If you could have the ability to see into the future, to see how things are going to turn out as the result of any given choice, would you want to? Would you want the ability to predict the future? This could be a handy skill, preventing you from taking that one route thereby avoiding that accident that resulted in your car being totaled. It could be a terrifying skill, particularly if you were unable to alter the future events by what you did in the present. I’m not sure I’d like having this ability. I think part of the growth as an individual comes from experiencing the struggle without knowing the outcomes. If we knew for sure everything would be okay or would not be, we might have a tendency to give up completely. Continue reading
My Facebook feed is flooded with Back to the Future memes showing Marty McFly and the October 26/October 21 dates in the time machine. Tonight my husband and I (what?!) watched the first movie in the Back to the Future series. It was showing here in Lithuania (Double what?! Wait! Whoa! Back up!).
Okay, looks like I need to start over, rewind, back up a bit. If you read my last post and paid attention to the date, you noticed it was written over three years ago. If you checked out this blog at all, you found that I started writing here in 2008. If you spent any time perusing posts, or if you’ve been a follower of this blog, you know that The Wild Mind is not married. And she does NOT live in Lithuania, instead she lives in a small rural city in the southern part of the Pacific Northwest. In fact, if you know anything about The Wild Mind at all in real life you know that there is no way she would ever be able to get out of her small rural location to travel the world. Not with her expenses. Not with her situation. Not with her job. Not with her kids. Continue reading
Yeah, I know. It’s a political sentiment posted on Facebook status updates and bumper stickers, but that isn’t how I intend it. I’ve spent my last two posts talking about my grand designs for a “Healthy New Year”. I feel in the interests of honesty and authenticity, I ought to share exactly how that’s gone for me so far, only one day into this “healthy” (hahaha!) new year.
Yesterday I had such great plans. I’ll save you the angst. Suffice it to say I accomplished absolutely none of it. I stayed in my p.j.’s all day. I did not exercise. In the name of not wasting food, I made lunch for myself of leftover (wait for it) fried chicken. Yes, the yummy greasy stuff and store bought to boot, not even home made, which I’m certain would have shaved, oh, half a calorie off it. I ate three whole pieces. Not true. I ate two whole pieces and the skin (ewwww!) off the third. Sigh.
If that wasn’t bad enough I had the healthy food compared to what my kids got. I am such a derelict mother! My kids chose Bagel Bites for lunch! And, of course, I let them choose. Yeah, all that, while perfectly healthy and yummy tasting turkey is in our fridge ready to be made into sandwiches. (What? The bread is moldy? Crap!)
On top of all that, my son digs the chocolate chip cookie dough out of the fridge and decides to start digging in. Well, out of sight out of mind, but put the junk right in front of me while I’m blowing off my entire day relationally and otherwise by importing all my CDs to iTunes and then synching my new iPhone (yeah, don’t get all excited…it is only the 8 gig one and a refurbished one at that) I ended up just having to have a taste. And then another taste and, now, well, I’m not feeling so great. Add to that two glasses of yummy Reisling (hey, it was just there begging to be sipped) and I’m laughing uncontrollably at my own weakness. So much for my great resolve, eh?
Yep. The best laid plans of mice and men…or something like that?
Sigh. I’ve developed a lot of really crummy self indulgent (as opposed to not so crummy self indulgent?) habits over the last decade.
This is going to be a bit more difficult than I thought.
Well, I guess, I can take the Scarlett O’Hara approach and deal with it tomorrow.
But that’s the last “gimme” I’m giving myself! I swear!
There are whole years for which I hope I’ll never be cross-examined, for I could not give an alibi. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960
Another New Year’s Eve
When you look back on 2009, what single word would you use to describe your year? Was it a year of triumph, of joy, of wealth or misfortune? Was it a year of stability or change? Was it a year of loss, grief and pain? Was it a year of peace and tranquility? Is it a year you are glad to have lived or is the year for you already reminiscent of heartache, failure, struggle or regret? Is there, if you were to consider it, a theme to your year?
Another year has come, tarried awhile, and is on the verge of bidding us all adieu. This year no doubt brought its share of surprises, joys, disappointments, challenges and successes. As I consider 2009 as a whole, I’d have to say that one word above all describes it best. For me, that word is disappointment. This, of all years, in my recent history, has been most disappointing for me. Sure, there’ve been successes and some high spots and things are looking up overall. I’m incredibly grateful for all that, but just like a painting that has some red, some yellow, but is painted with mostly blue, I’d have to say 2009 was painted with mostly disappointments and false starts.
