The Big “D” (and I don’t mean Dallas)

I have been blogging here for almost 2 years.  That, in itself is pretty unbelievable to me.  In that time, I have blogged about a variety of topics.  I have blogged about family, friends, music, and music.  I have blogged about changes in my life, happiness, and things I have struggled with.  Today, I am going to blog about a topic that I have avoided.

I won’t lie, there have been times that I have thought about tackling this topic.  I know that I could easily spend a LOT of time on it, but for the purpose of this blog, I won’t.  Yes, I am going to write about it, but I am going to attempt to write about it in a way that I will benefit from it.  I am going to write about it in hopes that someone else may stumble on this and read it and take away some of the things that I did.

I am going to write this as a constant reminder to myself, and a word of encouragement to those who are going through it, or considering it.  I am not going to focus on the negatives, because I already know what that does.  Instead, I am going to be truthful and focus on the positives.

Deep breath.

I had a phone conversation today.  That is what prompted me to sit and write this.  You know how when you get married they say, “You aren’t just marrying that person – you’re marrying their family?” The same holds true when a marriage ends in divorce.  In some cases, that can be a blessing, while in others, well, not so much.  People are going to take sides.  Both sides will try to put the blame on the other.  Hate grows towards people.  Gossip spreads.  Stories become tall tales.  A division takes place and you “no longer are family.”

I was gently reminded today of how “former family” members felt about me.  It was very nonchalant, almost said in passing.  It was one of those things that often happens in conversations that start in one place and end in another.  A jab here, a jab there, something that is meant to seem like nothing, but in reality is there purposely.  The nice thing about where I am today, is that it doesn’t effect me like it used to.  I can totally handle it.

You know, with social media today, we have constant reminders of our memories.  Facebook memories go back 10 years and remind me of what I was doing or what I posted a decade ago.  Some memories are pleasant reminders, while some bring back painful memories.  Here is what I have always believed, and I have mentioned it before – I am who I am today, because of where I have been, the people in my past, and the choices I have made.

When a memory of times with “former family” comes up, I see them.  I don’t delete them.  Why would I?  Even if it was something I want to forget, it still happened.  Unlike my grandma, who cut out people’s heads in pictures because they did her wrong, I don’t do that.  Those are memories.  Sadly, I was told years ago to get rid of pictures of some of my exes.  I did to make someone else happy, but by doing it, I no longer have any pictures from my prom.  Is that fair?  No.  Your past is responsible for who you are today.

So here is what I need to write about all of this:

Divorce allowed me to find “ME” again!

I was not a pleasant person by the time I got divorced.  I was angry.  I was confused.  I was on so many meds, I am lucky I remembered things.  Those meds made me say and do things that I don’t even remember doing.  I apologize to those who were affected by that.

Afterward, with the help of therapy and true friends, I found ME again!  I was that happy guy who wasn’t on medications.  I was enjoying the things I enjoyed before.  I was laughing, loving, and LIVING again!  I was no longer NUMB.  Sure, life still throws curve balls, but that always happens.  The difference now is that I am equipped to handle them and think clearly.  I am no longer making decisions in a fog – I am ME again!  I am in control of ME. Finding me was liberating and encouraged me to do things that I wouldn’t have done in my past situation.

I believed in myself again.

Divorce allowed me to reconnect with people

People used to tell me I was a good friend.  That was NOT true in my last marriage.  I neglected SO many people.  My relationship with my father and my own brother were strained because of my situation.  Some of my BEST friends (some from all the way back in high school) never heard from me, unless they called me (and often those calls were cut short because I was forced to end the call).  I missed more things than I care to discuss because of that situation.  What I felt was important was often trumped by what someone else thought was more important.

Over time I began to leave things like group outings early.  Eventually, I stopped going to them all together.  I stopped bowling on a league.  I always had a “prior engagement” when asked to golf.  I sold my DJ business.  I got out of radio.  I neglected birthdays, anniversaries, parties for friends.  No wonder people stopped bothering to call me.  I had abandoned them to keep peace.

