…so is dating, life and all the other things we do in waking hours. But self-love…that’s going to kill me. Not really… it won’t actually “kill” me…but it is causing me to realize that I never truly practiced it before. Choosing yourself over someone else may be easy for a narcissist …but for an empath its one of the hardest things to learn – and I don’t know if it ever becomes easy.
Its been almost 2 years since I took back control of my life after a very unhealthy marriage. During that time I have healed from so many things and learned more about myself than I ever knew in my 4 1/2 decades of life to this point. I found a real appreciation for the relationships I hold dear – with my kids, family and friends. But the best relationship I forged was with myself. I started viewing myself as I would my best friend. I began asking myself “What advice would you give your BFF if she were telling you this story about her?” I started wondering why I was so willing to accept being treated badly or not taking care of myself when I wouldn’t want that for someone else that I loved. How could I fight so fiercely for another person that I cared about when they were being mistreated… but justify chance after chance after chance to someone who was hurting me on a regular basis? As it turns out, in the past – I didn’t really love or respect myself much, especially when you consider my history with people who also didn’t love or respect me.
I thought that simply standing up for myself was self-love…but defending myself in the absence of action was nothing more than an unmonitored alarm… it makes a lot of noise but no one takes it seriously after no consequences show up. I always said NO MORE – but stood right in the same place…and more always came.
So the past 18 months has been spent putting myself to the test when it comes to actual self-love. Establishing defined boundaries for what I will and will not accept from myself and others and then following through when life tests me. Folks…its not easy. And its an excruciating task for an empath… someone who hurts when others hurt.
A few months ago I started getting serious about meeting new people with the intention of possibly finding a relationship companion. Although I have certainly dated in the past and been in long term relationships – I have never (until now) embarked on the venture with the knowledge I have today about who I really am, honest self-love, defined boundaries, personality dynamics and most importantly, what I truly want out of a relationship. In the past I was just out there going crazy with anyone I was attracted to that also wanted to go crazy. And in the end what I ended up with – was a lot of crazy. This time its very different… and if I’m honest – somedays I secretly wish for the blissful oblivion that I used to operate under. Sometimes I meet people who are right on so many levels – and I wish so badly I didn’t notice the red flags.
Red Flags & Boundaries
For me, red flags aren’t necessarily a deficiency in another person. In most cases, a red flag is simply a behavior or trait that pushes against a personal boundary that I have for myself, like an age difference outside of my range or someone who likes to go to the clubs a lot. Nothing wrong with them – it’s just not right for me. In other words…my boundaries are for me to honor – not someone else.
Whether its a simple difference in wants or needs, or its a glaring personality deficit … self-love requires that you pay attention and act on your own behalf with conviction, regardless of how much you “wish” things were different.
Trial & Error – Necessary but Sucks
I read a meme the other day that said;
“If you’re not serious about dating, get off of dating apps.”
Wow. But I get it. In fact, I have heard some version of that from several people that I have chatted with, met, had a 2nd or 3rd date with or even explored something more serious for a while. As soon as its clear that its not a fit… all of a sudden I get accused of not being fair or serious. Seriously? How about – I will decide what “serious” means to me.
Look, I’ve been there… and not that long ago actually. About a year ago, I met someone I really felt a connection with. He was probably the funniest person I had ever met, quick witted and playful. He was handsome and easy to be around. His kisses left me light headed and I always looked forward to seeing him again the next time. In my mind, we were headed for a relationship and he had expressed that was what he wanted too. And then, it was over, with no explanation. I was disappointed, but I tried not to take it personally. I wished he had told me why, although in the end it didn’t really matter – I was completely myself with him… so if it was something I did or didn’t do, there was nothing to change. But I never thought he wasn’t serious during our time together – immature about the way he ended it -yes…but I know he was serious, until something happened that told him it wasn’t a fit. I still found respect for his decision – unspoken as it was.
Everyone is looking for something – some have longer lists than others but no one is just out there saying yes to everyone- every time. Some people are figuring it out as they go – like I have done in the past. And some know very clearly what they are looking for and are not willing to settle for less. The hard part is that at least for a little while, you have to get “serious” – submit to the process of getting to know someone – risk possible feelings for someone – before you or they really know if its right. That’s tough, for everyone when it doesn’t work out.
So the next time you meet someone that you really like or feel a connection with – and they don’t feel the same… pause before you take it personally or accuse them of not being serious. Sometimes you just don’t know what people are going through and what kind of promises they have made about happiness, self-love and being true to themselves.
I am in a constant battle in my mind to self-protect or to be vulnerable enough to allow someone to love me… because the truth is you can’t fully achieve both at the same time. Being vulnerable is being open… and that means anything can get in – including bad people cleverly masked as angels sent from Heaven. That’s how it happened to me… and only God could help me when the mask came off.
I honestly didn’t think I would ever be able to get out, even though I knew it was killing me to stay. It was like a drug that I just couldn’t detox from – and I tried over and over only to find myself back in the abuse cycle time and time again. Its designed that way.
As many of you know, I did get out – for good. For nearly 2 years now I have methodically pieced back together the shards of my life. It looks different now but thats all part of it I guess. I am different and so much smarter & stronger than I was before. My relationships with family & friends are based on love & mutual respect – deep caring and connection. I am learning to trust myself and others again – slowly, very slowly. And I am so incredibly proud of myself for powering through towards a light -that at times I just had to believe was there – because I couldn’t see it. It was always there, because it was always me.
But even with all the progress and obstacles overcome… I am finding it difficult to love a man again. Somedays I wonder if I can anymore – fully & deeply and without fear. During this past year, I have met and walked away from people who probably would have been amazing companions – because at the first sign of feelings… I bail. I kid myself by conjuring all kinds of excuses about why it won’t work – and that I am just saving time and trouble by walking away sooner rather than later. But the truth is… I am scared to death … that I will fall in love with another abusive person and not be able to save myself next time because I am already too deep in love to leave.
Been there… done that.
I’ve been dipping my toe in the dating waters but I never got too deep… until I finally figured it out. Self-worth is my life jacket. My ability to put myself first, honor my own boundaries and practice self-love is really all I need to protect myself from another abuser…and trust me – they are out there. I have met a few and all those red flags I ignored in the beginning of my past toxic relationship… I see them in live-living color now. The difference today is, I don’t stick around to watch them shredding in the wind thinking “I can fix that.”
Self Love … Better Late Than Never
I don’t believe that “most” people set out to abuse someone, not that it makes the abuse any less horrific. I do believe that abusive personalities share very similar traits and operate along very narrow lines not often deviating from textbook behaviors. I spent a lot of time reading, learning and researching about the type of abuse I was dealing with – and educating myself equally as much about my own personality traits and internal deficiencies that lead me to become entangled in such a mess of insanity with another human being. I most certainly played a huge role in my toxic relationship – especially considering that without me – it wouldn’t have existed at all. If I had loved myself more when I met him… I would have seen with clear eyes that this person had no ability to do anything but hurt me… because hurt people – hurt people. 100% true folks. One of the biggest lessons in life – which I unfortunately learned very late… “I CAN’T FIX PEOPLE.”
