Archive for July, 2011

July 27, 2011

Lesson # 17: You Can Get through Anything Life Hands You if You Stay Put in the Day You Are in and Don’t Jump Ahead

by bye2mrwrong

Do not dwell on the past.
Do not dream of the future.
Concentrate the mind on the present moment.

Often our past haunts us. Once our mind is attacked by memories, we find ourselves pulled into the “what if” zone, the shoulda coulda woulda thoughts, and the regrets of what happened or didn’t happen. When it comes to the future, what creates despair is the imagination, which pretends there is a future, and insists on predicting millions of moments, thousands of days, and so drains you that you cannot live the moment at hand.

I understand that living in the past is nothing but wallowing in old memories. The past is gone. It’s over. We cannot change what was. So it’s best to leave it behind where it belongs. That seems logical and almost easy enough.

But what I don’t quite understand is how not to think of the future. Being the control freak that I apparently am (only according to my psychologist), it’s hard not to think of the future, plan it, sometimes even to the slightest of details, and hope it comes true.

Can I really just live in today without thinking of tomorrow? I just can’t come to grips with this idea of living in the moment. Enjoy it yes, live it to its fullest definitely, not dwell on the past sure; but not think of a future, not make plans or have goals in mind hmm. I understand the whole thing about coming to terms with the fact that I cannot and do not control everything that happens around me, or even to me. But I just can’t handle not thinking of tomorrow.

Maybe I’m seeing this too black and white, and I’m forgetting to look at the shades of gray in between. But if I didn’t plan for the future, I wouldn’t have studied, I wouldn’t have married, I wouldn’t have had goals to conquer, ambitions to achieve. Maybe this formula was only meant to ascertain that we do not dwell on the unhappy moments which were or those that could have been. So that we do not look backwards with sorrow or forwards with fear.

What do you think?

July 25, 2011

Lesson #13: Don’t Compare Your Life to Others. You Have No Idea What Their Journey is All About

by bye2mrwrong

Don’t try to fill anyone else’s shoes. The word doesn’t need you to be someone else. The world needs you to be you. You can compare yourself to those above you and whine or compare yourself to those below you and gloat, or you can stay focused on that man or woman in the mirror and embrace his or her unique assignment with gratitude.

My friends split into two crowds. The ones that are married, or getting married, have children, or at least plan to; and the ones that are still single. When I look at the married ones I am filled with feelings of envy and jealousy. I wonder what they’re doing right that I did wrong. How they manage to stick together even through their trials and tribulations. I wonder why it couldn’t be me.

When I look at my single friends I secretly thank God on their behalf, that they have not had to go through what I have, that they have not had to deal with the loss of love, and the pain of divorce. I count them as lucky for their single rather than divorced status. It seems that I am the kind of person who tends to focus on everyone else’s strengths, while I only see my own weaknesses. It’s quite a shame, and frankly it’s an insult.

But in all honesty I don’t think I’m right to judge, or to compare. I don’t know what others have been through or are going through. I cannot see behind closed doors. The fact that I don’t see the full picture does not mean that they don’t have to deal with the same problems as me. Maybe
they haven’t been through a divorce, but they might have been through something harsher, tougher, even more painful. I guess the lesson here is that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

July 24, 2011

2 Steps Forward 2 Steps Back

by bye2mrwrong

About a year ago my ex-husband and I finally reached the decision that there is only one path left for us – divorce. I never really agreed completely with this path, I didn’t want it, couldn’t fathom it, but logically there was just no other way. I was constantly angry and took it out on him; he had closed up emotionally and would not talk to me at all about the breathings of his heart. Finger pointing, blaming and harsh words were the only things we were able to do at the time; and with his refusal to go to relationship therapy it left us no other choice.

At first I left the bed, then I left the house. But when circumstances led me to come back it was his turn. He left the house, and I was left empty in an apartment full of memories, full of US. At first it was hard. I sat around and moped. Felt sorry for myself. Anger and pity were two emotions perpetually in my bones. But with time something changed and with a push from my friends I started to go out, to have fun, to meet new people, I even fell in lust. It felt like I was moving forward, like I was letting go.

