I wrote my entire post and WordPress deleted it. I’m royally pissed but I hope this new post will be just as good. Wes, you deserve nothing but the best.

——-

Wes, my heart is broken for you and I am so upset that I will not be able to attend your funeral. Please consider this my eulogy to you:

My friend, The Chef, called me on Saturday night to tell me that my dear friend, Wes, took his own life on Friday night. I sobbed for an hour straight when I got the news. My heart broke into a million pieces.

He had been a Marine, along with 5 other of our friends, who my sister and I lovingly called “Our Boys.”

Wes was the kind of friend who would travel 2,000 miles and spend hundreds of dollars on a plane ticket just to come to Colorado for one day to attend my wedding. Here he is with The Chef who also made the trek out to help me celebrate:

He didn’t show his vulnearable side to many people, but my sister and I were one of the lucky few who got to see it. He was easy to talk to and you could always relax around him. I feel eternally grateful that he let us see into the soft, teddy-bear side of him that his manly exterior usually refused to allow.

We met Wes in youth group in high school. He was definitely not a goody-two-shoes like the rest of us, but that is what made him unique. He challenged our views of those who were different and not like us. And we loved him all the more because of it!

Wes and I connected pretty quickly, being a bit of an outsider myself. We could talk easily and we even had the same goals for our professional lives– we both wanted to be counselors. He wanted to take the hardships of his own life and turn them into teaching points and motivation for others. From the last that I heard, he was in school studying to do just that.

One of my ALL TIME favorite stories to tell is about Wes. Background info: you could get Wes to do anything if you told him he was a wuss if he didn’t.

We were all sitting on the lawn outside our high school during lunchtime. Someone had stolen Tabasco sauce from the Chipotle across the street to use on their burrito. For whatever reason, someone then said, “Wes, you’re a total p*ssy if you don’t put that Tabasco in your eye!” With barely a hesitation, he grabbed the bottle, tilted back his head, all the while yelling, “I’m not a p*ssy!” He dripped a drop of hot sauce IN HIS EYE and immediately began yelling and screaming about how much it hurt. The rest of us stared and laughed in amazement/horror that he just did that!

As I said, you could get him to do ANYTHING!

The Chef, who is also one of “my boys,” reminded me and my sister of the story about when we had all gone for a night on the town before everyone left for boot camp. One of the guys’ dad rented a Hummer limo for all of us and treated us to dinner at Ruth Chris’ Steak House. On the ride home, being stuffed full of delicious steak and cigar smoke, someone got Wes to EAT a cigarette! Using the same tactic as before, of course…

Wes also took my sister to his senior prom, and ended up being a better date to her than my boyfriend was to me. For that, I’m immensely jealous of her! What a great guy she was honored to have by her side!

One of my favorite pictures is of Wes, The Chef, and their friend, The Baseball Player. They had all come over to our house for a “water party.” A “water party,” for those of you who don’t know, is where you play drinking games but instead of drinking alcohol, you drink water. Having 2 Marines and their friend who drinks (alcohol) like a fish really helped our team win 😉

After all of Our Boys got home from the Marines, I was supposed to stop worrying about them! They were all supposed to be okay. But I think the war did more to Wes’ psyche than anyone realized.

It had been a while since I had seen you, Wes, but that didn’t mean I didn’t care very deeply for you. You will forever be one of “my boys.” Your outlook on life was very unique and you will be greatly missed.

You were a great friend and I love you with all my heart. I’m sorry I didn’t say that more and that it had been so long since we connected. I hope your soul is finally at peace. I love you!

If you or anyone you know is feeling lost or like life has not hope, please call this number: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or go to this website: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. Know that there is ALWAYS someone out there who loves and cares about you.
And if you are a man living in Colorado who needs someone to talk to, but may think it is un-manly to talk about your feelings, please go to this website for information: mantherapy.org/

I just wrote out an entire post, and WordPress deleted it… I now have to start all over 😦

I’ve been thinking a lot about fate and meeting “the one” lately. As I’ve been talking about in my recent posts, I feel like I’m finally in a place to be ready to be in a relationship.

With the personal work I’ve done over the last few years since my divorce, I feel like I’m in a great place emotionally and mentally. I want to do the work required in a committed relationship– I want to take the good with the bad. I’m no longer afraid of not being perfect (well, I’m at least working really hard on not being…), I’m happy with who I am as a person and with my life on my own. I’m now at a place that I want to share myself and my life with someone else.

I have a much more realistic view of relationships and longevity than I used to. My problem wasn’t that I didn’t know what the problems were with my ex when we got married (alcoholic/drug-using family, lack of long-lasting friendships, history of cheating…), it was the fact that I didn’t think that those issues would be a big deal in our relationship. And I believed that just because we were in love/married, all problems could be solved and overcome.

