2021 has been nuts. Good nuts and bad nuts. Just like those mixed nuts your grandmother lays out on the table on Christmas Eve. I just wrote this heartfelt letter to someone and said “There are so many times in a day where I stop and ask myself, how did I end up here?” I then snap back into the present where I remind myself that “This is good, honest, and fun.” My life was simple before, but it’s far from what I believed it was. Wake Up Girl! You’ve always been a dreamer, and you’re living it right here, right now. You are that girl who once didn’t care.

Keep Striving to be Better

My classmates in school would all agree that I became an overachiever during the course of our two-year diploma program at Fanshawe College in London. I wanted to be the best I could be and achieve the highest marks. In the beginning, it was to prove to the neigh-sayers that I was striving to be someone of substance on my own. Towards the end, it was proving to myself that I can and will forge ahead with life. Getting a great mark on a photography assignment gave me the drive to keep moving forward. A poor mark absolutely deflated me. I am now working and continuing the Advance Photography course was absolutely impossible. I feel like that’s a fail, but a fail for the greater good of my future.

My Advice: When a marriage ends, there is absolutely nothing wrong with self-care and deciding what you need to do to achieve a better life. Don’t allow anyone guilt you into believing that you must suck it up and forge ahead. Sometimes you need to step back, decide your future, and work towards it. I worked freelance during my journey in school. I am so proud of me!

Know That They Never Cared….or That They Did

It took me three years of being wishy washy on this fact. After 31 years together, I was constantly doubting whether if that ex of mine cared or not. It’s odd, I never really heard much from him in the past year or so. We even had a beautiful grandson and I heard nothing. Was it my responsibility to reach out? Nope. He was the one who decided to end the relationship. However, I was recently hired as an Editor at a magazine in a major Ontario city. 5 Days later, I received a note. “Congrats. Happy to hear your operation went well. I’m so sorry for what I did and if I could take it back I would. By the way, when will I be done paying you spousal support (verbatim)?”

If he cared, February 2021 when the baby was born, authentic caring and a wholehearted honest apology would have looked like this.

“Hey Treen,

Congrats to you grandma on our beautiful Grandson. I’m so sorry for what I did and if I could take it back I would.” That’s all that needed to be said. A sincere apology during a moment of family joy. He would have won me over 100%! That would have been a believable heartfelt moment for sure….but it wasn’t.

He never cared. It took me 1,108 days to finally settle into the fact of him ever caring about me without crying, wondering or hoping for something different. He never cared and that’s OK.

My Advice: Don’t worry if they care or not. It’ll deplete you of your energy, your heart will ache, you’ll stall your progress, you’ll pay a fortune in therapy wondering why.

Independence is a Good Thing

After raising kids, and sometimes a husband, being alone is a great thing. I learned so much about myself being alone. It was such an amazing time to take on new hobbies. I love droning now. I love driving to the beach and competing with the waves. I love photography, swans and crazy looking places. I continue to love my country music and can’t wait to get back into the concert scene again.

I’ve learned the powerful word called “No.” I finally realize how easy it is to say when you only have you to think about.

My Advice: The thing is YOU are the only person you have to deal with for the rest of your life. Your children will grow and live their own lives. Ex’s will disappear into the sunset. Your parents will leave this earth and siblings will come and go. You have to live for you. Never put your happiness into another person’s pocket. Love hard, but love yourself more.

Control is Not Love

I met someone over two and a half years ago. Both of us are separated. Him, 8 years. Me, 3 years. The funny thing it’s been a challenge trying to figure even our friendship out. I didn’t talk to him for 5 or 6 months in the past year so he could work on things. I was accused of writing and calling him, when I was busy living my independent life. I even lost a best friend over it because she just didn’t believe me or stand up for me. I never had drama before. Dealing with the drama and made up stories from another source has been debilitating for me.

