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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part III – To the Aisle

One year ago, March 19, 2018, Sam and I were married. In the last 365 days, I have been blessed with the most wonderful partner! We have had some really amazing moments and our love for each other continues to grow with each passing day. After she said yes to my proposal, we began to plan the wedding. The plans that led up to it, changed quite often, as you will see.

We began to search for venues to host the event. We found a couple of really neat places. One of them was up in Clair. It was a very rustic looking hall and we thought we might do the ceremony and reception there. It would be a little hike for family and friends, and we took that into consideration. There was another place that looked nice too, it was small and they had packages were we could do a ceremony and brunch afterward. Then we looked at a barn which was also very nice. I have DJ’d a few “barn weddings” and they are always very nice. We both liked the idea of the “rustic” look.

We then began to plan a vacation for the two of us. We were talking about a trip to Florida. Sam had never been to a Detroit Tiger game and I had never been to Spring Training. We kind of built the trip around Spring Training. As we were doing this, the thought of getting married in Florida became something we talked more and more about. We would, of course, tell our folks. The original plan was to get married in Florida, and then come home and have a big back yard party. We would invite all of our friends and family, and at the party, we’d let everyone know we had gotten married. We planned to “renew” our vows again in front of everyone. I had a buddy of mine ready to DJ for us and everything. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we were unable to do that.

I am, however, getting ahead of myself. Let me back track a bit. Once we decided to get married in Florida, we had to research all that needed to be done to be sure we were ready when we got there. We found out that in Florida, there were certain things that we had to do. One of those things was a pre-marriage class. We were able to do it online and we both found it very interesting and beneficial. We learned a lot more about each other and found we had things in common that hadn’t come up prior to this. Once we finished the class, we printed off our Certificates of Completion and filed them in our “Florida” folder.

Burma Shave

As I have mentioned in the previous blogs, Sam and I met because of the Sleep Program at Baker College. Two of the instructors, Christine and Michele, were instrumental in our getting together. No, they didn’t hook us up or anything like that. They did, however, suggest me as a tutor, which ultimately led to Sam and I becoming friends – and more. The entire time we had been dating, we kept it from them. At one point, one of them even told Sam that I “wasn’t her type”.

When we knew what the plan was, and knowing what key roles they both played in our getting together, we decided that they would be the first ones to know. We tried to think of a cool way to tell them and I came up with one. We’d be leaving for Florida on a Thursday. We’d arrive on Friday and planned on getting married Monday afternoon at the county courthouse. Each day they’d get an “update” from us in the style of Burma Shave signs.

For those who may not know what I am talking about Burma Shave was a cream that was used for shaving. They used to have poems along stretches of highways, including the world famous Route 66. As you drove you’d see the first line – then the next one – the next one – and so on. Here is a picture of what some of them looked like:

burma-shave-sign-11

They were very popular.

So, I wrote a little poem for each day, detailing our day’s events. In re-reading them in the messages we sent to Christine and Michele, I laughed and felt that they would be perfect for this blog. The only poem I actually sat and thought about was the one for when we had gotten hitched. The rest were written on the fly in a matter of minutes. The last one was really the one I put a lot of time into.

What I love about them is that they are really generic and in no way, shape, or form tip them off on anything until the final poem. I wrote to Christine and Michele the day before we left “Over the next 7 days – Sam and I have decided to treat you both to odes about our trip. I am sure that you will enjoy them, laugh and smile.” I hope you do as well.

Thursday, March 15th.

We left right after I got home from my midnight shift. Sam drove while I slept and then we switched off. Once we got in the car I sent this to Christine and Michele:

“As we drive, I’ve got nothing but time. Be prepared for a week full of rhyme. Nobody talks this way – it’s kind of dumb. Who the hell cares, Florida here we come!”

28907905_10160356693190195_488838979_n

Friday, March 16

“We have arrived all safe and sound. We see the palm trees lining the ground. 170 more miles to where we will stay. It feels damn good to be away. So here we go with day number one. We’re happy to be in the Florida sun.”

29343211_10160368018435195_4362772633746966044_n

We arrived at our hotel and we were pretty tired after that long drive! We did get the chance to relax a bit out by the pool. We relaxed and rested up for the remainder of the night. We were so tired, we spent our first evening having pizza delivered and eating it in bed.

Saturday, March 17

“The windows are down and we feel the breeze, as we drove past rows of palm trees. We headed out to Disney Springs and shopped. If I didn’t have her hand, Sam would never have stopped. Now it is off to enjoy a nice steak. We hope you enjoy these posts from our break.”

29004298_10160365931705195_1747514298_n

We spent the day in Disney Springs and it was a lot of fun. I had no idea this place even existed. There were lots of things to see and I enjoyed some of the great stores, including the Lego store. Because of the reference to the steak, this must have been the night we went to Outback Steakhouse where a couple gave us a free “bloomin’ onion”!

