Category Archives: About Tina

Huffington Post Divorce: 5 Things Smart Women Do After Divorce

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There are things that come with manuals and things that don’t. Getting married, having children and getting divorced are three things in life that should come with a manual. If I had seen the manual about divorce (mine specifically) then I may have run screaming.

Hindsight is 20-20 and I have no regrets because I was blessed with two amazing little girls.

I got married. I had children. I got divorced. Not just any divorce but one that has tested my faith and my sanity on several occasions. I am stronger and I have grown as a person. I have a voice but I am not hardened. I am not bitter. I am taking lemons and making lemonade.

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Speaking of lemonade, there is a website called, “The Lemonade Divorce” and at the helm is Alison Patton, Esc. Alison writes for the Huffington Post as the “Divorce Doc” and I was honored beyond words when she emailed me a few weeks ago to let me know that she was including my blog in her next article for the Huffington Post. Honored is an understatement. I think I jumped up and down squealing.  Then I had a little talk with myself that went something like this: “Calm down…it’s only the Huffington Post. OMGOSH!!! IT’S THE FLIPPING HUFFINGTON POST!!!!!”

I have been able to make lemonade from lemons and without further a due, I share with you Alison’s article.  I hope that I am able to continue helping parents to find their voice and to use my experience to bring change to the Family Court System.  Huffington Post: What Smart Women Do After Divorce by Alison Patton, esq.

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A Little Pep Talk

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My sister sent me a little card that I keep on my desk as a reminder.  I also bring it with me to court– it stays in my pocket with a few other “reminders”.
A Little Pep Talk (author unknown)

Repeat after me:

I am strong.

I am special.

I can do anything.

Sometimes like throws hurdles in our path, but we just have to keep on going full speed ahead,

looking inside ourselves for the courage to leap over them and never look back.

Always believe in yourself as much as others believe in you. 

You are strong.  You are strong.  You are strong. 

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I am honored and empowered by the amazing women I’ve connected with through this journey– special thanks to It’s All About Balance and A Little Bit Stronger .

 

My Rock

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I’ve wanted to write this post for quite some time but I can never seem to find the right words.  Sometimes things in life happen for a reason.  They aren’t planned.  They aren’t expected.

They just happen.

In June of 2009, I placed an online ad.  As I said before, I was searching for friendships…not a mate.  A man answered my ad and we had nothing in common.

Actually, we did have one thing in common– we were both single parents.  Even in that realm, we didn’t have a lot in common: his boys were between the ages of 16 and 20 and my girls…only 2 and 4.  He was cleaning sand (from surfing) out of his dryer vent and I was removing pink glitter and fuzz from mine.  I remember joking about this over email.

I read his profile several times and wondered what we’d even talk about…he was a Park Ranger and my idea of camping is a 2-star resort.  He was seeking someone who knew how to change in and out of a wetsuit with ease and enjoyed hiking.  He sought someone who didn’t flinch at the thought of a “tick check”.  For me, the thought of putting on a wetsuit weights up there with root canals and while I do own a pair of hiking boots…they’ve never actually been on my feet.  The mere thought of a tick on my body makes me want to cry.

I reevaluated my initial thoughts– it’s just coffee.  You are looking for friends.  What do you have to loose?

Fast forward to today (two and a half years later)- this man has restored my faith in men.  Luckily, I met him before my divorce got crazy because had I waited…I may have never dated another man for the rest of my life.  I don’t know of another man who would have stood by my side through this roller coaster.  He has been my rock, my support system and the love of my life.  When I picture myself with grey hair– I picture him next to me.

Through him, I have learned that there are genuinely good men in this world.  He loves my every color– the good and the bad.  He doesn’t try to change me.  He loves me for who I am now…and for who I will be in 20 years.  He is patient, kind and he truly adores me.

When he says, “I love you”…I actually feel it.

Tough Question: Why Did I Marry This Man?

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I’m appreciative of the emails, comments and messages that I’ve been getting lately.  Many of them are thought provoking and some are somewhat difficult to answer.

This question came through today as a comment on my blog:

Have you figured out why you married this man?  What was the issue with your self esteem, your sense of right & wrong, and your boundaries that led you to marry someone who behaves in this way?  The reason I ask is because – if you don’t figure this out, you may make the same sort of mistake (or a similar mistake) in the future.

The Answers:

  • Why did I marry this man?

He was charming, sophisticated and intelligent.  Those were all qualities that my previous partners lacked.  I obviously don’t have the credentials to diagnose him however, I feel with every ounce of my being that he is narcissistic in every sense of the word.  I recently stumbled upon a website which I’ve connected with deeply– The Path Forward: Surviving a Narcissist by Lisa E. Scott.  To the public, he was a Knight in Shining Armor.  It was the fairytale romance– my friends were jealous of the lengths he went to in order to woo me.  My family was impressed by the stories (flowers, vacations, cars, etc) that I told of our dating life.  I was so enamored by who he claimed to be and the life he claimed we would have that I brushed the other issues aside.  I told myself that no one is perfect and if I expected perfection then I would end up alone.  He would shower me with compliments when I was feeding his ego and then break me down in small, subtle ways.  He slowly (over time) led me to believe that I would never be loved or wanted by anyone else.  Essentially, I was lucky that he chose me.

  • What was the issue with my self esteem, sense of right/wrong and my boundaries that led me to marry someone who behaves this way?

At the time we met, I was actually in counseling to work on myself.  I hadn’t dated for a year and devoted that time to understanding myself and learning to stand on my own two feet.  During that year, I worked on childhood issues and other things.

