You Gotta Know When To Fold’Em: Breaking Free, and Finding Happiness after Divorce

I’m not one to talk about the past too often unless it brings fond memories, which for the most part I have many. The topic is not that far in the past that it doesn’t still give me residual pangs of hurt that feel as recent as yesterday at times. But I wouldn’t be willing to discuss it openly if it didn’t offer some level of experiential wisdom for anyone who may be facing similar circumstances.

You see it would be approximately 5 years ago that I made the decision to leave my marriage. The marriage was a result of a very long relationship in which it seemed just natural and right to transition to the next step. There is no real love story behind it, rather quite the opposite. In fact if you were to have only had the experience of knowing me more recently, the idea that I would have consorted with the mundane would seem absurd. However, let us return to the Cece of Christmas’s past. Proposals, marriage and the filling of new homes with children is what everyone was doing at that time. It’s what everyone was doing around us. I’m unclear why my mother’s voice wasn’t piping in at this time saying “If all your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you?” But in the case of marriage and settling down, the world around you is giving you a life jacket and pushing you off the ledge. I admit its easy to blame societal pressures to conform; I don’t deny that at that time I was all in. And when I say “all in,” I mean I wasn’t able to foresee my life being anything different than what it was. My vision was exceptionally narrow and reinforced by the baggage I had brought with me from my previous abusive relationship.

Often when marriages and relationships dissolve its only natural in many instances to look at the other person and place the blame on them and their shortcomings. That’s not to say that many partners are 100% to blame and do terribly selfish and hurtful things in which the other played no role other than love someone who didn’t deserve them. And in my case, it went both ways, however its never fair to dive into the details without the other’s ability to share their perspective. And I’d be open to that but he hasn’t answered my calls in three years.

I’m sorry to disappoint you and advise this post is not about my shitty marriage that didn’t work out. In all likelihood, I may devote a whole wine fuelled podcast on the subject, but until then I’ll uphold some integrity. I’m grateful that I am alive and well today living my life in the most authentic and honest way. What a difference 5 years can do for you when you make the best decision of your life.

Which leads me to the topic of how I reclaimed my life when it began to gain momentum in a direction that wasn’t a genuine path for who I am as a person. I believe for many people there are “tells” just like in a game of poker. You see just like the game of poker we often bluff when we aren’t holding a good hand; getting caught up in the risk taking and potentially losing it all. Often when the momentum has us pulled in, there is no consideration for the long game. The more we begin to lose, the more our “tells” come out as the anxiety and desperation begins to build. You see, when you keep seeking the rush of winning and ignore the consequences of losing, we’re left in the emotional poor house. At the tail end of my losing streak, I admittedly had lots of tells, but I also gave the illusion that I had lots of chips in my pocket.

Poker-playing AI threatens to unseat a raft of Texas Hold'em champions -  ExtremeTech

So its no surprise that when I landed on my ass, my emotional poor house was located on the corner of Despair avenue and Hopeless Street. I found myself in a deep, destructive depression that I could not for the life of me dig myself out of. I was erratic in my choices and behavior, and admittedly had considered running my car into bridge barrier one evening as I was screaming at the top of my lungs at the universe in anger. That event haunts me until this day because while it was over 5 years ago, the emotions, my surroundings, what I was wearing, the car indicator lights are as clear as if I was there right now in this moment.

Bridge Underpass Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

You ask what could have brought me to such a place of despair?

I can trace it all the way to the beginning when I first met my ex-husband. I was a single mother at that time with a one and a half year old. I was fresh out of an extremely horrifically abusive relationship with her biological father that left me in ruins emotionally, physically and psychologically. I was 22 years old and I was not equipped with the self awareness and emotional maturity to tackle the damage- in fact I was oblivious to it. I ended up settling after a year with the first real boyfriend I had since leaving my abusive relationship. When I say anyone that was nice to me and wasn’t physically abusive towards me was my standard at that time. The relationship brought many good things regardless of my basic standards whereby I returned to University and got my Social Work Degree from the University of Victoria. My daughter grew a close and loving relationship with a man who accepted her as his daughter whereby they remain very close. I couldn’t have asked for a better father for her and for that I will be forever grateful. He provided us with an extended family and sense of belonging that I had not experienced coming from such a small family myself. He remained committed to our little family and moved to where I got my first Social Work Job in Northern Alberta, leaving his family behind and beginning a life as a unit in a strange small town. Life was looking up as it was during the Alberta Oil Boom and Fort McMurray promised wealth and stability for us as a family. The momentum of my life appeared to be moving in the right direction. I was adequately distracted by my own ambitions and self actualizing a life that was ultimately the way it’s supposed to be in the naively idealistic sense.

