Today was my first day on the worship team at my folks church in Montana. Well, I’m going to call it what it is. My church. This is my church now. 

Glad we got that settled…

Yesterday I practiced with the team and then again this morning before the service and I though they went well. Is always been hard for me to blend my piano playing with guitars but they were gracious and we worked the logistics of pretty good, I thought. I was a little nervous but not a lot, mostly about getting used to the sound system honestly. My playing isn’t amazing but it is sufficient for what they want me to do. 

Before the service starts every week they have prayer downstairs,  the elders gather around first the worship team and then the children’s workers and then the pastor and pray for them. While they were praying for us they kept saying things about how thankful they were that I was there and that they had been praying for someone to play the keyboard and that I was their answer to prayer… I don’t think anyone in church leadership has ever said I was an answer to their prayers. It blew me away. 
As we were walking upstairs to start the service the worship leader turns to me and says “I hope you stay here forever”.

Wow! These people really like me! I’ve never been accepted so warmly by any church leadership. 

I’m humbled. I’m honored. I’m flabbergasted and I’m a little concerned they’ll change their minds once they get to know me better… 

The actual service went as well as the practices. I hit a few wrong notes and sang at the wrong time once but overall it was good and I felt like I fit right in with the team. After the service several people shook my hand and thanked me for being on the team. I felt so loved today, by an entire church body that I barely know. 

God brought me here. That knowledge shines brighter every day. This is where I am supposed to be and I am home. 

So I’ve decided to brave the wide world of online dating once again and signed up for an app on my phone.  Talk about feeling on top of the world!  I probably had 10 messages and “so and so wants to meet you” notifications in the first 24 hours.  That’s an amazing self-esteem boost right there…  just sayin’.   So the first person to send me a message impressed me with his complete sentences in the initial “chat”.

All the other guys were just like “hi”, “hi”, “hello”, “hey babe, you’re hot”…  Really guys?  Come on, you can do better than that… And seriously men, why are you not smiling in your main profile picture?  I’m fun, you need to look like it’s at least possible for you to have fun too!  Ahem… but back to my story…

It took us about three days to finally get online at the same time but when we did we messaged each other for 12 hours.  Yes, that’s right. Allllll day!  He was funny and then he was serious and then back to funny again.  He asked good questions and gave me real answers in return.  When we finally called it a night I wasn’t all swept up in euphoria or even twitterpated, I felt almost like I had been to one of those all-day informational seminars and was overwhelmed with everything I learned… I actually needed some time to decompress before going to bed.  I had shared something really important – and personal – regarding what I need to feel safe in a relationship and he came back with an excellent answer.  He didn’t make me feel stupid for feeling the way I did and he agreed that what I described should never happen and if he had lived in circumstances like what I shared he would feel like a slave.

That made me sit up straight… When it comes right down to it I did feel like a slave many times…

Later he shared something equally personal about himself and it blew me away.  First that he would share something so big on our first day of getting to know each other and second that it was so important to him that I know about it right away and he said he would understand if I wanted to “run away now”.

Let’s just say that we are both very broken people and many of our breakings are in similar places emotionally.  With the few things he shared that he’s been through it is a near certainty that he is even more broken than I am in those areas…

While he was sharing about his broken places my heart recognized him as if I was looking at my own face in the mirror and my soul sang out exultantly “I found you”.  Which is totally weird and freaked me out a little bit because that’s never happened before.  I kind of looked sideways at my soul and said “Really?  Seriously?”  I’m definitely not “in love” with this person that I have only talked to for two days and I’m still so broken myself is really it a good idea to be in a relationship with another, really broken person?  The answer to that is no.  I know this, everybody knows this…

But everybody is broken some way, somehow.

My ex-husband was just as broken as I was when I married him although our breakings were mostly in very different places.  I knew some of his broken spots before I married him and I foolishly thought to myself that if I loved him through those broken places that he would become whole and would be forever grateful and therefore would never stop loving me.  So I allowed him to push me into having sex before we were married and then I married him out of a combination of being positive that nobody else in the entire world of “good Christian men” would ever want to marry me because I was no longer a virgin, and, I still wanted to help him.

I want to help everybody, what can I say?  That is one thing that even though it was smothered and squashed for years it never went away.  I love helping people and have an incessant desire to “fix” everybody’s problems.  This is probably why all of my younger daughter’s good friends call me “Mom”…

After we were married, whenever I tried to talk about our marriage and specifically our relationship my concerns were turned around and became my fault and all of a sudden he was the victim and I was the mean one – he never did anything wrong.  After 7 or so years of this I quit trying to fix our marriage and focused on surviving it instead, because that was the “right” thing to do.

I can’t be a part of another relationship like that again, I can’t!  I won’t!  I don’t have to be!  Whew… calm down girl, this is the New You.  You are confident and brave in measures that you never had before.  You can walk away any time you want.  This is, well, it’s not even dating, it’s before dating so stop holding your breath and relax.  Just. Breathe.

But I’ve never felt my soul claim anyone like that before.  So this is very strange to me and I’m not sure what to do.  I decided to write a letter, here, that maybe someday I will show to him but most likely I won’t.  I just need to say this for myself.

Dear Broken Man,

I like you very much.  Even though I know I barely know you I like you.  You’re funny, you’re easy to chat with and my gut tells me that you’re honest in what you’ve told me.  All of the things we like that are similar tickle me.  The fact that you so frequently mention helping other people and seem to enjoy helping others like I do astonishes me.  We have intelligent conversations, you use good grammar and punctuation – and I have no idea why that impresses me so much – you’re not afraid to ask me the deep questions or give me deep answers when I turn deep questions (yours or my own) back around to you.  And our answers to those deep questions are very similar even though sometimes you answer first and sometimes I answer first.  All these things make me like you very much.