I remember telling my counselor a few months into my relationship that I just didn’t have feelings for him– I wasn’t physically attracted to him at all…I wasn’t “head over heals” in the way that I would expect to be.  Her answer to me: “Just because this feels different than what you are accustomed to doesn’t mean its bad.  You haven’t been in a relationship with someone who dotes on you and buys you things/does nice things for you so it feels odd.  Don’t be afraid of something just because its different than what you are used to”.

I second-guessed myself constantly and didn’t go with my gut feelings.  I brushed the comments and criticisms to the side because I started to believed that he was right and I was wrong.  I wasn’t as educated.  I wasn’t as smart.  I wasn’t physically what he wanted.  I wasn’t athletically what he wanted.  I began to see myself as his charity case– he was settling for me and I felt lucky to be the one.  Looking back, it was sick and twisted.  It happened slowly and over time.

I have spoken with women across the country who are all smart, beautiful and intelligent women who have also fallen victim to narcissists.  Before you know it, you wake up one day and realize that you are living a nightmare and have become a shell of the person you once were.

I do know that I am very aware of red flags now.  Heck, I’m sensitive to orange flags and yellow flags at this point!


10 Years Ago Today

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Today would have been my ten year wedding anniversary.  Ten years ago today, I was putting on a wedding dress and preparing to say my vows in Maui.  Ironically, the wedding planner who handled our wedding was called, “A Marriage Made in Heaven”.

I try very hard to find the “positives” in all situations.

As 2011 comes to an end, I am reflecting on all of the good things that came from the past ten years:

  • First and foremost: I am thankful for two amazing little girls who call me, “Mom”.
  • Besides that, I’ve learned a lot:

I learned to be strong.
I’ve learned what friendship means.
I’ve learned what love is.
I’ve learned that I can stand on my own two feet.
I’ve learned my tolerance levels for many things.
I’ve learned that money really does not buy happiness.
I learned that I deserve someone who treats me with love and respect.  I know that anything less is not worth my time.
I’ve learned that I love myself– imperfections and all.  I’ve learned to accept that I’m not perfect nor do I want to be.
I’ve developed a relationship with God and for that, I am thankful.
I’ve learned to have faith— even when its difficult to understand “why” in the moment….it all makes sense when the smoke clears.

Thank you so much for the comments, messages and kind words.  Thank you for reading my blog.  I am grateful.

Happy New Year!

Merging Forces

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As I mentioned before, Christmas Eve (yesterday)  was our “new” annual tradition and we decided to spend the day in Morro Bay, California.  We ate breakfast at a little small-town diner called, The Coffee Pot and lunch at the Otter Rock Cafe.  We spent the day walking the boardwalk, shopping for prized shells and then letting the girls play in an awesome little park called, Tidelands.

This was our third year celebrating our Christmas Eve tradition however, it was different this year.

This was the first year that Glenn joined us on our adventure.  In our 2.5 year relationship, we’ve taken things very slow.  He didn’t meet the girls until we were about six months into our relationship– we both wanted to be sure that this was a solid, stable and long-term relationship before we involved the hearts of two little girls.  We got a lot of raised eyebrows from people who thought that we were being overly cautious but I’m glad that we choose the path that we did

This is also the first year that Glenn, the girls and I have woken up in the same house– and celebrated Christmas together.  We’ve very recently merged forces– a single dad and a single mom combining two completely different worlds under one roof.  Glenn is the father of 3 boys (17, 20 and 22) and I have 2 girls (4 and 6).  It’s a huge step filled with learning experiences, growing experiences, patience and understanding.  It’s also filled with love, mutual respect and companionship like I’ve never known.

It was nice to spend Christmas with someone who wasn’t waiting for the last present to be opened so he can slip out the door to embark on a long distance bike ride.  It was nice to spend Christmas with someone who was present in the moment rather than just giving presents.  I yearn for more than material items.  This Christmas, I have gifts that money can not buy– love and happiness.  That is an amazing feeling.

The girls are with their father’s family from 12-7pm today and I have time to reflect on where my life was three years ago and where it is today.  As difficult as the past three years have been– I’d do it all again to be where I am today.

The lesson I’ve learned: while I couldn’t understand “why” while I was in the moment— having faith gets you through the moment and into a place like this.  My heart is happy and content.

Creating New Holiday Traditions

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I am looking forward to Christmas this year and new traditions with the girls. 

Two years ago, I started a new Christmas Eve tradition– we find a small town nearby and spend the day there.  In December of 2009, we spent the day in Cambria.  We sipped coffee (hot cocoa for the girls) at a local coffee shop with our pinkies high in the air (that’s the way princesses do it!)…we ate lunch at Linn’s (the BEST homemade mac & cheese)…we shopped in art galleries…and we enjoyed a carefree day.  We forgot about the chaos of the world around us and we had fun.

In 2010, we spent the day in the Arroyo Grande Village.  We walked on the historic swinging bridge…we saw the roaming chickens…we ate yummy spaghetti at Gina’s Italian Cuisine…and we shopped.  Together- the three of us.  Team blonde– creating a new tradition that we will honor for years to come.  It’s healing and its refreshing.  The girls look forward to it and I look forward to it.

A few weeks ago, my best friend (also a single mommy) treated us all to a weekend in San Francisco.  We stayed in the heart of Union Square and we had a great time.  The girls got to ice skate for the first time and they got to see the sights of a big city at Christmastime.  It was a weekend of great memories and it is my hope to make this an annual tradition for the rest of our lives.

This Christmas Eve is right around the corner and we will visit a new town or village for our third-annual Christmas Eve tradition.  I look forward to fun times, new memories and a day with my daughters.

Merry Christmas (or Happy Hanukkah!)– Tina