Misplaced Frustration

Misplaced Frustration

Part of a prayer book I’m reading says to write a letter that confesses your fears and joys of parenting. Experiences, I suppose,of what you’re feeling in the moment. Some days I feel like I’m present and that I’m at least doing the basics but here lately I’d say at least over the last 6 months if I’m not yelling then I’m extremely frustrated. Micah may not remember this stage-thank God- as he’s a baby but Ari probably thinks I don’t like her or that everything she does is wrong or that I’m mad at her all of the time. It’s a mixture of so many different emotions.

I feel like there are so many different stages of the reality of parenting and when you hit that you stage you spend a certain period of time wondering how long you’re going to be in that stage. (i.e. how long am I going to have to keep telling them to clean up after themselves? Like this has been going on since they were 2? They’re 11 & 14). I have very smart, funny, loving kids. There are some days and some moments in very hard days where they really make me laugh with something they say or do. While Sam doesn’t live with me during the school year, it’s nice to get to face time her and get to hear about her day or listen to funny stories that she tells. Her sense of humor is really quirky. Ari is over the top melodramatic. All of the time. But she’s also really sweet, helpful, and way more self sufficient than even I realize at times. She can cook, clean, do her hair, do her laundry, and get herself off to school. Pretty good for a middle schooler. Micah is still a little person and requires a lot of attention, but he, too, is making his way towards independence. My number one thing I’ll be glad for him to learn how to do is use the toilet!

But in all of those things that I can see right now in my head as I am writing, they aren’t what’s seen in day to day life. It’s the frustrations of repeating the same things over and over again. Asking the same questions that you asked a few moments ago because you’ve given directions but nobody has done what you’ve asked. Repeating the same rules. If anyone lives in their house with a master negotiator like Ari then you get it. It’s exhausting to have to constantly repeat no because she will creatively ask the same question in a different format. So I find myself yelling a lot more than I used to and she feels that. She even says “please don’t yell” before asking a question sometimes and that kind of makes me wince. Which then puts me in a head space of man I suck!

Honestly sometimes our response to our kids is not about them or something they’ve done. Sometimes it’s more about us and the stressors we are carrying around. Being an adult is difficult. There are mounds of bills to pay on a monthly basis-watch out for the unexpected ones. We are balancing work and the high demands of the job, friendships, along with marriage or significant others.Volunteering in ministry or giving our time elsewhere. Then we have to make time for ourselves- How? Where’s that extra time coming from? Along with trying to care for and manage these little people who come with their own set of problems, illnesses, friendships, extracurricular activities, jobs, feelings, and needs. It’s a lot for all parties involved. And sometimes we are already on the brink of losing it then something our kid says or does sends us over the edge. Doesn’t make it right but it happens. I can tell you in most situations that what’s been happening with my yelling episodes.

As I’ve come to recognize that, I’ve gotten better at taking the time to take a deep breath and go- Ok don’t do this or fix this or change that- in a much calmer tone. I am better able to communicate with my kids because I am recognizing where the source of my frustration is coming from. That’s not to say that sometimes they aren’t the source! Hello! All parents know that at times they are the main source. I have had to send myself to my own room for a time out on behalf of my kids LOL. But this is just a reminder that sometimes we miss the beauty in our kids and in parenting because we are letting outside things affect our mood and set the atmosphere in our home. What could potentially be a great teaching moment turns into us being angry and the child being sad or frustrated because of misplaced feelings. We’ve all done it. We’re all learning, no matter what stage of parenting we are in.

Just be grateful for God’s grace because kids are resilient and forgiving beings. They continue to love us even when we are less than favorable towards them or unfair at times. I thank God for that! At the end of the day if you’re like me, you’re just praying to God that the little people He has blessed you with will continue to grow into the amazing people you’ve been praying and trying to shape them into.

Even When You’re Unsure

Even When You’re Unsure

So I took a break from writing my blog just for a little bit just to regroup and reflect. Sometimes in doing things we find ourselves getting burned out or the outcome isn’t quite what we expected so then our confidence wavers.

I’ve had moments when I’ve thought “What’s my purpose with writing this blog today? What’s my goal?” I don’t want to just be writing my thoughts just to be writing. Part of my goal is yes, to get my experiences out there, but the other part of the goal is to touch someone or to motivate someone or more than anything help someone know they aren’t alone.

