Cutting Ties

Isn’t it in “The Rulebook” somewhere that when a couple splits- especially when it’s high-conflict, you are supposed to cut ties with the person you met through the other one? For example, if your friend and his partner split, you’re supposed to cut ties with the partner, correct?

Okay, maybe that’s petty, but honestly it keeps the peace and is just an understood, “It is what is is” aftermath of any sort of breakup. I’ve lost many friends in previous breakups, because they were my ex’s friends first. It stings a little, but life goes on.

Seriously though, if you meet your husbands-coworkers-wife, see her around for a few years, then they divorce, don’t you just cut ties? Not directly like “DO NOT EVER SPEAK TO ME AGAIN,” but don’t you just sort of pull away? That’s natural, right?

BM is the epitome of the “woe is me” persona. Always the victim, always seeking attention, never telling the whole truth. And when they split, she went on a rampage to try and “keep their friends on her side.” For the most part, this was a huge deterrent for people, and they pulled away from her. But for some, they yielded her cries of “the victim” and stayed connected. Which meant my husband backed away from them. Not a huge issue, until someone becomes a social media spy for BM. Or until someone posts “throwback pictures” of them hanging out referencing “the good ol days.” I can assure you that no matter how much fun you were having, neither your friend BM, nor my husband would consider those times the “good ol days.”

So, after two years, that acquaintance [as I call her] got the good ol Facebook “BLOCK.” She’s so nice to me in-person, and to be honest, I didn’t even care that she was serving as BM’s spy. But after seeing that line drawn in the sand, I knew it’s what needed to be done.

But why am I writing about this? Is this just a petty vent session? Nope, not this time…

Boundaries are so, so important. I hear and read from people all the time how they failed to set boundaries, and now they’re paying the price. This is not just important for people in my situation, dealing with a high-conflict BM… This is important for everyone.

Don’t let others in who are not worthy. Keep your inner circle small, but mighty. If someone is contributing more hurt than happiness to your life, let them go! If someone is posting things that genuinely upset you, get rid of them! Seriously, life is too short!

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For those in similar situations to me, you know it’s hard enough to pave your own way in a divorced man’s life. Protecting your relationship is everything! Protect it with everything you have! And if that means sometimes, you have to be “petty” as some would say and literally “delete” someone, then so be it.

Will I be rude to this person the next time I see her? Of course not. But do I know where she stands? Absolutely. And that’s fine with me.

I will rise above, and maybe others out there will follow my lead.

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Five Things: Refocus

Howdy, Y’all!

(Okay, I’m from Virginia. That is not actually a phrase I say.)

Y’all know I was “in my feels” (as my younger cousins would say) last week… So this week, I’m refocusing. This is a happy week, it has to be. I deserve it! My family deserves it! So in return, here’s this week’s Five Things, with a twist. I’m mapping out the things I plan to do this week to refocus on what’s important.

ONE: Love on my Babies! All 3 of them *wink- husband.* We have the girls 4 overnights/5 days this week, and I am so beyond excited about it. I cannot wait to love all over them every chance I get! I’m focusing on always intentionally showing them the positive side of me. Modeling happiness will in return make them happy! Such a simple fact that so many parents make the mistake of forgetting…

TWO: Show Grace. I plan on showing grace to everyone I can. I’m not letting anyone get me down this week, no sir! This is so important for me as a wife, stepmom, coworker, and friend. There is so much out of my control every day, but I am always in control of my reactions, both internal and external.

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THREE: Be Patient. Okay, so my friend CML is going to have to keep me in check with this one at work. I need to be more patient this week. With the girls (y’all- “terrible two’s” are real), with my husband, and even with my colleagues.

FOUR: Trust the Lord. I don’t write much about my faith, mostly because I’m not “as developed” in it as I feel I should be before writing about it. I’m no expert, or exemplary role model in this area. But I am a believer, and I do trust that God has a plan. I believe I need to work hard to reach the end goal, but I believe He has a plan. I hope to pray more this week… especially for BM.

FIVE: Persevere. I plan to push forward and rise above whatever challenges are presented this week. I plan to stay organized, stay vigilant, and stay aware of the tremendous blessings I have. I plan to lead by example at home and at work, and stay faithful that as with any rough patches we may face, this too shall pass.

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Anyone else out there planning to refocus this week? Sometimes, we all just need a little kick in the right direction…

-Ashley

Powerless.

Powerless.

That’s how I feel lately regarding a lot of things. Well, mostly just one thing.

Before a custody agreement regarding our precious babies was in place, I used to crave it. I couldn’t wait for the day that we had an agreement. A “this is the schedule, deal with it” agreement. I almost didn’t care what the schedule was, as long as we had one. I am Type-A in a lot of ways, and this was one of them.

We didn’t have one of those civil, in-mediation type of agreements. My husband had to fight for what he has in court because BM wouldn’t agree to joint physical custody. She literally had nothing at all negative to show of him, so it truly was just a waste of money for everyone, solely because she was so angry at him for their divorce. Luckily, he was awarded joint legal & joint physical custody in court (obviously– because he is an outstanding father), and I thought we had got our big break. I was so relieved.