Sunday, March 18

“Day three finds us among the beachers. Yet, here we sit thinking of our favorite teachers. I am wondering if Sam will ever learn, to wear sunscreen so she will not burn. I, too, worry about getting to red. Especially on the top of my head. The best rhyme is yet to come. We promise to tell you tomorrow by one.”

28943197_10160370371705195_1159918076_o

We spent the day at St. Pete’s beach. It was truly an amazing day. What a joy to sit in the sun and talk to each other. We did indeed get sunburned. Sam was very red by the time we left the beach. We were both hurting a bit the next day. When we got back to the hotel, we sent one more poem.

“Are you sick of my poems I send you each day? I really hope not, there are more on the way. I’ll send you one more before your next class. Until then we’re getting sand out of our ass”.

29134202_10160372576690195_206851489_n

After we went to the beach, we came back to our hotel and asked about good local places to eat. The hotel recommended a tremendous Mexican restaurant. It was called Tapatio’s. We almost went somewhere else because the place was packed. I am glad we stayed because not only was the food delicious, they had a mariachi band that was playing while we were there. They were a lot of fun and they interacted with the customers and took requests. It was one of many great highlights!

54257421_2410223032330662_2638148795023491072_n

Monday, March 19 – Wedding Day.

We woke up very excited. I had never been more sure of anything in my life! We dressed and got ready to leave the hotel to head to the courthouse. I wore a maroon shirt and tie, and Sam had a beautiful white dress that she bought for the occasion. Sam is NOT a dress person at all, but we both wanted to dress up and make sure to get pictures at the courthouse.

There were a few people there before us. We filled out all of the appropriate paperwork and were asked if we wanted to get married there at the desk or in the back where they had a room they performed ceremonies. We chose to go to the back. They had a beautiful archway that we stood under. It was just Sam, me, and our officiant. It was a truly special moment. It was intimate and emotional. When we were pronounced man and wife, my heart was filled with a joy I cannot describe. I replay that first kiss over and over in my mind – it was so awesome.

Once we were “official”, we took our picture outside the courthouse with our marriage certificate. It was then time to send the final poem.

“Waking up to vacation day four, you asked for poems – get ready for more. We’ve posted some pics and lots of tags – time now to let the cat out of the bag. Sometimes a secret is very hard to keep. By the end of this rhyme we hope you don’t weep. Let me take a minute to calm all your fears. If you do cry, they will only be happy tears. ‘Happy’ is what you want us to be. That’s what we are, you can take it from me. Our trip to Florida will be over all too soon. But it’s not only a trip – it’s a honeymoon. I asked Sam way back in the fall, now this is where you may start to bawl. Remember when you said I wasn’t her type? Maybe you just got caught up in the hype. Did you see this coming? Probably not. Three more verses – that’s all I’ve got. It’s because of you two that both of us met, and no she’s not pregnant … at least not yet! We wish you were here, even though it might rain. Then we would have the entire “Collective Brain”! Today, I married the love of my life. She made me her husband, and I made her my wife!”

received_10160444258095195~2

We truly caught both of them by surprise! Both of them had no idea. We were able to keep the secret from a lot of people, but Christine and Michele were certainly the hardest to keep it from! We talked to them both so often, so many times we almost slipped about wedding plans, marriage classes, the proposal, and more! It was a relief to finally let them in on it – and to thank them for playing such a BIG role in our being together!! The love that we felt from both of them that day was just amazing! For me, it was extra special. Both of them had been such great friends and helped me through some of those very dark days. To have them rejoice for us – well, that just made the moment even more special.

We celebrated our wedding with a delicious steak dinner at the Texas Cattle Company. The food was truly amazing. We were gearing up for the Spring Training game the following day, so it was cool to see that they had Al Kaline and Willie Horton jerseys hanging inside the restaurant.

“Eagle Eye Hope”

There was one picture from early on in the trip that had people talking. The day we went to Disney Springs, Sam and I went to the Coca-Cola Store. They had the opportunity to get pictures taken with the Coke Polar Bear. I talked Sam into doing it and we are hugging the Polar Bear. Without realizing it, Sam’s left hand was front and center in the picture. She was wearing her engagement ring in it. Some of of friends noticed and starting talking among themselves and wondered what the deal was. One of our friends, Hope, who never holds back came right and and asked. She had taken a screen shot of the picture and circled Sam’s hand in bright yellow and sent it to me with the following “What’s with the ring on Sam’s finger??”

