Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How I Survived My Divorce

There's always a light at the end of the tunnel, always
a silver lining.  All the cliches are TRUE.  

There’s no question about it.  DIVORCE SUCKS. 

I have a few friends going through this horrific ordeal at the moment, and they’ve asked me how I did it.  How I survived.  How I went from a fragile, broken, empty, lonely, lost, utterly destroyed mess to being stronger, wiser, thriving, even gosh darn hopeful.

Looking back, there are so many things I wish I knew- things that I’m more than happy to share in the hope that others can skip some of the truly stupid stuff I did.

If I’m being honest, I didn’t think I’d still be single by now.  I mean, I thank the good Lord I didn’t jump into some of the relationships I thought were a great idea at the time.

God seriously saves me from myself on a daily basis.

And only recently, 5 freaking years after my divorce (that would be 4 years more than I gave myself to “get over it”), I realize I’m finally, truly ready to be in a relationship. 

I hate to say it because this is the worst piece of advice ever and it makes me want to claw my eyes out when anyone tells me this: it took time.  Time to heal, time to make a crap load of mistakes, time to discover who I really was.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I did, what I changed, how I moved on.  If I can humbly offer some advice:

1. God.  The day I left my husband was the worst day of my life.  I was a pathetic wreck, barely able to put one foot in front of the other. You may think I’m crazy, but on that day, I experienced several miracles.  

Here’s my story: I told my husband I was leaving him, and after some arguing, he ran out the front door, as I stood there in a fog, sobbing and shaking.  I slowly made my way to the master bedroom and was heading to the backyard, when all of a sudden I felt an overwhelming sense of peace wash over my entire body, and a giant weight lifted from my shoulders. And I heard this: It’s gonna be ok.  You’re gonna be ok.  

I’ve had several God moments in my life, but never have I felt the power of God as fiercely as I did that day.  

Look, am I saying that God approved of my decision?  I don’t know.  But I do know this: God revealed himself to me in a way I’ve never experienced before, and haven’t experienced since. 

2. Surround yourself with positive thoughts absolutely everywhere.
  I mean, everywhere- on Facebook, in your home, in your bathroom, on your phone, on your fridge…you get the idea.  Cleaning out things that weren’t serving me, and instead being surrounded by pictures of friends, family, my dog, inspirational quotes made a HUGE difference.  I learned that you're a product of your environment, and your thoughts become your life.  Choose wisely. 

3. …and most importantly, that includes positive people: I realized I needed to re-define what a good friend was.  Sure, it was fun having friends who’d want to bar hop on a Tuesday night.  But I also needed healthy, supportive people who would listen, offer advice, or sometimes, just sit with me. 

4. Please be very, very kind to yourself.  It’s hard, but try not to beat yourself up.  Check those negative thoughts at the door because they’re doing no one any good.  Figure out what you love to do, and do it- at least one thing every day.  A walk in the park, a massage, calling a good friend.  

5. Try to make healthy decisions.  I say “try” because no one’s perfect.  I tried to exercise every day and eat healthy foods for no other reason than it made me feel good. 

6. Indulge when necessary.  Sometimes I drank.  Too much.  And danced.  On tables.  And ate.  Bowls of cookie dough.  Sometimes that’s all I wanted to do, so I did.  Then I forgave myself and moved on.

7. Find something you’re passionate about.  Painting, horse racing, sky diving, writing.  For me, it was pursuing my MBA.  I took a GMAT class, studied intensely, applied to UCLA, got in, and then decided I didn’t want to go.  This might seem like a giant waste of time (and money- that GMAT ain’t no joke), but I learned a ton from the experience.  Most importantly, that I didn't want to spend 2 years of my life locked in a classroom.  I wanted to discover my new life.  And I’m so glad I did.

8. Listen your gut.  It’s there for a reason, and you’re wiser and more amazing than you can possibly imagine.   I realized I rarely stopped to listen.  And when I did, I found me.  Beautifully wonderful, imperfect me.   

9. Just keep going.  There were days I wanted to stay in bed, so I did.  But more often than not, I realized I needed to keep living.  So I put one foot in front of the other.  

And it got better.  Trust. 

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Oooh! Pretty Shiny Thing!

One huge plus to running: I do it in pretty shoes! 
I had a pretty big epiphany this past weekend.  

I’ve spent a lot of time running.  

I really wish I meant physically running- though if you’ve been reading my blog, you may have picked up that running is an extremely recent thing for me, something I hated so much I put it on a 20 year hold due to an extremely strict high school PE program that forced me to run a 15k (for the Americans, that translates to 9.32 miles) in order to graduate my freshman year (The scars!  Oh the scars!)

I mean, running from my life.

Let me take you on a quick little trip down memory lane: Hawaii to Boston to Denver to Boulder to Washington DC to New York to Santa Monica to Manhattan Beach to New York to Newport Beach.

Just writing that made me dizzy. 

The Magnificent Marketer in me says: Wow, that’s adventurous!  And that’s true.  I’ve led a pretty amazing life, filled with all kinds of fun shark/blizzard/yacht/celebrity stories.  

But the Truth Seeker in me says: You didn’t think that was working, so you left.   Wait a minute, that’s not really working either so let’s leave again.  Uh oh that’s still not working, let’s try this.  Or maybe this… 

The truth is, I’m a World Champion at Distraction. 

I have quite a few tools under my belt.  Some of my favorites: iPhone, food, alcohol, sex.

Over the years, I’ve become really good at using my tools all the time

But my approach is changing.  

