Find Your Way Back 7-19-18

As a teenager I was a big fan of Jefferson Starship. I used to love the band. “Find Your Way Back” was certainly a favorite.

This morning on my walk for some reason I thought of this song and listened to it while I was walking. As I listened to the lyrics I found myself relating to some of the words.

Like the song, for me, the past few years (seven to be exact) have certainly been a long road since I packed up and left home looking for a new life only to turn around, leave San Francisco and find my way back home. The place I left in the first place. I can honestly say I’ve carried a heavy load along the way. However, as I pondered where I’ve been, I realized I’m no longer in that space anymore. In fact, those dark days seem like they happened so long ago.

These past several months I finally began to feel the fog lift. Occasionally, I’ve even felt like a turtle poking his head out feeling things out to ensure it was safe to finally come out of my shell and begin moving forward.

I believe we all face trials in our lives. At times those trials bring you to your knees. If you’re not careful, you find yourself stuck in a cesspool of water feeling like you’re drowning. I’m embarrassed to admit, that’s what happened to me. I’ve been drowning for a very long time. Trauma, grief, finances, breakups, lawsuits, cancer, illness…..the list goes on leading to depression, anxiety and yes….PTSD. Through it all, somewhere along the way I realized I’m the same strong woman I always was before everything in my life turned upside down. I’m still funny. I’m still strong. I’m still smart. I’m still that crazy, fabulous me I’ve always been. My circumstances may have changed and maybe I’ve been lost for awhile but I realize I’m still the same “me” I’ve always been. Love me or not, I am who I am and I’m ok with being me. I saw a quote I had posted a few years ago. “Sometimes, in order to be happy in the present moment, you have to be willing to give up all hope for a better past”. Truth!!! I can’t change the past but I can certainly choose to be happy now.

On Saturday, I’ll be on an airplane flying far away from here for the next two weeks in search of finding the peace and healing I need to finally find my way back. I’m so close. I can feel it. It occurred to me this morning that despite all the “rock bottom” moments we experience in our lives, somehow, someway we always find our way back. Of course, when you’re in the thick of the chaos swirling around you it’s hard to grasp the idea that eventually this too shall pass. I can assure you that based on my experience whatever you’re going through right now, trust me, more importantly trust god, and know this too will pass and before you know it, you will find your way back. Until then, don’t get caught up in depression, feeling sorry for yourself and whatever you do….DO NOT spend three years in your bedroom at your moms house watching Hallmark Romance movies like I did. Lol. What a waste of so many precious moments!! My advice is find your happiness in the present. Enjoy the ride. It might take seven years but I guarantee you will find your back. Just ask me.

In the meantime if you can’t find some inspiration or joy today, I’m posting my favorite Jefferson Starship song as a reminder to stay in faith. Today is the first day of finding your way back. My comeback is right around the corner. I believe yours is too!!

Life After Gaslight 5-19-18

Meet “Ron”. “Ron” was a 68 year old retired San Francisco firefighter. He is also my ex-boyfriend. I met “Ron” in 2012. At first, I was apprehensive about him but he was persistent in his pursuit to capture my heart. He showered me with compliments and gifts. He called me cutie pie, baby and would constantly tell me how “fine” I was. He uttered the words “I love you” after knowing me for only a month. I recall thinking his infatuation was too good to be true, but his words also came with his promises of a wonderful life filled with travel, love and affection. He was so sweet, after only a few months he swept me off my feet.  Unfortunately, I quickly learned that this was merely a facade with words he said to all the women he manipulated. “Cutie pie”, “baby”, “fine” and “I love you” was something he had said to all the girls.

Looking back there were a mine field of red flags, however “Ron” had a way with showering me with such kindness in the beginning that it was easy to overlook the flaws. And when I say flaws, I mean some serious issues that no woman should have to deal with ever in their life.

