Strong

I have been surrounded by so much love and understanding in the last month. It’s truly amazing to me that I have so many people who love me, support me, rage for me, feel sad for me, and are just there for me.  My tribe.

The good thing about having this type of family is that I can be feeling any emotion, but I never feel alone.  I know there is always someone there who has my back and better yet, those same someones know and understand when I need time away and alone.  They check in but don’t smother.  They send love but don’t demand it in return. These are my people.

I’ve been getting a lot of messages from friends sending me love.  Among the many amazing things they say, are: “You are so strong.”  “You are the strongest person I know.”  “I can’t believe how strong you are.”  “Your strength amazes me.”

I like being strong.  It was an intricate part of my self-identity for a long time.  Strong, independent, opinionated, resourceful….etc, etc.  But always “strong”.  Here’s the thing.  Much of my strength came from not being able to turn towards others for support.  For doing things alone.  Starting in my teenage years with a highly dysfunctional father and an alcoholic step-mother, until they kicked me out of home and I was living “independently” in my last year of high school.  I had support of my mom, but I was resistant to her helping me.  I got myself in a lot of scrapes.  Then I moved to finish my degree and did my PhD and lived and worked independently.  Then I met and eventually married F.  In our relationship, I was emotional support for him, but he wasn’t support for me.  I looked the other way in many situations and got past (or blatantly ignored) some pretty abusive behaviours.  I was “strong” because I had to be.  It was me dealing with things alone and not asking for the help I needed, probably suffering more than necessary because I didn’t have the support system that everyone needs and couldn’t ask for help.

Being strong is idolized. My friends mean it as a compliment. It is a compliment. I’m just not sure that my old version of being strong was a good one.  I think I had to be.  But also, what it created was the inability to ask for help when I needed it. Or even recognize when I needed help.  I had this self-reflective epiphany months ago with O’s help.  I realized I was bad at asking for what I needed in favour of filling other’s needs, because when he asked me what I needed, I would deflect with a question or trying to choose what would make him happiest.  It was a huge realization of a major personality flaw.  I wasn’t just strong, I was trying to be my own fortress. The thing is, I can’t do that. No one can.  We need others. I have four kids to think about, and when I’m trying to manage everything on my own, it doesn’t help them.  It means I’m focused inwards when I need to be there for them.  So, going it alone, because I’m strong and don’t *need* help, isn’t the healthy thing to do.

The thing is, I’m in a situation now where I have a plethora of people who want to support me. They want to be there for me. They want me to ask them for help and support.  This is why, when I asked S to first postpone a date and then cancel a date so I could process, she said ‘yes’ without hesitation. This is why I could ask A for what I needed in way of distraction from my emotional state, and he provided it in the most amazing way possible (Seriously, subspace for 2 hours solid and at least 8 orgasms.  Amazing!) This is why I have friends checking on me and asking if they can do anything and just telling me they are thinking of me.  

Vulnerability is hard for me.  Asking for help and support is vulnerable, even with people we know who care.  Being vulnerable has been a thing of weakness for me for so long, since F exploited my vulnerability to make my issues about him.  But in this case, being “weak” is actually being so strong.  The strong realize that they are not stand alone fortresses, and ask for help from the foundation that holds them up.  

My tribe. My people. My support. My loves. My foundation.  

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Blocked

In previous posts, I mentioned that I had a couple emotional weeks.  Part of that was the intense discussions with O and the concern I had about everything to do with that situation.  Another part was the feelings of disappointment as my one year anniversary with A came and went without the connection I so needed.  The final, and most emotionally destructive, part was another conflict with my sister.  

I can’t type it all out, because the truth is, I deleted it all, but even if I did still have it, I wouldn’t want to.  I don’t want to hold on to anger and I certainly don’t want her hurtful words to remain for me to reread and repeat that immense pain again.  

She called me many names, including “whore”, “compulsive liar”, “abusive bully”, and more.  She told me I was projecting, that I was mean, that my life is disgusting and repulsive.  She told me that I was pushing my lifestyle on her.  She told me that I’d been a bully all her life. She told me that I was just whoring myself out to cover up some undiagnosed pain.  She said many more awful things. The final thread, in which she included my parents, had me asking her to stop seven or eight times before I started deleting her messages unread.  She kept saying “See, this is how you treat me, how does it feel to have someone treat you as badly as you treat them?”  After the third time she said that, I apologized for every time that I unintentionally caused her pain and pointed out that she was intentionally causing me pain in revenge.  I asked her to stop.  She refused. At that point I completely blocked her.

