Oh, Hey, Hello Sixty

At the end of the day, this day, my first day of sixty, renewal seems to capture how I feel at this moment. So often, as we age, so too, do we wish to return to that time we were younger, wishing we could experience a few more do-overs in life. Do life different. We are all given opportunities, choices are daily. Although there are no more do-overs, I’m choosing to do life differently.

Thus, as I begin a renewal of sorts, more time in the here-and-now, less time in the I-wish-I-would’ve-done-that-instead-of-this. Continued self-care, extensions of self-forgiveness. More focus on compassion, less pleasing others, fearful of what they think of me.

Death, a part of life experience, she is not ready for me. There is much more to embrace. Yet, I fear not death as I once did, for sixty is my greatest gift, the ability to recognize I’m still here, as is humility, aging with a moderate modicum of grace, an unprecedented look at humor to last several lifetimes, and love, the most ultimate gig of all.

Welcome to Sixty

Assimilation of the New and Old: Getting On With It

Coming up on eight years since my divorce, reading past posts, one question rises more than others: Does Carin write about anything but divorce and estrangement?? Seriously. Isn’t it time to share the present? Sheesh. Even I tire reading my words.

My life is full of remarriage, stepdaughters, a family I wasn’t born into. At the other end of the spectrum, the family I was born into, adjustments, growth, new-found acceptance of people I’ve known since birth. How to navigate the old, new, and in-between? If I love my new life, does that diminish the life I had before divorce?

Thus, more posts regarding where I am today. Letting go of the past, even in written form, difficult for this writer. This is my sanctuary of self-expression. Although I live very much in the present, this space, my refuge of the familiar pain I’ve grown to know all too well.

The man I’m currently married to, (I prefer to call him my last husband. No guarantees, yet no plans for any additional spouses at this time in my life, thank you very much) is everything goodness. There are challenges, of course. Marriage is work. Work, people. No short-cuts for any significant relationships in life.

One major important aspect is to understand the differences between the relationship between my former husband and I, and my current husband’s relationship with his former wife. Got all that?

My relationship with my former proves quite curious, as we do not share a common bond with our children anymore, although he and I stay in contact. He has a relationship with our youngest, as our oldest has chosen to estrange from the nuclear crew she grew up some years ago. In contrast, my husband and his former wife, parentals who went through a fairly nasty divorce, a new level of respect eventually landed, although not without their own familiarity of pain. They share a past, including their four daughters. To this day, our blended family evolves, each family member, in their own due time, healing towards something that can not be defined by anyone but oneself. This part of my journey is important, something I will share more of moving forward.

Assimilation with purpose. I’m getting it.

We’ll find each other soon. 💜

The Truth of Transparency

Hi, I’m breathing with you today. 💜

In any personal relationship, transparency is not a given. Trust must be earned. What does that mean, earned? How can we trust another without transparency? Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Trust or transparency?

There is little trust without transparency. Yet, we believe that if we are close enough to our significant partner, we might be apt to stay within the confines of complacency, unwilling to share our true selves.

Unconditional love, in all its glory, does not make a committed relationship whole.

Back to transparency. No short cuts. Vulnerability must be practiced daily. When our person shares something that hits us in the gut, allow it to sit awhile, sink in. It is then a new conversation begins.

Marriage proves enlightening only when we listen, only when we’re transparent. It is paramount to trusting another human being. Why must we hide our feelings when we love another so much? At what point, are we no longer fearful? Almost sixty, I’m impatient and chose not to tip-toe throughout my life anymore. My time here is limited. The unleashing of fear is part of my transparent agenda.

I understand my female friends, the ones who chose a life without a partner. It’s why independence is learned, either before a serious relationship or in-between. If we are not willing to become transparent with ourselves , then, how can we navigate with our person?

I married my first husband at 24, the cusp of self-awareness. I knew, that little voice of mine, nudged, poked, the signals were there, not ready for marriage. I avoided those feelings as I learned the automatic response of avoiding myself. Too scary, too unknown. Let’s stick with the familiar. Don’t look to close in the mirror. You might not like what you see. Worse, you might be forced to see your true self, not so pretty at times.