When We Know Better – We Do Better
These days, I trust myself more & more. I no longer ignore those feelings that our bodies use to tell us “danger ahead” or “something is off about this” -we all possess the ability to protect ourselves but it’s a skill to be honed with practice and conviction. No less important – I no longer worry that I am “missing” a toxic sign, which brings me a lot of peace as I am getting to know new people. I trust that I know what I need to know to do what’s best for me.
Put YOURSELF on the List- AT THE TOP
My feelings, pain, happiness desires & fears, are equally important to anyone else’s and when we truly believe that – we become whole all by ourselves and that makes us 1000 times better as a partner to someone else, should we chose that. The trouble is – growing up we weren’t taught to love ourselves, we were taught to love others – but both are necessary for true health & happiness.
This is what self-love looks like in action.
I don’t like it when you do that. *With no further explanation.
Thank you but I’m not interested. *And walk away.
I love you. *To ALL the people you hold dear to your heart – & often.
Yes, I could use some help with that. *And allow it to happen.
This isn’t working for me. *Without guilt
My priorities are not negotiable. *And mean it.
I want to spend time with you. *Without fear of rejection.
I am not taking advice on the matter right now. *Trust yourself
Yesterday Sadie and I ran into HEB before we set out for our afternoon swimming and visiting with friends at their house. We were running a few minutes late already so by the time we got back to the car – we really needed to get going.
We loaded our things in the backseat and I jumped in to start the car & AC…it was blazing hot. Thats when I saw “him”. Or at least I am pretty sure it was him.
Who is “him” you ask? Those who know me are saying RIGHT NOW…. “Wait – what…?? There was a “him?”
Yes, there was a “him.”
“He” was brief, but in a few short weeks – he gave me back literally years of my life. Years that had been stripped away after neglect, mistreatment and infidelity. Years that had caused me to forget what it felt like to be looked at with want & touched with love & care. Years that had been lost to a toxic cycle of ups and downs…”he” helped me get off the crazy merry-go-round and open my eyes to the kind of treatment, happiness and bliss that I had forgotten I deserved. He reminded me what I was supposed to feel like when that “spark” is real.
About A Year Ago
Just about a year ago I reluctantly went on a date, one that I almost canceled because I just wasn’t in the mood to sit with another person and blah blah about how many kids we had and what we did for work. I was over the superficial small talk and awkward gazes across the table that typically come with a first encounter.
I was on the phone with a friend all the way on my drive to our agreed destination, she was pep-talking me to be positive and just enjoy myself. “Yeah, yeah….I know – I will I promise.” I told her as I rolled my eyes – knowing that she couldn’t see me doing it. I circled the block twice, then finally pulled into a parking space in front of the restaurant and just sat there staring at the 3 concrete stairs and 7 steps it would take to arrive at the door. The only thing that stopped me from backing out and leaving – was knowing how guilty I would feel if I canceled while he was already sitting at a table waiting for me. So, I shut the car off – checked my face – took a deep breath and did what I do best… power through as if nothing in the world was wrong.
You Can Do This
I sort of knew what he looked like, from the 1 photo he had posted on his dating site profile. Oddly though, I had never heard his voice which is something I usually require before meeting someone. Too many times I have sat across the table from a man who could have been a voice-over for Micky Mouse and I have to say, thats a total dealbreaker for me. This time however, we had scheduled to meet quickly after our online encounter and I never took the time for a phone call. All these unknowns were making me antsy and I just kept telling myself – “It’s just dinner – an hour – 2 tops, you can do this.”
I pulled open the door to the bar area of the restaurant and quickly glanced down the row of bar-top tables… and there “he” was… already looking at me and smiling. I literally felt all my stress and nervousness vanish and before I knew it – a smile broke across my face that I couldn’t have hidden if I tried. I reached the table in a few more steps and took my seat after a sweet hug from “him.”
I wish I could tell you what we talked about… but I have no idea. I do know that we sat and talked for hours, ordered food and drinks and just enjoyed each other. There was no awkwardness or weird conversation pauses. We shared our love for various types of art and creativity and somewhere in there I realized that even though instant connections are rare – they are still possible because I was living it in that moment.
I’m Going To Kiss You Now
We left the restaurant as they were closing for the night and walked around the block to a pub where a live band was playing. And somewhere in there he said “I am going to kiss you now….” and he took my face in his hands and kissed me… he kissed me like a man should kiss a woman. I can’t remember before that evening – ever feeling able to release the “front” I keep up – you know….the one that says “I’m tough – you’re not going to get over on me – I don’t need anyone.” – yeah that one. But that night and for the next several weeks – it was no where to be seen.
Ooohhh This Is What It’s Supposed To Feel Like
For reasons that aren’t relevant to this story, our time together ended after a couple of months. I quite literally thanked God for bringing this man into my life & felt zero regret about meeting him. I knew that it wasn’t meant to last forever – God brought him to me temporarily to remind me of what it is supposed to feel like when someone comes along that is good, caring, filled with integrity and mostly to assure me that real connection is not a myth – it does and will happen when it’s supposed to. The parting hurt but not in the same way as when my marriage ended after years of toxic behavior.
I remember thinking “Ooohhh….THIS is what it’s supposed to feel like when you break up.” It’s a loss – yes…but its not supposed to feel like withdrawal from a horrible drug. And it didn’t. I was clear headed – and wished him nothing but happiness and peace in his life.
I have never seen him again…
I Knew It Was Him In An Instant
As I backed out of my parking space – I saw him walking in the isle in front of me. I knew it was him in an instant. His cool hair, his broad shoulders and the way he walked. I wanted to jump out of my car and run to him just to say hello – but I didn’t. I watched him walk towards the store and tried to decide if I should turn my car away from him or towards him just to get one last look. I drove away and let the memories of our time together flood back through my mind. I know God arranged that “almost” chance encounter for a reason – not sure what that is yet but I am looking forward to finding out. Possibly to bring those lessons I learned back to the forefront of my mind so they will be fresh for the next person He brings my way…
The sea of online dating websites these days is big enough to drown a whale. We all know the 3 or 4 that spend massive amounts in advertising but did you know there are also THESE gems to fish around in as well?
CougarLife.com (I can almost sign up for this one)
BlackPeopleMeet.com (There was also a WhitePeopleMeet.com – but it was deemed racist)
FarmersOnly.com (don’t tell the goat!)
GlutenFreeSingles.com (I’m assuming there is also vegansingles.com, tidepods.com & ieatanything.com)
Trump.dating (I DID NOT make that up!)
AmishDating.com (I’d do it for the furniture)
Ohhhh yes people… if you are ALIVE – there is an online dating website painfully specific to YOU!! Clowns? Yep! –Want to be peed on? Yep! — Into Mullets? Yep!