Then one day his vision began to blur which quickly turned into vertigo, precipitating what we thought was a stomach flu. We went weeks attending the hospital and trying to treat his stomach flu. I knew something was terribly wrong, and finally demanded he be admitted to hospital otherwise I was approaching the media. Through further testing he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 25. He left Fort McMurray to recover with his family thousands of miles away, where I ultimately decided that I would help him get through this and we would make it work.

It was a devastating blow in every aspect.

This wasn’t part of the plan. In fact it shattered all our plans, and dreams which were left in pieces at our feet. Despite my rage and the unfairness of it all, I quickly resorted back to what I knew best. I had been here before and did what I thought was best in crisis; which was to ignore the emotional impact and take care of those who weren’t as seemingly strong as I.

And there you have it. Mistake #1-Believing others don’t possess strength without you.

Poor Self-Esteem and Confidence can make the human spirit rely on others to validate importance and purpose where others who are in pain can fulfill these voids for us. The experiences/traumas responsible for planting those weeds of doubt in ourselves can be vast and complex. In my circumstances, it would be the trauma from domestic violence, the psychological and verbal abuse. I strongly believe that there is a strong sense of co-dependency created within these dynamics, whereby one enables the other. When done improperly, assuming the role as the “rock” can also perpetuate maladaptive inferiority roles for those who feel powerless with their diagnosis. And in regards to my marriage- I take accountability for succumbing to depending on being needed then feeling stifled years later by creating the culture of dependency.

How do we remedy this? Well I can’t say I was successful in doing it in my marriage otherwise I wouldn’t be speaking about a husband that is now an ex. But over the last 5 years since starting over, I have successfully committed to putting my physical and emotional health ahead of others. This often means, setting firm boundaries and expectations with loved ones and communicating my bottom line. At times it can appear intolerant, or lack empathy, however when our reasonings are given context it can be the most admirable lesson ever. Not everyone will understand this- but know it is for us as individuals to actualize our strengths, and I see no better way than to demonstrate it by walking the walk.

So this leads me to my second mistake.

Mistake #2- Using others crisis as a distraction to avoid my own shit.

I feel like I take the cake with this one, because I could have picked a more appropriate career as a social worker to enable me in doing this. Nonetheless, do you ever find yourself immersed in others lives, being over involved in problems that aren’t your own, and coming to the rescue of some damsel in distress. I was this person, and counted on filling my world with a plethora of noise to avoid the loneliness and pain I was feeling. My bucket continued to run empty as the fruits of my perceived “strength” went unacknowledged or appreciated by my partner, and overutilized by others. I had created the norm and the illusion that I was the “Rock,” someone who had their shit in a pile. That was my doing, because if I eluded to otherwise people would stop running to me with their noise and I’d really be alone. You see, he was increasingly declining in health and struggling with the neurological complications of Multiple Sclerosis. He was angrier, moodier, and more depressed. Intimacy or signs of romantic connection were not reciprocated and I found other ways to appease my needs to feel a connection and needed.

It wasn’t until I left my marriage that I truly felt what it was like to be alone as my home was loaded up and squished into a small 2 bedroom condo. You see at that time I had nothing available to give therefore the noise stopped and the distractions saw no value in what I had to offer during this period. There were few calls or invitations to reach out and help me move or keep me company. It was then that I saw the value in standing alone in the deafening silence and appreciating the space required in order to redirect all my focus inwards. Often we look at isolation or being seemingly forgotten as a reflection of not being worthy or loved- when in fact its Solitude that is being given to us. So the next time you are feeling lonely or overlooked, take the silence as an opportunity to give your soul some good advice and leave the unnecessary distractions at the door.

