How big is your brave - Part 2

Trevor and I started dating on February 17, 1995. We been together ever since. Our wedding anniversary is May 6, 2000. We have 2 amazing kids and have created a RICH and full life. But the life was only partly ours because every single day of the almost 19 years together, I had a secret. The secret was that inside I viewed this relationship as mine to screw up. Whatever happens - it's my fault. Unless it's something great - then it's just dumb luck. I repeatedly beat the crap out of myself for every single thing that wasn't perfect, and when stuff is pretty darn perfect - I just wait for the ceiling to crash down around me. I tried to keep Trevor in the dark from how messed up I was because I knew if I didn't it would all end. And it did...but not the way I'd been telling myself it would.

On February 12, 2014 something intervened and that's where that chapter ended. Quick and dirty and finished.

Let me start at the beginning of this story: on Tuesday afternoon - I went to the bank where my accounts were all near bare bones status. I got a little cash and drove all the way in Lancaster for Owen's wrestling match alone thinking about our empty accounts. I've dealt with our finances 100% on my own for the entire duration of our time together so this wasn't a totally new experience. But I haven't been really working in almost two and a half years so things are a bit different than before.

Now don't get me wrong - I've been working. I've done a bunch of photo shoots, I've done social media & consulting work for a number of companies, I coordinate the hell out of an amazing leadership program that I love, and I've mixed paint, cut keys, and talked shit to local carpet layers. All of which have been paying jobs. But I'm also kicking my ass all over the place for little or nothing - I co-wrote a book, raising almost $30,000 for our school district, I've spent 2 years on the school board sitting in endless meetings with disengaged board members who don't seem to respect my time, I've been asked to be part of committee after committee by people who are paid a lovely little salary with benefits just to be on committees.

So I watched Owen wrestle, took Owen to A&W after his meet, cringed (with shame and dread) as I paid the bill knowing fully well he have hardly any groceries in the fridge, drove home and when to bed. At about 2am, I woke in a complete and total panic. I couldn't even breathe. I needed help. I was so scared, I didn't know what I was going to do. We have no money, we have credit card debt, the kids need braces, the kids will want to go to college, the kids need to eat...my head was spinning! I didn't sleep another wink. I knew I needed help. I was still thinking I just need to get me head on straight about budgeting.

It still never really crossed my mind to tell Trevor, because I thought I knew what that meant. He would leave. He would finally realize we married a total worthless piece of shit who messed up his whole life and I would be alone with my kids and no job and nothing. 

The minute the kids left for school Wednesday morning, I texted my uncle - the most money savvy person I know who I knew would love me unconditionally even when I had to admit I was in trouble. He was the only person I thought could help me. I wanted nothing but mentorship so I could figure this financial shit out once and for all. When he called me back I was a mess. He finally asked about Trevor and I, for the first time, expressed my fears out loud. Then he said words that changed my life. He said "Julie, that's not how a marriage works."

For the next 5 hours, I sobbed and prayed in the fetal position. I finally realized, after 14 years of being Trevor's wife, I was in real marriage - not in some insecure 17 year old girl's version of her parents crazy, poverty enabling divorce. It was the most frightening experience of my life. After another sob-filled phone call to a dear friend, I texted Trevor...and for the first time in 19 years I allowed him to be my partner in this marriage. A full partner by being completely (snot and tears streaming down my face) honest with him.

Poor guy got hit my a crazy train at 12:30 on a Wednesday afternoon and then had to go back to work.

And because I married the nicest guy in the whole freaking world - he handled it like a champ. Hours later as my tears dried up and the kids arrived home from school, I could feel the freedom that comes from letting go of shame. I could breathe deep again, rather than the shallow, panicky gasps I'd become familiar with. It was during those deep breaths that I could see that the situation was not that bad, that we had options, that we'd get through this just fine.