If you have ever been on an online dating website, you know that the first thing you’re tasked with (ok the 2nd – they make you pay first) – is choosing a username or handle. Kill me now. I just use my initials – because, well honestly thats as much about me as I am willing to put out there but at least its actually “me.” I don’t date much, and I am pretty sure these sites are why…I just can’t get with the program I guess. Hopefully though, I can share some funny stories and we can all get at least some value out of the subscription cost.
There is one site in particular that will “randomly” choose a name FOR you if your creative juices just aren’t flowing on the spot and you need to get on in there and find your Cupid. There are only so many variations of the handful of words the name generator uses so it becomes painfully obvious very quickly that this was not a unique or inspired username. For instance;
Surprisingly Loyal: at some point he realized that he was loyal AFTER ALL!
Very Brave: but not completely...see below
Completely Brave: how can he be sure? (He hasn’t met me yet)
Monstrously Sweet: I am picturing Sulley
Royally Huggable: like the opposite of Queen Elizabeth…oh I get it!
Surprisingly Funny: again with the surprises… did he not already KNOW he was funny?
Brilliant Ride: I’d say that “I’ll be the judge of that”…but I won’t – say it or be it.
Certainly Clever: says who?
Merrily Outdoorsy: aka gay lumberjack
Really Clever: as in lying, cheating and such? he’s probably not nearly as clever as he thinks…
Passionately Smart: I got nothing here – except disappointment and skepticism
The list of the generated names goes on endlessly… and I just see those names and think – wow – this person couldn’t even be bothered to come up with a name that will be their first impression on their profile. NEXT.
These are the ones people actually make up for themselves…I honestly don’t know which is worse – the random or the intentional.
All Man & Amazing: There is something to be said about confidence…but I won’t say it.
It Is What It Is: This fills me with so much optimism about this person.
Happy Gilmore: I wonder if they have actually ever seen this movie? Not a great image to project.
Pain Killer: Tip: dating profile names with the word “KILLER” anywhere in the mix…bad idea.
Slacker: Honesty at its finest.
Camping,Fishing: Keep it simple stupid.
RULKN4SUMTRBLE2GETN2: It took me 24 minutes to figure out what that said.
The Naked Gardner: I was excited at first…and then I noticed his age… 67
55goingOn40: aka IamIMMATUREforMYage
I’llBEyourSCORE: you’ll be my forfeit
A Breed Apart: from what???
Limitless Blessings: Seems a little blasphemous…
The ONE: LIES… all lies
Nice Guy: If I had a dime…
Waiting 4U: make yourself comfortable
Anonymous & Hiding
When people want to “sniff around in the dark” (so to speak)…you see a lot of this;
If you can’t read between the lines ^^^ those should say “iAMmarried” – and those folks should be looking into Ashley Madison for their kicks.
Why do we do it? I ask myself that question all the time. For me, I think its entertainment mostly plus a great resource for good blog topics, I could probably write off the expense of the subscriptions now that I think about it. I have met some really nice people, and a couple of jerks but mostly just busy people like me who don’t have much opportunity for adult interaction beyond the workplace. (And I use the term “adult” loosely – regarding most work places I know of.) When you are grown, have kids, a job, responsibilities and are just plain tired…what else are you going to do to meet people? So we sign up, log in and stare at the “sea of faces” in hopes that someone might say something funny or ridiculous so we can at least get a little chuckle as we scroll. What kind of funny stuff have you seen online? Tell me!
2018…seeing that number in print is still so surreal. Referencing years that begin with “20__” is the stuff that futuristic movies were made of when I was a kid. Although I am glad that I am still alive and well in what I thought would be “the space ages” …I have to admit, I am sorely disappointed that cars don’t fly yet & we still can’t have a summer home on the Moon. But 2018 will go down in my history as one to remember for sure. 2018 Also brought the birth of Miss Perfect Mess (aka Me)
After a lengthy separation from my husband that began in May 2016 & a handful of what I thought were attempts to reconcile – February 2018 brought the “incident” that would finally end the insanity. The very next day… I woke up, picked up my pieces and headed into the rest of my life with eyes wide open, no regrets and a little girl who would prove to be one of the best friends I’ve ever had.
In 2009 when my daughter came into the world, I never imagined that in a few short years – I would become a single Mom again. I thought my family & marriage were strong and my intentions were to glide off into the future making perfect memories without a worry in my mind. [REAL LIFE – enter stage left]
In February 2018, at 8 years old – my daughter had to learn a tough life lesson. As hard and long as I tried to save her from it – sometimes families get rearranged. She didn’t know then & neither did I…but we would soon become each other’s most important allies.
We would console, support and get to know each other on a whole new level. I am still certainly her Mother, her parent and she…the child, but there are times now when we are real friends. We encourage and lean on each other in ways that have strengthened both of us as people.
Last week, we both were sick. I couldn’t go to work and she couldn’t go to school. We stayed home and snuggled for the first couple of days and then my daughter started getting better. I got worse. While I rested and napped during the day – this little amazing person that I am so lucky to have in my life – became one incredible nurse. All on her own she checked on me, brought me hot tea, reminded me to check my temperature and kept me company. I watched her shuffling around being a perfect caregiver and I wondered how is it possible that I get to be her Mama. I am convinced that she is a gift from God – loaned to me…to learn from, protect, teach and love.
One afternoon last week, feeling horrible and exhausted – I headed back to my bedroom to lay down. I rounded the corner and saw something better than solid gold on my bedroom door. The love I feel from this baby girl is unlike any love I have ever experienced… pure and real.
As heartbreaking as it was to accept that my marriage was over…I had no idea of the opportunity that it would bring me. In February I glanced into the coming months in my mind and saw a lot of sadness & grief. But what I found as the weeks and months coasted by…was a lot of clarity, happiness and love that I had been missing for a really long time. Those things brought a desire to be better… starting with being a better Mother – to all my kids. I plugged back into my life in ways that I hadn’t been in over a decade. I was no longer “going through the motions” – I was actually free to BE in the moment and I am taking advantage of it in big ways. I “feel” things again – I “see in color” again and its all beautiful and wonderful! Its scary and unbelievable how far removed one can become during struggles. We get so hyper-focused on one problem that all the people and things we are neglecting fade into the gray. I consider myself very fortunate to have been given a second chance to be a good Mother, friend, sister, Nani and “good person in general.” I don’t intend to waste it.
If I had a nickel for every time I have heard, read or even thought – “don’t judge!!!” I could literally sail off to another world and not GAF about what anyone thought of me or what I thought of anyone else. Literally.
Unfortunately, we don’t get paid for keeping ourselves in check. What we do get are frustrations and confusion – about this seemingly uncontrollable & sometimes even involuntary urge to judge others… then, the guilt associated with the realization that we did it…and then we sort of turn on ourselves and start “self-judging” for “JUDGING” in the first place. Insane? Turns out… not so much.