The multitude of “coincidental” things astounds me and the sheer number of them makes me think that meeting you was much more a “God thing” than any whim of fate.  Just to name a few:  even though we both live in Montana we both have an out-of-state phone number – from the same state.  We both wear a CPAP – which honestly is a huge answer to prayer because I’m so self-conscious and insecure about having to wear mine, how could I ever possibly look sexy to a future partner while sleeping in a CPAP?  But you have to wear one too!  Our emotional issues are extremely similar despite having different causes and I have been through where you are at now.  I understand where you are now, I “get it” and I know how hard it was for me to get from there to where I am now – but I know that you can do it!

I am realizing that your personality, and how do I say this, is “softer” than mine?  And I wasn’t sure that was possible to do…  It is entirely likely that at this point in your life you are even more gentle than I am in relationships – and while I feel like that is in part due to some of your broken places it also has to be a big part of who you are or it wouldn’t be there to come out so strongly now.

Because of this gentleness combined with the brokenness I think I may have overwhelmed you in my excitement to have found you.  Perhaps for the first time in my life I get to play the part of the blossom and you will be the butterfly.  If you want a friendship with me I’d like that.  If you’d like to take me on a date I’d like that too.  If you’re not sure what type of relationship you want to have with me that is also OK.  We live 100 miles apart and while that’s not actually a lot it’s enough to be a good excuse not to meet if only one of us is super excited about it.  I think that whatever happens, right now I am enjoying being your friend and I know that we were supposed to meet.  You proved to me, right off the bat, that you are nothing like my ex-husband and therefore good, single men DO exist!  And once again God has confirmed that He will bring me the right one when it is time.  Maybe it’s you, maybe it is not you.  Maybe I’ll end up adopting you as another one of my big brothers – because everybody needs a little sister, don’tcha know?  <wink>  All I know is that talking with you is very nearly like talking with myself and I really like whatever this is we have right now.

I wish you peace, joy and healing for the road ahead and have hope that it might include me, even if it is just in a friendship.

Sincerely,

Me.

I have come to realize that I Am Home.

I lived here for several years in grade school and hated leaving Montana when my folks split.  When my mother left my dad we went to Spokane and would make the drive back to see my dad several times.  For years I claimed I could tell, by the sheer feeling alone, when we had crossed the boarder back into Montana.  The skies were bluer, the mountains were taller, the air was sweeter…  For years and years Montana was home and I longed to move back there.  Until I had been away so long I couldn’t feel the change as I crossed over that border and then that memory of “Home” faded into distant memory and I began to feel that home wasn’t anywhere.

I caught glimpses of Home here and there, mostly with people like my best friend from high school, but only in one other place – the Oregon Coast.  Sigh.  I still love it there…

In the month since I officially moved here I have made two trips back to the city I came from, once to get a few more things out of mini storage for my  nail business and once to attend my younger daughter’s high school graduation.  This last trip back I was shocked to find that my old town wasn’t “Home” but simply a place I knew my way around.  That both pleased and concerned me slightly.  I had spent just over 10 years there, my kids had spent almost half their lives there.  Heck, my kids still live there!  I have more friends, good friends, there than I can shake a stick at and enough people who have offered me a place to stay on future visits that I will never, ever need to get a hotel or sleep on my sister’s couch. I have a tiny church there that I hold dear to my heart… but it isn’t home and I’m not sure that I want to live there again like I thought I would before I left.

Huh.

What a fascinating revelation.  I will continue to think on this…

But first a quick review of the graduation.  I was smiling so broadly the term “grinning like an idiot” probably applied but I was sooooo proud of my younger daughter!  She did it!  She actually graduated high school with a diploma and not just a GED.  She got to walk across a stage in her cap and gown and get her picture taken with a school official and she is ready to start the rest of her life.  I am so happy for her!

What was less happy was seeing my former in-laws, ex-husband and his fiance.  Actually let me clarify, seeing the fiance and his father was great.  He and his mother were, still, obviously angry with me and while they were kinder to me than they had been in June at my twin nieces graduation they still rattled me bad enough that I skedaddled out of there as quick as I could after hugging my newly-graduated daughter and telling her I would see her the next day.

Yes, that’s right, somehow he still gets to me so much that I ran away from my own daughter’s graduation as soon as I politely could.

I was talking to my best friend from high school and think I may have figured out (part of) what goes on inside of me whenever I have contact with dear old ex-hubby.  My particular personality type is desperate for two things to be accomplished in the people around me, I want you to be happy and I want you to be comfortable.  If I can’t make you happy and/or comfortable then I have failed and this causes me distress.  A lot of distress.  Sometimes even panic-attack type stress.  I will never be able to make my ex happy OR comfortable, he still has too much anger towards me to allow himself to even smile in my presence.

It occurs to me that when you don’t believe you did anything wrong you can’t change anything about yourself that was – and continues to be – part of the problem and therefore you continue to have a problem where there may not actually be one anymore making (mostly) just yourself miserable.

How do I accept the fact that I will never succeed in my driving need to make this particular person happy and comfortable?  That’s hard and I’m working on it.  Maybe it’s less accepting that fact and more acknowledging that I can’t make it happen and That’s Okay.  It’s Okay.  I can’t make everybody in the whole entire world happy and comfortable and it’s okay.

Yeah.  That one’s still going to take some more work… but I’ll get it.

My older daughter was in Thailand on a missions trip and didn’t get home until midnight of the day that her younger sister graduated.  I texted her, welcoming her home and saying I wanted to meet with her in the next two days before I left town again.  She never responded.  I texted again, at 8:30 pm the night before I left saying sorry I didn’t get to meet with her and she finally responded – sorry I didn’t get back to you, have a nice trip home.

It’s disheartening to know she didn’t want to see me but I wasn’t terribly surprised.  Even though she had just come back from overseas after 3 weeks the whole, entire weekend was mostly about her sister and less about her for both her father and grandparents – and me.  It’s very difficult for a narcissist to deal with not being the center of attention when they think they should be and I get that.

In the end I came Home when I had planned to.  I drove the long hours and came home, listening to an audiobook of Eat. Pray. Love. and finally finishing it about an hour and a half away from Home.