But skipping forward one year, I feel like I have recently taken a few steps back. Suddenly I am again very sad. My outlook on life is not a happy or chirpy one. I go through the motions. I fill up my day. I make sure that by night fall I’m so excruciatingly tired that I can think of nothing but sleep. And when it comes to love I have become skeptical, pessimistic, and cynic.

Knowing that a few months ago I was better, I can’t help but wonder what brought me back, and why I’m now stuck here. When I hear the usual clichés (e.g. things happen for a reason, or everything works out in the end), unlike before when I agreed with them, and believed them to be true, now I challenge them. I’m not sure I don’t believe them, but it feels like I’m playing devil’s advocate, pushing my friends to the corner to see if they can find a new cliché out.

On the day of my flight my ex finally apologized. An apology that at last, after all this time, felt truly authentic. An apology that came filled with tears of remorse and self-anger, filled with pain and regret. He apologized for the things he had done, for the lies he had lied, for the words he had thrown, for the pain he had caused, for the life he had ruined, for the promises he had broken, for the hopes he had shattered, for the path he had taken, and for the one he hadn’t. He apologized from the bottom of his heart.

His apology which had been long overdue, had brought me comfort, for the words he spoke were words that I had been patiently waiting for, words that I desperately needed to hear. But with that comfort came grief, remorse and regret. Could we have saved us? Should we have waited longer? Is there still a glimmer of hope? Is there a sliver of love?

It has been brought to my attention that this may be the reason I am now stuck. Why I have now spiraled backwards. Could it be that my ex purposely and cleverly chose the very last moment to deliver his final speech? Could it be that he wanted me to go feeling confused? That he wanted me to stay stuck in that moment of US, to always wonder if I had made a wrong choice? Could it be that he was so cunning and malicious?

It was me who chose for him to take me to the airport, it was I who wanted him to feel the pain of coming back home to an empty house. It was me who wanted him to realize how much he would miss me, how wrong he had been, and how colossal his mistake was. But it seems the joke’s on me and the tables have turned. Because it seems that now it’s me who can’t stop thinking of the life I left behind.

July 23, 2011

Lesson #11: Make Peace with Your Past So It Doesn’t Screw Up the Present

by bye2mrwrong

Who of us hasn’t heard this cliché before in one form or another? “Learn from the past, live in the present, look to the future”, “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us”, “Yesterday was the past, tomorrow the future, today is a gift and that is why we call it the present”, “Don’t worry about the people from your past, there is a reason they didn’t make it to your future”.

So how do you get unstuck from the past that’s haunting you?  How do you stop from wondering about that someone who you left in your past? How do you let go?

 Here’s what Doctor Phil says:

  • Forgiveness is a choice. Don’t wait for it to just wash over you all of a sudden. You have to choose it.
  • Don’t give your power away. The pain of what happened is inevitable, but continuing to suffer is optional. The only person you can control is you. By constantly reliving the pain of what happened, you are giving your power away to the person who wronged you.
  • Don’t cling to negative feelings. Anger is nothing more than an outward sign of hurt, fear, guilt, grief or frustration. While the pain may never completely disappear, forgiveness can help you release the anger and bring those in your life closer to you.
  • There is no right timeline for recovery. For some people, making peace happens suddenly and spontaneously. For others, it takes time and effort. You may have to make a conscious effort every day to forgive. To say, “I’m letting this go. I’m not going to invest hatred, bitterness, anger, resentment in this person anymore.” You can find closure in forgiveness.
  • You can’t change the things that happened in your life, but you can decide how you interpret and respond to them. If you didn’t receive support when you needed it, give it to yourself now.
  • Listen to your internal dialogue. What are you saying to yourself? Write them down without censoring them. Is what you’re saying fair and true? If not, generate new ways of thinking. Someone may have said horrible things to you long ago, but it’s possible you took over for them when it stopped.
  • Consider what you need to do to get emotional closure. Maybe you just need a simple apology. Find your minimal effective response – the easiest thing you can do to resolve your pain.
  • Share your experience with others. Finding a lesson in what happened can help put the experience in perspective and your emotions in check. People can thrive and suffer at the same time.