Mistake #3-Believing that others opinions mattered

I was completely debilitated by what I thought people would think if I made the decision to leave. Never mind that the circumstance were making me suicidal, but with no success in reaching out for extended family support, I was still left with an enormous amount of guilt. What kind of wife was I leaving her husband when he had MS. The only thing worse than me was the husband who left his dying wife with cancer for the cute blonde nurse that was hired to do the home care. I was worried about what they would say about me and how I would be perceived by choosing a chance at life again. What would my daughter think of me, who couldn’t even begin to understand what I was feeling. And why would she, I had managed to shield her from the majority of my unravelling. I was terrified by all the hurt that I would be placing on everyone around me.

Do you see Mistake #1 weaseling its way in here again?

What I realized in this process is that not one person who’s opinion I was worried about ever took the time to listen or ask if I needed support. I can’t believe I was worried about what this would mean for them and concerned that they would have to take over the responsibility of his care. I was actually worried that this would burden them and they would be angry with me that I had not tried hard enough or just endured longer. In the end it all worked itself out, which is a testament that when we walk away people have the ability to find a solution with or without us.

In hindsight, I wish I had been more kind to myself during this time. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that the challenges we were facing could be tackled in isolation yet we were left with no other option. The marriage counseling along with the long list of personal coping strategies and personal sacrifice at the expense of my mental health had fallen flat. The fact that I’m explaining this further is my lingering “tell” that perhaps I still have some feelings of guilt to work through.

What awaited me on the other side of it all was the overwhelming support from my own family and close friends who knew there was a life out there for me. You see they had boundaries with regards to where they were willing to rejoin me again and even my daughter stood by my decision and me throughout it all.

Mistake #4- Not Doing it Sooner

I wish I had conjured the courage and wisdom it took to commence the decision to move ahead quicker that had been overdue. My days of bluffing no longer held a strategic purpose in my life and with a sense of relief, happily folded the cards I was dealt. Perhaps that ominous bridge barrier that originally symbolized an end for me, alternatively was the beacon of hope that life was worth living if I just changed the direction of my wheel.

Amen to that.

And while I don’t intend on stewing to much more on the mistakes of the past, I hope that in sharing them provoked some fruitful “What if’s” for you if you are facing a need for change. Whether you are facing a decision to get sober, ending a toxic friendship or leaving an abusive relationship-know that you always have choice to change the direction.

Begin to free yourself at once by doing all that is possible with the means you have, and as you proceed in this spirit the way will open for you to do more.
~ Robert Collier

Please go follow my Instagram @cece_a_broadtalez

Curating Creative Passive Aggressive Notes in a Time of Covid-19: New Ways to Drive Each Other Crazy.

We are 8 months into a pandemic that seems like its overstayed its welcome ten times over. They had predicted back in May, that the Pandemic would likely be here for the next 2 years. And in keeping with our theme today I’d like to tell Covid-19 a big old “Thanks in Advance for all your dedicated hard work, you really know how to kill it out there.”

I’m over talking about the C-word and perhaps we can find some unity in a world that has become more divided in a time where it no longer is just Donald Trump’s fault. I’m sure we have all had the opportunity to get to know our partners, room-mates, kids and family far more intimately since being home more. Up to this point my partner and I have exhausted every possible petty argument imaginable that we have no choice but to get along now. I think we may have single handedly invented a new method on how to save a marriage in 8 months…wait for the book! It was encouraging to come across this post “73 Ridiculously Stupid Things Couples Fight About,” and check off every single one of them. Needless to say that the serenity has bored me, and I’m left wondering how can I be a next level pain in his ass.

Stupid Things Couples Fight About
This is about right….

One may ask why would I engage in pure flagrant behavior, and risk severing the life and limbs of my relationship? Well you see I’m diagnosed with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, and I get bored very easily if I do not have new ways of interacting with the world or engaging in meaningful and productive activities. Also, this asshole never puts the empty toilet paper rolls into the garbage- he leaves them on the floor next to the toilet. If you are not on my level of petty then you can see your way out- we are not the same people.

Ways To Reuse Toilet Paper Rolls and Other Cardboard Tubes - Reuse Grow  Enjoy

This is a new concept for me as I’m not subtle in my communication styles, which is surprising since my mother was queen of passive aggressive communication and punishment. I will be using her as my guest consultant as I proceed with my devious plan. Seeing as my partner pretends to read my blog I don’t anticipate he will know what’s up until I use this post in an argument down the road. I can visualize it now, I’ll store it away in the brain compartment labelled “Ammunition” to prove he doesn’t support my success and dreams in life when it seems fitting. I’ve already won the hypothetical argument and he doesn’t even know it.