First, lets get some definitions out of the way;
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines “judging” (as a verb) as follows: to form an opinion about through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises
Second, Why Do We Do It?
We’ve ALL heard this one…
When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself.
Although I don’t entirely disagree with this sentiment… I don’t think it applies in all cases & I don’t think its that simple all the time. (In case you haven’t figured it out yet…I see everything in shades of gray… I don’t believe that much of anything is black and white.)
OK or NOT OK to Judge? Example 1
I do agree that “judging” other people – generally speaking, is not a good thing…mostly because its done A LOT in reference to things that are NONE OF OUR BUSINESS in the first place. I try to keep myself in check about it, and in the times I can’t avoid it – I try to keep it to myself when possible (inside voice-inside voice-inside voice) But… (just for sh&%s & giggles) – using these examples – do you think its “OK” to judge someone?;
You are interviewing women for a nanny position for your 4 month old infant. A woman appears at your door for her appointment – 15 minutes late. Multiple facial piercings. Curses several times throughout the interview. At the same time, she seems nice and shows an interest in your baby. What do you do?
A) Try to shove down your instinctual urge to judge her and convince yourself that she deserves a chance regardless of her appearance and tardiness?
B) JUDGE THE HELL OUT OF HER until that voice talking to you in scenario A balls up in the fetal position and rocks herself to sleep?
For me, I choose B (and I actually did choose B when this exact scenario happened to me when I was searching for a nanny for Sadie). When it comes to your kids, I say judge all you need to. When the consequences of getting it wrong are the safety, health or even the life of another human being… I don’t think you owe anything to anyone except the person(s) you are responsible for. If this is wrong…I don’t need to be right.
To be clear, I interviewed everyone the same – even that woman. She toured my home, met my baby, sat & visited with me and answered all of my questions. I did not do or say anything (I hope) that would have potentially hurt her feelings or made her feel uncomfortable. But in the end, I had to make a judgement call – and that’s just how it is.
OK or NOT OK To Judge? Example 2
You meet a potential romantic interest for the first date. After you are seated, he is rude to the server. Talks over you as he mansplains everything. Makes several off color comments about your hair. At the same time; He speaks intelligently. Seems interested in you. Has a great career and picks up the check. What do you do?
A) Run like Hell?
B) Run like Hell faster?
C) Accept his invitation to head back to his place
Sorry this one is a no-brainer for me, its B all the way. Speaking for myself again, I have learned (the hard way) to tune into my inner voice…and SHE is a judgmental bitch from Hell. She keeps me safe. Her #1 priority is to help me avoid pain, bad situations and disasters. I don’t always act on her advice, but I always listen to it.
The guy in the scenario above is made up… but if I encountered him on a date I would make a judgement call because he is displaying too many traits that I have come to recognize as pitfalls or red flags. He VERY WELL could be a really nice person -maybe having an off day…but the consequences of being wrong about that could land me in a situation that I have experienced before and want to avoid ever being in again.
Call It What You Will
My point is that (in my opinion) there are times when it makes sense for purposes of safety or self preservation or just plain practicality to assess the situation, formulate an opinion based on the facts you have and make a decision about how to proceed. Especially given a situation where making the WRONG judgement could have dire consequences.
Perhaps “Judgement” in these types of circumstances could be referred to as “critical thinking.” (If semantics makes you feel better.)
The Truth is, We ALL Judge Other People
We meet people and immediately without even knowing it usually begin to size them up. We do this mostly to figure out if we can trust them – and if we think they are competent. (It’s true) We still think from a primitive perspective about survival – “Is this person going to hurt or help me?” and “Is this person SMART enough to hurt or help me?”
This is how we make friends, find partners, hire employees, choose doctors…etc… We judge (even if its only in our own minds) other people to figure out if they belong in our lives or not. It is also how we keep ourselves and our children safe in situations that are concerning or uncertain.
Research shows that we judge others based on 3 key areas;
Morality: when we judge someone’s morality, we judge them based on how well they treat other people. Specifically, though, this judgment is about whether they treat others in “correct” and “principled” ways. Honesty, trustworthiness, and sincerity, for example, are morality judgments.
Sociability: when we judge someone’s sociability, we judge them based on how much they treat other people in ways to promote affectionate relationships. Examples of this type of judgment would be how friendly, likable, and kind, the person seems.
Competence: when we judge someone’s competence, we judge them based on how capable we think the person is at accomplishing his or her goals. Whenever you judge someone’s intelligence, skillfulness, and confidence, you’re making a competence judgment. (Source & full article: http://socialpsychonline.com/2016/10/judging-people-psychology/ )
When Judging Turns Ridiculous
Okay, now that we have the facts & common sense aspect out of the way… lets talk RIDICULOUS. (Yes…that is me judging a little bit.)
I think where it gets out of hand is that we feel compelled to VOICE our judgements to other people – hoping that they will then somehow validate us in the judgement or validate that we ARE judging. (Probably because we weren’t comfortable with the judgement in the first place and we need some group comfort that we did the right thing – in doing the wrong thing.)
Hiding Behind Social Media
SOCIAL MEDIA has provided quite a cushy platform to feel better about judging other people – and I personally hate it because;
I have done it myself
Seemingly normal, kind and happy people berate others without the facts
Good people get hurt or ruined over assumptions & made up “facts”
Mob mentality sets off a feeding frenzy for endless judging online
There is no accountability or consequences from behind the safety of a computer screen
Don’t forget “mean girl” syndrome – you know, the one who has the posse of other “mean girls in training.” She does something mean or “judge’y” and then looks to her gang for approval…which she receives immediately (whether they agree or not) – so THEY aren’t the ones being judged. (Peer pressure never seems to go out of style.)
Judging Someone for NOT Judging Someone
Recently, I saw a local news article posted on social media about a mother who had smuggled alcohol into a movie theater by way of her son’s sippy cup. She brought her 2 young children with her that day and as the movie scrolled across the screen…she allegedly became intoxicated and then was unable to care for her kids- who at some point became distressed and other movie goers started complaining. The mom attempted to leave the theater in her car – with the kids. The authorities were called and the mother was taken to the hospital for care & treatment & then arrested. (The rest of the details aren’t relevant to my point but you can read about the incident here.)
What I found fascinating and disturbing was what happened after I commented on the social media post. All of a sudden – people who were judging this mom… were now judging ME because I wasn’t judging her! (See full post here) I felt like I was clear in my comment, that I wasn’t condoning her actions but rather stating the we don’t know the whole story – and since everyone is ok, let’s hope she is getting some help. Me arriving at that thought – came after a “pause” on my part… because if I am honest – my brain was really trying to judge her in the first few minutes after I read the article.
