Punching my demons in the you-know-where and filling my glass (of wine) half-full

Warning: lots of cheesy “get real” lingo to follow, including but not limited to terms such as “loving myself,” “self-talk” and “co-dependency.” I can’t help these things. I had three years of therapy in college and I know Betty would be proud…

 I’ve been mulling some things around in my head for a while and debating whether or not to talk about them here. But I’ve always said that if my story can help just one person, then it’s worth putting myself out there…

I’m in the middle of reading 52 Fights, a book by my new friend, Jennifer at Unplanned Cooking. In the book, she is raw and honest about the reality of her first year of marriage. The stories she shares are hers, but the truths about combining two different lives into a family are universal.  It has its challenges. That’s for sure!

I’m not going to lie. For me, on the edge of getting married again, the fear of failure is on the peripheral. When I let myself go to a bad place, I can hear the voice of my ex-husband in my head telling me hurtful things about myself — “You’re selfish. It’s all about Stephanie.” “You are crazy. loco.” “You are such a [insert expletive here.]”  and then the stinger – one of those things said in the middle of the divorce, purposely to hurt me – “You know you’ll get divorced again.”

And anyone who has ever been divorced will get this — you  let yourself go back  there in your head sometimes. You let the negative self-talk take hold.  It’s not right. It’s not fair. It sucks. But you do. You must work toward not letting the past control your present and future. And you know this.

I’m not perfect, but anyone who knows me, knows – I’ve worked really, really hard to move past the pain of the divorce, the sense of failure it brought to me and all the lies. Lies. Lies. Lies.

I’ve embraced truth. (Ok, so I lied to get a piece of cake, but you know what I mean.) And I found a guy who is about as truthful as it gets. Sometimes his “tell-it-like-it-is” style makes me giggle. Like when he once told Roomie that a new haircut looked fantastic and much better than the old way she wore her hair. [hand smack on forehead…]

I’m going to be really honest here. I didn’t mean to fall in love again so soon. Every book warned against it. Every expert said, watch out! Old habits will quickly return, patterns will resurface. And sometimes, in my relationship with the fiance, I can smell those old patterns of co-dependency, putting my needs before his, non-communication…and so on.

But I fight it. And I work on myself [almost*] every day. *We all know there are days where you lay around and don’t work on anything but sitting on your butt.

What this comes down to is loving myself, staying true to myself and being ok with some failure. What this comes down to in my relationship is communication, support for the other person,  trust, allowing the other person to fully thrive as themself and loving them for who they are,  being ok with some failure and a sense of humor. 

The other night we had an argument. He gets angry when I go into defeatist mode. It’s his biggest struggle with me. (Some day, I’ll share with you about issues I have with him, but this is about me today.) I get really negative sometimes, like there’s no water in the glass negative.

And in that fight, the fear crept in.  The voices swirled in my head. I tried to stay in the moment. What this discussion was about. Focus on communication and resolution.

He told me how he would like us to resolve the issue at hand. (He is such a good communicator, I must say.)

I wondered if he could live with me if we didn’t resolve it.

Like could he still love me, even if I wasn’t perfect. Even if I was selfish and negative and whiney?

I needed to know that he could still love me. Codependency crept in.

I love myself. I need to do this for myself.

We finished our discussion on a good note, but in the back of my head, there were underlying issues, related to the argument that I needed to figure out.

The next day, I made some mental adjustments, took action toward a positive change and resolved some of the conflict that I was bringing into my own life.

This wasn’t about him. This was about me. About my journey. And when I work on myself, our relationship only benefits from that work.

Later that night, I told him about my adjustments and the steps I took to better myself. Because I love myself. And I’m lucky enough to have found someone who loves me too — and yes, just as I am with no changes. (I knew that, but that stupid divorce doubt tried to rear its ugly head.)

And so, while I’m at odds with some nasty national statistics about divorce rates for second marriages, I know the following things are truth:

  • I will get married again on February 27 to the love of my life.
  • I’m so glad I met him, even if it was “too soon.”
  • Marriage can be tough, and you have to work at it. But it’s worth it.
  • Not only am I loved, but I have a support network that is outa this world.
  • I can only change myself and not him. And I am responsible for loving myself. This love will help me better love the fiance and make our love stronger.
  • I trust him with all my heart and do not doubt him. Our mutual trust makes us stronger.
  • I am a work in progress and not perfect. Our marriage won’t be perfect, but when it’s not, we will communicate and laugh. Because that’s all you can do sometimes.
  • The glass does have some water (or wine) in it. And when it comes to my relationship with the fiance, it’s over flowing.
  • I’m kicking my divorce demons in the balls and saying to hell with the lies. 
  • He doesn’t complete me (because I don’t believe anyone can), but I am sure lucky to have him sharing my life with me.

 Those of you who are married, what are some of your secrets to success? Those of you who are divorced, how have you moved past your demons and would you get married again? Single friends, what is your take on marriage and would you do it?



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16 responses to “Punching my demons in the you-know-where and filling my glass (of wine) half-full

  1. janer

    Yes, I would (read: want to) get married again.

    Thanks for your raw honesty. I can relate to a lot of it. I’ll bookmark this for future (I hope) reference.

  2. janer

    ps. What happened to Quirky Wedding?

  3. FANTASTIC INSIGHT!! You keep being you and you will be fine as frog hair!

  4. Wow. Marriage is full of so many disappointments. I guess one thing we cling to is always making sure we laugh with each other. If we can still laugh at all of the shit that happens, then we’re good. As soon as the laughter dies, well, that’s a bad place to be. I was there for a year and I hated it (counseling too). Take the good moments and treasure them, then try to remember them when you’re in the middle of an argument.

