Blog Posts – From HE Double Hockey Sticks and Back

she’s my Brandi

I have an amazing friend that I wish I could clone for everyone to have. She’s just so cool, honest, silly, and funny and can make anyone’s day brighter. I wouldn’t know what life would be like without this woman.

She was the room mom for my oldest son’s three year old preschool class and she was the queen of all room mom’s. I attempted to be as amazing as she was, at being room mom, a few years later but didn’t even come close. She has a teachers heart and a special love for kids that is inspiring.

When I met her, I had just given birth to my second son and was slowly falling into the world of losing who “Staci” was and becoming only a ‘mom’. Not that it is a bad thing at all to love motherhood, but life can become overwhelming and draining if you don’t take a break to really focus on who you are as a person without the kids and without the spouse. She helped me redefine what being a great mother was.

She showed me that we can love and support our kids 100% of the time but give ourselves a break to be a friend, an adult every once in a while. Taking time to be silly and catching up on things other than Power Rangers and super heroes is okay to do. And I love her for this because it’s so easy to lose your identity once you become a mom. You can easily find yourself being called the “cutest little red-head’s” mom, instead of simply being identified by your first name.

Judgie-Moms

Recently I was told that I should focus on my kids instead of blogging about my divorce. It stung, a lot, because it came from another hockey mom that I had once respected, and was stated as if I don’t focus on my kids which is sooo far from the truth.

My blog is my avenue to avoid costly therapy…and that’s okay because this is how I cope – this is what works for me. I share something and then move on…that’s it. There’s no further discussion about it after that. For someone to think that my kids aren’t getting the attention that they need and deserve is such a shortsighted judgement that is insulting. Everything I do is for my kids. Everything I fight for is for my kids. Everything that I push myself to achieve is for my kids. I’m doing an amazing job at motherhood.

But I have to admit…had I never been through a divorce I probably would have the same judgement. That’s one thing that I’ve learned through divorce is that you truly have no clue what is going on in someone’s home life, marriage, or relationships until you live it. Social media skews the truth so much, yet so many of us buy into what we see online as the complete truth about a situation.

This is the exact reason why I use this forum to be (almost) completely transparent about what I’m dealing with…because it’s not easy to admit any of this to anyone because people judge. And they’re mean, because they have no clue exactly what you’ve gone through. To admit that two marriages have failed, no matter who is at fault, is tough, but I’ve done it because when I went through my first divorce, I didn’t have anyone that truly knew or understood what I was going through. Many people sympathized, but no one really knew…which is why I blog – to make others feel not so alone.

I’ve chosen to leave some of the really bad choices that my soon-to-be-ex has made, out of the blog, in case my daughter should ever see these. Only I, and those closest to me, fully know the extent of hell that I’ve been put through. I don’t need to explain myself to anyone and those that question my decisions should also choose another path of ‘entertainment’ other than reading about how I’m coping with my current situation.

And for the strength to be able to say that, I owe it all to my silly, dinosaur costume wearing, scary movie watching, dance party hosting, best friend that has helped me to see who I really am as Staci…not just ‘mom’.

My Brandi

The funny thing is that in all of the world you won’t find two more people alike in the fact that we are HUGE people pleasers. If we’ve upset someone, we are nauseous about it, we stress about it, and focus on it waaay more than it deserves…but that’s who we are. She’s given me so much strength to be okay with who I am, flaws and all, and do my best to not care what other people and other moms think because she’s focusing on it too in her own life – she’s just a few steps ahead of me.

She’s my Brandi and I’m her Stephanie (#RHOD reference) – we can sit for hours and laugh until our stomachs hurt, tell each other the honest truth about what is going on in our lives – even the stuff we don’t want to fully admit to ourselves, tell each other the truth and be honest about if we think the other person should suck it up or belly-ache some more, then laugh some more, sing 90’s songs to the kids until we annoy them, and still want to do it all over again the next week. I’m so thankful that I have her in my life and I hope that everyone can have a ‘Brandi’ in their lives.

The key though is complete honesty with those that are closest to you. Those that truly care about you won’t judge you. If they do, walk away from them. You can’t have deep, meaningful relationships if you aren’t completely “You”.

brandi blog post 2

I wouldn’t love having her in my life if I didn’t feel like she loved me for who I was, down deep. If I had to put up a façade with her, it would be like so many other acquaintances that I have…and I have enough of those. I’m thankful that I have a friend like her in my corner that will shake me into reality when I’m throwing myself a pity party yet at the same time talk about our kids most recent bathroom issue, over a hurricane app that apparently everyone in Central Florida had downloaded and could hear us being silly on, during Hurricane Irma. (true story)

My challenge to you – be honest with those that are closest to you and grow those relationships and try your hardest to smile and be kind to those that have negative things to say, regardless of what their poorly based opinions may be. Only you have to be accountable for your actions – if you’re proud of them, then own them…if not, then change them.

