“You Think You Have All of The Power?”

Could there be any more powerless invoking words to hear?

I was immediately immobilized with fear and shock when I heard those words!

I met him through an online dating site 4 years earlier.  When we first met in person, I fell madly in-love from the moment I looked into his beautiful ocean blue eyes!   He was tall, handsome, strong, smart, charming…   Continue reading ““You Think You Have All of The Power?””

Avoiding My Birthday!

Today is August 14th and it’s a good day because I survived yesterday! Yesterday was my birthday, and honestly, it was not great. I don’t know why I find my birthday day so hard lately but the one memory that comes to mind and I just cant seem tot stop reliving it even though it happened 4 years ago.  I was on holidays with my blended family on a road trip across the North West states. I awoke in the family motorhome wrapped up in the arms of my new husband, the love of my life.  I laid there a while in his arms, enjoying the time and wondering what he had planned for my birthday.  Did he make me something as a gift?   He was so good at making things!  Were we gonna go somewhere exciting and do something really fun that he had planned?  Did he have the kids planning a surprise to make my day special?  I was so excited, albeit a little confused that he didn’t acknowledge my birthday when he woke first thing.  But i stuffed that thought away because it was early morning still so I got up and made coffee and breakfast for all.   As the teenagers rolled out of bed, I greeted them with their “Happy Birthday Breakfast”.   They each replied “Whose birthday?”   I said “Mine”.  They replied with “Happy Birthday!”   It was a great start to the day and it could only get better.  Once again, I tried not to notice s that my newlywed hubby still did not wish my a Happy Birthday…  I didn’t want to acknowledge it because there was no way he would ignore my day, so he must be planning something and is just being a little aloof to throw me off.   So we finished breakfast and packed up the motorhome and got on the highway for the next leg of our journey.  This was gonna be an awesome day!  I love being on holidays for my birthday because I get to spend the whole day with my favorite people doing fun stuff.  We motored along and then stopped for lunch and still not a word from my hubby…  No one mentioned my birthday since breakfast.  So I started to hint a little “What’s the plan for today?”, “Anything special planned?”, “What you got in mind for tonight?”…   the answers were empty and non-descriptive… was he being elusive to throw me off still?  or was he actually ignoring my birthday?

The one thing I had on my agenda while on this holiday was for us to go do some back to school shopping in Oregon.   We crossed the state line into Oregon mid-afternoon.  I was sitting in the back of the motor home most of the day and still now – my hubby was driving, with his youngest boy riding shotgun and his other son right behind him.    As we got close to the outlet mall, I reminded him of my desire to go shopping, but he kept driving and just seemed to be ignoring me.   He drove right past it without saying a word.  He didn’t seem to care what I wanted and he still didn’t acknowledge my birthday.   We drove for another while as I thought well maybe he has something else in mind.    I felt my resentment rise and I was starting to get very angry and hurt. I was the only one working at this time and I was paying for the entire family vacation – because we were married and I wanted us to be a family.   The afternoon rolled on just as the miles did on the odometer and now it was past 5:00 when he finally stopped for gas.   He then looked back at me and asked if I wanted to stop at a grocery store to pick up something for supper.   Now I was convinced there was no birthday plans!  I lost it!  I go so mad!!!   I exploded and told him exactly what I thought.   I told him he was selfish and insensitive and I couldn’t believe how hurt I was.  I asked him to take me and my kids to the airport so we could fly home, because this vacation was over!

He seemed baffled that I would react so intensely and honestly so was I.   I couldn’t believe how much was built up inside of me and I just blew my lid.   I felt so hurt and sad that I married this man, who could not even find it in his heart to wish me a Happy Birthday!

That day wasn’t the beginning of our troubles, but it was a turning point.   We were divorced 4 months later.

I keep reliving that day and asking myself if I over-reacted?  Maybe, but that was also the first day I stood up for myself and my children and started to reclaim my identity that had been slowly slipping away since the day I met Mr. Prince Charming!

Every year I relive that day’s events and I am hurt all over again.  The week leading up to my birthday this year was very emotional as it seems to be every year since that day.

So last night I took some time to live there in that day again to try and sort through my emotions.   What about that whole experience was causing me so much pain?  Why was I still so hurt?  I know that in order to truly get over that hurt, I need to recognize the real cause of the hurt.   As I challenged my thoughts and the story I made up about that day, I started to realize that it was a confabulation I had told myself of his narcissism that prevented him from loving me and my hurt was just part of the process.   But that was him – we have been broke up for 4 years now and this was still haunting me.   What part did I play in all of this?  Why couldn’t  I let it go?

After a lot of soul searching and questioning my own beliefs of the events of that day, I realized that I had been telling myself that I was not worthy of his birthday blessings and every year since then have told myself I am not worthy of any birthday wishes including my own!

Well isn’t that just crazy?   So because that man was incapable of wishing me a happy birthday, my own ego has built up a whole conspiracy theory that I am not worthy of anyone’s well wishes!   Wow!   This actually blows my mind because if anyone of my friends or loved ones told me this, I would immediately tell them to “Stop being so freaking crazy!”

