Don’t be ordinary…

In love. In life. In parenthood. In anything. It’s a good rule – why be ordinary?

The above quote says it all for me as we head towards the big V-day. And I may not be going where you think I’m am with this. It’s not a “To heck with jerks! You go tell him where to stick it girl!” kind of thing.

We are all so incredibly unique. Nope – we’re not all special little snowflakes to be coddled and protected from every bump in the road. But we are unique.

No two people have exactly the same life experience, outlook, talents or challenges.

Valentine’s Day is bittersweet for many, sweet for some and just plain bitter for others.

We’ve heard it all, right?  ‘Love yourself first’ and ‘you can’t love another person until you love yourself’. And these are true.

We get totally sick of hearing them when  we’d rather have an awkward date with Mr. Not-Quite-Right than sit at home alone with take-out and binge-watching GOT one more night. There’s nothing wrong with going on that date if you are just looking for a fun night out, and everyone involved has a realistic expectation of outcomes.

But please routinely put in the effort to make those statements above true.

Don’t waste too much time on Mr. (or Ms!) Not Quite Right – buy yourself a treat instead – a handbag you’ve wanted, a ticket to a sporting event, a dinner out at a lovely restaurant – and it doesn’t have to be expensive – do it on a shoestring – a walk in the park or hiking expedition of your own can be so incredibly gratifying. Take a lesson in something you’ve been dying to learn – rock climbing or painting or whatever tickles your fancy.

Self-care takes a lot of practice – you might not have that rosy “I love me!” feeling. It doesn’t matter – do the thing anyway. Take the moment – if it’s nothing but stopping working on all the other things to read for 30 minutes and have a bath. Your heart, mind and body all three will thank you. (The rosy feelings do sometimes come! I promise!)

Next, let’s consider ‘Don’t expend energy loving someone who doesn’t love you more than you love you.’

A mouthful – I know. I’m no Oscar Wilde. But I think the point is important.

Once we remember how to love ourselves, we shouldn’t work so hard to love someone who doesn’t cherish all the parts of us at least as much as we do.

When you truly love someone, you even find ways to cherish the parts of them that drive you crazy.

My SO and I have this piece down. For example – he’s reticent. Completely. HUGELY. And it drives me totally bonkers most of the time. He doesn’t communicate AT ALL when he’s upset. Then I get upset because he’s not communicating – and then he’s upset that I’m upset, and it can get really stupid.

BUT – I’ve learned from his reticence. Running off at the mouth has always been a problem of mine – but being around him has caused me to slow down and consider more carefully the things that come out of my mouth. It has taught me that not everything needs an immediate response and sometimes it doesn’t need a response at all.

Still drives me nuts when he does it sometimes (and funnily enough was the most infuriating part to me about my dad! Wished I’d learned from him instead of waiting this long.) But it’s part of who he is as a person – and it does have value.

I *think* I’m teaching him something about empathy – which drives him bonkers. We have to stop before leaving DQ to say hi to the older fellow sitting alone with his cone. He has to wait for me constantly because I have a need to know EVERYONE’S story. I want them all. He was not previously overly concerned about other’s stories – or with sharing his own.

I think he sees through my crazy eyes that wanting to know about others, because you’re truly interested in their story, can be beautiful thing, and can create some wonderful bonds (and get you some fantastic stories!) He tells me routinely that it’s part of who I am – so he loves it too.

So if you’re going to be with someone, choose a person who is willing to think that you’re a special snowflake and treat you with all the care that should afford – but who’s also willing to push you and inspire you to being bigger, better and more than you were.

No one less is worth it – have many lovely friends and people around you – but don’t sacrifice your time and effort for someone who doesn’t cherish your soul.

Don’t expend energy loving someone who doesn’t love you more than you love you. 🙂

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I didn’t work hard enough… really??

 

 

I had considered saying this nicely, but changed my mind.

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STOP telling all of us separated and divorced folks that we didn’t work hard enough, and that if we had our marriages would have thrived or at least survived.

Or love enough. Or cook enough. Or forgive enough…. Keep filling in the blanks – we’ll be here all day long.

Stop. Just stop.

Yes, marriages are hard work.

Yes, some people throw them away too easily.

However, most everyone I know who has watched their marriage discentegrate before their eyes KNOWS that they are hard work.

Chances are pretty good that they were doing a lot of work. Maybe both people were and it just wasn’t coming across. Chances are also pretty good they tried really hard to save it before throwing in the towel.

One thing I do know for certain is that you can do more damage when both parties aren’t seeing eye-to-eye for a very prolonged time than you’ll be able to repair.

If you looked at my book collection about a year ago, you’d see more self-help and marriage-help books than I can name. I’d spent positively years trying to improve myself and my marriage – my attitude, my looks, my homemaking skills – all of it. Yes, I am the child of divorce and was determined that my children wouldn’t be.

I can also personally attest to still having love for my not-yet-ex. He loves our kids and can still make me laugh.

HOWEVER- don’t you dare tell me that I should have just tried a little harder. That I didn’t communicate my needs clearly enough or otherwise. That 6 years of ‘working on it’ wasn’t enough. That because we still care about one another’s well-being we should fix it.

You. Have. No. Idea.

Until you’ve had the same deal-breaker-level problems in your marriage for YEARS – and no matter what angle you both take to attempt to address it (and you’ve tried them ALL) – it ends in yelling, accusations and resentment, don’t comment.

Until your spouse lets you know that they can’t ‘babysit’ the kids tonight because they’re busy – shut your piehole.

Until you’ve been accused ofbeing a terrible wife, husband, mother, father, friend, human, housekeeper, provider etc, sit back and breathe a bit – and stop judging the rest of us.

Not all of these things were my situation, but some of them were – and trust me, it becomes impossible to live, forget thrive, in that environment – for everyone involved. No one was happy. No one was kind. Everyone was hurt. Including, and most importantly, the kids.

One other piece of info – neither of us got married because we thought it would end in divorce.

We had the same kinds of dreams that you do. I wanted to rock on the porch with this guy with the grandkids playing in the yard. He’d take them hunting while I cooked and camped with them. We’d have a lovely old house we’d put work into that I could decorate at Christmas, and we’d take cassaroles to all the church functions to eat and socialize with all our friends. I honestly had the amibition to be married for 50 years.

But that wasn’t reality. Reality wasn’t that nice.  The reality is that through all of this he wasn’t very nice, and I wasn’t very nice either.

Reality is that when we finally walked away, we were actually able to be nice to each other again. And we were able to be the parents that we’d like to be again.

There are so many variations on this theme. And if you’d like to know why so many of us refuse to ‘prove to you’ that we did hard work, it’s because it comes out sounding like spouse bashing. And that’s not what we’re trying to do. Many of us have to work hand-in-hand with that person to raise kids. We don’t want to breed animosity, we’ve had enough of that to last a lifetime. We want to move forward and upward.

And, trust me, we’re happy for you that you were able to save your marriage. But sadly, that wasn’t the case for us, and it’s not for lack of trying.

Many times, I could honestly say that what another person is calling extra work, I call a drop in the bucket. Multiply it times 100, spread it over 6 years, have none of it help, then come have a cuppa and a chat with me.

Please don’t judge until you’ve worn the shoes. And for the record – when you’ve worn the shoes, chances are good you won’t judge because you well know that these are shoes none of us want to wear.