Please note that this post and most of the posts on my website/blog may contain affiliate links. Should you decide to click on one of these ads and purchase something through this link, I will get a commission from it (the pricing is no different for you than going directly to their website)(I do not get commissions from sites where you donate money or things). Not all items recommended on this site are affiliate links. I only recommend items that I feel are amazing because I’ve used and tried them. Thank you for your trust and viewership!
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the first flirt

Recently someone called me insecure. I am insecure, most women are about something or at some point in their lives. Heck, I think everyone is at some point. The love of my life left and, through his actions, showed me that he felt that I and our family weren’t good enough for him. I felt rejected. I felt not good enough. I felt less than enough for someone that had pledged his life to me and our family, our daughter.

It’s sad and I’m working through it mentally but I know it’s for the best. He has so many mental and emotional issues to deal with apparently (because who thinks it’s more fun to go through a divorce, destroy a family, hurt a woman, hurt children, than work through a couple of problems that he never even shared that he felt we had), that I’ve come to realize that it’s not my fault he made some really poor choices. I just now have to remind myself constantly that it’s not my fault that he’s a jerk. And I know that my self esteem will rebuild and bounce back after the blow he took to it, it will just take time.

The Flirt.

And then you have days like a couple of weeks ago. Someone flirted with this insecure woman (me). And not just with a silly come-on…with real intention. Like phone calls and text follow up after running into each other, type of flirting.

And it felt so darn amazing!

It felt like I had almost forgotten how to even realize what it was because my soon-to-be-ex will try to flirt with me every now and then and I want to throw up in my mouth a little each time, so I’ve learned to ignore it.

But this…this was fun to hear. To be pursued, even casually, was fun.

I’m not ready for this though…I have soo much to do on my own first. So much to cope with, accept, move through and past; so much to conquer, take on, and achieve…that I don’t have the time or emotional capacity to even consider having someone in my life. So for now, I have another friend on my journey.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire.

I found out some interesting news the other day…my soon-to-be-ex, Erik, struck up a friendship with my ex-husband and had this secret friendship the ENTIRE time that my soon-to-be-ex and I were together. Who does that??

It made me nauseous to find out because those were EVEN MORE lies that he told me. Every once in a while, my ex-husband would know something that only Erik could have told him (because I know I wouldn’t have done that) and instead of simply being honest, Erik would lie over and over. Erik even went as far as to completely trash my ex-husband and his character to other people frequently…and then he would go and have a beer with my ex-husband. You can tell a person’s character by these types of things and apparently I found the King of the Liars.

It’s just absurd to think that I would be completely out of place for not wanting my current love to befriend my ex-husband that had done so much damage to my life. But then again, that’s who I’m finding out is what my soon-to-be-ex is all about – leading a double life.

Thanks for the Laugh.

One of the funniest things that I found out that Erik shared with my ex-husband is that he was convinced that if he and I ever split up that I’d go running back to my ex-husband. I laughed harder than I’d laughed in months. My ex-husband and I are in a much better place today than before but there is no way in H E double hockey sticks that I’d ever go running back to him.

Apparently, when Erik said this it was aimed at trying to say that I need a man in my life in order to function. While I will admit that it was a fast turn around, for me, between my ex-husband and Erik, it was because I was completely in love with him. Not because I needed a man.

So while I do love being in love, I have zero desire at this moment to be in love with anyone but my kids, my life and myself. I have too much to do and to add another person right now would take the emotional capacity that I just don’t have.

But I do love a good flirt. So I’m so thankful for my new friend.

If you’re in the middle of a divorce, I promise ‘the flirt’ will happen to you too when you least expect it. Enjoy it.

“Happy girls are the prettiest.” ~Audrey Hepburn

Please note that this post and most of the posts on my website/blog may contain affiliate links. Should you decide to click on one of these ads and purchase something through this link, I will get a commission from it (the pricing is no different for you than going directly to their website)(I do not get commissions from sites where you donate money or things). Not all items recommended on this site are affiliate links. I only recommend items that I feel are amazing because I’ve used and tried them. Thank you for your trust and viewership!

the strength of a woman

Women can be intimidating. Women can be soft. Women can be hard. Women can be strong. Women can be funny. Women can be the center of a family. Women can be emotional. Women can be the breadwinner. Women can be the reason that no one forgets lunch and has clean clothes. Women can be the CEO of a company. Women can be the CEO of a household. Women are the backbone of the family. Women are the center of the world.

