Confessions of a Serial Ex©

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Just as I’ve never held the same job for 25 years, I’ve never been married for that long either – at least to the same man. With three longer term relationships under my belt and the experience of several flings over my lifetime, I’m qualified to put SE (Serial Ex) behind my name on my calling card.

Because I was brought up in the “till death do you part” era of connubial bliss (there were times when I wanted to kill the man I was with sooner rather than later) (oops, did I say that right out loud?!) – anyway – when I walked away from my starter spouse, I felt I had failed. Note: my dad was so relieved that he gave me cash as a happy divorce present! Does it sound as if I didn’t pick so good the first time? What can I say – I was young and naive, with lots to learn.

You need to know that I really like men. I was surrounded by men growing up; I had three brothers and lots of male cousins. I confess that I yearned to be a boy – they got to do all the cool stuff with my dad. They had tons of energy, were strong and good at sports and they didn’t have to do dishes, clean their rooms, or learn how to cook. Men seemed to rule the world, while I watched wistfully from the kitchen window.

Now if you’re under 40 and female, you’re likely thinking, “that’s ridiculous. Men don’t rule the world – we women are as strong as men – maybe stronger!” Actually, I think you’re right, but that wasn’t what was going on in the 60’s and 70’s.

Roles were well-defined when I was born. Dad brought home the bacon and Mom cooked it. Mom wasn’t allowed to have a job outside the house, either – that would have given the impression that Dad was a poor provider.

By the time I was ready to graduate from high school, the world had changed, with the “Father Knows Best” lifestyle of the 50’s seriously disrupted by hippies and feminists. With my first job at 18 and a husband shortly after that, I was confused about how things were supposed to work.

Since I was perfectly capable of earning a living, I didn’t know if I had a right to ask my husband to support me. His inability to hold down a steady job soon confirmed that while I might have had the right to ask for that support, it wasn’t happening anytime soon.

As I now sit on the sidelines of the relationship game, (I’m not sure if I’ll keep following in Liz Taylor’s footsteps or not) I can see what an amazing journey it’s been for me to be partnered with a man. Like any terrifying/exhilarating roller coaster, the learning curve has been steep. (How hard could this be – oh, what was I thinking?!)

I’ve learned lots about myself and a few things about men. Here’s what I’ve learned about the men whose paths have crossed mine:

  • They were often confused about what was expected of them.
  • They were very vulnerable – they just hid it better than women do.
  • They suffered from bouts of depression (maybe because they were hitched to me?)
  • They didn’t understand women, but they couldn’t seem to get along without them.
  • A few of them were damn fine lovers. (Hallelujah!)

As for me, each time a relationship ended, I mulled over what worked and what didn’t, took some time to heal my broken heart, refined my standards and eventually got back in the game – hopeful that the next time I’d score the winning goal and bring home the trophy. So close, I’ve been so close! But as my granddaddy used to say, “Close only counts in horseshoes.”

Now I wonder if there really is anything such as a perfect match – or maybe it’s not about winning the prize but about discovering who we are as a result of playing the relationship game. If I’m honest with myself, I realize that every man I’ve ever had a personal or intimate relationship with was absolutely perfect for me at the time – even if it was a disaster in that moment. And I often learned as much or more with shorter term partners than with the longer ones.

Bottom line – I couldn’t have grown to be who I am today without men. They helped me decide who I was and wasn’t and what I most wanted and what I didn’t want. A masculine male triggers ultimate femininity. There’s nothing more enticing to a man than a woman basking in her feminine energy.

Through it all, I’ve become very comfortable in my own skin as a powerful, sensual, and loving woman.  I’m grateful for all those close encounters of the male kind. To paraphrase an old Willie Nelson song – “…I dedicate this song to all the men I’ve loved before…”

Will I toss my hat into the ring yet one more time? It’s tempting. . . but maybe I’ll think about it awhile longer!

 

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Finding the Love of My Life ©

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Are you one of the lucky ones when it comes to relationships? Early on, you found that one special person and are living “happily ever after”.

I have not been one of those lucky ones. Before we even tied the knot, I suspected that my first love (I married at the tender age of 18) was not the love of my life. But he provided a safe port in the storm at that time. In the eight years we were married, I was able to safely grow and blossom into a much more confident young woman. My dad said, “Well, he never did you any harm, but he didn’t do you much good.” (Dads are so protective!)

