Trying (hard) to Stay Optimistic

I got an awful text from my best friend yesterday.  It was a text that no one should ever have to send.  I had just left school for the day and saw it on my phone:

ImageNot even stopping to consider if she sent the text because she didn’t want to talk about it, I immediately called her.  Her dad has been struggling with some mental health issues for awhile now.  Like she said in the text, they don’t really know what happened.  Last I heard they were waiting for autopsy results.

This news really threw me.  I’ve experienced very few deaths in my life, and the majority of those that have impacted have been people who passed in their old age.  To see my best friend lose her 50-year-old dad is really hard, especially because just two weeks ago she announced that her and her husband are expecting their second baby.

My best friend is one of the sweetest, kindest, most caring people I know.  I’m not saying that anyone deserves bad things to happen to them, but she definitely doesn’t.  In the last 24 hours I’ve asked myself countless times “Why her?  Why did this happen to her?”  

ImageI was the maid of honor in her wedding 3 years ago

I usually try to keep a really positive attitude, but today I am struggling.  Life is just really fricken hard sometimes.  How do we keep a positive outlook in the face of all the crap?  And WHY does it have to be so damn difficult?!

Does anyone have any advice or tips on how to pull your mood out of the gutter when life keeps throwing curveballs?

A Place to Call Home

I may have alluded to this in previous posts, but I am currently living with my aunt.  I had lived with her during the last school year while I was student teaching (because I wasn’t able to work much during that year and probably would not have been able to afford rent).  The situation actually worked out pretty well.  She refused to accept any rent money from me, so I got to live in a house for free.  Also, my uncle works for a company that does a lot of business out in the oilfield in western North Dakota.  His schedule forces him to spend a lot of time out there (he works 5 days on, 2 days off, then 5 days on 3 days off).  They have 3 kids, one of whom is going to school in Minneapolis and the other two are gone pretty often with school/work/friends.  I really think my aunt liked having me there because I kept her company.

Last May I decided it was time to stop freeloading and get out.  I actually lived with my parents for the summer in western ND just because I was able to find a job that paid so much more money out there (sidenote: if you or someone you know is looking for work and is willing to relocate, there is SO. MUCH. MONEY. out in the oilpatch right now).  One weekend in early June I took a trip back to Fargo and found an apartment to live in when I returned.  I found an awesome 1-bedroom place in a newer building with rent that was a little higher than I was looking to pay but still totally doable.  

I was SO EXCITED to move into my place.  It was the first place I had completely to myself.  I didn’t have to work with a roommate on who would buy what furniture, how we would decorate, what internet/TV package we would get, etc.  The place had a washer/dryer in unit (and water was paid!), a dishwasher, and a balcony.  The location was also amazing–about a 6 minute drive to school, 2 minutes from the grocery store, easy access to the interstate, etc.  

You can probably tell that I seriously loved this apartment.  Why, then, did I give it up and move in with my aunt?  As you may have guessed, it all comes back to C (the ex-fiancee).  When I first signed my lease C was working mostly on the road and was gone a lot.  He gave up his apartment and would just “touch down” at my place whenever he had some time off.  Well, by mid-July his plans changed.  He switched companies and started working full-time in Fargo, so he just moved in with me.  I don’t love the idea of cohabiting, but by this point we had been engaged for 5 months and would be married in less than a year.  I guess I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.

Then all that crap happened.  Even after I broke off the engagement I still planned to stay in my apartment (I loved that place, remember?).  That was the plan until I came back to Fargo and found that my place had been burglarized.  There are a group of meth heads out there somewhere with the extra set of keys to my place.  I changed the locks on my door right away, but I still felt unsafe at the apartment.  They know where the building is; what if they came after me?  I terminated my lease (and thankfully found a new renter almost immediately) and moved in with my aunt.

Yeah, this whole situation sucked.  I had already lost my relationship, and then I lost my home too.  I am incredibly grateful that my aunt so graciously took me back, but I need to get out.  I had been living independently for 6 months (let’s be real, C very rarely helped with rent or any bills) and it’s been tough to go back to living in someone else’s place.  To almost make matters worse, I knew my stay would be pretty temporary so I didn’t really move back in to my room.  I unpacked my clothes but nothing else.  I didn’t hang any pictures or put up any of decorations (if you know me, you know this is a big deal.  I ALWAYS decorate my living space).  I didn’t even bring my own bed with.  I’m just sleeping on the little twin bed they put in that room.  I definitely feel like an interloper.

