A Story of Divorce, Custody and New Life

I’ve been thinking about things a lot recently with the new year coming up and have decided it’s time to talk. I had hinted and implied before that I would someday tell the story of the hell I went through around 3.5 years ago, why I went away and why I avoided getting personal when I came back. You always love my personal posts, to my surprise, so I figure it’s time.

I’m going to tell this in a sort of way that does not publicly shame anyone (except maybe myself) or create monsters out of humans. First and foremost I am a mother to my dream come true, fairytale daughter and I share her with her father who was my high school sweetheart and who is now my ex-husband and with her stepdad who is the other love of my life. She is truly magical and you can only understand if you’ve met her and spent time with her… everyone she meets feels her light and says so. She is really a beautiful and special girl. An old soul. She is of the utmost importance always.

pregnant woman rainbow deer

Around 5 years ago my first marriage started taking a turn for the worst. I remember watching an episode of Intervention that explained why these adult children’s older parents were so bad for each other, why they shouldn’t be together because they enabled each other and it really startled me. How could they enable each other so much that they could never be out of that rut or get healthy together? How sad would it be to be married to your best friend and you realize you’re bad for each other? And you have children already?

We had our issues as everyone does and we shouldn’t have gotten married at such a young age after only dating each other and never living on our own. It’s all true. I think we were naive as most 20-year-olds are. But I thought I had what everyone wanted. I didn’t have to “date” and I didn’t have to be broken-hearted and go through meaningless relationships. I was always with my best friend and even though we fought and had so many problems we were able to ignore a lot of them and just get through together.

Until around four years ago when we didn’t and couldn’t. I didn’t know why but I was severely depressed and couldn’t find the light. I had this beautiful one-year-old baby I was spending my days with and a nice home and I could not get out of it and I felt like it was all my fault. I would pretend, I would make her fancy toddler meals, have tea parties and art class with her, take her to the park, I would sing with her and cuddle her. I still felt a hurt deep in my heart and I felt alone. I felt my husband didn’t love me or even like me. I felt like he never did and I just always pretended he did. And I was sick. Very sick. We tried a few couple’s counseling sessions, therapy, medicine, we tried it all and we would be ok together for a bit but then we would have an explosive falling out.

We couldn’t do that with a baby. We had our baby, the light of our life and we could not exist like we had for so long anymore. So in desperation I checked myself into a hospital (still feeling like everything was my fault and if I could just be better he would be happy with me and I would feel happy) and when I was released the castle shattered. I guess it was too late. It was horrible for everyone. He left with my baby, I lost my mind. I couldn’t get her because it was illegal for me to go to the home he stayed in when the owner did not want me there and the police said it had to be done through court. I had only been apart from her overnight once before this. It all seemed insane and I was so lost. I went to find a custody lawyer and all the depressed moments in therapy and hopelessness in my years of words were recorded in black and white. All of my medicines, any drug I ever used. I was always honest about my inner most flaws in therapy. I was depressed. I thought it was all me. I thought I would never be right again. I lost everything I’d ever loved and fell into a rabbit hole of despair.

Next came a three year divorce and custody battle. Feet were dragged, dates were moved, forms were lost. I was so ready to be done with this and it seemed every step we made we took fifteen steps back. Something else would come up or happen. Another delay. And another. Once the judge decided to leave town so all dates were moved. I’m not kidding, the court system is this flawed. Meanwhile I don’t see my daughter but every other weekend and the hope is getting smaller and smaller that it would change. I was such a trusting person that I never gathered any evidence to prove my innocence or the guilt of another. The only way I can explain it is I believed everything he had ever said and I knew he would never lie to me. I had years of therapy evidence against me about my own hopelessness and despair. The photos I took when I lost my mind after they left, the words I wrote when I felt violated. My tweets, status updates, videos. It’s so easy to blab things online that are inappropriate and think it will never haunt you, DON’T do it. It will never go away and it will always haunt you if ever your integrity is up for question. My phone was stolen and my private conversations with my best friend were used. I had years of evidence of using bandaids to cover the deepest wounds and those two months of nothingness enticed me to fall apart in the public eye. I had nothing to prove what was happening behind closed doors for all those years and so I could only take the weight all onto myself. I had no family. I had no strength, no self-love or confidence. It had been destroyed over a long period of time.