This was my comment on the post;
In the few minutes after the article about the movie theater mom…I ran through several ideas in my mind. My gut reaction was “omg… what was this mom thinking??” and then from there…I literally asked myself, “Wow, for real…what was she thinking? Or was she thinking? If she wasn’t thinking – why is that?” I “paused” for a few minutes and really thought about what would have to be happening in my life for me to behave so recklessly with my life and the lives of my kids. I concluded that something seriously bad must have been going on with her, and I sincerely hoped that she was able to get whatever help she needed. Because of the “pause” – I was able to get past my judgement of her and find some compassion which I truly believe she needed. What happened inside me after that felt good. It felt so good that even after reading the nasty comments directed at ME on the post… I still felt good & didn’t feel any desire to defend my position to the angry mob on the post. It was a great exercise in keeping my judgement in check & rerouting it into something positive.
How Many of You Remember This Mom?
A while back (2016) – a photo of a young mother in an airport went viral on social media. Remember? She was sitting in a row of seats in a terminal, cell phone in hand…and her baby was laying on a blanket in the floor in front of her. Some random stranger in the airport took “judgement” to the next level…and posted the photo to social media with the caption,”I fear the day that technology will take on our humanity … the world will be populated by a generation of idiots.” This random person did not know the mother being photographed nor her circumstances at the time. (He also credited Albert Einstein with the quote…he got that wrong too.) I find it wildly ironic that the person who snapped the photo cited a quote (incorrect as it may be) about technology, humanity and idiots… and yet failed to connect the dots to see how he himself was actually proving the sentiment to be true with his actions. Things that make you go hmmmmmmm.
The REST of the Story
It turns out that the mother in the photograph was Molly Lensing – and her baby daughter was 2 months old at the time the picture was snapped without Molly’s permission. She had spent over 20 hours with her baby in airports after an airline computer shut-down. Flights were being canceled and rerouted and Molly was caught up in the ordeal. The photo of her on the phone was real… she was trying to let her family members know where she was, that she was ok and updating them on the situation. The today.com article offered a statement from Molly about that day;
“Anastasia had been held or in her carrier for many hours. My arms were tired. She needed to stretch. And I had to communicate with all the family members wondering where the heck we were.”
The position she was put in is unbelievable…but since the photo went viral on social media – I can understand how she would want to defend herself. All of it started from someone being judgmental about a situation that had nothing to do with them. I wonder how much better Molly would have felt if “that same person” had offered to HELP her – instead of judging her & grossly invading her privacy? Even if it was just to sit & keep her company for a few minutes…that is probably all it would have taken to learn enough to form an entirely different opinion.
What Have We Learned?
Hopefully we can practice the “Judge Less – Pause More” idea. Trust me, it works…but it does take practice. Ask yourself “Why am I feeling this way about this situation?” Look INSIDE for the answers first. It might be just enough distraction to move you away from bothering some poor unsuspecting person who likely doesn’t need you in their business. Save judgments for what really matters – health, safety, practicality – when it IS your business. Personally, I found the research on the subject very interesting – I recommend doing a little searching and reading on your own about “why we judge other people” and “the psychology of judging others” – its fascinating.
I am making a personal vow to work diligently on this every day. In my crusade to be a better me…I am pretty sure this will have the biggest impact on my life, my inner peace and it will help me grow as a person. JUDGE LESS – PAUSE MORE …join me! More coming soon on #pause.
There are some definite pros & cons to being 47 and looking at the dating scene from the perspective of a real “life-experienced” woman. (aka “Jaded and Over It“).
In the 90’s when I was dating as a 21 year old – things were so different. Now, a 20-something thinking of meeting someone out in PUBLIC and actually TALKING to them, looking at their REAL face and hearing their voice is the stuff that sci-fi movies are made of. If it doesn’t happen on your phone first… did it really even happen?
Back in the OLD DAYS
Back in the “old days” – people met each other by (brace yourself if you’re younger than 30) walking up to another person and saying something like, “Hi, I’m [blah blah], I saw you over here and wanted to meet you.” or in some cases “OH MY GOD you’re hot! Wanna get out of here?” or even… “Hey- my friend over there thinks you’re cute, can he buy you a drink?” (obviously answered by, “Hell no, but YOU can.”) Anyway…my point is – it wasn’t a wave or wink or ping or buzz – it was real life interaction… oh the horror! Sometimes we met in a club or a bar, sometimes at work and sometimes introduced by friends. But in almost every instance… it happened in real life. Today…not so much & I personally find it weird. Back then, there didn’t seem to be so many dating deal breakers – or maybe we just didn’t know what they were yet.
Meeting People Online
When I was dating again in 2004, online dating was just starting to become a popular thing. It was still pretty taboo and I wasn’t very interested in testing the waters. The internet wasn’t new but the stories you heard to that point about “meeting people online” were mostly about guys living in their Mom’s basement with no job and nothing else to do except surf chat rooms for lonely and unsuspecting women – probably the precursor to cat-fishing. And then of course don’t forget the serial killers and psychopaths…they certainly didn’t let the advantages of the WWW escape them either.
Online Dating Sites
Enter… Match.com (Check out this article about the founder of Match.com … I have no idea if he lived in his Mom’s basement – but this is definitely the image I had at the time – of what was on the other end of an online chat. LORDY!)
My sister was in town for a visit and she had already set up her own profile on Match. I think she was having some success with it and started pestering me about setting up a profile. NO. WAY. NO. HOW. I had enough problems to deal with and I wasn’t even interested in dating. She had other plans – and created a profile for me. Gotta love sisters.
Over the next few weeks – I “met” some people from my profile and went on lots of first dates. It was fun, I have to admit – and it was better than being in a smoky bar for the most part. (Not gonna lie though…it was kind of fun – in my 20’s when all the gang would meet at Cody’s -the local C&W club for dancing, drinking and hanging out. What ever happened to Rocky Mountain jeans anyway??)
If I KNEW THEN …
Then, I ended up meeting (on Match) the person that unbeknownst to me at the time – would be my next husband. If I had known then – what I know now, about red flags, boundaries & if I had been a lot more in-tune with my own inner voice.. well lets just say – I wouldn’t have my sweet daughter who was the treasure God gave me for enduring some incredibly hard years of craziness, lies, confusion and lots of other insanity that you’ll have to stay tuned into this blog to read about later. But the other things I gained were experience, knowledge and personal insight to know what will and won’t work for me in a potential romantic interest.
Once you finally figure those things out… dating is very bittersweet. You have the confidence to get out there and meet new people but you are also armed with the knowledge that most people are not a “fit” – and you no longer have the patience or desire to “work with” someone’s quirks, issues or straight up bad behavior, the way your younger self did many years ago. You no longer think you’ll be “the one” to FIX someone because somehow you’re the solution to all their life-long issues that have nothing to do with you. Basically you just “GET REAL” with yourself and everyone else.
Dating Deal Breakers
Nowadays, there are lots of online dating outlets and its pretty much the way things are done in 2018. But, its still weird and I wish that there was some way to “normalize” the way we meet each other today. The thing that is most different though…is me. I know what I like and don’t like. I know that people are who they are & don’t change. I know that people will TELL you who they are…you just have to listen. And I know that at the first sign of a deal breaker… I better run like someone’s chasing me – and not look back!
