Tag Archives: living

L.O.V.E.

I have been having some of the most beautiful and poignant discussions around love lately. What it looks like, what it feels like, how it grows or fades, what it needs to blossom, and what it takes to make it go away.

Because let’s be honest, sometimes we do need to make it go away.

*this post might be super abstract for many of you. I have a very visual mind and will do my best to paint you a good picture with my words*

In my mind, love is a linear spectrum. It is all pink-hued and soft at the beginning; gentle, bubbly and quiet. As it progresses from left to right, the colors subtly shift from pinks to deeper pinks, (I would say mauve, but I abhor that color), to fiery reds, and deep blood-colored burgundies.

After careful consideration and lots of processing with friends, it is my opinion that this love-line, if you will, works something like this:

Everyone has their own love-line for every relationship they enter into (I am really only speaking about romantic love here). You have one whenever your heart finds someone – regardless of whether or not that love is reciprocated. It progresses from left to right and, for some people, it can start off explosive and fast. For others, it might be a slow and steady progression or perhaps a slow and steady surprise. It begins as infatuation, then perhaps a crush, then you might be struck dumb when you realize you have some serious feelings brewing for someone.

But here is the catch; new love can only progress to a certain point. That first tickle of love can only move forward on this continuum of love if it is reciprocated. If it isn’t, then alas, your love will get stuck there and you are essentially left with a heart that feels full to bursting and has no where to go.

Yeah, ouch. We have all been there and it hurts like hell.

Now, let’s say that you have that crush, you are head-over-heels for someone and that love is requited? That is when you have that forward momentum toward the far right end of the spectrum. That is when love can grow and deepen and blossom into a love that can last for years and builds itself a home in your DNA. That love can fade, but the essence of it stays with you forever. That is the love I have for my ex-husband. It will never leave – it is a part of me. And that is okay.

I need to address this aspect of ‘love’ as well: What if your love continues to move toward the right end of the spectrum without being reciprocated? It is my opinion, that perhaps you might have entered into a space of unhealthy stalker-like tendencies. I would venture to say that this is a psychological issue of some kind and you should seek professional help. I am dead serious.

So, how does a person who finds themselves stuck in the bursting, crushing-hard, love stage make it stop when that love is unrequited and has no where to go? Boundaries! Big, fat, hard, scary boundaries. The only way forward, toward letting go and healing, is to wean yourself off of the drug that is love and go cold turkey, right into a stage of zero contact.

Research shows us that falling in love is indeed akin to being on drugs.

This is an excerpt from a post by Shauna H Springer Ph.D.

Dr. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist and relationship researcher, conducted a series of illuminating studies on the brain chemistry of love. Specifically, she found that the same brain chemicals (that is, massive amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine ) are in play, and many of the same brain pathways and structures are active when we are falling in love and enjoying a cocaine-high.***

Consider the specific euphoric effects of smoking crack cocaine. In the short run, according to the website cocaine.org, smoking crack cocaine leads to enhanced mood, heightened sexual interest, a feeling of increased self-confidence, greater conversational prowess and intensified consciousness… “It offers the most wonderful state of consciousness, and the most intense sense of being alive [that] the user will ever enjoy.”****

You need to rid yourself of that drug that is love. Once and for all. Completely. Block a phone number if you have to, delete them from social media, steer clear if they are in your social circles. This advice may seem extreme, but for me, it has worked in the past and gotten me to a space where I was able to let that love fizzle and fade and come back around to a space of a deep and solid friendship with a former crush. But I could not have done that without the no-contact rule. It took a whopping 23 days and now he is one of my closest friends – and I don’t feel anything other than a deep, friend-love for him.

Once again, I am currently stuck on the left side of this love-line; the pink, effervescent side. It is unrequited, and I am in that space of having to back off and untangle my heart and travel backward and let go. Back to myself, alone. I love easily because I walk around with my big, open heart right on my sleeve. It finds connection in the strangest places and I have no choice but to go along for the ride. I have tried casual, I have tried slowing down, and though I did manage those things for a time, it isn’t really a comfortable state of being for me when my heart wants OUT.

But here is the thing – something I am coming to understand and accept about myself, is this:

When my heart gets involved, I don’t do casual. I don’t do half-assed. I don’t do lukewarm. I dive in headfirst, with a fearless and reckless abandon. I may be too much for some people, but the truth is, most people are not enough for me.

I was told once, by a wonderful guy, that he wanted to ‘steer’ the relationship, He told me that if I were the one to take the reins, I would drive us straight off of a cliff.