I signed up for an online dating app within an hour of arriving at home, I’ve decided I need to stop hiding my head in the sand and pretending that every man out there is as bad as my ex-husband and at least talk to a few guys and see what happens.  I’m not in a hurry to hitch my star to just anyone’s wagon but it would be nice to be friendly with a guy I could  maybe, possibly see a potential future with.

School is going well, just started week three and we learned how to wrap hair for a perm today… I’m really hoping to get myself a perm here soon, either that or cut my hair short again, it’s driving me nuts, lol!

I’m off to bed, I’m not getting anywhere near enough sleep now that I’m a student again, ugh!  If you pray, pray for me for strength to get through long days of standing on my feet and never getting enough sleep because despite everything I’m still a night owl and can’t sleep when I go to bed early.

Hugs to all of you ❤

Life is flying by, dang!  Day 11 was January 13th, a Friday.  I will try to summarize…

I sat at my new nail shop allllllll day Friday the 13th with not a single customer.  I finally talked my (step) sister into coming in and letting me give her a full set and then she took me out to dinner and introduced me to a bunch of her friends.

Something I’m learning about (at least this area of) Montana is that going out to eat is more often than not in a bar and drinking is The Thing To Do around here.  We spent probably 5 hours at the bar that night and a few of my sister’s friends were already sauced when we got there… by the end of the night everyone but me was too drunk to drive – I had only consumed one rum and coke, most of one shot of something apple flavored, a sip of two other drinks and 3 Dr. Peppers, with a full meal towards the beginning of all that, lol.  I actually had a great time hanging out with my sister and her friends, even drunk they were great people, happy, friendly, lots of hugs and laughter.  I really enjoyed myself that night and left with a great fondness for each of them.

The next day, Saturday the 14th, I sat at  the nail shop all day again and again, no customers.  And I was out of family to call in and work on for free just for something to do.  Panic starts to set in.  I had just committed to paying for space at the nail salon and had paid the first two weeks up front in cash, leaving me with $100 for the next six weeks… but there wasn’t any walk-in traffic on what is normally the two busiest days of the week.  Granted, it was January (the slowest month) and the weather was below zero so nobody was out and about who didn’t absolutely have to be but I had no other source of income than that spot in the nail salon, my only other skills are secretarial and those jobs don’t happen quickly and require working during school hours. So unless I could find a spot as a Walmart greeter on short notice I had little to no hope of getting any other job at all.  My bills are covered through the end of January but February  is coming quick… what do I do?  Anxiety began to ride the heels of panic.

Sunday the 15th I went to church and hung out at the house, reading a book the rest of the day.  It was a nice, relaxing day and I was happy not to have to do anything…   One of Dad’s friends is the worship leader and he was interested in getting me on the team so he asked me to come to the next worship practice and meet the pastor.  I am so excited!  I have missed being a part of a worship team so much.

Monday the 16th – I have one income option left, Uber.  I had signed up to be an Uber driver for Montana way back in July and I was approved, ready to go, all I had to do was open up the app on my phone and accept rides… so I did.  It happened to be Martin Luther King day and the buses here don’t run on Sundays or holidays so I actually did 17 rides that day in a 12 hour period and made over $100!

Wow, wow, wow!  Monday through Saturday I went out every day, driving for Uber, between 12 – 14 hours a day and for the week I made $616. It was long and boring, I spent most of that time waiting for my next ride and several times there was 3 hours in between rides  – but most of the riders themselves were very nice people and the ones that didn’t make it to the “very nice” category were certainly not difficult at all, more along the lines of “indifferent” to my attempts at small talk.  There was an Irishman from Ireland who said he liked MY accent (I didn’t think I had one, lol) and lots of really nice people who welcomed me to town and answered my questions about the city.  My drunk riders were almost all happy drunks – except for the one attorney who was a sad drunk and told me that he didn’t know anything about being an attorney except what the television and movies showed before he made the choice to go into law and then got stuck in a very sad job where he specializes in divorce and child support.  I felt really bad for him, he was so sad…  But I was never in danger from any of my riders and really enjoyed (most of) their company.

I made enough money to go a long ways towards February’s bills.  Uber isn’t something I want to rely on for my full income but in this time period of waiting for the financial aid to kick in it is a perfect job and my stress level went waaaaay down.

Saturday morning the 21st I did go to worship practice, I slept in a wee bit and then went to  the second half of praise and worship practice – just to listen.  I met the pastor and we talked as a group a bit and then the pastor offered me access to the piano in the basement to practice whenever I wanted to, more or less.  I just have to contact him first so he can let me into the church.  After our talk I played the piano for an hour and a half and it felt so wonderful!  I’d been without a piano to play since probably July.  More stress gone…

Sunday the 22nd I went to church with my folks again and the pastor blew me away with his sermon.  The previous week I had thought the message typical and rather unremarkable but this week he talked about placing relationships first when reaching out to others.  His statement “We need to stop trying to clean the fish before we catch them.”  really resonated with me and put into Montana-style words something I have believed for a long, long time.  I can commit to this church wholeheartedly.  More stress gone…

Monday the 23rd school started and let me tell you, this first week has been crazy!  Trying to adjust to waking up at 6:30 in the morning as opposed to 8:30 is rough.  It didn’t help that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I went out and drove for Uber again for several hours trying to add to my pay-the-bills fund but because of it I have spent this first week of school being so tired that sometimes I’m afraid I will fall asleep while reading the textbook in class, ugh!  Fortunately it sounds like the financial aid might kick in sooner than I was told, I hope so…

The school has lots of students (maybe 30 girls and one married man, lol) and not very much space. Like, I can’t even bring my purse because there’s no place to store it while I’m in class… On top of the 30 or so existing students there are 9 girls in my class of newbies.  Everyone in the entire school is very nice, although some are a little crazy – but I suspect that goes with the territory, ha, ha!  The dress code is black shirts and black tops so all of my nice, professional wardrobe is of no use to me now, except on Fridays (like today) when we can wear jeans and other clothing.  There are two textbooks we learn out of and each student got a duffel bag/kit of supplies, including our very own mannequin head!  On Tuesday five of us newbies decided to carpool from the bigger town we live in to the smaller town the school is in an hour away.  Each of us will drive one week at a time and that brings my monthly gas bill down from almost $400 a month to about $75.  More stress gone…

On Tuesday a total stranger found my ad for nail services on Craigslist and scheduled an appointment online for a pedicure with gel polish tonight, Friday night, and she loved it and plans on telling her friends!  The four girls I carpool with are interested to coming to me to get their nails done and they will show their co-workers and refer me to them as well.  AND some of my Montana sister’s friends are interested in coming to me… my nail business could get started and take off big time this way!