My experience is not unique.
“Ron” is a good guy. I think he has a good side to him. He’s been married twice like most people in America. Both divorces ended due to his infidelity.  He was the cheater but “it wasn’t his fault” or so he claimed. Red flag number one. He was also in a long term relationship with a woman who he referred to as “Mo”. I think because she brought so much havoc and “mo” trouble in to everyone’s life than one can imagine. She certainly brought trouble in to my life.  In her defense, “Ron” brought the insanity out in her. I later found her story with “Ron” was nothing short of tragic. Worse was what he did to his first wife. Sadly she was one of the sweetest women I ever met and in my opinion did not deserve what he did to her.  No woman deserves the kind of treatment myself and I’m sure many others have endured.

“Ron’s” past consisted of drunken behavior. He was an alcoholic/addict who had arrests for driving under the influence under his belt.  He stopped drinking while we were together after humiliating me with his drunken behavior. He also had an infatuation with young women in their twenties and was known to engage in sexual acts with many prostitutes. I later learned he had been on house arrest for engaging in these acts. Of course, I can’t say for sure since this was merely hear say.

“Ron” had a volatile temper and exhibited many mood swings that were enough to turn a sane person in to a psychotic nut. I should know. After three years with this man, I lost my confidence, my self esteem, my self respect, my identity and I felt like I was losing my mind. I really believed I might be crazy. My biggest regret….I only wish I had known these things before I allowed this man to capture my heart.

“Ron” was a pack rat. He had junk all over his condo, which was located in a well to do area of San Francisco. You would have never known it. His condo belonged on an episode of Hoarders. He had so much clutter and he even had old plastic bottles filled with water all over the place. Maybe it was his age.

Two years after I moved in with him he finally opened a carton of lemonade that had been in the refrigerator and had an expiration date of 2010. It had been expired for four years yet he refused to throw it out insisting it was still good. The lemonade was so spoiled when he finally opened the carton to have a glass, he had no choice but to throw it out. What a surprise. Mind you he had vilified me for wanting to throw it the year prior.

“Ron” had odd sleeping habits. He was up all night and slept all day. When I say all day….I mean all day. Often times “Ron” would arise from his slumber at six in the afternoon. Two or three was early for him. He also liked to conserve water. He was a dedicated California resident who only bathed once a month and always on a Thursday. I firmly believe he deserved accolades for being the most conservative California resident during a drought. However, if you ask me he should’ve opened up one of his plastic bottles of old tap water and taken a bath.

At times he had white crust around his ears that was creamy and had the appearance of cradle cap.  At times he smelled so bad I would want to vomit. His solution was wipes (he was the poster child for cottonelle wipes) and he would also use lots of cologne. I often wondered if he was European but was inclined to believe he might be crazy. He led me to believe he was suffering from dementia. In my experience when “Ron” would shower it was His cue for wanting to be intimate.


   “Ron” was wonderful in the beginning. He took me on trips, showered me with gifts,  he catered to my every whim and treated me like a queen. He always held my hand and opened my door.  But that stopped and he would throw the door in my face. He portrayed himself as a family man. An attribute that was merely a facade. He was also lots of fun.  We went dancing and even took salsa lessons. He would hum in my ear every time we danced. He was a terrible salsa dancer but no worries….he would always blame me for his shortcoming and would become extremely verbally abusive.

All his positive attributes stopped three months after moving in with him. That’s when the “real” “Ron” emerged. The trouble only got worse when a his 27 year old Latina Stripper “friend” continued to call and text at all hours of the day including when we were on vacation. Harassment that continued the entire duration of our relationship. “Ron” also began to withhold any contact with me intimately. We went from having an active intimate life to a periodic one, provided it was on his terms. “Ron” had a penile implant. I suspect many of his issues might have stemmed from this creating his own insecurities however, I’ll never know. I will share that on occasion I would wake up in the middle of the night and catch him naked in the bathroom engaging in questionable acts or even plucking his pubic hairs. I found myself in such disbelief that I would run back to bed and keep quiet.