And he was right.

But I would rather have someone hold my hand and jump off with me, than go in circles, endlessly, forever.

 

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The Seasons Change (but sometimes we get stuck)

I was in my yard the other day and there were leaves on the ground – not on the trees where they SHOULD be; all green and perky, glinting with dappled sunshine. The leaves I saw were brown and crunchy; shriveled and dead, pathetic. I internally shuddered.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love fall. The colors, the smells, the crisp, clear air, the cozy feeling of sweaters and jeans and boots. But fall means one thing:

WINTER IS COMING.

I can’t talk about winter without saying things like; I don’t like winter! I don’t like feeling cold! I don’t like the lack of sunshine and daylight! I don’t like the feeling of being trapped inside and feeling isolated! I do not like snow!

But this post really isn’t about any of those things.

It is about this: The seasons are changing and time keeps moving right along; life is passing by. Fall is this epic shift of letting go, and change, and new beginnings. Death makes way for new life.

And life is flowing all around me – it keeps marching on, but fuck! I feel so anchored to where I am. Days are turning into weeks, weeks into months, and months into seasons.

I am standing still.

It has been almost a year since my husband left. One trip around the sun. Time feels like it’s in some sort of warp. I feel like he left last week. A year?! It just doesn’t feel real.

But it is.

The world keeps turning and I am standing still, feeling completely and absolutely STUCK.

I am stuck inside of my grief, and my hurt, and my heartache. I cannot shake them. Yes, I’ve made lots of progress, but there are still some days where I am literally rocked to my core with pain.

And all around me, life goes on.

Winter is coming.

My kids are doing as well as they can with their new life; split between the 2 people they love most in this world. They spend half the week with their dad and half the week with me. Of course they want their family back, but they are really happy and they are thriving. I imagine that my ex must be happy too. He has everything he ever wanted. He told me once that he is happier than he ever has been in his life.

And me? I am still struggling. Still aching for that family I want back. I am sitting in an empty house filled with ghosts, memories, and lost dreams. A future that will never come to pass. It is a life that is no longer real. It was the future I was counting on.

There are no guarantees.

I think this is just the rollercoaster that is grief. I think, perhaps, that this is what I am supposed to be doing. Feeling my feelings and moving through the pain and the trauma. Perhaps I am not actually stuck but just slowed waaaaaaaay down.

If it were possible, I would curl up into an emotional chrysalis, and hibernate right through fall, straight on through winter, and wake up when it was spring. I would bypass the rest of this so-called ‘grieving process‘ and skip to the end where I emerge from my chrysalis as a beautiful fucking butterfly.

But winter is coming.

And I have no choice but to go along for the ride.

 

Vulnerability and Expectation

(Trigger warning. Some mildly graphic details of parental death)

There are two themes that keep coming up for me. In my thoughts, conversations, reading, and in my writing.

The first is vulnerability. The second, expectation.

I don’t think the two are in any way connected, but I am certain that they are a part of this puzzle – of life, love, longing, grief, and moving forward through the trauma and the pain.

I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s book, Rising Strong. It’s goddamn amazing. I feel like I am doing the hard work she writes about – being a badass, being vulnerable and present, being my most aware self. And it is hard as fuck. Never in my life have I been faced with such insurmountable challenges. I am literally facing down my demons; and I am winning. She talks about vulnerability and our ‘stories’ (what we believe to be true in our minds) – for me that piece translates to expectations.

My dad died right in front of me when I was 9. He had pneumonia and one of his lungs exploded at home. I watched as my mother scooped vomit out of his mouth and tried to give him CPR. I tried to run out of that hallway where his body had fallen but she made me come back to help her. I was NINE. I watched as his nose turned blue and then a vivid shade of purple. He wasn’t breathing. He wasn’t getting any oxygen. He was dying. He was dead.

I didn’t want to watch any of that; I had no choice. That memory is seared into my mind like a painting. I have played and replayed that moment over a million times. I have asked myself why he died a million more. My PTSD brain, from that moment on, effectively robbed me of any ability to love fully, feel whole, feel self-worth, and be vulnerable. My PTSD brain, from that moment on, tried to control everything; from my day-to-day life to my relationships. It wanted predictability, safety, and never, ever surprises of any kind.

Guarantees. There are no guarantees; a fact that still pisses me off.

When your brain is hardwired to view everything as a threat, you cannot possibly be vulnerable. It is not an option. My brain was quite literally rewired in that moment of severe trauma. I disassociated from myself for the first time that day. I completely left my body as my mind perceived imminent danger and did what brains do. They fight, flee, or freeze. I didn’t fight – I was not a fighter then. I froze and I fled.

