Dancing (or Driving) (or Dancing while Driving)

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance, never settle for the path of least resistance. . .and when you get the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance. ~ Tia Sillers/Mark Sanders

Making a 12-hr drive should be exhausting. Of course that’s 12 hrs of just driving. That doesn’t include fuel, food and potty stops.

Especially driving alone.

Just you and your thoughts.

Just you and the radio. Or your Spotify play list.

Just you and God, conversing along the way.

But. . .

When you’re headed 700+ miles away to your new home, the excitement as you get closer is almost palpable.

Emotions ranged from calm to antsy to bored to frustration (it rained 6 of the 12 hours) to angst (of course my GPS quit when I got into Memphis!) It also included relief when I crossed into Mississippi, and a silly huge-ass grin as I passed into Alabama coupled with giddiness as I pulled in the driveway.

Midnight. I was tired, yes. But elated at the same time.

Today I head back. I worried that the return trip would be stressful, but I choose a positive mindset. I am fetching the kids to return for the weeks end and show them our new home and chauffer them around the surrounding area. I get to share the adventure!!

I look at the mountains in the distance, and I am dancing. Driving? Dancing while driving!

Breaking Ties

“A part of your healing will be to rediscover what it means to be you; there will be some additional scars inflicted by your ex-partner, but your inner self will eventually shine again.” — A Conscious Rethink

 

man wearing mask sitting down and holding newspaper with fire

Photo by Ashutosh Sonwani on Pexels.com

Having been in a relationship with a narcissist, and having to continue dealing with him on a regular basis has worn me down.  Even though the marriage was dissolved nine years ago, the fact that we had children together and shared custody required me to live in fairly close proximity.

However, several things have contributed to my “inner self” beginning to heal, and start to shine again . . .

  1. I have continued to be successful in my career and obtained further certifications and two additional degrees (with honors) despite his attempts to denigrate my accomplishments.
  2. I have developed friendships and relationships with a small but strong circle of supportive allies who are not known to him, have no mutual friends with him and whom he cannot contact in an attempt to get information or give false information.  These people have been instrumental in lifting me up in prayer, giving me positive and confirming reminders of my worth and loving me for who I am.
  3. I have slowly learned that he does not deserve to be included in any part of my life, other than shared events with the children.  I am learning that I do not owe him any explanations for anything I do.
  4. This is the biggest one for me so far . . . I have a right to develop a home of my own.

When I purchased my current home, it was before we started dating.  I was divorcing an abusive spouse and starting fresh.  I was already successful in my career, able to purchase one home while maintaining the marital home until it could be sold.  I drove a newer vehicle and to all outward appearances, was doing well.

I was not, however, doing well emotionally.  Fresh from a brutal and demoralizing break-up with three kids to support, the last thing I should have done was begin another relationship.  They do say . . . hindsight is 20/20.

A narcissist will discover what your interests are, what is important to you, and then work to destroy anything that matters in your life.  At the time we were dating, my biggest accomplishment (save getting away from an abusive partner) was the purchase of my home.  At the time I bought it, it needed some repairs and renovations, but nothing so extensive it wasn’t feasible.

By the time we separated and divorced, seven years later . . . the house was in shambles, practically destroyed from the inside out. Torn apart, dismantled, gutted and left in pieces — mine to deal with as it was non-marital property.  For nine years I have lived here.

Discouraged.

Depressed.

Feeling as if nothing I did would matter.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was too sick to make any repairs.  Nor did I have the funds.

The depression deepened.

The turning point began when my furnace quit working.  It was springtime of 2018.  I got tired of the “same-ness” of my existence in this house.  The furnace that the narcissist had installed 10 years prior was rusted out.  To quote one of the installers of the company I hired to replace the heating system, “Whoever installed this crap should have his ass kicked.”  That simple outside validation from an installer in the same industry as my ex- (with as many if not more years of experience) fueled my small flame of gumption.

The fact that I used someone other than himself to install a new HVAC system and removed that portion of my home from his control irritated him.  His “excellent work” was revealed and deemed unworthy — all the times that I was told I just didn’t appreciate the hard work he did to “help” me with the house was now being recognized by an outside source as a hapless joke.  The ex-‘s “help” wasn’t help at all, it was a concerted personal attack on my success in buying a home.  Something that he was unable to do.

Since then, additional small steps have been taken but are snowballing into more and bigger things culminating in the biggest change of all: the purchase of a new home in a new state with a new job.

My daughter and her boyfriend are planning on staying in my current home and completing some of the work required.  He and I had a deep conversation about my role in the future.  His concerns that I will be wrapped up with my new home are valid.  I was able to point out that I don’t believe his concerns are warranted.  Once I physically remove myself from the house and the idea that this is my home, as well as the belief that what was once my dream was torn apart, I will be able to work on the needed repairs more subjectively and view this house as simply an additional property that I own.

