Tag Archives: courage

Stories that Define Me: On being ‘alone’ vs. being lonely.

*This is the sixth in my mini-series on stories of my past that define me. I’ll write these periodically, as the ideas flow. Enjoy.*

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I wrote this post for Emma over at Divorced Before 30 a few months ago…but for some reason, feel compelled to repost it here, as a story that has defined me. Because I don’t think there is a day that goes by where I don’t embrace being alone, to some extent, and look back at where embracing this came from. As I near closer and closer to three years since my divorce began, I can’t help but continue reflecting on how it has shaped me and how I still learn from that time, every single day.

(and to be honest, this distinction between being alone and being lonely doesn’t *just* apply to those that are divorced, I think it’s one of those universal truths that we all need to embrace…embrace being alone. Celebrate it. Truly appreciate it.)

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Being Alone vs. Lonely

One of the biggest things I learned as I went through my separation and divorce was the difference between being alone and being lonely.

I found that as much as I feared being lonely, I was more afraid of being alone, and for how long I might theoretically be alone before finding love again. I remember how often my mind would just want to skip and jump ahead to the part where I was no longer alone and no longer hurting. To the part about being in love and looking back on the ‘bad’ as a distant memory.

It is the ‘fast forwarding’ in my brain to ‘the good parts’ that I think was more detrimental than actually just accepting my situation for what it was. 29. Divorcing. Short selling my home. Starting over…alone.…and, yes, from scratch, in just about every way possible, but the difference being seeing that as a positive. A mindset shift. Seeing my situation as an opportunity to shape my destiny, and who I wanted to be after all is said and done.

And truth is, had I not experienced being alone, I would never have learned how to be comfortable with being alone, not to mention actually embrace it. And embrace it I soon learned to do!

Settling into my very first apartment, living alone, also for the first time in my life…I remember looking around and realizing, wow, everything in this apartment? Is MINE. And ONLY mine. There is a huge sense of pride in that feeling, and to this day, I look back on that time in my life and am so proud of myself, for learning to live by myself, sleep alone (a scary thing to me previously!) and do things by myself. But that soon became empowering, and fun, and a way to step out of my comfort zone and push myself. Because every time I did that, gotuncomfortable, I learned. I stretched. I grew.

And being alone, doing things alone and experiencing that? I never once felt lonely. Because I had learned to embrace being alone and saw it differently than being lonely. To me, lonliness can be more easily rectified than being alone.  And if you are afraid to be alone, I firmly believe you somehow are more closed (than you think!) to those around you, potential mates and friends, even.

You gotta be comfortable with being alone in order to truly open yourself up to what you may want most…love and companionship. Once I truly embraced and loved being alone? I met M. And the rest, as they say, is history.

So, I challenge you…separate being ‘alone’ and being ‘lonely.’ Get comfortable with being alone. You’ll be surprised at what you learn.

EMBRACE it.
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My truths.

I tucked away this idea after reading Dorry’s post on Truths. I have some I’d like to share and encourage you to do the same…what are your truths right now? What do you stand behind now more than you ever did? What truths are you working towards accomplishing?

Being alone does not mean being lonely. For me, there is a separation. I learned this through my divorce (read my guest post here on Divorced Before 30 and let me know what you think!). I challenge you: get comfortable with being alone. You’ll be surprised at what you learn.

Compare yourself to nobody but yourself. Focus on who you ARE, and not who you are NOT. Clearly, I believe this more than ever, and while each day is a struggle *not* to compare myself, it’s something I know I can conquer. It is one of my biggest truths to live up to right now.

 

Running isn’t supposed to be easy…that’s why I run. (and about a million more reasons why, too!). There’s no better feeling than after a run, no matter how tired I might feel at the outset, I always feel accomplished after a good run, a bad run, and every run in between. I run because it’s hard, and because I can.