I know that my mother, at age 37, was doing the best that she could. I know that she needed help. There were no cell phones in 1984. I had to call the police. I had to do what she told me. I am a mother now; my son is 9 years old. And I know in my gut that I would never, EVER let him watch someone he loved more than life itself die in front of him. “I’ve got this!”, I’d say. “Go! Get out of here!”, I’d tell him. And I would take care of it. I would absorb all of that terror.

Maybe I am really saying those things to my 9-yr-old self. That little girl needed protecting. She needed saving. I can do that for her now. I can help her. I can hold her hand and we can walk away. My 42-year-old self is in a space of strength and courage that I can tap into. I can take that child and protect her. I can and will heal her. EMDR is saving my life.

What about this expectation piece? I read something the other day that said something to the effect of; “No one has broken your heart, they broke your expectations”. Damn did that to get me. I am still trying to untangle that statement. My ex hurt me; didn’t he? Did he not break my heart? Or did he make selfish choices that I reacted to? Perhaps my hurt and my heartbreak were my own and I needed to react and fall apart so I could reemerge and put myself back together.

He certainly broke all of my expectations around having an intact family and someone to grow old with. What do I do now that the future I expected to have is GONE? The future I expected to have as a little girl with a mother and a father – GONE. Is this the true source of my hurt? The loss of my predictable and planned out future?

If I let go of expectations around love and life, what am I left with? My own shit. My vulnerability (HA! They are connected!). I have to let myself be present in the moment. Right now. Right here. Not a week from now, not 30 years ago, not last year. NOW. Letting go of possible futures with possible endings. When I let go of any and all expectations I might have, I am forcing myself into a state of vulnerability as I am entering into a space where I literally have no control or say in what happens – save my own decisions and the choices that I make.

July 24, 1984. My brain broke that day. My daughter was born on July 24, 2009. Exactly 25 years to the day that her grandfather died. My little girl is a magical creature filled with love, light, and an emotional capacity I marvel at every single damn day.

I cannot predict the future. I do not know what today or tomorrow hold. There are no certainties. There are no guarantees. People die, babies are born, people will leave you, and people will walk into your life seemingly out of the blue. To let go of expectation is to be vulnerable. This is my life goal. I am right here, right now. I am doing the best that I can as I bumble along this winding path on my crazy journey. My heart is opening up for the first time in 33 years. I am completely terrified but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Do Not Love Me.

The kids and their dad move into the new house together with the girlfriend this weekend.

This major transition is bringing up some seriously weird emotional shit for me. I know that it is my trauma rearing it’s ugly head in another attempt to shut me off emotionally again. I feel separate from the kids in a way I didn’t think was possible. I feel disconnected and flat – not fully present in reality. I am questioning my want and my very desire to be a mother. I am questioning whether I even want to have custody. What if I just let go and give up? What if I just shut the fucking door and walk away for good? What if I don’t want to feel anything, for anyone, ever again?

I know that these big feelings are coming up in part, because I have met someone. This wonderful, surprise-of-a-guy who blows my mind with his amazingness and his kind heart. I feel myself being vulnerable in ways that truly terrify me. My heart is saying, “GO! GO! GO!” while my mind is screaming, “COMMENCE LOCKDOWN!”.

I know another part of the resentment and confusion I am feeling is due to the fact that the kids are the ONE thing that bind me to my ex. My ex, whom I wish I had never met. The man I spent 17 years of my life with. I wish I could erase him and those 17 years forever. The kids are EXCITED about their new living situation. My heart wants to door-slam them completely for that. But it’s not their fault. It is no one’s fault. It just is.

I am all twisted and turned around with these new emotions. I am trying my best not to judge them, but when they are directly related to my willingness and my ability to parent, they seem inherently WRONG. Mothers should love their children without thinking, worrying, resenting, and shutting-down getting in the way. Mothers should love their children UNCONDITIONALLY. IRREVOCABLY. FOREVER.

Should. Could. Would.

But what if I don’t want to? What if I don’t want to love or be loved by anyone, anymore, ever again? I loved my dad and he dropped dead in front of me. I loved my ex and he ripped out my heart, broke me, and kicked me while I was down. Love feels like a betrayal of my sanity. I know what happens firsthand when you let yourself open up and love with reckless abandon; whether you are 9 years old or 42. You get HURT.

