The other night I couldn’t sleep (gotta love being over 40), and I turned on the TV at 3 am and watched the movie, Revolutionary Road.
If you aren’t familiar with the picture, it depicts Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as a young married couple in the 1950s, living a seeming perfect life. They live in Connecticut, in their cute, suburban Cape Code home, located on Revolutionary Road.
The movie opens to Winslet performing in a play, and after the performance she is in the dressing room, looking miserable – as if she is hiding from her truth – that life isn’t turning out the way she wanted.
On the drive home from the play, DiCaprio begins to poke and prod Winslet, wanting to talk about what’s bothering her, yet she doesn’t want to talk. The argument gets so heated they have to pull off the road. They admit how much they hate each other, and the scene closes.
The next day, everything is fine. As if nothing happened between them. As if the truth wasn’t spoken. So they continued to live in denial.
Winslet suddenly has a brilliant idea – they should move to France – and escape their problems. Once she and her husband agree on this idea, their lives return to joyful bliss. They go back to being madly in love.
But their joyful bubble bursts when she finds out she is pregnant. He wants to keep the baby and not move to France, and she wants to end the pregnancy and pursue their dreams. They spiral back into their miserable state as a couple, spitting vitriol and threats. Their marriage is borderline abusive, and it ends tragically.
This movie is a haunting replica of my first marriage. Winslet’s dream of wanting more for herself, feeling like a caged bird, hating suburbia and the fake people that come with it – this was all me.
And every time I came so close to honoring my truth within – a massive argument would ensue. It was often violent, with door slamming and name calling – yet because I felt like I couldn’t escape it – I would retreat into denial. I would act like everything was fine.
It was easier to ignore what I wanted, so I did what Winslet tried to do.
Instead of wanting to go to France, I would want to move, find a new job, have another baby – these things would allow me to further escape from my truth, and provide a wonderful distraction.
Until they all failed – I would get laid off from my job. The house contract would fall through. I would have a miscarriage.
Back to my reality I went – and I slipped deeper into my prison.
It’s amazing what we can do to sabotage our own truth. We create false dreams or goals. We make excuses. We go on vacation. Or we delve into a never ending project. All to avoid what we are meant to look at – ourselves.
But after the projects are finished, or perhaps they implode, you’ll always be back, sitting face to face with yourself once again.
And here’s where I went wrong – that “prison,” as I called it – was only a prison because I perceived it to be.
In fact, it wasn’t a prison at all. It was an awakening.
My truth was actually calling me to freedom – and the reason why everything went wrong, and the arguing ensued, and the misery expanded, was because I chose to ignore it. I was, in fact, meant to do all the things I dreamed about! (And I have!)
So if you are avoiding your truth, putting off that hard conversation, planning a vacation when you know you should be planning your future, realize that the discomfort you feel is just the Divine pushing you forward.
If you live on your own Revolutionary Road – where you feel imprisoned by your own home or situation – just trust that it’s merely a shelter. Think of it as a lean-to, and once the storm passes, you’ll be out walking in the sunshine.
Don’t pretend it’s fine when it’s not. Don’t bury your problem under a project. Face it.
Look at your situation like it’s a winning lottery ticket, not a daunting task.
All you need to do is cash it in.
To your winnings.
After my divorce, I couldn’t wait to be in love. But I was like a bull in a china shop – I couldn’t wait to date, and I dated just about anyone who asked me out. Even worse, I wanted to date people who DIDN’T ask me – yeah, I was one of THOSE girls, giving my number out to anyone I thought was cute (I don’t recommend this, no one called me).
But I learned something about myself while dating – I started to fall for guys too easily – perhaps even after a few dates. It reminded me of my first kiss in 7th grade. Paul was his name – and my friends arranged a time for me to meet him after school. We met in a romantic spot – under the school stairwell that smelled of urine and stale candy wrappers – and he greeted me with a warm, loving salutation of, “Hey, wanna kiss?”
I said, “Sure,” and he slipped his tongue in my mouth a couple of times, and then he ran off.
That’s when I knew. I was going to marry him. I was in love.
But he dumped me 2 days later in Spanish class, via a note passed to me by 5 kids, who all read it before I did. (But to give him credit, his break up was in Spanish. His mom would be proud.)
Yep, and at 35 years old, things weren’t all that different, sadly. After a few dates and a kiss at my front door step, I assumed the relationship was perfect.