That’s at least what I think.

Without Us…With Us…

Without us, there’s no future. We create life. We create hope. We create generations that will create more life and more memories and more leaders and more mothers and more fathers and more teachers and more laborers and more garbage truck drivers and more hockey players and more inventors and more scientists…and so much more than that. We create memories. We create history.

All because we are women. We run this world.

Just quieter then men, yet stronger than men, sometimes.

And believe it or not, there are a lot of men that are afraid of us…afraid that we might ‘take their glory’ or ‘take their spotlight’…and because they are afraid of us, they try to take us down and hit us where they think it will hurt the most – our hearts, because ours are larger (emotionally) than theirs, sometimes.

My Thoughts.

If you disagree with me, just know that I feel the way that I feel because I’m a little jaded thanks to the two men that I have been married to.

My first husband was really into politics, specifically republican politics, and when I was at an event with him, I wanted to share my thoughts on females in politics and he shushed me. Can you believe it?? I was shushed! (among other things in our marriage)

Then my second husband told me that he was so excited that I was leaving work because he wanted to be the breadwinner…he wanted to support us…that he was looking forward to having that pressure on his shoulders. Well, you want to know what happened when that pressure landed there – he bolted…he couldn’t handle it. He couldn’t handle that pressure for even a year and yet I had been the breadwinner for at least 14 years knowing that if I left work that my family wouldn’t have insurance, including, at the time, my uninsurable 1st husband because of a pre-existing condition. And yet my Irish Idiot couldn’t last 12 months…he barely lasted 10 months while I was still paying a majority of the bills with my savings.

Sometimes I feel like an idiot for being the one that was stable, that was responsible, that was successful…but I wouldn’t have done it any other way then how my career happened. (I would, though, redo my relationships differently, but that’s a different story.) I have a story, I have experience…I just need to figure out what to do with all of the knowledge I’ve learned…and thankfully, I think I’ve figured it out. I’ll let you know if I have, in the future.

One thing that I’ve fallen in love with when I blog, is when I positively affect people that I’ve never met or spoken to but they’ve read something that I’ve written and had some sort of inspiration from it. To me, it means that the struggles that I’ve endured are paying off in some way, shape or form. It has inspired me to keep going, keep writing, keep sharing my real life with whoever will listen. I just want to make a difference for someone, somewhere.

Strength.

A couple of weeks ago someone asked me how I’ve been so strong, and in all honesty, I don’t view myself that way at all. I only remember every time that I’ve been snippy with my ex’s or cried because I was overwhelmed. So to the person that called me ‘strong’, you made my whole day.

There have been soo many women, mothers, friends, wives, female strangers, sisters, cousins, female leaders, female business owners, female anything…that have inspired me in life. And I think that’s key. We can be so hard on ourselves – always thinking that we’re not good enough (mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, employees, etc. and etc.) that if we can find mentors or just someone to model our lives after, we will keep the faith alive.

It gives us strength and passion to be like our mentors or create our own self identity based with the inspiration of someone special. It keeps us going…because our mentor keeps going. And that’s a great thing because you know what?? That will inspire the next generation because the same habits will be repeated. Someone will look at you and me and think, “I want to be like them one day”, and we need to realize that we aren’t only making an impact for ourselves but for future generations.

Something as small as getting a mammogram done every year can encourage self awareness and self care or something like running a marathon to raise money for a well deserved organization, or something like donating your spare time to a local women’s shelter…these things drive home our importance and our impact to the world. We are needed…we are important…we set the tone…we run the world.

I can’t end this post without telling you about a few of my mentors (and in reality I have a TON). I’ve told you about my hero (my mom), my best friend that is incredible (my runner and stability), my friend that hired me and helped me find my career, my new friend and sister-in-law, and a friend that is helping me stay accountable in health but I have soo many others that have affected me in such positive and amazing ways. (and if you’re not listed here, I promise in the future you are probably getting a spotlight 🙂 .)

Some of my mentors:

In case you didn’t know that you had made an impact, thank you to:

1. My cousin

Strength is giving birth to your first child the day before your father’s birthday, god rest his soul.

My cousin had the most amazing father and she lost him in her early teenage years. My uncle had a big personality and I gravitated to him from an early age. I loved him dearly and looked forward to every minute that I was able to spend with him and I also knew that I held a special place in his heart. When he passed away, the world lost a man with a big smile and large laugh, and one of my favorite people. My cousins lost their dad and my Aunt lost her husband.

