It’s Going To Be A Great Year

 

It's a New Year!

As I sit here on New Year’s Eve thinking about the past year, I feel really good about the changes I’ve made in my life during 2011. I faced some heartbreaking choices and I ended my marriage. A sad but necessary decision to improve both my life and the lives of my children. I’ve embraced being single in a way I never did before now. I’ve discovered a peace that I haven’t felt since Steve died. But, it’s been a long, hard year to get to where I am now….

Last year at this time, I had the unsettling feeling that 2011 would be the year I would have to accept my marriage for what it was or decide to end it. We had been in marriage counseling for many months and things were not getting better. I knew that my children were unhappy and it was breaking my heart to be living in a home with so much conflict. I was praying for guidance, taking anti-depressants and experiencing an anxiety that was overwhelming. It really came home for me when one of my friends asked me, “What are you doing to your children by staying in this marriage?” What would Steve want me to do? What would he EXPECT me to do? The answer was obvious but so difficult to actually make.

The morning that I asked for a divorce, there was no fight. No argument. No trigger. I just knew there would never be a “good” time to break up our family. We may not have been a family for long (just two and a half years), but we were a family nonetheless. There were four children involved in my decision (my stepson and my three children) and I was heartbroken at the thought of hurting them. So, I just asked for the divorce and he agreed. That was it. We told our children that afternoon. Their only concern was whether or not they could continue to see each other. We assured them they would still spend time together and we started the difficult process of ending a marriage.

I was not prepared for the grief I felt during my divorce! It felt so familiar to me but completely different at the same time. How could I be hurting so much when this was my CHOICE? Steve was taken away from me and this time, I walked away. How come the feelings felt so similar? I grieved my way through, with the help of my counselor, and accepted that any loss of a relationship is still a loss.

When I came out on the other side a few months later, even my 10 year old daughter noticed a change in me. “Mom, you’re so much happier now,” she told me one day as we were riding in the car.  My friends started commenting on how good I looked. It was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I was feeling more like myself than I had since the day that Steve died. I began to believe that healing was happening in my life and it felt awesome!

I started working out and eating healthier. I’ve surrounded myself with positive people and met some new friends along the way too. I began dating again and even ended a short relationship when it wasn’t making me happy. I’ve become stronger this past year in ways that I never could have thought possible since I lost Steve. What I’ve discovered is this: when I remarried after losing Steve, I thought that I had to be married to be a good mom. Now, I know that I am a good mom when I am taking care of myself emotionally, spiritually and physically. Being happy for me no longer depends on whether or not I am in a relationship with a man. It has taken me seven long years to get here, but I have finally arrived!

I like being in a relationship so I am dating and enjoying the prospect of finding that someone special. It’s completely different this time, though. I don’t hesitate when I feel like a man isn’t right for me. It’s liberating to be able to tell someone that I don’t want to date them anymore because I refuse to settle for anything less than complete happiness this time around.

I am also starting a couple new Bible studies, continuing to workout, exploring new hobbies (who knew that painting could be fun?!) and just loving my life right now. 2012 is going to be a great year…..I can feel it!

My Christmas Wish

Ready for Christmas

I haven’t blogged all week because I’ve been busy getting ready for Christmas. Last minute shopping and wrapping because I tend to spoil my children a bit at this time of year. But, tonight, when I went to church to worship and celebrate the REAL reason we have Christmas, I found myself feeling really sad….

Sad that Steve has not been with us for one more year. This is our eighth Christmas without him and it’s still hard to believe he’s gone. As I look at my children, it seems as though he’s missed their whole lives and I guess, in reality, he has. Cameron was just a little boy, six years old, when we had our first Christmas without his Daddy. Now, he’s a teenager, with his own tastes in music, his own opinions and he’s even had his first kiss! At just three years old, Caitlin was still a baby when we lost her Daddy. She’s no longer a baby but a strong-willed, athletic, smart and kind hearted little girl. Since Connor was born after Steve died, he has grown up without his Daddy altogether.