Thankfully, many of those friends welcomed me back without hesitation after my divorce.  They said they understood.  They didn’t want to interfere.  Sadly, I can never get back that time.  Missing events like my Goddaughter’s confirmation, funerals for a friend’s parent who passed away, family holidays, and things like that leave me with feelings of regret.  I cannot get those moments back.  I was a terrible friend.

Divorce has allowed me to reconnect with friends and family who mean the world to me!

Divorce has allowed me to move past what I cannot control

Specifically, what other people think of me.  Sure, you heard all kinds of things about me.  I know you think this and that about me, and that is ok.  I cannot control what you think of me.  You can take the one side of the story, the embellished stories, the second hand gossip and judge away.  In truth – you don’t know the truth.  You didn’t live my life, so how could you possible know what I went through?  Believe what you want.  I have no control over that.  If you want to truly come to a conclusion based on whatever you hear, well, as George Strait said, I have some ocean front property in Arizona to sell you!

Admittedly, it is one of the hardest things I had to deal with.  I worked on the radio for years.  If someone called me and told me I sucked or judged something I did on the air, it bothered me.  Same thing here – it bothered me what people were thinking about me.  What were others believing?  What was being said?  Why didn’t they come and ask me?  I really let that weigh me down!!

With a lot of help in therapy, I came to realize that no one but me knew what I was going through.  No one knew of the struggles that I was dealing with.  No one was wise enough to sense the smile I wore in public was fake.  No one knew how much I hurt.  No one knew how many times I broke down in tears in private.  I was the one who finally had to make the choice that I felt was right so NO ONE has the right to judge me for my choices.  I took control.  I decided that I needed help.  I was the one who tried to fix me, because I felt I was the one responsible for the situation and I was the one who was the root of all the problems.

Post divorce I carry on.  I live with the choices I have made.  I chose to do what makes me happy, with those who make me happy, and I could care less about what people think of me – because I have no control of that.  I do, however, have control of ME.

Divorce allowed me to find true love and experience a healthy relationship

I grew up in a home where my parents argued a lot.  Perhaps I felt like this was a normal thing in a marriage.  Perhaps that is why I always made the assumption that fighting was something that just happened with any marriage.  Don’t misunderstand me, I understand that in ANY relationship, there will be disagreements and arguments.  In my case, over time, those arguments got more and more heated and happened often in front of the kids.  I guess it was when this happened that I knew it wasn’t normal.

All strong relationships take some effort.  The thing to remember, is that when both people are committed to each other, are compatible, and truly love each other, the effort that you need to put into the relationship doesn’t feel like work.  It is effortless.  It just happens.  You both care about each other, each other’s opinions, and you genuinely want it to work.  It’s not about one upping each other or doing what is best for you – it’s what’s best for US.  There is a connection between the two of you.  You LISTEN to each other and HEAR each other.  You don’t put each other down – you lift each other up.

That is the kind of relationship I have with Sam.  We lift each other up.  We love each other.  We listen to each other.  We are honest with each other.  We make decisions together.  It’s never about “me” or “you”, it is about “US”.  What an amazing blessing she is to me.  What a blessing our relationship is.  When my youngest son looked at me recently and said, “Dad.  You are a good husband to Sam,” I almost cried.  I hope that they look at what I have now and see it as what a marriage is supposed to be like.

Moving on

I think waiting to write this has only helped me more.  Going through it, moving forward, and then looking back at it.  You can look back at it without all the emotions and stuff that cloud your judgment or perception.  Looking at it from where I am now, allows me to look at it, with a new perspective.  I can move forward and know what to do and NOT do.

