The Single Mom Life

happy-2681243_960_720I want to change the stigma that goes hand-in-hand with being a single mom.  I want to lift off the caked in belief that a single mom is always struggling.  Yes, we work hard, but I don’t think we work any harder than some women who are married.  Let’s be honest.  Even when I was married, I did everything.  This is not an understatement.  The transition from living with my ex-husband to being completely on my own was nominal, so I know that many men do not carry their weight, especially when you have an amazingly competent wife.  My struggles to make sure that the laundry was done, dinner was on the table, and the house was not a mess were all the same.  So people need to stop assuming that single moms struggle any more than married ones.

I am also doing well financially even though my ex-husband does not contribute one cent towards raising our children. I am completely self-sufficient. I also do not rely on any boyfriend to help me financially. I have an amazing job in a great district as an English teacher. I have the equivalent of two Master’s Degrees.

I am happy and I am not remarried. I did not rush quickly into another relationship. I did not bring a torrent of men around my children as I secretly interviewed them for the job of step-father.  I did not even date for the first two years after my divorce, and my boys only met my current after five months of dating.

My words here are so defensive. My wounds are so apparent as I sit and type them, but I am not going to delete this vulnerability from the page because someone might need to see this.  Perhaps there is a single mom out there who also feels judged.  Maybe she too feels like no matter how hard she tries, she feels that others are secretly grading her or assuming that she is not enough.  There is the constant striving to be the worth of two adult parents in one. The constant motion forward to make sure that nothing is forgotten , no experience is missed, no lesson goes unlearned because that will mean she failed. And this is what I do not want to do, what I cannot do. I cannot screw up because it may cost one of my sons in some unseen way that has yet to transpire.

Let me know your thoughts, advice and fears.  Would like to know that I am also not alone.

What’s Your Language?

Yesterday I took the Love Languages Test.  I found it really interesting and truly accurate.

I few years ago, I read the book and made my best guess as to which language was my top one.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, here is description I took from the Love Languages website:

  1. Words of affirmation: These are things you say that are encouraging and affirming. I imagine that they are complimentary in nature as well.  Things like, ” I am so proud of you.”
  2. Acts of Service: These are things one can do for other people: cutting the lawn, taking out the trash, making dinner.  These acts service help the other person in some way with seemingly mundane tasks.
  3. Quality Time: This is time spent with another person where each person is actively listening and engaged with the other.
  4. Gift Giving or Receiving: This involves a tangible object that is given as a gift. It does have to be something big and expensive, but it shows thought.
  5. Physical Intimacy: The site was clear to state that this does not have necessarily involve sex, but it could include hand holding, hugging, cuddling.

Before I took the test, I already knew that a big one for me was Words of Affirmation.  A score in any one area can go as high as 12.  Words of Affirmation scored a 9.  This was followed by Acts of Service which scored an 8.  The final of the big three was Physical Intimacy with a score of 7.  Gift Giving/Receiving ended it all with a 1.

Again, I was not surprised by the way my scores played out, but it did start to give me additional clarity.  Some of my miscommunications with my boyfriend and children may stem from the fact that Gift Giving/Receiving is probably a much higher number for them.  My boyfriend gives me gifts all of the time, but he often finds it difficult to verbalize his feelings.  It’s important for me to put my feelings in check after I write him a detailed message about the reasons I find him so amazing and all I get is a t-shirt.  It also helps me to explain to him why he may feel like he is doing everything he can to help me feel loved, but I am being needy and distant all at the same time.

The other part of this text that I absolutely loved is the idea of a Love Tank.  We all have one and it is on various levels of filled and empty through the course of any given day.  My son running up to me just to kiss and hug me “hello”- Love Tank full.  My other son complains about the dinner I just made for our family- Love Tank empty.  It is not only important to know which language makes you feel like your tank is full, but also the language of your partner and children so they can feel full.

Overall, when we look at love as a reciprocal thing that has pre-conceived conditions for each person, it can give us more control over how we feel in our relationships.  Perhaps my not feeling loved is merely a matter of perception.  Or when I see how my son feels love simply by a small gift I procured at the store, I can know that his Love Tank is full.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?  Giving and receiving love…what could be simpler?