I responded by simply saying, “Of all of our friends – YOU would be the one to notice that!” Her reply was priceless: “OH MY GOD – Are you serious?!” She then told us she was crying she was so happy, and followed it with recorded voice messages of her crying and telling us how happy she was for us! All of this happened before we were even married. She messaged me the day before we got married. We eventually had to call her and listen to her cry. In all honesty, she’s probably gonna kill me because I shared this, but I want her to know that knowing how happy she was for us was one of many highlights of our trip!

Tuesday, March 20 – The Honeymoon Begins

We were both extremely excited to visit Joker Merchant Stadium. Of the entire trip, this was the only day that had called for rain. Prior to game time, it had rained a bit. As we arrived at the stadium, it was sprinkling and I was worried the game might happen. It cleared up and the game went on. I can’t recall for sure, but there was a big cloud burst around the 8th inning that had people scattering, and the heavy stuff didn’t happen until we were walking – well, running – to our car after the game.

28953858_10160386997885195_2663590574950620659_o

Because of the rain, I didn’t really get a good pic of the stadium. I went back the following day to get it, which explains the sunshine. One of the great things about our seats, was that we were right on the first base line and Miguel Cabrera was literally right in front of us. He is one of my favorite players and it was neat to watch him play.

28827504_10160381338700195_7127488976842899042_o

Wednesday, March 21

The last big thing we did while in Florida, was visit the Florida Aquarium. Sam loves penguins, and so I made sure that we also go to go back for the “Penguin Experience” We got to hold the penguins, and take pictures with them, and to see the smile on Sam’s face, it was worth every penny. She was in heaven. I was so happy I could make that happen for her.

We also took a Dolphin Cruise. It was very windy and they actually cancelled the rest of the cruises after ours was done. We did get to see some dolphins and we also got to see Tampa from all around the bay. One of my favorite souvenirs from the trip is the “otter” coffee mug I got from the aquarium. Every time I pour myself a cup of coffee in it, I am reminded of this very special day.

28947362_10160387015145195_6002280482469795617_o

Thursday, March 22 – Homeward Bound

Our trip was truly one that will never be forgotten. We left the state of Florida a married couple looking ahead to the future and our new life together. Little things that we had done hundreds of times before suddenly took on new meaning – holding hands in the car, kissing each other goodnight, etc… I don’t know how to explain it, but they meant more now that Sam and I were married.

The “Unfinished Song”

The morning after we arrived home, I woke from a dream. In the dream I heard a song. I had the melody, but never recorded it on my phone so I wouldn’t forget it. My fault. I did, however, write down the words I remembered. I had hoped that when we had our backyard party, I could play or sing this for Sam. She’s never seen this, and I never found the time to write any more to it.

They say that you find love when you least expect you will

That love can cure depression better than a pill.

I never really thought about it, but I believe it’s true

I’ve never felt this happiness, now I do because of you.

The Chorus I wrote, and the melody I forgot was this:

Only you can make me smile by standing by my side

Only you can make me feel these things way down deep inside

I never thought I could love like this before

But each and every day you make me want you more.

Is it a hit? Probably not. One day I should finish it, huh?

Looking back at 365 Days …

Over the past year, Sam and I have share some very special moments. We’ve taken road trips to Kentucky (to visit family), Tennessee (for a boat ride at the Opryland Hotel), Clare (to visit friends and grab a hamburger at the coolest hamburger joint), and Caseville (to revisit my childhood vacation spots). We enjoyed on stage performances of Wicked and Phantom of the Opera. We’ve had family fun at the Sloan Museum Dinosaur exhibit, the Saginaw Zoo, and a Great Lakes Loons baseball game. We hosted our annual 4th of July party (which was almost when we had our backyard wedding bash), and our first family Thanksgiving. We all went and took part in Beaumont Lights over the holidays and we added two silly cats (Moe and Maizey) to our lives.

The time I have spent with Sam is time that I treasure. She is on my mind from the moment I leave home until the moment I come home to her. She has been an constant support. Her love for me is something like I have never experienced. She is such a positive person and rejects negativity. She has brought about a change in me that has only made me strive to be a better man, a better father, a better husband, and a better friend. I do not have to pretend to be someone I am not. I am free to be myself and she loves me for all of my little quirks and more. She will send me texts that can bring me to tears because they come at a time when I least expect them, but really need them. She encourages me in ways that I cannot describe. She is a source of constant joy.

I have been blessed more than any man could imagine. From out of darkness came this woman who brought light. She brought friendship, she brought companionship, she brought love, and she brought bliss. I feel this complete contentment, joyfulness, exhilaration, ecstasy, and delight when I am with her. I thank God each and every day for the opportunity to love her and to be loved by her.

Happy first anniversary, Sam. There are not enough words for me to express all that you mean to me. I hope and pray to always be the man you need me to be. I once again promise to love you today, and for each day that follows for the rest of our “happily ever after”.

Thank you for being you. I love you.

ebdbc32b945658a431cb4d8fd42378f6

received_10160381577825195