Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Togetherness Project

I've been feeling all sorts of emotions throughout the past few days. 
The truth is that most of these emotions have been extremely high. I have been so happy. 

But it's almost like my body was saying, "No! You can't be happy this week! This is the anniversary of the day your world fell apart." And I'd have to try and fight it off. 

Because the truth is that this anniversary IS hard and important and a big deal to me. I had my life planned out and part of that plan was being married and staying home with my babies and making more babies. That plan did not involve divorce. 

But I guess the reality is that most people don't "plan" to get divorced when they get married. 

And I guess the reality is that addiction can overturn a lot of your plans. 

The other day, a friend posted a Fight The New Drug article on Facebook. {Is it weird that it makes me smile when I see these articles being posted/shared?} If you're not aware of what FTND is or more specifically what "the new drug" is, this company brings awareness to the harmful effects of pornography. 

And maybe you know this about me or maybe you don't but I am a huge believer in what FTND promotes. 

Because not only have I studied the harmful effects of pornography for college courses. 
Not only have I met many people who struggle with pornography addiction. 
Not only have I come to know some pretty brave women who have had a great deal of marital strife directly related to pornography addiction. 

I have witnessed these harmful effects firsthand as a wife. 

And as I was a newly divorced woman, struggling to see any worth within myself, a friend pointed me in the direction of The Togetherness Project. 
And shortly after, I attended my first TTP conference. 

Since then, a lot has changed. 

When I first went through my divorce, I leaned a lot on the women in my TTP support group to help me understand the situations and feelings I was living through. 
I am so grateful for that time in my life. 
But I spent less and less time with my family and the friends who weren't a part of Togetherness. I didn't think they'd want to hear it and I doubted they'd even understand. 
I almost lost some of my dearest friends during this time. 

And since then, over the past two years, I've rearranged my boundaries of what these support groups look like in my life versus how much I rely on my friends and family. 
Because the truth is that they don't need to fully understand me to be there for me. 
And I had to learn that on my own through my experiences these past few years. 
(And boy was I lucky that they stuck around for me to figure that out!)

I no longer rely on The Togetherness Project support groups or participate in them often. 
A huge part of that can be attested to my healing process and needing to rely less on others. 

But Togetherness will always be a part of me. 

Today, The Togetherness Project held it's very last conference in Midway, Utah. I had planned on going but then decided it wouldn't be the best thing for me right now. 
It was hard for me not to be there. 
There were so many people I wanted to see and connect with. 
I've spent a lot of today thinking about Togetherness and everything the founder, Jacy, has done for me personally by starting this foundation. 

Because of Togetherness, I was able to find resources that helped me realize a lot of missing puzzle pieces in my failed marriage, which brought a lot of closure for me. 
Because of Togetherness, I was able to be supported during some of my worst panic attacks. 
Because of Togetherness, I found another support group for eating disorders and was able to (with the help of friends, family, and a therapist) save myself at a point in my life where I was literally dying. 
Because of Togetherness, I have a whole slew of online friends who understand some of my darkest fears because they have endured very similar challenges. 
Because of Togetherness, I was able to meet many incredible women but two in particular who have stuck around during some of the messiest challenges I've faced. These two women live close to me and are two of my very best friends now. 

Because of Togetherness, I have answers and more questions and I have been able to learn some very beautiful things about myself and what I want out of life. 

When I was first introduced to Jacy's blog, I had no idea what that would spark over the next two and a half years. Some of it has been really dark and difficult but a lot of it has been life changing and beautiful. 

And I will forever be grateful to Jacy for being brave enough to create The Togetherness Project that has changed so many of our lives. 

As I've sat here today and reminisced about everything that has happened over this past two years, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for everything I've conquered and learned. 