My cousin was just becoming a teenager, the most difficult age for many girls, when her dad passed away. Not that my Aunt couldn’t raise her on her own, but it’s hard to be both dad and mom to a teenager. I can only imagine trying to give all of the advice that both parents would give via one person is very difficult and some key things are bound to get challenging.

I don’t think that my cousin will ever know how much she meant to her father because she was so young when he passed away, but she was the apple of his eye. I know she misses him so much but I think that a little bit of my Uncle now lives in my cousins little girl…plus she can make some of the same facial expressions that he used to. There are actually a lot of things that my daughter and my cousin’s daughter do that remind me of my Uncle.

So even though my cousin didn’t get to grow up with her father she’ll still get to see a little bit of his spark in her daughter every day.

I can’t even begin to imagine what it means to have lost your father at age 13. She’s strong and raising a daughter with his personality. 🙂 Memories can fade but instinct can help you remember the small things. #heintroducedmetocandycorn #hissmilewasamazing #christywashisangel

2. Shortly before I got pregnant with my #2 little man, I was out running errands and I received a phone call letting me know that a friend of mine had lost her little boy when she was 27 weeks pregnant. It shook me to my core. Thinking through what she and her husband and son went through emotionally and physically, to me, is unimaginable. My heart was broken into a thousand pieces for them – I could only imagine what they were experiencing.

I look now at where they are and am inspired at how their strength has grown their lives, their marriage and their careers. They now have a second beautiful little one that they adopted. And she’s adorable and beautiful and I want to have an arranged marriage for her and my #2 little man. 🙂

The most inspiring part is that she is now a NICU nurse. I will never forget that she told me that the nurses that were in the hospital when everything happened with her son, were amazing. She went back to school, graduated faster than expected, and went to work in the same hospital where she experienced some of her toughest moments in life and made a difference in many, many lives, including cuddling my nephew when he was in the NICU.

I look up to this woman. She has inspired me and encouraged me without even doing anything more than accomplishing ‘amazing feats’ in her own life. The strength that she has found in order to accomplish these amazing things is astounding.

If she can do what she’s been able to do, I can do anything. Love you E!

3. My girl…my researcher…my intelligent Mama. This woman is one of the smartest women that I’ve ever met.

I’ve known her for soo many years but the two things that I can depend on from her are:

1. She will research the heck out of a topic and by the time that she’s done you’ll know that even the FBI couldn’t disagree with her.

2. She will forever stand up for the people in her life that she believes in.

With that said, I should be saying thank you to her over and over, each week. She inspires me to push myself to limits that make me uncomfortable. She challenges me without even realizing that she’s challenging me. She sees
‘Staci’ for who I really am…or at least who I was when I was 17…and sometimes, those young ages really show our likes, dislikes, missions in life, and etc.

She remembers me from way back when and she reminds me.

Also, she’s shown me how to be strong when you have every right and every ability to say ‘I told you so’ or ‘I knew this would backfire’, when it comes to dealing with kids.

She’s shown me how to bite my lip and how biting my lip will encourage a better relationship with my son’s father. She tells me that she knows it’s not easy but has shown me the reason that it is a necessity.

She stands up for injustices when it’s not cool; when it’s controversial; when her daughter needs her to. She’s shown me how to support a teenager when you completely disagree but need to agree so that your daughter isn’t the only one standing alone. Love you S!

4. There is a woman in my life that is just stinking happy all of the darn time!! And it’s legit. She really is. (You’re awesome D!)

And she has THREE boys…plus a husband that (god love him), is kind of a fourth child. And I’m only saying that because I think that he would agree with this.

She leapt into her own business and went balls-to-the-wall (forgive the phrase D) but seriously, there was no stopping her. She owned it, tried it, loved it, sold it and has varied since then, but she exposed herself on social media, in a way that unless you’ve done it, you’ll never understand. And she was great at it!

She actually has inspired me to start a new section of my blog – the new adventures of ME! I’ve never focused on me like I have recently and one of the ways is being open to everything, including pampering my face and skin.

A friend contacted me a few weeks ago and she wanted to send me a few samples of her facial products to test and host a virtual party. I keep putting her off because, well…life, but I can honestly say that I love sooo much of what she sent to me. I’m hosting an online party soon – click here to get more info (all you have to do is log on) but I have to tell you that my two favorite things are the mascara (which is key)and the moisturizer. Click here to join the party! It’s worth it!! (Plus it supports a mompreneur.)

D – I’m proud of you for doing it and going all in. It takes guts and you have lots! Thanks for your inspiration!