After a couple of years of trying to figure myself out and figure out what love was all about, I fell in love with a man whom I thought would be my happily ever after. We raised a wonderful son together and had some good years. But stuff happens. It’s not unusual for relationships to founder because of life circumstances and various traumas. My second marriage lasted over 23 years, but then it ended.

Four years passed before I felt ready to date again. This time I figured, “third time lucky”. And for awhile, I felt lucky. We met on the shores of the online dating pool and were delighted to discover how much we had in common in so many ways. Here I thought was my soul mate. Although I invested heart and soul into our relationship, I was ever so sad when it ended after five years.

Lately, I’ve been contemplating throwing my hat into the ring yet a fourth time. As I reflect on what has gone before, what I don’t want, and what I do want in a new partner; I’ve had an epiphany about the love of my life. I finally realized who it is – it’s not Mr. Right –

It’s me!

All my relationships to this point have been amazing reflections of who I have been in any given moment. Each person showed me facets of my mind, body, and soul that I might not have paid attention to otherwise. Sometimes it felt like the movie, “The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly”, but really, it helped me to fall in love with myself all over again.

I grew enormously because of each relationship, which of course prepared me for the next relationship.

Today it dawned on me that all of this learning and growing within my relationships has been propelling me toward affirming again the most important relationship of all, the relationship I have with myself.

If I allow it, I am my own best friend. When I treat myself and honor myself as I deserve, I come to trust and value the love that I am.

I can never physically abandon me, because I’m always here. When no one else is there for me, I’m right here to comfort and rock myself to sleep. I can call on me any time of the day or night. I can surround myself with all the love I have inside.

Does that mean then that we have no need of relationships? Not at all! Being in relationship is the way we see ourselves as we couldn’t if we were alone. A totally white wall cannot know itself as white until a black thumbprint shows up on its surface.

A woman does not experience ultimate femininity without the presence of ultimate masculinity. Contrast through connection is vital to our own growth.

So now where do I go? Well, part of my plan is to keep honoring my own magnificence as a human being. I’m not any more magnificent than you are, but I am unique – as you are unique; I plan to keep celebrating that uniqueness and keep cherishing the fact that I truly am the love of my life, just as you need to be the love of your life.

And if I’m blessed enough to find someone new and special to share the love of my life with, that will be spectacular!

I HATE MOTHER’S DAY! ©

 

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“If you can’t be bothered with me any other time of the year, don’t bother coming round or buying me flowers on Mother’s Day!” C’mon, Moms. I bet there isn’t one of you out there who hasn’t felt this at least once, even if you never said it right out loud.

Mother’s Day is tough for many women I know. For some, it’s the only time they get any attention from their families – the older they are, the more invisible they become. In seniors’ residences, the number of cards on the dresser is like a badge of honor and the main topic at the dinner table. Talk to any of the staff and you’ll discover who’s good to their mother and who only comes around on Mother’s Day.

Dear friends have other reasons to have heavy hearts when this day rolls around – one’s oldest son was murdered at this time of year, the others have lost daughters and sons to drugs and alcohol and car accidents.

It’s tough for kids, too. Some have mothers who mis-treated them when they were little and aren’t nice to be around. Should you still show her respect, even if you don’t feel much for her?

My own mom has been gone since I was 17, so I transferred my attention to my grandmothers while they still lived, and now I have aging aunts and a stepmom whom I send cards to. But there’s still a little pocket of sadness inside because I can’t participate in the idealized Hallmark way.

When my son was about three, I remember feeling so resentful on Mother’s Day because my husband forgot what day it was until mid-morning, then rushed to Safeway and brought home a pot of chrysanthemums – not a flower I ever liked.

It was a tense, instead of a beautiful day, with him feeling guilty and me feeling hard done by. Then we talked about it. We talked about which occasions in the year were ones that we wanted to honor. My mother had placed a special emphasis on birthdays, so that was important to me. Our anniversary and Christmas were the two other days that had significance. We agreed to resist the commercialism of the other designated days and established our own family rituals.