The thing is, it’s essential for me to be kind to people. It’s important to me, as a strong, independent, intelligent woman, to be a supportive influence in other people’s lives.  I can be mean when angry, I’m human after all, but I’ve never intentionally hurt someone. Ever. But my sister, someone who is supposed to love me and support me and be on my team, is lashing out at me in the worst way possible.  The most hurtful thing she said to me was that my parents don’t actually support me “fucking so many men, they are just too afraid to speak out because they know you would keep the children from them.”   My parents have been my rock, my stability as I go through my separation and navigating my divorce. They have been there to listen, to laugh, to cry, to hug me when it’s too much.  They’ve prioritized my kids so that they get one-on-one time with their grandparents and feel special and have another safe place to talk about the changes in their lives.  They have spontaneously purchased stuff to fix toilets, bought clothes and boots for my kids, and purchased food for my fridge to help me out.  They’ve been nothing but supportive and nonjudgemental, in everything, including polyamory.

When my sister wrote these things, she started me questioning the way I come across to people.  Do people actually see me in the way she does?  Do I come across as mean?  As abusive? As damaged?  As judgemental?  I started doubting myself.  There were a lot of people who read her words. Each one of them assured and reassured me that I am not the person she says I am.  That no one in their right mind would ever say those things about me. It took a lot of processing to get me there. I had an onslaught of insults, criticisms, and judgements for over a week from her, and it was a lot to process.  In the same way that too much negative feedback influences a child’s security, I was feeling rather insecure. I needed some positive feedback to counteract the doubts in my head.  Fortunately, I have amazing people who do that for me.  In the end, I cried.  I was hurt, then angry, then disappointed, then sad.  At the end of all of that, I realized something very critical – it’s not about me.  Her issues are about her and her only.  The things she is saying are just words and it tells me more about her than it does about me.  What my sister is is a very angry, sad, broken person who needs to blame me for her problems and treat me badly to make herself feel better.  

So I blocked her.  I cut her out.  I can’t let anyone treat me that way, even if she is “family”.  I talked to my parents about it all and they are very concerned about her mental health, but support me completely.  Cutting my sister out was a great decision, although a hard one, but I had to take away her ability to hurt me.  The fact is, my life is better and easier without her.  The truth is, I have amazing people who are my real family, even if we don’t share DNA.  I no longer hold hope that reconciliation can happen, and I’m OK with that.

About the things I don’t write about

I love that people actually want to read what I’m writing, not just my boyfriends and best friend, but there are people out there who are legitimately interested in my life and my random musings about it.  I am reminded, occasionally, that I make assumptions and generalizations that can offend people. This is not intentional, my blog is my space, where I write about my experiences, my perspectives, my feelings, and my failings. My writing is also completely full of my biases.  It also contains only snapshots in time, wrapped up in short(ish) posts about events I’m interested in relating.  It’s just a small part of me, the part I feel like sharing in that moment.

I often don’t write about things that would hurt others if they were to read it.  I try to keep my posts about me, respecting the privacy of my friends, partners, and family.  Some things that happen to me just aren’t that big of a deal or important enough to write about. Some things I haven’t shared because I haven’t had the need or the opportunity.  Some, I’m not ready to share or I’m not done processing. I think that some people lose sight of the fact that no matter what you read, you are not getting the full story.

With that in mind, I thought I’d write about some of the things I haven’t written about, for whatever reason:

