Who Am I? I am FEARLESS!

I voluntarily jumped out of an airplane. I paid money to strap myself to a total stranger and step out of an airplane at 13,500 feet above the earth. It was INSANE! It was reviving, invigorating. I have never felt so ALIVE!

Was I scared? HELL YEAH (well at first)!! My hands were heavy with sweat during our ascent. I could not tell you which was louder, the pounding of my heart or the thundering of the plane’s engines.

As we ascended higher, my body was getting stiff with nervous energy. I began taking deep belly breaths and felt tension and anxiety loosen their grip and I felt my body become more relaxed. My shoulders dropped and I unclenched my jaw. I felt ready to enjoy my adventure. And then I stepped into air. I took that leap of faith that I was capable to doing something so incredibly awesome. Then, it was me tumbling into the air. AND I LOVED IT!

A nanosecond into free fall and it felt like I could barely breathe. But I was breathing. When I realized that I was breathing too fast; it then it felt like I couldn’t get enough air into me. The surge of me, breaking the otherwise undisturbed air, invaded my nostrils and forced my lips apart to form a smile. But then again, I was smiling. I had to quickly teach myself to manage my breathing. I was thoroughly enjoying this ride.

Since this was my first skydiving adventure I paid extra money to have a photographer capture my journey, a 2.5 mile descent back to earth with video and photographs.

When I look at the video and photos, I am smiling in every shot. I am sure when I talk (gush) to my friends and family about my experience, they feel the exhilaration and thrill.

As I was plummeting at an estimated 100 miles per hour during the free fall, I was in complete awe. I was amazed that I was actually doing this. I was amazed at the scenery that lay beneath me. I usually see landscapes like this out of a 9×12.5 inch window on a plane; which doesn’t give a clear view because the windows are so blurry with thickness and sometimes coated with a layer fog or ice crystals. But now I had a crystal clear, 360 degree view of my world. And it is a beautiful world that I was quickly plummeting toward.

When my skydive instructor pulled the rip cord I was suddenly jerked from my belly first free fall into a vertical position. And then the view was even more majestic. We glided to the left and we glided to the right. It was so serene and peaceful. I had time to appreciate the beauty the landscape had to offer.

My senses were overwhelmed by the beauty and serenity and majesty of this place we call home. Looking down, I had a new perspective on everything.

As we descended, the air was no longer cool and refreshing. It became hotter and thicker with summer humidity. While I did land on my ass, with my legs stretched out in front of me as instructed, it was a soft landing. I was invigorated. I was pumped with adrenaline, but my legs were like jelly. I had trouble trying to stay steady as I tried to stand. The instructor reached out to me and I grabbed his hand as he helped me to my feet. I was buzzing with so much excitement that I was woozy.
About 30 minutes after we landed and I was already in my car driving back home, my stomach began to feel weak. I started to feel slightly nauseous. But I felt invincible and ALIVE.

It has been several months since my leap. And I still sit back and smile and say to myself, “I am my own hero. I jumped out of a plane. And I can’t wait to do it again.”


Gearing Up for A Battle

Our relationship used to be a solid relationship. It was one that was well understood between us and outsiders.

In every relationship there is a balance, and we balanced each other. She was always the rebellious one, while I was the one who could be counted on to always play by the rules. She was the dominant sister while I always placated her whims. While, technically, I am the older sibling, she always acted the part better than I. She was argumentative and always won just about every argument we ever had. She was confrontational, very in-your-face, while I always danced around people’s feelings always neglecting my own to make them feel better. But we had fun together. Always. We cried together, and bailed each other out when life got too serious. But that was the past. I am done sacrificing my wants and needs for the sake of others. I am tired of dancing. It is my turn to be confrontational and in-your-face!

I know that she would not take responsibility for her actions. She never has. She has always played the role of the victim and placed the blame of all of the messes in her life on someone else. I know I have to prepare myself for the onslaught of insults that she might throw my way. I need to build my strength to stand up against her.

After too many anxiety filled months of stressing about confronting my sister, I finally got my defenses ready to deal with her. I have mentally tortured myself with all of the hurtful things that she may throw my way. I have prepared myself for her potential verbal assault on how my husband preyed on her; or how I chose to close my eyes to my husband’s behavior; or that if I had been a better wife, I wouldn’t have a straying husband.

It has been too many months since I found out about their secret. And I have my list of accomplishments and my list of things-to-do.

My accomplishments:

• I stopped crying all the time.

• I have decreased my brooding sessions.

• My anxiety attacks are occurring less frequently.

• I set limits on what I will and will not do.

• I forgave my husband.

• I have learned to be kind to myself.

My list of things-to-do:

• Confront my sister.