I’ve walked through so many stages of life where even though I was surrounded by people I felt like not a single person understood the depths of the pain I felt. I still have moments like that right now. So I write to connect with others in hope that they’ll know that they aren’t isolated in what they’re experiencing.

I recently told someone that I was taking a break from my blog because I didn’t know what God wanted me to say. And that’s true. But also confidence in who I was at that time was wavering a little (still is wiggling a little bit but who’s isn’t?). I was balancing a lot. I had been through a scary experience. I was exhausted in ways I hadn’t been in years. Mentally I could hardly get through the day sometimes without crying. And honestly I didn’t think anyone wanted to hear what I had to say anyway.

But it’s in those moments, when you’re unsure….when you don’t know exactly how you feel or what you bring to the table, when you’re in the rawest form of yourself that you should share with others. That’s when you should write and be around people. That’s when people relate to and connect with you the most because it’s the rawness of your life that’s touching the rawness of their soul and telling them that they can make it through another day. Don’t let your uncertainty convince you that there’s still not power inside of you. I’m still reminding myself that people want the transparent version of me not the cookie cutter, put together version. You should remind yourself of that too.

Even when you’re unsure share where you’re at. How else will you move past uncertainty to being absolutely certain? You won’t know until you start actually doing the very thing that you’re afraid of or that’s holding you back. The definition of certain is “known for sure; established beyond doubt”. Some synonyms to accompany that definition are unquestionable, sure, and definite. So we can’t build our confidence, Faith, or certainty in anything without letting go and taking a chance and then once that chance is taken we are standing on something that is unquestionable, sure, established beyond doubt and well that’s my goal: to move from uncertainty in myself to being visibly certain of who God says I am.

Marriage Goals

Marriage Goals

I am by no means a marriage advice specialist or in anyway have all of the answers to having the best marriage. Hello…I’m divorced and remarried. Not that I’m taking all of the responsibility of what happened previously, but I have learned a lot from that experience. If you’re married, or in any type of long term relationship you know how much hard work has to be put into maintaining that connection. 

I remember before CJ and I got married I said to him “This is hard work. There will come a time where we won’t like each other as much as we do now. There will be times when we don’t even want to deal with each other let alone be around each other.” And he was like “No, I don’t think so.” and I just laughed. Not that we have totally reached a point now where we don’t want to be around each other. He’s in the military and also works a job that is located elsewhere so we often don’t have much time in the first place. But due to the mass amounts of time we spend apart right now there are some communication issues on both of our parts to work through. And you know what? That’s ok.

I used to post a lot of pictures on Facebook. Oh my goodness when we started dating and decided to finally start sharing our relationship with people it was like cuteness overload. I just couldn’t share enough about this wonderful man that God had brought into the life of me and my daughters. But at some point I felt like I was sharing not because I just wanted to share but because I wanted people to see all this happiness I was experiencing. And lots of people were happy and shared in that joy. Particularly people who knew what I had experienced previously. I would even be like “Babe you don’t declare your love for me on FB like ever!” And he would be like “Why does that matter when I show you all the time how much I love you. That really didn’t stick with me much until later on.

Of course we want to, in this social media driven world, show people how great our lives are or share the things that bring us great joy. We want to shout out our friends and family members for their awesomeness. We want our husband’s or significant others to share their love for us and tag us in cute little things. But honestly what’s most important is not what we share online for the world to see but how we actually treat each other, how we communicate with each other, how we care and express love for each other. It’s important to be building a real relationship with a real foundation. And that brought me back to the comment my husband made about how he shows me. That thought made me decide to back away more from those posts, and my expectations of him to post, and prompted me to focus more on us. Especially considering our family dynamic at this time is crazy with his job and us living in two separate locations. 

I have had a few conversations with some married friends. Some haven’t been married that long and others have been married a significant amount of time. When talking to each other the one thing that I found we had in common was the fact that we were all experiencing some version of something in our marriage with our spouses and we thought that we were alone in this struggle.  But we aren’t. No matter what stage of marriage we are in there is someone that is there with us or has been there and they have worked their way through it. Married couples need other married couples. We need each other as examples or goals for us to work towards, keeping in mind that our marriage can’t be exactly like someone else’s marriage because they are different people and we don’t know what they’ve been through to get to where they are today.