  1. The fact that I picked up my kids from F’s last week and his parents and siblings were there and there was awkward with his mum and sister.  That W arrived while I was there, and seeing her hug them and say hello hurt me more than I anticipated.  Turns out that she can have F, but I’m not so happy about her taking my place in his family.  I don’t want her to hurt them like she’s hurt me.
  2. The fact that F’s family, sans F, came over for lunch a couple days later and it was amazing to see them and to begin to redefine and reestablish that relationship.  To know that we can continue to be a family even after the breakdown of my marriage to their son/brother.  That they are truly happy to remain in my life with no conflict.  
  3. How I’m hemorrhaging money because F is delaying our separation agreement finalization and I need to consolidate my debt into my mortgage and everything is just sitting waiting to be signed and he’s taking his sweet time because he makes 140% of what I do and has less bills.  So when my eldest needed new leggings and winter boots and I couldn’t afford it, my mom went out without being asked and bought her four pairs of leggings and new winter boots and just asked me to stop by.  She also got stuff for the three other kids.  I ugly cried with complete gratitude into my mom’s shoulders that day and she cried too.  
  4. How my sister has completely cut me out of her life.  How she’s spending a lot of time with F.  How she’s interfered in my separation. How she’s influenced my relationship with my father, which was already strained, but is now pretty much nonexistent.  How she’s cutting herself out of my mom’s life too and how much this hurts my mom.  Or how, despite the fact that I would love a good relationship with my sister, my life is so very much easier without her in it, and I feel slightly guilty for the relief I feel that I don’t have to deal with her bullshit.
  5. Why my relationship with my dad is strained. I haven’t written about the emotional abuse.  I haven’t written about the absentee father who never took responsibility for his actions and promised the world but rarely followed through on his words. I haven’t talked about the 12-year-old girl who idolized him and was left waiting for him to arrive to pick her up on more than one occasion to not have him show. Or the 17-year-old girl, who desperately wanted a father, who got kicked out of his house because she called the alcoholic step-mother an alcoholic.  
  6. What those first years of independent living were like, the sexual abuse, the frequent moves, the bad and the good decisions I made during that time, and how so many of those decisions provided a foundation for who I am now.
  7. What it’s like to have family and friends all over the world who I miss immensely and how their absence/distance from my life leaves a hole that isn’t fillable, and sometimes, it’s too much.
  8. How I had a bad day the other day. I was emotional, near tears all day, and I didn’t know why. It’s a big deal that I reached out for comfort, knowing that I needed time and physical touch with one of the men I love.  How A came and met me during my lunch break and we sat in the back of his truck and snuggled and chatted. How I melted into him and everything was right again.  How hard it is for me to ask for that comfort when I need it.  I’m so fiercely strong and independent, and being vulnerable isn’t always my strong point. I can ask for what I need because for the first time in my life, I’m dating men who actually want my happiness, and that breaks down walls, and I’m so thankful for them.
  9. How heartbreaking it is when my kids complain that they don’t see me enough and I have to explain that I have to work extra right now so we have a house and food and clothes and all the necessities of life and have them say they just want to be with me.  Then I hold them and cuddle them and tell them I love them.
  10. What it felt like to introduce my kids to O and to meet his daughter. How he’s changed my expectations in my relationships and had me reevaluate so many of my priorities in my dating life.  How good it feels to know I can talk to him about everything and have him understand and respect my boundaries and work with me to build the relationship we want together.  

What’s my point?  There are things that I haven’t written about. Ironically, I just admitted to some in writing, but my point would be lost if I didn’t write in my blog! Everyone has a story and very few others are privy to all the details.  Even those who are in the know most certainly didn’t live the feelings, nuances, details, and stress. Sometimes, we have to remember that everyone has a story, everyone has a battle they are fighting, and everyone deserves compassion and understanding.

Happy Right Now

My life is fucking fantastic.  Shall we talk about how?  Yes, yes we should!

Well, F has moved out. Or at least there are dirty spots that need to be swept or vacuumed where large pieces of furniture used to be.  It’s almost done.  The relief and happiness I feel at this transition into independence is incredible.  Yesterday, I picked up my kids to take them for dinner, and my eldest two expressed that they were having a hard time with all the changes, as the previous night was their first night in their dad’s new place.  Luckily, my parents live close, and were able to come meet us for supper, and helped me give the kids the love and attention they needed to just feel a little more secure in their little lives.  When I dropped the kids off with F, he and I had a good chat about how to help the kids with the transition and came up with a plan to work together. We talked with our eldest about how we are friends now and we are going to always be on her team and want to help her as much as possible.  I talked to my second eldest and just hugged her and sung the “I’ll love you forever” song, and she said “Does this mean you’ll always be mommy?”, and I said “Yes sweetheart, I’ll always be your mommy and I’ll always be here for you.”  I have no illusion that F and I won’t fight in the future, but last night was a great example of what positive separation and coparenting looks like.

My job is great.  I am getting constant positive feedback from the people I work with and the people I work for.  More importantly, I love everything about it.  I enjoy the intellectual stimulation, the challenges, the people I work with, the learning I do, and the flexibility in my schedule.  