It all makes sense. But boy is it hard. Letting go of the life my ex-husband and I had planned together? Being hopeful for the life that is waiting for me alone? Letting go of dreams I dreamed, of the plans I made. Not only is it hard to fathom, but there are days when it feels unbearable.

I’m nostalgic as it is. The past always seems prettier, better, easier (especially after I’ve already overcome whichever hardships were in my way). Letting go has never been easy for me. Not with things and definitely not with people. Dare I dream new dreams and hope for a better future than the one I already had in mind?

I know that I have to move forward. Being stuck in the past isn’t healthy. But sometimes my history, OUR history smacks me in the face, and takes me backwards spiraling back to those memories; those happy moments which I wish would have lasted forever, those what if thoughts.

I want to be happy and feel complete and content in a future I did not expect. But this life I am living feels so foreign. I never imagined I would be here, in this place, without him. For many long months, it was more of a nightmare than a reality. But as the nightmare fades and I inch back into reality, I face a present with no clear direction or goals. What’s next? The future looks scary and lonely.

So, how do I dream again? How do I begin my new, different, and solo future? Lesson #2 said to start by taking small baby steps. It’s time to take a step.

July 21, 2011

Lesson #10: God Never Gives Us More than We Were Designed to Carry

by bye2mrwrong

Some of us were designed to carry more, some less.
No matter what, even if we are asked to carry a portion of sky, it is beyond bearable. It is a gift.

I’m not sure I agree with this one. Is any one person designed to carry such burden and adversity as the loss of a child, or the birth of a malformed one,  to live with the aftermath of a perilous accident, or an incurable disease?

A friend once told me that she believes that those things that are the hardest for us to cope with are the things that will happen to us, so we can become stronger from them. This I somehow believe. Why, because all my life I was afraid of divorce. Divorce was something that unlike some disease (which I believed only happened at old age) or death (which I preferred not to think of at all) seemed tangible enough to happen, conceivable, real. Even the word brought chills down my spine. In my close-knit family no one divorced. It was unspoken of, a taboo, a big no-no. Whether NOT divorcing under any circumstance was right, I don’t know. All I know is that it just wasn’t done. And so it became my biggest fear.

Now that divorce is behind me and I’ve carried its heavy weight on my shoulders and in my heart; I have new fears. Fears of not finding anyone, fears of never having children, or of being barren; fears of death (mine and others) and the list goes on. Will I have to experience them all? Am I designed to carry more? I sure hope not. But I guess God will be the judge of that.

P.S. Yes I’ve skipped lesson #9.

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July 20, 2011

Lesson #8: It’s Okay to Get Angry with God. He Can Take it

by bye2mrwrong

Sometimes you just need to let out all your anger before you can find inner peace. And when there’s no one left to blame, sometimes it’s relieving to turn our anger towards the Almighty. After all, God already knows about our anger, understands its source, discerns why we are angry, and can easily handle it. And being God Himself, the deity, the divinity, the everlasting; He surely has handled many a greater things.

So get mad, get angry. Scream, yell and shout. Let it out. I’m told it’s therapeutic.

I’m not really sure if I believe in God. When things are good in my life I don’t seem to think of Him too much, let alone have conversations with Him. But when things turn bad I suddenly find myself in desperation praying, pleading, on my knees begging, and on occasion even making promises I vow to keep if He would just grant me this one wish. When I receive no reply and my wishes are not granted I seem to get disappointed in this Greater Power which was not even in my consciousness before my wish needed granting. I remember that I’m not sure He even exists. After all where is this supremely good, merciful and just God when we need him? Why does he let us endure so much misery and suffering? Why does he allow bad things to happen?

