Change your life story

Sometimes you already knew. Sometimes your gut had already been telling you something that you just refused to pay any heed to. You needed that bad situation to give you the motivation to leave that toxic relationship or to give you an answer as clear as day.When I broke up with my husband, I went into therapy for a little over a year. My therapist was my marriage counselor. My ex husband and I saw her for three months. During my last session with her as a married couple, it was a solo session and she seemed to be advising me to get a divorce. I was offended and stopped seeing her right away. 

When I found out about the affair, my therapist was one of the first people I contacted. I asked if she knew about the affair and if that was why she was counseling me toward a divorce. She said she did not know about the affair and that she was pushing me toward a divorce because she could see that I wasn’t happy in my marriage. 

In the year and a half since my break up, I’ve faced many challenges and I’ve constantly amazed myself by overcoming these challenges. I’ve successfully began life as a single mom – moving out to Manhattan with my daughter and successfully navigated the public school system to get her into one of the best public schools in the city. Ive faced my ex husband – the man I once called my soul mate and my true love, in court and successfully fought for a fair divorce settlement. I’ve taken my daughter alone on vacations and road trips – this coming from a woman who never drove for years because her husband didn’t want her touching his car (which she paid for). And every time I overcame a hurdle, I felt stronger inside. I knew I could do this. 

I never imagined that one day I’d be divorced in my mid thirties and doing this single mom thing. But it happened and I survived. And I’m determined to use this as a platform to change my life story. 

So dear friends, as the new year approaches us and you are down in the dumps and feeling depressed, I hope you see that glimmer of hope. I pray you see the positive side of this. And I hope that you use this as the motivation to change your life story and lead the life you were meant to live. You are the author of your life story. You control your own destiny. Don’t ever let anyone take that away from you. 

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Blessed Holidays

  

Dear friends, this holiday season I pray that you will find the strength to carry on. I pray that you will not give up. 

I know it is difficult to be happy. I am not asking you to be happy. I just pray that you will have hope. 

Hope in a new life. 

It may not be the life you had originally hoped for. It may not be the life you thought you were going to have. And the journey there may be a hard one. But I promise that once you get there, it will be a sweet life. 

So have a blessed holiday. And soldier on my friends. 

Peace, Love And Joy

I know.

You read the header and probably went “This is so cheesy – is she serious?”

It’s hard to feel that holiday spirit when you are in the throes of a bad situation. I spent last Christmas with my closest friends and family back home. It helped a little but I still couldn’t help but feel a little weird that I wasn’t spending it with my husband as I always had for  the past six years. 

My ex husband has always been – and still is, secretive. I guess that’s how he’s been successful at maintaining that double life of deceit for three years. He’s never been forthcoming about what he’s up to. 

Today for a moment, I had reason to believe that he might be spending Christmas with his affair partner – I guess she’s now his girlfriend now that we’re divorced? – even though he’s always claimed they’re broken up. The feelings of inadequacy and insecurity came back. What if he marries again before me? What if I’ll never find someone who loves me?

Then I stopped myself and remembered – hey I’ve been doing all these wonderful things and leading a nice life without being in a relationship so far – it is really not a competition. Besides life is peaceful now. 

I know it is difficult especially when you are in the initial throes but peace is so important. Seek peace in all you do. If you focus on revenge, if you focus on the anger and the hatred, it’ll swallow you and the person that will be unhappiest is you. 

For example, I could’ve made it difficult for my ex to see his daughter but fights between us would ruin my peace and my daughter’s peace. And it is so not worth it. Sometimes it’s ok to lose a little to gain peace. And when you are at peace and are calm, you will feel happy inside. 

So this holiday season – I wish you peace. I wish you love. I wish you joy.