But the truth was, I wasn’t just looking for love. I was looking for someone to rescue me. And it took me a lot of heartbreak to figure that out.
So how do you know if you’re needing to be rescued? Here are some clues:
On the second date you’re wondering if they’ll make a great parent or step-parent.
When you text, “Thanks for a great night,” and they don’t respond immediately, you start to panic and worry that they don’t like you. So you check your phone incessantly until they do.
And when you finally get a text back, “Thanks, I had a great time too,” you read the text 50 times, trying to squeeze more meaning out of it.
Or if you don’t get a text at all, you feel like you’re in middle school, rejected once again. To the point where it ruins your day and you can no longer concentrate.
When you’re finally dating, and you’re beginning to fall for them, you make plans for the weekend, but the plans may not be finalized, so you obsess whether they will truly happen. You’re so looking forward to your plans, but when you get that text, “Hey, my kid is sick and I won’t be able to hang out this weekend,” you don’t trust the facts and you wonder if you’re being blown off. You stalk their Facebook to find evidence of them telling the truth, and you’re pretty much unraveled because your plans for the weekend have been broken.
When they’re mad or upset with you, you do anything to change and make sure YOU don’t do anything more to piss them off. You take full responsibility for the relationship, and make excuses as to why it was likely your fault. You find a way to rationalize the fall-out because you’re worried that you’ll lose the relationship.
I could go on and on with this list – but do you see the pattern here? If this is you, it means you feel you’re not in control, and you feel like you’re their yo-yo or puppet. And the painful truth is this: you’re afraid of being alone.
And when you’re afraid of being alone, it means there is something deep within you that you resent. You can’t stand being alone with that thing you resent, so only another person can make that thing you resent go away – but only temporarily, until that person is gone.
By the way, that list above is from personal experience – I did this too, I admit it. It took me a long time to figure out what I resented about myself, but here it is, in all its glory:
I resented that I was divorced.
I resented that I was a single mother – embarrassed, even.
I resented that I had no money, and eating off of chipped plates from Ikea, at 35 years old.
But I got sick of this resentment. It did not serve me at all. So I changed my outlook from resentment to resurrection. So what if I was divorced? So what if people judged me for the lack of nice plates and cutlery? So the hell what!
Once I stepped into my “so what,” oh my God, it set me free. I no longer cared for someone to rescue me. Because I learned to rescue myself.
And so can you.
So how do you know when you’re ready for love? When you no longer NEED it.
Being ready doesn’t mean you are getting something from someone. It also doesn’t mean you are giving something to someone. It means you are exchanging – equally, harmoniously, and without be attached to the outcome of the exchange.
Rescue thyself, and love will follow. I promise you!
I work with a lot of women who are separated but still going through divorce or custody proceedings – and for so many of them, this stage of divorce wreaks havoc on their lives.
Although this person is out of their lives, he is still able to manipulate, threaten, taunt the children, and gain mental control over their estranged ex-wife.
And so often people ask me, “Do I continue to fight him or do I just let it go and walk away with nothing?”
This is certainly a dilemma, but let’s dissect it.
First, check in with yourself to see where your ex holds power over you. When you open an email or text, do you get anxious? Do you start shaking and feel nauseous? When you read his accusations do you feel less worthy, and that perhaps there’s some truth to what he’s saying? Or maybe you’re worried that other believe will believe him, so you cower and feel helpless.
If you answer yes to any of these, then he still has mental control over you – he is bullying you and the system, and when a bully acts so powerful, so many people want to give up and let them win.
The painful irony of divorcing a high conflict person is that you are forced to have boundaries with someone who never respected them to begin with. So after years of abuse and conflict, how on earth will you suddenly gain the strength to win a battle that was never meant to be won?
But you can, if you change your mindset on how you view this person.
Think of your ex as a child, and that they view the entire divorce as a playground, to which they will bully their way to win. When they start to lose, they make threats, but you must look at this as a temper tantrum. The more they lose, the more they cry and whine and try to undermine you.
Every time you open an email or text, you must look at this way. If you’re child comes to you asking to have a candy bar before dinner, you laugh at such a notion, or at least brush it off, knowing that he or she doesn’t know any better. You must do the same with your ex.
When you see your ex as a child, you gain back your power.
If someone walked into your house, and tried to take away everything that belonged to you, would you let this person do it? I would hope not – I would want you to fight for what’s yours!
However – and here’s the other side to it – if your ex is draining you financially, potentially causing you to be homeless and broke – you need to have a long conversation with your attorney, discussing whether you forfeit this game.
