Tuesday, June 2, 2020

What Are We to Learn From This?

Hello, it's me! Yes, I'm still here nearly 11 months after my previous blog post! I actually began writing this post in February 2020—before the unbelievable COVID-19 pandemic put our entire planet on hold. Then there was the little matter of the 5.7 earthquake and thousands of aftershocks we've experienced here in Utah. And now we're watching protests galore unfold across America and some parts of the world. ๐Ÿ˜ข

To some, this post might seem a little odd to share at this point in our history. Yet I'm publishing what I wrote anyway because I took the time to write it, and I enjoy remembering our lives pre-pandemic, pre-earthquake, and pre need for current protests—because, yes, I dearly wish there were no racism, no inequality, and no injustice anywhere in our world! I want everyone to feel safe, secure, protected, loved, cared for, etc. ๐Ÿ˜”

Before I continue, please rest assured that everything is great in my little world. ๐Ÿ˜ I am so happy, healthy, and loving my days at home with my husband and children! My life is truly beautiful! That said, let's take a little trip to where I've been for the past several years outside of my happy life with Greg and our adorable children...

There's no easy way to start this, so I'll just dive in: In September 2019, my one and only mother married a man that I've never met! And she specifically chose not to tell any of her children, extended family members, or friends that she was going to marry him! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ My mom never told a single soul about her wedding plans outside of the man she married and the Nauvoo Temple staff!

There were no cleverly worded invitations, no exciting wedding preparations for my mother's children, grandchildren, sons-in-law, daughter-in-law, siblings, etc., to be involved with. There was no beautiful wedding experience, no reception, nor any kind of happy celebration to enjoy for the people who love and support her. There were no cheesy, adoring, or artistic photos snapped. There are no videos of the "blessed day" to be enjoyed or laughed at by my mother's posterity. There hasn't been any sort of anything that we could happily post to any of our social media accounts. That said, my mom's new husband's family threw them a marriage celebration in Hawaii a few months after their wedding—but none of my mom's family or extended family were invited...including not me. ๐Ÿ˜ข

I found out that my mom married said-man-that-I've-never-met eight days after her wedding and sealing was finalized in the Nauvoo Temple! Adding insult to injury, I found out about my mom's wedding/sealing from my sister—and my sister found out all of that information through a text that my mom sent to my sister and brother! ๐Ÿ˜ฃ In my mom's somewhat-defense, she emailed me about her wedding/sealing the very next day after she texted my brother and sister. My mom claims that technology issues were to blame as to why I didn't receive her life-altering text, but the situation hurt my heart more than I can ever express. Because—Hello!a phone call would have been nice!!! Even now as I read what I wrote, I still cannot believe that my mother did all of that!

Prior to her new marriage, my mom lived off-and-on in her now-husband's house (she had her own separate bedroom) in a different state from us, for about four+ years. So my siblings and I were dealing with all of those continuing challenges even before our mother's unsettling elopement.

While I won't go into great detail, just know that my mom and I were extremely close emotionally speaking before all of this happened. Unfortunately, things have absolutely not been the same between my mother and me since October 2013. It's been such a rough six+ years, you have no idea! I could go on and on and on with maddening details of my childhood family's situation. I could literally write for endless hours about the frustrations, turmoil, heartache, bad dreams, etc., that my mother's actions have caused. I'm sorry if this is too vague for some of you, but there are many things that are too private to share...just don't let your imagination get the better of you.