I am enamored with turning sixty. A numerical benchmark of interesting proportions. Unlike twenty-five, thirty, or even fifty, all those previous benchmarks, all in preparation for more transparency, catapulting different hemispheres of new-found trust. Me, myself, transcending to my partner, to family, to all the beautiful people in my life, those familiar, those I’ve yet to meet. I am the real deal. Welcome to sixty.

We’ll find each other soon. 💜

The Announcement: Hardest Day EVER

No easy way to tell your kiddos their parents are getting divorced. I distinctly remember my parents telling my brother and me. Halloween (really??) 1972. Returning from trick-or-treating, I saw a suitcase on my mom and dad’s bed. As quickly as Halloween came and went, they sat us down and said Dad would be leaving for a while that very night. No mention of the “D” word, though there we were. At that moment, two children, a twelve-year-old daughter, a ten-year-old son, a family trying their best to navigate through new forces. 

Whatever age, it’s the most painful day of any family member’s life – for parents and children. My kids were 22 and 17. 

The day my ex and I told our children – THE worst day of my life. So careless, were we, to not discuss, THINK about how to approach with love. When one is so beaten down emotionally, THINKING evaporates at a moment’s notice. I was there, a shell of a person, wanting nothing more than to run away from myself. My ex insisted we tell the girls THAT day, the day I said, during therapy, I was done. I couldn’t go on. These were the moments we both were so lost. 

Eight-and-a-half years later, lessons learned, healing, a full-self, knowing what I could’ve done better, that moment of opportunity left the building in those brief, swift moments. It is only now I’m able to fully grasp what happened and how we must teach others by our experience – the best teacher of all. 

There is ALWAYS – ALWAYS time enough to take responsibility, learn, and teach others. There is ALWAYS time to be BRAVE. Thank you, Glennon, for teaching me years after I knew very little. Paying it forward. 

We’ll find each other soon. ❤ 

The Year of Sixty: We Be Getting Better

Soon approaching my eighth year post-divorce, post-estrangement from my adult children, the inclination to mark these events, while still prevalent, are less marred by a healthier being. Mind you, happily re-married almost three years, the mingling of who I was followed by my personhood today hasn’t exactly been a piece of pie. How I’ve managed to balance the complexities of my former marriage with my current, that’s a post of a different color soon-to-come.

The year of sixty, there is much to celebrate. Years of poor, thoughtless decisions, insecurities and a never ending desperate longing for validation, I’m still here, better than ever.

Less fear of speaking my truth. Notwithstanding the overused phrases of Oprah and Co., we ALL need to learn to speak our truths. This is not a mere sound bite by any means. It is a practice, learned and persistent, a deliberate choice, to become healthier during our most painful times. Well, during those painful episodes, a good day may occur by simply getting out of bed for an hour. Just as one may slowly dissipate into the abyss of their own rabbit hole, so is the similar amount of time to see amongst the tangled hedges.

Coming out of a long-term marriage, the realties of what caused such anguish, coupled with the humbling look at self, takes years. YEARS. Please do not rush your journey. You’re getting to where you need to be. You’re on your way, in your own due time.

We’ll find each other soon. 💜

The Red Shoes and Rainbow Hairstyles

Perusing through old boxes during a pandemic, well, surprises of the unexpected kind.

The red shoes. I found them. I thought she’d kept them? They were her’s around eight-to-ten years old. (Those years are as one when your kid is currently thirty.) I purchased them at Target, during one of the many-a-time she and I’d make the trek, sometimes in this order, within the same shopping center, our ritual:

  1. Get the kid a haircut at Rainbow Kids Hairstyles. The carefully manicured bangs, a single braid adorned the top of her head, its own personalized headband of sorts, accentuated by a ribbon towards the bottom of her stylist-made “rainbow” braid. This became the norm for many years. 
  2. Enter Target. Sit kid in the red shopping cart, proceed to snack shop, purchase a small bag of somewhat fresh popcorn and Icee. (These two items were good for hours)
  3. Peruse the store, some mandated items, an every-now-and-then toy or game, pick up those early-90s brazen purple, and pink girls’ bike shorts, ugly sweaters, and they-all-looked-the-same t-shirts. I have finally forgiven myself for dressing my kid like an extra on Full House. 