Still, I think it’s easier for people to believe in God for a multitude of reasons. As an answer to all the unexplainable mysteries in the world, or so we can accept certain things that happen to us but also at the same time so we can blame Him for all the wrong-doings in our lives. Me, I usually don’t get angry with God or point a blaming finger; but I do have a lot of questions for Him. Mostly they come in the form of Why me? Why ME!!! Or what did I do to deserve this? The answer is always the same, complete and utter silence.

What this silence means I do not know. But I can only hope that my petty, egocentric self, misjudges God and his plans for me. Too often we assume that God should allow us to live without pain. We assume that we know what’s best for us. But we should never assume that we know God’s plan. For what may seem like a big and at times sad, painful or disappointing incident for us may be something small in the long line of chain-events which are meant to happen. It may be part of our destiny.

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July 19, 2011

Sharing My Tears

by bye2mrwrong

We owe each other nothing.
We said our goodbye some time ago.
Yet I still think about you all the time.

Today I had to call my ex-husband. Yes we are as of the 4th of July officially Divorced. How ironic that on independence day I gained my independence. Funny how dates seem to have some sort of hidden meaning that will always resonate in our minds.

I needed him to send over the official documents. The international ones with an apostille stamp. And although he was very helpful, and did not for a second make a fuss about having to go to the town hall, wait there patiently in line, and in actuality do all my dirty work for me; I dreaded making that phone call.

It’s not that I despised the thought of having to ask him for a favor, although it definitely wasn’t my first choice. I knew he would do it for me. But I dreaded hearing his voice. I knew what the sound of his oh-so-familiar voice would do to me. And I was right. I went to my bedroom, locked the door and before dialing that number I broke down and wept. I shed tears of regret and remorse. Tears of anxiety and nerves. Finally after a few minutes I regained my strength, wiped away my tears, and dialed his number; a number I know is one of the few that although is on speed dial, I will always remember by heart.

The conversation was very business-like. I explained the situation and asked him for his assistance. But then he did what I knew he would. He asked me how I was. Immediately tears welled up in my eyes again, and with a lump in my throat I told him I preferred not to have that conversation. He kindly accepted and we both hung up. Of-course I then had a few more minutes of silent tears, before I could continue on with my day.

When I left our home I wanted it to be the last time I would ever see him, ever hear him, ever be touched by that kind of pain again. It seems that even from far away he has me all tied up in emotion. Even with miles between us I still Flinch at the thought of him, at the sound of his voice, at the whisper of his name.

How long can a girl stay broken, haunted, tortured by her ex?

July 19, 2011

Lesson #7: Cry with Someone. It’s More Healing than Crying Alone

by bye2mrwrong

How many of us have been told that crying is a sign of weakness? If you’re a girl and you cry you’re a drama queen. If you’re a boy and you cry, well that’s just a big no-no. So we push our emotions further and further back into the deepest and darkest corners of our minds. Hoping that they will stay there, idle and forgotten. Praying that we will never have the need to deal with them later.

But let’s be honest. There’s no reason to be embarrassed about crying, we all do it. Even if you’re the most macho persona in the world – someday, some time, something so sad will happen that it brings you to tears. And… that’s perfectly all right.

Crying is a form of release from the pain we’re feeling. Cry alone and you’ll keep crying those same tears over and over again. Cry with someone and those tears have the power to heal you once and for all. Crying alone lets you experience a small sense of relief. But it’s crying with someone trusted that can really heal you. Someone who understands you, is willing to listen, and hold your hand through your pain.

There have been many moments throughout the past year, even now, where I find myself holding back my tears. Trying hard not to let them show. Not to get misty-eyed, puffy nosed, and red-cheeked. Why? Because somehow crying is not really accepted. Or maybe my perfectionist-self doesn’t accept it. I seem to think people judge me for it, although probably it’s really just me who’s doing all the judging. In my mind I fear that there is some sort of accepted time frame for how long one is meant to grieve or feel sorry for themselves. I fear that if I cry in front of others I will have to start talking, or answering questions that I don’t feel like answering. Or worse, I dread having to listen to cheery and enthusiastic people who always seems to find a positive spin to everything in life, who try hard to make me laugh when all I want is to cry, be gloomy and depressed for a bit.