“Ron” did crazy things such as pluck his facial hair while watching tv. He often had a scowl on his face and would pluck to the point he would cause sores on his face. He would often file his feet over the couch. This odd behavior caused me to believe either he was crazy but he convinced me I was crazy for thinking this behavior was odd.

He was very private about everything. He caused me to believe he had many secrets. Especially, since I wasn’t allowed to ask him even simple questions like “how was your day?” I wasn’t allowed to say “have a great day” and God forbid I wasn’t allowed to express how he made me feel. I wasn’t allowed to ask any questions….period!!!  He would explode and punish me  for days calling me names, accusing me of being suspicious and rejecting me to the point I couldn’t breathe. I would cry for days. Rejection can cause so much pain and anguish.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, I got zero emotional support from “Ron”. He was extremely un-empathetic and lacked any ounce of compassion. He would insult me and make me feel so bad about myself that more often than not I found myself in the bathroom on my knees crying from the pain this man would cause. Somehow in the midst of it all he managed to blame me for his behavior and would punish me for days by ignoring me and giving me the silent treatment. In my experience, I’m not sure what was worse, chemo or “Ron”. This man made fighting cancer the hardest journey of my entire life.

I posted the following post on Facebook after my first treatment.  The following five treatments were not much different.  In the end he admitted he had treated me poorly because I was no longer attractive. In my defense, when you’re in a fight against cancer, it’s rather hard to remain the beautiful person you once were. Hair loss doesn’t help.  I take solace in knowing God is a just God and my abuser will get his in the end.


    

Ron showered me with love, trips, gifts, fancy dinners, compliments, concerts…..everything and anything. It was short lived and it came at a very painful price. I now know that this is not just my experience, it’s been the experience of many women who have found themselves involved with their “Ron”. While my story may seem tragic I know I’m Not alone. There are many “Ron’s” out there and I feel they dont deserve to have any women in their life. In fact, they should be locked up and throw away the key.

If you happen to be approached by any man who exhibits any of these behaviors, my advice is run and never look back. Do not make the same mistake that I made getting involved with a man like this. It’s hard to get away once he’s got you under his spell.  I can assure you the life you have today will be no more. Happiness, joy, self respect, confidence and love for yourself will be a thing of the past. You will find yourself questioning your own sanity, when clearly the one with the mental issues is your knight in shining armor. However, if you don’t heed my advice and find yourself in a crazy relationship I will warn you..don’t bother reaching out to anyone because no one will believe you. “Ron” had two personalities. The one I dealt with at home and the other who was sweet and loving around his friends. Friends, family, doctors and church begged me to leave him but I resisted their warnings hopeful for the man I initially met to return.  Finally one day, I snapped and saw this man for he really was. I was heartbroken, humiliated and felt like there’s no way out.

On May 16th, 2015 with the help of the Deacon and sisters from my church, I packed up and left this emotionally abusive man. I left this relationship with a broken heart along with a diagnosis of anxiety, severe depression and PTSD caused from this crazy relationship. You might ask “PTSD?!” It’s a result of the war zone I found myself in. The sad part is  I really cared for this man.

Healing from this relationship has taken three years. Counseling was inevitable and it’s taken a lot of strength and determination to come out on the other side. The pain and scars left behind from a three year nightmare has taken a long time to heal. Occasionally I still experience flashbacks. Three years ago I found myself broken hearted and on my knees praying for strength to get through this. I am happy to say I made it.