All that will soon be changing.  Over the past two weeks I’ve been working with my sister to find a place to live.  She’s in college and lives right across the street from campus.  Her current roommates are moving to a place that is further away, but she doesn’t want to give up her location.  The result?  Starting June 1 I will be moving to the north part of town and living with my sister in a lovely 2-bedroom 2-bathroom apartment!

Displaying photo.jpgStanding in our new place (don’t worry, the animal heads will be gone)

It feels amazing to sign that lease.  We LOVE the apartment and are really excited to be roommates (even though my sister is 5 years younger than me, she’s one of my best friends–she was actually supposed to be my maid of honor this summer).  It also feels really good to know that I will soon be moving to my own place again.  It’s almost like this is the last step in getting fully back on my feet.  I sometimes refer to my old place as “my apartment.”  I’m so glad I have a new place that earns that name.  I cannot wait for June to be here so we can move in and start making this place a home.  

A couple months ago I was knocked flat on my back.  It felt like everything had been taken away from me, and I had no say in the matter.  If you’ve ever felt like this, here’s my advice: baby steps.  You don’t have to solve everything right away.  Lean on people who want to help.  I was not excited about moving back in with my aunt, but I probably would not have been able to handle apartment hunting while I was dealing with everything else in the aftermath of my life exploding.  Take baby steps and you will get better.  Now that I know I will have a home again in a few short months, I feel more complete than I have since before Christmas.  I’m not completely whole yet (there is still a gaping wound where my heart used to be and I have giant trust issues) but this was a major step in getting me there.

25

This past Saturday, I turned 25 years old.  Birthdays are very weird days, especially when as of late you’ve been a pretty introspective person.  I’ve already spent the last few weeks/months thinking about where I am in life, where I want to be, what I need to do to get there, etc., and my birthday only intensified these thoughts.

Truth be told, I didn’t think much about these things on my actual birthday.  I spent the weekend in Minneapolis, where my awesome friends from school all flew in to give me an amazing birthday weekend.  They flew in from Knoxville, Chicago, and West Lafayette IN.  They all said that they were budgeting a trip to North Dakota for my wedding this summer, and now that’s not happening so they wanted to make sure I turned 25 in style.

ImageOut to my birthday dinner downtown

I can’t even get over how amazing these girls are.  They know my life’s been pretty crappy as of late, so they wanted to make sure I know that they are there for me.  I’ve seen one of these lovely ladies as recently as this past November, but others I haven’t seen since graduation almost 3 years ago!  

ImageBoy, did we miss each other 🙂

Now I am back in Fargo and back to work, so I’m thinking more about what it means to be another year older.  The most important thing is that I feel refreshed.  I know a lot of people put stock in New Year’s; they think that too much negative stuff happened in the last year so they are ready to turn over a new leaf.  I’ve never really been like that (probably because I’m a teacher, so for me the new year starts in August).  I do feel like I have something of a fresh start now.  Some pretty crappy stuff happened when I was 24.  Now that I’m 25, I feel slightly more distanced from the bad stuff and realize I have a whole new year to start fresh.

Though feeling refreshed, I also feel somewhat conflicted.  When I was 13 or 14, I thought 25 was ANCIENT.  I fully expected to be married with a kid or 2 by now (like my mom was).  Now that I am 25, I still feel like I’M the kid.  Even though I have two bachelor’s degrees, have a salaried job, and bought my own car, I don’t feel like an adult.  My sister put it best with the picture she posted of me on my birthday (since that’s what 20-year-olds apparently do):

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Side note: how adorable is she?

I’ve seen all sorts of things (mainly on BuzzFeed) about how being in your mid-20s isn’t what it used to be.  These are usually some sort of list titled “25 Things that Happen After You Turn 25,” “20 Reasons it is Good to Be Single When You are 25,” etc, etc.  These lists generally make the point that people in their mid-20s often have different expectations and are at different places in their lives than their parents were at that age.  I have to say, these articles make me feel so. much. better. about myself, because that’s exactly how I feel.  My mom got married when she was 22, had me when she was 23, had my brother at 26, and my sisters at 28 and 30.  I grew up thinking I would be exactly like her.  I wanted to be a young mom so I can keep up with my kids (and then still be relatively young when they are all grown and out of the house so I can enjoy the empty nest).