But we need each other to talk to, to seek good solid, Christian advice from. We need someone to say to us, “Well, I’m struggling with this. I don’t know how to talk to my wife about this or I don’t know how to communicate my feelings to my husband. Help!” We often get caught up in worrying about being judged or people thinking our marriage is in trouble (and so what if it is….no one’s right to judge that!) that we won’t reach out and say listen I just need someone who gets it or who can help me figure this out. Find you some married friends that are really good roles models and connect with them. Find yourself some people who will say “I don’t know it all but God does and I am going to be in prayer for you guys.” Don’t be afraid to connect with others (not everyone under the sun but people who you can openly trust with your thoughts and fears) and let them help you, with God’s guidance, continuously work on building your marriage.

One thing I am truly grateful for, that I didn’t have before, is my church family. There are so many relationships and marriages at so many different stages that are great examples of how to put in the work. They are testaments to how things have not and will not always be perfect but if you have two willing people open to growing and learning together; open to putting forth the best effort to build a strong marriage that will stand the test of time, then you can really have an awesome marriage made in heaven. But we need others around us to help us get there. Don’t be afraid to open yourself up and embark on that journey with others so that you can really help and bless each other to be able to have the marriage God intended for you to have. 

Judge Much?

Judge Much?

Who judges people? Raise your hand! I’m raising my hand right now too. We all do it in some form or fashion. When we see someone wearing something we deem inappropriate, we judge. Might be all they had to wear-we don’t know their circumstances but we judge anyway. When we see someone with an expensive item and think “Well, they don’t make enough for that.” or “Didn’t they just apply for assistance?” and we make the assumption that they’re spending poorly and that’s why they’re in a financial rut. Not knowing someone blessed them with something that not only could they not afford, but wouldn’t personally buy for themselves. And lastly, the mom judge. When another mom sees another mom doing something or making a decision they disagree with we judge her. We judge how she dresses her kids, what she feeds her kids, how she disciplines her kids….the list is endless.

I’m guilty of it. I have encountered and have people in my life who are single parents. They’ve, at times, had to make the decision to let their child go live with the father. And I’ll be honest I did not get that!!! I’m like I just couldn’t do that. I don’t understand any mother that would allow their child to go live with their father unless they had fallen on hard times or was found unfit.

When I got divorced I can’t tell you the thousands (ok maybe hundreds-I’m being dramatic lol) of times I’ve said that my kids wouldn’t go live with their father unless they asked to. And listen-I was convinced neither of them ever would. Fast foward to March of this year and that’s just what happened. My then 13 year old walks up to me and says “Mommy, I want to go to highschool at daddy’s.” Talk about a hard blow! I can’t explain all the feelings. There were just too many in that moment.

And now she’s gone. I cried weeks before she left and weeks after she left. I still cry and struggle with it. Sometimes daily other days I’m ok and can see that she’s doing well. But whenever I’m out with my other two and people say “Oh two kids. Y’all gonna have a third?” And I respond that we actually have three and she lives with her dad. I get the eyes. You know the eyes. The judgy ones. The ones that are like oh you must be a bad mom. Or you must’ve done something wrong. Dads don’t get that. When you meet a man and he says he has kids and they live with the mom most dads get oh ok that’s great. Moms we don’t really get that type of response and it’s sad.

I have a friend that I reach out to when I’m struggling with this. Both of her kids live with their dad. We had the best conversation the other day because this is hard! And some days the guilt of it is consuming. We wonder what we’ve done wrong. We go back and forth in our minds on ensuring their happiness but also wanting them with us. It’s hard to have your child live somewhere else and you can’t play the once active role you played in their life. The day to day decisions are being made by someone else. So when we tell someone that our kids live else where the last thing we want to feel is judge. We are judging ourselves enough.

The next time we find ourselves in a situation where we’re (in our mind-hopefully not aloud) questioning another mom, questioning her thoughts, her decisions, her actions, her reasoning we should stop and turn that around on ourselves and examine how it makes us feel. We aren’t that mom. We didn’t birth that child. We don’t know half the things about that child that she does. We don’t have the intuition that she does about her children. We don’t love her child more than she does. Trust that the decisions she’s making, although imperfect, are in the best interest of her child. Understand that some of those decisions she’s doubting and praying that they’re the right ones.

Making those hard decisions doesn’t make her a bad mom but a good one because she’s putting the well being and happiness of the child over her own. Judge less and encourage more. Judge less and love more. There’s no manual for this parenting thing and really we’re all just winging it because each child is different. So let’s just celebrate people who are deciding to choose their kids emotional health over what makes them comfortable or look good. I don’t want to look like a good parent. I want to actually be one!