Forgiveness versus Trust

Lately, I have been reading a lot of blogs about forgiveness. When is it a good time to forgive? Are you forgiving too soon? Who is worthy of your forgiveness? Why should you forgive? Is forgiveness an act of condoning bad behavior? Excusing it? Is there any act that is unforgivable? How do you forgive when you have been hurt so bad?

Everyone has a lot of questions and everyone is looking to everyone else for answers. The funny thing that I have learned is that the only person who can answer these questions is YOU. The person who is doing the forgiving.

In my experience, I was profoundly wounded by betrayal. I am also guilty of hurting my husband.

I didn’t think that I would heal from the pain that he and my sister caused me and my family.

The truth is, more than two and a half years have passed since my world was turned upside down. And while we are still together and keeping our lives intact, we are not completely healed.

Our marriage was on the brink of disaster. My trust was decimated. As was his. I was left raw, cold, vulnerable and emotionally naked. My faith in anything that mattered and that I loved (with the exception of my children and my parents) was completely stripped away. I was utterly and totally devastated.

While we have worked hard to rebuild some kind of sense of ‘normal’ back into our lives, these last two years have not been easy.

Forgiveness came for me at a time when I thought that I was going to implode. It was almost like a response to the physical stress my emotions was putting my body through. It was almost like an automatic and logical response to relieving the mounting pressure.

In hindsight, I unfairly held my husband to the highest standard I could ever impose on a person. I never thought that he would be human. It never occurred to me that he could be capable of making an epic mistake that would tear away at the seams of our relationship. It seemed inconceivable to me that he would stray. I thought that he was infallible. I put all of my trust into him that he would never break my heart.

I had to bring myself to realize that he is only human and people make mistakes. People make really bad decisions and give in to temptations. I, of all people should know. I held him to a higher standard that what I held myself to. After all, I ended up in the arms of another man.

While I felt a great distance between us in our marriage, I let my guard down and allowed myself, more like availed myself to another man who has professed to loving me for more than 2 decades. He was filling the void and emptiness that I felt in my marriage. While I had enough sense to not let things get hot and heavy between us, I did kiss another man who was not my husband.

It wasn’t until months later that I realize that the disharmony, strife and distance I was feeling in my marriage was a direct result of my husband’s and sister’s relationship. I now realized that I allowed myself to fall into the arms (and lips) of another man because of the lost connection between me and my husband. This does not forgive or excuse my actions.

Two wrongs don’t make things right. And it doesn’t make it even. And it doesn’t make it easier to forgive.

It took a long while for me to be able to wrap my head around the mess we were in. While kissing a man who is not my husband pales in comparison (in my mind) to the lines my husband and sister crossed. Forgiving him was difficult. And I am finding it impossible to forgive her.

Once I was able to say those 3 words “I forgive you” to my husband, I felt a tremendous relief. My body was released of all the pain, tension and anger it was harboring. I relieved myself of a huge burden. I know that he too was relieved.

I’m not going to go on about how much better our marriage is and how much happier we are and all that. Because I don’t know that we are any more happier than what we were before all this madness ensued. We are still working on some of the same issues we had before. I’m more on the messier side; he prefers a less messy house. He worries about money; I find fun ways to spend it. He yearns for more sex, I yearn for more intimacy. We recognize that we are human, and fall short of unrealistic expectations of each other.

There are times when I feel the ghosts of our transgressions haunting us. There are times when I get angry that I gave away a very precious and special part of myself and it was treated like trash by people whom I loved and trusted. But those times are less frequent and felt with less intensity.

Those feelings are replaced by the acts of love and kindness my husband is showing me. There is no doubt that we both felt absolutely shitty about our actions toward each other, ourselves and our marriage. But we are hopeful that we can rebuild our relationship.

But there is the trust issue. If you forgive, but still hurt, how can you trust?

I sincerely don’t think that my husband will betray me with another woman again. But I am afraid that I cannot trust handing my heart to him again. I know that I am holding back, and by holding back it is stalling the healing process, but I am scared to that he will break my heart again. My heart breaking was like a near death experience. It is an experience I do not wish to repeat.

I know that we are not healed from this heartbreak and loss of trust. And that we are trying to work through our pains, but I am scared that maybe the scars run so deep that we cannot trust each other with the other’s heart.

Why do I want to put my heart back into his hands?

Quite simply, he is a good man with a good heart. He has many admirable qualities that friends, acquaintances and new friends pick up on quickly. He is very caring and thoughtful of others. He is good hearted, good natured and sensitive. He is a terrific father and provider. And he can be a wonderful friend.

I love these qualities that my husband possesses. I just have to let go, and trust him again.