That was it!  I was crazy making on myself!

We tell ourselves some crazy stories to justify our hurt.   And then we believe that story so much, we apply it to all other similar situations. This is a sort of self-sabotage and verbal abuse that is common when trying to avoid hurt but in reality, the hurt never goes away, and all I did was make the hurt fester and grow…  no more!

This morning when I woke, I felt a big relief and decided I need to write this story, so I don’t forget next year that I am enough and I am worthy!

Happy Belated Birthday to me!

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Hurt manifests in many ways and festers when we try to suppress it.   According to Brene Brown in her book, “Rising Strong”, there are 5 common strategies for avoiding hurt: 1. Chandeliering; 2. Bouncing; 3. Numbing; 4. StockPiling; and 5. Getting High Centred.   If you are hurting and avoiding it, then you will feel stuck and unable to rise above to find peace and happiness.

Solo Parenting SoS!

A couple of weeks ago I went out to dinner with some friends who have teenagers a similar age as mine.  I was the “solo” friend with 2 couples – one couple was a blended family of 2 single parents that have merged their 4 children and added one since being together.  The other couple were high school sweethearts that have stayed together with their 3 children for 20+ years.   We spent a lot of the evening catching up and talking about our children.   As the stories of moody teenagers, experimenting with independence and immortality were told, I took some mental notes on how these families handled similar battles that I faced with my own.   It quickly became clear that their secret was something I never realized – having a mediator in the mix.   As they explained it, when one of the teenager’s steps out of line or things get heated with one parent, the other parent steps in as the “mediator”.   Still keeping safety and respect at the forefront but offering enough arbitration so that both the teen and the parent feel heard.

Really???   Teenagers need to be heard???    Continue reading “Solo Parenting SoS!”

He is My Dad!

A couple months ago I was in emergency with my dad who was not doing well.   He was struggling with congestive heart failure and had just had 550 ml of fluid drained from his lung the day before.   As I sat there, I reflected on how fortunate I was to be with him at that time!   He came into my life when I was just 6 years old and became my dad when my mother married him and he raised me like his own child.  He has a heart bigger than any man I have ever met.   The irony though is that his heart is exactly why he was in emergency.  20+ years ago he had a massive heart attack that resulted in a quadruple bypass and the beginning of his struggle with heart failure.  When we came into the hospital 3 days prior, his heart was functioning on 34% capacity.   That has gone down and I have since learned he is in the end stage of Congestive Heart Failure with just 20% heart function now.   And yet, there is no one that shines brighter – when he smiles, he smiles from deep inside his heart and he lights up the room.   

This man means the world to me.  Although he is no longer married to my mother, he has never stopped being my dad!  

When the cardiologist promised to take care of him, I felt relief.   When he told us to be prepared that anything can happen and any day he just might run out of steam – my heart stopped and my body went numb…. Continue reading “He is My Dad!”

Time’s Up!

When I was 9 years old we moved to a very small town (130 residents) in Newfoundland from the big city of Toronto. We moved “back home” to be close to family and because my parents thought it would be good for us kids to grow up in a small town. I was so excited to start over somewhere new and hoped the bullying would not follow me! Growing up with Freake as your last name was all the kids needed to single me out and make fun.  The bullying was so terrible that I hated going to school most days.   I hated my name! I made a deal with my mom that I would no longer be Charlene Freake  Continue reading “Time’s Up!”

Codependent – Seriously?

“Read the book Codependent No More by Melody Beattie” was her advice.   Codependent???  What is that? I had never heard that term before…

I was willing to do anything to help my husband, so I left my therapist’s office and went straight to Chapters and purchased the book.

My husband was in the hospital again, they were calling it depression and generalized anxiety disorder but they really didn’t have any answers.  No one knew at that time about the self-medicating with alcohol…  Continue reading “Codependent – Seriously?”

Safety first!

I pulled into the driveway unsure what to expect.  I turned to my 2 children in the backseat and told them to stay in their seats for a minute and mommy would be right back.   I had a terrible feeling deep inside my heart that something was wrong – something was more wrong – things have been bad for a long time, but I kept telling myself things would get better…   I took a deep breath and went into the house and down to the basement where he has been sleeping for months now.    I opened the bedroom door with fear in my heart Continue reading “Safety first!”

My 30 Year Journey to Mallorca!

Today we are in Mallorca, Spain!   A holiday planned for over ten years…  But the story started almost 30 years ago!

I was 18 years old, attending my first year at Memorial University of Newfoundland.   It was my boyfriend’s parent’s 37th wedding anniversary.  All of his family were coming to town from all over Canada and the US, including one cousin that was talked very highly of at the family dinner table, his name is David.   He was a very successful businessman in the US at that time and had a very close relationship with my boyfriend’s family.   I was very nervous to meet all of the family but especially this man and then it turns out I am sitting at a table with him for the dinner reception.  Yikes!

At the time, I had no idea, but this was the beginning of my journey to being here today…   The journey has taken many twists and turns and honestly amazes me that I am sitting in this luxurious corner suite, overlooking the 17th century estate and village below writing this story.