So I have begun researching how I may address his toilet paper roll oversights in new ways that will perhaps keep our love fresh by tipping the scales of risk. I feel like the scales may tip in my favor at least in regards to some really great make-up sex if it blows up in my face. Below is a few ways that I will be adopting over the next month or so.

They Just Don't
Somehow dishes are not his nor hers nor anyone’s as claims are made that they weren’t even in the kitchen the make the mess. Yet here they lay.
Here Are The 20 Most Passive Aggressive Notes Ever Left. #6 Is Much  Deserved... LOL. - ViralServ
passive-agressive-toilet-paper-home
passive-agressive-clean-the-fridge
This seems like a great way to suggest that Fridge Cleaning is open to other days outside of the days he needs space for beer storage.
Leaving communal kitchens untidy is a common office gripe with one person using Post Its to express their dissatisfaction with their co-workers
I’ll take 500 of these please.
When sales promotions go wrong: One shopper became enraged by a supermarket's promotional deals
Swears up and down he only had one.
i tolerate you cake wife prank
Finally a Cake I can make-Nailed it.
wife makes passive agressive flow chart for hunger
Robbie’s Wife can feel my pain.
When things are getting a little boring in your relationship, the best way to spice things up is with a sexy dress-up session..
When a husband asks for something, what does a good wife do?
There are two ways to handle an argument: draw it out for ages and ignore each other until someone relents, or make a slightly funny retort and forget the whole thing.

I should have probably began this post with a disclaimer that I am not a licensed relationship counselor. I could probably be described more appropriately as the antagonist villain in regards to all things relationship related. I like to keep things dangerous, teetering on the ledge, holding a match over a barrel of gasoline. You may be wondering how can you find success in a relationship with this kind of attitude.

I’m so busy coming up with new ways to challenge and test our relationship through laughter, humor, and being unapologetically myself that I don’t have much use for the real relationship killers. When playfully researching ways to get under my boo’s skin I came across How to Annoy Your Boyfriend and it mentioned common habits that are real killers. It mentions things like being on your Phone all the time, or abusing it as a means to be over controlling. Mind Games was another point and it breaks down many identifiable habits couples engage in. Playing up Insecurities by acting jealous, or limiting their time with friends, running their phone down. Being a Diva, and that’s not confined to just women! This includes Demanding things that are not financially realistic, always making a fuss over little things, chronically prioritizing your needs above theirs to name a few.

As I conclude I hope you can appreciate my tongue and cheek approach to the obvious challenges we are all facing. Whether it be in our romantic or within our platonic relationships as we continue to hunker down in our social bubbles. Try not to burst yours because unlike the pandemic relationships can be here forever.

Now go and get busy messing with your significant other. Give them a Big Ol’ Wet Willy and tell them Cece told you too!

Follow my Instagram for daily videos of me annoying my boyfriend.

Happy Pestering!

Overcoming the Hurdles of Fertility: Looking Outside the Box

I’ve never been a woman that has based her life on her ticking biological clock, especially in regards to my own maturity or lack there of in the eyes of some. I haven’t always embraced my spirited personality qualities, but thankfully I’ve found a sense of confident acceptance with those qualities,and are here to stay. I’m sure I m not alone in this as I’ve experienced close friends evolution into parenthood who would naturally grow weary and tired of certain activities that involved all night music festivals and furry costumes. I on the other hand was just getting started, and while I too have retired my fairy wings, I could be talked into a “for old times sake”, scenario. The arm twisting involved I imagine would be minimal. You see, I’ve always subscribed to the habits of saying yes to anything that ignites excitement and thrill in my being. One could suggest that my vice is thrill that is delivered through a syringe of soul stimulating experiences, sparking a fiesta of synaptic fireworks of pleasure.

Fearless curiousity is what drives this beastly vessel into the abyss of life!