    Best wishes! Whether it was too soon or not, like you said… you’re marrying the love of your life.


    PS: You don’t have to be “perfect,” you just have to be “perfect for him.” Big difference.

  5. Amy

    I think Steve and I work because we do communicate with each other. Sometimes I can’t talk right away; I need time to calm down so I can form coherent sentences. But he knows all of those little idiosyncrasies I have. We meet each other’s needs pretty well. We make sure not to hold back from each other and say it like it is. We do argue, but we always fight it out. We don’t leave in a huff. Steve says we don’t use each other as a crutch, but more as a railing to keep us on the right path and catch us when we fall.

    • You guys are fantastic, Amy. You seem to work so well together. I like the fact that you also know yourself well enough to know when you need to calm down. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t know that. I also like Steve’s metaphor about the railing. Very nice.

  6. I had to think on this, because frankly I think I suck at marriage.

    Relationships are different. Every single one of them. And each one needs something different. It’s finding what keeps it solid, what makes everyone happy… and more importantly, it’s going back to that root after turmoil.

    I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I’ve learned that I have to be ‘ok’ with being wrong, I have to be ‘ok’ with walking away from a fight (this is my #1 problem) and I have to be ‘ok’ with screwing up. I’m really uncomfortable with ALL of those things. But I also make up for it later..usually.

    Just be you, and when that you does screw up…say you’re sorry and try again. And keep trying.

    And be forgiving when he screws up too. (another one I’m bad at…ha) I have to always remind myself…ok, if I were the one..what would I want HIM to do?

    Of course I fail to execute this half the time, but..I try.

    • Thank you so much, Erin. I was looking forward to your response because your family is so important to you and you are not only a wife and and a mom, but you have been dealing with health problems. I know that can complicate life. Also, your professional life is one I respect and admire. It’s just good to hear from strong blogging friends on this subject.

  7. I’m sorry that you are going through this, but I’m also so proud of you. These are hard questions and issues for anyone to handle – divorced, single, or happily married.

    Self-doubt is a nasty beast. And it creeps its way into even the healthiest of marriages. I often wonder if I’m enough for Chris. Sure, we make each other happy right now, but am I enough for the rest of our lives? I mean, how long can someone lecture you about over-spending at Target before they finally just say, “You know what? I don’t have to put up with this.”

    But I’ve learned and am continuing to learn that healthy, honest, and loving relationships change with time. What you are today may not be enough ten years from now. But hopefully in ten years you and I won’t be the same people. We will have grown individually and as a couple. And so ten years from now what we have become will be just what we need to be at that time.

    You’re right. You can’t change him and he can’t change you. But you can change together. You can grow together and you can adapt together and those experiences – like what you’re going through right now – will bring you closer together because you’ve shared them. So, work on yourself. Love yourself. But include him in that process.

    I think you’re normal. I think you’re smart. And I think he’s just a lucky as you are.

    Wishing you all the best.

    • Thanks, Katie. This post would not have in any way been complete without thoughts from Marriage Confessions. And I like what you say about 10 years down the road. Won’t it be fun to look back at this then?

      Regarding Target – I think spending money (whether it’s a Target (women), Best Buy (men) or wherever) can quickly become a sore spot in any marriage. It’s something I think you have been really honest about on your blog. More people need to talk about how they handle it because it is a huge marriage breaker. It’s just that money and spending money and personal finances are such a taboo topic, that no one wants to share. Thanks for being open with your struggles.

  8. C

    I can’t read this awesome post without commenting. You’ve clearly worked hard on understanding your challenges and your strengths. You have a better “tool set” now to have a stronger marriage and be able to make any neccessary repairs along the way. Good luck!

  9. Laura

    We’ve only been married 5 years but we’ve faced some really difficult issues together. We took them on together and I think seeing the worst in each other and still getting through it made us stronger. We trust each other 100% and we know the other will go through anything to be there for the other. I think another thing that makes us strong is that we are honest with each other, even when it stings a little. Yes, he still tells me I look great even though I know I look like a mess at that moment. I mean the bigger things. We’re both committed to each other, marriage and our family. We’ve built a strong foundation and that will continue to maintain us and we keep each other happy.

    • Laura,
      Thank you for sharing, but I wouldn’t say “only 5 years.” 🙂 That’s a good amount of time!

      I’m so sorry to hear you have had to face difficult issues, but it sounds like they have actually strengthened your marriage.

  10. T

    As a single mom who’s in a new relationship, I SOOOOOO relate to this.

    I too get defeatist. I have been known to say things like, “You’ll leave me one day and when you do, I won’t be surprised!”

    Its awful. And the worst part of it is, it hurts him. That’s not the intention behind saying those words. The intent is to get him to tell me how he’d never leave me… but relationships happen and sometimes they run out of air and its time to move on. Each one of them serves a purpose and, though I try not to think about it too much, the future is still undetermined.

    This MOMENT is what matters. Are you happy NOW? Is he loving you NOW?

    Tomorrow never happens, if you think about it. Today is the only place we ever are.

    You are learning more about yourself with every step along the way. Enjoy it. Relish it. Remember who you are and what you have control over. Look at the lovely things that he offers you in the way of honesty and communication. Focus on the good and more of that will come.

    and by the way, this is all advice I offer myself every single day…

    Good luck and congratulations on your wedding!

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