As Trevor left for bowling that evening, I went to my coat pocket to give him the rest of the cash I had left over from the night before at A&W. I knew I had some singles, a five and a twenty dollar bill left. All I could find was the five and a couple of ones. My calm breaths started to shorten and feel constricted again. The shame and worthless feelings and tears came flooding back. Once again, I was the moron who could lose $20 when it felt like the last $20 we had. Trevor gave me a hug and told me it would be fine, and I actually believed him this time because I knew I wasn't expected to deal with mistakes and misfortunes alone. This was a marriage - we handle missing 20s, credit card debt, and everything else TOGETHER! It felt good. Like the pressure cooker had been turned off. I slept like a rock that night, and in the morning on my way to a meeting I found this laying on the floor in my garage.

I literally looked up at the unfinished garage ceiling and thanked the universe for my wonderfully messy and perfectly imperfect life. Like this chapter of my life - this blog ends here - I'm ready for a fresh start!  I hope you can continue to follow me at my new blog: I Am George Bailey

Signing off,

Julie - From The Compound.


How big is your brave? Daring Greatly on steroids.

Shit just got real up in here. Like really REAL. Real as in - texting your husband home to lunch to drop the ultimate bomb on him. And no that's not some kind of weird nooner. 

The bomb = We are struggling financially. Our bills are getting paid(ish). Ish meaning we use our credit card when we need to pay for things like dental work, gas, the portion of our taxes that we don't have in savings anymore, you know the extras...oh and groceries. We are able to pay our credit cards, but damn, not much more than the monthly minimum. Struggling.

This is a bomb I'm dropping because for the last 14 years of marriage and even a few years before, I've taken care of this kind of stuff, and I was pretty good at it so Trevor just left it to me. But I'm also really good at harboring massive amounts of shame, and when the pressure (working for peanuts, donating time, energy, and resources to others, increasing demands) is on I tend to retreat into the dark place where shame flourishes.

I just put on a smile, eat elephant size portions of sugar or carbs, and sit through another meeting wishing I was brave enough to just leave and face my own truth. I believed I couldn't tell Trevor because that would give him the reason he needed to leave me and I'd be alone...with nothing...and it would be all my fault. That's the shame record that played over and over again in my head. It was paralyzing.

Until today. Today I called on my courage, and stepped into the light that comes with truth and vulnerability, and blind-sided shame. It was awful, not because my fears were real, but because I am being real - like standing in public naked REAL! I'm totally exhausted. Worn out. I have what Brene Brown calls a Vulnerability Hangover - complete with a monster headache.  I keep listening to Sara Bareilles sing Brave and can't stop crying like a baby. Today I dared greatly. The credit card debt is the same, but my brave balance is at an all time high, and if you are reading this I showed just how big my brave is by actually publishing this.
"Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy-the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light." -Brene Brown 


Bloggers Challenge.

I wasn't totally sure I really needed this blogger's challenge, but then I logged into my blog and realized I was still rockin' a 2013 masthead, and haven't blogged since November 1st.  Jesus...I need more than a challenge - I need a blogger intervention.  

Here's what I imagine that would look like, some amazing blogger like Dooce or Rachel Devine would show up at my door, and offer me a free MacBook and a 6 month retreat if I was willing to leave my unblogging life behind immediately to get my shit together. Umm, lemme think. YES! 

Anyway, since Rachel isn't leaving summertime down under to come motivate my ass in frigid Wisconsin, I will take my friend's challenge seriously. Missy over at Mrs. Emler Thinks & @MelissaEmler on twitter is an old friend who I consider one of the smartest educators I know. She is one of my go to people when I need a different perspective on school board issues or education in general. Her insights have always been thoughtful, honest, and based on her extensive (Wait! We are the same age - we don't have extensive experience with anything - we are far too young!) limited experience.