I’d be lying however if I didn’t admit that at one point I tried to assimilate to the societal norms of women my age. It had a lot to do with finding myself more and more on my own and feeling the need to stay connected with my evolving peer network. I missed them and I missed having shared interests that we no longer seemed to have. You see my story didn’t pan out the way it was supposed to, and everyday I’m thankful it didn’t! I’d be miserable in a prison of life without love, passion, and not to mention glorious mind blowing sex.

But to be perfectly honest almost 5 years ago I left a 15 year marriage in which I produced no more children due to my ex-husbands multiple sclerosis diagnosis. It wasn’t becuase we weren’t able to have children to my knowledge, but I feared the idea then of having a husband debilitated by MS and a new baby. It was a daunting concept and not a step I was brave enough to take as I had experienced single parenthood and struggle before with my daughter. I had essentially wrapped my head around not ever having or wanting more children.

But then life likes to throw you a curve ball or two, and mine came in the form of a new special someone. Interestingly enough, when we began dating, the conversation of children came up and he too had stated he was not interested in having children. I couldn’t have been more excited as I had found the yin to my yang who was also fearless, free and looking for adventure. Early on I envisioned us for the next 10-15 years acting like couple of crazy kids in love with no anchors or responsibilities tying us down. We would look around us and share a sigh of relief that we didn’t have the same lives as everyone else our ages. The world was our oyster and we were ready to conquer and fuck shit up together. The Slim to this Queen, Beyonce to her Jay-Z just living a life of sin, just me and my boyfriend.

Until we fell deeply and utterly in love.

Love will do funny things to a person. Like make you all of a sudden want to procreate at the age of 40 even though you have just sent your one and only child off to university. IVF and fertility treatments start to be considered as a priority over the plastic surgery you’ve been researching and saving up for. In fact, this desire can grow so strong that it becomes the only adventure you want to go on. Holding babies and smelling their sweet breath now provided the same exhilaration that the PK Sound Base used to give me. Furthermore with that being said romping three times a day and 7 nights a week at the swanky Boudoir a la Home Bedroom, a hedonistic vacation it is.

But as I’m fully aware, you can’t always control the story we believe we are meant to live. So after 3 years of trying to conceive and a referral to the fertility clinic, the adventure of parenthood has fallen flat. We have experienced all of the ups and downs privately associated with the disappointment. My partner had already anticipated the emotional spiral from myself in which I often interpreted as lack of faith in my ability to carry a a baby. Respectively though, he was already used to my raw and deeply felt pain associated with the disappointments I had become accustomed too over my lifetime, quipped with unrealized dreams.

He was just being realistic. He too has had his share of disappointments whereby he falls on the other end of the spectrum of often never expecting things to turn out the way they should. I’ve often been critical of this quality because from a dreamers perspective, I’m a believer in manifesting positive outcomes. His realism is what protects his heart and keeps him strong, and in hindsight was only interested in protecting mine too.

Accompanied with heartache and a sense of loss, we turned our attention elsewhere in the hopes of reclaiming that original unique confidence we had in the early years of our relationship.

So we introduced the idea of getting a puppy.

Some would say perhaps as equally as challenging as a baby at times, and others would suggest a good “starter kit” before children. My only fear at this time is what if I get both? The baby would have to go back where it came from, because I’m pretty sure I’m completely in love with our New American Akita that we named Geisha.

All jokes aside we decided to take on our little “baby starter kit” by choosing probably one of the most challenging breeds of dogs. If you are not familiar with American Akita’s here is a bit of insight:

The Akita was never bred to live or work in groups, rather to be alone or in a pair. The Akita is happy to be an only dog, and can be aggressive toward other dogs not in his family group. Properly socialized, an Akita can learn to tolerate other animals, but will most likely try to keep his status as top dog at any cost. The Akita is loyal and affectionate toward his family and friends, but quite territorial about his home and aloof with strangers. They are excellent watchdogs and will only bark when there is truly something amiss.

The large size of the Akita can make him difficult to control and so is not a breed suitable for everyone. He has extreme strength and endurance and needs dedicated training to help him properly channel energy. Being an intelligent breed, however, the Akita can easily become bored with training. He thrives when challenged and given a job to do.

So just as we would be attending our prenatal appointments/classes, we are anxiously awaiting Geisha’s obedience classes. At the ripe age of 8 weeks old and weighing in at approximately a five year old child I already believe she is in the top percentile of her age group.