A couple of years after that introduction, I had the opportunity to organize and plan the Power family reunion on David’s behalf.  A few years later I married “the boyfriend” (now father of my 2 children) and became an official part of the Power clan.   We then moved to western Canada in pursuit of our own career aspirations.  Soon after we added 2 new Powers to the clan.  In 2007, we returned home to attend another Power family reunion hosted by David.   That was the last time I have seen David!  In 2007, David was living in Mallorca, Spain and had broadened his business portfolio into hotel ownership and management.   During that reunion, David extended an invitation for us to visit him in Mallorca.   We immediately started saving and planning for a family visit in 2010.

Shortly after that visit home, my husband went through his second round of severe depression complicated with anxiety and he took to self-medicating with alcohol and drugs as his primary coping strategy.   After 2 years of rehabilitation and therapy with little to no improvement, I had to make one of the most difficult decisions of my life:  To stay with the man I loved, that showed me I was worth loving and gave me 2 beautiful children that taught me what unconditional love really is… or to seperate from him and his struggles with addiction and mental illness, so I could be the parent my children needed???  The decision was obvious, but it broke my heart!   (That’s a whole different story – I’ll share more later)

After Nathan and I divorced, the kids were still included in the family gatherings where they got to spend time with all of the Power’s and to meet David themselves.

Our kids are now 17 and 14 years old and this has been, one of the most difficult years for me!   We have had some very serious issues to deal with including their father being homeless, substance use, addictions, depression, mental illness and a suicide attempt.   During all of this  turmoil and emotional stress, we have reconnected with some of the Power clan, including David.   He reached out to me a few months ago and was quite concerned about how the teenagers were doing through it all.   He told me of his long journey with his mother to help her cope with being bipolar and his passion to help with mental health and addictions for adolescence.   David extended an invitation for the three of us to come and visit him in Mallorca…   And here we are!

Timing?

An interesting thing…   As I sit here, writing this post I realize that I am exactly where I need to be, right now!   I didn’t need to be here 10 years ago.   I needed to be there for my husband then…   Now I need to be here for my kids, to show them another part of this world and opportunity that is out there for them.   Experiencing this, with them, at this age, is a dream come true for me!

Time?

I am a  single mom, working 3 jobs to make one good one.  Time is not my friend most days!   We dream of the work-home life balance in the western world but it keeps slipping away on me it seems!    Our western world life is filled with responsibilities and appointments and traffic jams…   When David invited us to visit him in Spain, my immediate thought was Yes!!!   My second thought was “How can I afford the time off?”   I was thinking about wages lost and expenses to travel – in that respect we could not afford it!

But when I thought a little more…   I realized we could not afford to not go!  An opportunity like this comes but once in a lifetime…  and this was the second time for me!

Lesson learned:

Time is by far, the most valuable commodity in life!   When offered an opportunity in life, say yes!

 

 

The Day My Depression Ended…

I was driving my husband to work and I turned on the radio to one of my favourite radio stations.  I started singing along…   My husband said “I haven’t heard you sing, or even turn on the radio, in such a long time.  Are you ok?”  I thought about it for a second… “Yes!   I feel the best I have felt in months!   I feel like my old self!” and I turned the radio a little louder and sang a little louder and danced in my seat as I drove…   I looked back at my 3 year old in the backseat and he was smiling and bopping along as well.   Life felt good!    I was happy again!

The months leading up to that were not so happy…  I was pregnant with my second baby – supposed to be a happy time right?   Well not this time around – not for me!  I was moody, irritable, sad most of the time.   I felt a heaviness all over my body!  I had no energy!   I just wanted to sleep or cry  all of the time.   I remember cooking Christmas dinner and when I opened the oven to check the turkey that was cooking perfectly, I burst into tears!   I couldn’t get past a sudden sadness and feeling not good enough –  I went to bed sobbing!   I cried myself to sleep and didn’t wake until after all of the guests arrived.  I had to drag myself to the dinner table.    I loved entertaining!  I loved having people around!   I loved Christmas!   What was wrong with me?

Was this part of being pregnant?  I wasn’t like this on my first one.   Why was this so different?   The more I tried to figure it out, the more upset I would get.   It made no sense.   I did not like things that did not make sense…

They called it depression!   But I was still pregnant – How could I be depressed now?   I thought that came after child-birth – postpartum?   I had never heard of pre-partum depression.

Everyone was very worried about what would happen after child-birth – me included!

Well it was February 4th, 2003 and I felt fabulous!   I was happy and full of energy and had a great day with my boy.   I went into labour that night and my beautiful, healthy baby girl was born the next morning!

There was no postpartum!   I was my old self again!  The heaviness had lifted. I felt light and energetic and excited!

The scientist in me had so many questions, but they didn’t matter now.   I had the “million dollar family”.   And we were all healthy and happy!   For now…

I don’t know what caused my depression or what changed that day, but I am forever grateful to my family for sticking by me!   In reflection, I am actually grateful for the experience…   Those months of feeling blue gave me an insight that can only be gained through experience.   And at that time, I had no idea how valuable that insight would prove to be in my life going forward!

The Positive Freake: Things don’t happen to us, they happen for us!