I used to have this vision in my head of what my life would look like in my late twenties and this wasn't it. 
That being said, in so many ways, it is much better than what I had imagined. 
I am so thankful for everything I have learned through The Togetherness Project. 
I am thankful for the message of hope that it sends to women who have found themselves in situations that are extremely dark and messy. 
And most importantly, I am thankful for the hope I have found in my own life to continue on despite the many times I wanted to give up. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Three Years


Three years ago, on this very night, was the last time I was in a serious relationship.
And I could pinpoint many reasons for that---two kids who keep me busy, working two jobs, being in school full time, struggling with an eating disorder and my self-worth, feeling betrayed/traumatized and wondering if I could ever trust someone again, my religious shift---so, so many reasons.

So many things have changed in the past three years. 

And although I wanted to casually date, I didn't want to be in a relationship for a while.

Because I got married at 19. NINETEEN! And divorced at 26. And I found myself not knowing what I even wanted out of a relationship and on some days, I've even questioned whether I wanted another relationship. I mean, the last one wasn't a walk in a park and honestly, that's kind of how most of my relationships have been.

But here I am, almost 29 years old, and I'm ready for a relationship. And ironically, now that I'm actually trying in whatever ways I know how, the dating gods have placed nothing in my path.

And I'm sitting over here wondering whether that means I'm just supposed to keep waiting or whether there's something I'm doing wrong.

I've tried online dating and am still currently on a few online dating sites and yet, online dating is not easy for me. Because I still have trust issues and meeting complete strangers is scary even if you don't have trust issues.
Also, what's with all of the perfect bodied, shirtless, tan, rich guys on the internet? Is this REAL LIFE? Has dating really changed that much since the last time I was single? Have men changed that much since the last time I was single?

Are there still real men? 
The kind that don't say on their profile, "I'm perfect and rich. I love to travel the world. Oh and I'm looking for zero drama." 
And not that I'm a drama queen but are there really people with ZERO amounts of drama in their life? Like they've never had a bad day where they need to vent? They've never gotten in an argument with a family member or friend or gotten their feelings hurt and just need their partner to listen while they talk?

Because if you date me, you're going to need to LISTEN TO ME sometimes. I will have bad days. I will complain. I will get upset.

I don't know. Often times, online dating is a huge turn off because it seems like everyone is looking for perfection and is that even a thing unless your Jesus? Is anyone really the perfect match?

If you think you've found that, you should feel extremely lucky because I don't really believe in perfect matches. I think the majority of us have found that relationships come with compromise.

Or that they're just non-existent, as has seemed apparent in my life for the past few years.

August has been really hard for me for the past few years. 

And as I'm trying to put myself out there and look for relationships in all the right places (since the only guys I seem to have crushes on these days are not guys I can date...yippee...I'm winning at life), I have found this new level of anxiety that has followed August right through my front door.

There was a guy I was talking to a month or so ago that asked me the dreaded question that seems to lose ALL GUYS once they hear the answer. "How long has it been since your last relationship?" Because it seems that the second I tell them it's been three years, they go running for the hills.
Well, this particular guy didn't. Instead he made a worse decision and asked if that was also how long it'd been since I've been intimate and if so, HOW WAS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE because he is struggling after only a couple of months.
Does anyone else see where he ruined his future relationship chances with me?

And it is after events like the one above that make me question whether online dating is really ok for me and whether it could even work. Because are there even guys out there who are compassionate and would be willing to "take on" my situation (that contains drama) and carry on deeper conversations and love me (despite all of the disorders that like to follow me around)? Does that even exist? And if it does, would one of you be so kind as to show me where it is I'm supposed to be looking for this unicorn man?

Gosh, I'd really appreciate it.

Tomorrow isn't an easy anniversary for me and it's hard not to look back at all of the pain and be frustrated that I'm still single and have no clue how to date three years later. Wasn't I supposed to be learning those skills somewhere along this path?


Three years. 
I'd like to be cliche and say that I can't believe it's been that long but in all honesty, I can. In fact, it feels like it's been longer.
I have accomplished so much on my own in the past three years and I'm proud of every learning curve I've fought through.

This has not been easy and it will continue to have highs and lows but I am a warrior and I won't ever give up.

Monday, August 1, 2016

So Maybe I Failed

Sometimes it’s hard or weird to reconnect with people through social media or in real life that I haven’t seen or heard from in the past 4+ years.