But who’s bragging. Most definitely this mama right here!

She has the qualities of her mom and dad. The intelligence and beauty of her mother and the confident boldness of her daddy. We couldn’t have created a more perfect little girl. Try to tell me otherwise.

And while you may already be thinking that I’ve completely come undone here me out. I may have minimized my hurt and disappointment significantly with regards to our fertility issues. Its a subject thats often brought up whereby the pressure to produce is on and its not as a result of not trying. There are deeper emotions attached to not being able to conceive, in addition to creating strain in relationships.

I came across an article that hit a few nails on the head for me with regards to those complicating stress factors involved with fertility issues and relationships.

The Impact of Infertility on Your Self-Esteem

My Body Has Failed Me.

“My body has failed me.” When forced to face that reality, it’s very common to feel as if your body has failed you in a basic way.

We know that one in 8 women will struggle to conceive. You just never expect that you might be that one. When forced to face that reality, it’s very common to feel as if your body has failed you in a basic way. It’s a hit to your self-esteem. That feeling of failure can often produce anxiety, regret – for not seeking treatment or answers sooner, or a sense of self-blame. It also produces a sense of shame which can lead to isolation and even depression.

Why Hide The Struggle?

In a culture that highly prizes family-building, couples who struggle to conceive or to carry a baby to term often report feeling frustrated with the assumptions and questions friends and family have for them regarding when they plan to start a family. Confiding in those closest to them often yields unsolicited advice, intrusive questions and horror stories of other couples’ struggles. When one is feeling hurt and raw about the inability to conceive, it often feels wiser or safer to protect oneself and not share at all or to let others assume that she doesn’t plan on having children. Keeping a painful secret this big can feel like another blow to your self-esteem.

In fact, that same survey found that one-third of patients reported that their “ability to confide in others” decreased when they started to struggle to get pregnant and more than half of all the couples said it was “easier just to tell people that they were not planning to have children.” Being inauthentic about your hopes and dreams with folks you care about can be yet another hit to your already-teetering sense of self.

I Feel Depressed. Am I Depressed?

That need to guard oneself coupled with the retreating in isolation and shame can seriously impact one’s mental and emotional health. According to Dr. Ali Domar, “40% of women had significant symptoms of anxiety or depression at their very first visit to an infertility specialist, and the percentage increases as the complexity of treatment increases.” Additionally, the symptoms of depression rise for many women after they’ve experienced an unsuccessful IVF cycle as well. Depression is yet another serious blow to your self-esteem. Fragile emotions, layered in with hormones and fertility medications all come together to make you feel awful about yourself and your circumstances.

Now My Marriage is Struggling.

Many couples reveal that the tension of infertility has created a lack of spontaneity, feelings of unattractiveness, and difficulty maintaining emotional and sexual intimacy.

When a couple is struggling to achieve the dream of building a family together and emotions are raw, it can strain the marriage. Sex becomes routine and clinical. Conversations can be tender or downright inflammatory. When you add the layers of fatigue from other folks’ often unwanted input and the inclination toward isolation or depression, it’s a recipe for marital discord. While many patients report that the struggles to create a family have drawn them closer as a couple, many couples also reveal that the tension of infertility has created a lack of spontaneity, feelings of unattractiveness, and difficulty maintaining emotional and sexual intimacy. Those feelings are,  again, more hits to your self-esteem. It’s not impossible to overcome this tension but it definitely requires time and attention to each other’s needs through a supportive connection with your spouse.

Where There is Fur There is Love

So at this stage I’m sure you are probably feeling duped into believing that this was going to be a fluffy funny post about puppies and rainbows I assure you it still is! I could not feel happier at this point despite our difficulties to conceive. What I have come to realize is that giving love to any life whether it be animal or human can open up parts of us and invite healing in where its most needed. The idea of caring for something that is 100% counting on you to provide it with not only its basic needs but nurture its overall growth and learning can provide the same or similar satisfaction.

Without further Adieu, I’m happy to share the beginning of our fur baby parenting journey. Brace yourself for many more proud parent fur baby posts as we embrace the joy that this little gal has already brought to our lives.

Here is our “Fur Baby Birth Story”

Make sure you Follow Geisha’s Journey on Instagram: GeishatheAkitaGuida