Click on the link below to find out what your love language.

http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

Additional Resource from fiercemarriage.com:

On Being a Lighthouse

220px-SplitPoint_0072I believe in signs.  The Universe always seems to send me messages through objects that are around me.  Somehow my mind connects a person in my life or an idea about something that is happening to an object, so when I see this object, I immediately know that the Universe has my back.  The list just gets longer and longer.  Elephants, butterflies, anchors, and now lighthouses.

At first I thought the message was that I was supposed to be a lighthouse for others.  I was reading a book that used this lighthouse analogy when explaining love.  Sometimes people get lost.  If one person acts as a lighthouse for the other, the person can sometimes find his way back.  He can look for the light as he tosses on the storm of his own troubles.  Later that day, the movie Jerry Maguire ended with Bob Dylan’s Shelter from the Storm.

Then I went to the beach.  A large light house perches at the end of the cove in the center of Cape May.  I saw lighthouses everywhere I went and continued to believe that this was my sign that I am lighthouse for others.  My mom sarcastically reminded me that we were in Cape May, which is known for its lighthouses, but I just knew that there was a deeper message here.

But then, in the middle of one of my meditations, an thought arose: I am the lighthouse for myself.  My inner being is the light within that leads me.  It is my inner light that is guiding me through the darkness and tumultuous waves of thought.  If I follow this guiding light that exists in me, I can get through my storms.  How arrogant of me to think I could be this for someone else.  They are their own lighthouse to follow, their own beacon in the dark that guides them to the truth that can only be found inside themselves.  If my truth can only be found inside of me, why in the world did I believe that I was here to be that for them?  This is not to say that the light we shine from within cannot sometimes act as an awakening for others, but in the end, these tall, bright structures that sit at the edge of pain and despair our own connection to Source.  It is the individual’s job to search in the endless black for the glimmer of light that gleams within us.  Until we do that, we are lost.

amazing-lighthouse-landscape-photography-3Trust. Trust. Trust

“Make friends with pain, and you will never be alone.”-Ken Chlouber

mountainsI recently read this quote in Born to Run.  Ken Chlouber was a Colorado miner and the creator of the Leadville Trail 100, which is an ultramarathon trail that goes through the dirt roads near the heart of the Rocky Mountains.  An ultramarathon is 42.195.  I enjoy running. I have even done a half marathon.  An ultramarathon, though interesting to think about, is not something I could ever see myself doing. But it is not running that draws this to me.  It is the idea of pain.

BornIf you’ve never read Born to Run, I highly recommend it.  Written by Christopher McDougall, it talks about a unique tribe of Indians called the Tarahumara.  It all starts because McDougall was experiencing a tremendous amount of pain in his foot.  Pain leads him to uncovering this group and their unbelievable ability to endure.

We all seek to avoid pain at some level.  Some numb it with drugs or alcohol or relationships, but there are others who dive right in.  They embrace physical pain and ride out the storm to obtain some higher sense of self.  McDougall writes, “And the mileage.  The sheer stress on their legs was off the charts.  Running one hundred miles a week was supposed to be the shot to a stress injury, yet the ultrafreaks were doing one hundred miles in a day.”  This amount of running is unfathomable to me.  This ability to ignore the bodies needs and demands to put that amount of miles between you and somewhere else…amazing. At this level that’s what it is all about: making friends with your pain.

I am trying to make friends with my pain, not so I can run through the Copper Canyons, but so I can finally feel whole and abundant while watching the pain pass through me.  Perhaps if the pain from my past becomes an amicable companion who is just there to remind me of how far I’ve come and how much farther I still have to go, I can have a shot at loving unconditionally.  Pain does not have to stop me in my tracks. It does not have to be the red light to get off at the next exit.  It can be an asset and ally.  My god, think of how life changing that would be.