In the following years I got completely sober of alcohol, smoking and depression/anxiety medication. In those three court-riddled years I built a relationship with a man who had always been a trustworthy friend and someone I looked up to. In this relationship horrible pains were also experienced. I’m not sure anyone knows what it’s like to be in a relationship with a married woman who is grieving the loss of her family and a marriage to someone else. I’m sure it’s tough and I’m sure it almost magnifies the atmosphere for attacks from fears, lies and the darkness. We faced obstacles through this choice we made to be together during the divorce and other obstacles for simply living (such as when he got a concussion and severe amnesia you can read about here, my 17-year-old soul mate Hobbes passing, my emergency surgery, etc).

As I got stronger and had more bonding time with my child I found I had an opportunity to build something I had always dreamed of, something better and more beautiful than I knew I could have before. My partner had three young children who took to Colette instantly. They were all like long lost siblings within a year. Colette was a baby and because they loved me and always wanted a complete family and a little sister they felt the universe had also answered their prayers. We became the family we never had. I hear it takes around 3-5 years to fully blend a family. With young children I believe it can be much easier, especially when you have those children every other week together. We made sure we were blended before we talked of marriage.. and that the hurts of the past were healed.. and on October 25, 2015 we got married. My maid of honor was Mary (11, my new daughter), my flower girl was Colette (5, my biological, magical daughter), my best man was William (9, my new son) and my ring bearer was Samson (6, my other new son). Suddenly the right things looked like a puzzle that snapped together perfectly.

mylove

How could we have been so blind all those years? I don’t know. I just think my ex and I deep down knew we were bad for each other but we wanted to stay together because we had only dated each other and the history was enormous. In doing that we only hurt ourselves and each other in different ways. We had planned our whole lives, had a beautiful child, had so many opportunities. We were best friends and we had a lot of good times through those years. His mom was like my mom; I really grew up with him. We just were toxic together. We were changing a lot and having growing pains and wanting different things. I see that now so obviously.. apart we do the things we need to do, we do the right things, we put ourselves last. Together we couldn’t do the right things, we couldn’t find the right path, we could only find paths to destruction and hurt in our own unique ways and our daughter didn’t deserve that. She deserved us to be happy apart rather than sick together.

Today we are, she has two families that love her more than anything in the world who would do anything for her. I don’t know a lot about his life these days but I know Colette loves her mother and father and feels loved by us. I still sometimes feel like I failed by not doing things differently, by not waiting to get married, not waiting to have a child.. however then the child wouldn’t have been her and that would have been it’s own tragedy. I wish things could have been easier for her sake because I know divorce is very hard on children even when they don’t remember it.. but I’m so grateful our mistakes could be turned into beautiful stories after all. My bond with her is so strong and special to me. We have a special connection that no one can touch whether she’s with me or with her dad, she’s the unbroken version of me as a child. I’m so grateful for her health and for this fact most of all.

So there you go. Although I was a little evasive.. you know more about what was going on and why you saw me 1. do a 180 with my health, appearance and heart; and 2. disappear for so long.

back and white girl

Thanks for listening.. I adore you.

Healthy Life Stylist: Question & Answer

Question

I eat a lot of fast food, smoke and drink alcohol. I’m interested in adopting a healthy lifestyle as I continue to age. What are the easiest and fastest ways to get started down my new healthy path?
Vivienne, California

Answer

I have good news and bad news for you, Vivienne. The good news is, the first step to adopting a healthier lifestyle is the desire to change, so you’ve got that covered. The bad news is, like most changes that are worthwhile, altering your life for the better rarely comes easy or fast. That being said, my advice for you is to take it one step at a time and give yourself credit for everything you accomplish.