I’ve grown up a little bit and now I feel like I have a better view of things. And I’m ready to bring that new view into a relationship. I want to love someone and I want them to love me back. I don’t want to sacrifice who I am for the sake of a relationship, and I would hate for my future mister to do the same.

It’s one of my goals this year to fall in love and besides it being a romantic idea, I think it speaks volumes about where my mind and life are at in regards to that idea. I want to fall head over heals in love– no holds barred. I want to find someone who is perfect for me– I want my friends and family to meet him and say “oh my gosh! he’s exactly the person you should be with!” I have friends and family who are with people like that, so I know what it is like on the other side to see it in someone else’s relationship.

I’m ready– probably for the first time in my life.

Now all I have to do is just meet him…

This song is dedicated to everyone in the process of seeking out the person of their dreams:

 

When I was in high school, I was known as the “phase” girl in my youth group. (Background story: I was super-involved in church all growing up and into college. (I’ve taken a 180 degree turn from that life since then.) So to say that church and youth group were my life in high school would be a total under-statement). When we (being the girls) used that term, we referred to the girl who all the boys in the youth group liked. And their affections came and went– hence the term “phase girl.” But they all seemed to be in love with the same girl at the same time.

I believe I hold the record for longest time in that position, but no one kept an official count 😉 I knew all the guys liked me and I liked all of them. I flirted like crazy and was very friendly and uncharacteristically outgoing. I was friendly with everyone, not just the guys, and wanted everyone to feel included. Having struggled to make friends when I first came to that church, I made it a point to reach out and help anyone who was new to make friends and feel included. That plight ended up leading to my demise, but that’s neither here nor there.

That relaxation and not-being-self-conscious seemed to disappear once I entered college and by the time I graduated, it was pretty much gone for good.

I then got married, so flirting and interactions with other men was scarce and I had no need/reason to be that flirty.

But even after my divorce, that flirtiness never returned. And I’ve never been able to really relax when I interact with men.

I distinctly remember a session with my counselor about relaxing. I’m not talking about relaxing being a night drinking tea and taking a long bubble bath. I’m talking about the kind of relaxing around people that came so naturally to me in high school.

I didn’t care about what people thought, I was friendly and outgoing and enjoyed the people I spent time with. My goal to be “perfect” has ended up interfering with my natural friendliness and now I am rigid and awkward and struggle with just go with the flow.

My counselor had me sit on one couch like I would have in high school– I slouched and put my legs out in front of me– clearly comfortable and relaxed. She then had me sit in my normal chair (I literally sat in the exact same chair for 2 years solid… OCD much?) to show how I feel now. I crossed my legs and arms and sat up straight.

I don’t remember if there was even a “lesson” that was supposed to go with that exercise, but it’s one of the few sessions that I replay in my head pretty consistently. Deep down, I know what it feels and looks like to relax and just be myself. But those feelings seem to be eluding me.

During an email exchange with a new-found friend, I asked him about how to meet guys in the real world (as opposed to online). His answer was simple: be relaxed, smile a lot, and be friendly with everyone you interact with, even if it’s the person standing behind you at the supermarket– you never know what can/will happen because of those interactions.

As I read his advice, a vision of myself from high school flashed through my head. That girl is so different from who I am now, but I realized I envy her. I envy her relaxation and care-free attitude about life.

I wasn’t told any advice I hadn’t heard or even done before. But it was the reminder I needed that I can relax, be myself, be flirty and friendly. As a result, I’ll be happier with myself, my interactions with other people, and I just might finally attract the attention of a guy who values that kind of person.

I’ve dated guys who are attracted to my more mature attitude– no one ever guesses my real age– they either guess 17 because I look like a high schooler or 29 because I act a lot older/mature than people “typically” do my age. And I’ve ended up dating some pretty big a-holes… so clearly not being myself is not getting me anywhere good.

So thanks to Zak for the reminder to be myself. The real Kate is in there somewhere, possibly stuck back in high school, but maybe I can at least glean some advice from her about how to stop being so boring! Plus, I’ll have a lot more fun when I am my friendly self as opposed to the stuffy, rigid person I’ve been for the last few years.

Dating can be like a pendulum.

I’ve dated enough to be able to look back and see how I would date Person A, react to the things I didn’t like by dating Person B who was the complete opposite of person A… and I’ve done that for as long as I’ve been dating. My most extreme example is when I dated California my freshman year of college who was not at all like the goody-two-shoes boys I knew in high school. I then dated The Debater my sophomore year who was ultra-conservative and extremely religious. I then dated The Bad Boy that summer… see a pattern?

Thankfully I broke my pattern of reacting to my ex’s conservativeness and/or religiousness, but I still end up going from one extreme to the other. Case in point: I dated The Narcissist and a couple of months later dated The Dud (alternately referred to as “Huh?”).

