I Have a Special Village–They Call Me Mom

When my life imploded five years ago, my children’s lives imploded at the same time.  The sudden traumatic loss of the man I loved and the man they all called dad rendered all of us unable to stand…

Source: I Have a Special Village–They Call Me Mom

I Have a Special Village–They Call Me Mom

When my life imploded five years ago, my children’s lives imploded at the same time.  The sudden traumatic loss of the man I loved and the man they all called dad rendered all of us unable to stand together.  It wasn’t as if we consciously thought about it, but all of us were hurting—terribly hurting.  Simply, I could not fix the hurts in my children because I could not fix them in myself. In one split second, I went from being the mother who could fix all of the boo boos to being the mom who needed her children to take care of her during those first two weeks.   They couldn’t come to me or one another because we all loved each other enough not to want to cause anyone else more pain.  As we began to come through the intensity of the loss, the realization came that we were no longer the family that we once were.  Once the Ambard/Short clan stood stronger together against the world that thought we had too many children and that having so many children was a mark of irresponsibility.  It wasn’t until recently that I recognize the healing and knitting together of my clan.  It came in the most unexpected manner.

 

The healing began when I began to date someone.  I had become too immersed in my running, school, volunteer work, and I had grown comfortable being alone.  I just couldn’t see that I had room for another person and I became quite good at throwing up the walls and shutting down.  I lost all interest and besides, I didn’t really feel like I was a woman that would be seen as anyone other than as her story or as broken.  While my children made jokes and they encouraged me, it wasn’t until I decided to take a leap of faith with someone who had become a friend that my village united.   I had a thousand reasons about why not him and why not me, but my children became the nudgers and the encouragers never realizing that at some point they would be giving me relationship advice.  They have become the tutors and the voices of reason.  I am no longer just mom, I am the service project.

 

While I may not always want to hear what they have to say, I recognize that the words come from the heart and out of love and respect for me.  One of my children has been a stronger voice of reason.  It has made me react in ways that I am not always proud of, but here is the thing.  He thinks I am a good woman.  A woman worth everything.  How can I say no to that?  While I may not follow his advice, I respect that he is able to tell me how he feels, his beliefs, and the fact that he is willing to give this man a chance.  Others have talked me off of the ledges of shutting down.  Just recently, I fell into a funk.  I can think of a zillion reasons why not, but ultimately it comes down to why not give it a chance.  As my sons and my daughter called to talk me off of the stupidity ledge, their advice was sensible and true.  It was tonight that I realized just how much my children have rallied around me and how much smarter they are than I am.  When did the parent become the one who is being taken care of?  When did the parent become the weaker one?

 

I respect my children so much.  They stand  solid and strong.  While all of them are smart, it is more than that.  They all can see me as someone valuable, someone  to be protected, someone to be loved.  They all want me happy.  While they are encouraging, they also ask me questions and make me have critical conversations that I do not always want to have.  My village has my back and as such, they also have good suggestions for helping me forge ahead with connecting outside of my circle.  These suggestions were directly from the play book they were raised with, but I am out of practice considering.  This village of mine has become my strength and my backbone.  From the ashes has come a fire tested and forged unity that I know will believe in me and love me no matter what happens because I am just mom.

I Am a Crybaby and I Need to Change

I cried a lot the past few days and it wasn’t over my feelings of missing my Phils. While that missing Phil and the life we shared will never go away, I cried for something else. I wept becau…

Source: I Am a Crybaby and I Need to Change

I Am a Crybaby and I Need to Change

I cried a lot the past few days and it wasn’t over my feelings of missing my Phils. While that missing Phil and the life we shared will never go away, I cried for something else. I wept because I simply am so broken that I can live in my world of insecurity, neediness, and ignorance. I recognize a brokenness that can destroy something I hold so dear. I have never been the needy one in relationships and I hate myself for being her now. Where I once stood confident to the point that I hurt many people in my dating life, I am not her any more.

I am a fragile shell at times of the vivacious quiet girl I used to be. Sure, I can socialize and sure, I am a better person than  I once was, but I wonder if I should wave awhile flag and not even try. My worry is that my need for reassurance makes me unlovable. Throw in a story and a journey lived publicly and larger than life. It makes me recognize the gift of people in my life, but I am the problem because something inside of me shattered five years ago. While I have come so far, I never thought that I would date again. I never thought I would care again or care so deeply. The problem with caring and loving again is that I have to figure this out. I recognize my behaviors and I want to change. I really do. The tears came because I am so bad at this now and because I never want to hurt anyone else in the process.