But… if you can change your mindset, and not let the divorce BE your life, and just manage it as a really crappy chore, you may mitigate financial drain, because you aren’t controlled by him.
So many people tell me, “Once the divorce is final, I can’t wait to live my life again.”
Wait, why would the divorce prevent you from living now? Yes, your housing may be up in the air, you may be living in a crappy apartment or money is tighter, but it doesn’t mean your life has to be put on hold until this is over.
The more you see this life event as just that – an unpleasant event – you may be able to feel less controlled by it.
In my divorce, I gave up on a few things that I now regret. I let him have a lot of assets that would have benefitted me financially – especially now. But I was intimidated, felt guilty, felt controlled – and I look back on it and think, “What was I so afraid of?” Because I now see my ex as nothing more than someone who lives across town – he holds no power over me anymore.
If had the mindset back then, I’m pretty sure the outcome would have benefited me more.
Your divorce may be tricky and complicated – my goodness, I have heard some awful stories, and I never want to downplay anyone’s distress – but if you put on your big girl pants and tell your inner child that this guy isn’t gonna mess with you, you may find this to be a lot easier.
Choose to live today. Not when the divorce is finalized. Don’t forget to laugh. Enjoy the simple pleasures in life. You don’t need a big vacation to celebrate life right now.
Ever since I could walk, I’ve always wanted to be on stage and in the spotlight. I used to create puppet shows for my father’s grown-up dinner parties, and I was always the first person to sign up for the school talent show. I loved to entertain, and especially to make people laugh.
As I got older, I became even more outgoing. I could walk into a party and not know a single person, and always walk out with at least two new friends. Finding a job after college was like a game – I knew how to charm the pants off of anyone, and I enjoyed looking for a job more than actually working for someone!
Oh yes, self-confidence has always been my strong suit.
But it has also been my greatest enemy.
It has masked some of my deepest pain. It helped me unknowingly lie to others, giving them a false impression that I did not need love. Self-confidence pushed me into over-giving, and denied me of receiving.
Thus, I was a magnet to people with the least amount of self-confidence – the shy, the needy, the fixable, the broken, and the hurt. I was an emotional shelter for those who needed it most – yes, my self-confidence was like a “Welcome” sign at a soup kitchen – take as much as you can, and don’t worry, you don’t have to return it.
My lack of boundaries – my lack of self-love – allowed my self-confidence to get in the way of what I required for myself.
So you see, just because you may have self-confidence, doesn’t mean you have self-love. Both are important, but they aren’t the same fruit that grow on the same tree.
People always ask me, “Lindsey, why is it that I am so self-confident, yet I have the hardest time finding and keeping love?”
It’s because so often, self-confident people don’t know how to receive. We misinterpret that if one is self-confident, he or she doesn’t need anything. They lack the fine balance of being vulnerable, but also confident.
Look at some of our greatest performers – actors, rock stars, and comedians – we are in awe of their performances, but so many of them are deeply hurting. They resort to drugs, alcohol, or even suicide, as the late Robin Williams did a few years ago. Perhaps their celebrity status prevents them from reaching out for help – so don’t let that be you.
Self-confidence is a wonderful trait, but don’t let it get in the way of what you need. Asking for help, wanting things done for you, or allowing someone to care for you isn’t a breakdown of self-confidence – it’s being vulnerable, which is probably the most beautiful human trait we can have.
But don’t just be vulnerable – be vulnerable with boundaries. When you ask for help and you don’t get it, don’t just walk away – speak up!
Let’s say you are dating someone new – and things are going great – but you get a bad cold and are home sick – your new guy asks you, “Is there anything I can do? Perhaps I can bring you some soup or make you dinner?”
You worry that your outgoing, bad ass, self-image will be compromised because he will see you sick, but you agree and let him make you dinner. Score! You did it!
But then he calls you an hour before he is supposed to come over, and says he has to work late, so he’ll need to take a rain check.
You’re disappointed, but you say nothing, for fear of crushing your self-confidence. And he thinks you’re fine, after all, you’re always a super star.
Do you see how your self-confidence can override your boundaries and self-love? In this scenario, it’s okay to express your disappointment. It’s okay to decline a rain check. And it’s perfectly okay to dump the guy, especially if he continues to over promise and under deliver.
Self-confidence and self-love are apples and oranges – they grow on different trees, and should not be confused as the same. One can have too much self-confidence, but one can never have enough self-love.