I’m not going to take the time to review my resolutions from last year. I’m certain I kept none of them though I got started on a few. They’ll probably all be on my list again this year. I do think, however, that I’m going to try something different this year. Instead of developing a list of things I’d like to accomplish in my life, because there will always be those things I hope to do and most of them are ongoing items anyway, I think I will focus on becoming. Instead of pondering what I need to do this year, I am going to stop with all the emphasis on "doing" and reflect more upon the person I should be.
Better, even, than this, I think I will just focus! Most of my problem this year, seems to be that I got distracted from my priorities by things that were not priorities, yet I somehow convinced myself to make them so.
Some things have transpired this year, and even this week that indicate to me that I have a bit of internal work to do. I’ve gotten distracted again. I need to take time to reassess my own priorities. Maybe you can relate.
Have you ever gotten to that place in life where you were just uneasy with your life? Things are not horrible, but they aren’t quite what you know they could be? You know you need to be doing things differently but instead you’ve been making excuses? Maybe it is that weight loss program you wanted to start but you keep making excuses as to why you can’t exercise now, or why you haven’t planned for healthy meals. Maybe you’ve continually said you wanted to do this or that but something always comes up and you are no closer to starting it than before. What is all that about? After considering that question, have you then gotten to the place where you finally are simply tired enough of the status quo and the excuses that you say, "Enough. It is time for me to change"?
Note, I did not say time for things to change. I said time for me to change.
Because it isn’t the things I am doing necessarily that are the issue and really most of the things in my life won’t change dramatically over the next year. It is the me that I am being that is problematic. I am my own worst enemy. I am the one who must face my own internal music, listen to the tempo, try to figure out the score, find the beat and play my life according to that. Anything else will only end up with me, at this time next year, writing about more disappointment.
New Year’s Resolutions
Now, I must also mention, since all this sounds so dismal that 2009, for me was not a bad year. It was actually a very good year in many, many ways. There are just areas, nagging little pockets of progress I’d hoped to have made in certain really significant areas that I did not. So with that, I will probably review my list of resolutions, but instead of writing a list that looks like this:
1. Get in shape
2. Learn to cook healthy meals that look good and are edible.
3. Read more.
My list will instead focus on the kind of person I’d like to work on becoming, but this is much more difficult to pin down and specify. It also demands some prerequisite contemplation about what my own priorities are, what my goals are, what I see my purpose in this world as being (and, no, I don’t see it as being all about me, but how am I fulfilling whatever role I believe I’m to be doing on this earth), and in what ways am I already doing whatever-it-is well and were can I refocus my thinking, adjust my time management, or change my perspective? It might very well prove to be an interesting journey, at least for me and those who are closest to me.
I hope you will consider, if you haven’t already done so, at the start of this New Year, taking your own personal inventory and beginning your own inward journey.
Happy New Year!
The Wild Mind
Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. ~Carl Sandburg
Don’t let time take control of your destiny. Let your destiny take control of your time. ~Ulrick Ricardo Milord
It’s feast or famine isn’t it? Nothing is more true for anyone than the self-employed freelancer or consultant. I knew this from others’ reports. This week, I’m finding it out first hand for myself.
No, I haven’t quit my day job. I can’t do that quite yet. But some good stuff is happening to The Wild Mind in this arena this month.
I just picked up three additional speaking engagements this last week. All three of them strategically significant for me and two of them paying gigs. The nice little caveat is that throughout the course of the week, I also found out that I’m being requested for 15 additional engagements during this school year. Those 15 come with additional opportunities to train additional staff to work with me. It also is compensated at a rate much nicer than my current day job pays. And…I don’t have to quit my day job to do any of this either.
As most know who have tried to make the self-employed consultant switch at some time or another, there can be a time when you have to work two careers until the income from the one is steady and substantial enough to supplant the other. This can be exceptionally demanding and strenuous depending upon the nature of the work involved and the duration of the transition. Well, unless you are able to take out loads of money in small business loans, which I can’t do or unless you have loads of extra resources to put to the venture, which I do not have. Nope, I simply have to buck up and do it the hard way. The gradual transition way. The take-every-speaking-gig-I-can way. The learn-as-you-go way. The these-are-the-days-I’ll-look-back-on-fondly way.