Suffice it to say, after praying, studying, and researching innumerable articles, podcast episodes, videos, devotionals, and books by wonderful licensed therapists, happy life coaches, amazing religious/spiritual leaders, incredible motivational speakers, uplifting TED Talks, inspiring holy scripture verses, etc., and talking things through with my childhood family and extended family members, friends, and especially my most precious husband, Greg ๐Ÿ’–, I am finally at a point where I'm able to somewhat deal with my mother's new life. *But I'll never support nor condone her actions of marrying without including anyone in her joyful occasion besides her new husband. #noiwillnot! ๐Ÿ˜’

All of that said (yes, there's more ๐Ÿ˜…) I will never be able to fully express how devastating my mother's actions have been to me, nor can I adequately convey how difficult it was for me to get through those first four+ months after my mom's elopement. And I thought the previous five+ years had been rough! Ha! Unfortunately, they were just the prelude to my childhood family's new reality that repeatedly smacked us in the face like a dying fish out of water! ๐ŸŽฃ

While I'm thankful I've mostly turned the corner in terms of coming to accept the shocking reality of my mom's new life—and trying to get used to the spoken-and-unspoken conditions that have been established by her (many of which I absolutely don't agree with)—getting to this point was only possible because of untold hours of researching, listening, talking, writing, praying, and many tears. Even after all of that work, it was only after I realized that I had a version of relationship PTSD—that those in the psychology world define as mother wounds—that I was finally able to pick myself up and start moving forward. I'm so thankful I was finally able to begin grieving my mother and find a way to "deal" with her choices!

Yet as much as I thought I've been making great progress these past additional four+ months, just three nights ago, I had a doozy of a dream that showed just how much my subconscious is still struggling big time with my mother's new life. I was stunned at how revealing and truth-filled my dream was! It makes me tear up when I think about it—but again, I must keep moving forward.

Even last week, my brother, sister, and I had a group text going where we shared our grief at missing our mom and wondering when we would ever get to see her in person again—and it has nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, as our mother and her new husband are vacationing in another state...that is not where her children live!

To illustrate just how much mothers mean to their children throughout their entire lives, please read this section from The Science of Happiness Podcast, Episode 66—it's a great listen:

Rebecca Vitali-DeCola: My father’s mother died in childbirth with him. And in our first set of questions, there was a question about, like, if you could change one thing about your childhood... ...Anything about the way you were raised. What would it be?

Joe DeCola: My mom. Yeah. I really think she would have been really an interesting woman.

Rebecca Vitali-DeCola: Yeah.

Joe DeCola: And a really good thing in my life.


Rebecca Vitali-DeCola: [His mom] was so central in his narrative. There was a moment, and I think in set three, I think where it’s like, "If your apartment is burning and you can get all the people you love out and pets out of it, but you had to, like, go back for one material item, one possession. Like, what would you run back for in a fire?" And he said "This, you know, photograph I have of my mom." And yeah, I mean, I just kept crying. I could not stop crying, listening to him talk. And I didn’t know that. I mean, and that’s very significant. So, yeah, that was a revelation. It was just really poignant. He’s you know, he’s 82 and he never met her. And she still occupies such an important part of his life and consciousness.

Oh, how that story tugs at my heart strings! ๐Ÿ˜ฅ It's amazing that an 82-year-old man can still miss his mother that much! It makes me feel better knowing that my siblings and I aren't the only ones who are so attached to their mom. Mothers and fathers really do make the world go 'round!

Obviously, there are many sides to every story. My mom has her version of her dating/marriage story, too. My entire childhood family and my mom's siblings each have their individual perspectives about what occurred with my mom's new relationship and marriage.

*So, to anyone reading this blog post, just know that I dealt with my mom's situation in the best ways I knew how—and I was always trying to improve myself while processing everything! I tried so very hard throughout the past six+ years to do and be the best that I could for my parents, siblings, and myself. Regardless of anyone else's life experiences, no one can ever fully understand what I've been through, so I hope you will proceed with compassion and empathy toward me. My broken heart thanks you. ๐Ÿ˜”

While working through my issues with my mom's elopement and her new marriage, I pondered various coping mechanisms I could utilize. One of the best ways for me to process life is by writing. Yes, journal writing is always a great idea, but blogging is my absolute favorite! ๐Ÿ’›

Thus, I felt a strong desire to share my thoughts and feelings about my "mother issues" through my blog. I even drafted a few blog posts about my mom and her situation over the past year+ (including before she eloped), but they remain unpublished. After being reprimanded by my sister because she felt a blog post about nearly everything in our situation was too hurtful, I decided to do more research.