With the pressure off, we had more fun being spontaneous. Since I liked the ritual of breakfast in bed, my family would surprise me with memorable times of French toast and tea on a tray with them beside me. A homemade card from my son added an extra bit of delight.

Paying tribute to all moms who work tirelessly and often selflessly throughout the year is a good idea, but why have we turned it into yet another commercial time of sappy cards, wilted roses and long waiting lines at restaurants? Phew! Got that over with – now let’s get on with our lives – Mom will understand how very busy we are!

Here’s my question – do we use this day as an excuse to ignore our mothers the rest of the year? My grandmother once said, “All I really want is some of your undivided attention.” We don’t need all the hoopla of one day if we already feel special because of continuous regard and contact. A regular phone call to check in or an unannounced drop-by means so much more, especially to seniors dealing with health and mobility issues.

As for me, I like to pamper myself on Mother’s Day. If I can entice a friend – we go to a concert or get a pedicure. My son will be away on his honeymoon. I do not expect a phone call!

When the Student Becomes the Teacher

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More years ago than I prefer to count, I was blessed to have in my personal growth class a young woman by the name of Lezlie. She was eager to learn all about herself and the power within. She proved to be an apt student.

The more often we shared, the stronger the bond became between us – we were certainly sisters of Spirit. We lost touch for a while when I changed cities, but in reconnecting; it was as if we had never been apart.

Over the years, there were triumphs we celebrated and tragedies that we helped each other through. Mostly we connected by email or phone, but the occasional visit found us exchanging book titles and trying to solve the world’ s problems over a cup of tea. By that time, I rarely saw myself as her teacher, and she my student. We were sisters on a whirlwind of adventure.

In 2012, our relationship continued to shift. That July, Lezlie and Ron had dinner with us on one of their rare trips through Edmonton – heading to Hinton for a family re-union. We had such a delightful time; no one wanted the evening to end.

In September, Ron called with the heart-wrenching news that our beloved Lezlie had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and had died during surgery. Her celebration of life in Calgary proved that she had become a teacher to us all. I drew strength from the final words she had written, inspiring us to live our lives with joy, passion, and purpose.

More than once since then, have I been blessed with wise counsel from her when she appeared in my dreams.  She gave me the courage to fight on that October when I faced cancer surgery.

Earlier today, Good Friday of 2014, I was reviewing old Facebook messages. (Lezlie was always more embracing of social media than I was!) As I scrolled down, there was a gift from her dated four years before she died – a message I had not seen until now. It was like finding a beautiful gift at the back of the closet that I’d forgotten to open. The message included a poem she wanted to share.

May you find the wisdom that I found in her poem that follows.

One Moment Please

By Lezlie Molyneaux 2008

I take flight and all the world is spinning

Every need rushes in to whack at me.

I cannot grasp one stick to shake at,

For all shake furiously.

The spinning is becoming tortuous.

I can’t remember who I am.

Then

One tiny feather floats

Between the blades sharpened dangerously.

My eyes blink, yet I am wary

One moment I shake ….

I breathe

One moment I shudder…..

I breathe

One moment I close my eyes

I breathe …..

I breathe

One moment I am totally protected

In a blanket of downy white

One moment – I am

I am.

Dearest Lezlie,

Thank you for transcending time and space to share your wisdom and teach us your truth. We are bountifully blessed as we remember that we are all students and teachers of each other.

Photo courtesy of How to raise your vibration blog

Three Lies Single Women Tell Themselves©

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Single, heterosexual women, both young and old, can fall into a pit of despair because of the lies they tell themselves.

Lie #1: I Don’t Need A Man

We often adopt this lie as truth in the aftermath of a break-up or a disastrous relationship with a man. Our hearts are broken; we’re seriously disillusioned with the whole male-female connection. I’ve been in that exact place more than once.

After each of three long-term relationships ended (I guess I’m a serial Ex now) my pit of despair seemed too deep to crawl out of.  In my anger and grief, I damned all men to hell and proceeded to learn to live without them.

In true women’s lib fashion, I bought myself a cool power drill and other even more interesting power tools. I was determined to need no man’s help. Well, maybe it would be okay to let them change my flat tire. And I might need a little help with some heavy lifting or moving.