It’s been a tough couple of weeks and I’ve gotten a real taste of what this could be like. Moving in spurts instead of the steady day in and day out thing. The income will also move in spurts and that takes a bit of getting used to, I’m told. Then there are the times, like this evening, when I should be curled up on the couch watching a movie with my littlest munchkin but instead, here I am. Putting the finishing touches on a reworked presentation, making sure my notes are in order, my presentations, documents and screenprints are aligned, and that my outfit is clean, ironed and perfectly coordinated.
Instead, I’m going to take a break right now after posting this and chill in the hot tub with The Peanut Munchkin. Then I’ll cuddle up with her, let her fall asleep to a movie of her choice on the couch in front of the fire with her kittens curled up next to her, get up and return to my fine tuning of tomorrow morning’s presentation. Tomorrow afternoon and evening are all hers! And that’s how I suppose it will likely be. That’s what I’ve been told. That’s how it seems to be shaking down.
Spurts, seasons, ebbs, flow, famine and feast…life!
My day so rocked! I mean I kicked it from beginning to end instead of it kicking me. Me, kicking it, has become the norm lately instead of the sad state of affairs I was in last summer with no money, no transportation and, well, post-divorce realities staring me down like a mugger in a back alley at night.
So all excited as I was, I spent 40 minutes writing this great post, at the end of which I realized no one was going to care about but me, so I drafted it instead of publishing it. I hate when that happens!
Now I’ve used up most of my writing time for the evening on a post I can’t even go back and see that no one commented on, and, well, I hate when that happens too!
I also have so much to say and write about because, seriously?, right now, life is so on for me that it is exciting and, well, almost as much fun as those days in my early 20’s when everything was colored with hope and possibility.
Three months ago, I would never have believed (though I would have still hoped) that I could actually ever experience that optimism I experienced as a 20-something adult. You know, the experience of waking up every day thinking it was an adventure, that the possibilities were endless and that you had your whole life ahead of you. Do you remember those days? The hope? The optimism? The confidence?
Those days have returned to my life and I can’t tell you how good it feels to be back in the game again.
And, look, if you’re out there thinking life’s passed you by or your winnings have been gambled and lost, think a-freaking-gen! Life turns on a dime. It might not look good now, but if you give up now it sure isn’t going to look any better than it does right now! Keep putting one stupid, boring , unproductive, worthless (or seemingly so) foot in front of the other and guess what? One day, that tunnel somehow seems a little brighter. Then, a bit later on, you actually can discern a light at the end of said tunnel. At that point, things get easier, you can see the light getting brighter and brighter and then suddenly everything for you begins to just go crazy in your favor.
The reality of life is this. We are all going to have our rainy days. Some of those days will accumulate into the longest freaking winter of our lives. We’ll want to die, give up, cave in, drink or self-medicate. We’ll feel like losers and that we screwed up and there is no hope.
there is always hope. There is always tomorrow. There is always another chance to try again or to continue doing what we know we have to do to get out of the pit we dug for ourselves…or maybe…that someone else dug for us.
Today is not the day to give up.
Today is the day to press on and keep going because there are better days ahead.
Hang in there. You’ll make it!
(If it doesn’t now, give it a while, it will soon!)
Life sucks. Have you noticed that? I mean, okay, it doesn’t always suck, but a lot of it really sucks. The older I get the more I notice that more of life simply sucks. Just watch the news. Most of it is bad, even deplorable. Think of this. You are beatuiful and energetic when you are young but but you are also hopelessly stupid, naive and inexperienced or else you are so jaded and calloused as to be well, no fun. Then, just when you have life sort of figured out, or more figured out than you ever have, you die. So life sucks.
There is this one aspect of life sucking that I was thinking about today. Life sucks because it is filled with change and often this change is accompanied by loss and grief. Every little change has encapsulated in it some sort of loss. Even if the change is good and positive, there is some loss of the old way, the way things were, the way things have been until this specific change however grand or minute it might be occurs. Even if it means one must part ways with some preferred way of thinking about things, the change can be dramatic and can range from being merely uncomfortable to completely life altering. Today, I experienced one such change which inconsequential as it might seem on the surface refracted shades of larger changes and the dynamic of emotion contained within those changes. Change and transition which happen to us on a small scale each and every day and on a much larger scale, once or twice in a lifetime, can be pivotal points in our lives.