Not publishing my previous blog drafts about my mother and her dating/marriage situation was probably a good idea. It's no surprise that I can be feisty and "cutting" with my words if I want to. Most of the time, my words are lovely, uplifting, and kind. But I was so emotionally hurt by my mother that I was more than ready to let my pain and suffering explode like words spewing from the Hoover Dam! #noshame! Oh, the stories I could tell would make your head spin! Even though it would have felt really great to unload my feelings like that, it's probably best that I didn't publish my explosive sentences! ๐Ÿ˜„

While researching, I was so happy to read in several online sources that many experts state that sharing our personal stories is super helpful for each of us. Sharing our stories really does make us better people and might even help others learn something new in the process! I immediately felt relief and decided to compose a blog post that served not only my emotional healing, but one that could possibly help prevent others from making some of the mistakes I've endured (due to others' choices) over the past several years. Yay for story sharing days! ๐Ÿ˜

By the way, it feels incredibly great to finally be blogging again! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป I've wanted to blog about endless topics over the past few years, but I was so torn up inside about the situation with my mom that I just couldn't go there. Plus, I spent quite a bit of my free time trying to process everything, so I truly didn't have it in me to blog about all of my issues until now. I'm so happy to be posting on Enthusiastic Fantastic again! ๐Ÿ˜

Here's what I've learned from my childhood family's issues—from my earliest memories, to literally today—in no particular order:
  • If you are a parent, you must be the parent for your child no matter how old you or your child are. Don't "reverse" the roles of parent and child! Every child needs and deserves their parents until the day they die. Even in the afterlife (I believe in the postmortal spirit world), parents should be watching over and helping their children to the extent possible. I truly believe the role of parent continues throughout eternity. *A sweet example of parents always being there for their children in the proper parenting roles was shown in episode 10, season 6 of Madam Secretary. Stevie (First Daughter) is sitting between her parents, Elizabeth (Madam President) and Henry (First Gentleman), in the presidential limousine on the way to her wedding:
Elizabeth: So sweet of you, by the way, to drive with Dad and me. That means a lot. It's very sweet. Thank you.
Stevie: Yeah, well, I, um...I thought that it would give us a chance to talk.
Henry: Absolutely, What's on your mind?
Elizabeth: Listen, sweetheart, no matter how old you get or how many kids of your own you have, you can always come to us with anything, about anything.
The scene continues in funny banter between spouses, parents, and child, but it fully illustrates the point that parents should remain a significant, devoted source of comfort, safety, and love throughout their child's life. *As a side note, I'm super bummed that Madam Secretary was canceled! ☹
  • Regardless of how your child is acting/behaving, you must always show up as your child's parent! Unless a parent has a significant impairment that prevents them from understanding that they are a parent, parents should always rise above and be the good parent their child deserves. *If you have questions as to how to be a good parent, take the necessary time to learn, be humble enough to make needed changes, and then continually put forth your best efforts to become the wonderful parent your child deserves. It's never too late! Start today! Change happens the instant you decide!
  • Realize how incredibly important you are to your child. There is nothing that can ever replace the importance of a parent in a child's life. Parents are absolutely paramount! Of course, nearly every child will one day create their own life, but they still need their parents no matter their age or the level of success they achieve!
  • Create good, healthy relationships and support systems within your family, friends, and community. Then, when you're struggling—because we all struggle at times throughout our lives—make sure you reach out to that support system you've created to help you work through your issues. Never put your child in the role of "therapist" unless they are a fully grown adult who is happily established in their own life. Even then, use caution with how much you rely on your child; keep your child as your first priority in your relationship with them. If you're really in a jam and can't seem to unscramble the mess, find a well-credentialed therapist who will help you figure everything out—it will benefit you, your entire family, and your posterity.
  • Give your loved ones a heads up if you are going to elope! There is never any excuse good enough to justify not sharing your upcoming wedding news with those closest to you. That doesn't mean you need to include people in your wedding day specifically, you can totally have a private wedding, but you should definitely clue them in as to what's about to happen! *I recently read this lovely story about an older couple that found true love during the COVID-19 pandemic. I ate up every word about the darling couple and daydreamed about how amazing it would have been if my mom had simply given me the opportunity to somehow be involved in her engagement and wedding. ๐Ÿ˜ข
  • Do your utmost best in choosing your spouse. Look at every characteristic possible to determine if you two are a match. Spend ample time fully communicating about everything relevant to your future marriage and family. Don't leave any topic to chance! You don't want to discover a deal-breaker after you've already made the serious, life-changing commitment to your spouse. Then, do everything within your power to help create and sustain a happy, loving, long-term marriage and family! Marriage depends on both spouses continually giving their very best to each other—including forgiveness! ๐Ÿ’›
  • Unless there is abuse happening, stay married to your chosen spouse! Love each other wholeheartedly, unselfishly, and unconditionally throughout this life and into the next! Your first spouse should be your only spouse! Divorce should be your very last option after every other resource has been exhausted. Only resort to divorce if your marriage is truly "dead" beyond recovery. For further thoughts on this, please read this wonderful talk, "Divorce," by Dallin H. Oaks. *I fully understand there are certain situations that warrant divorce. I'm not saying that divorce should never happen. I'm just saying that every couple should try their very best to make their marriage happy, healthy, and loving, and then stay married!
So, where am I emotionally today? Well, I'm feeling a lot better compared to the emotional "bomb" I experienced in September, 2019, that's for darn sure! Obviously, blogging isn't the perfect answer to work through issues, by any means, but writing out and sharing my story has definitely helped—so thank you for reading! ๐Ÿ˜Š