Picture Perfection 

Like a lot of people, I’m addicted to social media, particularly Facebook and Instagram. It’s the first thing I check when I’m trying to wake up in the morning. And like a lot of people, I stalk others on social media and then feel bad about myself. “Look at that family picture – they look so happy together. Even the baby is smiling for the camera!” “Look at how skinny she is even after having three kids! I love that Chanel bag. I wish I’m able to afford a Chanel bag.”
And I judge. “She is so ugly but even she didn’t get cheated on by her husband.”
Everyone knows that Facebook is Fakebook and that a lot of social media users have two different lives – the real life that they’re living in and the picture perfect life that they are presenting to the world, filtered through social media lenses. It’s a stressful world that we live in and it’s made even more stressful when we feel like we have to live up to some imaginary social media standards and keep up with the Joneses. And it’s addicting! I’ve tried detoxing myself from Facebook countless times but I always feel like I’m missing something in my life when I’m not checking Facebook. My latest excuse is that my Spotify is hooked up to my Facebook and I would lose my carefully curated playlists if I disconnect. So for those of you who are not on social media yet and are on the fence about jumping on the social media bandwagon, don’t do it.
Screw picture perfection. It’s impossible. And most people who post picture perfect lives on social media are actually faking it. There is no such thing as a perfect life – a lot of people just don’t air their grievances on the world stage. It’s human nature to want others’ admiration and envy. 
I know a woman whose life seems perfect on the outside. She has two beautiful daughters and a successful husband who loves her. She is a stay at home mom. They live in an exclusive neighborhood and also own an upscale apartment in Manhattan. They take expensive vacations a couple times a year. She is also slim, sexy and attractive. And she posts pictures of their perfect life on Instagram.
In short, everything looks perfect… on the outside.
I met her last year and she told me that she has been seeing a therapist twice a week for some time now to treat her depression and is considering taking medication. Her husband and her haven’t had sex in years and have been sleeping in separate rooms for quite some time now. She said she’ll be happy for her husband if he has an affair because she wants him to be happy. But in the meantime, she is sticking this marriage out and doesn’t want to divorce ‘because of the kids’.
Looking at her Instagram life, I’d have never guessed that she was having problems as well – like everyone else. 
I think that trying to attain perfection in life is not worth it. In fact, I preach living an authentic life, according to your terms. 
When I first found out about the affair, I disconnected from social media for a while. I was afraid. I was lost. I didn’t want to feel like a failure. And then I resurfaced and started posting about what happened. Part of it was revenge – I wanted the world to know what a jerk my ‘Mr Nice Guy’ ex husband was and what he did to me. But part of it was the urge to speak the truth – I wanted everyone to know that yes, shit did happen to me and that it’s ok and that I will survive. More importantly, I wanted people who are in a similar situation to know that yes, it is ok to have your dreams shattered and the life you thought you had and were going to have, crumble. It will be scary but you will pull through and you will be ok. 
I post about my new life now. I post about the happy moments. I post about the funny moments. I also post about some of the struggles I face. I like keeping things real.
So friends, if you’re down and out and feeling like a complete failure because your life isn’t as perfect as your friends’ – just remember that their lives ain’t that great either. And the better story to tell is not one where you remain stuck in a bad situation because you were too afraid to risk your picture perfect image, but one where you are the Phoenix rising from the ashes. 

Identify The Root Cause… And Fix It

  
We are fast approaching the new year and this is that time of the year again where we think about new year’s resolutions and start coming up with lofty ideas about goals that we would probably discard by the end of January. There is something about a new year that gives everyone hope for a fresh start. And that is so true. If you’ve had a bad year, now is the time to start looking on the positive side since a new year  means 12 months to straighten things out. 

I have a confession to make. I did have a good year this year. It was definitely a lot better than last year which was when I found out about my ex husband’s affair and my dreams as I knew it were shattered. Last year was all about truth discovery and being hurt. This year was all about moving on and rebuilding. But there were still some bad habits that I fell into this year.

I had to validate myself. And I validated myself with guys. The attention I was getting from guys made me feel good about myself. And this was because I always measured myself by my physical attributes. Hence if guys found me attractive, I felt good about myself. 

I got into an arrangement with a guy this year. He was a nice guy by all means and treated me well. But he made it clear from the start that he was not looking for a serious long term relationship. I knew I was not ready to be in a relationship either as I needed time to be alone to recover from my failed marriage. Nonetheless our arrangement lasted the whole year but towards the second half of the year, my old insecurities came back. He has a close relationship with a female friend who is younger than me and is attractive. I started feeling insecure about it and started to distance myself emotionally from him. I also felt him distancing himself from me – his texts became almost non existent.

About a month ago, he texted me on a Sunday morning when my daughter was not with me and I went over to his place. I felt relieved that he actually reached out to me. I felt validated again that he still wanted to see me. It is a stupid feeling and I know I have to stop feeling the need to be validated. This is the root cause to me being in bad relationships with people who don’t deserve me.

My new year’s resolution is to ‘fix my picker’. In order to do that, I need to truly love myself and build my boundaries. I need to have dealbreakers and not be afraid to enforce them. I hope I will be strong enough to resist that temptation and that need to be validated should he or any other person from my past or future reach out to me again.