Here’s a healthy guideline:
Use your self-confidence as your power, your strategy, your hunting tool, your fearlessness, and your gift and inspiration to others.
Use your self-love as your wall, your shield, your GPS, your radar, your protection, and above all, your best friend and your greatest companion.
Combine these together, and you really ARE the superstar everyone thinks you are.
The majority of my audience are people about to exit a long marriage, or they’re newly divorced or separated, so most haven’t even begun to THINK about marrying again. So I often get the question, “What’s it like to be remarried after all that has happened to you?”
And “what happened” was leaving a 17 year, volatile marriage and then dating after divorce where my heart was broken (more than once). One would think that after so many tries, how could I possibly want to be married… again!
So I thought I would give you a behind the curtain look into my married life, and what it’s really like.
In the beginning…
When my husband, Will, and I were just dating, we were pretty much inseparable. People called us “insta-couple” because we just meshed so well – we started off as friends, and took time to really develop a friendship (which I think is key to starting a good relationship). But after a month of getting to know each other, we just knew we would be married one day. In fact, we both openly admitted it without hardly a kiss between us.
Oddly enough, Will lived around the corner from me, and I never met him until 2 years after my divorce (and dating SO many bad eggs) until a neighbor-friend introduced us. Because he lived so close, he was at my house a lot, and finally met my children (then, 7 and 10 years old). They did NOT like him, or the idea of me being with anyone – so it took a long time for them to warm up to him.
Just eight months into our relationship, Will proposed – and life REALLY changed after that. I thought it was going to be easy – we were madly in love, and ready to start our life together. It was anything but easy. Things got really messy after we moved in together.
Engaged & Blending
You know how when you move in with someone, you have to get past each other’s quirks, right? Well, imagine that on top of blending your two children with a guy who’s not their father. I remember the first time he disciplined them – it was like a punch in my gut – I did NOT expect how weird it felt. I thought, “Ummm, no, they’re MY children, you can’t discipline them. That’s not your job.” I wanted to defend my kids, even though they were truly misbehaving and not being respectful.
I really expected that he wouldn’t ever have to discipline them – that would always be my job. But then I realized how unfair that is to a person living in the same home – if he had two children in my home, I would most certainly discipline when needed.
But the first time he raised his voice (I yell at my kids all the time, so it’s not unusual for them), I was really pissed at him. And while he had every right to, it was a real problem for me. I silently thought, this moving in together was a really bad idea.
In just a few months under one roof together, there was a lot of resentment in the house. My kids wanted me to themselves, I felt very torn, and Will felt like an outsider. And to make things harder for me, Will began to really call me on my bullshit – telling me that my kids try to manipulate me and I let them get away with too much. It was like a smack in the face – eh-hem, no one gets to tell me how I parent! How dare he!
But the truth was, he was right. There was a part of me that felt guilty about being engaged, and they knew it, and took an opportunity to take advantage of that guilt. I was the parent, the grown up, and I was allowed to call the shots – and that meant doing things that they didn’t always like.
It was very, very challenging for many months. It took a while for us to all find balance, respect each other, and allow Will to be a step-parent (which meant me stepping aside and let him do so).
The one great benefit of remarrying is that you already know marriage isn’t always a bed of roses. You know it comes with challenges, so when they do arise, you don’t stress as much. You also know that divorce really, really sucks, so you work even harder to make sure it never happens again.
And so being married again is actually really wonderful. I got the second chance to have a life partner, someone who supports me and be my best friend. At the end of my work day, I still really look forward to seeing him. I am no longer challenged by the burden of single parenting, where two kids have to be in two places at once, and I have no help. Having been single for three years prior to marriage, I still get warm and fuzzy when my husband texts me, “Hey, headed to the store, do you need anything?” I will never take that for granted, ever again!
I absolutely adore our alone time together – and we work very hard to make sure we still go on dates, and treat our relationship as a real gift. I still struggle with communication, and telling him what’s on my mind, as this simple act used to cause WWIII fights in my former marriage. I continue to work on letting go of the past, and truly nurture this marriage.
But let me make it clear – there are times I hate him, or he hates me, we fight, bicker, and get on each other’s nerves. But as our relationship has matured, those times are few and far between, and our marriage just keeps getting better. I often get sad thinking we won’t have 40 years together, at least not a youthful 40 years – so with that, we both appreciate each other and the time we do have.
