and type. Buy a calendar and put in in writing so I can physically see it every day. It can be adjusted as necessary (it will be in pencil) but start with the schedule as planned. Make sure to include high intensity days as well as running.  Adjust every 2 weeks as necessary but try to keep a routine.

I joined a few challenges within my Peloton tribe and I won’t embarrass myself by not sticking with them – the only one I’m challenged with currently is finding more time to add in yoga. I may take off a cardio day and do yoga instead.

One of the goals I am committed to is my sisters wedding in November. I want fabulous arm definition by then and I have plenty of time to make that happen.

Track another 100 days. and commit to a consistent routine within that time.

My sons birthday is the 100 day mark – October 1st.  It seems years away at this point when I am only 7 days in!

2. Recover

Allow myself recovery time. Decide if there are actual off days that include only meditation or yoga and active recovery days that include walking or a low impact ride. Stop the guilt.

Summer is here and there will be days away from the bike, plan for them now.  I know I can’t commit to the bike or tread for the next 100 days, but I can commit to a Peloton activity on the app.

Don’t beat yourself up over missed days when your body or mind need them. On day 105 when I was being lazy (Memorial Day) I got on the bike and 10 mins in, I clipped out for the first time ever. I just didn’t want to. Tomorrow is another day. The difference now is that tomorrow will be a hard work day, period. No excuses. I know I will do this so I forgave myself the rest.

Did I have a good reason to rest on Monday? Not so much. I had been on a beach vacation and exercised a bit each day. Nothing intense but I didn’t skip. When I came home I just wanted the day off even though I didn’t have anything special to do. I took the rest day and just decided I didn’t feel guilty about it. I wrote some blog posts instead! I already know which exercises I have to accomplish for tomorrow and I don’t have anything special on deck, so I will get right back on track.

It’s the thinking I have to change.  I did get on the bike and clipped in, and rode for 10 mins.  I would have been better served doing 10 mins of restorative Yoga.

Why is this such a issue? Because I told myself I would do better month over month. In my head, better meant more time and more miles March and April were like beast mode for me so when I looked at May, I was instantly disappointed with my time and mileage because it was so much lower. I need to acknowledge that my output (strength) was higher, so I am getting stronger in each workout even if there are less workouts. I am still angry at myself for May though, so I better dig deep to find the right balance that I am not chastising myself over at the end of the month.

So this is a tough one, commit to 100 days AND commit to resting when my body needs to rest.  Finding this balance is going to be tough for me as I tend to be all or nothing.

3. Practice

Meditate several nights a week and continue reading or listening to self-help books. Begin to reduce useless social media scrolling or limit it to coffee time in morning.

Encourage others as you like to be encouraged – that means intentionally posting positive vibes in my group pages and participating in group events on the Peloton. This was such a positive experience for me in my first 100 days I don’t want to let it slide!

Practice being positive with the kids – how can they benefit from what I’ve learned without thinking it’s totally corny? Practice keeping my cool but still getting them to do what needs to be done in their lives. Learn how to partner with them.

Forcing myself back to reading or listening to self-help books is a good addition in the next 100 days.  I had fallen into way to much social media.  I do consider my Peloton social media to count as self-help because it’s all positivity and exercise centric.  Reading about others real life challenges and successes is very motivating and reminds me I have a massive tribe behind me.

 

So, thats the next 100 days….I believe I am committed to do it!  It will be interesting to see what tricks my mind is going to play when I get back to work – which I expect to happen before the end of June, at least a freelance role.  I think thats’ my next biggest challenge up ahead.

No More Excuses – 100 Days of Action

I did it!

On Wednesday, May 22nd I completed 100 days of commitment to creating a healthier life. I beat myself up over 5/6 missed days, but the truth is, I never missed a day of trying – I may have meditated or done yoga those days because I wasn’t well, but I didn’t actually just skip a day entirely. In hindsight, it’s not the days I missed that I was worried about – it was not keeping my promise to myself.

I’ve been reading and listening to some great self-help books lately and one of the statements that stuck out to me was “why do you keep breaking promises to yourself?” I hate breaking a promise to anyone else, but I will give up on myself almost immediately. Well, that stops now. I am putting myself first – and while that might sound selfish to my children the fact is that if I care for myself well, then I can care for them better than I have been.

I have done a really poor job of taking care of myself. When things get rough, I bury myself under piles of work. It took being out of work for 9 months to realize how unhealthy that was. I wasn’t doing anyone a favor. Corporations don’t care. I was burning gas I didn’t have and they weren’t getting the best from me and my job took way too much of my family life from me. I can’t go back to change that now, but I sure can affect what happens go forward.

