Blog by Yessica Maher, los Angeles Native.

She explores life after marriage, starting a career in her late 30's, relationships, breaking cycles of abuse, online dating, self care, fertility and depression. 

It's all over the place, but so is living. 

Dreaming Big

Dreams vs. Reality

My dream for my blog was always free therapy.  Somehow it became a point of conversation that has made people ask me for advice because I've found a way to live that makes it seem like I have answers.  It's odd for me.  It feels really strange like the times when I get asked for relationship advice from people that seem to see I'm not actually in a relationship and think I'm an expert.

Online dating, sure. We can have a laugh at my expense.  I can tell you about inappropriate texts and cat fishing.  No water, hook tying or smelly bait necessary.

Mothering boys, yes. More laughter.  Amazing rewards.  Heavy costs.

Moving on from a marriage.  I'm getting pretty badass at this.

Surrogate pregnancy, yeah. 3 surrogacies, 7 IVF cycles, egg donation, natural birth, c-section, twins.  Couples that made me feel things I couldn't imagine being gifted with.

Autism advocacy, hell the fuck yes.  Sensory integration dysfunction messes exploded last night.  I'll tell you all about it if I can hand you a scrub brush and get free labor.

Meaningful and lasting relationships . . . Can I get back to you on that? Although it might be closer than that pot of gold I'm after. I can show you my fear of commitment.  I can point out the ways in which I keep things superficial and how these relationships have been set up to fail.  Or the ways in which I made myself codependent to someone's narcissistic needs.  We can talk gas lighting and how easy it is to follow familiar and destructive patterns. I can show you how I push men away by being clingy because they prefer it when you really don't want them. And the best relationship advice I keep hearing is to pretend you don't, even if you do.

A couple of nights ago I dreamt I was on an adventure. I was finding my way through a place that looked like a park and led to hell. It was an ascent up stairs into hell.  I was on a rescue mission. I had a piece of wood, lit like incense and keeping it lit and smoking was my ticket back to the living. There were people on their adventures alongside us and somehow I knew enough about where we were going to advise them.  I remember the large concrete steps that were designed for something that wasn't human.  We had to climb each rise and trek across each run.  There were scattered pine trees around me and I was leading someone even though I was just as lost.  It was a strong contrast to what I actually felt when I woke and felt warmth and safety in my bed.  I was held and felt so much peace when waking that the dream itself was so foreign. I don't remember the last time waking at 4 am made me so happy.

Last night my dream included a man I wanted to be with a few months back. He was with his kids, and I was only visiting him as his date was leaving. His date was clearing plates, and threw away the rest of their Chinese take out, past the pleading of his daughter for the rice she wanted. As she left in her fancy clack of heels, I taught his little girl to make a pot of rice in her dollhouse kitchen the way my grandmother taught me to on the stove in my childhood home. We rinsed the rice, and I could smell the memories of basmati rice in the feel of water and grains slipping through fingers.  I showed her how to gauge the water by using her finger tip.  We set the water to boil on her tiny electric stove top and at some point her big brother flipped the house over, but we were able to save that pot.  My dream started with a man I was okay with letting go of and ended with the loss of his children and my grandmother.  This morning I woke up and it doesn't matter that I never met his kids or that my own were in the very next room, there was a feeling of loss that held me and forced silent tears to fall. It's a loss that feels like a dream that steps on scars of a past, only it's a present feeling that suddenly carries depth and layers.  Waking from this dream, I lost his kids, my grandmother and the current man that set my soul aflame and left me in burning embers. It layered and fell on me in emotions that screamed for release before my eyes opened.

What amazes me is the way I wake up from dreams and reality is shadowed by fiction so powerfully that I don't always know the difference. The peace in last night's dream was shadowed by a real moment of loss that I felt before I was fully awake this morning.

Dreaming and Real Life Goals

I was writing out my goals for the year.  They included personal growth, financial stability, travel and love. I kept looking at that list this morning and wondering why it all looks doable.  Nothing looks extraordinary.  It's all attainable.  And this sadness hit me because I knew I wasn't allowing myself to dream big.

Self Limitations

It was a set of goals that are based on limitations I was offered and accepted in the past.  I'm serving myself oatmeal for dinner and convincing myself it's the best possible goal and plausible outcome. Where is the food joy in that?  Where is the life satisfaction in knowing you accept less because you know it can be delivered?