Choose You

Choose You

I’m sitting here today writing this after coming back from an amazing experience in Nashville, TN. I was there for a conference called Business Boutique and I got so much more out of it than what was expected in my reasoning for going. I went alone, which was kind of scary and then kind of liberating. I didn’t have to engage in unwanted or awkward conversations. I could read my book without many interruptions. I walked around and took my time doing things I wanted to do. I didn’t have to worry about anyone else’s thoughts, desires or opinions but my own. I spent a lot of time just being quiet and taking in everything around me.

As I stated in my previous post, I am going to be speaking on and addressing issues of co-dependency I know that I struggle with. One of them being people pleasing. People pleasing is described as follows: “It’s fine to want to please someone you care about, but codependents usually don’t think they have a choice. Saying no causes them anxiety. They go out of their way and sacrifice their own needs to accommodate other people.” I struggle with this a lot. I’m not sure if I have all of my life or if this is something that manifested in me and I never really recognized how much feeling like this clouded my decisions about me. I convince myself that by sometimes just saying “No, I can’t do that.” or “No I can’t be there.” that I will disappoint people and then they will walk away or no longer want a relationship. In my most recent relationships that are newly formed I don’t have this problem as much. I am comfortable saying no but I often find myself feeling bad about that too!

But honestly, disappointing people is a reality. People are not always going to be happy with your response or with you not being able to do the things that they feel they need from you. While it’s important to show up for those you care about and love, your well being and priorities are important too. Sometimes what needs to get done or who needs help may not be on your priority list that day and guess what? That’s ok. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a responsible one.

The problem I created for myself (especially in friendships) is that once I made myself available to those around me, because I genuinely want to help or be there, it became harder for me to step back and say no. Instead of setting up priorities for me I made everyone, and I mean everyone, a priority over any and everything I needed. Which then lead to doing things out of fear or obligation. Which then lead to being overwhelmed and frustrated and then further lead to other feelings and emotions that I didn’t understand or couldn’t process.

Going to this conference was a big deal because I, for the first time in so many years, walked against my own thoughts and fears. Instead of really focusing on doing something else that I could have been doing for someone else I focused on something that I needed to do for me. I tried to get out of it several times but thank God for a husband that won’t let me quit on me, who won’t let me take the easy way out because it’s comfortable for me.

I know we have all at some point heard that making someone happy is not your job. Making yourself happy is. Everyone is responsible for their own happiness. As many times as I’ve heard this, it was not until this decision on whether to go to this conference was presented that I actually truly understood it. I even said it to my husband when he said “Babe, I just want to make you happy.” and I responded “That’s not your job. It’s mine.” And I love him too much to let the burden of my happiness rest solely on him. It’s for me to figure out and it’s unfair to have him jumping through hoops to try to achieve something that only I can achieve within myself and within my heart.

So every time you think about making a decision that solely rests on making someone happy over doing what is best for you, your life, your family, your priorities remind yourself that if this person’s happiness rests solely on you (which if they love you I’m sure it doesn’t! They want what’s best for you) then your need to re evaluate that relationship and establish different boundaries. It’s ok to choose yourself.

Living Freely

Living Freely

I want to be free. Truly free. I don’t want to be caught up constantly in my own thoughts and feelings. I no longer want to carry around the same feelings, frustrations, and pain that I have carried with me for years. I am sure that there are so many of us who want the same thing. At times, we can feel like we are in a cage-emotionally and mentally bound and no matter how hard we try we just can’t break through. I can see freedom but I don’t feel like I can obtain it. But I do know that this is not how God intended for me to live.

I recently started going to therapy and on my second session my therapist said “I’m going to say this and you may say no but I want you to look it up and think about it-Codependency.” And I said “Yes, that’s me.” See at my church we have a group called Celebrate Recovery. So many times people have shared their testimony and how being apart of this group of people all trying to break free of something has really helped them. I didn’t really think too much of it until one Sunday morning, some of the people from Celebrate Recovery shared their testimony on how God had healed them from certain things. As I listened one testimony stood out to me, and it was from someone talking about how God had delivered them from codependency. From that moment on that phrase just stuck with me. I had so many moments when I thought I should have been attending Celebrate Recovery but I talked myself out of it!