 

In order to grow, life requires leaps…of faith, confidence, and motivation to be more. I don’t think this could resonate any more than it does right now. As I look at the leaps I have made in my life. Stepping on that plane a year ago to a job that I wanted, but was scared shitless of going after. But I did. And I am closing out the year feeling better than I ever have about a job, more challenged than I ever have felt and the word that *least* describes how I feel? Stagnant. The kiss of death in growth, something I never want to reach again.   The same holds true for the love in my life…I took that leap of faith when I met M, to open myself up to love – and possibly, hurt and pain – but that’s what love is about…taking the leap of faith in hopes of finding the one you’re meant to be with. Take that leap, it’s always worth it.

 

What are your truths? What do you strive for? Share it, I would love to hear it. 

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Happy weekend friends, hope it’s a fabulous one. I am looking forward to a mixture of sister/mom/niece time spent mani/pedi-ing (our annual holiday tradition!), date night and holiday parties. Cheers.

The day I just ran.

**This post is dedicated to my sister Jess, who just kicked the crap out of the Newburyport Half Marathon and who inspires me and pushes me every day to find my running mojo again, and today, well, today I think I may have gotten it. Thank you sis, you are the best. And PS, love that the titles of our posts today are similar, without even meaning to be!). Maybe we’re related or something.**

Today, I just ran.

Today, I felt vindicated over my previous half marathon fail bad run.

Today, I pretty much snuck in my 13.1 do-over in (basically) super secret mode.

Today, I ran almost 10 miles of the 13.1 half marathon that my sister ran.

I didn’t register (because I knew it would freak me out.).

I didn’t start with the racers.

I didn’t train for it, I didn’t carb up for it, I didn’t even forgo wine last night as I probably should have.

Why?

Because all of these things freak the hell out of me. It’s completely mental. I know this. So why not outsmart myself?? And outsmart I did.

The race conditions were ideal. The course was (mostly) flat. I came to the half marathon to cheer on my sister and Scott, but did wear running gear and did bring my inhaler, because I told myself that we’d run 5-6 miles or so and be good with that. Just a little Sunday jaunt waiting for Jess and Scott, right? Right??

Wrong!

M and I set out about 10 mins after the start time. We let everyone go on, get rid of the crowd. I took a port-a-potty stop (no lines, score!). The temps were perfect. I was happy we were running, but also had in my mind that we’d just run till we felt like stopping.

First mile in, I told myself, ‘yeah, no, not going far, let’s do 3…’

But then I hit my stride. M was being chatty, keeping me going. He felt good. Made me feel good, confident.

And the funny thing about this race? No mile markers (for the most part!) and that was HUGE for me. I didn’t figure out that water stops were every other mile (happily didn’t put two and two together!) and the route was beautiful. We kept at it, we caught up with some of the other runners, and we got cheered on by bystanders (even though we didn’t have numbers on! We just blend in, I guess). We kept going.

Saw my mom around mile 4 (but thought it was only mile 3) and she told us she’d meet us at mile 5 and mile 8 (it was a loop, so the rationale was, run to mile 5 and then be done). Except she wasn’t at mile 5. There wasn’t even a marker for it (I don’t think?) and then suddenly, we were at mile 6. M grabbed a Gu and I had a little bit of it. Got a boost knowing we were at mile 6 (pleasantly surprised) and then looped around and kept going. Beautiful course. No word from my mom, so we kept on. Hit mile 8 and got some gatorade. Was, at this point, pumped that we had gone that far.

All told, we ran almost 10 miles. I’d estimate we ended around 9.5 when my mom met up with us.

9.5! And I felt GOOD the entire time. We walked a couple of times for water and such. But I felt good. I just ran. I didn’t have much trouble breathing. I didn’t get any side cramps. My hips were super tight and sore going into the run, but I didn’t really notice any tightness until we finally stopped at 9.5.

I JUST RAN.

And it felt like the cloud that’s been hanging over me every time I have a crappy run had lifted.

We were running. And we were enjoying it.

Who knew I could ‘just run’ and it would work??

Honestly, the only reason I didn’t keep going to the finish was to see my sister cross that finish line (knowing she passed 10 miles about 10 mins prior to getting picked up, I knew it would be close).

And we just missed her finish by about 5 minutes. Missed her finish. I felt like the worst sister in the world. I felt like I totally failed her. All I wanted was to see her smiling face at the finish line.