I know this pattern in myself and I pride myself on my new-found self-awareness, so I try to be aware of it when I start dating someone new, and especially when I’ve broken up with someone and go for the rebound date.

But my sister said something to me the other day that has gotten me thinking about all of this in a different light.

We were talking about Funny Man, who came to my birthday dinner bash and my sister sat across from him at the table. When I asked her what she thought of him, her response was “he was very fun and life of the party… like Voldemort (aka my ex).”

I should have prefaced her comment with this nugget of information: when Voldemort and I split, our friends had a really hard time grasping what had happened because “he’s just so much fun!” Which is true, but that didn’t mean that meant he was a good husband (or person for that matter). So, speaking of pendulums, I’ve been weary of “class clowns” ever since… maybe I’m not as self-aware as I thought…

Because of my hesitation to be around people who resemble my ex in any way, shape, or form, it gave me a jolt. “Oh shit!” I thought to myself. “What does this mean for me and Funny Man?” I started to have a tiny panic attack until a thought donned on me:

Just because there was something good about my ex doesn’t mean I have to avoid those traits like the plague.

Obviously, that doesn’t mean to just abandon my awareness or not heed what my sister said as being a potential warning (as L, my former counselor would advise: pay attention and see if it really is an issue or just a hiccup).

But I’ve been thinking about this a lot since my sister made that comment. I liked that people liked Voldemort. I liked that I could bring him with me to parties and he was engaging and fun and could easily make people laugh– even if it was at his own expense (there’s a notorious picture of him in a Santa flag… and nothing else…). That was 5 years ago, and I still laugh about it with my friends!

So does everything that is similar an automatic red flag? Or can I learn to appreciate the (few) good things that Voldemort brought to the table and even look for it in someone else? Or is that playing with fire?

The ultimate question being: can I find someone who is a responsible adult (with a stable job, lots of friends, etc) AND is sociable/funny. Or does being funny and charismatic automatically mean someone is a bum?

I really hope it’s possible…

I’m going to step out of my shell a little bit and be extra-vulnerable today. I was inspired to share this after reading this post by Larissa at thoughts simply arise. My thoughts and feelings about my divorce 2 years ago were pretty hidden from people not related to me. I talked with my counselor and my mom pretty openly, but otherwise, the grief and anxiety and hurt was kept to myself. I have about two dozen “private” posts on this blog that I wrote before I made it public that I’ve never shared with anyone. So today, I’m sharing one of those posts with you.

I wrote the following letter after reading about an exercise about letting your hopes and dreams from your relationship go so you can move on. Letting go of “what was to come” was one of the hardest parts about starting over– I was starting from square one, no longer having those same “goals” to work towards.

Now those dreams I had are distant memories, and my new experiences and goals and dreams are what I’m looking towards. My personal dreams are now more likely to be fulfilled without my ex in my life than they were with him.

This is from July 30, 2009:

The Loser, [his nickname before it became Voldemort]

Goodbye to the life we were trying to create. Goodbye to the hours dreaming and fantasizing about what our lives might be like, the places we will go, the people we will meet. Goodbye to the house we will never buy, the cars we will never drive, and the children we will never have.

Goodbye to making new traditions that are just our own. I will not be able to wake up next to you on Christmas morning in our own bed, sit across from you at our own table, and open presents meant just for us.

Goodbye to the friends we were making. They will no longer be our friends the way they used to be. They will feel like they will have to choose sides, feel uncomfortable by our decisions, and it will be uncomfortable to be around them all for long periods of time. I know you never really cared about them– you only were interested in what was in it for you, not what you could give them.

Goodbye to our dreams of growing old together and watching our lives pass before our eyes, each day a new adventure.

Goodbye to having someone beside me, holding me and loving me through the ups and the downs. I know I will feel that way again, but I have to say goodbye to trusting people easily. Thanks to you, I will now have a nearly impossible time trusting anyone again because everyone might have the potential to do to me what you did. I can’t bear to go through that again. My heart cannot handle any more betrayal.

Goodbye to your empty promises and “I’ll take care of it.” Tomorrow always became tomorrow’s tomorrow. I can’t believe I put up with you never following through with the small things that you “promised” to do– like the laundry, picking up the house, running an errand, making a phone call… I got tired of hearing you say you’ll do something, all the while knowing that it will not get done because you’ll find something better to do with your time.

Goodbye to the suspicion that you were cheating on me. I don’t believe you did, but the fact that I even thought you were capable of doing something so horrendous is heartbreaking. You’re not trustworthy or loyal. You text girls while I sit on your lap, and yet think nothing of it. Why would I trust you when cheating was the way you ended your last relationship?