The way I do anything is the way I do everything, right? I was talking to a man and I could see the ways he could make me happy.  What he offered me was like so much of what I had in the past that I could see his trailer and imagine a happy movie for me to get lost in, cry over, and see what the ending would be.  The ending is always happy or sad, because movies rarely just make you think, right? Lately all of my romances and crushes make me think and rarely (but sometimes) they might make me cry. I've never shopped around for a step-dad, so it was easy to see that he couldn't be a step-dad to my kids.  Good enough for me, but not my kids.  It took a few days for that idea to really sink in.

In love, I haven't started dreaming big.

In shopping for a step dad, there hasn't been an experience to raise or lower that bar for me.  It's still held comfortably at myself.  If I'm the badass warrior dragon slayer I am, I need the other part of my power team to be just as badass if he wants to be a step dad to my boys.  I've just never had a potential step dad for my kids that could lower my expectations.  He would fight for his sense of duty.  He would embody maturity to be modeled. He would be a man I would want to give more children to, in all of the lunacy I would have to embrace for that.

My love life is different.  I've dated men that stole, and did drugs, and loved getting drunk.  I've dated jealous men and men with tempers.  I know what an online affair feels like and I now know not to ignore that feeling when faced with it in real life. If you feel it in your gut, it's probably more true than you want to believe.  I've dated men that could convince me I was being a bad mom and partner by being who I am.  I can usually tell I'm being lied to when I'm doing something wrong by breathing.  As a single woman, I'm fairly confident. And I know right from wrong, often choosing the right thing, over the easy thing. My love life has taught me about breaking into cars, slanging crack, rolling Primos (crack needs to be cut on glass or a mirror so it doesn't fly off a wooden coffee table and you want to sprinkle it on the weed before you roll it like a pregnant lady - small on the ends and fat in the middle), gang life, hiding guns before they're sold, jealousy, insecurity (I can dance on eggshells, but I prefer a dance floor).  I can roll you into a recovery position to make sure you don't asphyxiate on your own vomit.  I know what it is to be the object of lust for a fuck boy and I know how to treat him just as callously.  It's not a gift.

I hope no woman ever has to learn what I know romance to be.  You should be learning what flowers make you feel special and deep conversations that make you feel things and think differently.  You should learn what will make him happy just as completely as he's learning about you and your desires.

It's the blending of real and fantasy that I want to learn.  I want to learn to expect nice surprises and hand holding.  I want to expect to be treasured and loved.  I want to expect that I'm not the only one that knows the right choice looks harder than the easy choice, but the right choice will help us sleep better at night. I want to expect more songs sent to me that hammer what we're both feeling into melodies and lyrics that call to the deepest parts of my soul.  I want to wake up in my lover's arms and feel him breathing under my hand as his heart paces happily against my cheek. I want to wake up to his smile and laughter and I want another morning of stolen kisses before duty calls and a feeling of happiness at those random texts throughout the day that drags on way too slowly until I can see him again.  I want his scent to linger on my skin and feel him with me when the memories are too sweet to entertain reality. I want this love to be a reality my kids see and learn from.  I want them to feel they have someone patient with them and understanding.  I want them to know I'm not the only one that sees them as normal human beings.  I have friends that tell me to raise my expectations as well as friends that tell me to lower them.  I'm just shooting blankly and hoping he'll be targeting me at the same time. And if he finds me, he will do all he can to hold onto me.

There's also a balance.  All things in life have a good and bad to their cost. I remember what it was like when my mom first brought my step dad around.  I hated the change he represented.  My boys also surprise me daily and they handle these changes better than I did. I'm learning to not give them my fearful limitations and to just see where we can go, stepping back where we need to.  I'm taking notice of the ways that I'm limiting my dreams and coaching myself to go get my life.

If you haven't heard it, I'm telling you now: Go get your life!  You are your only motivation and limitation.

It's about a career that I love and pays me enough to be happy doing it.

It's about going places to see and do and be that are not limited by constraints I've adapted from the expectations of others on my life. I don't have to stay local or a standard week or weekend.  I can go when it fits my needs and how it works best for me.

It's about a love that isn't set to a template of my past or a fantasy that is too unattainable to be mine because when I decide I can't have it, I will start sabotaging myself so I can't get it.

Meditate on your goals.  Focus your energies toward your success.  Plot and plan.

Dream big.  Reality will try to kick you down, and that just means you need to redirect your plans and goals. There's a life you get to live.  It's yours and no one else's.  You should handle it, so you don't become a slave to it.

Learning Empathy

Self Care Looks Like Being Present in the Moment