Divorce changed me.  Going through it made me more aware, and it made me a stronger person.  I went through the stress and pain and came out on the other side a wiser person.  My therapist probably said it best – “You are not the same person that you were before.  Now, you are better!”  Yes.  I am better.  MUCH better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tune Tuesday – All I Want

I spent the majority of my radio career playing country music.  I started with oldies, dabbled in classic rock, played adult contemporary songs, and even had a stint at an urban station.  If I add up the years by genre, I have played more country music than anything.

Today’s country music, in my honest opinion, is more like a southern rock.  Some of it even borders on rap.  My current PD (and many others) call it “bro country,” whatever that means.  Recently, on my weekend show, I actually played a George Strait song – a new one at that!  It actually sounded country!

While some laughed at Darius Rucker for cutting a country album, he actually fit right in.  Darius, of course, was/is the lead singer for Hootie and the Blowfish who burst on the scene with their album Cracked Rear View in 1994.  They had some huge hits and great success.  Darius did some solo stuff in 2001, and in 2008 signed with Capital Records to release a country album.  That album was called “Learn to Live”.

The album had some great songs on it.  The first three singles (Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It, It Won’t Be Like This For Long, and Alright) all reached #1!  While I Still Got The Time, Drinkin’ and Dialin’ and Learn to Live are also great songs lyrically and musically.  The song that just stands out the most for me on the album is “All I Want”.

Darius co-wrote the song with songwriter Frank Rogers, who wrote Brad Paisley’s “I’m Gonna Miss Her.”  (Brad Paisley, coincidentally, plays lead guitar on the song. )  Darius says that the song sounds like it was written by two guys who hate their wives, and thought when he played it for his wife, she’d think he wanted a divorce.  He says that wasn’t the case at all.  Darius stated that when they wrote the song, there were a lot of people around him getting a divorce, and that’s where the idea came from.

As someone who was recently divorced, this song was one that I played often on the iPod.  The entire first verse, I could relate to:

“Don’t act surprised, it ain’t like you didn’t know.
It’s been like a long time coming and it’s time for me to go.”

While the subject matter of the song is a bit more serious, the way it is written in a tongue and cheek sort of way, is just one of the reasons I love it.  The last lines of the chorus, is one of my favorite lines in music.  Darius said when his wife heard it, she was on the floor laughing.  I also love it because it has a great boogie-shuffle rhythm to it.

“All I Want”


Don’t act surprised, it ain’t like you didn’t know
It’s been like a long time coming and it’s time for me to go
Tryin’ to split things up could drive us crazy
So I’m gonna make this easy, baby

You can have the money, you can have the house
Take the Cadillac and that boat out back
And your mother’s pink and yellow couch
You can have every penny that I’ll make from this here song
Girl all I want you to leave me is alone

Don’t get me wrong I will always love you, girl
You were my life you were my heart, you were my world
But we both know it’s over, there’s no need to fight it
Girl I just need some peace and quiet

So you can have the money, you can have the house
Take the Cadillac and that boat out back
And ugly pink and yellow couch
You can have every penny that I will make from this here song
Girl all I want you to leave me is alone

You can have the money, you can have the house
Take the big screen and your diamond ring
And those shoes that you swore you couldn’t live without
You can have every penny that I will make from this here song
Girl all I want you to leave me is alone
Girl all I need you to leave me is alone

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Side note to trolls:  All I want you to leave me is alone!  🙂

 

 

Part II – The Proposal

Yesterday’s blog was an emotional one to write.  I put some things in it that I had been quiet about for some time (depression, suicide, divorce, and unhappiness). It came as a surprise to many, and the wonderful words shared by friends on Facebook, and right here on my page meant more to me than you can imagine.  Thank you for reading, following, and your comments.

But, wait!  There’s more!  The story continues…..

When I ended my blog yesterday, I brought you to the place where I had come to realize what an amazing woman I had been blessed with.  As crazy as it sounds, so soon after a divorce, I knew that everything was right!  I did not want to lose this wonderful woman that had been placed in my life.  She had expressed to me that she was very happy as well.  There was no doubt that we had both fallen deeply in love with each other.