 

Phils, I Am so Mad at You

Phils, I Am So Mad at You Phil and I had a good marriage–a great marriage–for 23 years, but neither of us was perfect. I would say and truly believe that he was a bettter person …

Source: Phils, I Am so Mad at You

Phils, I Am so Mad at You

 

Phils, I Am So Mad at You

Phil and I had a good marriage–a great marriage–for 23 years, but neither of us was perfect. I would say and truly believe that he was a bettter person than I am still. We had staying power and we were both committed to our marriage through thick and thin, but there were hard times. There were many times when I felt lonely, invisible, last priority, and less of a woman. It wasn’t intentional often, but we had more children than most and Phil was an incredibly hard worker. Make no mistake, we were involved in everything our children did and during 23 years of marriage, Phil was deployed nearly half of the first 12 years of our marriage. When he was home, he knew that he had one chance to be a good father. Since he was raised with absent parents, he craved the family he always wanted. So often, I got lost in the shuffle.

We married just after Phil’s 21st birthday. I had three children from my first marriage and their birth father chose not to be involved at any level. Phil was the only dad my three children knew (and the two that were added to the family)–he was simply dad. We did things as a family because there were no other choices. We chose for me to stay at home and as an enlisted man with five children, we certainly lacked any money to have couple time. I waited. Waited for it to be my turn.

My birthday was more often forgotten and when it was remembered, it was remembered at the key birthdays to tell me how old I was getting. I saw (and see) the wrinkles etching my face. While I never felt old (still don’t), the numbers tell the truth. In the craziness of giving to everyone else, I was often the person whose birthday or key days got lost which made me feel like I did not matter except as a mom sometimes. I always figured that the day would come and the children would grow up and that Phil would see me again and want just time for the two of us. See, we were great friends. We were the unit that stood strong together and Phil and I were one deep. It was simply the two of us. I figured the day would come when he would give me bells and whistles in terms of trips just the two of us. I thought that one day he would stop chasing his youth and seeing me as old. I thought that one day he would realize that it hurt me every time he blew off the key days or that he made everyone else a priority other than me.

That day came when he finally remembered my birthday, yet he was not alive to see the gutwrenching reaction I still have. I did not want him to deploy and he did not have to deploy. While I do believe that if it is a person’s time to go, it is their time to go regardless of geographical location, I never, never could imagine a fate worse than the one he met. He chose to deploy on his quest to get ahead, for job stability, to mentor cadets and his children, and to prove his vitality to the military. He had his eyes and teeth fixed just before the deployment and he went on an extreme health kick. At the same time, he was a full time student, working full time, and trying to spend as much time as he could with the youngest child (because the youngest wanted the mentorship). there was no room for me. I was patient and the day came about four months into the deployment when Phil wanted to work on us and to work on the relationship minus children. In ernest, he began to pursue me again. He promised that things would be different. Damn you, Phil, for waiting so long. When his things came home, 20 unwritten cards came home with it (the miss you/love you cards). More than that, he had been working on surprises for my 50th birthday–jewelery, scarves, trinkets). He was going to hit it out of the ball park and he never got the opportunity.

So, here I am…weeks away from the next pivotal birthday and I feel beaten. Listen, Phil….I am cranky at myself for never speaking up. I should have. I knew you loved me, but I deserved to be shown once in awhile. I deserved to be priority one once in awhile. Granted, I will tell you that I fell short every day, but why in the heck did we wait so long to enjoy the station of life that we had finally achieved? Why did I make it so damn easy for you to make me priority last? Why didn’t I feel like I could speak up? Why did I let you make me feel old? The onus is on me. I own my feelings, but I let 23 years slide by allowing your star to shine and for you to do what you needed to do. I do not think it was a bad thing, but I was more than a homemaker and more than a good mother. I was your best cheerleader, your foil, your helpmate.

I am tired and feel like less. I don’t feel lovable today. I have never been angry at you, Phil, but I am this week. Listen, I know your eyes lit up when I walked into a room and I know that we were truly the best of friends, but I also wanted your undivided attention at times. I wanted to feel special. I wanted to feel like I was worth celebrating once in awhile. If you were alive, I know that we would have figured it out because even you recognized that we needed one on one time once you deployed. That Venice trip that was your idea? You had so many grand slam ideas and gestures that you never got to see. I wish you would have. I wish we hadn’t waited so damn long. I wish you could see how much I have changed. I no longer can wait when I care about people. I no longer stand mute in the shadows. You deserved the Linda I changed into. You deserved more.