I don’t remember the exact time her “Dorothy” shoes jumped into the cart, only when they got home, my girl was systematic where she placed them, knowing very well, they were not like their counterparts in her closet. 

Pandemic triggers memories more so than “normal” days. 

I remember how much I adored the kid. She was personable, funny, scary smart, fearless, independent. Happily munching on popcorn, sipping her Icee, it’s oversized plastic red straw, the kind with a little spoon on the end, blissfully mom-and-daughter times. She’d grow up, of course, the red shopping cart became the holding place for essential items only, though through high school, the Rainbow braid, red shoes, long behind us both, new memories, yet no less, mom-and-daughter times, both a little bit older, understood each other, our laughter contagious, we were able to carry ourselves forward.

Today, Target snack bars are a novelty of the past, replaced by their own versions of boutique Starbucks for some other fancy-schmancy sandwich stop for shoppers. I miss their soft-pretzels. 

Life moves forward, just as the kid and I have. I wonder if she ever thinks about those days. 

We learn to live without our small bag of popcorn and Icee. We learn to live without our persons, as well. Moments; precious, unfiltered, pure. 

We’ll find each other soon. 💜

Pandemic: These are the Things I’m Not Telling You

These are the things I’m not telling you; my strength, sometimes evident, I question its strength or a cover-up for fear?

These are the things I’m not telling you; pandemic, its realities. The juxtaposition of all or nothing; the hoax, the science; like a marriage gone awry, who can council this madness? 

These are the things I’m not telling you; the depth of isolation, far more than social distancing, the elusiveness of physical separation. It’s affecting, now wearing thin, is it Covid itself, or the inability to walk into a Ross that weigh heavily? People are dying, the heaviest of all, no matter what ailment. 

These are the things I’m not telling you; freedoms matter, health is everything, there is always room for empathy, the same room occupies an open mind.  Minds are not to be squandered, though used as a contribution. Passionate opinions, they are ours, as much as your friend or enemy. 

alone man person sadness
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

These are the things I’m not telling you; anxiety ramps up on the daily; medication helps, restless sleep hurts. A new day arrives. I am alive. I am here. 

 

We’ll find each other soon. ❤ 

Imperfect Self: Pandemic Style

There is no perfect family; blended, original, extended. 

The struggle continues. 

I am not always a nice person. I am not always kind. We’d like to think of ourselves to be nice and kind, though our actions don’t always manifest themselves towards kindness. What we may deem to be the truth, others may not. 

So I find myself in tune with my imperfect self; words overheard, ones of judgment, gossipy tone, about family members. Letting the shame soak in, not delving into territories I’ve never met, for I am quite used to admitting when I’m wrong. That said, we roll merrily along when our imperfections rebound and we must come to face ourselves, admit our wrongdoings. 

We are all fallible. Pandemic teaches us more than we wish to learn. Today, I’m letting myself learn, even the painful stuff. 

Pandemic, a good excuse to come clean without righteousness or humble bragging. 

Pandemic, a good time to redefine our thinking about family, what it means to us, how we can better become better people towards the people we care about. 

Pandemic, a good time to self-forgive, to recognize our messes are our own, to be kinder than ever. 

Pandemic, a good time to reevaluate our own definitions of family and live what we preach. 

affection benches black and white boardwalk
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We’ll find each other soon. ❤ 

 

The Year of Sixty: The Trust, Death and Yearning for a Nap

A trust, the written kind, the instrument one prepares for loved ones upon death. After years of thinking about having it done, it is now complete. I can die, knowing my loved ones won’t have to make extraordinary decisions during a extraordinarily painful time.