Never did I imagine how little the custody agreement would actually do for us. My husbands work schedule dramatically changed 4 months after the agreement was made, but BM refuses to split time more evenly without going all the way back through the process… back to court. I hate that threat… “Well, you’ll just have to take me back to court!” Oh, I could get sick right here thinking about that. There is so much room for interpretation in the custody agreement, and some of it does not even make sense whatsoever with his now “regular” work schedule. “The parties are to split time evenly” and “The father has 10 overnights a month” are a huge point of conflict for us.

When will she let go of this anger? She is hurting the kids… but does she realize that?! I want to show her grace, but she makes it so difficult. 

I write this from a place of hurt, a place of powerlessness. I’m trying my hardest to stay strong for my husband, because I am here to take on this burden with him, not to cause him more stress. But where is my breaking point?! I don’t ever want to have to find out. I refuse to give her that satisfaction.

She never gets in the way of our relationship, and I am so proud of that. But it kills me to not have the girls even time. It devastates me to see my husband hurt so bad, and for all of this to be out of our control unless we spend another $3,000+ on a lawyer. The system is broken. I feel helpless. I feel powerless. As a fixer, there is no worse position to be in.

My husband is so comforting. He reminds me that she has no power greater than he does. He reminds me that getting worked up is exactly what she wants, and to never give her that satisfaction. He keeps me grounded, he keeps me sane. He keeps me focused… Eyes on the prize!

To those of you feeling powerless- about anything- know you’re not alone. We will make it through, and we will come out victorious! The power of positive thinking is incredible, so let’s will ourselves to think positive together. Life is messy… that was never a surprise. This too shall pass.

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Inadequate.

Do you ever just feel like you’re not enough? Not doing enough, not worth enough, etc…

I do, sometimes. I think it’s normal. But that doesn’t make it sting any less.

Right now, my focus is my family. I want to be the best wife and stepmama possible. But how am I doing?

Do I give enough? Do I lead by example? Am I coming across positive, or do I just look stressed out all the time? [I don’t feel stressed, but sometimes things get pretty crazy!]

Do I focus my energy on what matters, or do I get too easily wrapped up in the little things?

Am I showing enough grace?

Do I know enough about raising toddler? Should I read more any toddler parenting books? Am I screwing them up forever by letting them eat a fruit roll up at 7:30pm?

Do I show my husband how much he means to me everyday? I want him to see how much I love him every single day. Does that transpire?

Do I pull my weight around the house, or does he feel like he does it all? [Cue, self-conscious Ashley because I don’t cook often at all…]

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And then, the nonsensical hypotheticals and comparisons come into play…

Will I ever be seen by my husband’s family and friends as my husband’s wife, or will I always just be “his new wife?”

Is the picture his parents still have up in their living room from his first wedding a sign that they want me gone? Or is that just their most recent family picture? [Thank God she’s not in the picture lol] [Okay I’m probably definitely overthinking this one]

Will the girls ever love me like they love their bio-mom? Do they/will they ever really consider me a mama to them? Who’s going to take care of me when I’m old? Are they going to be there for me, or are they going to put me in a nursing home and never visit?

These questions can go on and on… Then, I stop and reflect. I think about what I know, and what I’ve learned along the way. Things I’ve read, been told, and found out the hard way…

You’re doing the best you can, and that’s enough.

The kids won’t remember every small detail, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

Your husband absolutely adores you, and constantly tells you how thankful he is for you. So why would you question how you’re doing as a wife?!

Your husband’s family loves you, and tells you so all the time.

It really doesn’t matter what friends acquaintances think of you.

You’re a newlywed. Of course you are the “new wife” right now (duh, Ashley). Only time can make that disappear.

Comparisons are completely stupid in this scenario. Obviously your husband loves everything about you or he wouldn’t have married you. So seriously, Ashley, cut that comparison shit out.

I think the female brain is wired to totally sabotage us every chance it can get. Come on, God, why’d you do that to us?! [Oh yeah… freaking Eve…]

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Life is so good. Just do the right thing, it’s simple. Be kind, be patient, be loving. Only be concerned with yourself and your family. Take things one day at a time. Take a breath. It’s all good.

So the next time you’re feeling inadequate, remember, you’re doing better than you think. You are loved. You are healthy. You are beautiful. You’ve got this!

And to those of you lucky enough to have a loving, caring, sexy-as-hell husband like mine… go home tonight, give him a little squeeze on the butt, and tell him how much you love him.

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Five Things: Thankful.

Hey, hey! What a week it has been, my friends… and may I just say, I have SO MUCH to be thankful for.

ONE: My husband *drool*… WOW what an amazing man! He had the girls draw me little cards for Valentine’s Day and I could have cried. We didn’t really do presents, but I blessed him with showing up to his work with dinner- in spandex pants. He was a fan (*wink*). He is so busy but spends literally every moment he’s not working putting me and the girls first. I am so blessed.

TWO: Living in such a great area! Now don’t get me wrong, we fully intend to retire in Florida, but I’m so thankful to live in a place where we can just scoot up to D.C. for a Washington Capital’s game for date night! We did that last weekend and it was so much fun! While we were there, we talked about how lucky we were to live so close… it’s wild to think about the fact that the majority of American’s probably never get to explore our nation’s capitol!

