a girl and her boy

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Category Archives: healing

What do you want?

image from ^riza^ on flickr

image from ^riza^ on flickr

Ever since the separation took place, I’ve been asking myself, and have been asked, “what do you want?”

I keep answering, “I don’t know.”

That’s always been my answer though. I want everything, but nothing. I want something but am not sure what it is.

I realized today that I do know what I want, I’ve always wanted it, and it’s very simple.

I want to be appreciated, loved, and safe. That’s really it. Those are the mountains.

The hills of what I want are:  to be the best English teacher I can be; find a community to settle down in that supports me as a person and as a professional; live in one place for more than 2 years (it would be a record!), and by in one place, I mean in one home; to travel within and without the U. S.; to develop my spirituality and deepen my practice; to become a healer; to publish one of the many novels I’ve written; to continue to set and obtain new goals; to be married to someone who wants to be married to me.

The stones of what I want are:  to work through my list of books to read; to knit and knit some more; to increase my running ability; to get into better shape; to find a place to live this summer after I obtain a new teaching position; to settle in and make my new place my home; to have a gun dog named Adelaide, Ade for short; to have a cat named Niea.

I’m taking it one day at a time and one step at a time. I’m making sure to show the loved ones in my life how much they mean to me by word and deed. And I’m trying to make sure I don’t slide backwards like I keep wanting to do.

“Go back?” [s]he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible. Go forward? The only thing to do. On we go!” So up [s]he got.

– Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, ch. 5.

(The image in today’s post is from ^riza^’s photostream on Flickr.)


The Time Warp.

One of the greatest challenges of being newly single is how to spend all that time that just appeared out of nowhere. Seriously, where did all this time go when I was in a relationship? Is there some kind of time warp that sucks it all up? If anyone knows, I’m very curious. I’ll post the best explanation of this phenomenon later this week.

In taking advantage of this massive volume of free time, I’ve ratcheted up my activity levels:  I’ve read 3 books this week, ran 10 miles worth of quick runs plus a long run of close to 6 miles yesterday, completed an amazing short day hike of about 8 miles on Saturday (more on that later in the post), and cleaned my house top to bottom, twice. I’ve never been more busy doing stuff I like doing, yes, even the cleaning!, than before.

However, somewhere around the edges of these activities lurks a beast. It’s a fearsome, loathsome creature and the bane of all people across the globe:  loneliness. Am I keeping busy to keep from being lonely? Or am I simply doing that which I love for the intrinsic value of it? Does it really matter? I enjoy it. But, there is that loneliness that sneaks up and punches me in the face with bitter tears from time to time. ‘Tis but a stepping stone on the path of my new life, I remind myself; but it still sucks.

In those moments of utter and complete loneliness, I try to remember that (1) I’m really not alone. I have two handfuls of really good and close friends I talk to on a regular basis. Plus, I have lots of folks to chat with and keep tabs on via Facebook (I adore Facebook!). (2) I’m an amazing person with incredible interests and hobbies and now is the best time to indulge in them. (3) Happiness is a choice.

Of all the things I try to remember, number three is the hardest to live by and keep at the forefront of my thoughts. It’s human nature to indulge in self-pity rather than seek and focus on joy, but I’m working on it. I really am.

While increasing my focus on the good and my personal interests, I took myself out on a hike to Mount Pisgah on the tower trail Saturday morning. Bauer, my rent-a-pup, came with me. He was a happy dog. He wriggled and romped and got muddy feet and didn’t care. He was loving life and exuded it snout to tail. He didn’t have to keep chanting the mantra of I choose to live in the moment and be happy. He just did it. What an amazing way to live.

The sunlight through the trees cast beautiful shadows on the forest floor. I sought photo opportunities as a way to train myself to see the gems strewn throughout life. Dorothea Lange said, “[a] camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” I’m working on it. I’m getting there. I’m making progress. It’d be helpful if I had a digital SLR, though, instead of my little sidearm point-and-shoot. But, it’s on the list of things to acquire. I’ll get one. And I’ll take the most amazing photos, too. My eye is becoming keener on the joys of life.

(I’ll update the post later to include photos. At school without access to my images.)

Effective Rating: 100%, I hope.

dark chocolate covered strawberries

dark chocolate covered strawberries

Today was a crap-tastic day. I won’t charge you with the details but it will suffice to say that I was home from work at nine-thirty and slept between tear-sessions until four this afternoon.

I think chardonnay, self-dipped dark chocolate strawberries, and a romantic comedy are appropriate measures this warm Friday evening.

Star Gazing

When I was in 8th grade the song Love Rollercoaster came out by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It was the tail-end of the year. We were full of energy and hormones. We thought we were in love with boys as we did the wave in gym class singing off tune waiting for everyone to finish changing in the locker room. If I only knew how much of a rollercoaster love, and life!, really is back then I may have done things differently. BUT that’s what life is all about now, isn’t it.