I still want to be a young mom, but I might not even be married by the time I’m 30 (let alone have 4 children).  That was stressing me out when I first ended my engagement to C, but I’m learning to accept it.  Being single at 25 is ok.  Just because I haven’t started a family yet doesn’t mean I’ll never have one.  In fact, I’m not totally sure I’m mature enough to have my own family yet.

I think society in the upper Midwest is very different than in the rest of the country.  Here, you are kind of expected to settle down after college and start having kids.  In the rest of the country, you don’t even consider that until you turn 30.  Here’s a good example of this:  my friends from Notre Dame live in Chicago, Chicago, Chicago, Dallas, Knoxville, and West Lafeyette.  One of these friends has been with her boyfriend for almost 2 years, another has been dating someone for 7 months, and the rest are single.  My close friends from high school are completely different: one is married and pregnant with her second child, another is married, another is engaged, and the fourth has been dating her boyfriend for something like 4 years and is looking towards engagement.

I’m not saying one way is better than the other. I just found myself feeling pressured based on what everyone else was doing.  Part of me resisted ending my engagement (even though I knew that was the best and healthiest choice for me) because the idea of starting over at 25 was scary.  I didn’t want to be the only single girl around.  I was tired of always being the bridesmaid and not having a permanent date for all these weddings.  Now that I actually am 25, I’m getting rid of all those thoughts.  It doesn’t matter what society says I should or shouldn’t be doing (except in the case of laws…I will continue to follow the law so I don’t go to jail).  What matters is figuring out who I am as a person and who I want to be.  So I’m 25 and single.  So what?  I have a good job, an amazing family, and an awesome group of friends.  I can still be happy.  And I think once I figure out how to be truly happy with myself I will find the man who will take me off the market forever.

Please back me up on this blogging world–it’s ok to be 25 and single right?  And it’s ok to still feel pretty young, yes?  

Choosing Happiness

The principal at my school reads the morning announcements at the beginning of 2nd period every day.  And every day he ends with a similar message to the students.  His closing line is usually something along the lines of “remember, you have the choice every day to be excellent.  Make today great.  The choice is your’s.”  

I’ve heard this message pretty much 5 times/week since the middle of August.  For some reason, the words really hit me today.  I don’t know if I was just paying closer attention to the announcements than I usually do, but 2.5 hours later I find myself still thinking about them.  Is it really that simple?  Can I just decide that I’m going to have a great day and POOF! it happens?

Aladdin what do you need

Was wishing for happiness against one of Genie’s rules?

The more I’ve thought about, the more I think there may be some truth to Mr. Principal’s message.  I’m not entirely certain it’s quite as easy as he makes it sound, for sometimes bad things happen and we have no control over them.  But I do think we have a choice as to how we respond to situations, and that can have a pretty major impact on the happiness we feel throughout the day.

Maybe this isn’t making much sense.  Let me provide an example.  A couple of weeks ago I was feeling really sad about ending my engagement and losing what I thought was the love of my life.  I felt bad talking to my friends and family (I know they would have gladly supported me, I just feel like I’ve taken too much of their attention with my problems) so I turned to the internet for support.  I first went to a Nar-Anon site and read board posts from other people who have family/loved ones with addiction problems.  Reading these posts made me feel much worse.  As I read, I found myself reliving every bad memory of finding out about my ex’s drug use.  It made the sorrow grow rather than making me feel better.

Next I came to WordPress.  I wanted to find blogs that were written by people that I could empathize with.  I ended up searching for pretty negative tags like “break-up,” “addiction,” “anger,” “sadness,” and “depression.”  Not surprisingly, the resulting posts I read did very little to make me feel better.  It was at this point that I realized something.  While it would be nice to find someone who can empathize with my situation, do I really expect this person to make me feel better?  If someone came to me and told me she had just gone through the same thing that I did, I wouldn’t have words of comfort to offer.  I would probably be pretty negative and cynical.  Instead of helping her, I would spend my time reliving what I went through, complaining about how men/relationships suck, and basically throwing a major pity party.  It would be like the blind leading the blind.

