When do the good people win?

Over the past few weeks I have asked myself this question over and over…

As you can tell by this blog, I am a giver. I love helping others and I will give and give even when I get nothing in return. BUT… this question keeps popping in my head when times get tough and we have seen our fair share of tough lately.

My husband and I put our kids first always…

We live in separate homes, in separate cities in order for our girls to remain in their school districts with less life disruption due to our adult choices – while their other parents choose to live wherever they like.

We schedule our work and date nights accordingly so the majority of our attention can be with and on the girls when they are with us – their other parents do not.

We have rules and expectations for school, behavior, treating others with respect and decency for anyone they come into contact with – including their other parents. While their other parents negate every rule we have and allow inappropriate behavior, mistreatment of others on top of influencing and providing drugs and/or alcohol.

We accommodate schedules with no reluctance when there is a need while fighting to maintain composure when the same is NEVER returned.

We consistently pay to support our kids in many areas and actually get threats when something is not “fair” if paid by the other parents. We keep track of everything and that is necessary under our circumstances.

We try to avoid drama when other parents create it unnecessarily and get the children involved.

When pondering all the things we do and don’t do, I find I’ve answered my own question… we ARE winning and good people do get the BEST in the end.

Our children all see exactly who we are and what we do (even our guardian angel in heaven). They are teens and pre-teens and we won’t get it right all the time (maybe only a portion of the time), but they know we’re doing our best and putting them first.

Our exes are angry and have every right to be – they both had “givers” that gave up on them. They are self-absorbed, dishonest people with no character and deserve the lives they have made for themselves. We have won BIG finding each other because we both give whole-heartedly and we are fully transparent. We are true to ourselves and each other and there is no bigger compliment than support and consistent love over all. We make each other better and we will be the consistent source in creating “givers” out of our girls regardless of their influences. We know it could be easier, but these are the cards we were dealt and it only matters how you play them.

We are grateful for the storms because they draw us closer to each other, closer to God and help us see the real picture. I hope you can see where you’re winning when trials come your way. Choose character over the chaos and you will find…Good people DO WIN every single day!

This Is Me…

I love everything about this song and here’s why it belongs in MY story.

Being married and having children with an alcoholic is one of the toughest things I have ever been through. Divorcing that alcoholic was even more difficult and just when I think I’ve endured the worst, those influences are becoming evident in our children and a new battle begins for their safety and well-being.

“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down – I’m gonna send a flood – gonna drown em out”

My ex, his wife and a few friends of theirs consistently say “why are you talking about this? – you should get a life and stop worrying about theirs?”  I have a beautiful life, an amazing husband and I am setting the example I want my children to live in our home… I would love for that to occur in all of my children’s environments, but it doesn’t and their safety is my priority. Why would I blog about it and write a book you ask?  Because I am not the first person that has endured this nonsense and I’m sure I won’t be the last.  I’m bringing awareness and THIS IS ME – I certainly don’t ask that everyone like what I have to say or understand it.

🚫I am not going to stand for my minor child (15 year-old) being given alcohol by her stepmother or her father! Not just a sip, an entire glass or liquor mixes on more than one occasion. That is illegal and is now reported.

🚫I am not going to stand for my minor child to be allowed to be a designated care-taker to her “very drunk father” who chooses to use his time with them to feed his addictions. He only has them part-time and can use his “off weekends” to do that or the weekends that he has me watch them because concerts are more important.

🚫I am not going to stand for my minor children to have free reign over social media when I have strictly forbidden certain sites with good reason. Thankfully it was found early and is full of “evidence”.

🚫 I am not going to stand for any retaliation against my children for being honest about activities when I am not present that may bother and affect them in a negative way.

“I’m not scared to be seen – I make no apologies – THIS IS ME”

❤️ I will focus on helping our children build their character

❤️ I will fight for them to be safe regardless of where they are

❤️ I will do everything I can to provide boundaries for them when they aren’t mature enough to make them for themselves.