God has been soooooo good to me in this move.  I feel like it was a true leap of faith, not having much of a plan, no immediate source of income, no housing arranged, no job arranged…  I have often looked back and thought, “What on earth did you do girl?  Why did you think this was a good idea?”  but God has met me every step of the way and proven to me every day that this was His idea and He is providing for me, just like He always has, just like He always will.

I am so grateful.

Well, well, well…  I actually did it, I moved to Montana!

Day 1:  Driving.  Lots of driving.  However this time I downloaded Spotify and signed up for the free month trial of their premium service that lets you download unlimited songs to play when you’re offline and it made a HUGE difference in the trip.  I somehow managed to get there a half hour before the map said I should.  Oops…  I got to my folks house, we visited for a bit and  then I go to sleep on the (very narrow) couch in the living room upstairs.

Day 2:  I drove the hour or so to the town with the school, talked to a teacher and confirmed that I am indeed signed up and ready to start on the 23rd.  The financial aid guy was out so they said he would call me.  They also told me about a ride-share program in the bigger city my folks live in which would make it feasible for me to live there instead of in the little town where the school is.  Thoughts start to bubble in my head…

I then stopped at 5 nail salons looking for a job.  Nothing.  Zip.  Nada.  This little tiny town was nearly dead as far as nails were concerned.  Huh.  So then I go to two employment agencies and make an appointment for an interview with one, take the application of the other and turn in a separate application at a restaurant.  I leave a message at the homeless shelter I had pegged as my last – and only – hope for housing close to the school and then hit up the local Salvation Army office to see if they have any resources available to me.  No job, no housing either.  Huh.  I look up homeless shelters in the bigger city and put one on my list of places to check out the next day.  I head back to my folks place knowing that it was unreasonable to expect to find housing and a job in one day but I am still a bit disappointed.  A sense of urgency sets in because it was 13 below that day and no matter how determined I am to make this work that’s just way too cold to live in my car…

I get to the house and my dad’s like “Sis, let  me show you my downstairs computer room”.  Ummm… OK, I’ve been there before, maybe he’s changed it or something?  We go downstairs, it’s him, my step-mom (who I call mom) and me.  He says “Would this work?” and points to the (wider) couch in his computer room.  I shoot a quick look at Mom because she has made it clear she really doesn’t want me to live there and she’s in agreement that I can stay “for temporary”  or until my student aid kicks in and I can get my own place.

Wow!  That was totally and completely unexpected and I am so blown away!  I say thank you over and over again and sleep on the downstairs couch that night.  (It was so much more comfortable than the upstairs one!)

Day 3:  Housing worries are gone for the immediate future, now I just need to find a job.  Craigslist only has two nail salon postings so I call the first one and set up an appointment with Mary to see her space.  It’s a booth rental, something I overlooked in the posting but was what I wanted to do originally when I thought about moving to Montana before I decided to go to school full-time.  (Booth rental means I pay a set amount every week and provide all of my own supplies but keep 100% of my earnings.  Commission means I get a percentage of my earnings but they provide all the supplies.)  Mary is very nice, I like her a lot.  She sounds like a good business woman and has excellent communication skills.  Her space is reasonable according to my research, it’s $80 a week for the first four weeks, $100 a week for the two weeks after that and then $125 every week thereafter.

I’m nervous.  That seems like a lot of money right now when my funds are so limited but I can totally set my own hours, work late into the night after school and take time off whenever I need to.  It’s the start of my own salon working out of someone else’s building.  There are so many positives here and the only negative is that I have no existing clientele here and with it so cold and snowy it will be hard to get walk-ins for a while.

I commit to renting her space.  God has provided for me so far, He will continue to do so.

Day 4:  I drive the 7 hours back to where I came from for my younger daughter’s 20th birthday.  I tried not to speed this trip and arrived right about when I should have.  I took my daughter to her favorite seafood restaurant for her birthday since her father had claimed dinner on her actual birthday. We had a good time and I realized that we have celebrated her birthday at that same restaurant for the last three years so that was pretty cool.  I went back to my friend’s house that I had stayed with since October to spend the night.

Day 5 and 6:  One of the biggest reasons I came back as early as I did was to go donate plasma and get my second donation in a week (which earns the most money).  The donation center was closed!  Well there goes $50 I was counting on…  Crap.  And then it snowed and snowed and snowed.  My car did just fine in the snow and I know how to drive in it so I thought I could drive for Uber (since I’m all signed up) and it should be busy with the bad weather but nooooo… I’m signed up for Uber in Montana and to switch between locations takes 2 – 3 weeks.  Another opportunity to make money lost.  In the end I took my friend to get her first tattoo and then we stayed home and watched a lot of movies.

Day 7:  My younger daughter’s actual birthday.  I went to the mini storage where they had a sign at the entry saying something about due to inclement weather they have plowed access to the units but if I cross the berm and get stuck they weren’t going to get me out.  Allrighty then, seems a little unfriendly but in I go.  And their version of “plowing access” to each unit shows they must have worked for the government at some point in time.  One of my two units was in an area that hadn’t been plowed at all and I followed the ruts left by someone else.  A worker was there and he said “Don’t get stuck”.  Gee thanks.  I get what I need from that unit and then go to the other.  For this one a plow had come one time and plowed a path down the center of a very large lane between two buildings.  It had snowed after the plow came so on top of where it had been cleared was another 2 inches or so of fresh snow.  I obediently stay on the path and wade through 3 – 4 inches of snow and water slush.  I had about an hour to sort through what I could and move things into my car.