And I missed it.

But her reaction? Uttering her PR (drained, tired, but thrilled!) and when I told her how far we went, she was honestly almost more happy with that than with her own PR. She felt like we ran this together. And you know what? She’s right. We did. She kept me going…I pictured her running happily and speedily and knowing that she was going for it made me feel like I could too.

And maybe, just maybe, my mojo is back. Maybe this is all I need…no pressure, no times to shoot for, no ‘race mentality,’ just running.

Today, I just ran. And it felt awesome.

 

The move: the great uHaul meltdown

You’ve seen the pictures. You’ve seen the stats.

The big move is done. But there are stories. And one story in particular that deserves mention. I call it ‘the great uHaul meltdown.’

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I told M when we decided to move in together that I thought that this would be one time where we might fight, or he might see a different side to me than he’s used to. He thought I was being preposterous or exaggerating  on my hatred for moving and stress I put upon myself when it comes to logistics, packing, unpacking etc.

But I must say, there were definitely a few times where he saw my angry, pissed off Italian side come out. A side of myself I am proud of – in a way (more on why in a minute!) – but one that he hadn’t really seen.

Enter Friday uHaul meltdown.

Just as we were packing up from our one night in Maine (playfully referrred to as ‘escape from boxes!’), I got a text message from uHaul confirming the 10′ truck I reserved a few weeks ago. Reserved it for 7 am on Saturday, in the closest town possible (5 mins away). What do I get as my confirmation? A 3:30 pick-up of a 14′ truck in a town far far away – college suburb USA.

Um, no.

No effing way.

Not happening.

My words exactly. I rant and rave. I start freaking out, swearing left and right. Tell M we gotta go, we gotta get on the road rightnow so I can call these a-holes back and tell them they can’t eff me over.

He blinks at me. I think he may have been a little scared.

We say goodbye to my grandparents and get on the road. I immediately call uHaul, all huffy, pent up and ready to let ‘er rip. Already, the automated voice on the other end is annoying the shit out of me. All dippy happy joy-joy and I’m sitting here fuming, so pissed off that they are trying to screw me (because of course, it is a personal vendetta against me, right?).

Someone answers and I – with a healthy dose of ‘tude – explain the situation. Wrong truck, wrong time, wrong location. Fix. Now. Chick puts me on hold. More annoying happy joy-joy dippy voice. I’m thinking, okay, I am on hold for the next available operator? I thought I was on hold WITH an operator?

“Hello, uHaul, how may I help you?”

“Um, I was just on hold with someone – was it you or did I get dropped and have to repeat myself entirely?”

“Um, what can I help you with?”

*fuming* Repeating myself and my story AGAIN after getting dropped by the other uHaul chick is not making this any easier. I start dropped F-bombs effin’s and a few other choice words. M is extremely uncomfortable, gesturing at me, shaking his head, trying to get me to calm down.

Clearly, it’s not working.

As I continue to rant at this chick asking her what she can do for me, what truck CAN I have and WHEN can I get it that coincides with 7 am at the location of my choice?? She gives me the ole song and dance about how this is the first available truck/location (riiiight) and she only covers that region (south of me) and not the region I am in (north). She gives me the number of a more local office to try and help (and probably just wants to get the screaming lunatic off the phone!).

I hang up on her.

I’m crying. I’m yelling. I am quite frankly, filled with rage. It’s like all the stress and anxiety over the move comes tumbling out of my mouth in one giant FUCK YOU.

Yeah, I said it. And I said it a lot.

M refuses to let me call the next number when I dial and the hold music throws me into a tizzy again. I hand the phone to him.

And I have never seen a more calm, collected and EFFECTIVE phone call take place. Ever. He put on his ‘professional’ voice that I hear all the time when he is on call with patients, and goes in for the kill. But nicely. Very nicely. I almost want to hit him for being SO NICE.

But I can’t.

Because well, I would never do that. And because it worked. And because this is what I love about him. His calmness. His ability to work under pressure like no other. And not get rattled. Ever.