Things with A are great.  More on that in another post, because I have a lot to say there, and he’s pressuring me for an insight into my thoughts on recent events, and it’s fun to make him wait.  Things with L are good. I don’t see him as much as I would like.  I’ve been busy and he’s started dating another girl, so his time is more limited.  He has evening activities often and I’m busy during the day.  He’s been pushed back in the pecking order of my men a bit, but when we are together it’s amazing.  He’s supportive and fun and loving.  What we have is great, and I’m going to choose to be happy with that.  I’ve been dating another guy.  This gorgeous, sweet, kind, and fucking sexy man, who I guess will get the letter M.  I met M months ago at a polyamory pub night.  He and his girlfriend and her husband gave my drunken ass a ride home that night.  I remember him walking into the pub and thinking “Damn, he’s really fucking hot.  I bet he’s an asshole.”  Sure enough, I was completely wrong.  Talk about an exercise in checking my biases and assumptions.  He’s so nice.  He’s going through a divorce, has two kids that are the same ages as two of mine, and he’s amazing in every way.  Everything about being with him is simple and easy.  When we began talking, it was because he sent out this “You are Awesome” video to nearly everyone on his friends list on Facebook.  I wrote back that I thought he was awesome too, and asked if he had sent that message out to everyone, and he said yes and that his phone was blowing up.  I commented that it must usually be like that, and he said “No, it’s usually pretty quiet”.  I said that surprised me because he’s so hot and charismatic and kind that I thought the women would be throwing themselves naked at his feet.  He destroyed my assumptions by saying that had never happened, and said he thought I was hot too.  I just said “Really? We should talk about that some time?”  He responded with “Nice advance lady!”, and we kept on talking.  That was over a month ago, and it’s going great. He’s fun and kind and makes me laugh and turns me on and rocks my world and I’m happy with how simple and easy it’s been.

Everything is great.  I’ve never been this happy. Ever. Which brings me to an interesting conversation with a coffee date I had a few weeks ago. He said: “I’ve given up on happily ever after.”, and this got me to thinking.  I don’t think there is a happily ever after. That’s the stuff of lies and fairy tales.  What there is, or at least has the potential to be is Happy right now.  This is my new commitment to myself, working for the end goal of being happy right now.  It’s just all part of making the choices to be true to myself and live the life I choose.

 

A poly year

A year ago, I went to bed, happy and fulfilled in my life, at least I thought.  I had a crazy dream that night.  A dream about X that was anything but platonic. That dream prompted me to message X when I got to work the next morning.  And the rest is history, as they say.  He introduced me to polyamory, and changed my entire life.

I’ve been poly for a year.  I’ve never been so certain about a decision in my life.  I am polyamorous.  I have had the most amazing year.  I fell in love with X and felt the intensity of our connection and loved him so completely.  Then it ended.  I met A, and we had the weirdest first date ever, with our bizarre coincidences and crazy connection.  We friend-zoned and were both happy to do so.  I met B, who was a romantic interest in my life for a short time, but has been a steadfast friend as I navigate my divorce and my dating life.  Then I started dating D.  I fell so madly in love with him, in the most intense and amazing way possible.  I had months of a near perfect relationship with him. It ended, in an absolutely awful way, but it doesn’t change how amazing the relationship was.  In the meantime, I unintentionally started the incredible relationship I have with A.  We embarked on an adventure exploring BDSM together.  We supported each other through some pretty shitty times.  We turned to each other when the rest of the world was railing against us.  We just became who we are together as a couple, while being who we are as individuals.  We figured out what worked for us.  I met L.  We are still working on creating what we want in our relationship together.  Committed and cooperative and happy and moving forward together.  

My marriage disintegrated.  It was awful and conflict-filled and I held on too long. Then I stood up, hopped off the roller coaster, advocated for myself, and moved forward.  We are working together to co-parent the most amazing four kids in the world.  We have moved forward as adults and our separation is negotiated.  I hope that moving forward we’ll work together instead of apart.

I dated.  I had coffee dates and dinner dates and drink dates and lunch dates and breakfast dates, and I had first kisses that rocked my world and second dates that ended in disappointment.  I had horrible dates and hopeful dates and disappointing dates and a wife messaging me to tell me I had a liar date.  