I thought I made good time but with the weather I was still 10 minutes late to having lunch with my older daughter who said “That’s OK, I’ve come to expect it.  Seriously?  We’ve been having meals together for over a year now and frequently I’m there way before her, saving a seat and waiting for her to show up and she’s usually on time.  Maybe a quarter of the time I was late but apparently that’s all she remembers.

I thought we had a pretty good lunch, we talked about all the usual things we talk about.  I asked her if she had conveyed my offer of friendship to her future step-mother and she said yes but didn’t have an answer for me and the conversation moved on.  I ask questions about her life and she gives me short answers that don’t encourage follow-up questions.  She doesn’t ask me anything about my life so I tried to volunteer that I found a place to work and she says “I saw that.  I stalk your other Facebook page sometimes”.

Why won’t she just ask me what she wants to know?

I ask her if she’d like to be friends on my new page.  Some background here – I created the second page after I left her father so that I would have a safe place to express my feelings (hopefully) without hurting hers and her father’s.  Her father unfriended me from my original page right away when I did that (even though we were still officially trying to work things out and stay together at that time) but she didn’t unfriend me and while I stopped posting things on that page I use it to catch glimpses of what she’s doing, even though she doesn’t hardly post anything.  She didn’t say yes.  In fact she said she was thinking of quitting Facebook altogether because she never posts anything.

That doesn’t really answer my question…

While I puzzle over her non-answer we have more conversation and then I realize something.  I know she tells her father everything – or nearly everything – that we talk about.  If I give her access to my  new page will she show it to him?  Now to be fair, I try not to post things that are really detailed about my life.  I mostly do a bunch of memes that speak to me, Snapchat pictures and a few, general updates about my life.  But it’s my personal space that I feel comfortable in, knowing he can’t see the things I mark for “friends only” and I don’t see any reason to change that right now.  I tell her “If your father wants to be my friend on Facebook he can ask me, I just don’t want to be stalked”.  She looked at me quizzically and shrugged and the conversation moved on.  We said goodbye, she left to go shopping with her soon-to-be stepmother and I left to have birthday coffee with my younger daughter.

Birthday coffee was fun, she brought a few friends and we hung out for a bit and then they left and I went to buy nail supplies from my Vietnamese sister’s supply shop.  It was great to see her again and she said the next time I’m in town to let her know early and she and her other sister will take me out to eat.  Way cool!

Then it’s off to dinner with my sister, we went to a pizza place we had never been at and in the middle of it my ex called me.  Which was the subject of my last post.  ‘Nuff said.

Day 8:  I intend to go donate plasma one more time to get $20 because every little bit helps, right?  But it took me longer to load up my car than I expected, I’m not sure it ever did stop snowing so the roads were terrible and I just ran out of time.  So not a single one of the opportunities to make money panned out for me on this trip.  Not cool.  I stopped by my old salon and gave them a thumb drive with all the brochures and documents I had created for them on it, got lots of hugs and then said goodbye to the people in the neighboring businesses that I had become friends with.

I have a quick lunch with another friend and then leave town.  The snow had become so bad that two passes are closed, forcing me to take a road I’ve never gone on before.  I probably shouldn’t have left town at all but I couldn’t handle staying, especially after the conversation with my ex the night before.

Most of the way there was so much snow on the road that I could barely tell where the road was at all.  At one point I came across an older couple who had awkwardly “parked” their minivan in a snowbank on the side of the road.  The snow was so deep it came up to the hood of their car and they went so far into it that they were buried all the way to the driver’s door.

The good news is that they were fine.  The bad news is that when I stopped to check on them I drove my car to the side of the road.  The sloped side of the road.  Where my car slid into the giant snowbank and promptly got stuck.  No good deed goes unpunished, eh?

They said they had already called a tow truck and that a sheriff’s officer was on his way back.  I try to get my car out myself.  The (very nice) officer tries to help me, then he gets in my car and tries to drive it out.  Ultimately we just got it stuck deeper.  I overhear the officer say the tow truck is two hours out.  I’m really starting to panic because I can’t afford a tow truck and I really have to pee.  Yes, I have finally come to realize that I don’t actually have enough money to pull off this crazy plan to move to Montana as it is and now I have to pay for a tow truck?  Aye, yi, yi…

I sit and read until the tow truck arrives, trying to take my mind off the fact that I’m screwed and I still have to pee.

The tow truck shows up, the nice officer worked me a special deal of $50 because they’re already there for the other couple and it will be easy to pop me out of the snow bank.  I had a tangent memory that resulted in me realizing that my insurance should pay for the tow! I’ve never had to be towed before so I didn’t even think of it, thank you Jesus!  They got me out of the snow, took my info and I didn’t have to pay a dime so I go on my merry way, still having to pee.

I thought I could make it to the next town but in the end I found a nice pull-out that had been plowed for some historical signs and fortunately nobody drove by while I was parked…

When I finally made it to my folk’s house I had been on the road for 13 hours and 45 minutes.  The roads were beyond horrible and I should never have gone but it was such a good feeling to know I had overcome the road placed before me.  I got this.

Day 9:  I run some errands, pick up some more stuff for my new work place, go have a little meeting with Mary and come home and work on the computer until midnight creating business cards and setting up a free online scheduling app with all my services and prices, etc.

Day 10:  I take everything to my new salon and set it up.  Mom comes in and I give her a fill and suddenly it is 6:30 pm and I am tired!  I realize I am also sick, catching a head cold.  Too many late nights, lots of stress and skipped meals.  The stress increases as I realize I have $100 left to live on AND drive back and forth to school for the next 6 weeks.  Dear God, please bring me customers at my new salon!

