The Value of Being Happy

Friday, August 19, 2016

Branching off of my "who are you" post last week, I've been thinking a lot about my life and what the heck I'm doing with it. For so long I was anchored to another person. The life I built, the connections I made, the family I had were all connected to her. Looking back, I know that I lost a piece of myself in that relationship. And I don't blame my ex or anything - it just happened and I allowed it to happen. So much of myself was placed in the hands of someone else for so long - I determined my own worth by if my ex wanted me. I determined how funny I was if she laughed at a joke. I determined how worthy and desired I was by her actions. I gave away my power to someone else. And she, just being herself, unknowingly knocked me down time after time until I was a shell of who I used to be. All because I worried so much about what I perceived was occurring around me.

Now, approaching a year since I moved out, I'm starting to look back over this past year. I have an 18 month planner that I've been using and the planner arrived last July (when everything fell apart). Starting in August 2015, I can flip through and literally see how the past year of my life has happened. The activities I did to just hide from the fall out of my marriage, the friendships and events that I desperately tried to reconcile knowing I was now going to be alone, the first holidays spent single in God knows how many years, the activities I've arranged solo with me and the girls, the new people in and out of my life and the things we experienced together - all neatly in 1 little book. ALOT of life has been lived in the past year. I've made it to the side of divorce that I couldn't even imagine this time last year, when I sat for hours upon hours in a scalding hot shower trying to wash away my reality, to calm my anxiety. I couldn't imagine a smile lighting up my face again, I couldn't imagine making it through holidays and birthdays without my little family intact, I couldn't imagine sleeping at night without my children under the same roof and I couldn't imagine loving again - opening my heart back up to someone that wasn't my ex. But it all happened.

But now? I'm past my divorce and consider myself over my ex. I'm no longer worried about how she's living her life or spending her time, nor do I place my value solely as a reflection of her opinion of me. I'm able to do many many things solo with just the girls in tow and I enjoy my kid-free nights as a well-deserved break or "me time." But am I happy? Have I still been placing my worthiness and value into the hands of someone else? Someone who has her own demons to fight, and can't carry the weight of my worth? I think so. I think I put that burden back on someone else, instead of truly owning it. And so now when I'm sad or I struggle, I find myself blaming another person or a situation for causing me that grief. And yes - that's all painful but I'm not the one in charge of what fuels my happiness.  I'm not aligning myself with things that bring joy to my soul and leave me feeling fulfilled.

What that brings me to is - at times, I feel like this past year has been working on moving through the pain of my divorce and learning to navigate life single. It's been learning to be a mom to two growing girls. It's been learning to set goals for myself - and just myself and my children - for my future. It's been shedding my married identity and returning to my maiden name (a move that felt strangely odd). But it's also been about the motions. About survival.

Am I doing things that truly leave me fulfilled? Am I experiencing things that add strong value to my life? Am I working on things about myself (mentally, emotionally, physically) that will make me happier with where I'm at in my journey? I think the answer is "no." I haven't been doing those things. Now, don't get me wrong - there has been a lot of happiness in my life over the past year. There have been a lot of moments that have brought me joy and have really made my heart soar. There have been hard laughs, adorable moments, even passionate kisses. There has been good stuff! But as I reflect on the overall picture of what my life currently is - I'm not exactly sure I'm clear on if I'm truly happy.

I'm going to challenge myself to start to discover what that looks like for me, and really try to focus on things that truly make me happy. If something does not bring me happines - I need to learn to let go and realize that life is full of ups and downs.

Who Are You?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Recently I had a friend ask me, "Who are you without a partner/relationship?" That question kind of slapped me in the face. I've always prided myself on knowing exactly who I was, what I want, etc. But maybe that's not true. Maybe I have put my happiness in the hands of someone else for far too long, and I'm constantly looking for that replacement - that person to build me up and love me because I'm unable to do so myself.

My friend further clarified for me - "without saying you're a mom, or a sister or a friend - who are you?" Well ...

Honestly? I'm not really sure.

Maybe that's my problem. Maybe after being in a relationship with someone for 8+ years you lose yourself - or you aren't really able to know yourself because you've been a "we" for so long ... you lose track of the "me." Then life whips on by and experiences come and go, and you get married and have kids and your "you" changes but now is defined by additional people in your life - little people who count on you to survive. So it's still no longer about who you are or what you want or need. It's about other people still defining you.

Then your marriage crumbles and your happiness is washed out and you realize how much you depended on another person to provide that happiness in your life. Sure, the divorce stuff is painful. But things that made you happy were always tied to someone else - their connection with you, the activities you did with them, etc. You never had a desire to do anything without them or do things that you enjoyed - what fun would that be? That's terrifying, folks.

So maybe my life post-divorce needs to be about finding "Ashley." It's been just a tad over a year since everything happened in my marriage, but I'm not even a year out from my divorce or a year out from when I moved out. I'm still in that newbie divorcee stage. And I'm still depending on others (my friends, kids, lovers) to provide my happiness for me. The thing on depending on other people to provide that to you is when they can't or when they take themselves away - you're left with nothing. Or at least you feel you are. You're not able to find the joy you bring into your own life. And you let that relationship dictate your day, your mood, etc. What a crappy way to live.

So, I honestly want to start figuring myself out and what makes me happy. Figuring out who I am and what I stand for. I'm worried about this adventure but I think it's important to happen. And I know as I work through it, I'll be a happier mom, friend, sister, lover, etc.

Book Review: The Girl on the Train

Monday, August 8, 2016

I like to get lost in books, especially when I'm going through a tough time. It helps me mentally escape and rest my racing thoughts. I've been doing a ton of reading on Gemini traits (I'm a true Gemini) and one of the biggest things they have, in terms of personality, are racing thoughts and overthinking. Welcome to my life.

So a good book is a perfect way to shut all of that out and focus on something else.

Since the girls and I go to the library, a lot - I've been picking up my reads from there. It's free! And I can place the books I want on hold and pick them up quickly. It's perfect for a crazy busy mom. Girl on the Train finally came available, and I was totally excited to finally pick it up!

The book reminds me a lot of Gone Girl, if you've ever read that. Not in the plot but more in the "crazy messed up marriage" type of read. In Girl on the Train, we're introduced to the main character Rachel. She takes a train daily from her home to London on her way to work. While on the train, she notices a row of homes which backs to the train tracks and over the course of the year has noticed a particular couple on their terrace. She forms a storyline in her head of the happy looking couple - the way the husband caresses his wife's shoulders, the way the wife sips her coffee. Their love seems strong and their life seems perfect.

Then one day she notices something odd on that terrace - the wife is out there with another man - and the subsequently goes missing a few days later without a trace. When news hits of the woman's disappearance, Rachel decides to get involved and offer up the information she spotted from the train - of the strange man with the missing woman days prior. The problem? Rachel is a known alcoholic with a troubled past and a failed marriage that has caused some psychology issues for her. Long story short - she's not a reliable "witness".

This is a pretty good novel - full of suspense and drama. I think the author did a really great job on Rachel's character development ... but lacked in development of the other main characters. It had a good plotline and was easy to follow - when you got near the ending though, I felt like the reader was well aware of what was happening. It's a good weekend, leisure read though and definitely a great suspense novel! Plus - get the read in now as it's a movie hitting theaters soon!