Dating Deal Breakers and BIG FAT NOPES
Even the little things…have me ghosting (I learned that trendy little term the other day.)
if I give him the option of choosing our dinner destination – and he tell’s me Bush’s Chicken – he’d best bring a buddy or eat alone.
if his dating profile has more pics of his truck, boat, motorcycle and dog than himself – NEXT! (If those pics of himself are all shirtless pics in a bathroom mirror – ALSO NEXT!)
if he wears socks with sandals ON OUR DATE… I’m out. (If he wears socks with sandals any other time…I’m also out.)
if he spends hours or days telling me all about himself and never asks one question about me….BYE! (it’s likely he won’t make it to “days”)
can’t drive a stick…. WHERE are you even FROM?
prepper… DOUBLE NOPE
newly separated… Hey we ALL need a break sometimes but I’m not a B&B
bad relationship with more than 2 immediate family members … I can’t.
talks sh*% about his ex-wife constantly – he’s GOTTA GO….far away.
plays video games… HOW OLD ARE YOU??
wants to introduce me to his young kids on 2nd date – have a nice life.
calls me babe, baby or any other term of endearment prior to meeting me in person… GET OUT with that!
offers the silent treatment as an answer to a disagreement… Let me know when you’re over that…or better yet…DON’T.
requests more full length pics of me in first (or any) communication – GO F yourself.
sends me more full length (or dick) pics of himself … Go DATE YOURSELF
chews with mouth open &/or grunts while eating … There’s not enough Xanax in the WORLD.
inquires if all my kids are from the same man – GOD HELP ME.
Doesn’t drink alcohol of any kind – ever – HOW is THAT going to work?!
Picky eater … GO AWAY.
Can’t sit still for 5 minutes … NOT havin’ it
Won’t get on an airplane – Seriously?
Works out EVERY SINGLE DAY… We are definitely not going to get along.
Lives 874 miles away … HOW do you see this rolling out…really, I’m curious.
explains how it was God watching out for him when his ex was killed in an accident 2 weeks before their divorce was final… <—– HAPPENED!!! (That was the “check please” moment. This one also drove a hooptie sedan to our date & -completely unprompted told me his 4×4 truck was at home in the driveway – I SWEAR THIS IS TRUE!)
insists on calling me a name OTHER than MY NAME… WHAT??
only free to talk or chat after 10PM … he’s married.
Red flags fly HIGH & MIGHTY these days & I pay attention. If someone pushes against my boundaries… see ya later, no questions asked…no excuses accepted. Dating deal breakers are a real thing in my world. I very well may end up without a partner, but at least I won’t end up with another one who I knew from the beginning was bad news. Notice I didn’t say “I very well may end up lonely” – because I am not alone. I never felt as lonely in my life as when I was with another human being who didn’t care about me… and I vow to never be in that situation again. At best, I will live a fulfilling 2nd half of my life, happy with my family & friends, satisfied with my hard work in building my businesses and proud of my efforts to help others. Wading through the mud and muck of another person who can’t carry their weight in a healthy relationship is not on my bucket list. If by chance a person comes along, who among other things is fully vaccinated, can drive a stick, is happy to call me by my name, & also inspires me to make room for them in my life, I could possibly be open to that… maybe.
Some great reads & resources if you’re dating again;
I mentioned in an earlier post… I don’t make my bed – ever. (That’s kind of a tiny lie, because in the past few months, I have been caught with a “made up bed” a couple of times…that’s another story though.)
What I really meant is that I don’t roll out every morning and start wrestling that king size monster…nor does it even cross my mind.
I have read about the alleged correlation between being a successful person, and making your bed every day. Are you frickin’ kidding me?? I have A LOT to say about this -but first, this is where it all started…
In his 2014 commencement speech at the University of Texas, Navy Seal William H. McCraven advised the graduates;
“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made — and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.
If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.“
Hey I get it, really – the intended sentiment isn’t lost on me. Get up with the right mindset, do what needs to be done, keep doing what needs to be done, at the end of the day… lots of stuff gets done.
The flaw is that I PERSONALLY know people who get up and make their bed every single day – and then they spend the rest of the day being a POS. And, I know people who don’t make their bed and are amazing people who help others, succeed at their jobs, take care of their families, etc… and so on.
The notion that a made bed will help you overcome a miserable day is a stretch… And I am pretty sure that a made bed is not going to play any part in someone changing the world. I’m sorry but that speech (at least this part of it) was lame in my opinion. Of all the things that man could have said, given his education, experiences and background… and he said that.
I will give him this one…in a later portion of his speech he states;
“If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.”
It was at least semi-relatable.
Sometimes, for some people, just “getting up” is a success. We’ve all had those days. So to align your own or someone else’s ability to succeed with another person’s method just doesn’t make much sense to me. (Fish…climbing a tree – same/same)
For me its about priorities, plain & simple (because let’s be honest, mornings suck & need to be plain & simple). First, note the key words here are “For me” – because I am going to talk about my personal priorities which I am fully aware are different from others, thats why they are called “personal” priorities. If your personal priority is to “wake and make,” please do not let me influence you otherwise – you do you.
My mornings start at 5:45AM. (<— I could end this post right now and not expect a single inch of pushback… but I will go on for the sake of entertainment.)
5:45AM – Google or Bing or who ever that insanely annoying voice is on my phone – cheerfully announces that it is NOW 5:45AM!! …like some Stepford lady psychopath sitting on my nightstand…and she will KEEP saying it until I make her stop. Rude.
I slap around for it in the dark (because its still dark at 5:45AM) and just in case there was some kind of cosmic malfunction in my alarm settings – I hopefully peek with one squinted eye (because OMG my retinas!) just to make sure it is IN FACT 5:45AM. (It always is… every. single. time.)
5:47AM – Still laying in bed. The “successful” person in me is still trying to sleep because SHE believes that successful people need plenty of sleep. The “leisure lover” in me is shuffling through all the reasons it would be ok to stay in bed another 15 minutes. (Neither is thinking about making the bed.)
5:50AM – The “Mom” in me is yelling by this point and the body that carries them all around is slowly rolling out of bed so she will shut up.
Sadie has taken over her Daddy’s side of the bed (can’t say I hate that change) so I reach over and jostle her awake…and then I head to the toothbrush. (That’s actually MY first task of the day – some people make their bed, some people brush their teeth… whatever turns you on.)
5:55AM – I wash my face, rummage through the “take Sadie to school” attire, toss my hair up in a baseball cap, let the dog out, head to the kitchen – where I boss Alexa around for a few minutes about the weather & news and fix a bite of breakfast for “Sadie the Grouch.” (she is NOT a morning person – it’s genetic)
6:10AM – [cue the western showdown music] Sadie breaches the doorway from her room. We stare at each other. (Its touch & go for the next minute.)
6:11AM – Breakfast is examined. Sometimes eaten. Sometimes not. (Sometimes there’s crying… either or both of us.)