Outside of the poly part of me, I had three grandparents die.  My dad was diagnosed with cancer.  My sister cut me out of her life in a hail of fire.  I lost friends, met new friends, and connected more strongly with others.

I told many people about being polyamorous.  All but my sister reacted positively.  Nearly all embraced me and my chosen lifestyle completely, asking relevant questions and supporting my choice.  Most importantly, my mom supports me and my kids support me.  I have told so many people now that I’m almost “out”.  Not yet.  But one day, I will be.  In particular, I came out to G and to my person at work.  I made the strongest connections with two women who will always have my back.  They are better than having a sister.

I loved.  I loved men like I’ve never loved before.  My relationship with D only need serve as an example.  I’ve never loved someone who wasn’t blood so unconditionally.  My love for A is unique too.  It’s the first time I’ve submitted to a man worthy of my submission.  He’s earned a special respect and love from me. That’s something bigger than I can explain in words.  The fact that he doesn’t really ‘get it’ makes it even more important and a little funny too.  These loves taught me about the type of love I should have.  The type of love I want and the type of love I deserve and the type of love that I shouldn’t accept.  Through loving these men and the understanding of what it meant, I loved myself again.  I chose to stop sacrificing my happiness.  I expected more. I demanded more.  I became more.  I became a better woman, a better mom, a better partner, a better person.  I stood up for myself.  I supported the people I love.  I became who I’ve always wanted to be.  

I cried.  I hurt.  I raged.  I cried some more.  I have never felt so broken.  I have never felt so confused, hurt, rejected, unloved.  I cried as I shed my old me and the new me became.

Today, a year later, I’m happy. Truly, completely, thoroughly, uncomplicatedly happy.  My life is full of everything I could possibly want.  The most amazing kids, parents who love and support me, friends who accept me unconditionally, partners who accept me for who I am, two fulfilling, challenging, and stimulating jobs, and so much of everything I could ever need.

Happiness came in a form I never expected, because I had a dream.

Six long weeks

Smack dab in the feelings. That’s where I landed tonight.

A friend invited me to her birthday party in the first week of August today.  She specifically invited A with me, which is kind of awesome.  I invited him along.  Sure enough, he’s gone that weekend. Then he’s away for 2 weeks starting the weekend after.  And I’m gone the weekend he gets back.  So we just lost every weekend in August. Every. Single. Weekend.  I’m having surgery on Wednesday. I’m getting a tubal ligation and uterine ablation. As a now “single” woman, I need to be in control of my fertility, and this is the best way. Of course I’m safe about my sex.  Condoms are an investment I make in bulk. Sexual health is important to me.  But most definitely, my uterus is closed for inhabitation, and I won’t be leaving control of such a situation up to the men I’m having sex with or a piece of latex.

But the thing is, I’m going to lose a couple weeks of recovery time to this procedure, possibly more. The recovery time can be anywhere from one to six weeks.  So, we’ve also lost the last couple of weeks in July.  It may be as distant as September the next time we can have sex.  This makes me sad. I guess it will depend on my pain and how well I heal, and the ridiculous schedule the men in my life have.  I had absolutely incredible sex with L on Friday afternoon and what was going to be mind-blowing sex with A that was interrupted with real life on Friday evening, and then he spent the night for the first time in our entire relationship and it was amazing and I wish I could have enjoyed it properly, but he had to leave early in the morning, and biology decided to fuck with me and be a giant pain in the ass this morning, and my period arrived three days early, when I was really hoping to use those three days to bank all the sex I could before I had surgery.  So, now sex is off the table for the foreseeable future, A and I probably won’t be able to have sex for two to six weeks or so, and L and I won’t have sex for at least two to 4 weeks.  Maybe one of the other three men I’m dating/interested in may move in there, but the reality is that this girl who needs a little more attention won’t get the sexual attention she needs.  Chances are, regardless of need for sexual attention, the men in my life won’t be available.


I wrote this several days ago.  Yesterday, I had my tubal ligation and endometrial ablation.  I had a bit of hope when the nurse told me it would be only a couple of weeks until I could have sex, but the obstetrician burst that bubble just before I went into surgery and told me it would be 4-6 weeks.  The endometrial ablation basically destroys all the cells in the lining of my uterus, and so no penetration with anything is allowed for 4-6 weeks due to the risk of infection.  So, it’s going to be the end of August before I get to have sex.  I know what it’s like to need IV antibiotics because of a major infection, that’s not something I want to repeat, so I shouldn’t complain. It’s totally worth it.  But damn if it isn’t going to be hard. I should have had this procedure when I was still married to F and didn’t care if I had sex for months at a time.  Well, I’m sure I’ll live through it, and it’s not like I have to be a nun during that time.  I’ll find ways to enjoy myself and the men in my life.