I came home today in a pisser of a mood to begin with. I’ve had a tough week at work and I’ve been getting worn out and worn down with everything:  keeping my chin up at a school I won’t be returning to in the fall, seeking new employment, seeking summer employment, seeking summer lodging, seeking long-term lodging, and ending my first real relationship which just also happens to double-dip as it’s also a divorce. Yep, just a few things going on.

So, like I was saying, I came home in a pisser of a mood and sat around my room for a bit tooling around on Facebook and Twitter per usual when I was suddenly struck with the desire to listen to this song from the Disney movie Pete’s DragonCandle on the Water. I YouTube’d it and was soon belting it out right along with the video clip. I played it over and over and over. It’s beautiful, it really is. And then, what the hell! I thought. I just started looking up all the songs from the movie. It is one of my favorites from childhood, after all. Why not cheer myself up with the fun songs I know by heart?

flowers from my garden

flowers from my garden

Soon I was dancing around my room like a fool to Brazzle Dazzle Day (love that song) and then ran outdoors, cut a bunch of daffodils and tulips, brought them in, and played it over again. And again.

I soon found I Love You, Too and that did me in. A verse into the song I was sobbing. I was sobbing because the weight of everything going on hit me full force. I had this. I have a person I feel this way about and I walked away. I smashed and bloodied my nose on the brick wall of reality. In desperate need to get away, I called Amy and then got in my car and drove to her place. She wasn’t home. I sat and cried alone in my car for 20 minutes. Then I pulled out of her driveway, determined to grab this bull by the horns and make ‘im mind, and started towards home.

Fate really loves me this week because she slammed me, again, against that brick wall. I was driving along the lake when Magdalena by A Perfect Circle came on the radio:  our song. I barely missed two trees and avoided the lake by 3 feet.

the lake I frequent and nearly landed in today

the lake I frequent and nearly landed in today

I managed to drive to the parking lot by the lake, secure a parking space, and drag myself to a bench. And there I sat, for an hour, sobbing.

a week ago, but roughly the same time of day as todays visit

a week ago, but roughly the same time of day as today's visit

I was letting all the anger and resentment and guilt and shame and weariness and loss out. I totally thought I was okay; I totally thought that I had my life under control a week ago. I filled out applications for a second job, I talked to Amy about living with her elderly neighbor, I wrote down a list of schools I wanted to apply to on top of the applications I already have out, and I was running every day, practicing yoga everyday, and not eating so I was losing weight. I felt fabulous.

Then it crashed. I crashed. But not hopelessly. Not permanently. It’s a different kind of crash than I’ve ever had before. It was a crash of reality. It was a crash of normalcy. It was a crash of moving to a new stage of the grieving process.

After spending an hour on the bench looking out over the water, sobbing, and feeling the cold wind on my skin through my thin shirt and low-riding jeans, I felt a little better. I felt real; sad; but real. Upset; but real. Lonely; but real.

I managed to drive home without any major upsets (ie driving off the road) and plopped down in my blue reading chair I dragged up to my room a week ago during my mad dash to make life perfect. And there I sobbed, again. And it didn’t stop for a long time.

Again I called Amy. And this time she answered. And she listened to me for a while on the phone, and then she came over and plopped on my bed with me and listened some more. I talked out all the frustrations and the anger and the disappointments I’ve experienced over the course of my relationship and my career; everything that led up to this present moment. She listened, and then she said:

“Okay, I’m going to psychoanalyze you. I’ve known you long enough that I think I can. You’re finally normal, Jen. You used to not be. You used to be a faker, but you’re not anymore. You used to be the messed up person with a messed up childhood, but you’re not anymore. You’re normal now. Everything you’ve told me is normal.”

And she’s right. She continued:

“You are also a perfectionist. You feel guilty about leaving this marriage because you can’t make it perfect and that irks you. But it’s okay. It’s okay to quit when you’re not quitting because you give up, you’re quitting because you have good reasons and it’ll make your life better.”

And again, she’s right. Amy, you’ve always been right. Thanks!

She also brought to light what I failed to remember:  I’m grieving! I just lost the most important person in my life, I don’t have a career-job lined up yet, and I’m moving to who-knows-where, only three of the ten biggest stresses in life.

The conclusion Amy and I came to tonight is that I am now essentially starting from scratch. My life burned down around me. I have no ties or long-term commitments. But I have goals and dreams.

As the Zen poet Masahide wrote:

Barn’s burnt down —
I can see the moon.

I am truly starting out on the journey of a lifetime and my blog title has new and deeper meaning.

A Poem: After a While

Poetry has always held an important role in my life being both the outlet and voice of my experiences. I’ve been writing poetry since I was a very young child and began reading and appreciating it around 5th grade.

