Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Women who challenge me - part 2

I feel bad telling people no. Even harder is to tell people what I want or need. So . . . I rarely do. I like doing for others and find satisfaction in making people happy. Yes, just call me "Ms. Pleaser." Sometimes, I have let this issue affect my life by making myself miserable, so that someone else can be happy. I've had friends and family tell me to stand up for myself, but I just assumed that it's one thing that I would have to figure out on my own.

For the past year or so, I found myself floundering about my future. I left a job that I loved and was trying to figure out what to do for the rest of my life. (One would think that by age 40 I would know by now. NOPE!) I was having an internal conflict. I knew what I wanted, but I couldn't verbalize it for fear of no longer being "Ms. Pleaser."

I was working as the Marketing Maven for the bowling center, but wasn't feeling it. I wasn't meshing in the environment. In the process, I was not pleasing myself or anyone else. I confronted my boss, Melanie, and she said something to me that, although I heard, I didn't process until later. She said: "You won't get what you want until you say what you want out-loud. No one knows what you want if you don't even know yourself. Don't worry if you don't feel deserving, let it be OK to get something that you don't deserve." Now, she communicated it much better than that. I'm paraphrasing because I can't for the life of me remember the exact words she used. (Maybe I should also work on my listening skills)

I worked for another couple of months for Melanie and then decided that I needed to find an environment better suited for me. I was fortunate enough to find a job at a local church. I've always felt that church work was the perfect place for me. It makes me want to be a better person. I enjoy helping people and the church has many avenues in which to do so. It was a month before I started working at the church and within the first few days, I knew I had made the wrong choice. It wasn't the right fit. But at that moment I knew that I had come to that place in my life where I had to please myself and no one else. Oh boy, this was going to be hard. I remembered the words Melanie told me. I had to say what I wanted and be OK with it. The hard part was telling my new boss at the church, after only a week, that I was quitting. I felt like I let him down in a big way. For a "pleaser", this was torture. It wasn't just the fact that I let him down, but that I was a quitter too. Ugh!!

In my conversations with Melanie, I verbalized exactly what I wanted. I wanted to work from a home office and be able to work on a schedule that allowed me to be more creative and more effective as her Marketing Maven. She took me back and since that time, I am no longer floundering. I have not looked at online job opportunities. I am as happy as a lark! I have exceeded my ability to be creative in ways that I didn't know that I could. I've actually started learning to say no to the things that I can't handle. It feels great! And on the days when I think I'm not deserving, I stop and think about what she said: "Let it be OK to get something you don't deserve".

I don't think I can ever express how much Melanie challenged me. (In a good way!) I am ever grateful for her outlook on life, work and fun. She encourages me to do the best work and brings out my full potential. Thanks Melanie - you have made a great impact on my life!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

An unexpected BFF

I just returned from spending a week in Kansas. My daughter and I stayed in the home of Tom and Nicole: Tom, the man that I lived with for ten years, seven of which he was my husband; and Nicole, the woman he is now married to, along with their two children.

There are certain ideas about friendship that seem to be unwritten rules for society. One rule is that you are supposed to hate your ex-husband's wife. She's supposed to be the nasty step-mother to your children and the point of contention for many of your own inadequacies. This rule just makes it easier for you to say mean things and feel better about your pathetic self.

I guess I'm just not a rule follower, because I have found an unexpected friendship with my ex's wife, Nicole. She is one of the most awesome people that I know. Nicole is one of those people that is so full of love that you just can't help but love her back.

As I was planning the trip, I had every intention of staying in a hotel. I thought it would be best for my daughter, Laura, to spend her Spring Break with Tom's family without me there; not to mention it was just a little weird. Immediately, Nicole would not hear of it. She tried to convince me that she wanted me there because she was homesick for friends. She was excited about the idea of having someone to hang out with who was over the age of four years old. At first I said "no", stuck by my guns and even spent time on looking for an affordable hotel. Then Laura participated in a beauty pageant. I spent a little more money than I budgeted because it was just so darn fun to see her all "beauty'd" up. And then . . . gas prices!! Gee Wiz, they went up to $3.60 per gallon. Definitely a factor that I hadn't planned three months ago. So I broke down and decided that I would stay in their home. Apprehension dissolved as soon as I walked in the door. Tom and Nicole welcomed me into their home and showed me a great time.

Part of the trip was to acquaint Laura with her new school. Laura will be living with Tom & Nicole for her freshman year of high school. While I'm supportive of this decision, I wasn't sure I was going to like the idea of my baby living so far away from me for a whole school year. Nicole, Laura and I visited her new school and it was fabulous. The school is like a mini-college, with many wonderful academic opportunities. Now I'm not sure how I'm going to get Laura to come back home. In fact, it made me want to go back to school just so I can go there too.

A highlight of the trip was the fact that it overlapped with April Fool's Day. Nicole and I pulled off a hilarious joke on Tom. We told him that I was going to move back to Kansas, live in their basement for six months to a year, all on his dime. We were both surprised when he was ok with it. We had to push the envelope and say some really crazy things before he started to squirm. Nicole and I laughed until we cried. That sure told me that we were great friends!

My favorite experience from my stay was the love that I found in their home. I instantly fell in love with Nicole's two girls. I already had somewhat of a relationship with them, but this trip made me confused about who they are to me. I now have feelings for these two babies that I can't really quantify. I'm not going to even try. Love is love, no matter who the person is. This morning when I woke up in my own bed, I missed the sounds of Rebecca singing and Natalie getting ready for school.

I'm so happy that I had the chance to stay for a whole week in their home. It gave me a chance to see that Tom and Nicole are the perfect match for each other. And let me say, for anyone who knew Tom when we were married, this is not a bad thing. Tom has grown into a wonderful new man and only the shell remains of who he was when we were together (with a touch of the old passive aggressive behaviors - haha!). Nicole has done for him what I always wanted to do but couldn't. She has shown him what love in a family means. He is a great dad to his girls and a wonderful husband to Nicole. This was great to see and helps me move passed some of the anger that I've held for too long. One day, I'll be able to let go of it all and until then, hopefully trips like this will help.

Obviously, when I first knew of Nicole, I didn't want to like her, but it didn't take long for me to see the character of this woman. She loved my daughter so much that she wouldn't let me "not" like her. Within a couple of years, we tolerated each other. Another year and I really liked her a lot. I used to tell my friends that if she wasn't married to my ex-husband, I think we could be really good friends. After five or six years, it was at a point where I could say that we were really good friends, even though she was married to my ex-husband. During this week, my friendship with Nicole grew to a new level. And I can now say that I have found an unexpected BFF in Nicole.