Vulnerability and Risk in Learning to Live Again

I wish that life had a manual or a looking glass as to what lies ahead, but to really live requires taking a leap of faith. It is impossible to predict the future. People change, relationships come…

Source: Vulnerability and Risk in Learning to Live Again

Vulnerability and Risk in Learning to Live Again

I wish that life had a manual or a looking glass as to what lies ahead, but to really live requires taking a leap of faith. It is impossible to predict the future. People change, relationships come when least expected or crash and burn, health changes, death and birth are equalizers, and the very world we live in changes in the blink of an eye. I thought I knew how my life was going to play out. For the record, my fifties are not supposed to be looking like this. I am ill-equipped to trust my dreams or even the version of the Linda I have morphed into because it still seems so foreign to me that my life is so different.

I married young and had three children in rapid succession. I had a vision of what I thought marriage was supposed to be like and what motherhood was supposed to look like. I failed miserably even though I wanted to be that perfect Christian homemaker. When Phil entered my life, I wasn’t interested in dating let alone sharing my children with anyone. He seemed like he was too much of everything–too young, too military, too liberal, too out of my league in terms of what I thought I needed and wanted. Yet, after shooting him down 19 times, I finally said yes. I leapt and I kept leaping. We eloped after four months of dating and it worked. He was the only father my children knew and while there were certainly periodic times when we struggled (I keep those times largely private because at the end of the day, he loved me well and I loved him well), I couldn’t imagine a life without him in it. We had 23 years–I wish it had been more, but in the blink of an eye, and in the most violent unanticipated manner, the man that lived larger than life was forever gone.

Instead of returning to CO to finish his military career teaching this year, I am in a state that I never thought I would live in. Instead of quietly teaching and being the little lady behind the scenes, I have been forced to take a good hard look at what I want. That is a novel idea. Where do I want to live? What do I want to do? Is it possible to let someone else in? I am approaching the midway point of my fifties and in some ways, I feel like I am a teenager in that I want to stomp my foot and have someone else make the decisions for me because I am afraid of getting it wrong. I am afraid to take that leap of faith and to game on happiness because if I lose, my heart will implode again, yet do I want to remain on the side lines and watch everyone else living?

I am not dead, but it was easier to stay so busy that there wasn’t time to feel anything other than fatigue. I could consume my days with work, school, running, and volunteering. I did that for well over 4 years. It was a safe place to shelter. While it was a lonely place, I told myself that I had love once and that most people would give anything to find it once. I told myself that I was content with waiting for death by staying busy alone. I had a vision that I would return to Europe and then retire to Colorado. I shut down any male that tried to come into my fortress because to let a male in meant vulnerability, risk, and trust.

This leap of faith requires trusting myself. Therein lies the problem. I stopped trusting when Phil was assassinated by someone he liked and trusted and should have been able to trust while in a position that was supposed to be safe. I stopped trusting when my community and world changed that day. I was ill prepared to lose it all overnight. Nobody around me understood the depth of loss. My husband was dead. I had to move and leave the job I loved more than any job I have ever had before or since. My family imploded because nobody could fix the hurts in one another, friendships ended because people didn’t know what to say, or I was the visible reminder, or other women thought that I would hit on their spouses. I was angry at the Air Force–the Air Force Academy specifically for a really long time because I always thought that the uniform and being an Air Force Academy professor made Phil immune to the atrocities of evil men and women.

How then do I trust my own emotions let alone another person’s emotions? How do I move beyond the emotional scars that I bear knowing that others bear scars of their own? I think that widows and widowers tend to put too much validity into relationships far too soon because they do miss the companionship and what they had established after a lifetime together. I think that is why I said never, ever, and when hell freezes over. I just wasn’t interested in taking the leap of faith that might end in a fiery tumultuous crash. Yet, here I am. Hell did not freeze over and I am knee deep in trying to figure out the way ahead. I have no skills with dating relationships any more and I am more apt to destroy the relationship I am in a preemptive strike because if I hurt first, then maybe it won’t hurt so much later? I am afraid.

I keep thinking that none of this vulnerability or risk can work out. Maybe I am not lovable and surely how can I think that at my age it is possible to consider maybe, just maybe there is a fighting chance at a chapter two. The risk is more than any other time of my life because I am at a point where I don’t want to keep starting over and I don’t want to second guess another person,yet relationships are risks. If only there was a crystal ball. If only I could see how the way ahead could work. If only I could trust that I can thrive and perhaps have that second chapter again, then maybe I wouldn’t want to shut down or to run away. My life has changed and every dream I had ended, yet in the standing on the edge and getting ready to cannonball into the roiling waters below, there is that quiet confidence that somehow this will all work out. Even if I gamble and lose, there is a quiet confidence growing that I can survive or thrive in spite of what lies ahead.

Learning to Live Again: The China Blog

china Blog

Source: Learning to Live Again: The China Blog

Learning to Live Again: The China Blog

china Blog