❤️ I will expect decency and following the law from anyone and everyone who spends time and has influence over our children.

❤️ I will support our children when they make mistakes and do everything I can to correct bad behavior.

I get it… teens are teens and when given an inch, they take a mile… well this past week I got to find out what happens when they are given the whole road. I have tried so hard over the years to protect them from this awful disease and all that comes with it. I have dreaded this reality and what happens next.

All of our children have 2 very different environments they live in and their little minds now have to be mature enough to choose character over the chaos. How can they be expected to choose rules over freedom? What happens when the other parents demonize us for being “too strict”. What is a teen going to do when left home alone until 1 or 2 am? In some cases, the law will step in. In some scenarios, a judge may intervene. In all cases parental guidance is crucial to ensure the overall well-being of our children.

Fortunately, I am very close with my daughters and they recognize our efforts. I cannot say the same for my step-daughter. She loves the freedom, minimal or no rules and nobody getting “into her business”. She has lost a beautiful relationship with her father and it is extremely sad and unnecessary.

I pray that we will have well-rounded children who make good decisions for their future, but they will not do that on their own. They require guidance, rules and consequences to understand accountability. They will get all of that wrapped in love in our household.

I am a nurturer, a leader, a hard-worker, a mother, a stepmother, a wife, a friend, a Christ follower, a disciplinarian and a giver… I expect decency and I enforce accountability and NOTHING is going to change all that I have poured into my babies to build who they are! THIS IS ME – I’m not perfect but I always put our babies first… in the end, they may be a little of ME too 😉

The view is better up here…

Trials… they come to anyone and everyone and nobody is void from them (no matter what you see posted on social media). We each have a choice of how to react or proactively behave in order for these trials not to deteriorate or change who we are as a person.

I’ve seen many trials in my life and thankfully, I don’t see myself as a victim – I am a Victor and proud of it. I have chosen to take the high road in many circumstances (I did not use the word all here because sometimes I choose to respond or react negative and mirror the behavior that is thrown at me as I am not perfect and never will be). When I do take the high road the view is better and my heart feels at peace for my actions and my thoughts.

What does it mean to take the “high road”? Does it mean to allow others to walk all over you? The answer to that is NO – you can be kind and not tolerant at the same time. This is where your boundaries come into play. You must have them and stick to them otherwise you will be a doormat.

Does it mean that you are continuously nice regardless of how you are treated? The answer to this is No as well. You are responsible for your actions just as anyone else is. You can remove yourself from the negative behavior and if it doesn’t change, you may have to make a more permanent decision on why this person or people are in your life and what value they bring.

Taking the high road in my world is a choice I make each and every day. I am a mother – any parent has to choose this at one time or another throughout the day i.e. teenagers. I am a stepmother which brings a whole new set of challenges. I am married to a man with a high-conflict ex and I have a high-conflict ex myself. Add working in the customer service industry along with some volunteer activities each and every week and I have a “trial” almost every day.

It looks different for everyone, but it’s knowing you are doing the right thing even when it’s the hardest thing. Those teenagers will never respect you if you don’t respect yourself. High conflict people make everything difficult and it doesn’t have to be. Work is hard but it’s worth every ounce of effort and if I can volunteer my time in order to help someone else, we are both benefiting.

My closing thoughts… Don’t let someone else’s bad behavior bring you to their level! Don’t allow anyone to invade your boundaries and Don’t sacrifice your character when put in difficult situations. The “right” thing to do is usually not the “easy” thing to do. The view is pretty spectacular and a kind heart is so much prettier than the alternative.

Time

The older I get, the more I realize how precious my time is… I spend countless hours worrying about things I cannot change, wasting moments I will never get back and using my time on people or things that do NOT deserve it. As a “giver”, a lot of us fall into this trap and often we forget to make time for us a priority.