I have a plan.  My work hours at the salon will be by appointment only 6 – 9 pm on weekdays and 10 am – 7 pm on Saturdays.  I have contacted the plasma center here to transfer my file so I can donate in Montana.  That will take 7 – 10 days but when it’s approved that’s another $70 a week.  If nothing else that’s gas money.  I also have just over one week until school starts and I’m good to drive for Uber here so I will be available as much as possible to drive and if someone calls for nails I will stop taking riders.  Once school starts I will drive for Uber after school and possibly on Sundays and hopefully that will be enough to get me through the next 6 weeks.

Sometimes life needs to change so drastically that it requires great courage and a leap of faith.  That’s exactly where I am.

I thought I was over that, dammit.

Tonight is my younger daughter’s birthday.  The ex had claimed her time tonight to have her birthday dinner with her on her actual birthday.  She didn’t want to go but I told her she had to.  He BBQ’d for her at his apartment, she send me pics of the ribs and personal sized pecan pie he served her which I thought was hilarious because she doesn’t like beef or pork.  She barely eats chicken and loves seafood.  But I digress…

Earlier today I had lunch with my older daughter and asked if she had told her future step-mother that I would like to be friends with her.  I don’t find this an unreasonable request since she is going to be a second mother to my children.  I’m not looking to be best friends with her but I don’t think we should be strangers either.  Both she and my ex have blocked me on Facebook so I didn’t feel comfortable communicating this request through him, that made the next logical person to ask was my older daughter. But we’ll come back to this…

At lunch today she happened to mention that she “stalked” my second Facebook page. (Her word.)  I created the new page about a month after I left her father so that I could still be friends with both of them and yet have a place to vent and share my feelings that they wouldn’t see because I knew that some of the things I would post were going to hurt their feelings if they saw them.  The ex noticed the second page right away, send me a friend request to the new page and then withdrew his request and unfriended me on the old page.  I guess I should have expected that but I didn’t and it hurt me.  My older daughter has not yet unfriended me on the original page but I’m frequently afraid she will and I’ll lose that last, tiny glimpse into her life – even though she doesn’t post much.  She also doesn’t ask me any questions about my life so I was surprised to hear she looked at my other page – she’s never given any indication of caring about what I do.  I asked her if she wanted to be my friend on my new page and then I hesitated and asked if she would show my new page to her father.  I said “If he wants to be my friend he can ask me but I don’t want to be stalked.”

I said that because my younger daughter continually tells me that her father is always asking her if I’m really moving to Montana “because I’m not known for keeping my promises”, where I’m living – and he pressures her for the exact address and when she said she didn’t know it he said “It’s OK, you can tell me” as if she was hiding it from him and most recently she told  me he asked what day I was leaving, what time of day I was leaving, how long it would take me to get there (he knows how long it is from here to Montana, we’ve done that trip lots of times) and when I would arrive.  She said she didn’t know exactly when I was leaving because I’ve been busy and we hadn’t had time to get together for a while.  His response was “How can she be busy?  She’s been out of work for a week!”  Which tells me that my older daughter tells him everything I’ve told her and he’s definitely keeping track of me.

My best friend asked me if I felt like he was being a creepy stalker yet…

After lunch with my older daughter I had birthday coffee with my younger daughter, went and bought nail supplies from my Vietnamese sister’s store and then went to dinner with my sister.  During dinner my ex calls me.  My cell is at 15% battery so I go sit on the floor next to an outlet to talk to him while my phone is plugged in.

He does not seem to realize that I can tell he is on speaker phone and since he never liked to use speaker phone I guess that his fiance is there, listening in but I don’t say anything because I don’t have anything to hide from her.

I can tell that he is upset, the entire conversation his voice was loud and raised in anger.

He starts off with why do I want to be friends with his fiance and why did I put my request (twice) through our daughter and not him.  I explain my reasoning (listed above) for asking our daughter to relay my request. He is baffled as to why I would even want to be friends with her because “it’s not like we have small children and need to co-parent”.  He says this about four times during our conversation…  I finally manage to get it across that I thought it was the right thing to do, the nice thing to do and he interrogates me about what do I want?  Her phone number, Facebook friends? What?  What?  Finally he says “Thank you for extending the olive branch” and that he will introduce us at our younger daughter’s graduation in February but I can tell he still doesn’t believe me, I’m now sorry I ever asked and realize that no good will come of it.

He said “What do you mean” when I told our older daughter I didn’t want him seeing my new Facebook page or “stalking me”.  This, I think, is the true reason for the call.  I’m sure that one little word pissed him off so much he couldn’t see straight.  I didn’t respond to that and he moved on quickly but I could tell he was very angry about it and possibly hadn’t even meant to say those words out loud.  We were married almost 21 years, after all, and knowing when he is angry is something I mastered early on.

He next addresses that we have very different ways of dealing with our younger daughter.  I agree but do not make any attempt to continue that conversation any further – I am smarter than that – so he moves on to say that he is upset with how I’m dealing with our older daughter.  I stop him right there and ask him what I should be doing.  I take her out to dinner once a month, text her every couple of weeks – in spite of her telling me she only wanted me to contact her once a month – and I have been doing her nails for free since the middle of October or so just to spend more time with her.  I ask her questions and she doesn’t answer them.  Just what exactly does he think I should be doing more, better or different?  He clearly has only heard her side of the story, which is that all of our meetings are superficial and I won’t talk about anything important, she thinks I’m just meeting her out of obligation and duty so this throws him for a second or two.  He acknowledges he doesn’t really know what to tell me except that my abandoning her has severely wounded her and damaged her ability to have friendships and relationships and that she is just a child.  He repeats several times “Her mother abandoned her” and continues to state how wounded she is.  I tell him I want to talk about it but she has flat out told me she didn’t want to talk.  He finally concedes that she may have to work on forgiving me…  which leads me to believe that she is not there listening along with his fiance or he would have never said that in front of her.