I share this with you because I know how hard it is to imagine a life with someone else – but if it’s something you truly want, do not be afraid – because the second marriage, at least for me, is beyond amazing. I love being in love – all the time!
However, just know it ain’t easy, and do not give up if the early months become bumpy.
Be open to someone new – never say “never” – because you never know how great life can be with someone who loves you so deeply. And.. you are so darn loveable, imagine how YOU will make someone else so happy and fulfilled.
The other day I went to Homegoods and I found some cool picture frames for my office. I realized I don’t have any updated framed photos of my kids, so it gave me an excuse to actually print out all those photos captured on my iPhone.
So I logged in to Shutterfly.com, which is something I haven’t done in about five years. I didn’t expect it, but Shutterfly has saved all of my photos from years ago. I scrolled through pictures that were from vacations long forgotten – Disneyworld, Greece, the sailing to trip to Block Island, random road trips – all from days when I was first married.
We looked so happy. We were that family unit of four, still intact, still a team. I had one child on my shoulders while my then-husband crutched the other in his arms, weaving through the massive crowds at Disneyworld, sweaty and exhausted. I became obsessed with every photo – staring at my children, analyzing myself in the picture, admittedly wondering, “Were things really that bad?”
And just like that, I became a bit sad.
Looking at the photos felt like longing over a loved one who has passed, wishing they would come back. Yet each of us is alive and kicking. No one has died, yet why did it feel that way?
But the truth was, I wasn’t happy in those photos. I remember being in Disney and encouraging my 4-year-old to ride the luge – that big round tube that spins and plunges into a massive wave at the end, leaving you soaked. He hated it – he cried and cried and was so mad at me for “forcing” him (like I said, I “encouraged” him, nothing more). I thought the whole thing was quite funny, actually.
That night my son came down with a horrible fever, and he clearly had a painful ear infection. At 3 am we scrambled for Motrin, and I realized I didn’t pack it. A 24-hour drugstore was just block away, which, I thought, was an easy solution.
But no, I had to endure the wrath of my husband, saying, “How the HELL could you forget the Motrin? It’s the ONE thing we always bring! I knew you shouldn’t have taken him on that ride! I knew it!”
I hardly barked back – knowing that logic would only fuel his anger. It was obvious my son already had an ear infection for days – you don’t just get an ear infection from getting cold and wet on a roller coaster. And packing for a trip with 2 toddlers running around puts you at high risk for forgetting something. Plus, if one of us just went to the drugstore, he would have his Motrin in 10 minutes. Which is exactly what happened, and my son was fine. But I was somewhat “punished” for two days after that – I got the ugly silent treatment or the curt responses.
Oh, but those pictures made us look like a happy family, right?
This is what I call “trigger amnesia.” All it takes is a photo, your wedding dress, your engagement ring, or that $2 memento you bought at the cheesy gift shop in the airport to send you back to a forgetful state, where things were “so great.”
And it’s so easy to slip into feeling massive loss, sadness, or depression when you are triggered. It puts you into a place of lack, making you feel like you don’t have what you used to have. When we are triggered, we are no longer mindful. We are drifting into the past, and we are trying to convince ourselves that the trauma never happened. It’s as if there is this unspoken rule that life would be so much better if we didn’t experience something traumatic or crappy. So we fantasize that perhaps it didn’t happen.
But guess what, it DID happen and you are a better person now because of it. That woman who was me in the photo – she wasn’t happy. She was silently suffering. She wasn’t in love. In fact, she would stare at the affectionate couples waiting in the long lines at Disney, wishing she was that person.
I now have everything that woman so desperately wanted. It didn’t happen overnight, but I am a better person now.
And so are you. Yes, you may be alone – and the road is tough. But you are so much stronger than that day you wore your wedding dress, or when you took that trip to the islands.
Be aware of those amnesia triggers. They aren’t real, so don’t pretend that you were better off back then. Instead, smile at whatever is that is triggering you – and express gratitude that they got you to where you are now. You can say, “Thank you for that memory.” If you must cry to release that energy, then do it. But don’t let it set you back for days – it’s not real, so don’t give it that power. Those triggers come without warning and like me, you may get sucked into them, but I was able to quickly snap out of it.
Center yourself back into present mindfulness – take pictures with your kids now. Enjoy your vacations now. The more mindful you are of now, you won’t long for these moments in a few years from now, when you find pictures from today.
Instead you’ll say, “Wow, that was fun, but look how much I’ve grown. Thank you for those memories.”