But now being in therapy I am ready to face it because I am tired of living this way. I yearn to walk into what God has prepared for me. I know that until I start addressing some of the things that I am dealing with and allowing to hold me back that I will continue to live in the same vicious cycle. For the next few blogs I want to talk about what co-dependency is in hopes that some of the symptoms and how they affect me will help someone recognize these symptoms in themselves and search for freedom. I know that God can heal us and free us of anything but we have to be willing and open to address these issues and the pain we are harboring in order to reach freedom. We can’t want to be free and then not do anything to, well, get free!

The symptoms of codependency are shame and low self-esteem, people pleasing, poor boundaries, reactivity, care taking, control, dysfunctional communication, obsessions, dependency, denial, problems with intimacy and lead to painful emotions. I want to touch on shame and low self esteem which is summarized as “Not feeling that you’re good enough or comparing yourself to others is a sign of low self esteem. The tricky thing about self esteem is that some people think highly of themselves, but it’s only camouflage for feeling unlovable and inadequate. Underneath, usually hidden from consciousness, are feelings of shame. Some of the things that go along with low self esteem are guilt feelings and perfectionism. If everything is perfect, you don’t feel bad about yourself” (whatiscodependency.com).

What stood out most to me in this summary was people thinking highly of themselves but it’s camouflage for feeling unlovable and inadequate- and the statement about perfectionism. I think that I am a great person. I think that I am intelligent, funny, caring, and understanding. I don’t think I’m perfect but often times find myself feeling like I don’t meet the standards of those around me. I feel inadequate. Often times these standards are things I’ve made up! Let’s be real-have you ever found yourself forgetting to do something or making a mistake and then convinced yourself that your husband or coworker or friend is upset with you but they haven’t said anything to you at all? They haven’t even given off the indication that they’re upset?! I convince myself frequently that my husband will be upset with me about something and he’s like “Nope. I think you’re doing great!” I think this goes along with perfectionism. I want to do everything right. Although I know I’m not perfect, I want to do everything perfectly to my or someone else’s expectations. Of course, realistically, I can’t always do things perfectly.

So……listen. I am going to put this as simply as it has come to me…..You can make a mistake, you can disappoint someone, you can unintentionally hurt people, you can do things but not do them perfectly and you are still a great person. You are still intelligent, funny, caring, and understanding. Your mistakes don’t take away from who you are. You can’t make a mistake and then God goes ok subtract the smart or caring characteristic from this person. There is no one sitting around subtracting from your greatness because you aren’t operating in perfect order. If you are struggling with your self esteem I challenge you (and I am going to do this too!) to start leaving notes for yourself. Write down confirmations like I am smart, I am loved, I am successful, etc. And together we can witness to and encourage each other on the growth and change we will see from speaking life over ourselves. Let’s get healed together. Let’s be free!

Keep Asking

I’m the type of person that if I ask for something a few times and I don’t get what I’ve asked for or a resolution to the issue I’m asking for assistance on I’ll stop asking. I’ll conclude that it won’t change or I’m not going to get an answer and I’ll attempt to just deal with it or work around it.

I was talking to someone the other day and I was saying “I don’t want people to be like me. If you need help keep asking until you get it. Keep asking until your questions are answered.” And even then it didn’t sink in to me what I was saying.

If you have kids or you’ve been around kids long enough you know they are some persistent little beings! When they really want something they will hunt you down, bug you, harass you to no end! They will not stop until they get an answer. They will not give up until you’ve given them what they want or need or give them resolution to their solution. Wow! We should be more like that.

The Bible says in Luke 11: 9-13 to ask and keep asking and it will be given to you! If there is something you are needing from God- if there is something you need answers, clarity or knowledge on keep asking. Don’t stop. This applies to life in general! If you need help with a project or help with your kids-help at home, help at work keep asking. Don’t settle for no replies and silence. Don’t set your self up to keep carrying things and then they get heavier and heavier until you can’t deal.

Listen, (and I’m talking to myself here) people cannot help you with what you don’t tell them you need help with. We have to stop seeing the need to ask for help as a weakness. My husband has said to me many times that asking for help is a sign of strength. You can’t do everything on your own. We want to because we want people to think that we got it handled and we are all put together like a present with a nice red bow on it.

People are hurting inside and falling apart because they won’t say “I need help with this.” “I can’t handle all of this”. Don’t be that person. If you are asking for help and not getting it keep asking! Don’t stop making your needs or requests known. So much stress is carried that’s not necessary because we won’t ask and then keep asking. God hears you and sees where you’re at. Ask Him for help and I promise He will send it!