Trust. Trust. Trust

Be in this world but not of it. -Jesus of Nazareth

bridgeI love this quote.  It has become my mantra over and over again when I feel myself getting tangled in the web of the world around me.  Sometimes the strings in my life have barbs and they tug and snare, and I think of these words and feel instantly calm.

I said them once to my father as he went on a tirade about some commotion with his family.  He was sad because after his mother’s death his family was squabbling about what to do with certain items, money, and property.  The emotions he was carrying with him were heavy, and I often have a difficult time in the presence of them.  I wanted a way to calm him, soothe his fears and anger, so I said, “Be in this world but not of it.”

He quieted for a moment, then asked, “What does that mean?”  I explained to him that it’s the thought that we are created to be in this world and a part of its manifestations, but as soon as we lose ourselves in the mastication of events, we are lost.

“Think about,” I said.  “We are physical beings.  We are in a physical reality much of the time.  There are events and things that transpire that we cannot control nor should we.  As soon as we start to believe that these events and things are who we are, we lose the thread.  We are spiritual beings living a physical experience.”  He looked at me like I had three heads.  He nodded and continued driving, no longer lamenting the affairs of his family. I felt generally soothed by the fact that he was at least mulling it over.

After a few minutes he turned to me, “So which one of your psycho babble new-aged philosophers taught you that idea?”

I laughed.  “Jesus,” I said.  He paused again.  His deep and abiding love for Catholicism kept him from going any further with his derides.

“So tell me again what this means,” he said. I did, but I am still quite sure he didn’t get it, and truthfully, that’s okay.

The quotes I remember, the mantras that keep me going, the words of wisdom that help steer me in the right direction day after day are here for my journey.  The understanding that we are all here to learn our particular brand of lesson is never lost on me, and I try to remember that before I get frustrated by lack of understanding.  We are all on our own paths and we are shown constant signs to help guide us through, and perhaps showing others our sign posts help them or maybe it just helps us.  As we reaffirm an idea for another, it travels more deeply into the core of us, and there it becomes lodged and more of a truth than it was before.  Either way, it is good.

Trust. Trust. Trust

Wondering About the Nature of Love

heartWhen does someone know she is in love?  Is it just a level of caring that overtakes her softly and then sideswipes her over and over again until she wonders which way is up?  Or is love a combination of waves crashing on a beach, sometimes soft and lapping other times thunderous and raw? Does it matter if the other person loves us back?

I have read every relationship book ever created.  I have read The Rules, and It’s only F*cking Dating, He’s Just Not That Into You, Ignore the Guy and Get the Relationship You Want, Rory Raye, and Bruce Bryans, The Key to Getting His Heart, How to Be the Girl Who Gets the Guy…just to name a few, and I feel I have found the common thread that links them all together.  It is about loving myself first.  Unfortunately, this is the tough part, and these books aren’t entirely helpful in explaining how a person does this.  One suggests “circular dating”, and another is more keen on buying something that the person who is a successful relationship would own.  This way you are already materializing the good things you will have in the future. There are visualizations and experimentations, drawing clear boundaries, and feeling your emotions.  It’s all pretty exhausting.

A few months ago I went to the 2017 Flower Show at the Convention Center in Philadelphia.  I decided to go alone. I was going to take advice from one of my countless advisers: Just date yourself for awhile.  As I walked among the myriad flower displays, a cold loneliness washed over me. It was surreptitious at first.  I had fooled myself into thinking that I was totally having fun weaving in and out of the vendors, closely studying the beautiful displays.  It was right around then that I started to notice couples everywhere.  They were holding hands or kissing under arbors, snuggling up to catch a selfie, and I felt the bottom drop out.  I texted my mom.

Me: At at the Flower Show

Mom: That’s great, Honey

Me: I am on a date with myself

Mom: Oh, that’s wonderful

Me: I just realized something

Mom: What’s that?

Me: I don’t even want to date me

Silence.  It was at that moment that I realized I had run into a wall.  If the truth was that I could not even have a good time with myself, then what was I expecting on the other side of all of this.  I realized with sudden clarity that it was not love I was seeking, but a body to fill the void and keep me from me.  But why?  Why go to such lengths just to avoid me?  It would be in meditation that the answer was found.