I still haven't met my new stepfather (not even virtually or via phone call!) and I don't know if or when that will happen. That feeling totally sucks, but I'm getting used to it. I know...that's complete and utter craziness, but it's the truth.

Now, on to a few happier things:

The fantastic news is, I've paid to have my domain name remain active for Enthusiastic Fantastic through 2029! Woohoo and yippee skippee! I find great satisfaction in knowing that my blog will live on for at least another nine+ years—it gives me true joy! ๐Ÿคฉ

And I must share these happy photos that my children took of Greg and me on Mother's Day, 2020! My children know that one of the very best gifts they can give me are photos! ๐Ÿ“ธ Greg, our three darlings, and I spent quite a bit of time posing and taking photos as my main Mother's Day gift. We had the best time together! ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’œ

I'm so very thankful for my amazing family—that literally exists because Greg and I fell eternally in love! ๐Ÿ˜ Greg and I are 100% committed and faithful to each other, and I'm beyond grateful that our family reaps the benefits of our happy, healthy marriage every single day!

Greg & Adrie Peterson ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’› 05/10/2020 ๐Ÿฅฐ

Greg and I were acting like robots for this one! #robotdancers! Ha ha ๐Ÿ˜‚


Things are getting a tiny bit better in my childhood family. I've had a smidgen of contact with my new stepfather—both through kind holiday/birthday cards and gifts, and a couple of text messages. But no, I still haven't met him in person, nor have I talked with him over the phone or even virtually. I really don't know if or when any of that will ever happen, and it's confusing.

My mom and I have had several more talks via phone call and the Marco Polo app; we're working on this new normal of our family dynamic. I'm bummed I haven't seen her in one-and-a-half years, and I don't know if/when I'll see her in person again. ๐Ÿ˜” Overall, it's still a difficult situation for me, but the difficulty has lessened a little as time passes. I wish I had better news for this unbelievable situation, but it is what it is!