And for the record, my oldest “child” is 21.  She was 19 when I left him.  Him.  I left him, not her.  And she wouldn’t have anything to do with me in the last couple of years before I left anyway so I thought she would be happy I was gone.  Apparently I was wrong.

He tries to wrap up with “In the future we need to deal with each other in our business, not go through the girls”.  I ask him if that means he will stop asking our younger daughter about me.  A slight pause and he asks what I mean.  I say that our younger daughter is frequently upset after meeting with him because she says he is “always” asking about me, where I live, what I’m doing, etc.  He says he “doesn’t care” about my actions and then corrects that to “I have no interest in what you’re doing”.  He says he has asked about me from time to time but not every time they meet.  I say that she feels like it is all the time and it really bothers her, and told him about the “It’s OK, you can tell me” conversation she shared with me.  There was a noticeable pause, which I found significant – especially knowing his fiance is there listening – and then he tried to brush it off saying “I was interested in the general area they lived in because I knew they moved from the country to in town”.

That sneaky bastard IS stalking me and doesn’t want his fiance to know!  OMG!  He’s creeping me out a little bit now…  I wish now that I had told him the quote about how could I be busy because I hadn’t worked in a week because that might have opened his fiance’s eyes a bit but I didn’t think of it at the time.  I’m also really torn because I offered to friend my older daughter on my new Facebook page but I don’t trust her not to show it to her father.  What do I do, what do I do…

I managed to have the whole conversation without falling apart or bursting into tears but after I hung up I couldn’t help myself.  I cried in the restaurant and my sister tried to help me by asking me to identify why talking to him made me cry but I wish she just would have let me go for a little bit.  His anger still affects me so much and I don’t know how to free myself of it’s grip.  And he always seems angry with me so I avoid communicating with him because he still makes me cry

It’s a new year and I’m going on a new adventure which will possibly, probably, hopefully? include dating.  After being on my own for almost two years I still cringe slightly at the thought of actual dating – especially because of the three times I tried online dating last year…

Soooooo in preparation of future dating I decided I should at least write down what I’d like to see in a guy.  In the order that I thought them up, here is my list of character traits that are near and dear to my heart and that I try to live out myself:

  1.  Kindness.  Nothing melts my heart like someone who is kinder than necessary and has compassion for others regardless of whether or not they look like they deserve it.
  2. Light-hearted.  I like to laugh, in fact I LOVE to laugh – but not at the expense of others, that’s a huge turn-off. I want to be around someone who thinks I’m funny (that one may be hard to find) and can also make me laugh (easy to do).  Someone who sees the humor in things without turning everything into a joke and never being serious.  It’s a fine line, I know, but an important one.
  3. HELPFUL.  This is probably one of my biggest pet peeves, people who aren’t helpful.  If you see something that needs to be done, do it!  If you see someone struggling with something, help them!  Someone who volunteers to help with everything from carrying in the groceries to doing the dishes to lifting heavy objects… like my piano, lol, without complaining earn themselves a special place in my heart.
  4. A Gentleman.  For the first time in my life I know I am worth being treated like a lady and I would like to be around a true Gentleman who treats all ladies with dignity and respect.
  5. Affectionate in word and deed.  I crave affection but I also give it.  I’m a very touchy-feely kind of girl and I am constantly touching my friends (both male and female) on the back, shoulders, waist, arms – basically everything that’s “PC” for friends – and I hug them as often as I think I can get away with it.  If you’ve never read about The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman I encourage you to do so.  One of my primary Love Languages is Affectionate Touch so that means I give and feel loved when I am able to touch and be touched affectionately (which is non-sexually).
  6. Kind, positive, encouraging words and sincere compliments also mean the world to me.  I want a man who can say those things as well as receive them from me.
  7. I don’t care about the color of a your skin.  I could never be mistaken for anything but white so almost everybody’s skin is darker than mine and I actually love darker skin tones.  I grew up wishing I was a Native American, they’re such a beautiful people…  However, after being adopted by my Vietnamese family I have come to realize that a complete understanding of the English language is a must-have, since I don’t pick up other languages easily and effective communication is super important.
  8. A man who has goals and dreams I can help him reach… and who wants to help me reach mine, hopefully our goals and dreams are very similar if not the same.  I don’t want to be “kept”, sitting at home, bored with nothing to do.  I want to go places and help others, to accomplish things that will create jobs and teach people real life skills.

This is getting to be a long list… I should stop now.  Yes, I want the fairy tale.  No, I’m not beautiful like Julia Roberts but Richard Gere wasn’t really that good looking, maybe I can be the Average Joe in the relationship, hee, hee.

So here’s someplace I never thought life would take me, I am now legally able to perform weddings!  It was several months ago that a friend of mine asked me to officiate her marriage to her fiance as they are not very “churchy” people and were uncomfortable trying to find a pastor they didn’t know.

I had to stop and think about it for a minute or two.  It was a huge honor to be asked but wow, it’s also a huge responsibility…  In the end I decided to do it and help my friend so they could bed legally married.  It was easy for me to get ordained online to perform weddings – it was free and took 10 minutes.  I did purchase the certificate package and they mailed me a very nice certificate of ordination and letter of good standing to meet state requirements for performing weddings.

The wedding was held in their home with two witnesses and their combined children.  We were all nervous but I had everything written down and was able to follow my notes.  Two of the boys held the rings until it was time and there was an adorable amount of confusion over which boy had which ring…  She cried during the vows and it was very tender.  The whole thing lasted 10 minutes and was very real and precious.

Tomorrow I need to mail the marriage license and a copy of my ordination certificate to the state and the process will be complete.

At end of the day I was glad I accepted the honor of officiating their wedding.  I’m not looking to do another anytime soon but it isn’t a one time license and has no expiration date so I guess I could marry lots of folks.

You never know where you’ll be called in life to go but I guess now I’m ready for one more thing that I wasn’t expecting to be able to do – ever.  And that’s pretty awesome.