What if I want to go find a cave on a beach somewhere and never return? What if I don’t want to deal with the orthodontist, groceries, feeding, caring, or loving for one more second? What if I don’t want to deal with the emotional repercussions of loving someone again? What if I want to march out of this house, get into my car, and drive straight to the airport? I could board a flight out of this state, out of this country and start over. I could do that. I really truly could.

But I won’t. Because I know that even though these emotions are deeply painful and very hard to bear right now, they will pass. They always do. And when they do, I will walk away knowing myself a bit better. Knowing once again, that my strength lies within me no matter what my mind is trying to tell me. And I will never break again because no one will have control over my life and my emotions to the extent that my ex did. That is the TRUTH.

And I know, of course I know, that I love my kids more than life itself. And that these emotions are okay and they are normal. I also know that I am totally worthy of loving and being loved again. I do not want to go forward in this life for one more second ignoring my feelings, putting them in a box, and erecting walls around my heart. Because that isn’t really living. It is watching life pass you by like you’re some spectator, not an active participant.

I have to learn to let go of this fear and this hurt in healthy ways – not by putting my heart on lockdown. I have to slowly and gently trust that it is okay to love and to be loved by my children, by my family and friends, and by others. Not everyone will break my heart and stomp on it. There are many who will treat it with loving kindness and a tenderness so beautiful that it will be worth the risk. I cannot let myself miss that by living in an emotional cave on an imaginary beach somewhere.

But fuck, it feels so scary. And I wish someone could hold my hand.

Right now.

Manifesto 

I got my name back this morning. I am once again Amy Moreno; officially. There is so much power in this for me; it feels like being reborn. The entire process wasn’t that exciting but the aftermath spawned this; I am on chapter 5 my friends, and I have never been happier.

I will never lose sight of who I am.

I will never get lost in another relationship - of any kind.

I will stay in complete integrity with myself.

I will do my utmost to be present in every moment. 

I will not judge my thoughts.

I will not judge my emotions.

I will walk with my heart open;
and my eyes wide open.

I recognize that I will face difficult times;
and with those times will come difficult emotions.

I recognize that my difficult times and emotions will PASS.

I will work hard.

I will try harder.

I will make mistakes and embrace those mistakes as learning
and being brave enough to have tried. 

I will approach life with a gentle awareness
and a curiosity that sparks within me a new-found appreciation 
for all that I am, 
all that I have, 
and all that is coming my way.

Straight up RANT.

I had to go into hiding; lockdown. I have been faced with yet another monstrous hurdle in this shit-show called divorce.

The ex wants my kids (aged 9 and 7) to live in a home with multiple people; one of whom I do not know. Adults. His girlfriend is one of them and another male I have never met. I feel so unbelievably uncomfortable about all of this. It raises all of the hairs on my head. My momma instincts are screaming ‘NO! NO! NO!’.

Even if my ex knows and trusts these people, I do not. I have only met the girlfriend a few times and this new male, not even once. Adults in my children’s home mean more adults visiting those adults and that just grows exponentially. He assures me that they won’t be in danger. That there will be no big parties when they are there. He tells me that they will be safe and respected. That the people he will have as roommates understand what it means to live with small children. But none of this changes the fact that I DO NOT KNOW THESE PEOPLE. None of this information helps me feel at ease when I have been told that I will ‘never be welcome’ in that house. And that ‘maybe’ these people would be willing to meet me. And it certainly doesn’t help that I have little to no faith in my ex for very obvious reasons.

Last week, when this new development came up, the all too familiar emotional and verbal abuse came with it. When I asserted my position, I was called ‘combative’. When I stated that he could lose custody if the judge rules that he cannot have his children in a home with strangers, he called me ‘threatening’, ‘manipulative’, and ‘shaming’ of his lifestyle choices. There was no intended malice in that statement – no judge would ever put minors in a home with adult strangers! That is a FACT. When I said that I don’t feel comfortable with his scenario, he called me ‘controlling’ and that I ‘cannot control who he lives with and what he does with his life’. Both of those things are true but we aren’t talking about his life and his life alone. These are my kids too, goddamnit! MY KIDS TOO!

Why is it that when a strong woman makes a case for her beliefs and stands her ground, it is called being “COMBATIVE”?

I call bullshit on that one. BULLSHIT.

And of course, this new development hurts like hell. Of course, this new living situation feels like a nightmare for me, personally. But I will be damned if he is going to make this about me and my needs! This is, and has always been, about our children and what is in their best interest. I would never take them away from their father. He is a good dad – just a shit husband – and that is for me to deal with, not them.