Breaking ties – seems difficult, but in the long run, it’s a form of self-preservation.

 

Cranberry Chicken

I wish I had an enticing, mouth-watering photo to insert here. . .

Alas! I am not a food photographer and I didn’t think to take a picture until after we’d eaten the evidence.

You’re just going to have to take my word for it. The chicken recipe I’m about to share is bomb-diggity one of the tastiest chicken recipes I’ve ever made. (One of the prettiest as well.)

Cranberry Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: so easy my 6 y/o granddaughter could do this with verbal instructions
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken thighs, thawed
  • 1 can whole berry Cranberry sauce
  • 1 bottle BBQ sauce of your choice
  • Fresh or dried thyme — I’m not picky

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375. Place the chicken breasts in a circle, skin side up in a oven-safe baking dish. (I use my cast iron skillet.) Mix the Cranberry sauce with the BBQ sauce thoroughly. Pour evenly over the chicken breasts. Sprinkle with fresh or dried thyme. Add about 1/4 cup of water to the pan.

Bake 1 hr, 15 min.

Enjoy!

Notes:

1) obviously fresh thyme will add more flavor than dried but being a tired momma, in the middle of a move, I cared more about feeding everyone than a burst of flavor on the palate.

2) adding water to the pan will help prevent the sugar in the sauces from burning to the pan.

3) we served this with buttered carrots. However it would be good with rice, riced cauliflower, broccoli, or Brussel sprouts.

Sorry for the lack of a photo. But here’s a chicken, just to make you smile!

Love is Spoken Here

“Love is spoken best when it’s not just said, but shown.” ~ @dm-poetry

Valentine’s Day.

For some it’s a day of roses and romance, dinner and wine, jewelry and cards.

For others it’s just another day — maybe because there is no ‘significant other’ in their life.

I enjoy Valentine’s Day. I enjoy picking out the perfect card to give each person on my list.

At the same time, I enjoy making people feel appreciated, wanted and loved throughout the year. I write sticky notes. Send pictures or texts. Share songs from YouTube. I write cards of thanks and appreciation.

*gasp* handwritten cards? Oh my!!!

I hug. I laugh. I cry. I banter. I flirt.

I do my best to give whomever is with me at that moment, my full attention in that moment. . .and let me tell you, it is heady stuff when you have someone’s full attention. Not having to compete with a cell phone is a miracle in and of itself nowadays.

As technologically advanced as we have become, as a whole, we have lost the art of one-on-one communication. Active listening. Eye contact. Touch. People can tell when they are your focus — they open up and begin a conversation after a few moments. They quite literally light up at the thought that someone has taken an interest in their thoughts and ideas.

Valentine’s Day.

For those who love humanity and life.

Stalker

“You can’t fix crazy but you can document that shit because someday you may need a restraining order.”

Over five years now. Five. You’d think it would get old. Tiresome. It is for me at least but I suppose some people have nothing better to do with their time.

It started with a slew of text messages from an unknown (to me) number the night of our first date. An onslaught of craziness. Claims. Threats. Details about my life — details which were all public by the way. Even. . .”He’s never going to marry you!”

Gee. Thanks. I just wanted dinner . . .and a movie?

It persisted. For months. Random text messages using the same frequent words and phrases. Cheater. Liar. Hiding his phone. Sometimes screenshots of texting conversations between the two of them — sadly lacking any date anywhere in the screenshot. They dated for a bit and I’m sure they did text but that was before my time and frankly at his age, I’d be worried if he hadn’t dated or texted another woman.

Seriously?

We’re not married. He’s free, white and waaaay over 21. Able to do what he wants. See whomever he wants. Text whomever he wants. “Well, let it be known that he invited (her) to spend the night!”

Great! Then why aren’t you there with him instead of waking me up at midnight with rambling, crazy texts.

The expected reaction not forthcoming, she spun up into a frenzy. I suggested she calm down before she gave herself a stroke. And then the threat based on my cancer diagnosis: “You should die sooner!”

Game over. Ex parte application completed. Private process server hired. Six weeks. . .six weeks of playing cat-and-mouse with craziness culminating in a text to the man: “tell your girlfriend to quit harassing me!”

Serving papers is not harassing. Stalking is.

Fast forward a few months. Having gone to dinner and now relaxing, we planned on sitting in the jacuzzi. I hit the bathroom prior and come out to find a deranged woman standing in the kitchen screaming at the man in his underwear. Again — same phrases and words. Cheater. Liar. Hiding your phone.

(Maybe she needs a dictionary or a thesaurus?)

Again, the expected reaction was not forthcoming. I lost it — gasping for air in my mirth. It was an unbelievable moment of hilarity to me as a crescendo to an already stressful day. Over a year of this behavior and we are, for the first time, face to face.