I’ve finally slowed down.  I’m sitting still.  I’m dealing with it. 

And it kinda sucks.  

I wish I could tell you it didn’t, that I love feeling feelings and dealing with my $h*t.  But the truth is, it’s painfully hard work to deal with past hurt, grief, and loss that I've been a master at hiding.  

I'll tell you though, the rewards far outweigh the pain.  

A huge benefit for me is actually knowing and being me.  (Turns out, I like me.  I think I’m kinda neat).

And most importantly, without all this noise, I’ve discovered a much deeper, richer, fulfilling relationship with my Creator. 

Pain removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul.  - C.S. Lewis

I am not a theologian or a scholar, but I am very aware of the fact that pain is necessary to all of us. In my own life, I think I can honestly say that out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God.  - Elizabeth Elliot

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. -Psalm 34:18 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I'm Terrible At This

Gosh I loooooooove this place. 

This past weekend was busy.  And chock full of really awesome choices.

It started with an impromptu bbq at a friends house on Friday.  I said I’d “drop by” and promised myself I’d have just 1 glass of wine because I had a run in the morning (I finish one half marathon, and now I think I’m a runner). 

Famous Last Words. 

A bottle of wine and many many hours later, with just a few hours sleep, I woke up to run a 5k.

You can probably imagine my mantra during this run: Don’t throw up.  Don’t throw up. 

Immediately following the run, I rushed home to shower and change to join a friend for the long drive up to West Hollywood for a baby shower.  Fun girl talk, cake and presents later, we then slowly inched home (101, I curse you) where I immediately met friends to watch the Kings game at a bar (apparently there is a sport called “hockey” on right now).  More fun chatting, cheering, and some drinks later, I finally got home, and promptly collapsed into bed. 

I was exhausted come Sunday morning.  But I promised a friend I’d go to church, followed by brunch.  And then I decided to do this:

Sit on my couch for 5 hours watching Game of Thrones.  (Spoiler Alert: Everyone DIES.) 

So, you know, I observed the Sabbath.  A-hem. 

Was this because I had nothing else to do?  Not exactly.  

Among the 137 things on my To Do list: 

  • study for a final exam (which I miraculously passed)
  • 4 loads of laundry (including something urgent and smelly)
  • return 13 voicemails (I seriously hate voicemails, sorry Mom)
  • shop for real food (dinner was salsa and a frozen chicken patty- super creative or just plain weird?)

As I pondered the end of my opposite-of-busy day, I thought: 

You make really bad decisions.  Do you have any idea what you're doing?

Sometimes this thought pervades all others: I’m terrible at this, at life.  

And then I took that thought and tossed it.  

The thing is, I know I'm making slow progress, taking life one day at a time.    

Sometimes it's ok to be, and not do (when a friend first shared this with me, I remember thinking: Aww, that's so cute.  I'm a doer, you see. But she couldn't be more right).  

And I'll bet this is true: no one really, truly has everything figured out.  

But thank goodness there's a God who does.    

But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Matthew 10:30

Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.  Psalm 147:5

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wanna Hear a Crazy Dating Story?

I was in such deep thought staring at the ceiling of
this Botanical Garden that I almost ran into a field trip
full of little kids.  This has nothing to do with anything.  
I just thought it was cool.

I had such an interesting experience recently that it made me want to share something kinda personal that I don’t normally talk about:


If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you probably just spit out your coffee.  It’s true that I share a lot of raw things.  But this topic has been really difficult for me to write about.  Partially because I have a hard time believing some of the downright wacky things that have happened.  Like this little adventure from last week:

I had a fun date with a nice, funny, smart, successful, good-looking guy.  So for our second date, he asked me to join him for dinner.  At his house.  

In his hot tub. 

Because, if you want to get to know someone better, you should do that in a hot tub.  (No judgement if you’re wondering what the heck is the problem here?  I’m just not a hot-tub-on-the-second-date-kinda-girl).

Not knowing him very well, I wasn’t comfortable with this, and instead suggested that we meet at a restaurant.  

And that’s when things took a rather interesting turn. 

Little did I know what I would unleash: Crazy Angry Hot Tub Guy.  

I will spare you the ridiculousness, but in a nutshell: he became enraged.  To put it mildly. 

I’m really grateful this was all captured via text because seriously, I just can’t make this stuff up.  Also because I will be making a movie out of this. 

As hurt as I was by the exchange, this incident highlighted a theme that I’ve been seeing over and over and over lately.   

We’re all broken.  So very, very broken. 

I’ve been working on trying to see people, especially when dating, through a different lens: with love and compassion.  (This is a huge departure, I might add, from my they're-all-a-holes-I'm-joining-a-nunnery mentality). 

While it was really difficult for me to see Hot Tub Guy with love and compassion at the time, I've realized that at the end of the day, we’re all hurting, wounded, walking messes.  Me included. (This may shock you, but I have quite a few issues myself). 

The good news is, we’re all in this together. 

I’m so grateful for a friend who actually read through the entire text exchange in real time, offering advice and sympathy.  For a friend who came over with dinner (!) immediately after work to patiently listen to me share my stupid story. For a friend who checked up on me repeatedly to make sure I was ok. 

Most importantly, I’m grateful to Him for being a God who loves and forgives our brokenness, heals our wounds, and is always there to comfort us. 

Nothing God allows you to go through is pointless. Even in the midst of hurt, He will work good for you: now and in the future. He still has a grand plan for you!  - Lysa TerKeurst

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  - Psalm 147:3