5. Strength is any mother that tells another mother that they are awesome!

I was at the hockey rink the other day and a mom walked up to me and told me how wonderful she thought my boys were. I didn’t know what to say so of course I responded with the traditional, “well, if you were at my house, you wouldn’t think the same thing” quote…but what I should have said was simply, “Thank you”!

Women are so competitive. Especially when it comes to who is the better mother. Big time! So when another mom walks up just to tell you that you’re doing a good job, unfortunately, not all of us know how to act.

It should be natural to simply say, “Thank you” and not wonder what hidden agenda that mother has, but that’s what today’s society has taught us. That we’re never good enough and other’s need to be put down in order for us to be made to feel better.

But this woman that came up to me to say this was only looking for one response, “Thank you”. Her kids are also wonderful and super polite and I complimented her on this in return for her compliment and she had a weird look on her face as if saying, “ok, but I hope you know that I really think you’re doing a great job as a mom.”

That takes courage in today’s environment of over-commitment and pushing kids to excel in order to prove our worthiness as parents.

Acknowledging that we’re all just trying to figure this thing called parenthood and life out and that by the time we all figure it out, it’s probably too late, is reality.

BUT, when women pat each other on the back for no other reason than ‘just because’, that’s strength, that’s confidence, that’s wonderful. There have been more times that I’ve found strength from other women than even from my own family. When it comes from a stranger, or from someone that ‘isn’t supposed to give us support’ (aka family and close friends) it means A LOT!

So dish it out…if you see someone doing something simple but great as a mom, tell them…if they keep their cool with their unruly child in the middle of a grocery store then tell them how impressed you are…if they were early to practice with three other kids in tow and you don’t know how they do it then tell them that you think that they are amazing….tell them.

You’d be amazed at how a few words can make an impact on another person’s life. What is it going to hurt – nothing but boost someone else’s ego…and that’s a great thing!

(And L, you made my weekend a lot less tough that weekend – thank you for acknowledging my parenting!)

Be strong Mama’s – let’s be strong together!

Please note that this post and most of the posts on my website/blog may contain affiliate links. Should you decide to click on one of these ads and purchase something through this link, I will get a commission from it (the pricing is no different for you than going directly to their website)(I do not get commissions from sites where you donate money or things). Not all items recommended on this site are affiliate links. I only recommend items that I feel are amazing because I’ve used and tried them. Thank you for your trust and viewership!

the power of a word

If I’ve ever talked to you in detail about my blog, one of the things that I’ve told you is that I try to write my posts as much in advance as possible. I may edit it later, a little, based on any new events that have occurred but for the most part I try to have them written in advance so that I’m able to focus on as many other things as possible.

One of the other things that I do, when I have them written in advance, is read them and reread them and mull over whether or not to have them go live. I think through the weight of every word that I type over and over and sometimes I feel that I’ve been too rough on my ex and his family and sometimes I don’t.

My intent behind this blog is to be ‘real’ about what I’m going through, or have gone through, with the hope that something will strike a cord with someone or something will be helpful or motivational.

The thing that really stinks is that I’m sharing a lot of deep, emotional moments that, in reality, are much worse…I’ve just decided not to take it as far as I could.

Putting it all out there

Social media can be your best friend or your #1 enemy. To cope with the garbage that I’m being put through, I’ve decided to be as transparent as possible via social media/my blog. Some may see it as me airing my dirty laundry; some may see it as pathetic; some may see it as a cry for attention; or some may see it as a source of strength because they don’t feel so alone in their journey.

So far, I’ve received nothing but positive feedback, except from my soon-to-be-ex because in his family, you hide the ‘crazy’ which is how his mother has been able to hide all of the faults that these boys have. They aren’t used to this thing called the internet and the freedom of speech. I’ve never once lied about anything in my posts and the posts generally focus on how I’m feeling, which is a very personal thing.

I don’t know how they feel when they read my blog and it probably doesn’t feel good…it probably hurts to read how their actions have caused another person to be in emotional pain. But then again, I’ve blocked them and all of their family from every avenue of social media that I’m on so if they are reading my blog, it means that they are actively seeking out my words…the words that my ex says hurts. If it bothers them, they can just avoid reading it. It’s as simple as that.

The one thing that I’ve done is avoid making fun of physical traits or making false statements about them, knowing that one – it could be challenged in court and two – my kids may read this one day. I want them to see that I was able to pull myself out of a very painful place and was able to replace desperation with confidence and joy. I’m not perfect, I know this, and you may be able to think of one of my particular posts off of the top of your head when you think I didn’t hit this goal, but I’m trying really hard.