A Transcontinental Trip

I am on a transcontinental flight BY MYSELF!  And for the next 3 days I will be BY MYSELF!  No kids, no husband, no family.  One would think I would be lonely. But not me. I am loving the aloneness.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that I love and will miss my family, but it is so refreshing to just be responsible for myself. I don’t have to dote on anyone. I don’t have to worry if someone is uncomfortable in one way or another. I have only one person to answer to and to entertain. And that is ME! I am looking forward to having a king size bed all to myself. And having control of the tv. Heck, I am looking forward to having control of the remote control!

 I am looking forward to not hearing my name being call in a hundred different directions “mom, I need you”, “Kate, where’s this?”, “mom, I can’t find…”, ” Kate. Can you do me a favor?” Peace and quiet that’s what I’m looking forward to.  I haven’t had this much alone ‘quiet’ time since, well, I cannot remember when.  And so far it feels LIBERATING! 

Walking to the Edge and Taking One More Step

I need a change.

Getting a new hair style seems too mundane. Been there. Done that.

So, I sold our family car. I took it to my friendly dealership and sold it. So now I am looking for a new set of wheels.

I am tired of being a mini-van mamma. I want to go back to driving stick shift. I have been driving automatic cars for too long. I have been living my life on auto-pilot for too long.

I miss the feel of the clutch and the gears shifting. I miss down shifting and power shifting. I miss having that kind of control.

The house is next. Just as soon as I settle my transportation, I am going to put the house up on the market. Furniture and all. I don’t want to leave the town I live in. I just want a bigger space to live in.

I recently came across a Facebook status that read: Faith is walking to the edge of all that you have and taking one more step.

Well, I have decided to take that One More Step. Actually, I will be taking one enormous step…out of an airplane. I am talking about my very first skydiving adventure scheduled for next week (weather permitting). Details to follow…so long as there are no accidents.

The Feeling of Forgiveness

We worked on our therapy sessions and worked on our relationship. But none of it was really wasn’t working for me.

Too many times, in between the counseling sessions, I would find myself sitting on the sofa and the tears would just begin rolling down my cheeks. I felt so broken and unworthy. I sat there in bewilderment wondering how two of the most important people in my life be so devious behind my back. The betrayal ran so deep that sometimes, it literally took my breath away.

During that time I tried to stay very far away from my sister. My first interaction was about 2 months after the dust settled and my husband came back home. We were at a gym and we started to bicker about something petty and stupid. I took a step toward her and I remember how I just wanted to shove her so hard that she would fall into the pool. It took all of my might to refrain from touching her.

I vowed that evening that I would stay very far from her. I could not handle my grief and anger at the same time. I was too damaged and weak to spread myself. I knew that I needed to focus on healing myself first. I needed to gather my strength before I could face her and deal with all of her drama.

As it was, my life was spiraling into too many directions at once. It was now January and my children were beginning their academic careers back in September and as a first time mom, it was an overwhelming experience. Professionally, I was wooed into a new career, which meant returning to full-time office hours that January, and I would be turning 40 in a few months…and my life was crumbling.

I had too much to focus on. I had to take each day and focus on it on an hourly basis. Once I was back at work, I was actually happy to be back in the 9-5 grind. I was focused on a new career path and that left me little time to feel sorry for myself. I saved that task for the wee hours of the night/morning or during my commute in to and out of the city.

I began interrupting my tear filled commute with audio books I had borrowed from the library. Initially, I started with the best sellers I that had been wanting to read, but never had the time for. My first two listens were Dear John, by Nicholas Sparks and The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown. I dabbled with more Sparks and moved on to Koontz, and then whatever else was available from the conservative inventory at my library.

A friend had suggested, The Shack by William P. Young. This audio book started me on a quest for inner peace. I know, it sounds so cliché, but it really was a turning point for me. For me, The Shack opened a crack in my heart to consider forgiveness. I needed to define forgiveness and see how it fit into my situation.

From The Shack, I began searching for more audio books on forgiveness and spirituality. None of it made me feel any better at that time. But I started downloading apps onto my phone about mediation and relaxation and anti-anxiety techniques.

The more I downloaded and listened, the more anxious I was becoming. I noticed that I was more short-tempered and angrier at my situation than ever before. I was angry at him for doing this to me. I was angry with her for keeping it from me. I was angry with myself for not listening to my heart when I should have. I knew all along that something had happened between them. I knew it and did nothing about it.

After another long, sleepless night, I wandered into the backyard during the early pre-dawn hours. I watched the sunrise and the listened to the birds waking up. I felt anxious and knotted. Later in the day, I decided to take a long hot shower. Fresh from my shower I flung myself on my bed and closed my eyes. I wanted the anger and rage in my heart to be gone. I begged for peace. After several more tearful minutes, I closed my eyes and felt a calm come over me.