And she entirely looked the part of crazy. Eyes blazing, spittle flying, hair disarrayed. And all I could do was laugh. I wasn’t frightened, I wasn’t nervous. I was shocked at her audacity. And I was irritated.

After my pronouncement that she is (indeed) crazy and her assurance that, “I’M! NOT! CRAZY!!” I pointed out that pushing your way into someone’s home uninvited, unwanted and unwelcome and screaming at the homeowner in his underwear is NOT NORMAL!!

The encounter lasted only a few moments as she was summarily pushed back out the door while I headed for my phone to call the police.

Since then, there have been Facebook posts claiming that I do not have cancer. Messages from Facebook users unknown to me who (astonishingly) are friends with the crazy lady. Go figure!

(I wonder if they know she’s using their profiles to send messages? Or if she spins them a delusional tale and they feel they are ‘helping’ her in her crusade?)

Anonymous e-mails from a secure, untraceable e-mail address have been sent to various members of a public safety board of which I was an elected member. Similar e-mails have been sent to the CEO and other administrators where I work. Each time, those key terms were a dead giveaway as to the author. The inane rambling that ends each e-mail also a key as well as the “concerned citizen” signature.

Gotta give her marks for consistency I guess.

Other events and occurrences have taken place, more difficult to pinpoint the culprit, but pathetic in the obvious motive to frighten me or get a reaction. And the paper trail is building — including this blog post. The more who are aware of her actions, the more visibility I have. . .

Stalk on poor pathetic woman. . .Stalk on.

A Lesson Found in the Mud

“If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” ~ Steve Jobs

I’m not a very sentimental person. If I’ve learned much in life, it is to not hold on tightly to “things” for they can always be lost or taken away. Rather, hold onto memories and cherish them for they are yours forever. . .or until dementia sets in.

Life has been hectic lately. Resigning from a job to begin another. Buying a home out of state. Legal issues. Packing. Planning. Lenders. Closing. Court summons. Money wires. Background checks. Utilities. All whirling together to create all manner of stress.

Not that I pride myself on it, because I don’t, but resilience is a skill set I’ve achieved over the years out of necessity and self-preservation. Rolling with the challenges, accepting things for what they are and learning to adapt.

But not my rings — these are two of the few tangible assets that hold great sentimental value for me.

One is the confirmation gift from my godmother when I joined the Catholic Church – – a tradition began many years before by godmothers thru the years. A reminder of God’s never-ending love for me.

The second is my wedding ring from Ireland with continuous celtic knots. A reminder of love shared despite distance.

With the stressors of the past few weeks causing fluctuations in my weight to the negative side, my rings were loose. As I left work the other morning, I realized my rings were absent. AWOL. I took a deep breath, willing myself not to panic.

I quickly took inventory of my person — checking all the pockets of my scrubs, my bag, my coat, my gloves, my car. And then again. And again. I turned the house upside down. I left a message for housekeeping and posted a photo on Facebook in case my co-workers found them. The admissions clerk and I even went dumpster diving to pull the smaller trash bags which were summarily scanned by the sweetest, most understanding radiology tech in hopes of finding the rings.

Nothing.

I won’t lie. I bawled. I sobbed. Most of the day. When I went to work last night my eyes were still swollen and gritty with the saltiness of my tears.

I resigned myself to their loss.

And then. . .

This afternoon as I headed to my car to come to work, I was watching where I stepped as the yard was quite muddy. A glimpse of something shiny registered in my peripheral vision. Upon closer inspection, I found the thin gold band on it’s side, pushed down into the mud where it had fallen underfoot. Looking further, I found the silver band lying flat and even with the surface of the mud almost imperceptible in it’s camouflage.

And I bawled.

I made myself late for work by taking them in and giving them a good washing before I slid them back into place. As I drove, I considered the implications the whole incident has on my faith.

Many times we feel that a situation is lost. We feel lost. Sometimes, it can feel lonely. God can take things that appear lost, dragged thru the mud, and put them back in their rightful place.

Lesson learned: It’s important to keep the faith despite outward appearances.

Raw nerves

The other day I was speaking with someone and they off-handedly said,

“Your parents must be proud of you!”

And for a second, it seemed the air was sucked out of my lungs.

I couldn’t catch my breath.

My eyes stung with hot tears.

The pain twisted in my gut so sharp it was as if a knife had lodged beneath my diaphragm.

How do you tell someone who only sees the best in you. . .

“No. No, my parents would not be proud of me. Nothing I could ever accomplish would have made them proud of me.”

How do you convey to someone that your worth was nothing to your own parents? And why, after 51 years, does it still strike at unforseen moments such as a simple comment?

I pray that my children will always know that they are blessings to me and that I love them unconditionally.