So here’s what I’ve learned in my 100 days. It’s actually quite simple, unfortunately. There really is no way around it – and not one person said any differently. Everyone’s advice was quite similar:

“You must take action to move forward. “

Sounds so practical, right?

You can’t get where you want to be by wishing for it. Or waiting for it. You have to put in the work. One foot in front of the other, just like that. Again, and again, and again.

“No one else can do it but you. “

No one gets you out of bed or off the couch every day. Only you can help yourself. Get up and get started, Lady. Every. Damn. Day. Show up for yourself.

“Build the habits, slowly, step by step.”

That was a big one. Finally releasing my big-old-type-A personality to do something slowly and steadily, Day after day. Not jumping right into 2 hours of exercise every single day forever, but building up to what felt right, and adding in more as I became stronger. Honestly, I have never been so surprised by waking up thinking: what am I going to do for my exercise today? Now it happens regularly and I feel off when I don’t exercise, even if it’s just a little, very day.

“Just do it. No secret sauce.”

Nike has it right. There is no other way. Stop letting your brain give you all the reasons not to do something and just do it.

“Practice Gratitude”

Wake up every day thankful you opened your eyes. You GET to do this, you don’t have to do this. Life is a privilege so start acting that way.

I needed to replace the negative thoughts with good ones. Consistently and repetitively. How did I do this? I practiced.

I reminded myself over and over.

Long ago, more than one person suggest I meditate. I tried it and blew it off as not for me. This time, I kept trying. I practiced meditation the same way I practice my exercise. I show up and try over and over. Some days I’m more distracted than others but practice makes progress and it’s sinking in. Meditation is simply a way to focus your mind.

I realize I have never actively trained my mind to focus quietly. Sure, I can focus on projects, peoples, conversations etc. I’m good at active focusing – actually I’m so good at it I get addicted and obsessed when I’m super interested. But this is different. This is learning to focus my mind, guide my thoughts, in a positive and purposeful way. I’m retraining my brain and that takes practice. It may take me forever, but hey, I’ve got all the time in the world!

I really like meditation when I let it work for me and concentrate on the guidance. I notice I can apply some of the practice when I’m not meditating – slow down and pay attention to what I’m feeling, where I’m feeling it, why did that feeling come up? If that emotion is not serving me purpose in that moment, I can attend to it later, but for now, learn to package it up and put it away so I can focus on whatever it is I should be focusing on. I also remind myself that my thoughts are not what define me – my actions are. So if I have negative thoughts, I must act with kindness and positive intent. In order to do that, I have to stop and think “is what I’m about to say or do going to be kind? Is it necessary? What do u want to accomplish and how am I going to hold myself accountable?”

I obviously cannot do this when I allow Trixie to get hold of a nuclear bomb and annihilate everything in the way. I need to do this in order to avoid ever getting to such an utter loss of self-control again. I will say one thing about Tony as it relates to this: I do not feel regret for telling his wife. I cannot exactly explain why I felt I “had” to do what I did – but that needed to happen for me for whatever reason. I am sorry it made it so I can never, ever reconnect with Tony again but there are times when I think that might be the reason I threw the nuclear bomb – so I COULD never reconnect with him. I’m not pleased with myself that I hurt a woman who never did anything to me, and part of me knew there was nothing I was going to say or do that would make her want to leave him. I’m not trying to make an excuse, just laying out my thought process. My goal is no more nuclear bombs ever in my life. For any reason.

I threw 3 of them last year. One to destroy my job, one to destroy that relationship and one to almost take my life. I never want to revisit that feeling again so it means I have to actively retrain my brain how to speak to me. That all started with my healthy and positive commitment to my 100 days journey.

So how did I complete my 100 day journey? I had a fabulous exercise day with Peloton with my favorite trainers. I publicized my ride on social media so I rode with many Pelo-peeps who support and encourage throughout the ride and my output was actually a personal record. I bought those huge Mylar number balloons for “100” and took a photo and posted it all over social media. And then, well then I went and got a tattoo! I had been thinking about it for a while so this was my gift to myself. I got the Sanskrit word for “strength” tattooed on my wrist. I never thought I would get a tattoo but I love it! I had polled my family and friends on several words that resonated with me and that’s the word they most closely associated with me. It hurt like crazy but it carries a lot of significance and meaning to me, and reminds me of the fire I walked through to get here.