So, I did the only thing that I could, I created a document that sets up parameters around the kids new living situation. Background checks, limits around unknown adults in the home while they are there, etc. Smart parameters, not selfish and manipulative choices! I am struggling with the fact that I will never be welcome in that home. A place my children will call home for half of their lives. HALF OF THEIR LIVES. And that half will be spent living with someone I really believe (at least for now) that I hate. Someone I would pay money to be in a small room with for five minutes. That is all I would need. Five minutes to get in her face and say all of the things I want to say, that I should have said months ago. The biggest and loudest one:

‘YOU SHOULD HAVE WALKED THE FUCK AWAY. YOU WATCHED A MARRIAGE CRUMBLE. YOU KNEW THERE WAS LOVE THERE AND YET YOU FUCKING STAYED. YOU AIDED IN BREAKING A FAMILY BECAUSE YOU ARE A SELFISH LITTLE 30-YEAR-OLD ASS. YOU ARE NOT A PARENT, YOU ARE NOT A MOTHER; YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU HAVE DONE TO THESE CHILDREN’S LIVES, OUR LIVES.’

Well, something like that. I am so angry right now. It comes and it goes. This is my reality and I am done running from it.

My next post will likely tackle more of the codependency stuff. I really thought I was in love with my ex. That he loved me still. I haven’t spoken to him in 4 days and you know what? I feel better and healthier with every single day that passes.

Thanks for listening.

Amy

(The Terror of) Opening Up

My fluctuations in mood, my state of being, and my every single moment-to-moment, keep having this disastrous effect on me. Their unpredictability and persistence are really messing with my mind and my confidence that this will some day be OVER. That every day will eventually be an empowered and happy one where I am totally self-reliant, confident, and whole.

I have never been a patient person and this moodiness leaves me with worry and frustration – am I EVER going to just be happy – with smaller bumps in the road? Will life ever reach a place of slow-and-steady minus these fucking pits of despair? Last week was a really good week. I was ecstatic and happy and confident. Today I woke up to gray skies and no children in the house and that achy uncomfortable feeling is back.

And this has happened: I finally admitted/acknowledged that I am still very much in love with my ex.

I had been trying SO HARD to turn that off.

It felt stupid and embarrassing to love someone who hurt me so badly; weak. A person who doesn’t seem to give two shits about me and who I am becoming now. It felt too risky to allow that love into my hurting heart. I know it is not reciprocated any more – if it ever was, to the depth that I seem to be able to feel it. When I made space for that love, it filled up the empty places in my heart (I am really questioning the emotional repercussions of this).

Admitting a love for someone who has hurt me more deeply than anyone in my life ever has, did one really powerful thing – it aligned my two selves. The hurt me, who put up walls so thick and so tall that nothing was getting through them, with the girl standing on the other side. The one standing there, looking up at the wall, waiting patiently, knowing you cannot simply turn love off. No matter how scared or hurt you may be. I was spending so much time trying not to feel, that I was exhausting myself – just as I spent so much of last year trying to be someone I was not ready to be.

Extending myself outward – always stretching myself too thin, still keeping parts of myself in check.

I have a lifetime of trauma to unwind. 32 years of compartmentalized emotions; always making sure they didn’t get too out of control. Don’t love too much – you’ll get hurt. Don’t get too sad, you won’t recover, don’t get too happy, it will end in disaster. Don’t feel anything too much or love anyone too much because life is a lie that cannot be trusted and people die and leave you. They rip out your heart and stomp all over it leaving you broken.

Never feel too much, it won’t hurt as much when people disappoint you.

Now my heart is learning to open up and I AM SCARED. What if someone else leaves me? What if someone breaks my heart into pieces again? What if one of my kids gets hurt or God forbid dies? I know what that emptiness feels like – that horror of not seeing someone you loved with your whole self – ever again. Doesn’t it make more sense to have a life of half-feeling? Walls made of steel?

I’ve finally come to the conclusion that no, it doesn’t. Living in constant fear of being hurt and only exposing half of your heart isn’t living at all. Denying your own children, your spouse, your friends and family, the absolute essence of who you are means you are also denying that piece of yourself to yourself.

This is the only shot we have. There are no repeats, redo’s, or second chances. This is the one life you are given and that means that you need to give it all that you have. I am learning to do this. Learning to trust my own emotions and to trust others. I am allowing feelings to be as intense as they need to be without the fear that they will swallow me whole and never go away.

I think that the deepest hurt for me, in terms of my marriage, is the fact that my husband of 11 years and partner of 16 didn’t think that I was worth the wait.