Of course, I’ll be dead, so why does planning make a difference?

To begin with: assets. My brother and I were co-executors upon mom’s death. While this was somewhat difficult during the time selling her house, we knew what mattered most to mom and she knew her kids well enough we would figure things out.

The decision of whether to include my kids in the trust proves unfinished with little to no closure. This, in turn, is why amendments were born: we can amend anything we want, whenever we want in writing.

As my husband and I sat across the heavy ladened table that first meeting with the attorney, the questions of children; how many? their ages? I spoke about mine – we used to know each other, I raised them for 22 years. Now they are no longer a part of my life and I’m not sure to include them in my trust. It came out of my mouth so casually, as if this was now normal.

Does one omit a daughter from her trust due to estrangement? If the adult child chose the estrangement, should the parent include her child simply because of birthright? Since they made the decision to cut off, why then, feel the need to include them?

Because…They are my children, two daughters I raised. They chose to eliminate themselves, not the other way around.

Part of me wants to reach out and simply ask, “Would you like to be included in my trust? I’m asking because I have no idea if I’m already dead to you, and if so, that’s fine. I am asking for my own sense of closure before I actually die.”

I could live with that.

Someday I shall die. Death has a way of elevating perspective. The older we get, the more clarity in what we want. I see families broken, prior to death, years before death. Many of those families do not heal after. (Some do, however, another blog post, another time) Whatever chasms lay, so do they heighten upon death. Death is not a natural path towards healing from estrangement. It merely forces who our authentic selves are and brings it to the forefront. Choice remains ours, surrounded by life or death.

I keep thinking that writing will awaken new insight. Lately, at least, this moment, I’m not feeling it. I’m tired, sad, disjointed in my thinking. I miss my mom much, her voice, her insight and I want to lay on her bed, take an afternoon nap while she works on her crossword puzzle next to me. A nap sounds dreamy, as my sleep patterns are anything but predictable of late.

More to ponder. For now, sweet reader, peace out. ✌️

We’ll find each other soon. 💜

The Year of Sixty: Death and the Projected Symmetry of Fractured Families

*Visiting my former mom-in-law today (2/5/20) more frail; speech slurred, eyes heavy, sleep imminent. Almost 93, her family, in its estrangement, a history of fractured relationships. Why such distance? It is necessary for some, yet, no matter what, sadness prevails.

Is death a sign of projected symmetry for fractured families?

People die. Our culture reminds estranged families of this daily.

“Make amends with your family. They could be gone tomorrow”.

“Can’t you finally forgive their mistakes, painful history and carry on, move forward?”

Why must it take the horrific tragedy of losing an iconic basketball legacy, his daughter and seven other people of value to remind us the fragility of life? Well, we get rattled, shaken, the disbelief of someone who is almost invincible. We look in the mirror. We see ourselves. We are not legacies, nor heroes. We are simply human.

Each time there’s a loss, the death of someone I know or not personally acquainted with, I think of my children, the two adult daughters who’ve distanced themselves from me the last seven years. Will we reconcile before death? Why would we, because of death?

Remember – people die.

I was fortunate to have gotten to know my mother-in-law the last years of her life. I re-married my current husband in 2017. Mom fell the next month. It was a doozy. She spent two weeks in skilled nursing. By then, as a family, we decided it was best for mom to move from her apartment (where she lived independently for years) to an assisted living residence close by. Not her first choice, for sure. Yet, in a short time, she understood we all came from love. Not long after moving, mom passed away. Love was at the epicenter of us and in that, peace was captured and embraced.

For with our without estrangement, we must all make the difficult choice to heal in ways that are best for us. Death is not the best reason for reconciliation. Death provides a window of clarity of which we can either choose to look at or ignore. Either way, my wish for all of us is to make peace with ourselves while we’re still breathing.

A note: my sweet mom-in-law passed away post-publishing today. A time of retrospection, we shall find each other soon. 💜