6:15AM – Let dog back in. Feed dog. Let dog back out.
6:20AM – Finally make a cup of coffee. (Second task of the day – SUCCEEDING!!)
6:25AM – Sort through 900 pieces of paper from Sadie’s school binder. Fill out all the forms (My God…the forms!!). Discuss each & every single piece of paper. Negotiate what I can & can’t throw away. Pack binder back up. Make snack for after school. Load everything into backpack.
6:40AM – Clean up kitchen. Remind Sadie; brush teeth, comb hair, find socks, put shoes on, turn off lights, argue why you can’t take 17 Barbies to school (take 17 Barbies out of backpack when she’s looking for socks)
6:45AM – Remind Sadie of 4/5 of tasks above. Check work email for anything urgent (it’s always urgent), answer urgent email. Remind Sadie of 2/5 tasks above.
6:50AM – Make coffee to-go for drive to school. Find keys.
6:55AM – (On the best mornings – if all of the above is done by 6:55AM) Snuggle on the couch with Sadie. Usually in silence, but sometimes she wants to talk by then. She always wants to snuggle. I die a little inside thinking that these days are numbered.
7:05AM – Out the door to school.
(No where in that span of time did I think about my unmade bed…not even once.)
8:10AM – I am back from the typical 1 hour drive (to & from) school. I have usually had no less than 3 phone calls & don’t even get me started on the incoming texts by this point. If I somehow HAD a free morning an hour earlier, I probably don’t now. I get dressed (for real this time) – fix my face, the baseball cap sometimes stays – and I get to work… whatever “work” is on any given day. (Still haven’t thought about my bed…nor do I have time for it now.)
The rest of my day is spent handling my business, my clients, taking care of websites, running errands, grocery shopping, an occasional lunch with friends, laundry and a list long & mighty of other things that I won’t get to. At 4:30PM its time to get back to the school to pick Sadie up – head home, make dinner, take baths, do homework, clean the kitchen (again), and eventually crawl back into that unmade bed, snuggle with my girl, catch some Zzzz’s so I can get up at 5:45AM and do it all over again.
If I study the morning timeline, the only real option for time to make a bed (my bed would take about 10 mins – the pillow situation is fabulous but reee-dic) would be either PRIOR to 5:45AM (get real)…or in place of snuggle time…not happening. (And if you are itching to somehow rearrange or improve my morning routine…just sit with that a minute.)
What was that you ask? What about weekends or holidays when its not an early school morning? I’m glad you asked. I WOULD STILL RATHER SPEND MY TIME DOING SOMETHING ELSE.
So here is a great time to bring up what “success” means to different people.
To some, “success” is status or a job title. To others, it might be money or cars. (Or making the bed every morning.) Success can mean something different to every person you ask…and it should. Success is about “personal priorities” and doing what it takes to keep them in line. For all the bed-makers out there, I applaud you and hope that you are doing exactly what you want to being doing with your 1,440 minutes each day. I hope that nothing & no one important to you is getting left out and you have no regrets when you drift off to sleep at night. If getting up and making your bed every morning makes you FEEL good, MOTIVATES you to be a better person, COMPELS you to change the world and FULFILLS you in a way that spending that time otherwise would not…please do not change a thing!
For me, success is intimate. I find happiness in the success of keeping my priorities straight…especially when there are simply some things every day that are not going to get done. I love the quote, “Let people do what they want to do, so you’ll know what they’d rather do.” I would rather snuggle on the couch for 10 minutes ANY DAY than make my bed. So that’s what I do.
My name is Paula & this is where I will tell my stories and the stories of other perfectly imperfect women who are brave enough to share.
You will learn more about me in future posts – but in a nutshell;
I am a 47 year old divorced Mom of 3 completely incredible kids (5 when I count my beautiful step-daughters) and Nani to 1 precious grand baby.
I have been a Realtor for 16 years and recently started an interior design business.
I live in Texas but am from a tiny little town in Missouri.
I have been in love – deeply & barely & everywhere in between.
I am an empath & an ambivert (look them up).
At any given time I am 10-60 lbs overweight (according to various “ideal weight charts” probably created by men or at least some poor starving soul in dire need of a cheeseburger).
I yell at my kids sometimes (sometimes they yell back).
I don’t make my bed (ever).
I forget things. ALL.THE.TIME.
I have hurt people (rarely on purpose).
People have hurt me.
I overthink things (I’m doing it right now).
I give too many chances (& I probably won’t stop).
I love “people” (although I have said the opposite many times).
I am completely imperfect, a work in progress and at times a total mess.
I am loyal, strong, honest, caring, beautiful, and worthy of love & respect even when I forget I deserve those things… and even when I am the only one providing those things.
The 1st truth: I have NO IDEA what I’m doing. Life is MESSY!!
Oh, you weren’t looking for messy? You weren’t looking for real stories that might remind you that you are messy too? You aren’t ready for the lightbulb to buzz bright on top of your head showcasing that you too are just a regular woman, mom, wife, friend, sister, daughter, employee (or some, or all of the aforementioned) who has no clue how you arrived in adulthood without a single real qualification for being here? Or perhaps you are fully and highly qualified as a perfect and responsible adult with all of the mysteries of mom’ing and wife’ing and woman’ing allll figured out. No worries at all… psssttt….but listen up – you are in the WRONG place here. Don’t panic! Simply click that little “X” at the top of your browser window …we never saw you.
To the rest of you … welcome to life’s messy Hell.
Now, when I say “Hell” – I don’t mean “Hell” like demons, fire & no alcohol. I just mean everyday “Hell” that sometimes sneaks up unexpectedly like running into [insert your least favorite person here] at the grocery. Or, like having your boss stand behind you at your desk and rub his zipper on your shoulder when you have rent due and can’t afford to punch him in the di….(I mean) zipper and quit. (<—happened) Or, when you discover your husband has so many online dating profiles & aliases set up that there is no doubt his favorite super hero wears an Ashley Madison cape. Or even just the simple stuff like a flat tire, getting fired, the roof is leaking, a huge zit on your forehead, your kid’s principle calling (again), too much month left at the end of your money or being so damn tired of trying to “fake it til you make it” that you have no idea what’s real anymore -or even if you are. Sometimes, demons and fire sound like a vacation… but don’t touch my wine – IMA NEE’DAT.
Have you ever wondered how some of your friends do it? Always: Perfectly dressed. Perfect kids. Perfect husband. Perfect house. Perfect parties. Perfect vacations. Perfect yard. Perfect skin. Perfect body. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Ummm…yeah… they don’t. And the more perfect they seem…the bigger the mess. Those friends probably need us the most. Maybe you are that friend… hang around & give yourself a break girl. How do I know so much about that? …well, more about that later (I promise).
My stories are going to jump around a little as we move forward. For now, I am choosing to start this journey by explaining how I came to be typing this debut entry on Miss Perfect Mess.