I’m sharing my story tonight because May 16th was the anniversary of leaving my abuser. On May 16th, I was blessed to be given the opportunity to fly to Maui where I’m spending time with my cousin. I couldn’t put my finger on why this trip fell in to place. It was crazy how it all happened. My friend who owns a condo here offered her condo to me for a week for free. The dates she had available were May 16-24. I accepted her offer not even knowing how I would pay for my flight. My brother and sister in law used their air miles to buy me a ticket. Everything happens for a reason. I knew there was a reason I was coming back to Maui. I love Maui however, Maui is also reminder of the time I shared with my ex. We spent many weeks here together. Today I found an old blog and noticed that May 16th was the day I broke free from my abuser. Three years have passed. I suspect my trip here is somewhat of a Re-birth for me. I no longer have to look behind me. I can finally move forward and what better place to be to begin my new life than to start my new beginning in Maui on vacation with my cousin who is also my best friend.

I don’t particularly enjoy sharing the details of my past relationship. After three years, I’m still so embarrassed. I take comfort knowing there’s a term for what I went through. It’s called “gaslighting”. Gaslighting is a term where someone uses manipulation to cause you to question your own sanity. My “Ron” did just that. Today I’m free from that relationship as well as that toxic environment. Slowly but surely I’ve gotten my confidence back but more importantly my sanity back. Like so many women, I never thought this would happen to me. What I’ve learned is even the smartest and most intelligent women can find themselves in a relationship such as mine. I still ask myself “what was I thinking? How did I allow this to happen to me?” I still have flashbacks and I’m no longer the woman I once was but I’m happy to report I’m a new woman in progress.

Today I’m hopeful again. I’m eager to laugh and have fun again and I believe my knight in shining armor is out there and more importantly I know that when I find him I will never allow him to manipulate me to the point where I lose myself.

Life happens. Today I’m on vacation in Maui. I am waking up to the sound of the ocean and the cool breeze coming in through my lanai. I have no plans other than to spend the day at the farmers market then the beach taking in all that healing spirit Maui has to offer. Life is good again. I heard a quote once that said “I may not be everything I want to be, but thank god I’m not where I used to be!” Truth!! I’m not close to being who I want to be. Thank god I’m Not where I used to be!!

It’s Your Job To Set Your Tone 1-4-18

“It is your job to set your own tone.

So what you do is, you look for something that’s

easy for you to feel good about.

The aspect of your life that is going well,

there are always some of those.

And as you give your attention to that, you let that be

your reason for establishing your tone.

And as you set your tone relative to that,

now the universe accepts that as your tone

relative to all things, you see.

So all you have to do is find the feeling of well-being relative to any aspect of your life and stay there on it long enough that the universe can begin to respond to it…

And then things just get better and better and better and better. “

Abraham Hicks

My Terms 12-20-17

Wow three years ago I lost all of my hair. I was completely bald!! I’ve spent the last couple of years trying to grow back my hair. However as of late I have found myself realizing what a blessing the last three years have been. I’ve grown so much. All the things I thought were important are no longer important. Including hair. At the end of the day the only thing that counts is family. The rest of it doesn’t matter. My dad used to say “I’ve never seen a u-haul behind a Hearst. You can’t take it with you”

Today I bit the bullet and cut my hair short. I love it. In my opinion I’d rather spend time with family, friends, grandkids then spending time doing my hair!! The good news is three years later I cut my hair on my terms and not because some crazy drug called Chemo decided I had to. Life is short. Live life to the fullest. Enjoy every day like it’s your last day. Don’t get caught up in any drama.

It’s funny, the past few years all I’ve done is complain. I’ve complained about my hair, my nails, finances, health and I’ve complained because I’m no longer in San Francisco. However what I’ve come to realize is. that I’ve failed to recognize the blessings I’ve had all along. I only wish I had recognized this a long time ago. Life is good. Sometimes life throws us a curveball. I for one have been thrown several these past few years however while everything seemed so bad I suppose God was molding me to become a much better person. I’m really grateful for that.

Today I just want peace in my life. I’m looking forward to what good things God has in store for me. I hope it’s much peace, love and harmony. As for the hair….well it’s sure going to be nice to not have to focus on something silly as doing my hair.