After my second marriage (of 23 years) ended, it took three years of that focused independence before I began to yearn for a little more intimate male involvement – dinner, a movie, hot sex (I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that last one!).

I missed the romance – the electric regard of a man who was giving me his undivided attention. I hadn’t felt intensely female for a while, a feeling one can only get from direct masculine interest. I longed for that shiver of anticipation over a first date, and the chance to share that excitement with my girlfriends. (Heaven knows they needed some reward for listening to all my whining!)

Lie #2: I Need a Man to Complete Me

Time was passing, I wasn’t getting any younger, so I began to worry about being alone for the rest of my life. I believed I needed a companion, a lover, a man to share my days with – in my desperation, I believed that I would be nothing if I wasn’t part of a couple.

A big danger exists if you buy into this lie.

You may be desperate enough to settle, like I did initially, for the first guy who comes along who seems acceptable. Phew! Somebody wants me. I had hoped to avoid the online dating pool and all its perceived misery, so I got involved with someone totally unsuited to me and my goals in life. When I finally came to my senses, I had a devil of a time getting him out of my life.

Women are not wired for the love ‘em and leave ‘em habits that guys seem to get away with. We get so wrapped up emotionally that we’re easily scarred – oh, and don’t forget about our tendency to want to fix every guy that’s broken. “Oh, I’m so sure Mr. Right Now or Mr. Trainable could become my Mr. Right.” Well, okay, if you have a hundred years or so and more patience than God.

Trust me, I’ve hooked up with over half a dozen “lost boys” over the years. They never changed – they just got irritated when I wanted them to change or grow. Not only have I decided to never bring another one home, I plan to avoid them altogether. I’ve learned the hard way that the only one I can “save” is me – and now I know that I’m worth saving!

The key to avoiding this lie is to accept your own wholeness as a woman. You came out of the womb complete. Even though you’ve grown and transformed from a baby into a woman, your completeness has never changed. You may want a partner to enhance or enrich your life, but you don’t need one to feel complete.

Lie#3: I’m Not Good Enough to Attract the Right Man

Most of us can easily finish these sentences with all the negatives in the dictionary: “I’m not….” I’m too…” Not recognizing your own greatness as a woman is more harmful to your psyche than anyone else’s opinion of you. Maybe when your last relationship ended, your ex said mean things that cut you to the core. His opinion should carry no weight – only your opinion counts.

If you’re feeling unworthy, what could happen if you’re “lucky” enough to attract a really great guy?

If you don’t go into the next relationship feeling whole, you’ll never believe that you measure up, despite what this great guy tells you. You might even start looking over your shoulder for his next girlfriend after you – self-sabotage at its worst!

Or, with self-esteem issues, you might decide to sell yourself so short that you lower your standards and attract all manner of weirdos. (And then moan to your friends that there are no decent guys!)

The truth is, you are good enough right this minute. To confirm this, take a fearless inventory of all the things you like about yourself – you should be able to come up with at least 100. Include your talents, skills, strengths, values, physical attributes, passions etc. When you get stuck, ask trusted friends, colleagues, and family members to add to your list. (You’ll be surprised at how much they value you.)

Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t make any changes to improve yourself or your image of yourself – I encourage that. But do it from a desire to grow, not because you feel deficient!

Once you start valuing yourself and you’re feeling more at home in your own skin, you become much more attractive to the opposite sex. Then, and only then is it time to cast your line into the dating pool!

What other lies have you told yourself as a single woman? If you have friends who struggle to break free of these lies, share this article. It could save them from a relationship disaster!

Wishing you freedom, wisdom and fun! …Sue

SPEAKING – Our Greatest Adventure!

Where would our world be if we couldn’t talk? Every parent looks forward to the day his or her child speaks that first word. (Parents often change their minds about this when their kids reach age two and all they hear is No! No! No! and why? why? why?)

Human beings communicate in so many different ways – verbally, using gestures or sign language, through facial expressions – and don’t forget all the written forms of connecting, such as this website.

The purpose of this site is to share what I’ve learned about communicating. Whether you need to ask for a raise, have to present in front of an audience, or simply want ideas about networking or small talk, I’m here to help.

Together, we’ll have a grand adventure!