Image

I completely shifted gears and started searching for blogs with tags like “hope” and “empowered” and “single.”  I’m trying to surround myself with people who realize that life can be hard but are not defeated or bitter; instead, they can see the hope for tomorrow.  

I chose happiness that day.  Of course, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.  There is still some hurt and pain (and I assume there will be for awhile) but I can make choices to actively fight those negative emotions.  

Like I mentioned at the beginning, we can’t always control when bad things happen.  We can, however, always control our response to those situations.  It won’t be easy all the time.  Hell, I can’t even promise that it will be easy even half of the time.  But it is possible.  It’s all about attitude.  I have the power to make choices that will make me a happier person, and so do you.  Life’s tough enough the way it is, so my advice on this Wednesday morning is to choose happiness.  It makes things a little bit easier 🙂

The Pressure to be Profound

When I sat down to read the Fargo Forum this morning, this was what I saw on the front page:

Imagehttp://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/426813/

I won’t go into too much detail since you can read the article if you would like, but basically it talks about this guy who spends his days doing all these awesome things like organizing service trips and bringing TEDx talks to Fargo.  He is only 29 years old.

This article really got me thinking.  It was inspiring to read about all these great things this man has accomplished, but it did make me feel somewhat unaccomplished in my own life.  I’m a pretty average (almost boring) person.  The two coolest things I’ve done in my life are probably going to college at Notre Dame (which was a big deal in my small hometown) and spending a semester in Europe.  Everything else about me is pretty average.  I want to be this rockin’ history teacher that changes kids’ lives, but I’m currently working as a media specialist.  I spend a few days each month teaching technology or research lessons for different teachers, but otherwise I have a lot of downtime that’s spent surfing the internet.  After school I usually have practice of some sort (I coach middle school volleyball and basketball) and then I go to the gym to train for a half marathon.  By the time I get home I’m pretty wiped out so I watch a little TV and go to bed.  My weekends are filled with catching up on sleep, more time at the gym, reading, and TV.

See what I mean?  I don’t have any cool hobbies.  I’m not a member of any interesting clubs or societies.  I don’t have a lot of friends in Fargo (my high school and college friends all live 3.5+ hours away) so I don’t have a crazy social life either.  I’m going to be 25 on Saturday.  I’m not sure if it’s the combo of the Forum article and this impending birthday, but something has got me wondering if I’m not doing enough with my life.

I started this blog because I missed updating my wedding planning blog and because I needed a release for all the emotions that were bombarding me after I broke off my engagement.  I’ve kind of gotten to the point where I feel like I need to write about something really deep, profound, and life-changing.  I’ve realized that in a few short weeks I’ve gone from logging in and pouring out whatever emotions I’m dealing with to spending hours considering what I’m going to write about and calculating the meaning of every word and sentence.

 I can’t decide if this pressure to be profound (whether in something simple like my blog or something bigger like changing the world with my life) is societal or just a pressure that I place on myself.  Either way, I need to get over it.  I’m not complacent, but I can honestly say I’m pretty content with my life right now.  I definitely want more (get to a more satisfying place in my career, move to a nicer place, have a happy and healthy relationship with a good man, etc) but I don’t go home every night hating my life.  I know it doesn’t help me at all to compare myself to others when the comparison just leaves me with feelings of inferiority.  

I’m realizing life is all about balance in many different areas.  This is no different.  How does one feel happy about where s/he is in life without getting complacent and not striving for more?  How does one look at others’ accomplishments to get inspired without feeling inferior/guilty for not doing more with his/her own life?  How does one know what is “enough” and what either pushes one too far or sells one short.  

Does anyone else feel this pressure?  Any suggestions on how to deal with it?

Valentine’s Day

Yes, like everyone else in the blogosphere, I am writing a post about Valentine’s Day.  And yes, I’m too tired to think of a more creative title.  I would like to take this moment to apologize to my readers.

I wouldn’t say I was dreading this Valentine’s Day, but I was definitely more aware of it than I had been in previous years.  This is the first V Day since 2010 that I haven’t been with C.  It’s the first V Day since I had my heart broken into a million pieces and saw my engagement come to an end.