If there is one new year’s resolution you should make, it would be to think through the root cause of your bad situation. A new year is a great opportunity to break free of bad familiar habits and get into new ones. It will be a difficult process especially initially. But once you get through it, I believe that it would be so worth it. 

Sometimes The Grief Comes Back

I have to be up in 3 hours but I’m suffering from insomnia tonight. Instead of sleeping, I’m reading through all the bullshit emails my ex had sent me in the past and forcing myself to feel the pain all over again. I’m surprised that my heart can still feel pain at the loss of my marriage and the betrayal even though it’s been a year and a half and I thought I’ve already moved onto my happy place. 

I read through those emails which I sent where I was looking for him and wondering where he was (his phone was always either off or he never answered his calls). And I read through those emails where I questioned if he really loved me (he always assured me that he did). And I read through those emails where I told him how much I really loved him and didn’t want to lose him. And I hear that desperation in my voice. And I feel that disappointment again in receiving curt replies from him to my long emotional emails. 

And now that I know the truth and can connect the dots, it hurts to realize that all this time, the person I loved never loved me back. And that grief…. the grief that I thought I was already done with, comes flooding back into my heart and my eyes. 

But instead of blocking my emotions, tonight I’m willing myself to feel it. I’m willing myself to feel the familiar pain. The pain is not as biting as it was when it first hit. And I know I’ll survive it. I just have to ride the waves. 

When we revisit the past, we plug the holes and we dig deep to find out the root cause of what caused us to go into a bad situation. Looking through old letters, emails and pictures etc. is a good lessons learnt process to help reinforce our red flags radar which would help protect ourselves in future. However it is not healthy to dwell in the past. 

In your recovery process, you will encounter triggers. Maybe something you watch on tv will trigger a memory. Maybe you’ll remember something when you walk by a familiar place. Maybe your thoughts during quiet moments will conjure up some painful memories. When the triggers happen, feel them and experience the pain again. Relive and examine them to figure out what went wrong.

And then move on. 

You Are Not Defined By This

Dear Reader,

I want to share with you something sweet that happened to me tonight. Today was my ex mother in law’s birthday and she came all the way out to New York City to celebrate it with me. I know I have a better relationship with my ex in laws than some people do with their current in laws.

Some background on our relationship – my ex in laws and I are from different cultures and countries. Their culture is known to be more conservative. We also have language differences. For more than a year, my ex never introduced me to his parents because he thought they wouldn’t approve of our relationship. When he finally did, I sought to win them over – not by being overly nice but by treating the way I would want to be treated – with respect and kindness. I included them in our lives – even till this day, my daughter and I FaceTime with them a few times a week and I make sure she has a good relationship with them. Over time of course, we’ve built a relationship based on mutual understanding and love for each other. It hasn’t always been easy because of our language and culture differences and it was especially hard when I found out their son had been cheating on me. 

My ex in laws live about a half hour drive (without traffic) from where I live but New York City is notorious for bad commuter traffic during the evening rush hours. And tonight was also the Rockefeller tree lighting ceremony so the city was teeming with tourists and all sorts of activity. My ex in laws hate coming out to New York City because they hate the crowds and it is difficult finding street parking. 

My ex husband actually came to pick up my daughter to have dinner with his parents without me earlier in the evening. For some reason, he just didn’t want me around tonight. So it says a lot that my ex in laws would make the effort to come all the way out to the city after that to celebrate the birthday with me (my ex didn’t come along). And our positive relationship is only because I have demonstrated that I still respect and love them and want my daughter to have a good relationship with them, even though their son had treated me like crap.

Why is this relevant to you? Because your bad experience should never define you. 

Sometimes when something bad happens to you, it is easy to think you have to change yourself to become a bitter, nasty person to protect yourself. I’m not saying you should ignore future red flags. You shouldn’t. But you shouldn’t let this bad experience define your whole life and become a bad person because of this. 

I could have chosen to eke revenge on my ex in laws making it difficult for them to see their grand daughter or treating them with disrespect because of how their son had treated me. And believe me – there were bumps along the way in my relationship with my ex in laws – mostly because I was aggravated by something their son did and thought they were defending him and working against me. But I chose not to be that negative person. Because in the end that’s not me. And it would ruin my inner peace.

Continue being you. But be a wiser you. That is the first step to living well – live authentically according to your terms.