What did he get us? A 17′ foot truck at 7 am, at my chosen location. AND for the price of the 10′ truck that honestly would have been WAY too small and we would have needed two trips.

The great uHaul meltdown? Yeah, not successful. But it reminded me why I love this man so much. (not that I need a reminder) And it showed me that we can argue, or that I can – on occasion – lose my cool, and he’ll still love me. (just as I would him).

Okay, so maybe all those F-bombs weren’t necessary but I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t feel DAMN good to let that out.

(and a few years ago? I would NEVER have done that, because I never made the phone calls or handled the tough situations. I stepped back and ‘let’ my ex do it. I liked feeling empowered and not scared to speak my mind. That counts for something, right?)

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I also would be lying if I said I didn’t get snippy with M here and there throughout the move and unpacking. But I am glad it happened.

Why?

He took it in stride and gave it back to me when I needed it. Tough love as my sis would call it 😉

I needed that.

It showed that we can ‘tiff’ and talk through it and figure it out.

We are already learning and growing.

And it’s only day two (give or take).

 

Throwbacks: the end of my marriage

As part of my throwback series, one of my priorities was posting some of my ‘end of my marriage’ series from my old blog.

I will forewarn you: this is probably the most heart-wrenching writing I have ever done and re-reading each post and every single comment brought tears to my eyes. A lot of them. Not because I am still sad about being divorced, but because I am incredibly happy with where I am now in life in every way, and as my friend Jeannine wrote in one of her comments on my old blog: “I’m so sorry you had to be hurt to find your way to where you are now…I truly feel it was for the best.” Friend, that couldn’t have been more true then, and now.

The beginning of the end of my marriage ended in October 2008…here are some snippets from each of these posts…strung together to flow as well as I can (and if you’d like to read the full posts and don’t have the old blog URL, I will email it to you directly if you leave a comment here):

I asked him what was wrong, he didn’t answer. I asked him if he was ok. He didn’t answer. I asked him if he was stressed. He said yes. I asked him if it was work. He said he didn’t know. I asked him if it was his family and he said no. I asked him if it was me – fully expecting him to say ‘stop being stupid’ – and he said yes. I asked him what he meant. He said he didn’t know. He was facing away from me in bed, and curled up, and he refused to look at me. I shook him slightly and asked him to explain what he meant. By that point, my heart had sunk, my body was shaking, my knees were knocking and I was scared. This felt real, and scary, and the first inkling in my mind that something was definitely – perhaps permanently – wrong. And to think it could be us was so unfathomable to me at the time, that I was in utter shock.

Then he said it.

I’m not happy. Something is wrong with me. I think it’s us. I think I don’t want to be married anymore.

Blindsided.

I was crying, shaking, bawling, but at the same time, I was angry. I didn’t understand, I thought he was jumping to conclusions. HOW COULD IT BE US?! It has never been us. So, HOW COULD IT BE US? After almost 9 years together and 2 years of marriage and never a fight between us.

How could it be us?

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I was stunned.

He said it. “I want a divorce.”

And he was adamant.

I told him that I didn’t think it was us, I think if I wasn’t there, he would miss me and realize it’s not me. He was still adamant, but we agreed that I would move out for the week and live with my sister. No contact. No phone calls, no emails. That was a Monday night. I packed up a week’s worth of clothes. I was crying. I couldn’t see straight. I was numb. On my way out the door, I gave him a hug, and a kiss on the cheek, and I was bawling. I told him that I loved him. He told me he loved me too, but his eyes were a million miles away, and his face looked crushed. He knew was killing me from the inside out, but he was still doing it.

I drove to my sister’s house, bawling. I walked in the door, and she was in the kitchen. My brother in law was on the couch, and he just sat there and didn’t say a word (I think he was trying to respect my privacy, perhaps). I walked into the kitchen, looked at my sister and just broke down and cried. She held me, tighter than anyone has ever held me, and we both bawled, and cried, and cried some more. Despite how close we are, we never hug. Ever. But I couldn’t let go, I wanted to just hide in her arms and make it all go away. At that moment, I knew.