Today, I had to go to my eye doctor and have my eyes checked. Now, my eyes are fine, but I’ve had glasses since I was 17 years old and probably should have had them earlier, based on the number of car accidents I was in before I got corrective lenses. Maybe I’m just a crappy driver, but since the carnage inflicted on the auto industry diminished greatly after I started wearing glasses and my driving did not, I’m thinking I probably needed them long before I was 17. Anyway, since then, about every year or so I have to go to the eye doc to get the peepers examined. Today, was the day for that exam this year.
But the sucky part was that it wasn’t my usual eye doctor anymore. I’ve been going to the same eye doctor for about 15 years now. He’s a great little Greek guy who’s been practicing in my area forever. Certainly, long before my first husband and I moved here in ’93. He’s funny, personable and competent. He also houses his practice in this old two story craftsman style home that has been turned into office space. The place is warm, inviting and quiet when you walk in. Though there are other customers in the place, you don’t know it. There is this feel that you are the only person there and the only one that matters. There are also pictures of Greece taken when my doctor would travel back each year to visit his family. The white of the buildings and the blue of the ocean mesmerized me. I always liked going early and sitting in the lobby and thinking what it would be like to be in that place, Greece. Would the sun be warmer, would I be tanner, thinner? Yes, I was most certain I would be warmer,tanner and thinner if I were there. I really liked those pictures.
My eye doctor is retiring. He will not be practicing anymore after tomorrow. I tried to get in to see him one last time and was unable to. Instead, I had to book an appointment with the new offices that my doctor sold his practice to. This is what sucks. No more warm, cozy, two-story craftsman style home office building with mesmerizing pictures of Greece. I now must drive to the other end of town to go get my eyes checked at a trendy, upscale Eye Center. Ugh. Flourescent lights, office carpeting, a big, huge waiting area that rivaled the Department of Motor Vehicles and pictures depicting the cross section of the eye instead of the coast of Greece. Like I said, life sucks.
So, after filling out my customary mountain of insurance paperwork, which I guarantee is going to create more work for me in clarifying the transitional screwups that always happen when you change service providers, I sat and looked around. I thought about this sucky part of life. My eye doctor was really awesome. I didn’t want a change here. I wanted things to continue just as they always had. I did not want my doctor to retire. I mean, what’s he going to do to keep busy anyway? Go to Greece and take more pictures? Well, he can’t hang them in his office anymore, so what good is that?! In addition, I began to ponder how weird it is to get to know new people in settings like these where everyone is a stranger, in spite of the fact that I’ve lived in this community for 15 years. I looked around and I realized I knew no one. The folks in the other office all knew me by name and greeted me by name. They didn’t need to ask who I was, they just pulled my file when they saw me check in. They knew me. These people didn’t know who I was from Adam. Well, I’m sure they probably figured out I wasn’t Adam, or John or Harold either, but they didn’t know me, not really.
I also didn’t know how this system worked. I mean, go here, fill out this paperwork, return it or don’t, or should I eat it after reading? I had no idea. Whatever, I filled out the paperwork. I had a momentary urge to put some really hysterical off the wall stuff on the form when they asked about family history, alcohol consumption or smoking habits and what sex I was, but I decided to simply stay with the boring straight answers this time. As if the paperwork wasn’t enough of a puzzle, just trying to figure out the layout of the place was a challenge. I wondered if I were to start at the check in desk and someone were to shout go, how long it would take me to dodge down the first hallway and go through the whole place till I found my way back to the starting point. It was a good thing that the assistant came and rescued me from my reverie at this point.
She led me back to the interior of the building, past a little additional waiting room and millions of little examination rooms. This was not feeling comfortable at all. Too sterile, too professional, too impersonal. I was feeling kind of sad by this time. I know my doctor wants to retire, but why did this change have to feel like losing my home on some levels? It reminded me that this town is growing so quickly and there is less and less personal interaction anymore. I do not like this part of life. The part where the people you love and care about leave and move on or, worse, die, really sucks. Sometimes when someone I love leaves my life the pain is so real I feel it on a physical level, right in my chest. It physically hurts. Now, okay, I wasn’t this torn up about the retiring eye doctor, but it did feel like that when my marriages were disintegrating or my parents died.