A few reminders for today:

✋ STOP ✋

Worrying about things you cannot change

Wasting time on people that don’t deserve it

Spending energy on negative thoughts

✳️ START ✳️

Taking time to do the right thing

Spending time with the right people

Making time for what matters

Spending energy on positive thoughts

Focusing on me (sometimes 😉)

Savoring moments and creating memories

Taking time to express gratitude

Practicing patience

Showing kindness to someone unexpectedly

Time is so valuable and yet we literally waste it away each and every day. The tips are simple and may be just a quick reminder, but you cannot stay on track if you allow unnecessary thoughts, feelings, actions or energy to consume you and your day.

Time flies, life is short – might as well have fun!

Distraction

I have had too many contacting me to leave this blog, so I’m back and my focus has shifted a bit.

Distraction – a daily occurrence when you’ve been through divorce, are married, have a full-time job, are raising kids, have fitness goals, etc… I assume this can connect with anyone.

Having all these distractions can cause a person to lose focus, drift from goals and in a sense, lose direction and feel like you are traveling backwards rather than forward. There’s hope. You have to get up every day with a purpose, know what you want to accomplish and get it done. Will you fail, you will (that’s how we truly learn to prevail). Will you make mistakes, yes… it’s how you handle the mistakes that allow you to change and grow.

Our church series was most recently about relational vampires – loving the people that suck the life out of you (Life.church)It was awesome!!! Do you know any of these? If you’ve ever known a narcissist, manipulator or self-centered individual, this series is for you (PS – it can be a child too). This series spoke to me in many ways – not only was I married to one of these individuals, my new husband was married to one in the past as well. Needless to say, our lives are filled with distraction and chaos. It requires daily focus, loving the manipulators through it and an overall sense to ensure our children do not grow into that type of adult. This is a big task – our children have genealogy that can pre-dispose them to these character traits.

Our conclusion: It’s out of our hands other than the example we set. “Your goal is not to be right – your goal is to help someone else be right with God.” – Pastor Craig

Now I will be the first to admit that every parental decision I’ve made is not right in the eyes of the Lord…I’ll bet a lot of them aren’t, but never a better time to start than now. Discipline was always something present in my girls’ lives – my bonus daughter, not so much. Circumstances were different and life experiences much more difficult than my girls endured. But excuses cannot be made when character development is needed. We will redirect our children to guide them to be good, kind, trustworthy individuals that develop goals and handle distractions with ease, forgiveness and love.

I have blogged previously about boundaries, respect, character, kindness and grace. All of these are required when dealing with distractions and figuring out the next step. Our behavior is key (sometimes that requires silence, no response or a prayer). We are human and will feed into drama on occasion – it’s best when we can recognize that and put an end to it in order to be at peace and put in the hands of God because it is bigger than we are.

My prayer for today: Dear Jesus, I pray that you guide me and my husband to focus on the positives in our day, to avoid distractions and to guide our children to do the same. Please help us look to you for answers rather than formulating them on our own and bring us back to you when we wonder and lose direction. Help us continue to be a team, stay strong in our bond together and let nothing interfere with our growth. Help us set a great relational example for our girls allowing them to know what to expect from others. Thank you for your grace always. Amen.

My hope for you today is that you are able to focus on what’s best for you, avoid distractions of any kind and accomplish what you set out to do. In this you will find or create your purpose and you will feel and be a success. Every day creates a new distraction or challenge… are you prepared?

Moving Forward

I am in the process of stepping into the next chapter in my life… 2018 is right around the corner and I am ready for everything coming my way. I’ve started running again which is excellent for my body and my mind. Work is outstanding and all my studies are behind me. The girls are all excelling in school and their activities. I’m turning 40, so there’s that 😜 and I’m getting married to a one-in-a-million man.

The past few years have been tough, but I couldn’t be more grateful for the close friendships I’ve formed, for the lessons I’ve learned, for the personal growth I’ve achieved and for the exciting things to come.

In order to Move Forward, I’m leaving this blog behind. I’m starting a new one and this will be just like all the chaos – a thing of the past. Please feel free to contact me anytime and remember to choose character rather than add to any chaos directed your way.