Goodbye to the stress of where the money’s coming from. Goodbye to having to persuade you that whatever shiny new toy you found is too much money. Goodbye to being your financial support. Goodbye to feeling obligated to buy things. Goodbye to sharing and splitting money you have no right to spend.

Goodbye to all of your jobs. Every. Single. One. Goodbye to trying to make you understand that staying in a job, even when it’s not fun, is the responsible, adult thing to do. Goodbye to fighting with you about what stability is. Stability is not just bringing home a meager paycheck. Stability is being able to rely on you to be an adult and contribute to the household and care about my feelings. If I have no one to lean on, how is that stability?

Goodbye to your emotional reactions. Goodbye to plugging my ears to drown out your yelling and cussing. Goodbye to your disrespect. Goodbye to your temper-tantrums and your childish perspectives. We learned how to fight like adults, and yelling and screaming is not one of those ways. Neither is acting like a teenager and leaving me stranded.

Goodbye to your lack of direction in life. I’m tired of hearing about your new idea of the week that you will be tired of by next week. Goodbye to getting an education and being married to a man with any sort of degree. Goodbye to being married to a man who is no better than his alcoholic mother.

Goodbye to not standing up for myself and what I want. I know what I want and I will fight to get it. I was not brave enough to do so before, but I’m brave enough now. Goodbye to being a people-pleaser and trying everything I can think of to make you show me an ounce of love or affection.

And last, but not least, goodbye to feeling embarrassed about what has happened to our relationship. I was blinded by your lies and your sweet-talking, but now I see you for who you really are. Goodbye to any tears of regret I might shed. I do not regret my decision to end things. I deserve a better, happier, love-filled life and I was not getting that from you.

So goodbye… to you.

I’m unashamed about the fact that I am/was seeing a counselor. I believe in the power of good counseling– I was studying to become one in school for goodness sake! I’ve seen it work wonders on members of my family and have witnessed the healing power of it during traumatic times in friends’ lives. I know it’s not for everyone, and most people scoff at it and scorn it, but, honestly, I think everyone could use a therapist now and then 😉

I literally ran to see my counselor before the dust even settled on my ex moving out. I knew that I had made the biggest mistake of my life by marrying him, so I wanted to do any and everything to prevent it happening again.

During our final session last week, we talked through all the lessons I’ve learned over the 2 years I’ve been seeing my counselor. It’s been a life-changing transformation and I know that I could not have done it without the patience and encouragement from her.

I’ve become stronger, learned to trust myself and my instincts, what a bitch shame can be, and above all else to see (and run away from) the RED FLAGS! I cannot tell you how much heartache I could have saved myself if I had just listened to my instincts and let those red flags wave goodbye as I ran as fast as I could away from them… but alas I did not…

It’s a strange sensation to not have my counselor to go see every other Wednesday night at 5:45. I’ve been seeing her for 2 years solid and now I feel strange without something to do on Wednesday… Is it weird that I’ll miss it a little bit? She and I agreed that I’m at a point where I don’t need to come in any more, and that for right now, I’ve learned and processed everything I need to learn and process. I know my weaknesses, the traits in the opposite sex that I need to be on extra-high alert for, and I know my tendencies towards trying to be “perfect.”

But I can only process that so many times in my counselor’s overstuffed couch.

I need to go out and live to test and push myself. I can’t learn to stand up for myself if I don’t actually go out and face people who just might try to tear me down. I need to risk getting my heart-broken by letting a guy in– keeping them at arm’s length will only continue to remind me just how good I am at building walls. I need to practice and become more comfortable with stepping through the walls and put myself out there– and take the risk of pain with the reward of pleasure.

Counseling has enabled me to become the woman I want to be and am continuing to grow into. If it weren’t for her, I’d probably be with another Voldemort, letting him leach off my life and my happiness, all the while trying to change him and make him a better person while I let myself disappear.

NEVER AGAIN!

Never again will a guy be able to take advantage of my low self-esteem, manipulate me into doing what he wants, and above all else, I will never let a guy into my life who does not love and respect me. Before counseling, I would have nodded in agreement that those words sound inspiring and wonderful… but not possible. Now I see that they ARE possible, that a life with a man can be fulfilling for both people, that I can be happy on my own or with a significant other– that being in a relationship with someone does not have to mean I have to lose myself in the process.

Thank you, L, for all you have done to help me find myself and learn to stand by myself, learning that I have something great to give other people, and trusting myself will continue to take some work, but it will pay off big time in the end.

This is a weird addition, but I feel that I need to add it: Along with counseling, the single most influential thing I read when I ended my marriage was Rebuilding When Your Relationship Ends by Dr. Bruce Fisher. If you, or someone you know, has recently ended a serious relationship, I cannot recommend this book more! The book was recommended to me by my boss and have been an advocate for it ever since. Throughout the entire book, it was so reassuring to know that I was not alone in how I was feeling or thinking.