So, with all this deep, philosophical introspection and musing going on I followed the pretty young lady assistant with a diamond stud in her nose back to the examination room. I put my purse in the place she motioned to and sat in the big blue…or was it red…chair with the eye apparatus near it. As she takes my chart and pulls up my information on the computer screen, we talk and I size up the place. Okay, so far so good, no weird stuff here. I figured out quickly why they hired her though, she could input that data fast! She was also personable and friendly and pretty. Now, in spite of my fairly melancholy and somewhat negative musings, I’m a bit of an adventurer and though I regretted being forced into this particular change in this particular area of my healthcare at this particular juncture of my life, I’m usually up for a bit of adventure and I do like meeting new people and going new places. There’s something about new and different that is good every now and then to change things up a bit. So, before I knew it we were chatting away and she had figured out what my prescription should be and she had me fitted for new contacts. Well, it wasn’t exactly that instantaneous. I was there for three house, but it really didn’t seem that long even though I had to go to the little waiting room, get put in front of the refraction machine and then go back to the little waiting room then back to the original room and all that before I even met my new Eye Doctor. But the assistant and I had a great time. We determined that the monovision correction I’d been using for the last two years, which required I carry a pair of granny glasses around on a chain around my neck in case I should ever need to read a book or a menu while I had my contacts in, was not the most effective method of correcting my distance vision. Duh!!! Instead, she suggested I try this kind of contact lense with multifocal correction in it. It essentially operates like the old bifocal but corrects for distance, mid-distance and near. I looked at her stunned. “This is possible?” I asked. She nodded. I asked about pricing, and it was only slightly more than the contacts I’d been using. I mean, the idea of not having to have a pair of reader glasses in my purse, at my bedside table, at every location in my classroom and in my home where I might need to read something up close will not only save me the extra amount these contacts cost, but just the freedom of not having to pack around granny glasses on a chain around my neck floored me. I was ecstatic. By this time I was beginning to really be glad my eye doc was choosing to retire.
Then they dilated my eyes and I met my new Eye Doctor. She was personable, professional and competent. She looked nice but I had a hard time seeing her since my eyes were dilated and I thought she was kind of cruel to blast my eyes with that bright light thing but other than that she was alright. I mean, I wondered what I was expecting, that she’d be some kind of monster? She wasn’t. I would have much preferred that she be male, attractive, and single and really into me but, hey, I can’t have it all my way can I?
Well, I left the doctor’s office today with my eyes so dilated they hurt. I stumbled, sort of, out to my car and put on my sunglasses and sat and thought for a moment. What things we can learn from the most benign events in our lives if only we pay attention and observe. Four hours ago I was bemoaning the sad but normal changes we all experience in life. Four hours later and I can see perfectly, both distance and close up and I’m not having to reach for my granny reader glasses. Life is funny. It’s downright strange and bizarre. Life does suck. There are parts of it that are so painfully sad that I’d almost rather not live it. (Okay, I’m not suicidal, please, even though when given the option I will usually choose to avoid the pain rather than face it head on…I hate pain so much I could never do myself in…it would simply hurt too much, besides, it’s a fairly permanent solution to what, I’ve found, are mostly temporaray problems.) I hate goodbyes. Having my eye doctor retire, not being able to go to his office in that nice craftsman style home with the pictures of Greece on the walls and where everyone knew me by name felt a bit like what I’d imagine being shoved out of my home as a kid before I was quite ready to go would feel like. It sucked.
But there’s an up side. The up side is this: I now can see clearly and I don’t have to use Granny glasses and I’m not in pain. I’m so going to love that! I mean just the thought of it, let alone the reality of it, is enough to make me feel twenty years younger. In addition, I’m not fumbling around half the time trying to adjust from one visual task to another. And I don’t have a headache. This is the best part of it. I am not experiencing pain like I was before.