Among the funnier things yesterday was my mom coming to pick me up from the hospital and asking me how I was feeling and me answering “I’m stoned”, and us both laughing about the fact that we never expected me to supply that answer voluntarily when she was picking me up.  The anesthesiologist I had was the same woman who gave me my epidural with baby #3.  Somehow, we ended up having a conversation about misogyny in academia and in her chosen profession, congratulations about separations, and everything in between.  In general, the whole thing was fun and interesting and relatively painless, thanks to some Tylenol 3’s and my parents who spoiled me rotten, and exceptionally good medical staff.  

Today, I’m feeling a little bit tender and swollen. I stole away for a lunch with A, which was, by far, the highlight of my day.  The man gives the best hugs and the after lunch hug has sustained me for the rest of the day.

I’m back with my munchkins now, having convinced F that he should put them to sleep to give me a little extra time to recover, since I’m not supposed to lift anything and I have a toddler who loves to be carried everywhere.  I got a lovely welcome from #2 and tomorrow will be full of cuddles and relaxation, while my new nanny gets acquainted with the kids.  It should be good.

Whole

I crossed the couch and unintentionally started a relationship with A just over 6 months ago.  Back then, if someone had said I would be separated, D and I wouldn’t be together anymore, and I’d be in love with A and dating actively, I would have told them they were smoking some awesome drugs.  But that is my reality.  Six months, A and I have been together.  He’s never said he loves me, although I think he likes me and the time we have together a bit more than a little.  Do I care that he knows I love him, and he’s never said it?  Not even a little.  I’m happy with what we have, including him and his reluctance to talk about feelings.

I saw my person for the first time in a couple weeks.  I updated her on the goings on in my life and it took 45 minutes to just give the brief explanation because my life is weird, and awesome, and so very fucking full. I realized again, just how much support I have in my life.  I’m so lucky.

Among the things that happened this week is that I found my first cheating asshole!  I’m very clear with every man that messages me on OKC that I am polyamorous, I’m not interested in casual sex, I’m not anyone’s unicorn, and if there is a wife or significant other in the picture, that person needs to be 100% in the know before I even consider dating someone.  Well, I went out with a guy.  Had an amazing kiss in my parking lot (did I mention that I had 3 first kisses in that parking lot in the last week?  Well, I did)  The next day, I got a text from his wife telling me that he was breaking all their rules and that he was lying to me and to her. So. Not. Cool. So, I obviously walked the fuck away from that without looking back.

I’ve been staying at my parents when F is parenting in our house and this week I had a great talk with my step-dad. This guy is the most amazing father figure. He’s been there for me, for my sister, and for my kids more than any other male figure has been.  He told me he was proud of me. That he was happy that I finally realized what was going on between F and I and that I stepped away from the dysfunction.  He was supportive and awesome and loving and amazing and totally dad-like.  It was so refreshing.  It was one of those dad conversations that won’t happen again for years, but I feel better, and anchored, because of it.

I got the second part of my tattoo done.  It didn’t escape me that the flower bud that represents my second  miscarriage was what was the most painful!  But damn is it amazing!!!  I’m so happy with it.

The other day, F and I had our second collaborative meeting with our lawyers.  It went so well that we actually got up and hugged each other part of the way through.  It was incredible actually, to be laughing and joking and having fun while discussing divorce proceedings.  Things seem to be working out as far as that goes.  We’re actually getting along reasonably well and the kids are doing well too.  We told them that we are separated last week, and they reacted as well as can be expected.  They actually seem to be doing quite well with it all and only time will tell how quickly they adjust.

So much is going so well for me right now.  I realized that I’m actually truly, unequivocally happy.  Content in my life, my strength, my independence.  Loving my kids and my jobs and my boyfriend and dating new and interesting people.  For the first time in a year, I don’t feel stressed or sad or angry.  I just am.  I’m in control of as much of my life as I can be, have accepted the parts of life I cannot change, and am moving forward with intention, joy, love, and independence.  I am whole again.