It’s not like C and I ever did anything extravagant for Valentine’s Day.  I’m kind of torn when it comes to this holiday.  I am opposed to the premise that we need a specific day to tell people we love just how much we care about them.  That should be a common occurrence.  However, I am a hopeless romantic at heart.  I love hearing cute Valentine’s stories.  Plus, the world can always use more love.  So C and I never did anything big for Valentine’s Day (actually, we usually ended up doing something on February 18 because my birthday is February 22 and I did not expect him to plan 2 celebrations in 8 days).

But still.  Even if I don’t really believe in the day, I still see all the couples around me and be reminded that I am single.  I expected it to hurt.  A lot.  I expected to be really sad and bitter all day.  Everyone around me expected that as well.  In fact, my mom made me promise I would go stay with them this weekend, so I’m taking off for Dickinson in about 3 hours.  I kinda figured I would drive home and then host an “I Hate Valentine’s” party a la Jessica Biel on Valentine’s Day.

When I woke up this morning, I didn’t feel any of these negative emotions.  I had texts from my parents and 2 of my friends who live in the Eastern time zone (so it was an hour later for them).  So far I’ve gotten 6 Valentine cards and treats from students, and more texts have rolled in.  

ImageValentines from students as of 11 A.M.

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This one made me laugh pretty hard…and yes, that is a single Dorito glued to the bottom

I am definitely happy because I’m feeling the love from so many people in my life, but I’m also very pleased with my reaction to this day.  I’m so glad that I still love love.  All the shit that happened to me has not turned me into a bitter old curmudgeon.  I can realize that though my relationship didn’t work out I still have so many people in my life that care about me, and for that I am incredibly blessed.

If you are in a relationship today, I hope you and your loved one have a great day sharing your feelings.  If, like me, you are riding solo this time, try not to be sad about that fact.  Instead, appreciate the loved ones you do have in your life.  I hate people who refer to the day as S.A.D. (Singles Awareness Day).  Who cares if you are single?  There’s enough love to go around for everyone.  Love your family, love your friends, and love yourself.  You don’t need a significant other to be happy.  

Sending much love on this day of love ❤

A History of DIY

I’m going to change the tone of what I’ve been posting lately.  I’ve been doing a lot of heavy emotional stuff, and today I just need a break from all of that.  At the beginning I said part of this blog was going to be about some of my crafting attempts.  Introducing, my first DIY post!

I’m currently staying at my aunt’s house because I gave up my apartment after I was robbed by my ex’s junkie friends.  There were too many memories there and I no longer felt safe.  Because my stay with my aunt is temporary, I only brought the necessities (clothes) and haven’t decorated my room or anything.  I’m jonesing for some DIY.  I decided a good solution would be to share all the ideas I had for decorating my old apartment.  

That apartment was the first place I’d lived in as a working adult and as such I no longer was ok with having the type of decor that is typical of college housing.  I wanted things to match and look nice.  However, I was also on a pretty tight budget.  I think I managed to do a pretty good job of making my place look nice without breaking the bank, so here are my tips for decorating your home on a budget:

1.  Ask friends/family if they have any furniture they want to get rid of.

I started stockpiling furniture early.  My grandparents gave me an extra coffee table they had in their basement.  When I was still living with a roommate my aunt told me she wanted to get rid of her dining room table that came with 2 leaves and 6 chairs.  We had my roommate’s table in our apartment but I knew I would eventually need my own, so I took it and put it in storage.  A few months later my cousin got married and used the wedding money to buy a new sectional so I took her old couch.  I was having trouble finding an entertainment center (I wanted one that fit into a corner so it saved space) so I went to Facebook.  It turned out my dad’s cousin had JUST bought a new entertainment center and sold me his old one for $20.  This furniture was all pre-owned but still in great condition (and nicer than anything I’d had in my college apartments).

2.  Be thrifty

I love going to garage sales.  Most of them are filled with junk (I went to one last summer that was selling candles that were half burned) but every once in a while you find some gems.  Last summer I was at a garage sale and found the most comfortable recliner I’ve ever sat in.  It was in great condition, and I managed to talk the owner down to $50 for it.  I vacuumed and Febreezed the chair and it was good to go.  