True Intimacy

The definition of Intimacy is a close familiarity or friendship; closeness; a private, cozy atmosphere; sexual intercourse. You can have sex without intimacy and if it’s confined to your marriage, it can make you feel even more lonely. In my previous marriage of 13 years, sex was never absent. In fact, it was a daily occurrence, but intimacy was never there.

There is a huge difference when you have true intimacy and when you don’t. The loneliness is constant when it is not there and nothing you can do will bring it back when dealing with an addict no matter how hard you try. You can be honest, loyal, giving, kind and understanding and it won’t matter. Trust me when I say this, if Intimacy is lacking or completely absent, your marriage is in trouble. Just know this, you cannot make him be honest, you cannot make him be loyal and you cannot make him want that private comfort with you. They have to want it too and doing that makes them completely vulnerable – some people are incapable of this type of closeness. Their insecurities will create insecurities in you and it will take some time to figure all that out and realize it’s not you.

For me, it took many years. I dealt with a lot. I’m even finding out lies now from 10 years ago…it’s heartbreaking to know I gave and trusted him with so much with nothing in return. I thought because we had a good sex life that we were good – lots of marriages fail because of sexual needs not being met, right? This might be true, but I would be willing to bet that more marriages fail due to lack of true intimacy or the complete absence of it. If you are unwilling to reveal exactly who you are and what you are about, you are not being fair to your partner/spouse. If you think keeping secrets of any kind is beneficial to your relationship, you are sadly mistaken.

When you experience true intimacy, you will realize how amazing and simple your relationship can be. The mutual respect between two people who love each other despite their faults, is amazing. Sex can be good without intimacy, but it can be better than you could have ever imagined with true intimacy. Wait for it. Don’t settle for good. Expect more for yourself and enjoy the private, cozy atmosphere with a partner/spouse who truly loves, respects and adores you enough to be honest and let you in.

An Open letter to my abusive ex… YOU WIN!

battle

Dear Ex:

We just recently completed a few sessions of joint counseling to put our amazing girls first and it was nothing short of a disaster.  We have been divorced now for 1 1/2 years and it is clear to me now that your anger will most likely never go away regardless of what it does to you or how it affects our babies.  I have accepted this, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

I loved you and supported you for who I knew you could be.  I believed in you.  I knew you were better than the company you work for who doesn’t appreciate your dedication, I knew you were fighting demons from long before you met me and your addictions were self medication, I knew there were issues of abuse throughout your family and I accepted you anyway, I knew you had a big heart for others and always knew you would see mine someday.  I know you are a good guy and you have lots of potential, but you are going to allow your ego, your pride and your demons to take over our lives and the damage will be irreplaceable.

When I chose to file for divorce and finally put an end to our tumultuous marriage, I just wanted us to work together, for you to be present and sober in our girls’ lives and for both of us to be happier.  It is clear that none of these have occurred. You have managed to continue the turmoil and, in fact, make it worse. It is abundantly clear that you are not happy and you are still vaguely present with our girls.  So my conclusion to this is… YOU WIN!

You win the ability to continue to think your abusive behaviors affect my life.  You win the lack of respect that is coming your way when our girls grow up and realize who you truly are and what you’ve allowed yourself to become.  You win a new wife who is exactly like you and will never leave you no matter how you treat her, she will continue to enjoy interfering and her unhappiness and mistrust in you will create additional issues for all involved.   You win bonus children that have been raised in ways you and I would have never allowed – and all that comes with that.  You win the deceits you so adamantly claim are truths and the right to live a lie forever.  You win the drug dispute just as you have over the past 18 years.  You win the ability to not reach your full potential while surrounding yourself with no one that will challenge you.  You win a new set of friends that only know you as you are now.  You win your image and all that you have done to disguise it.  You win the exact life you had hoped for.

