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BRENDA: thank you SO much! Your advice is exactly what I need to do. I am amazed how much you “get” me after only exchanging a few messages!… Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve helped me more than a year of therapy sessions! – Megan on space2live
Megan
You’re so honest in your writing. It’s bold. It’s frank. It’s wonderful. I could definitely see the work you are doing here as a useful book. It could save/make a lot of relationships! — Jimmi Langemo
Jimmi Langemo
Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
J.K.
During one of the harder times in my life I found Brenda’s website
and reached out to her. To say the least it has been one of the best
decisions I have made. Being an extrovert I never quite understood
what it meant to romantically involved with an introvert. Brenda does
an incredible job listening, giving in the moment feedback, and helped
me understand the how an introvert functions. She helped explain to me
that I am introspective extrovert, and this gave something to identify
with and allowed me t…
Evan H.
This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…
Sharon
THANK YOU….. you just summed up my swirling thoughts into something i can read with out everything else in my head meshing with it. I finally feel like i can explain what happens within without getting distracted. I’m an Introvert with ADD and it makes it so hard to explain quite what im feeling sometimes. — M.G. on space2live
M.G.
Your words are my lifeline.  I sit down to your posts and as I read I can feel my acceptance of myself and my needs grow.  Your words validate my feelings about my life, motherhood, relationships and it is something I hold onto.  And during the times when I feel like I am not able to be a mother or a wife or a sister or a friend or whatever someone needs me to be, I go back to your words and find some peace…I send your posts to my husband when I need him to understand that I love him but I need …
D.R.
I have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years.  Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space.  I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live
C.M.
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
Gary
your depth of understanding, and talent at sharing it amaze me. Speechless… and for your sharing of it.. Thank you… deeply. *sigh, its like coming back into my body through acceptance….. Sherrie on space2live
Sherrie

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First Year On My Own: Divorced, Dating, Parenting, Me

Reflecting on My Youth - Joanne Smoley

Reflecting on My Youth – Joanne Smoley

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since Jeff moved out.  Didn’t we just tell the kids that we make each other sad and we can’t stay married? It seems like only yesterday I was having the suckiest New Year’s ever.

I remember thinking last year in the midst of all the heartache and fear, I can’t wait until a year from now when this is all in the past. Well, here I am.  I made it.  The kids made it. Jeff made it.

Divorced

No ring on my finger.  Not even a tan line to mark where the ring used to be. It’s a sad waste to have my engagement ring and wedding band resting in separate rows in my jewelry box — never to be together again.  There is a lot of history and memories in those rings.  My marriage will forever be a part of my experience.  Jeff and I have no wish to forget everything.  We built a family and a home in the 18 years we were together.  It’s better to see all we accomplished than all we tore apart.  Sometimes there is a dull ache where the family unit used to be.  Most of the time there is a feeling of authenticity and natural living where tension and pretend satisfaction used to be.

Dating

I’d be lying if I didn’t say dating is the best part of being divorced — the freedom to enjoy the company of a man. For years I had an almost desperate desire to connect deeply with a partner.  The more I learned about myself the more I wanted to share with someone else. But I couldn’t share with other men.  I was already spoken for. Didn’t matter if my husband and I didn’t fill each other up.

Now, for the first time in my life men want to know me. All the navel gazing and  self-awareness books paid off.  I have a mild grip on who I am. Men sense that.  There is a soul in residence and she is available. That’s attractive.

The first three months after Jeff moved out I focused on adjusting, the kids, and writing. I told myself I needed time alone to learn how to save myself – not rely on a man to take care of everything and make me happy.  I needed to get stronger.

Then I went on a coffee date with a friend that turned into a couple of months of conversations and canoodling.  He rekindled my interest in physical affection. I’m not talking about sex.  I’m talking about kisses on your neck while you do the dishes or sitting on someone’s lap while you relay the events of  your day. It was fun and new, but ultimately not right. We parted as friends. No drama.