Now, silly as it seems, this little routine somewhat undramatic (or maybe a bit overdramatized) change in vision doctors revealed a timely lesson for me. Sometimes the pain, loss and corresponding grief we go through in life are necessary for our greater growth, development, ultimate maturity and improved vision. (If I were writing to a strictly religious Christian audience this is where I’d insert any number of Bible references and there are many which would apply. Those folks will know what they are so I’ll skip that part for now and let them provide them if they are so motivated.) Any one of the maybe eight or ten people following my blog regularly will note that I’ve bemoaned my dating fate of late with folks going silent and perfectly good candidates opting out. True, I haven’t shared the number of times I’ve opted out first, but, be that as it may, the dating life has been sucky and painful just as the eye doctor thing was painful and sucky…at first. But here’s the thing that crystallized for me today. The pain I experience or the sadness or, better, the disappointment I experience, only serves to help me clarify for myself what it is that I’m about in this journey we call life. People opting out, aren’t necessarily a rejection of me, though it does feel that way for a few minutes. It’s life. My eye doctor didn’t retire because he didn’t want to provide services to me anymore. How ludicrous is that thinking? Yet that is exactly the logic behind the woe is me mentality that bends us up into knots when something we thought could really be great or was really great doesn’t work out. Whether it is a dating relationship, a marriage, a career or a healthcare provider, all these things are just other people making choices that impact us. Our value is not determined by their choices. It is painful to lose something that was wonderful, fulfilling, warm, cozy, beneficial and positive. It is painful to lose the familiarity of someone knowing my name and having a cute, cozy office with Greek pictures on the wall. It was wonderful pondering the possibilities that might have transpired had any number of those wonderful men not gone silent. But it was simply not to be and because of it my vision is improved. My vision is improved because I now see more clearly what I’m about in relationship and I see much more accurately the great qualities that I do hope Mr. Right, if he appears, will possess. I also see much more clearly and with less pain and effort physically because I was able to change doctors and benefit from improved technology and service.
I think there are greater lessons to be extrapolated here. Simply put, sometimes we have to wade through some misery to figure out what doesn’t work so that when we come face to face with what does work, we recognize it. One of my Christian friends was talking to me the other day and he said, “Check it out. God gave Adam the task of naming all the animals before He brought Eve into the picture. After looking all the animals over, Adam probably had a really good idea that none of those were a good fit for him and he was better able to recognize/appreciate Eve’s beauty and fit for him because of the process God took him through”. Now, I know, sounds a bit churchy, at points, but the idea still holds. If we pay attention, we learn. We learn what works and what doesn’t. We learn how to be better people. We learn to recognize those things and people that are healthy and positive for us and those who are dangerous and toxic and we are able to make this determination with increasing effectiveness, accuracy and efficiency…but we must experience some pain in order to get there.
That’s the part about life that sucks the most: going through the pain to learn how to avoid it, but, to be honest, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, because, guess what, now I can see!!!! In so many ways beyond just my physical vision, I can see! I love the freedom, the confidence and the convenience that this improved vision brings. For example, I’ve been at the computer for hours now and no headaches and I can see perfectly, without taking out my contacts or using Granny glasses. It is worth enduring the suckiness to benefit from the lessons. Of course, I’d never say that while the lesson is being taught. I, like many others, will drown in the misery, but, unlike many others, I’ll be watching, listening, thinking and learning all the while. I’ll be glad when I’ve finally aced the test. So, while life sucks, I guess it isn’t completely for naught. I’ll take the suckiness to gain the vision.
I’m still going to miss those pictures of Greece though.
Today I tasked my students with attempting to begin their personal narratives in an interesting and creative way. Now, it’s my turn and I am stuck. How to begin?
It was a dark and stormy night….na…taken, overused.
On Wednesday I was talking to a friend of mine….boring.
Hmmm, it is easier said than done. It’s always easier to tell others how to do something and to give examples, but when it comes down to doing it yourself, it can be a much more challenging task.
This is how it is for me when I talk to my friends who are going through divorce. I’ve been through divorce twice myself, but I also went through a custody trial on behalf of my second ex before he was my ex. That means three times, I’ve needed to retain attorneys to resolve affairs of the heart that went bad and involved children and houses. Once I settled out of court, once I experienced a two day, very tense and humiliating trial at the end of which I had no solutions and $30,000 less to my name. The third time, the opposition never showed up so the judge ruled in my favor and my attorney still stuck me with the bills. None of these experiences was what I’d consider fun. I never want to go there again.