I also like going to thrift stores (the thing about junk vs. gems holds true for thrift stores as well).  I had very little in terms of wall decor, so I had to get creative.  At one thrift store I found this picture frame thing that had slots for 16 4×6 pictures and some swirly wire edging.  I popped the back off, removed all the glass (so the slots were just empty), painted the wood, and hung it on my wall (unfortunately I don’t have a picture).  Another find (this time on Craiglist) were a couple small endtables.  I bought them for $5 each, sanded them, spray painted them, and now have nightstands.

3. Pinterest.

Enough said.  Pinterest is an AMAZING source of ideas for decorating on a budget.  My projects don’t always turn out the way they look on Pinterest, but I will share a few of the success stories:

-Wall art: I don’t have a headboard so I wanted something large to hang on the wall above my bed.  The only prints that were big enough yet affordable were regular posters (and remember, no more college decorations) so I knew I would have to DIY.  I found this picture on Pinterest:

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My ex found a discarded pallet, popped the boards off, nailed them together, and I painted it.  This is what the finished product looks like:

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Not bad, and it looks really nice hanging above my bed.  The only costs for this project were the paint, so I got a wall hanging for about $4.

Another DIY project I did for wall art was painting my own canvases.  Trust me, I am not an artist in any sense of the word.  I cannot draw/paint.  Instead of creating magnificent works of art, I created something much more simple.  I bought two 12×12 canvases at Hobby Lobby (for like $7 total).  On one canvas I measured out a chevron pattern.  I didn’t even want to mess with painter’s tape, so I just made a grid of 2×2″ squares and then used a straight edge to draw diagonal lines through the squares (for you visual learners it looked like this:)

Displaying photo.jpgI painted half the stripes a mint green, then used black paint to freehand the word “joy” across the top.  Simple, cheap and adorable.  I used the second canvas to make a similar piece of art (this time using red spray paint over a criss-cross pattern and wrote the word “faith”).

-Table decor:  I found that I needed to have something centered on my dining room table or else it became cluttered with junk (and it looked really naked).  I found this simple and inexpensive idea on Pinterest, and it made my apartment smell amazing:

http://interiors-designed.com/2013/07/07/coffee-beans-and-vanilla-candles-instant-heavenly-aroma/ 

I did a lot more DIY when it came to Christmas decorating, but seeing how that’s not really seasonally relevant right now I’ll leave that off.

These are just a few ideas that I had time/funding for before I left my apartment.  As soon as I find a new place I’m sure I’ll be embarking on a few more projects (can I keep a wall hanging my ex and I made together, even if I reallyyyyyy like?) so I’ll be sure to post along the way!

Being OK with Just Me

Man, going to therapy is really shaking me up.  I don’t know if I’ve ever been this introspective in my entire life.

As I mentioned the other day, I think I’m finally starting to move into the acceptance phase of everything that happened with my ex-fiancee.  Since this is starting to happen, I’m realizing that I can stop focusing on recovering from that pain and shift focus to rediscovering myself.

Before I met C, I was a highly independent single woman who loved life.  I was a pretty big flirt, but I had 0 desire to settle down.  I was about to graduate from college and my life held seemingly endless possibilities.  I wasn’t sure where I was going to end up or what I was going to do, and rather than terrifying me I was thrilled by the idea.

I think back to that girl and am amazed that I was ever like that.  Being excited at the idea of a future of uncertainty?  How?!?

Say whaaaaat??

I loved being C’s fiancee.  I was sooo excited to be his wife.  He was supposed to be my forever.  Well, that obviously didn’t work out so well.  I now find myself in a place I never thought I’d be in again (at least not for a looooooong time): single.

Part of me is scared that C crippled my ability to live again as a single lady.  I was with him for 3 years, which I know isn’t that much time in the grand scheme of things but it’s almost 1/8 of my life so far.  As much as I’m ashamed to admit this, as soon as I realized that things were truly over between us part of me began wondering where I could meet a new guy.  I know how awful that sounds.  I know full well that I am nowhere near emotionally ready for another relationship.  I have trust issues beyond belief.  But I’m lonely.  I have great friends and family, but I miss having a significant other.

I hate watching myself type those words.  I think back to the girl I used to be and know if she could read that she would be appalled.  However, I’ve also come to realize that I will never be the same person I was before I met C.  I’ve done too much, seen too much, felt too much to ever be able to completely go back.  But that doesn’t me that I can’t be Single, New and Improved.