Friends, money, material things and even hair will come and go but it’s family that will always be there. That’s what’s really important. Once upon a time I was on top of the world. I had it all. Looks, a good job, material things and even money. Today things are much different. Today I’ll take peace, love, family and good health over any of those things I once thought were more important. I’m living life on my terms. That includes doing crazy things like cutting my hair!! Short hair…..you rock!!!

A Big Win 11-3-17

It’s Friday! Thank goodness. If you’re reading this post, congratulations!! You made it through another week. We all have ups and downs throughout the week, expected and unexpected challenges however through it all there’s always a “WIN”. It’s easy to focus on the negative but if you focus on your “Wins” you’ll be surprised how quickly your attitude and demeanor changes. It’s easy to go from a 5 to a 10 when focusing on the good stuff. My challenge to you today is to post one win on the comment line of this post. Focus on that win and watch how quickly a challenging day/week can become an awesome one!! Carry that feeling in to the weekend and Make this weekend a big win!! I’ll start by sharing my “WIN”. Spending time with my grandkids this week not to mention my son and his wife, my daughter and her partner, hearing from my son in Italy and scoring an awesome deal at Banana Republic!!! 
Now your turn!!

Tag……you’re it!

Walking In Rhythm 8-10-17

My song today is….. “Walking In Rythm” by The Blackbyrds. I haven’t shared much however,  a month ago I began experiencing problems with my eye. I saw an optometrist and he found a mass behind my eye. I have been referred to a specialist. Not sure what it is but my vision has been impacted by this. The good news is it’s not a blood clot. Whew! Keep me in prayer. Upon some research and consultation with physicians I became aware that a side effect from the cancer drug I’ve been taking is eye damage among other things. Despite the recommendations from my oncologist I made the decision to stop all cancer meds a month ago. 
Yesterday I met with doctors at the Bastyr Institute to discuss holistic naturopathic treatment. I began taking some meds yesterday. This morning I woke up not only feeling rested but for the first time in three years the pain in my hands, feet and even Breast (I have severe radiation damage) is nearly gone. This miracle in 24 hours of taking these drugs which by the way are all natural. In truth, I feel really good! I’m not sure what the outcome will be with regards to this new treatment and I’m not sure what the outcome will be with regards to my eye but just for today “I’m walking in rythym, moving with sound. Thinking ’bout my babies (Oliver and Audrey my beautiful grandchildren) trying to get home”. Home meaning….feeling good again. Feeling like my old self again. Just livin’ life again. Hence, I’m Walking In Rythym

Obstacles 7-19-17

Every obstacle is a challenge carefully chosen to teach you what you’re here on this earth to learn. You can view the challenge like a victim and get into a funk about it. Or you can trust that the obstacle is the perfect lesson you need in order to grow. 

I saw a quote this morning. I thought it was worth sharing. 
“No part of your experience is wasted. Everything you’ve experienced so far is part of what you were meant to learn.”

This is so true. The challenges we face are simply experiences that allow us to learn and grow.  The past few years have been tumultuous for me. One challenge after another. However, the blessings are the lessons I’ve learned as well as the person I’ve become. I’m no longer the person I once was. In fact, I’m more content and happy today than I was five years ago when my life was grand. I had money, success. I had everything. Life, I thought, was good. It wasn’t until I lost everything including my health that my view on life began to change. 

Life and experiences are what you make it. I’ll admit, it has taken me a long time to move beyond the victim mentality however, the minute I did I began to see things differently. I’ve changed. Today I’m more grateful and as I reflect on my challenges, I think to myself “thank god I made it”. I’m a much better person for it. The lessons I’ve learned, the knowledge I’ve gained makes everything all worth it. 

Are you facing obstacles or challenges today?  What will you choose? To be a victim or embrace the challenge as a learning experience? If you choose to embrace it, you will grow brighter as you learn to overcome and in the process, you will not only grow, you will become everything beautiful god intended you to be.