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I knew I wanted to be with her forever.  I wanted to propose and I wanted it to be something special.  I had bought a ring and had kept it hidden.  It was not your traditional “solitaire” diamond.  I liked it, but I kept wondering whether she would like it.  I finally caved and texted her sister and asked for her opinion.  She told me it was “perfect” and that it was exactly what Sam would like.

Now, I had to think of how to do it!

The Plan

Sam loves Disney movies.  In discussing movies, we discovered that we both loved the Disney/Pixar film, Up! (An amazing film, that is a MUST see).  The film begins by introducing us to Ellie and Carl.  They are adventurers!  Ellie even has An Adventure Book to record all of her adventures.  Ellie and Carl grow up, get married and the book plays a big part of the story.  In doing a search, I found the perfect way to deliver the ring!  I found a book that could be personalized and when you opened it up, the ring would be tied to a ribbon!

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It was PERFECT!  I ordered it with the understanding that it would take a few weeks to deliver.  I had made dinner reservations at a nice Italian place we had discovered quite by accident.  It technically wasn’t where we went for our first date, but we both really liked it, so I chose to go there to have dinner after she (hopefully) said “yes”.  We live close to Frankenmuth (home of the world’s largest Christmas store, for those who don’t live in Michigan), and I had arranged for a horse-drawn carriage ride.  The plan was to hand her our book and ask her while we were crossing the bridge in Frankenmuth.

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When the plan fails to come together, you improvise …

As that Saturday approached, I continued to watch the mail.  The book had not arrived yet.  I knew when I order it that I was cutting it close.  When the book didn’t arrive in the mail, because of our work schedules, I decided I didn’t want to wait a week.  I had the carriage reserved, I had reservations for dinner, I would proceed without the book.

We arrived in Frankenmuth and we began to walk toward the Bavarian Inn Restaurant (where the rides leave from).  Sam looked a bit confused, because I had already told her I had dinner plans in another city.  She must have thought we were going to eat there, until I walked up to the horse and carriage.  We climbed aboard and the ride began.  I began to thank her for how she changed my life.  We turned onto main street and approached the bridge.  I told her how happy she made me and how much I loved her.  As I struggled to try to get the ring box out of my pants pocket, I told her I could imagine my life without her in it.  Off in the distance, there was a slight rumble.  With the ring box now in my hand, my anxiety level was through the roof!  As we reached the point – it was time.  As I began to speak, from behind the carriage that rumble had become a load roar!  At the very moment I was about to ask Sam to marry me, this group of 20-50 bikers came roaring past us with a thunderous noise that made it impossible for us to hear each other!

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To this day, I am surprised that the noise didn’t startle the horse that pulled the carriage.  I don’t know, maybe it was deaf!  It had to be.  Honestly, that horse should have jumped and scurried and wrecked the carriage with us in it!  That didn’t happen, thankfully, but by the time the motorcycle gang from hell had passed us, we were over the bridge and the ride was just moments away from ending.  We were almost back to where we started.

All the momentum that I had built up to lead to that special moment was now long gone.  I think, to be funny, I said something along the lines of, “So, anyway ….”  and eventually popped the question before the horse and carriage had come to a stop.  She, of course said “yes”.  There were tears and my anxiety was no longer present, it had been replaced by overabundant joy!

We held hands almost the entire way down to the restaurant.  I think the only time we weren’t holding hand was when she was looking at the ring, now on her hand, smiling that wonderful smile of hers!  We had an amazing Italian dinner at Maggiano’s and we had an amazing day!!

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Now to plan the wedding

The only people we told right away were some family members.  Her folks knew, her sister at least knew it was coming, and My dad and Rose knew.  We chose to keep it secret from our friends and other family members until we decided when and where we were going to get married, and go from there.

With our first anniversary only two days away, that story will be next.

Oh, and that book showed up the Monday after our date!