There was no turning back. My marriage was irretrievably broken. The pain I was feeling was irreversible. The saddest, hardest, most painful feeling I have ever felt. It literally felt as if my heart was breaking. In my mind, all I was thinking, over and over was, I’m 29 and I’m getting divorced. No, no, NO, this is not happening…what happened to my life? My perfect, wonderful life?

~~

Wednesday morning. Two days after I left the house. The longest days of my life. Pete called me at work just after 9. I asked him how he was. He said he was fine. I said I missed him. He said he didn’t miss me, he felt a wave of relief, he was happy, and he didn’t need the rest of the week to decide.

It was me.

I was stunned.

…I got in the car, and was shaking, and started to cry. I called Jess (who was back in the office) and told her, and she was about to leave too and come with me, but I told her to stay, I needed to talk to Pete. At that point, I decided I had to tell my mom, really tell her. I had hinted at it in an earlier conversation, but did not nearly tell her the gravity of the situation. I cried all the way home, blurting everything out to her as I drove. I’m sure she didn’t really hear half of what I said, but I could feel her pain for me. And that made it even harder for me, because I knew she wanted to protect me, and take this away for me, and she couldn’t. She knew what I was about to go through would be life-altering, and all she could do was sit back, watch, and be as supportive as possible. It was hard for me, because I knew she was hurting for me, and for some reason, that was so hard for me.

I walked in the door to the house. It was silent. I felt like I’d been gone for weeks. I sat down, I cried again. I waited for Pete to come home and suddenly, I knew what I had to do.

I had to let him go.

Our marriage as we have ever known it is over. It’s broken, and it’s broken so quickly and so badly that there’s no turning back.

He didn’t know if this was the right decision, but it was the decision he had to make. And knowing there was no turning back was the decision he had to make. Little did I know that that decision would end up being more right for me than it was for him. I saw the confusion in his eyes, I saw the fear, and the worry (what if I am making a bad decision?) but he still made it.

~~

Some might think I didn’t try hard enough to “win” him back, or “keep” him, or fight for my marriage. But I tried. I tried so hard. I suggested we rekindle, maybe it was just that. I tried to suggest counseling, he wouldn’t do it. I tried whatever I could…but he was unwavering. And because of that, because he was so willing to just GIVE UP, and walk away, I lost respect for him…if he couldn’t respect me, our marriage, or our life by TRYING, then he wasn’t the man I thought he was.

And I deserved better.

So, I made the decision not to try anymore to retain my marriage…because, no matter what, it would never be the same between us. Never. It was already too far gone, I was already too hurt, and he was already too far gone. I knew it was going to be a long road, but at the end of it all, I knew the one thing I wanted to retain, was our friendship.

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The ‘atomic bomb’ of divorce affected so many around me, like an atomic bomb or a tsunami, a tidal wave of damage around me is how I felt the effects of divorce were. One of the most poignant and memorable moments from my divorce was the very last ‘real’ conversation I had with my Nonna (Italian for ‘grandma’) before her passing (little did I know, the day after this moment, she had a massive heart attack and within 5 months of multiple heart attacks and strokes, my beloved Nonna passed away, on May 20, 2009. I will never, ever forget this moment. I can still feel her arms around me and her hands holding mine…)

…my Nonna pulled me next to her, as she sat in her favorite chair, and looked at me, and could tell I was really sad. She held my hand, hugged me close and talked to me quietly. She said “nonna is always thinking about you, and praying for you. I love you, you are strong, you will be ok. I love you honey, and am always here for you.” And she gave me a kiss on the cheek, and let me cry, and just sat with me. And it was a really powerful moment for me, and I am so thankful God gave me that special time with her, its significance will never been forgotten.

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Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.

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Wow. Revisiting this series brings it all rushing back. One of the most difficult periods of my life, yet it feels like a lifetime ago. I never want to feel such pain again, but at the same time, I am grateful to have struggled through it and not only survived, but thrived. I wouldn’t be who or where I am now. I wouldn’t have the job I have. I wouldn’t have M in my life. I wouldn’t want my life any other way than right now. I am firmly planted right where I am meant to be.

Divorce, I truly believe, was meant to happen not TO me, but FOR me.