Dear 2017,

This new year is very important to me and you are not going to screw it up!  Here are the things I WILL be doing in the ext 365 days, in random order:

  1.  Moving to Montana
  2. Getting a job and real housing
  3. Beginning, finishing a cosmetology course and passing the licensing tests
  4. Beginning the beauty instructor course
  5. Making new friends and staying in contact with my old ones
  6. Start painting again
  7. Begin writing poetry and songs again
  8. Find somewhere to sing publicly
  9. Go on at least 6 dates (providing there is somebody out there crazy enough to want to ask me out…)
  10. Go to the ocean for no less than two full days at least one time
  11. Stop drinking caffeinated sodas regularly and limit them to special occasions
  12. Pay off my one remaining debt (other than my car) and not get any new debt (aside from student loans)
  13. Go for a walk at least 4 days a week, every week

Thank you, that is all.

For now…

For the very first time ever I went back and re-read every single blog post I have written here, it was very interesting to see where I’ve changed, remember things I had forgotten and make a few realizations about myself…

The very first thought that popped into my head when I had finished was “I’m not nearly as funny as I think I am!” Ha, Ha!  Oh well, it’s not going to stop me from being me, eventually somebody will think I’m funnier than I do 😉

The next thought I had was “Why have I worked so hard to keep this blog and my identity a secret?  Good grief, there’s really not any juicy details in here at all!”  But the truth of the matter is that if my ex had read this blog while I was still married he would have been so angry with me and I would have lost my safe place to express my feelings.

I feel like I should clarify that he never hit me (or our children) or abused me physically.  I wish he would have because then I would have felt free to leave him much earlier but his abuse was far subtler and took me years of seeing counselors here and there to realize he really was abusive.  Anyway…

Back to this blog – before we were married he found my diary and asked if he could read it.  Stupidly I said yes, believing that we shouldn’t have any secrets between us and after he read it he was upset that I wrote about having feelings for someone else BEFORE I MET HIM.  I should have known then that this wasn’t going to work out but I was incredibly young, dumb and naive… so instead I burned my diary and never kept another paper one because I realized he would always find them and read them if he could.

Dear God, I should write a book about who not to date or marry…

I am not a great writer but it is very therapeutic for me to write things down and get them out of my system, eventually I always come back to some form of writing despite the dangers of it being discovered.

I’ve decided that I’m still going to keep most of my details vague, I’ve given access to this blog to a few of my closest friends but it makes me feel better to think that it’s still “anonymous” even though I know that true privacy is a fairy tale in this day and age.  (The Machine is real!  Where’s Jim Caviezel when I need him?)  Also, just because of who I am, I have no desire to make my ex-husband look bad by airing his dirty laundry in public, that would just be rude.  And I suspect he has not changed enough to pull off another marriage so the truth will come out in it’s own good time…  was that mean?  Probably.  Oh well…

Oh, another thing I realized is that I think I know why my former mother-in-law is so upset with me… In the letter I sent to my family – and his – trying to explain why I left him I said that my ex was just like my mother.  Which is very true.  It is also something I had told him several times so it was not news to him but it probably was new information to his mother and his mom was not a big fan of my mom.  I really should have had someone read that letter before I sent it, it was far too long and went places there was no need to go <sigh>.  Oh well, it is what it is and I can’t change it now but her icy coldness to me makes a little more sense now.

I also realized that I never wrote about my Las Vegas trip!  That will have to be it’s own blog, it’s funny now that I’m a good six months away from it…

Speaking of being positive, I also felt like a great many of my posts had a forced sense of optimism to them, which surprised me.  I think I am a fairly positive person and always try to see the upside of things but it felt more like I was making desperate grabs at something I wanted to feel but didn’t or maybe that I was attempting to cover up how bad it really was by focusing on my faith that things would get better.  Well then.  I’ll have to think about that for a bit longer…

Today, I’m healthy physically and emotionally – I haven’t been on any medication for depression, anxiety, insomnia or my thyroid for an entire year now.  I’ve gained a bit of weight, OK – a lot of weight, since the hysterectomy last year but I guess that’s normal and I’m going to have to fight even harder to lose weight from now on than I did before.  Oh goodie…

Mentally and emotionally I’m stronger – I’ve learned how to deal with angry people and be confident in my own self and the skills that I have.  I’ve learned how to walk away from people who are toxic to me and love them from a distance where they can’t wound me anymore and I’ve even been able to stand up for myself on multiple occasions.  Practice makes perfect, eh?  (Please Lord, stop giving me opportunities to practice…)

Spiritually I feel bigger?  I’m not sure of the right word for that one.  I’ve simplified my list of do’s and don’ts and that has strengthened my faith considerably.  In October I started going to a little church near where I used to work and I love it.  It’s a tiny  little congregation, maybe 20 people on any given Sunday but they worship for most of an hour and it’s so real there.  Some days the service is a beautiful disaster.  People, both on the stage and off, are completely genuine and there is no show there.  The messages are spoken, not preached, with input welcomed from the congregation so frequently it feels like a group discussion more than a lecture.  I’ve learned a lot this year about God and His goodness, He has taken such good care of me and I know He will continue to do so during this next step in my journey.

If sharing my journey helps you then I’m glad and if you’re in a life like mine don’t give up!  If you want to be friends then say so in the comments, we’ll figure something out.  If you want to donate to the cause my PayPal address is… no, just kidding.  If you want to help go find someone in  your own life who is lonely or sad a lot of the time.  Find someone you suspect is being abused in some way and go be their friend.  Help them.  There’s a lot of us out there with stories like mine and more people out there with stories worse than mine.  Just go make a difference in one life, it will be worth it, I promise.

And Dear God, if somebody out there is friends with Keanu Reeves please have them introduce me… He is such a handsome man and everything I’ve read about him says he’s a nice guy too. It would be so niced to meet a nice guy… <sigh> 😀