Bitter Envy

I’ve identified a feeling that’s more deeply seated than I realized and I’m not sure how to work through this one. This is when I wish I could afford the therapist.

I realize I am very, very envious of Tony’s life. One of the reasons I can’t seem to let go is I identified with his life as the life I always wanted.

I don’t know exactly how this came to be, but it hit me hard last night. Add that to the list of horrid traits I have.

Tony has everything I want. It’s making me crazy that I don’t, or can’t, have it and it’s right there embodied in one human. How is that even possible? He works for a company I am proud of and thrilled to be a part of as a consumer. He’s respected and intelligent in the workplace. His children love and adore him and he is willing to lay his life on the line for his family. He liked all the same things I liked, including travel. He was a fantastic lover and communicator and oh so kind and gentle. He cared for me and looked after me.

I hate that I still feel bitterness over my divorce and my poor choice of a husband. My x never gave me what I needed, nor could he – but I didn’t or wouldn’t realize this until so many years later. I don’t exactly feel like I’ve wasted time because I have my family, but because we can’t even parent together, I feel the lack of cohesive family painfully. When I look at Tony’s, or other families that function lovingly, I really feel serious and deep envy.

Compared to the Summer of ’16 when I really thought I had it all – the kids seemed to be adapting to our lives well, I was at the start of a love affair, and being offered what I considered to be my penultimate job. I have actually now accepted my job will change and I have become ok with that. I am so confident in my abilities that it will work out. But when it comes to love and my kids, maybe I lack confidence and it’s why I feel envy and regret?

I did feel like a complete failure last summer, which led to the series of events bringing me to Mexico. But, in hindsight, it was coupled with envy and regret. My lover was leaving to live a life he loved and chose over me, and (all of) my kids were not the loving children I thought I raised them to be. These two things I haven’t fully dig deep enough to eradicate. I still feel pain from these things. And I think it stems from being envious that he is the embodiment of the life I wish I had. I believe it must raise my biggest internal fear that I am inadequate.

What are the chances (and why) that one person can have everything you want so exactly? I don’t truly covet many material things (well, I am a little bit bougie) – but a good life with a loving family and partner who cares for me first – that’s all I’ve ever wanted. I’ve always said his life was perfect and I mean perfect for me.

It’s less so about comparing my life to his. I don’t think I have a bad life and I do feel pride (on some level, I should probably learn to feel more honestly) of all I have accomplished. I just look at his life and wish it was how mine played out (minus the cheating husband). Why am I counting his blessings while ignoring my own? How do I remember to be grateful for my accomplishments and my family without feeling envy for what I don’t have? Is it because I saw it and tasted it for myself – I know it’s out there in human form and I can’t have it? It’s not a vanity thing, not something outward – it was his ability to love so wholly and envelope the people he loved the way he did. I’ve never been part of something like that.

And since I’m spilling my guts I also have to admit to texting him from a burner yesterday and asking him to speak. He didn’t reply. As bad as that is, it could have been worse since I was at Peloton for a studio ride and could have gone to his floor (I’m sure I could find him if I went looking). Trixie peeked out, but was seriously chastised by my better self being afraid of utter rejection if I saw him face to face.

I know talking about Tony is like vomit. But this is my safe space while I am without therapy and I can’t speak it out loud anymore. Even I want to knock myself over the head. It’s been 2 years since he stayed in his marriage and a year since I’ve seen him. But, I always say, better out than in – and these ugly thoughts have to come out.

I am learning meditation and yoga. And, as I mentioned yesterday, I do wonder how people who are great coaches always have the best positive self-talk. It just ALWAYS feels false to me. I can do it for a bit then I’m exhausted because it doesn’t feel genuine. Maybe that’s why I’m not the best parent? Maybe I don’t encourage and instill enough confidence because I’m so negative? I always try and out my kids first but feel like they take complete advantage of me rather than love and adore me for it. Do some people just win the patent lottery? (I actually don’t believe that – I do believe Tony and Kelly are excellent parents and they reap what they sowed so that’s why it bothers me more….I clearly did not sow the right seeds).