THREE: Great in-law’s. My biological family is pretty shaky, but man are my in-law’s great! They always go out of their way to take care of us. Last week, they surprised us with a beautiful canvas they got made with a picture of my husband when he worked the Presidential Inauguration as a sworn U.S. Marshall for the weekend. They always help me to see what really matters in life, and are such a great example of a strong, long lasting marriage (almost 31 years!).

FOUR: Our babies. Even though the 4-year-old would correct me and tell me that she’s a big girl. I tell you what… the only part of my life they have negatively affected is my bank account (*cue* I cannot walk past the toddler/little girls sections of any store without grabbing them something). I wish I could keep them these ages forever. I want to preserve them in their cute, innocent, charismatic little selves and kiss all over their cheeks all day, every day, forever.

FIVE: A great job. Even though I’m in a cube, and some of my colleagues [okay, mostly just one] really can drive me up a wall sometimes… I love my supervisors and the potential for growth in my department. I love that I am working in an area I can truly see myself “career.” I love that I’m working in an area applicable to my Masters degree. I am so thankful for this job, and thankful that taking a risk last April landed me on this incredible journey.

So what do you have to be thankful for this week? Never forget, there’s always a calm in the center of this crazy storm-of-a-life.

-Ashley

The Sisterless-Sister

Family.

I have one sibling… a half-sister who I did not grow up in the same home with. We have the same father, and neither of us have ever had a relationship with him. She’s three years older than me. Growing up, our Grandma brought us together once a month- the second Saturday of every month- and that was how we got to know each other, and our paternal relatives.

Don’t get me wrong, my sister is amazing. We have some really great moments. But we’re not best friends. She is not typically my go-to person for vent sessions or wine nights. In fact, I don’t think we’ve ever had a drink together…

We have been there for each other through some tough times, and I would do anything for her. I think she would do anything for me as well. But we’re different people. So similar, but so different. And honestly I don’t even know some of the most basic things about her. I don’t know her favorite food, her favorite color, her favorite singer (even though I’m sure it’s a country artist), or what her personal or professional goals are. I have no clue about this woman who I share DNA with. My only sibling. My one “person” in this crazy family we have.

We currently live about 1 ½ hours apart from each other, and we try to get together with the kids every few months. My two girls plus her two girls (and a third on the way!) have the best time together. Her girls are the only cousins that my girls will ever have a shot at having a relationship with, as their maternal cousins live across the country. It’s important for me to foster a relationship among the girls, but is it weird to force it, when my sister and I aren’t even that close?

Is now the time to really focus on my relationship with my sister? I tend to back off from people when I am the only person putting forth any effort, but is my sister worth it? Is this our chance? While we are still young, and our kids are still young, and we still have so much time to cherish together? Should I end this period of feeling like a sisterless-sister once and for all?

Family, what a complicated, beautiful disaster.

My Valentine…

First, I’ve always been pretty indifferent about Valentine’s Day. Never loved it or hated it. I mean, I have always loved chocolate and flowers but if I don’t get them, it’s not a big deal.

I just want to take a moment to brag on my husband… first of all, WHAT A STUD.

Second, WOW… I have never in my life met such a selfless, hard-working man.

As you may know (depending on how long you’ve been reading), he is a police officer. Last August, he was fortunate enough to be selected for a “sort of regular working hours” position within the police department. His actual schedule is 7am-3pm, but he works late every day (normally until 4pm or so), then picks up an evening off-duty job almost every night that we don’t have the girls.

He does this for us… the four of us. He does this so that we can live “comfortably” (???) while paying our bills… So that we can take the girls to fun places and/or buy them things that they want. Of course, I work a full-time job too, but he is certainly the bread winner here.

He cooks dinner every night that he is home. That’s right- these girls get to see their Daddy cook them dinner every night. He helps with keeping our home clean and we “split the chores” without even a discussion. We’re a team. We just do what needs to be done and it’s amazing.

He is always on the ground playing with the girls, whether he’s turned our living room into a wrestling arena, or he’s helping the 4 year old learn her alphabet.

He puts the 3 of us before himself day in and day out. I can’t remember the last time he bought himself something “for fun.” He truly is one-of-a-kind, and I still cannot believe I’m lucky enough to be his wife!

I am so thankful for all the girls I’m sure he swooned when he was growing up, who he didn’t take a chance on. I’m so thankful that his two previous serious relationships didn’t last. I’m especially thankful for the last one, because without her, we wouldn’t have these two AMAZING girls. Whenever I get weighed down in the “hard parts” of having a blended family, I remember all the things I’m thankful for. And I think about him. How good he is to me and the girls. How selfless he is. What an amazing role model he is. He makes me a better person. The craziest thing is, everyone says that we will just continue to fall more and more in love with each other with time… I can’t even imagine loving him anymore! I am so thankful for my husband, and I wouldn’t want to do this life without him.

So, Happy Valentine’s Day, Babe! I hope I never let a day go by without showing you how much you mean to me.

Love Always, Ashley