All I can say is that my greatest lesson in this circus ride is that control is not love. I have this experience with him to thank for that enlightenment. I am still very much married since I’m not divorced, however, I am separated. What my ex chooses to do, who he chooses to date, and how he chooses to live his life is none of my business. If by chance, we lived together again as a married couple (No way), then yes, it’s absolutely my business. But if I’m apart from him, living on my own and we don’t see each other on a regular basis, then no, it’s not a marriage. I’m proud that it was only a short period after my separation where I felt I “owned” him. I just didn’t. I never did. Every woman and man should realize that people are not items. You own yourself and that’s it.

My Advice: Don’t get involved with someone who has one foot in and one foot out. Once the foot is out, then maybe there’s a chance. There are nights where I cry because my best friend decided not to stand up for me after knowing me 20 years, but that’s OK. I know who I am. I know what transpired. I lived the life of being separated. I get it. I understand it. I empathize. Once the glass is broken, no matter how hard you try, it’ll never be the same. Trying to make it like it was is control. When you separate, both parties change, gains independence, and recognizes what they want and need in a relationship. If you don’t create a whole new glass, trying is futile.

Anger is Sadness Most of the Time

There are billions of people in the World. There are millions of angry people in the World. I’ve come to realize that most of these angry people are riddled with sadness. I was absolutely bat shit crazy for the longest time. The beginning of 2021 was no different. I was an ass to my family. I was an ass to many people due to my anger. Do I regret it? Yes and no. I had to go through the process. A process that few want to ride. A process that includes undeniable grief, undeniable manic moments, and undeniable sadness. When I talk to people who have walked my walk, I’ve come to realize that sometimes, they are reluctant to walk that walk of recovery. Anger is a huge component as, it is then, where you come to realize your value and your worth in this World. You come to realize what you’ll accept going further and what you will not accept. Anger creates new boundaries you will not allow anyone to cross.

I hope that my old best friend can get to the point of anger to release herself from the control of everyone. Anger is the gateway to being yourself. I still love her dearly and only want the best for her…..no matter how much she judges me.

New Beginnings and New Love

Love is hard. Loving and caring the second time around is even harder. Loving and caring, when there are two families involved and both parties want to be accepted, is gruelling. However, I look at him and he looks at me daily. I make the drive to Waterloo daily and see him every night because I want to invest in this relationship. No one has ever made me lunch before. I never had a partner taking interest in doing things that I love to do. No one has wrapped Christmas gifts with me before. He’s been there for me, and for that, I appreciate this new relationship so much. We have committed to each other despite our past, our lingering hurt, family members who won’t accept me, and our walls (or mine mostly) being so high.

My Advice: I have zero advice about getting into a new relationship. All I can say is what I have is creative, honest, fun, and I am enjoying it. I also acknowledge that while some may not accept me, I am accepted by so many others. There are days where I feel I can’t win, but I’m encouraged to keep looking forward. That’s what makes us a good team.

Christmas is What Christmas Does

The past few years I went bat shit crazy if my kids didn’t spend the holidays or at least one day with me. I remember that horrible Christmas in 2018. Cheated on and living in Ottawa, I had to plan Christmas for my Mom and Dad while still living in the marital apartment. My kids knew I was suffering. My daughter visited the week before. As I prepared supper, I put aside two plates in hopes that my son and his then girlfriend would give me the surprise I so desperately wanted. It didn’t happen. I cried myself to sleep that night. I expected too much out of my child.

Today, I realize that both children are juggling partners. They are juggling four families. They are juggling their lives. This year, I made it an option. I know I’ll have my partner. I know I’ll have my parents who I have always tried to give them a happy Christmas. I’m not putting any pressure on anyone this year. Do what you want.

Low and behold, they are coming and I’m so happy. That said, if they made other commitments, I’m living my life with the mantra “Happy is what happy does.” There are so many unhappy, lonely people in the World and I’ve been blessed. He was the first person I met after my separation. He helped me get through it all and learn so many lessons. We met other strangers throughout the course of our journey, but hopefully he’s the last person I have to swipe right on. Life is full of surprises and who knows what’s to come. All I know is that Kenny Chesney says it best and I intend on living my happy just by being me, no matter who is my life.

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