At church tonight, I was overwhelmed with a longing to celebrate just one more Christmas with Steve. One more time to go to church. One more time to have him with me as our children open their Christmas presents. I cried and knew that God would understand why I was so sad.

I am often overcome with emotion when I am in church. It is there that I feel God’s presence and I truly know where Steve is (with God). After Steve died, I remember walking through my house feeling lost, like the other half of me was suddenly missing. I felt Steve’s absence with every inch of my being. When I went to church, however, a strange calm would come over me because I could look at the altar and know that he was in Heaven with Jesus. I didn’t have to wonder where he was when I was in church. My feelings changed from bewilderment to sadness. Even though he was in Heaven, I selfishly wanted him back here with me.

If I could have just one Christmas wish, it would be to have Steve back so that he could share in the joy of celebrating this holiday with our children. I know he would have fun wrapping their presents with me, cooking Christmas dinner and going to church as a family. I know this is a selfish wish, though. Steve is enjoying eternal life in Heaven but I just miss him so much during the holidays. Even after eight years, I can still hear him laughing. I know he’s smiling down on us from Heaven and this will have to be good enough for now.

I look forward to the day when we are reunited and I can spend Christmas with my soulmate again.

Crazy For You

Music has the power to take me back in time. I can remember where I was and who I was with just by listening to a song. I will even feel emotions related to those memories sometimes. I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older, though, that not everyone feels so intensely about music. To some people, a song is just a song. But not to me…..

It was September of 1985. I was a freshman in high school and I had a big crush on an 11th grader named Steve. We were talking on the phone one night (it was September 24th to be exact – the night before Steve’s 16th birthday) when the subject of our upcoming homecoming dance came up. Steve said, “I could go stag or I could take you.” My reply was something along the lines of, “Yeah, you could take me.” That was it. We had plans for our first date and I was super excited!

I have a picture of us so I know exactly what I was wearing. A gray striped jumpsuit! Steve showed up late to pick me up and I had no idea that I would spend the next 19 years getting frustrated when he showed up late to EVERYTHING! As the years wore on, I would lie to him about the start time for events so that we would actually be on time….it would become known as “Steve time.” If a wedding was at 1:00, I told him it was at 12:30 😉

Anyway, we finally did arrive to the homecoming dance. Steve had the DJ dedicate a song to me. I’ll never forget the excitement I felt when he said, “To Mary From Steve” and started to play, “Crazy For You” by Madonna. My heart melted and that became “our song.” We danced to it that night in 1985. We would call each other on the phone and instead of saying hello, we would play our song into the phone. This was way before caller ID. Imagine how I felt when I would answer the phone, not knowing who was calling, and I would hear Madonna’s voice on the other end! I felt more loved than I can describe in words.

We would dance to it again at our wedding. I had “Crazy For You” engraved into Steve’s wedding band. We would play it in our living room and dance, for no reason at all. It was our song and anyone who knew us can attest to how special it was to us.

When Steve died, I was told that I could put three words on his gravestone. I was torn. He meant so much to so many people; how could I sum him up in just three words? Husband, Father, Son? Husband, Father, Brother? I really didn’t know what to do until Steve’s mother told me she knew which three words needed to go on his headstone: Crazy For You. I was extremely touched because those words meant everything to us but I didn’t realize that others knew how much they meant too. So that’s what I did. A lifetime of love summed up in three words on a gravestone.

Whenever I want to go back to those days of dancing in Steve’s arms, I just play the song and it all comes back….

I Can Do This!

There are a lot of things that I miss about being married to Steve but there is one thing that I miss the most: knowing that there’s someone who will ALWAYS be there for you, no matter what happens. I am blessed with really good friends and they are certainly there for me when I need them to be but it’s just not the same. With Steve, it was an unspoken given that we would always put each other first in our lives. Our priority was the other one’s happiness and safety.