Recently though, I was shown the down side to being so public with my feelings. I was told that I was a ‘fat ass’ by someone that makes her living off of training women to get into shape. In addition, I was told that I was pathetic, insecure and a bad mom. And I’ve never met this woman. And this woman is dating my husband, or so I believe (in other words, she hasn’t denied it and he denied he even knew her at first).

Now I have to be honest, I did take a stab. I’m not proud of it. I’ve lost the love of my life. I walked away from a career that paid for everything, including my husband’s life (which she also made fun of). I AM insecure sometimes because I am not where I thought I would be in life. I would like to lose weight. And I would like to have not taken the first shot. But I did and then the ‘crazy’ came out.

What I intended to be as a warning to another mother about the dangers of having a child (that my kids play hockey with) in my ex’s family’s presence and about what she was getting herself into, which I shouldn’t have done, spiraled into a woman that enjoyed body-shaming and ability-shaming another mother that does a darn good job being an awesome mom to three kids. She was so intense with her attacks on me, I had to block her from one social media outlet, so she jumped to another and I had to block her there too. I can’t even read what she wrote because the first two that I read were vicious and she went to a whole new level of bizarre.

This is all while I’m laying next to my daughter that is sick and she kept sitting up listening to the dinging from the notifications on my phone that didn’t stop until after midnight (and it continued even when I ignored it).

I should have kept my mouth shut. I didn’t need to say a word. Yet what ensued could have been enough to push someone over the edge. She was brutal.

The Silver Lining

It dawned on me tonight, that someone that had friend requested me a few weeks ago, was this woman in disguise. She apparently is so enamored with my husband that she friend requested me from an account that was a little fishy to begin with. This person’s request came to me with a request to talk about her tough divorce which pulled on my heart strings. I just wanted to help.

But now, because of the fact that I had to go to every social media outlet that I’m connected to in order to block her, I put two and two together, who this person really was. I’m not sure if I’m disgusted more by her or by him.

The interesting part is that I really haven’t hidden anything from anyone. If you’ve read more than two of my blog posts, you’ve figured out that I’m pretty open with my life and how I’m feeling and if I run into you, you’ll find out that you can ask me anything and it won’t bother me. I don’t think there’s much more to my personal social media than my public social media.

Lesson Learned

Some lessons I’ve learned from this:

* Shut your mouth. The new love in their lives believes every lie that they ever told you and that you believed. There’s no changing their thoughts and they just want to be in love.

* Your ex will repeat every darn mistake he/she ever made with you, unless they’ve done some really amazing soul searching. Just sit back and wait. They may seem ‘in love’ now but you’ll be able to smirk one day when old habits shine through.

* Be careful with your words. For every handful of kind people that you run across on social media, there will always be that one that will hit you to your core. Be prepared for this ahead of time and either have something motivational to read or a friend to contact like I was able to do. Talk yourself through it and rise above it.

* Be prepared that five days out of seven, you’ll feel on top of the world. You’ll feel that you’ve moved past the pain. And then something will trigger a memory that will make you sad, long for the past, or angry. You’ll get through this moment, this memory. Focus on the reasons that you’re glad that your life has taken this new turn. Focus on the terrible things that your ex has done and why you’re glad you don’t have to deal with it anymore. Exercise, sing, dance, call a friend, just don’t sit and stew in it.

* Don’t beat yourself up for not being who other people think you should be or where other people feel you should be in your coping process. Cope cleanly, not quickly. Cope in your time, just make sure that you are putting one foot in front of the other. If you cope too quickly, you may not have enough time to fully process the ‘death of your marriage’.

* If someone makes fun of you or digs deep to try to hurt you, it’s obvious that they have just as many issues that they are working through. In my case, I saw that she was just as insecure as I am when she couldn’t stand not having the last word…she apparently needed to know that she had stung me in order to feel better about herself because of all of the attempts that she made to seek out trying to contact me after I kept shutting her down each time.

This realization makes me sad because she could potentially be in my daughter’s life…someone that thinks its fun to destroy a woman in every obvious soft area – our parenting skills (we’re all paranoid that we’re not doing it right), our appearance, and our careers. It breaks my heart that she’s around women struggling with some of these same issues on a daily basis at the gym she works at – I really hope she’s not destroying them too. But I know that this relationship won’t last either and I have to hold on to that.

And finally, I just want to repeat again…just shut up. Don’t open your mouth and take that dig that you probably have the perfect opportunity to take. It won’t feel good afterward and you never know what the response will be. It’s just not worth it. Weigh out every word that you share unless you want to tell me how wonderful I am – feel free to dish that out. 🙂

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a surprising place of strength

My dirty little secret…the day that my Irish Idiot’s attorney had me served with divorce papers, I thought and over-thought, and thought some more about every feeling coursing through my brain. And then I did something that could have gone horribly wrong…I FaceBook Messaged an ex-sister-in-law that I had never met.