First, the name: Miss Perfect Mess
A long time ago, someone close to me tagged me with the name “Miss Perfect.” Nice right? …Wrong. It certainly wasn’t a compliment. It came from a place of jealousy or bitterness & definitely ignorance about who I really was. (Of course I now understand it was more a statement about the person saying it than it ever was about me.) It was always thrown at me as an insult, and it always felt like one. The name was completely inaccurate, especially as a teenager who – trust me – was the furthest thing from perfect & I was deeply aware of it. Eventually as I got older, the name calling didn’t bother me as much and I think somewhere along the line I found some humor in it… great coping mechanism by the way! When I was brainstorming for a blog name – and a name that would accurately describe me (then & now) and the other women I am aligning myself with these days… the name popped back into my head. “Miss Perfect” … ohhhh yes… it was right as rain… with one simple edit that makes the lie a total truth. All my mistakes, failures, heartaches, pain, loss and fear have been the messes that made me who I am today. The same things that have made all women who they are … good or bad but probably some combination of both. What I have discovered is that we all have good and bad in our pasts…and in our paths ahead – it cannot be avoided. So here I am – a perfect mess… eehhhmmm… that’s “Miss Perfect Mess” to you.
Second, the blog: Miss Perfect Mess. Real Women. Real Stories.
About 2 1/2 years ago, I started on a journey of healing… with around 0% knowledge about how to do it. My body ached all the time. My mind was foggy & confused all the time. I was exhausted all the time. Anxiety had taken over my life and in such a covert way – that I didn’t even realize it. I thought there was something seriously wrong with me – I even thought “My God…I think I might be dying.”
On a certain Tuesday in May 2016 I made a discovery that would change my life and the lives of everyone I loved from that moment forward. (Follow this blog & I will share more about this in future posts.) There was nothing I could do except suck it up and deal. Two days later, on Thursday, I was sitting in the office of a local therapist telling the story about what had landed me there… and she looked like she needed a glass of vodka in her hand and a bowl of popcorn in her lap. She was almost salivating to hear the next part, and the next part. It was strange to be such a spectacle to someone who was supposed to be trained to hear the things I was saying – but I guess there’s a first time for everything. For about 8 weeks I went back once a week and told a little more of my story and updated her on the latest happenings – and every week she would usher me into her office, sit down and say, “Well… what happened “THIS” week?!” As if I were her favorite form of entertainment and the next episode had finally been released for viewing.
The therapist didn’t offer me much in the way of help but what she did provide me was the opportunity to hear myself say things out loud that I had been excusing, denying and justifying for a really long time. I realized pretty quickly that I played a huge part in my “situation” and although what had been happening was not my fault… remaining in a toxic environment for as long as I did – was 100% on me.
I started reading books, articles and talking through things with my trusted friends – of which I had very few left. I began educating myself on my particular set of circumstances, learning about what I was dealing with, how it was affecting me mentally & physically and how to get myself out of it. I joined some support groups on social media and unfortunately those groups were just additional sources of anxiety for me. They were mostly commiserating, whining, anger etc… with very little sound advice, lots of man-hating and nothing positive to gain. I would leave the groups within hours of joining. I desperately wanted support, positive encouragement, success stories & a safe place to be vulnerable with my thoughts & feelings. I wanted to be surrounded by women who could gently steer me back to thinking about the life ahead of me and away from the path of devastation I was trying to leave behind. I never found one group that offered those things, so I started one.
The Facebook group “Girl Grit” was formed and quickly grew to over 60 members (currently). I thought I was alone but as it turns out, there are lots of women just like me. Women who are finding their way through hard times and who also want positive support, a safe place to laugh at themselves and tell their stories, hugs and applause for their accomplishments, gentle pushes towards challenges that will help them grow, fellowship with others that aren’t afraid to own their responsibility in how they arrived at their current phase in life. Other women who also thought they were alone, but after only a short time opened their eyes to an entire group who were just like them.
For as long as I can remember, I have put my “perfect self” out there. When social media came along – I realized that the more perfect I could look, the more my business grew. That was a drug I couldn’t resist…and I got completely lost in it. I think there were times when I actually believed that everything was perfect (we call that “denial” boys & girls). But believing it somehow made me less miserable, less lonely. Behind closed doors I was willing to be mistreated, willing to look the other way, willing to be neglected…as long as I could get my “perfect” fix. It took on a life of its own and it seemed I was no longer in control… although I always was. (<—Big lesson)
After my divorce – “the fog cleared” – that’s how I describe it. The confusion I was living in was gone & I could look back with total clarity and see just how insane things had become. In the Girl Grit group, I didn’t feel a need to be perfect, I felt a need to be honest – but that took strength. Then others found strength and told their stories and before we knew it we all were sitting around in awe of each other – cheering each other on because we were some amazing women who had survived some really unbelievable things. But the most amazing part was that despite what these women had been through, they still had love to offer to others in pain. In fact, giving away our love is the very thing that was saving us all… little by little and day by day…we all were coming alive again. We were filling each other up in ways that no one had in a very very long time.
In getting to know the women in the Girl Grit group – I now understand that EVERY SINGLE WOMAN has a story. EVERY SINGLE WOMAN has been through tough times to get where she is today. The women who are willing to share their stories are shining a light at the end of the tunnel for others who think they are alone, as if to say, “We’re here!! We know its hard but just follow our voices until you can see your way out!! We won’t leave you!” These are “REAL WOMEN” with “REAL STORIES” and those gracious enough to share will find a place to do it right here…with Miss Perfect Mess.
Here are a few things you need to know about Miss Perfect Mess;
Video interviews posted on Miss Perfect Mess will be true stories about the person being interviewed. She will always know the subject matter & questions before the interview. No “baby daddy” reveals or surprise guests for the sake of drama (sorry Springer fans).
Interviews given in the form of a text post will sometimes have names changed but the stories will always be real and true. For reasons that probably don’t need to be explained, not everyone will be comfortable having their name or face attached to their story and we are going to respect that in a really big way.
Readers are welcome to comment on posts, articles & interviews with the understanding that disrespect will not be tolerated. No hand slap… no warning shot… (we will learn more about boundaries soon enough) Remember, the platform here is positivity, kindness and support. When in doubt, just don’t. Try pausing, thinking & finding something positive to take away. If you find yourself offended or upset about something (here or anywhere in life) – ask yourself why that is.
“Girl Grit” is currently a Facebook group for women who are “Single, Divorced, or Widowed – & not in a committed relationship.” A sub-group is being worked on for women outside of those parameters who may be married, in a committed relationship, separated, etc…and wish to join a group founded in positivity and encouragement. (Watch for more on the 2nd group!)
To those who know me personally & have decided to follow (or stalk) this blog… These are my personal truths. My feelings. My journey. I have committed to being honest & open here in hopes that others will find inspiration and that I will gain insight about myself and how to become a better person moving forward. If you think something you read is about you – you might be right, even if you’re wrong (think about it). If you don’t like something you read and you think it was about you – maybe you should have been nicer (there’s still time).