First, drink more water. This sounds so simple, but you’d be amazed at how many health problems can be solved by adequate hydration. Water not only helps to keep your body functioning properly and decreases cravings, it also flushes out the toxins from all that fast food, cigarettes, and alcohol you’ve been consuming. Bonus: drinking a full glass first thing in the morning wakes your body up and helps you crave healthier options throughout the day.

Second, add more healthy foods into your diet: fresh [preferably organic] produce and lots and lots of leafy green vegetables. Spinach, broccoli, kale, and other greens purify the blood, reduce inflammation, and can help reduce cravings for sugar and alcohol when eaten regularly. The powerhouse nutrients in leafy greens will help your skin glow and their diuretic properties will reduce bloat. Bonus: Adding in healthy foods will eventually crowd out the unhealthy ones without making you feel deprived.

Third, pick one bad habit a week to change for the better. In my health coaching business, I work with my clients every other week for 6 months because the best way to change old habits is with patience, support, and time. Maybe your goal for this week is to drink more water, or perhaps you want to try to eat one new vegetable…whatever you decide to work on, stick with it and give yourself credit once you’ve achieved it. Bonus: Taking things one step at a time prevents you from feeling overwhelmed with life changing goals, but you’ll still be able to change your life.

And finally, find yourself an accountability buddy to help keep you on track. This can be a friend, a family member, or a hired professional [*ahem*], just make sure that it’s someone you can count on and trust. It’s your buddy’s job to make sure that you stay on track with your goals and to remind you of everything you’ve accomplished. Bonus: If someone in your life makes a good accountability buddy, they probably make a great friend.

Ask A Healthy Life Stylist

Just make sure you are clear about if you mind your question/answer being published on Miseducated and if you’d prefer to be anonymous. All questions will be answered by Michelle regardless so ask away!

For more information about Health, Happiness, & Hoola Hoops please visit Michelle‘s website!

Your Journal is Your Friend

If I told you what has been going on the past few months (April – present) you probably wouldn’t even believe me. Life-shattering events, depression over both my health (and my shoddy management of it) and many things I may never be able to admit. Let’s just say I have a lot of new and interesting material for that novel I’ve been writing off and on for years. Emotional pain is a horrible inspirational tool but it does tend to give artists new ideas and possibly even better work.

It seems whenever a terrible situation happens I revert back to journaling. I like to journal devastating events and situations because I know one day I’ll look back at those entries and see I made it through them. One day I’ll be in a much better place and it will make me feel so accomplished what I actually made it through — something that at one time seemed impossible for me to do or to handle. I also feel it’s important for one to keep a journal just simply so they can get a glimpse at a past self. We’re always changing and learning — sometimes seeing that change by looking back can help you decide where you’re headed next. Or just show you where you’re never headed ever again. Not only that but when you journal you release your emotions in a healthy way. Remember that no one (therapists excluded), no matter how much they love you, will be willing to deal with your constant venting and/or crying. Everyone faces problems in their life and everyone tends to assume their problems are more serious. Your journal, however, is always ready to hear more.

If there is something going on in your life causing unbearable pain and uncertainty do not give up on yourself or on obtaining your goals in life. Instead use it as a time to grow inside and to eventually become stronger and more prepared. Sometimes we need a shove to become the person we knew we could always be. Grieve, cry, get it all out, but do not give up. The more positive thinking you do (it’s ok to fake it — you’ll retrain your brain to think positive things and to leave the negative ones behind) and the more healthy changes you make will get you that much closer to manifesting your desires.

Soon we’re going to have more journal activities in which you will actually learn interesting facts about yourself and find more manageable ways to change and become the person you want to be inside. I look forward to journaling with you again. Keep your head up!