I’m not sure why I did it, to be honest, because I never met her. All I had been told was horrible, horrible things about how she was a money-hungry {insert every bad word known to man} ‘person’. I think I did it just to complain to someone that may commiserate with me in my pain. My soon-to-be-ex-brother-in-law even wrote horrible things about this woman AND his own daughter on social media. Stand up guy, right??

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When I would challenge my husband on whether or not his brother’s behavior on social media had crossed a line, especially given the fact that he had a ‘less than stellar’ past himself (i.e. he was IN PRISON and his ex-wife had not been in prison and he had lost visitation of his daughter because of his own mistakes after he came out of prison), I was told “Staci, you don’t know the whole situation – she’s a horrible b*&^%. You have no clue.” Yet, no one could ever give me a specific example of what she had done, other than the work she did to prove that she was fit to better parent their little girl than her ex-husband, and how she fought fairly for child support that was owed to her.

And to be honest, I always tried to communicate where she may be coming from, i.e. – tried to give Erik another perspective because I had been in a similar situation myself, with my ex-husband, and Erik always shot me down by telling me that I just didn’t understand who she really was; that she was a money hungry woman that didn’t care about anything more than the child support that she was ‘receiving’.

Also, to clarify, the amount she receives each month wouldn’t even cover a one bedroom apartment’s rent amount…and that’s if he pays what is owed that month and doesn’t lie about having to pay for X,Y, or Z (like covering the cost of an engagement ring instead of paying for child support).

What I often said to my husband was, “can you imagine raising a daughter and having to explain to this little girl that her dad can’t come and watch her soccer game or softball game because he was in prison?” And the only response from him was, “she wants all of the family money”.

This woman had been married to my soon-to-be-ex’s older brother (they were divorced before he committed the crime that sent him to prison). She gave birth to Finleigh’s only cousin on my husband’s side of the family…she lived it.

My ex-sister-in-law stayed married to her ex-husband longer than I have been married to my husband. She endured this family much longer than I did and yet she still ended up being the villain.

And I believed Every. Single. Word.

I didn’t have any reason NOT to believe it. I only knew that Finleigh’s cousin wasn’t around and I had never met her. And I believed my husband. I should be able to believe him, right?? (Wrong)

So…back to my original story…….

I messaged her. I wasn’t sure if I would hear back.

And then I did. And then I was told that she’d be happy to speak with me, just offline because, as I came to find out, she wasn’t sure if it was her ex-husband impersonating me to try to get ‘info’ on his daughter or if it was legitimate.

I sent her a link to my blog.

And her response made me smile. One of the words, that I recall, was, “Wow”. I think that I have explained exactly how I feel about these people with my words to the public and she understood.

She and I talked for hours via Messenger (gotta love social media). And thankfully, she took a leap of faith and was completely open and honest with a total stranger.

I knew, though, that I was talking to a woman that would be a part of my ‘pillar of strength’ when she described for me exactly when her marriage started to fall apart…when ‘the family’ moved to Panama City Beach. The coincidence is that I had been saying for months that my marriage fell apart exactly when the ‘the family’ moved to Orlando, yet I hadn’t uttered that in anything she had read nor in my conversation with her prior to her saying this to me. She literally repeated the exact same phrase I had been saying, BEFORE I told her when I felt that I ‘lost my husband’.

At that point, I knew I had a ‘kindred spirit’ in this woman.

She understood.

She had been there.

And she has shared so much and we have this connection that I know will always be there. Because until you have lived through a divorce in this family, you won’t understand what they are capable of. For example, I was told today that he’s going to challenge whether or not I do drugs, which is laughable. The closest that I have come to a drug is the pill I took to ease my pain from my C-sections. And the nurses even commented (in the hospital) how I was able to stand, walk and come off of my pain medicine so quickly.

And yet my husband denies that this was ever uttered out of his mouth. What a load of garbage!! So his attorney just created this out of thin air?? I’m not stupid.

I know that I will now be blamed for the issues that my husband has been raised to think are not his fault. I get it and thank goodness I don’t have to be tied to that any longer. His mother can’t keep daughters-in-law in the family and I think she loves it…she loves being the one that the boys run to…it’s kind of sick…but I promise it’s reality and I haven’t twisted this story.