One poem that I’ve always gone back to over the years is called “After a While” by Veronica A. Shoffstall. I read it first when I was a freshman in high school. It was powerful then and had a huge impact on me. But I’d have to say that it has far more meaning for me now. My life experiences have deepened my appreciation for this piece.

I’d like to share this poem with you today:

After a while you learn
The subtle difference between
Holding a hand and chaining a soul
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t always mean security.

And you begin to learn
That kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes ahead
With the grace of a woman
Not the grief of a child

And you learn
To build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is
Too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way
Of falling down in mid flight

After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much
So you plant your own garden
And decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers

And you learn
That you really can endure
That you are really strong
And you really do have worth
And you learn and you learn
With every good bye you learn.

Beer was invented for days like today.

my daffodils are smiling!

my daffodils are smiling!

Momma said there’d be days like this. There’d be days like this my momma said. And boy was she right. Settle in and let me tell you the story of this fine day. (Today’s post contains two un-bleeped curse words. If such things offend you, I’m sorry; providing the warning so you can stop reading if you wish — they’re both in the next paragraph.)

It all started when I bolted awake at 7:10 this morning. Shit! I thought. I raced down stairs, took a 2 min. shower, and then was in my car speeding towards the school that is conveniently 2.4 miles away. On a normal school day, I’ve been at my desk for about an hour by this time. I made it through the door to my open room with my homeroom students seated just as the first bell rang. Phew! I thought. Someone opened my room for them. And then I saw the vice-principal sitting at my desk. The grey streaks at his temples drew attention to the firm set of his face and stiffness of his posture. Aw fuck.

He didn’t say a word though! Not one word. He just stood up, fixed his eyes on the space just over my head, and walked out. Today’s foul up came at just the right time:  I had gone to bat against him the previous day and won. I’m not exactly on his A-list right now.

The second bell rang and the classes switched. Not only did my tardiness cause the VP to be disgruntled, but it also caused me to not have my materials, namely the next book for my applied senior class. Feeling totally defeated already, as the students witnessed the departure of the VP as they were coming in, I readily admitted to the class that I didn’t have the materials for the new unit and so we were going to work on a long-term project they complete every quarter with a due date fast approaching. This was not the best way to greet this class on the first day back from break when all they can think about is graduation and how to do as little as possible and still pass to get there. I was fighting 18-year old grease monkeys over reading choices (or lack thereof) for 80 minutes. Oi vey! Pass the Excedrin.

Luckily I had remembered to bring in the tin of instant coffee drink mix. Just add hot water. And I had plenty of it after that class.

To make matters even more interesting, it was close to, if not over, 90 degrees in my classroom. Excellent.

I managed to find legitimate excuses to take the remainder of my classes outside. Thank the god of your choice for “Birches” by Robert Frost and Thoreau’s Walden and their blessed place in the American literature canon.

The students were moderately on-task in the sunshine induced sleepy-state they were in while reviewing and discussing the pieces. We were all far more interested in the vitamin D, though. I came home a touch rosy but am optimistic that it will turn bronze by morning; just in time for the 10-day forecast of cooler weather. Double excellent.

I came home. Opened the fridge. Grabbed a Labatt and plopped myself right in the middle of the daffodil bed.

Back at it and Surviving Singledom

Today was my first day in my classroom in 10 days. I love the school calendar! And, I have another 8 weeks of school (3 with seniors) until I have 10 weeks off. Most excellent.

Being the newly (nearly) single woman I am, I took advantage of the full bed to myself and slept in to 8 (yikes!) each morning during break. It was wonderful but it made waking at 5 am and being in my classroom at 6 am a bit difficult. I was craving coffee all morning and had none. That’s what really sucked. But, I solved the problem by picking up a tin of the General Foods International coffee drink mix in Cafe Vienna flavor. Yum. Not nearly as good as brewed coffee, but it totally works.

I’ve taken advantage of my singledom to teach myself to be a better chef and to eat healthier. I get to buy the groceries now, after all. I’ve discovered that I enjoy grocery shopping and putting the groceries away, especially since that now entails chopping and slicing and freezing into Jen-sized packages. I’ve been buying colored bell peppers whenever they go on sale and that has saved me a ton of money on groceries already because instead of buying them when I want to cook with them and then using all of the peppers in a single meal, they’re chopped up and frozen and find their way into several meals. I’ve also purchased flats of chicken when it is at or under $1.79 a pound, slice the breast into thirds and freeze the thirds in snack-sized bags placed in a quart-sized freezer bag. I have sixteen pieces of chicken that will make 2 meals each in the freezer. That’s 32 meals for $8 worth of chicken. Not bad.