Because my first thought, my initial fear, is that they’ll look at the facts of my life and believe that I have failed.
And this is probably irrational because nobody has come up to me and said, “Hey Suzanne, you really failed miserably at that whole marriage thing. And now you're overweight with purple hair, a tattoo, and a nose ring. Sounds like the problem is YOU.” 
But more so than this being a rational fear, I’ve come to realize that it’s an internal fear.
And it’s not an internal fear because I just have this belief that people are critical of me. It’s an internal fear because I used to be that condemnatory, judgmental person. 
I cringe thinking about how I once was that person. 
Because if you just pray more or work harder in your marriage, those things don’t dissipate.

I've learned a lot these past few years and one thing I've really come to know is that you can't judge a book by it's cover OR even by it's prologue. 
Because you won't get all the facts. 
And in truth, you may never get all the facts. Ever. 
Although I've talked about the "why" of my failed marriage, there are actually so many "why's". There are so many times we fought for each other and there are so many times we fought against each other. 

And as my husband was piecing his puzzle back together, I was also changing. I was growing and molding into this person that I very much liked---a stronger and more opinionated Suzanne. I started asking questions and learning more about why I am the way I am (Although, all that really did was give me a list of "disorders" on my medical records)

I struggled with this love/hate relationship against myself because on the one hand, I've had a hard time with self-esteem and believing in myself but on the other hand, when I really sit down and think about it, I love the person that I am. 
It’s been a really hard summer for me. Finding babysitters for my kids and missing out on so much time with them has not been easy. Struggling through and then quitting my job teaching dance was not easy. Co-parenting is not easy (Will it ever be?). The anniversary of being on my own is coming up and that isn’t easy. Summer school was not easy (and I failed a class for the 2nd time in my college career)

There have been nights where I feel like I'm back to square one, where I lay in my bed and feel the anxiety take over like it used to when I first became a single mom. 

I feel all of this pressure to be a good mother and a good student and a good coworker and a good friend and one any given day, I'm sure to drop the ball in at least one category. 

And then some days, new conflicts arise and I think, "But it was already hard yesterday without this new conflict!" and I wonder how I'm going to keep going. 

But I do keep going. 

Although this summer has felt pretty messy, today in particular was not my best day. My anxiety was winning and I was just letting it win because I was tired of fighting. 
I was letting other people dictate my emotions and I was feeling really low when I pulled up a blog post (here) from one of my favorite public figures, Glennon. 

And as I read about her separating from her husband, her words hit me with such strength. 

There is a excerpt from her post that I wanted to share here because she says it far better than I could ever describe.

"But what can happen over time is this: You wake up one day and realize that you have put yourself back together completely differently. That you are whole, finally, and strong – but you are now a different shape, a different size. This sort of change — the change that occurs when you sit inside your own pain — it’s revolutionary. When you let yourself die, there is suddenly one day: new life. You are Different. New. And no matter how hard you try, you simply cannot fit into your old life anymore. You are like a snake trying to fit into old, dead skin, or a butterfly trying to crawl back into the cocoon, or new wine trying to pour itself back into an old wineskin. This new you is equal parts undeniable and terrifying.
Because you just do not fit. 
And suddenly you know that. And you have become a woman who doesn’t ignore her knowing. Who doesn’t pretend she doesn’t know. Because pretending makes you sick. And because you never promised yourself an easy life, but you did promise yourself a true one. You did promise – back when you were putting yourself back together – that you’d never betray you again." 

As I read this, I just sat there, nodding my head. Because this thing that I was so worried about---the silly critics and their uneducated judgments---does not need to exist inside of my mind, even if it exists in reality. 

Because I have put myself back together differently. I am a completely different person than I used to be. 
And when I put myself back together, I did it more carefully. I thought about what I wanted out of life and what I felt the point of life even was. 

And after every messy thing I've been through, I've learned that the person I need to stop betraying is myself. 

Because when the kids are in bed at night and I'm sitting all alone, I'm all I've got. And I need to be able to trust and love this person that I am so that when things are hard (which is inevitable on occasion), I can rise up like the warrior that I am and fight for myself.