In the silence, I remembered.  I remembered being that sad, little girl sitting in her room, ignored by the adults around her.  I remember my dad laughing and telling people that he could always hear me talking to myself. I was alone so much.  A child of divorce and a father who worked seven days a week…there wasn’t much time for me.  The thought of being alone catapulted me back to that moment if I wanted to go there or not, but then I remembered something Eckhart Tolle had said, “Our past is merely an interpretation of events.”  The loneliness certainly didn’t feel fabricated.  It felt very real and I resented those adults who didn’t care for me.  Either way the past was sitting in my lap during my meditation and I allowed it. I gave the pain and the loneliness space to be.  I did not deny that little girl the feeling of her loneliness, but I reminded the adult me, who was coming to realize that she was already whole.   I tried gentleness as opposed to an egoic tug of war with myself.  I allowed it to just be.  I wish I could say that it all dissipated and at that moment I was free, but any student of meditation knows that it seldom works that way.  My little girl self returns with a vengeance or sometimes a gentle tapping, but she always returns for the compassionate reassurance that she is not alone.

So going back to love…I feel that the best is on the mat, deep in meditation and silence.  I go within when I am overwhelmed with these emotions, even if going to the mat means I stop in a public place to catch my breath.   Currently, I am in love with a man.  I am trying not to let my white, hot loneliness take over, but I am filled whearts3ith fear. I want to nail this down, figuring it out, give it a title, know that it is all going to work out, but I have to go back to my mat.  I need to recalibrate and focus on what is real.  Love from Source.  Love that is already me.

Trust. Trust. Trust.

“When you look in the ashes, look well.”

tressThis morning I woke up with enough fear and anxiety to choke a horse.  I went to my mat to process it and try and accept and release the pain from my clenching stomach, but it was hard and sad.  It caused me to wonder about the nature of a pain so great that it causes me to rise from my bed in the early morning hours to start and try and meditate my way back to a grounded state.  Is this truly necessary?  Can one body contain this much angst? Can’t I just be happy all of the time?

This leads me to today’s blog and the above quote which is from a book by Deepak Chopra.  It is called The Way of the Wizard, and it is really good.  Chopra takes the reader through twenty spiritual lessons by creating tiny vignettes between Merlin and a young King Arthur.  As Merlin teaches Arthur, he also shows us the way of the Wizard.

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Lesson 14 contains the above quote and also a short story about Arthur finally realizing that there is death in in the world.  It is here where I moved very deeply into understanding the idea of gain and loss.  On a cognitive level I understand that there is a balance between what is acquired and what passes away, but I still seek to hold onto things that might be far out of season.  It is easy for me to understand that a peach may be past its ripening and toss it into the composite pit, happy with the idea that it will continue its journey there, but I am not so happy about it when it becomes more personal.  I cry when I get to the end of a really fantastic book.  I dread the deaths of people close to me.  I grasp at relationships with people that are far past their prime.  Merlin attributes these feelings and grasping to man’s ego, and that it is not until we “die to every moment” that we can truly get to the “gate of unending life”.

My favorite part of the lesson is when he talks about seeds of opportunity in the leftovers of our perceived disaster, like the beautiful Phoenix rising from the ashes. How many times have I just walked away from the ashes and assumed nothing good could come from them?  Merlin says it best, “Pain isn’t the truth.  It’s what mortals go through to find the truth.”

Again as I sit on my mat and the words TRUST, TRUST, TRUST whisper gently through the whirring of the fan blades above my head, I realize that trust and truth come in stages.  That these early morning risings to process heartache and pain are necessary to begin the processes of sifting through the ashes to find my seeds of light.  There are possibilities in me as there are in all of us, and when these possibilities are given light and the patience to grow, then it will be as it should be.  I can no more force a relationship than I can force a seed to become a tree.  I just need to rest in the knowledge that in every seed there is a chance for rebirth and life.

TRUST. TRUST. TRUST