One thing I told myself I would not do now that I’m single is to skimp and cheat on meals, meaning that I will not get lazy simply because I’m cooking for one. In keeping to that promise to myself, here is tonight’s dinner:

Chicken Parmesan and Fettucini Alfredo

Chicken Parmesan and Fettucini Alfredo

Overall, I enjoy being single again. I enjoy having the time to do Jen-things and to simply enjoy not being frazzled and stressed. But, six years is a long time and I have been missing the companionship, not the person, the companionship. That’s part of the reason I want a dog so much:  constant companionship and I can tell her to lay down when I need to get stuff done. 🙂

Recent Developments

As you can imagine, a lot of changes have been happening in the space between this and last post; most of the changes were happening within.

I’m not going into the details of the separation or why I chose to move on, but I will tell you this:  it was the best decision I have ever made. I feel free. I feel alive. I’m beginning to live the life I always wanted to but couldn’t because of the rut my relationship was in for years.

In the last month I got back on the road running and biking (and dropped 17 lbs.), I kicked my professional life up a few notches, became a road warrior after buying a car,  cut and highlighted my hair, and bought a few new things for my wardrobe. Yes, perhaps a little too much for the wallet in the recession, but I still have plenty of money to pay my bills and I plan on getting a second job with all this free time that opened up for me. I am not a new woman, I am the woman I always meant to be but haven’t been.

Some of the big things coming around the corner for me are getting a new teaching job and moving (hopefully out of Maine) and when my finances are settled and recovered I’m going to get a dog. Not just any dog though, a gorgeous Weimaraner.



I’ve always wanted one but my ex didn’t. Phooey on him! I don’t have to worry about his thoughts on the matter any more! I’ve loved Weims for as long as I can remember and they are the perfect breed for my active lifestyle. We’ll keep eachother outside and enjoying life! 🙂

That’s all for now. I just wanted to give everyone a head’s up on what I’ve been up to. I’ll do a more in-depth report of some of my shenanigans soon. 🙂

Anthem to Ring in the Changes:

This song has had a powerful effect on me since I first heard it in 1999 when I bought the album. Ten years later, I find that it has become my anthem.

On Friday, I saw my PCP and he confirmed that I have PTSD and co-dependency. He put me on an antidepressant and scheduled an appointment with a therapist for a consultation. I see the therapist today after school. These lyrics ring loud and clear:


Humility on Bleecker Street
Exposed my faults until I’m left defeated
It’s been three years into this relationship
This is longer than I ever could commit

But I feel I’m near
But I feel my fear

I’m standing at the edge of another precipice in life
Gotta face my steppenwolf
Gotta drag you through the mud
When I get there I will see myself
I will look for strength within
I will be a better woman
Hang in there baby, I’m the grain of sand
Becoming the pearl

There are no roll models in rock n roll
No women who could have it all
The long career, the man, the happy family
And here I stand and God I do demand it

And I feel I’m near
But I feel my fear

I’m standing at the edge of another precipice in life
Gotta face my steppenwolf
Gotta drag you through the mud
When I get there I will see myself
I will look for strength within
I will be a better woman
Hang in there baby, I’m the grain of sand
Becoming the pearl

I’ts dark in here-don’t know who I am
Memories come–I’m wading through the moon
Evil side–wants to drag me down
Will power–god, please give me some
(Im hanging onto hope now)

I’m standing at the edge of another precipice in life
Baggage from my family
Going back to therapy
I will kneel, be humble, tow the weight
I will look for strength within
I will be a better woman
Hang in there baby, I’m the grain of sand
Becoming the pearl

What you've all been waiting for:

I’m ready to speak again.

Over the last month, my life has gone through some transformations that I could only speculate the far-reaching effects of prior to them. The whole construction of my life is different now. Here’s the run down. (This has all been announced and discussed with the people directly involved, so don’t worry about that!)

After six-months of marriage, Allan and I are separated and are seeking an anullment. It’s not for lack of love or dedication, it’s because there are some things within myself that I have been ignoring, needs that I have been pushing aside, growth that I have been stifling. After waking up empty and aimless for the last two years and attributing it to every reason other than the true reason, I decided it was time to do something about it. I started scanning my life for reasons for my discontent and simple compliance. I had been overlooking the obvious:  my  history of abuse has caused me to be co-dependent and I have severe PTSD.

These conditions together have hedged me in and I’ve acquiesed to a life that is not unpleasant, but that is devoid of verve and growth. After months of reflection and discussion with good friends, I had the talk with Allan. He was understandably upset at first, but he completely understands my needs and loves me enough to allow me to move on and seek well-being.

I have since accepted some things about myself that will allow growth and healing to occur:  I have accepted that I have a history full of pain, hurt, and anger; I have accepted that I have been a shell of the person I can and wish to be; I have accepted the true nature of my spirituality and have allowed it to blossom.

I have a long journey ahead but I feel prepared and supported. I have embarked on the journey of a lifetime.