U-turns not allowed

I need to figure out what it means to be me.  Not me, the girlfriend/fiancee of C.  Just me.  I have to learn to be true to myself and to love that person.  I need to process what is authentic and shed the parts that aren’t.  

The fear of being alone can be crippling.  I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel that.  However, I know that before I truly love myself I will be useless at loving someone else.  I honestly believe, deep in my heart, that someday I will shine as my true self and I will find someone who wants to be with me for the rest of my life.  Perhaps this is wishful thinking.  Perhaps it’s blind optimism.  It very well may be.  But if I can get to a place where I truly love the person that I am, will it matter?

My Stages of Grief

As an education major, I’ve had to take my fair share of psychology courses.  I’ve learned a lot of great info in these courses, but I’ve also struggled with some of the material.  When learning about psychological theories, I would often find myself wondering “how can there be a one-size-fits-all theory about this?  Isn’t every person different and will experience/respond to things differently?”

That may be true but let me tell you, reading about the Kübler-Ross model of the 5 stages of grief has helped me SO MUCH through the process of recovering from what my ex-fiance did to me.  My experiences and emotions match up pretty much exactly to the stages described in this model. 

1. Denial

As soon as C called me on Christmas morning to tell me he had been using meth and was going into rehab, I was in denial about what that meant for our relationship.  I thought to myself, “Ok, he’ll go to rehab and get better.  We still have 6 months to the wedding.  That’s plenty of time for him to recover.  There’s no reason to think that we still can’t get married on June 21.”  I spent a few days viewing what had happened as just a little hiccup in our relationship.  I refused to acknowledge how deeply everything had changed.  He told me that even postponing the wedding would kill him, because our marriage was what gave him reason to get better.  I saw this as hope that everything would be ok, that I was worth it to him.

I spent about 2 days in this stage.  It took a visit to my hometown parish priest to pull me out of it.  The priest had never even met C, but as he talked about the life of an addict he basically described my fiancee to a T.  As I told him more about things that had happened in our relationship, I could see more and more clearly that this was not the true and happy love and life that I thought.  Denial (and our relationship) was over.

2. Anger

After I ended the relationship, I definitely moved into the anger stage.  This stage was a lot worse after I came home and realized I’d been burglarized by C’s junkie friends.  I was so, so angry pretty much non-stop for weeks.  Things that normally wouldn’t bother me would just set me off, and eventually came back to him.  While car shopping, I got really stressed out and upset and then found myself so angry at C for putting me in a situation where I felt like I needed a new car.  I’ve mentioned that my sisters and I might be going to Puerto Rico over the wedding date…that trip is actually my sister’s graduation present.  My parents are taking her and some of her friends, and my other sister and I were going to crash it.  Well, my sister decided it would make her feel really conflicted between wanting to hang out with friends and family.  I got SO MAD at her.  I was livid for 2 solid days.  Then I got mad at C again, because I shouldn’t have been worrying about that.  I should’ve been planning our honeymoon.

I spent a few weeks thinking about many memories of our relationship.  Instead of appreciating the good times, everything just made me angry.  I would think to myself, “How could he have done/said that really nice thing and then turned around and gotten high behind my back?!?”  I know this is the life of an addict, but I couldn’t keep the anger away.  It was like a 20-pound weight that took a 3-week residence in my chest.  At times I felt like it was going to consume me completely.

3.  Bargaining

I experienced bargaining during the denial phase.  I thought if he went to rehab and stuck with the program, we could still get married and be happy.  Once I decided the relationship was over this bargaining stopped.  I honestly haven’t done much bargaining beyond that.  At some of my lowest points I’ve probably bargained with God that if He takes my pain away I’ll be a better person or something of that nature, but I don’t spend a lot of my time here.

4.  Depression.

I hit the depression stage last week.  This is actually the phase that prompted me to research the stages of grief.  I expected to be angry.  What I didn’t expect was after 7 weeks of seeing red I suddenly found myself crying daily.  I had cried a lot in the first few days after everything happened.  I also cry when I’m angry, so I cried during that stage as well.  However, all of the sudden I just felt so sad all of the time.  I had no energy.  I managed to drag myself into work, but I was not doing a good job.  I also managed to get myself to the gym (thanks in large part to my sister also taking out a membership and forcing me to go) and the only times I would feel really happy were the few hours after working out.  

