Friday, July 25, 2014

Revisiting the past and finding butterlies

It's been forever since I've posted here-- the longest since I've been blogging and I've missed it. I was on vacation in Southern California and I had little to no Internet access where I was at. No kidding, I think there is better Internet on Everest than at the Welk Resort in Escondido, California. Getting away, as always, was fabulous. I reconnected with friends, forgot that I am still battling Myeloma, took lots of power walks, slept a lot, and got way too much sun. We hit up Venice Beach (always an interesting experience), Seal Beach (my favorite Southern California beach), met up for lunch with my former step daughter, Kalie (I will write an entire post about this in the next few days), and rejuvenated. I do a lot of rejuvenating. I highly recommend it.

We flew to LA but drove back. I went to Big Bear where my ex husband, Rob, and I owned a vacation home. That home went into foreclosure when I got sick and insisted that he put alcohol aside long enough to finally manage the home, as I was incapable of doing it. I was sort of side tracked with getting chemo and two stem cell transplants. As it turns out, that responsibility was too difficult for Rob. He chose to drink extra alcohol instead of managing the home and stopped paying the mortgage. The bank foreclosed and I had all the furniture moved out and into a nearby storage unit. So... at the end of our trip, we drove up to Big Bear, spent the night in a fun hotel, rented a UHaul, had movers load it up the next morning, and drove the truck packed to the brim back to Utah. We stopped in Las Vegas overnight and shopped the next day before heading home late that afternoon.

I dreaded going up to Big Bear, especially with the girls. How would we all handle it? Would the memories be hard? Would that visit rip up scars that were healing? While the girls went swimming that evening, I drove to our old home. I needed to see it again. As I drove, I passed the bowling alley where we went nearly every trip. As I drove past it, it was like a dagger hitting my heart. It literally took my breath away and I had to stop myself from sobbing. This was a time when I had a family (albeit a very flawed one), a husband (although an abusive alcoholic), a home, a vacation home, a career, dogs, and responsibilities that one would expect of an adult. And, I wasn't yet sick. Or, at least, I hadn't been diagnosed. Actually, the last couple times we were in Big Bear as a family, my cancer cells were growing at an alarming pace but I was oblivious to it. Anyway, we had cars and... well, the image (if one didn't look too closely) of success. Looks, however, can be deceiving. Nothing was right. The marriage was a disaster, I worked far too many hours, I often ignored my children as I tried in vain to keep our family together, my priorities were all lopsided, and I was desperately unhappy.

Back to my drive through Big Bear... As I felt overpowering sadness and regret, I reminded myself that Big Bear, though we had many good memories there, represented everything that was wrong with my life. Too much "stuff", putting all the responsibilities before health and wellbeing, and working too hard to try and keep it all together. The sadness, the physical pain, went away within minutes. I drove to our former home, got out of the car, looked in the windows, and saw emptiness. There was nothing there. The home was for sale, and it was just a shell. Sort of like the memories of my former life. Emptiness. Filled with nothing.

The girls seemed to weather the Big Bear excursion. Siena talked most about the past. "Remember when Daddy taught me to ski?" and "Remember when we played laser tag?" and "I loved the Big Bear zoo." and "Daddy always took us to Starbucks." Yes, Daddy. The man who has failed his children universally. The term Daddy is not always a good or strong term. Pitiful, regretful, and damaging. While Siena talked, Morgan was silent. The following day as we were driving from Las Vegas to Utah, Morgan and I had time to talk about her feelings. She said that there are nights when she is in bed and she cries herself to sleep. The pain is, at times, raw and terrible. Other times, it doesn't bother her as much. I told her that was part of the healing process. Healing doesn't mean that the wounds disappear. It simply means you make peace with it. Someday the scars may even become a badge of honor-- you survived it and you're stronger for it. You may someday appreciate the experience. Or not. If only I hadn't made such a poor choice. If only I had married a man who wasn't emotionally sick. If only I had stayed single instead of jumping into a marriage. If only the man I had married placed the wellbeing of his two families ahead of his love for alcohol. If only, if only, if only. Things can't be undone. All I can do is try to make better choices in the future. Regret can be a very time consuming and wasteful emotion. All one can do it work your way through it, move forward, and make different choices the best way we can.

And that is what I'm doing. I would far rather be alone than in a bad marriage. I would rather be fearless Lizzy who is picky and choses her mate with great caution and trepidation than the opposite.

I talked to my BFF Julie not long ago about butterflies. I never felt that excitement with my ex husband. And, to be honest, I never felt it with William either. Try as I wanted to, and as cohesive partners that we were for nearly two years, I never felt that overpowering draw to him. To that end, I made the difficult decision to end that relationship. What Julie said rang a bell with me: "I really hope that you never settle for a guy who doesn't give you butterflies." That statement was like a huge wakeup call. No butterflies? That's not cool. William and I never argued. We never raised our voices to each other. We were kind and thoughtful. We looked a great couple. We were together all the time. We traveled and were great partners. We had similar goals and thought processes. We talked endlessly about topics big and small. Everything seemed perfect-- a match made in heaven.

...Except where were the butterflies? Maybe never having a disagreement was the problem. Maybe I've set my sites so high. Too high? No. Because I would far rather be alone than with a guy that doesn't make me swoon. Who, simply put, I just don't love. I "loved" William because, well, he had become one of my BFFs, part of my family. But "in love"? That overpowering feeling that one feels with someone that they just can't live without? No. I've felt that love before. It is amazing. Fun. Exciting. I like butterflies. Actually, I love butterflies.

But the best thing about my relationship with William is this: I loved how I behaved in that relationship. I learned that I'm a great partner. My ex-husband, Rob, loved to scream at me. He would tell me that I was his trigger, I had a huge temper. I couldn't live my life without him. This relationship was a huge reminder that I am none of those things. I was patient, kind, honest, thoughtful, and calm. It brought out the best in me, which is exactly what a good relationship should have. Since being sick, I realize that I actually like me quite a lot. And a lot of people like me. I have many friends and I think if you ask them, they'll say good things about me. I try hard to live my life without regret, to treat others as I want to be treated, and to be loyal. I have put together a life that I am very proud of. I like my life. I've put my priorities in the right order. And, really, I am perfectly comfortable with Me. And in a relationship, that allows me to be incredibly picky. Insanely picky. No more compromising just to be in a relationship. Because I like the relationship I have with myself. And I want butterflies!

I have my trusty list on all the things I want in a guy. Plus, there's that ever elusive thing called passion. It has to be there, too. I've had it before. Granted, I've felt that amazing love for three men in my life. I think there is a fourth out there but I'm in no rush to FIND IT NOW. And that is a great feeling.