A great calm claimed me and I was able to breathe without the heaviness I was feeling in my chest. My muscles didn’t feel achy and knotted anymore. I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. I actually felt relaxed and I think I drifted to sleep. I felt a lightness that I hadn’t felt in a really long time. When I arose, I felt refreshed.

Later that night, as we lay in bed, I still felt light and refreshed. My husband reached over and kissed my forehead and whispered that he loved me. I heard myself say, “I forgive you.” He couldn’t believe his ears. He had tears in his eyes, hugged me and whispered an emotional “Thank You”. I felt a huge weight lifted from my chest. I felt myself breathe again. As I drifted to sleep, I remember thinking to myself that this is what true forgiveness feels like.

3 Signs That You Are Not As Put-Together As you Think…And People Are Taking Notice!

I have been working hard at trying to keep several truths in the forefront of my mind and soul. These truths are that my husband loves me. My husband is so very unabashedly shameful and sorry for the pain he has caused me and has tried every way and every day to show how sorry he is and how much he loves me.

The painful truth that I am trying to keep OUT of my heart and soul are the facts that while I forgave him, I am still deeply and terribly hurt by his actions. I am having a very hard time letting go of the pain. I walk around in a numb fog wrestling with my thoughts and pain. I can’t seem to get to a place in my heart and in my soul to be free of this pain.

So, I have been getting through my days, by not talking about my silent inner sufferings, by trying to let go of the pain and by trying desperately to hold on to the truth and depth of love that my husband has for me. Why is this so hard?

Here are 5 signs that people are taking notice that I am falling apart on this inside:

  1. My boss casually mentioned (in a very tactful way so that I would not bludgeon him with a stapler) that he has noticed that my head seems to be sprouting 5 new gray hairs a day and maybe he will give me a bonus so that I can treat myself to a trip to the beauty salon for a dye job to cover them up. Two months later I received a bonus.
  2. I switched primary care doctors and during the middle of my first appointment, my new doctor asked me about if I thought I would benefit from an antidepressant and that he would be more than willing to prescribe me anything I would be comfortable with. Normally, I would run away, screaming and thinking that this doctor is a happy prescriber. But the sad truth is that he is actually the 5th doctor who has pleaded with me to consider taking some form of antidepressant/anti anxiety to help me.
    • The first doctor was my cardiologist (because while clinically I have no good reason to suffer from high blood pressure, my bp is very high.)
    • The second doctor was my GYN – she had asked me how I manage my PMS and I told her that it wasn’t that bad. It’s just that for about 1 week a month I want to chop off my husband’s head, stick it in the freezer and then defrost it and give it back to him when I am over my PMS.
    • Our marriage counselor suggested that I might benefit from some kind of an anti-something pill.
    • My dentist said that I grind my teeth awfully bad at night. Grinding teeth is often seen in people with high anxiety and an antidepressant could potentially save me dental work in the long run.
    • So here I am at my new primary care and agrees that there is no reason for my high blood pressure and is offering me an array of drugs. He then suggested that I consider some form of stress relief such as mediation, prayer, deep breathing, etc… I asked, “Do you thing yoga would help?” He replied, “Yoga would be great except, you are too tense and stiff to try to even consider trying to get into any yoga poses. Start simple, go see a chiropractor to loosen you up, then in a few months, you can give yoga a try. Oy vey!
  3. I recently ran into a fellow I haven’t seen in about a year or two. This fellow is about 10 years my senior and I have known him essentially all of my life. As a teenager and young woman, I had a secret crush on him although he was so much older than I. I was sooooo not his type, but he was just so darn cute. Anyway, we run into each other from time to time and have little chats and then move on. Recently I spotted him at a party and approached him with a smile and open arms for a quick hug. He smiled in recognition and greeted me warmly. He extended his arms for an embrace and says, “Wow, Anne, you look so great!” As we embrace I whisper, “Ummm, noooo, I am Kate. Anne is my mom.” We step back, he looks at me blinks, raises his eyebrows and gushes, “I am so sorry, I thought you were your mother.” I shot back, “Wow…but thanks for the compliment…I think. Now won’t you please excuse me. I need to find a carpet to hide under.” PS – I am so totally over my crush.

Now, I must digress and explain that my mom is pretty hot for a 60+ year old woman with a horde of children and married to the same man for 40+ years. My mom would totally win one of those “Mrs. America Beauty Pageants.” She did win a beauty contest when she was a teenager. My point is that my mom really does look fabulous for her age, and I do hope to look as good as she does when I get to be her age. But I am not her age right now.

So as hard as I am trying to keep it together. My heartbreak is manifesting itself throughout my body. Yes, it is literally seeping out of my pores.

The saving grace is that at least when I am at my kid’s school or picking them up at a party, no one is announcing, “Hey kids, you grandma is here to pick you up.”