My ex-SIL has been blamed for soooooooo much in this family because they can’t seem to recognize their own shortcomings, yet her story and mine are almost duplicates. Thank goodness that I haven’t had to live through as much as she did, which is the silver lining in my divorce. Looking back, I’ve never heard anyone in the family admit even one thing that they’ve done wrong or one thing that they could have done differently to at least still have a relationship with their granddaughter/niece/daughter. It’s all been blamed on my ex-SIL – that it’s her fault that they couldn’t put aside their differences and work to keep a line of communication open.

Life takes on a whole new meaning when someone you once loved scares you or insinuates that your life could be in danger and that’s what seems to be this family’s M.O.

You constantly look over your shoulder. You are always looking in the rear-view mirror wondering if ‘that car is following you or just happens to be going in the same direction all the way home from the rink’. You think, “someone that loved me wouldn’t, couldn’t, possibly wish this on me,” and then you hear that they’ve uttered the words and you want to vomit. You don’t get it. You don’t understand what you ever did to deserve such hatred from them. AND you think, no one will understand. NO ONE will believe me…NO ONE will think I’m more than a disgruntled wife. Everyone will think that I’m exaggerating.

Yet, my new friend and sort-of family member gets it. She told me stories, before I shared any of my experiences, that completely matched, sometimes word-for-word, exactly how I felt, how our ex’s acted, what our mother-in-law has done, said, or ‘overlooked’, and how we felt…that no one would believe our ‘made-for-tv’ stories.

Even if I don’t come close to getting everything I want in the divorce, at least my daughter will get to know and love a cousin she wouldn’t have known otherwise. NONE of my soon-to-be-ex’s family, including the matriarch (of idiots) has ever once said, “I hope that one day the #cutestlittleredhead can meet her cousin.” Not once…looking back, not even my husband.

That’s how little any of them care about anyone other than themselves.

The four McDonnell brother’s (really the oldest three) survived off of each other and the scheme’s that they all created and employed. They only rarely talked about extended family…yet one of my best friends is my cousin. I couldn’t imagine life without her and my husband did NOTHING but trash both sides of his family to me.

On numerous occasions, he would tell me how they were trash or only around for the money that his father had. Someone had to teach these types of hateful and judgmental things to these boys. I’ve been a parent for 10 years…I understand what can be twisted and what can be taught to kids through the power of persuasion (I have to do this every darn day to avoid the homework struggle).

Looking back, I see so many red flags…but as I said to my ex-SIL tonight, I don’t think that I would have believed her, had she shared this with me before I married Erik. I would have seen her as a woman scorned…and then I would have come crawling back to her for support in six months.

This woman, that is raising a daughter with the same last name as my little girl, was put through hell…the same hell that they are trying to put me through. Literally, the same darn crap.

And when I make it sound like a group effort, it really is. My soon-to-be-ex-mother-in-law holds that umbilical cord tight and it’s almost creepy how close they all are to her. At least the older three.

The frustrating part is that my husband left so much of his life, prior to me, out of the conversation. He didn’t see that omission is as much of a lie as lying directly to your face, is.

So he was guilty of omission…and I was guilty of believing him. Believing that he had shared everything with me.

And as I found out later…my ex-SIL filled in a lot of blanks and confirmed a lot of things that I had wondered or considered.

I have verified and double checked, and crossed t’s and dotted i’s with the information that she has shared with me…and this woman isn’t crazy, she isn’t a horrible, horrible person.

She was just duped by them just like I was.

I’ve only known her for weeks, yet she’s made a huge impact on my life…on my daughter’s, on my family’s life. All because she understands.

I love every person in my life, yet until you’ve been through the EXACT same thing, it’s hard to compare apples to apples. My family and friends have been the support I’ve needed in some very dark times. They’ve been my cake.

And then my icing was when I received confirmation that I’m not crazy. That I am not insane for being afraid of them and nervous that my daughter won’t be cared for correctly, if ever in the presence of my ex-in-laws.

To know that someone believes my “made for Lifetime” movie because she’s lived it and knows that everything that I say is accurate, has made me feel ‘not crazy’ which is an amazing feeling because the ‘the family’ works hard to bully and intimidate and make you feel crazy for questioning anything in addition to questioning whether or not you are crazy for feeling crazy. It sucks.

But it doesn’t suck as much as it used to. Because I have another ‘Coach’ in my corner, cheering me on, giving me strength. And even though she could avoid it like the plague, she keeps doing it simply because it’s the right thing to do.

I’m so thankful for her and am thankful that I have people in my life that are amazing. I truly feel that God gives you moments of clarity and strength at the right times, just when you need it. Look for those times and enjoy them because there will be tough times through divorce. But focus on the good…always.