I saw triggers everywhere.  Every person, song, TV show or commercial, building, whatever, reminded me of C.  There were days at work when I had to excuse myself to the bathroom multiple times because the tears were welling up.  I know I was freaking my family out, but I didn’t know what was going on.  I had no idea why I felt the way I did.

Then I looked up the grief theory.  It made me feel so much better.  It helped me realize that I am not unusual in what I’m experiencing.  Once I read more about it, I decided that I needed to just feel.  I stopped trying to forget about the sorrow and just let it wash over me.  I didn’t completely drowned in it, and that definitely helped.  But I did realize that it was ok to be sad.  I stopped thinking that I was weak because I cried, and that alone made me feel better.

I haven’t gotten to the fifth stage (acceptance) yet, but I think I’m moving closer.  And it’s ok that I’m not there yet.  I lost what I thought was the love of my life.  It’s ok for me to take time to process that.  I just wanted to share my experience in the hopes that if anyone else is going through a similar situation, they read this and realize that it’s ok if they aren’t back to “normal” yet.  We’ll get there.

We are never, ever, ever…

…getting back together.

I would like to thank T-Swift for the inspirational title to this post.  This song has been stuck in my head pretty much non-stop after what happened last night…

I know that one of my parents’ biggest fears is that my ex will finish rehab, come back to North Dakota, and convince me to get back together with him.  Well, rest assured parents (and blogging world), that is NOT going to happen.

I got a text from my ex (let’s call him C, shall we?) yesterday afternoon saying he’d finally talked to the local police and I needed to call him.  I called him after school and he told me that he was trying to provide info to the police so they could raid this house where he used to go to get high (and where the stuff that was stolen from me probably is).  I told him to do whatever he needed to do, but I don’t want to be involved with that world at all.

He then proceeded to say how these people stole so much from “us”…um, what exactly did they steal from you?  He thinks that if I hadn’t found all my stuff to be gone, we would still be together (even after he used meth for 1.5 years and lied about it).  I informed him that no, I was done before I saw I’d been burglarized.  Then he went on to say that it would be worth it to get “these people” off the street.  Again, hello?? You did the same shit they did/are doing!  As a last ditch effort to make me feel badly for him, he said, “Well, they made fun of me when I said I wanted to go get clean.”

WOW.  Cry me a f$%@!#* river!  At this moment I could clearly see he is NEVER going to get better.  He tries to tell me that he’s finally owning up to what he’s done so he can make a better life, but he’s not doing that at all.  He is still completely playing the victim and blaming everyone else for what happened.

I don’t fully understand addiction because I don’t suffer from it, but I have studied it in my psychology classes and know it is a disease.  However, he still needs to own up to the decisions he’s made.  All I’ve heard him do is blame these “friends,” blame me for being an enabler (yeah, I kind of flew off the handle at that one), blame his parents for his crappy childhood.  I told him that I can clearly see he still has this “woe is me” attitude and until he can stop victimizing himself, he will never be able to live a sober life.

Why am I sharing this?  Well, a part of it is definitely to get it off my chest and try to decompress a little bit (even after a crazy hour and a half at the gym I still have A LOT of anger bottled up).  But I also think it ties into my last post about letting go.  I cannot control what he did (especially because he hid it from me so I couldn’t help him) but I can also look back and realize my shortcomings.  There were definite red flags that I ignored, and there were definitely times when I should have been tougher on him (instead of just saying “sure, I’ll cover the full rent this month.  You’ve got a lot on your plate”).  All I can do is work on making me better and not dwell on what a bad person he is.

Addiction is awful.  I truly pity anyone who has to deal with it.  But I do think it is possible to live with this disease.  However, I don’t think C is at that place.  He acts like because he checked himself into rehab he’s all better.  He just doesn’t realize it’s soooo much more than that.  I want to be able to say and mean that I hope he figures it out and is able to live a happier life, but I’m just not there yet.  I am not a good enough person to be able to forgive him for everything he’s done after just 6 short weeks of finding it out.  I will someday (I have to, just for the sake of my own mental health), but for now I’ll just keep pouring my heart out on my blog.