Day With a Camera: Let Them Eat Cake

Making chocolate and cherry iced mini cupcakes for after dinner~ In the kitschen

So here I am after group therapy finding nothing of sustenance to eat for lunch.
(Ok.. I’m being a little picky.)

I’m playing with the idea of calling my husband to bring home food when he gets back.. I want to ask him what I should make, he always has ideas when I’m uninspired.. I look around the kitchen and see it.

There’s nothing to eat … but cake.
I just had to go to the grocery and buy all the ingredients for delicious cherry and chocolate cupcakes last night because I wanted cake.
Now all I have is cake and I can’t seem to eat it.
Let me eat cake.

I eat WAY too many sweets.
How about you?

Spend the Day With a Camera

You don’t have to have a reason to add some cute relaxation into your day! There are millions of reasons to celebrate each and every day.

My dear friend and I were missing the magic of childhood days so we hid eggs from each other and drew things that make us happy on the sidewalk. These are just a couple of very easy ways to relax, smile and remember why life is so great.

Spend your day with more color and creativity for the smiles that follow!

sidewalking it

i paint hearts

bunny eggs

Who is Colette?

Well my wonderful visitors that is my little belly dweller’s name. We found out that she indeed is a girl and were able to give her the name we had held in our hearts for so long. We’re still so indecisive about the middle name though, feel free to make any suggestions! We’re being slow and picky! Little Colette will be making her appearance around July 12th ~ we can’t wait.

Make a List: Naughty or Nice?

When we don’t know who we are, what we want or have our priorities intact, we fall into the default loop that was programmed into our subconscious long ago. “I want someone handsome, tall, and strong; someone rich, who will take care of me, someone sexy who is great in le sac, etc.” At some point we start to realize these aren’t things that make a great relationship. Someone we thought was hot becomes really unattractive when their real character starts to show.

Here’s an email I got recently:

“I wanted to thank you also for your story about “presence” that you told at your talk recently at Open Secret Book Store in San Rafael. I had an important experience of that this weekend. I have been contemplating dating a man I met recently who is a financially successful lobbyist, and we have many other interests aside from politics. The wining and dining is great, but when we’re together, it is odd: he is always distracted by his cell, a meeting, not enough time, etc.

This weekend, another man, a very old friend, came to town…we’ve known each other 35 years (college). He came to my studio and asked about my work, and he was incredibly “present” with me. And you are right, it was a total and complete turn-on. Whoa!

The next day, I had dinner with the other man (the lobbyist) and he spent most of the time talking about how his recent ex-girlfriend is using a popular dating site and how her profile is full of lies, and that he ought to get his own profile on the site so he could compete in attracting new women (so what am I, chopped liver?). Not present at all. Big turn-off! We were supposed to go on a date this Saturday, to the ballet, but I canceled it because I decided I would rather have my own precious company, than his….

So I just wanted to echo what you said, that presence is really “IT”! and my back-to-back experience of it, with these two men, absolutely convinced me of what I want, and do not want, in a relationship with a man. Thank you for your teachings, Maryanne!”

A few days later…

“Hi Maryanne, so interesting what happens when I choose me. I came home to find a huge box of flowers from my college friend. I’m sure that saying goodbye to that lobbyist was the best decision I’ve ever made.
Thank you…”
J.Alder, Nor Cal

Bottom line, ladies and gentlemen: when we don’t know who we are, what we want or have our priorities intact, we fall into the default loop that was programmed into our subconscious long ago. “I want someone handsome, tall, and strong; someone rich, who will take care of me, someone sexy who is great in le sac, etc.” At some point we start to realize these aren’t things that make a great relationship. Someone we thought was hot becomes really unattractive when their real character starts to show.

I have met too many people who, time and again, confess that the things they thought they wanted weren’t essential at all—or, at minimum, fell lower on the priority list than they once realized.