Those spiritual and full-of-zest people have made me realize that I’m not the biggest fan of the many quotes and clichés that have been thrown in my direction e.g. “There are plenty of other fish in the sea”, or talks of karma “he’ll get what’s coming to him”, and how things are meant to be and happen for a reason beyond our knowledge. Those expressions, idioms and renowned we-heard-them-all-before phrases; are nice and all, and I truly believe that they are meant to give us hope when we are on the edge of despair, but sometimes all one needs is just a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, and an understanding heart.

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July 18, 2011

Lesson #6: You Don’t Have to Win Every Argument, Agree to Disagree

by bye2mrwrong

It’s a truly rare and brilliant talent to be able to admit when you’re wrong, with head held high and ego intact. An argument may start with two sides, but it doesn’t necessarily have to end with one winner.

In my marriage I compromised a lot. I compromised on the things I thought didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that I was the one who always cooked, even after coming back dead tired from a long day at work; and it didn’t matter that after cooking I was also the one who always did the dishes. I never saw a need to argue about the little things, because they weren’t major or life altering. They weren’t important. I knew when to fight my battles. I knew when to compromise. I knew what was important to me. There were only a few things in life I wasn’t willing to compromise on…all the rest were insignificant. Not worth the battle, not worth my voice.

But in hind sight everything, even the little things, really do matter. Because if you give someone the impression that nothing really matters to you, that they can always get their way, that you’ll always go with the flow, THEIR flow…well you end up compromising yourself. Lesson learned: Compromising is good, but it does not mean you need to compromise your beliefs, your values, or your faith.

P.S. Yes I know I skipped Lesson # 5. But it’s nicer for Regina Brett, the author of the book “Life’s Little Detours: 50 Lessons to Find and Hold onto Happiness” if I don’t give away everything. So I’ll let you get the book if you really need to know the lessons I skip.

July 14, 2011

Lesson #4: Don’t Take Yourself So Seriously, No One Else Does

by bye2mrwrong

Find peace in your imperfections.

The world is not black and white, yes or no, right or wrong, pass or fail, all or nothing.

Rather the world is colored with shades of gray.

Slow down and enjoy it.

Be crazy, be wild be silly.

Because life is too short to be cool.

So how does this pertain to me? My therapist told me to stop being a perfectionist. I still don’t see why he says it. So what if I didn’t want to speak the local language with him during the sessions. It’s not that I wouldn’t speak it because I wasn’t perfect at it; I just felt that I could express my feeling, my emotions, myself, better in English. So what if I’m a neat freak and my closet is color-coded and somehow resembles that of the guy from “Sleeping with the Enemy”. And so what if I always compare my weakness, myself not to the ordinary people around me, the less fortunate, the mentally challenged, the financially underprivileged; but to that small percentage that is better than me, smarter than me, sportier, funnier, prettier. Those qualities don’t make me a perfectionist; they make me a typical Virgo.

But in all our sessions I heard the same monotonous dictum over and over again. “Stop being a control freak” he would say. Not everything in life is under your control and you have to learn to deal with uncertainty. Let it go, let things flow, and stop beating yourself up about everything.

The tip that he  gave me was to write every day three things down that I did that I was proud of. Of-course I couldn’t think of anything and after two weeks came back empty-handed. But they didn’t need to be big, world-changing events. I didn’t need to win the Nobel Prize before writing something down on that piece of paper. They could be as small as calling a friend, making someone smile, paying my bills on time, not yelling or making a scene when I felt like exploding inside. The point of the exercise was that by the end of the week I would have 21 things that I’m proud of myself for. That way I could see what kind of person I am. I would stop always seeing my weaknesses, and start noticing my strengths, my inner beauty, me.

I guess if there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that if my life was a movie, the divorce is the unexpected twist in the storyline. And I should find peace in it. Take in everything I’ve learned from it. I should enjoy my own life without comparing it with that of another. And of-course I should wait patiently for the end of the movie. It may not be so bad.