I remember this one time when I needed to get an MRI. It was many years ago, before open MRI’s and all of the technology that we have today. I didn’t think it was a big deal so I went to have it done. My whole body was put into the machine and there was no one in the room with me. The technician talked to me over a speaker. I started feeling like I couldn’t breathe and I got really scared. Claustrophobia! The technician took me out of the machine and we rescheduled the appointment. My doctor gave me some Valium to take before the next MRI and Steve went with me. He was able to stay in the room with me and he touched my foot during the entire procedure. I remember thinking that I would be fine because Steve would never let anything happen to me. I felt better just knowing that he was there and in that room with me. I made it through the MRI just fine.

There were several other times when Steve’s very presence calmed me during medical procedures. I can remember feeling safe because he loved me so much and he would stay with me no matter what happened. But it wasn’t just during medical procedures that I counted on him. If I was going to a party and I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t have to worry about being alone. Steve was there. He was my best friend and we always had so much fun together. He had such an outgoing personality that I was always confident taking him with me to new places because everyone liked him. We would enjoy ourselves no matter where we were together.

Now, when I go to unfamiliar places or out with groups of people that I don’t know very well, it can be a little intimidating. Steve was in my life since I was 14 years old so when he was taken away suddenly, I was truly on my own for the first time in my life. It’s almost as if I’ve had to “grow up” during these past seven years without him.  I’ve had to force myself to go outside of my comfort zone knowing that I need to keep living even though Steve is gone. This means that I have to keep meeting people and trying new things. I have taken my children on vacation, just the four of us. I have started new hobbies and met new friends along the way. I’m learning that I have the strength to keep living on my own and slowly, I’m building up the confidence that I need to do it too.

Prince Charming….Where Are You?

I’m recently divorced but I can see how I made that mistake (hindsight is 20/20, right?). I was widowed with three young children (one of which was an infant). If you’ve ever had a baby, then you know that your body image is not the greatest after giving birth. My husband was gone and I just couldn’t imagine that anyone would want to date me. I had so much baggage (or so I thought at the time!). I was still grieving, I was nursing a newborn and I had two other young children who needed my attention. Needless to say, I met a man who did want to date me and here I am several years later, D-I-V-O-R-C-E-D! The good news is that we parted as friends and everyone is happier now. Some people are just not meant to be married to each other 😉

So here I am, really single for the first time since I was in my 20’s, trying to find my Prince Charming! I believe that he’s out there somewhere. God created man and woman to be together and I don’t think He took my life partner when I was 33 years old just to let me live the next 50 years alone…

 The problem is that when I get close to a guy, he starts to think that I’m comparing him to Steve. I think this happens because Steve is still part of our family. For my children’s sake, we talk about him almost daily. His pictures are in their bedroom and we have one in the hallway outside their bedrooms. He is not here to get to know them so the only way they will know him is through me. When one of my children does something that reminds me of him, I am sure to tell them. He was my best friend for 19 years so I have a lot of stories to share with them.

 The truth is that I’m not comparing the men in my life but I do compare how relationships make me feel. I was happily married for 10 years. Of course I want to have that again. I know how good it is when you are married to your best friend. But, I am looking to feel that way with a man who’s HERE. Being widowed for 7 years has given me the time and space to move past the physical longing of losing Steve. When I miss him now, it’s because I wish I could talk to him. I wish I could get his advice. I wish he could see these amazing children of ours. I am sad to say that the memory of his touch has faded for me but I still remember how he made me FEEL: loved, secure, sexy, protected and like nothing in the world mattered more to him than my happiness. He encouraged me and supported me through college and graduate school. He was as proud of my accomplishments as I was of his. We supported each other. We were truly a team in life.

I believe there is a man out there who will make me feel these things again, but in his own unique ways. I am excited to meet him and look forward to falling in love again. My struggle is to trust God because it’s scary for me to think about losing my life partner again. One of my therapists summed up my choices: I can be afraid to be widowed again and live my life in fear, or I can take the chance and know that if I am widowed again, I can handle it. I choose to move forward and trust in God’s plan for my life. Steve would not want me living my life alone and I refuse to live my life in fear. I have children to raise and they need a healthy, happy mom.

So…..Prince Charming…..where are you?

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