I hate to see my friends go through the pain, the anxiety, the fear, the tension, the complete range of unhappy emotions that come with negotiating anything in the legal realm, especially in family law. It is so agonizing to stand by and listen and watch my friends knowing that I didn’t like what they are experiencing when I went through it. It is painful to care for my friends and to see them experience such doubt, uncertainty, and angst. It is hard to not be able to help in any way other than to sit by and listen. Giving advice based on my experiences wouldn’t even be relevant because every situation is different. The stakes are always high, as are the emotions but the nuances and possible consequences of all the negotiations are never just a simple black and white.
Even so, there are some things I’ve learned that I wish I would have known before going into the process and while enduring the process. These are the things that are on my mind right now. I’m airing them as much for me to revisit and clarify what I’ve learned and where I’ve travelled and why as much as to put it out there for anyone who might benefit from it.
I am not an attorney and none of this is intended to in any way replace the counsel of a good attorney. I am not a psychologist and I cannot give that kind of advice either. All I’m really doing here is sharing what happened to me, what I wish I’d known or done differently. Maybe it will help others maybe it won’t. I’m really not all that concerned about that. I just need to sort out for myself the jumble so I can be clear about the paths I chose and where they are now leading me.
One thing I wish I would have done in every case is wait and not panic. This is not always possible. When you are in the legal battle with someone you used to be very intimate with but with whom you cannot bear to be allied for a moment longer, waiting is especially hard. Waiting is especially difficult if the person is abusive, dangerous or volatile. Until you have that signed document you are still linked to that individual to some degree. It makes waiting nearly impossible, especially when the longer you still have the married label the further and more thoroughly the other person can destroy you financially, emotionally, maybe even physically. When this is the situation, and you must wait, panic can eat you alive and prompt you to make decisions you may later regret. In my case, I made many good decisions, but there are some that I wish I’d waited on. I wish I’d asked more questions of my attorney. I wish I would have considered negotiating some other areas more thoroughly. It might not have made a difference, but then again, it might have.
I also wish I could have seen more clearly how the deal I was negotiating then would affect my future which has become my present. I think I did a very good job of this when considering the children. I think I should have thought through it all a little more on the financial end. I wish I could have seen a little more clearly then how it all would impact my future in post-divorce life. How closely will I be connected and for how long will I be linked to this individual in the years to come? How much communication will be required between the two adults in question and is the amount required even going to be possible given the nature of the relationship? As long as there are kids and money involved the chains still linking me to my past relationships are there even if they are invisible most of the time. This sometimes negatively affects my present peace of mind. Sometimes I wish I would have done this differently, though I’m not sure even now what that “differently” would be.
And this is the trouble with divorce, especially if there is a huge breakdown in communication, which it seems there usually is. Because there are so many unknowns, so many possible and probable different outcomes, trying to see how my present decisions will impact my future life was a lot like gazing into a crystal ball and seeing nothing but formless shapes and figures among the misty haze. It simply isn’t possible to anticipate the future in every instance. I think the people who are really good at computer programming could come up with a program to identify all the potential variables, courses of action and potential outcomes, but who has time or patience for that?
The best thing I did (and maybe the best any of us can do) is to listen carefully to my attorney (get a second or third opinion if we need to) and try not to let our emotions rule. The best we can do is to do the best we know how to do at the time. In the end, I just had to move forward in confidence, knowing that I couldn’t know all the possible outcomes. I had to forge ahead making decisions based only on the pieces of the puzzle that I could see and that my attorney could see. I forced myself to believe that it would all turn out okay, even when I was plagued with fears of the “what if’s”. What if I lose the house? What if I can’t make it financially? What if, what if, what if…. There were nights I tossed and turned with the angst.
As it turned out, as most things turn out I’ve learned, most of what I feared never came to pass. It ended up in some ways, in most ways, far better than I could have asked. It ended up in a few ways more difficult than I imagined. I simply did the best I knew how to do at the time. It has to be good enough. This is the biggest lesson I take with me as I move forward into each day: I will be okay if I just do the best I can at the time. When I get down and discouraged and starting thinking “I wish I would have” this is always the place I end up. I did the best I could. If I’d have known better, I’d have done better. I just wasn’t able to read that crystal ball clearly enough, but it’s all turned out okay anyway.