My kids say I blame everyone and everything else for my problems? Do I? Do I look outward instead of inward? I thought (and so did the therapist) that I was pretty good at identifying my pitfalls and the error of my ways. Their Dad is a master of telling them that I never accept blame. I will admit I am very good at getting away from it and directing blame elsewhere for many things, but I don’t think I shy away from the important things. I would love to be able to say that my kids and my unhappy home life is all because of my x and his poor parenting skills. But he can’t take all the credit, nor have I ever assigned it all to him. I would love to be able to identify why my home/family life isn’t what I hoped/dreamed it would be. I even shied away from blaming my parents in therapy for the way I was raised and what, most likely, created the girl who never felt good enough. I can see the reasons I feel inadequate and I can sort of understand how those would lead to being envious of Tony’s life – but how do I stop wishing it was mine? (just to be clear – I don’t wish I was his wife or replacing his wife – this is much more figurative than that)

One of these days I will figure out why I can’t let go and learn to love what I have along with loving myself. I just don’t know when.

Who Is That Person?

Slowly, very slowly, I have been easing myself back into the real world and acknowledging I don’t have much longer to subsist on liquid assets and have to earn an income. Oh joy.

My time is running out quickly. March 1st was the internal deadline I set for myself to have a job and start being fit. That gave me a full 6 months of healing. I have done absolutely nothing in the way of fitness and believe me I have all the time in the world as well as an expensive Peloton Bike. I have, however, started the gears going on my job search.

Luckily, I have a good outplacement service paid for by previous employer. I had a slow start as I was confused about how to search for a role that pretty much doesn’t exist anymore. It wasn’t until my resume rewrite was complete that I realized I had to change the way I was thinking about transferable skills as well as what I may want to achieve in my next role.

My resume writer is very strong, definitely better than the one I had in 2014. We speak on the phone and she gives me suggestions about how to finesse my thoughts on my brand (me). I realized through research what was bothering me about my old resume. The resume appeared to say “I did this” and then “I did more of this” and finally “I did a lot more of this” without really highlighting my soft skills that have been quantifiable from my previous role. I was solely focused on my technical skills as I had been in the past, and many of those are actually not transferable skills. But, soft skills are hard to quantify – everyone can state “influential and dynamic” in writing, but I had actually influenced change and created a dynamic process and team – I had quantifiable achievements that can be considered highly valuable in another area.

So we talked through what was on my mind, I made some bullet points for her to use as specifics and a jumping off point to refine and wordsmith to create my brand and we had a blueprint to a new resume focus.

The resume that came back was fascinating! It took me more than a few minutes to digest that it was, perhaps, me. It felt uncomfortable at first. I sent it to a few close peers and received back “sounds just like you, Mads!” Even when I questioned them “isn’t that too over the top? Do I really do these things? do you receive me as a Visionary Leader?” their answers were always “yes, that’s you now.”

Ummmmmm, ok. Humbled.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I haven’t had many moments of true happiness and confidence in 9 months. I got the iceberg in January of 18, but I really didn’t begin to sink until April of 18. Once I took on water, I went down fast from April – September. By September I had given up all hope and just wished for a painless exit. We all know I wasn’t granted my wish, God has a higher purpose for me. I didn’t experience any lasting moments of Joy from April through November, it seemed as if one more difficult, trying or miserable thing just kept happening and I was helpless to affect the outcome.

Regardless if Rob is never apart of my life, the Thanksgiving Football Party with my family, friends and Rob brought me a great deal of happiness for the first time in what had felt like forever. The feeling continued for some time and was the first glimpse that I could move forward. I had another lovely burst of joy around a holiday party with my family, sans a man, but it didn’t have the same lingering effect as the first. My life isn’t entirely devoid of happy moments, they just seem to fade very quickly at this time.

The resume was the second instance of lingering confidence and joy, and this didn’t happen until January. You will all be pleased to note this had nothing to do with a man! Reading the new view of myself elevated my confidence level to the moon and back. But then the doubts crept in – was that really me? Could I do it? Did I want to do it? Do I want to work that had to achieve? Was I presenting an imaginary version of myself?

I knew I could do it if I put my mind to it, but my mind isn’t necessarily in working order these days.

I also know I need to be consistent with positive thoughts and put my statements out into the universe, repeat them and bring the positive energy and light back unto me. I do believe in this, but putting daily mindfulness into practice has always been difficult for me.

I chose to take a webinar about bulletproof confidence. I need to invest in myself and do more mindfulness, but the hours of doing nothing still seem to slip by. The therapist says I will get there, but I’m beginning to get worried that I’m buried in cement as I can’t seem to maintain the effort.

What am I so afraid of?

The glimpses come and they are wonderful and enlightening, but I cannot sustain them. Maybe I am just too afraid of flying high and failing all over again: making promises I can’t actually keep because I’m a fraud?

A failed relationship, a failed career and parenting fails out the whazoo. I’m tired of picking myself up off the ground only to find myself here again, but my total lack of desire to even try this time is frightening, even to me.