Midway Mindset

Lessons Learned

The announcement of an engagement is typically made with joy and verve. We don’t think about how to break the news or what people’s reactions will be. We shout about our nuptials from the rooftop and flash our shiny rings.

Announcing a divorce is a different beast. In the days that led up to my ex-husband and I telling people that our marriage was over, I spent a lot of time twisting my wedding ring in circles around on my finger. It became a habit, my subconscious “tell” of the turmoil going on in my life. Like a genie in a bottle, my anxiety hoped that if I rubbed the ring hard and long enough that my wish to be on the other side of all of this would come true.
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I had my third child, seven weeks early. There was no denying that three increasingly difficult pregnancies and pre-term labors meant that my birthing days were done. But, I always thought that someday I would adopt a child with special needs – an exceptional child that someone gave up on; a sweet soul who needed extra attention; a child deserving of extra love and support to make up for what was left out at birth or may have been lost along the way. What I didn’t realize was that, just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I didn’t need to look any further for my heart’s desire than my own backyard.
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When my ex-husband and I were divorcing four years ago, my daughter’s only question was if her dad and I would both be at the hospital when she had a baby someday. She needed to know that in the midst of so much loss that the picture she had in her head of what that day would be like would never be taken from her. At the time, we assured her that we’d be anywhere she wanted us to be. That we were still family, that we would always be her parents.

The call came at 1:30 a.m. The phone didn’t have a chance to finish its first ring. I screamed, “She’s in labor, isn’t she?!” My son-in-law said, “She’s asking for you.” With a shaking hand, I put my keys in the ignition for the longest 4-hour drive of my life.
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When my daughter, Kayla, was five years old she was obsessed with Barbies. (Are Barbies even a thing anymore?) Pregnant with my first grand-daughter, I find myself thinking back to when she was a little girl.

“Mom, play Barbies with me. You can be anybody that you want to be.”

Like hell, I thought.
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I met my ex-husband’s girlfriend for the first time a few weeks ago at my daughter’s baby shower – a shower that I hosted for 42 of my friends and family. Dinner and a show. No pressure.

In the weeks leading up to the shower, I might have overthought the situation. It’s in the ex-wife job description. Knowing this episode of “When Worlds Collide” was getting ready to go into production, my head and heart began to play ping-pong. I didn’t feel thin enough, blonde enough, funny enough or anything enough to play a leading role. Who was she? And what would she think of me?
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My kids all had varying reactions to the news of our divorce. My oldest son,
24-years-old at the time, had always been the practical one. He thanked us for a perfect childhood, said he appreciated the sacrifices we had made and then asked if he could come home the following weekend to get his old toys out of the attic before we sold them. My 20-year-old had a similar take. He was living at home at the time and knew my tears had stained every floor in the house and that happiness had been a lean commodity. He wasn’t surprised and just wanted us to be happy. But, my 22-year-old daughter had questions – heartbreaking questions that came from blurred lines and a rapidly fading family photo.
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10733893_10154695436090307_2470662863029310153_oFour years ago, much of my life as I knew it was disintegrating. I’d been diagnosed with a handful of chronic, serious illnesses; my marriage was ending, my kids were grown and gone and I felt like I had little control over the direction my life was heading. I was terrified.

I don’t typically indulge that four-letter word fear, but I had been afraid of a lot lately. Fearful my kids would resent me or my husband for the irreparably cracked marriage. Scared we’d never be a family again. Terrified of being sick. Anxious I’d be too ill to support myself. Apprehensive that no one would ever want me again. Nervous of dying alone. Dreading leaving my dry cleaner. (The struggle was real. I frickin’ loved my dry cleaner.) I was a bundle of tears and fears, desperately looking for a way to feel like I had my feet planted firmly on the ground.
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My first “Me, too” experience was in high-school. Straight from central casting, enter the jock boyfriend who used manipulation to try to get what he wanted. When I resisted and said no, I was called a prude, laughed at, made to feel ever so less than. He caused me to question the way I was raised, the things I believed, to doubt what I wanted. And because I had the self-esteem of a gnat, it almost worked. I said nothing. We all know how this one ends. The girl gets dumped when the guy doesn’t get what he wants – and yet he tells everyone what he thinks they want to hear. And it doesn’t matter if you did or you didn’t. Welcome to your first lesson in loss of control.
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I spent the last few nights removing all traces of me and my family from my home. I took all of the photographs and turned them around to the image that was there when I bought the frame. I inserted blank pages into the 5 X 7 spaces, leaving even more to the imagination. I color sorted my closet and rid it of half of the shoes and any trace of lingerie because people selling their homes certainly don’t wear too many shoes or have sex. Duh.
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“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

I understand what Gandhi was saying. The good guys always win. Blah blah blah. Truth and love overcoming evil can be a hard concept to swallow when you awaken to the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history; when morning after morning what happened while you were sleeping doesn’t make any sense; when you lose count of how many days you’ve said to your love, “Oh dear, God. It happened again.”
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