Perhaps rather than “hot and successful” being at the top of the list, you could alter it some and require that certain other qualities be immediately apparent:

Present
Kind
Interested
Honest
Generous
Purpose-driven
Attractive
Sensual, etc.

So, yes, make that list, but check it twice as the holidays approach. Do you really want someone naughty or do you want someone one who’s mostly nice (and maybe a little naughty only on special occasions)?

Making Mondays More Miseducated

Monday jokes rain out of people’s ears at offices.. I don’t know how it is where you work but I’m sure whatever day the work week begins on someone’s complaining.

Instead of thinking of Mondays as a bummer, think of them as a beginning to your inspiration overload sessions every week — begin to plan fun and personal growth activities *as well as* work, errands, tasks, etc.

.. and if scheduling seems like absolute hell to you and you have no issues with procrastination.. simply pass to Step 2.

Want more mood therapy techniques like this?
Key to Living the Law of Attraction
Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated
ALL Business is Show Business

Step 1

Schedule your day per hour — Write what you actually do beside it and next to that make 2 columns for you to rate how much pleasure you experienced during the activity and to what percentage you mastered it.

Again, make sure you allow time throughout the day for activities you look forward to.

taste
Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette

Step 2

Incorporate more Miseducated whimsy and special you time into your Mondays.

Instead of taking a shower before you start your work day, take a bubble bath using sensitive Mr. Bubbles or your favorite bubble bath — play some inspiring music that you can hear while in the tub and brew a cup of earl grey tea.

Create your own (lots of recipes here!) or buy a new scented lipgloss to apply throughout the day, not just when lips are chapped! Think of ways to incorporate other new smells into your day such as an aromatherapy candle, nice-smelling lotion, sweet solid perfume, etc.

Master your skills. As you’re working imagine what you might do to keep on task better while still enjoying your day. For me this means the occasional walk-around break, snacks optional and listening to music or inspiring pod casts while I work.

Keep a little notebook in your purse or briefcase especially for inspiring sketches, notes and pieces of inspiring found-items. These little carry-along scrapbooks can be great sources of inspiration and remind you about experiences when you’re sitting down to work and communicate your ideas.

Decide that you’re going to rearrange a room in your home/apartment and surf online for delicious decor in your free time. Find ways to make your environment a little more you, a little more unique and much more inspiring! Sometimes just changing things up is very revitalizing.

My favorite movie since childhood, the delicious 80s glitter rock fest (The Labyrinth) complete with faeries and the rock king himself, always inspired me as everything, even the dirt, was covered in glitter. Sweeping your floor and feeling a little bummed? Sprinkle glitter in with the dust and even dust bunnies become just a little more magical.

It’s off to your local handmade market for you! Purchase some incense that smells great and a little decadent snack. When home, burn the incense as intended and relax near it reading and enjoying the occasional whiff of fragrant smoke. Don’t like incense? Try scented candles!

Write your best friend a good morning letter when you begin your work day. Chances are you’ll brighten her day as she is also at work and it’ll make you smile knowing she’s smiling. You might even get some sweet messages back throughout the day that make you feel wonderful for opening communication.

Grab a pack of post-its in your favorite color and write inspiring and positive messages to everyone signed, Happy Monday. Stick these on electric posts, subway windows, in your lover’s briefcase, on the milk in the fridge, on your coworker’s computer mouse, etc. <3 Don't overdo it, it's more special for those that find the surprises anyway. Kitty Rave! (both my and my best friend’s favorite way to wind down at night!) At night time when you’re relaxing and feeling a little excited that you’ve gotten through another Monday, turn up the dance music and dance around the house in your pajamas with your cat or dog. (my chihuahua gets really excited about this and bounces around the room) You’re getting exercise, they’re getting exercise and it’s really quite fun.. especially if you’re jamming to Kissy Sell Out. Often my husband even plays his electronic music live on kitty rave nights.

Have a great Monday!