Here are the rules to Missy's bloggers challenge: 1) Acknowledge the nominating blogger. 2) Share 11 facts about yourself. 3) Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you. 4) List 11 bloggers. 5) Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they’ve been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

11 facts about yourself: 
  1. I don't know for sure when my dad's birthday is. It's either the 28th or 29th of January. My parent's anniversary was the 28th or 29th of January too, but they've been divorced for almost 20 years. For whatever reason I cannot keep them straight! 
  2. I feel very insecure when typing an email or a blog post. I get all up in my head because I'm afraid I'm going to type something wrong and look stupid. I have a tendency to go back and reread like 6 times and each time I add things or change words or phrases around. More often than not I reread it again after I send or publish it, and realize that the adding & changing actually messed up the original message rather than clarifying. This is part of why I blog less than before. This anxiety makes putting a post together a really long and frustrating process. I'm working on it.
  3. My favorite number is 17.
  4. My husband is a plumber, and has pretty much known he was going to be a plumber his whole life. I still don't know what I'm going to be when I grow up. 
  5. Two weeks ago my mom went to the hospital by ambulance. Once I heard she was fine, I didn't feel the need to call her. She didn't call me to give me more information either. She did text a week later wondering if I wanted some inexpensive cheese. Which I didn't - because she brought me a 6.28 pound wheel of baby Swiss for Christmas. This is a pretty typical interaction between me and my mom.
  6. I only recently found out I like baby Swiss. 
  7. Coffee with half & half is not the same as coffee with milk - nice try!
  8. We have a 1 year old dog named Buster. I totally crush on him whenever I don't want to kill him. 
  9. Trevor and I have been together for 19 years, on February 17th. Holy hell. 
  10. I could watch TED talks all day long.
  11. I like my meat prepared medium rare.
11 questions from Missy:

1. What is your favorite knock knock joke?
Knock, Knock.   Who's There?   Duane.   Duane Who?      Duane the bathtub - I'm drowning.
2. Why is your best friend your best friend?
It's hard to really put into words because for me the strongest sense of real friendship is how that person makes me feel. I have a couple of friends who are my best friends because my gut has been telling me so for years. Who am I to question that or try to explain it? 

3. What is the most important quality a teacher should have?
The ability to admit they don't know all the answers without feeling the need to apologize for that. Teachers shouldn't have all the answers! 

4. How long does it take you to get out of the house each morning?
About 90 minutes.

5. What kind of vehicle do you drive? Why?
2005 Ford Focus. Because that's what you're supposed to do with vehicles. 

6. Tables or desks?

7. What was the best professional development experience you have ever had?
UW Extension's Multicultural Awareness Training. It came during my life's perfect storm and it was truly transformational. It also lead to going to New Orleans 8 months later for an Immersion Experience which did the same exact thing. I've been very lucky to have had some amazing professional development experiences that changed me to my core. I left them a better person not just a better professional. 

8. What annoys you more than anything else?
People who are stuck. They are usually either too afraid or stubborn to see that they are stuck in a bad or dysfunctional place. They read from the same "life script" over and over getting the same results, but internally hoping for something else. That's hard to tolerate. There are times when I'm that person too, and I get equally annoyed with myself. 

9. How do people know you love them?
Because I try to make them laugh. If i'm joking around with you - I like you. If I'm all business around you or you've never heard me say the F word, it's safe to say, we aren't that close or I probably don't trust you. 

10. Where were you on 9/11/01?
I I was pregnant with Owen sitting in a recliner watching the Today Show before going to work at the Family Resource Center of Iowa County. I didn't have to be there until noon that day. I remember being very confused because the news anchors were acting all weird. 

11. How well can you juggle?
Balls - not at all. Life - I'm doing alright.

11 9 bloggers I want to know more about or see more interesting stuff from are: 
  1. Ice water or just cold water?
  2. What is one thing you know for sure?
  3. What is your favorite outdoor activity?
  4. What is the last concert you've been to?
  5. Your shopping preference - online or in person?
  6. Name two females you consider great leaders?
  7. If you could have 500 pounds of anything what would it be? 
  8. When you hear the word "home" what city, town, place, etc. comes to mind? 
  9. Name three places in the US you've not been to yet, but are dying to go to.
  10. Name your favorite book of all time.
  11. What is the biggest motivator or barrier when it comes to blogging?
Who's taking bets on my next blogging date?