I just have one question and I’ll leave you to live that life to the fullest… IF you were so miserable with me and IF you have everything you ever wanted now, why continue the anger?  Why have any issues toward me at all?  I have done everything you have requested and I have given up on all of those expectations and dreams I had for you.  Prior to our sessions, I was still holding onto the thought that you could still pull through for our girls’ sake.  I will never put those expectations out there again.  I give up and while years may diminish the anger and animosity to allow our girls some peace, I’m not holding my breath.

I would like to Thank You for this weight that is now lifted off my shoulders.  Never before have I felt such harmony in my life and the ability to move forward without disappointment.  Things always happen for a reason and I can focus on what’s truly important.  You may have won this battle, but you didn’t gain anything from winning.  I can live with that.

Sincerely,

The STRONG, FEARLESS, UNBREAKABLE Ex-wife

Serving others…

Most days we can get bogged down in our own struggles, our own worries and our own tasks.  Today, I challenge you to serve others by putting their needs above yours.  It can be a loved one, co-worker, friend, ex or stranger. 

Rick Rigsby once said that “ego is the anesthesia that deadens the pain of stupidity” and I firmly believe that.  Ego is a sense of self-esteem or self importance.  Notice the word “self” twice in that definition.  You cannot have a huge ego and be thinking about others.  You cannot be concerned with your self importance and have a serving heart. And if you are concerned with your ego, your stupidity will prevail.

Serving others is something I discuss with our children daily.  Kids can be so self-absorbed these days, they forget there are others in need.  We volunteer, we pray for giving hearts and we practice random acts of kindness.  We do not do these for recognition, we simply do them to see the joy in others and build our character to realize what’s truly important.

I have always had a heart to serve others.   In my teenage years, it disappeared with my own anger and resentment for certain things occurring in my life.  During my terrible marriage, it was absent again when I was told daily I “had no heart”… I actually believed that for a while. I feel like it’s only in the past few years that I have been able to reach my full serving potential and see that no matter how someone treats me, I will do my best to serve them and I expect our girls to do the same.  Some people will not understand – they may think you have an “agenda,” just love them through it.  If someone doesn’t accept your grace, that’s on them – don’t let their behavior take away the joy of simple acts of kindness. They may never see your heart due to their hurt.

One of my favorite things to hear from my fiancé is “I love your heart.”  He has a huge servant heart and I strive each day to be more like him.  You are what you consistently do.  Make it a habit to Serve and Love others.  Maybe your children will catch you and grow up to do the same. 

Staying for the kids…

Hello strong men and women.  I have had a lot of questions lately surrounding staying for the kids’ sake.  I want you to know this is a valid question and one any caring parent will contemplate prior to divorce.  

I was there for many years and, to be brutally honest, I revisited the idea during the divorce.  Anything is better than your babies suffering, right?  Ask yourself these questions:

Do you want your children to be in a respectful relationship?

Do you want your children to know true happiness?

Do you and your spouse model the behaviors you want them to share with theirs?

Do you believe children understand more than you realize?

Do you want your children to be adored by others?

Do you want your children to have strength and achievement?

Are you living your full potential with an unsupportive spouse?

If you answered yes to any of these, either start modeling the behaviors you want your children to live or make changes. Divorce may not always be the answer, but suffering for the kids’ sake is definitely not.

I was lucky, my ex was gone a lot, so it was just me and our babies.  It was fine, but I was alone and even at young ages, the girls remember.  I was suffering and even though I thought I protected them, they knew.  Would it have been easier on them to have us together? Probably, but what would I be teaching them?  Marriage takes 2 people giving everything – it cannot be one sided no matter how giving 1 person is.

Do not stay in an unhealthy relationship for the kids!  You are teaching your children something with all of your actions.  Focus on teaching them core values by modeling them every day.  Love, honesty, adoration, respect, honor, trust and strength are gifts of character that cannot just be spoken.  I am a better example every day now than I ever was before.  It took focusing on what is most important.  How are you living?