A few months of single Brenda.  More navel gazing and hanging out with friends.

Then, after Jeff introduced the kids to his girlfriend, (I’m not proud of this but…) I felt an intense need to beef up Team Brenda so I joined an online dating service.  It was a Kissing frogsgreat ego boost — lots of attention — but I had to kiss a few frogs (not literal kissing, actually just a lot of first dates that felt like job interviews). I did make a good friend in the process, someone from my home state of Michigan.

Then I met someone I couldn’t ignore.  I think it’s fairly common for newly single people to choose companions who are exact opposites of their exes.  That’s what I did. I went a little nuts with the most sensual and erotic guy I’ve ever met.  I learned a thing or two but in the end it felt empty.  A lot of heat and passion but not a lot of genuine caring.

While dating Mr. Erotic, another attractive man slipped into my life and showed me true warmth. We have known each other for years.  This is where I rest now, in his sweet attention.  It feels like home.

A few things I learned from cozy conversations with men are: 1. Men like committed relationships. They almost all wanted to get on with the serious stuff, be done with mass dating. 2. There are a lot of marriages where husbands and wives sleep in separate rooms, rarely having sex.  3. Physical affection and respect are oxygen to men.

I’m so grateful I have had this year of exploring.  Each relationship gave me a clearer picture of what I want and the time off from dating taught me I can rely on myself.

Parenting

I admit the first few months of the kids going back and forth between our houses was sort of heavenly for me.  I went from never daring to watch a television show by myself (without suffering from a huge guilt trip) to two nights a week and every other weekend wide open for my own discretion.  Hours of reading, writing, talking on the phone, and of course, watching movies and shows of my choice (Mad Men finally). As an introvert, it felt like getting a transfusion of life essence. I was an individual with my own ideas and desires again.

But this changed.  After a few months I was only a little excited when they left for their dad’s but really excited when they came back.

If I’m totally honest, I’ll admit it’s frustrating to think about your kids being influenced by the other parent without your input, especially when significant others join the picture. Sharing your kids with others is very, very, difficult.  I knew this would be the hardest part about the divorce. It’s hard to bear the kids creating family memories without you.  Sure, you know they will grow up and have experiences without you but Mom's House Dad's Housewhen your parenting time is cut in half AND they are spending more time outside the home, it’s rough. Jeff and I have maintained a healthy relationship.  The kids see us getting along and chatting easily. I believe we respect each other and we try our best to put the kids’ best interest first. And it’s still hard.

At the end of the summer Jeff had the kids 5 weekends in a row because of the way the schedule and holidays fell. I almost lost it.

There is a redeeming factor in all of this.  I believe Jeff and I are both more patient, attentive parents now than we were at the end of our marriage.  Our kids seem to have plateaued off into relative contentedness.

Me

As I said in last week’s post, I’m sick of myself. I’m ready to emerge from the cocoon of my self-awareness study. I want to get out and help others.  I want to earn some money.  I want to revel in the time with my kids.  I’ve learned to be resourceful.  I’ve learned how many close and dedicated friends I have.

Freedom is so sweet but it comes at a cost.

I embrace freedom and all the possibilities.

Have you found freedom this year? What has changed for you over the last year? How have you changed?

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11 Comments

  1. David Kanigan December 8, 2012 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    Brenna, I’ve nominated you for the 2012 Blog of the Year Award @ http://davidkanigan.com/2012/12/08/blog-of-the-year/#more-13084. You are under no obligation to accept. I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your inspirational posts in 2012. Happy Holidays. Dave

    • brennagee December 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm - Reply

      Wow! Thank you so much Dave. I could do the same for you. I get so many ideas, laughs and good music from your blog. Happy holidays to you too! Peace and joy in 2013.:)

  2. Ann December 7, 2012 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    i am not sure how i found your blog…but i have needed it for so many reasons. i too have had a year very similar to yours. the difference i am the extrovert and everyone in my life is introverted. i adore your perspective and it is helping me greatly to see from their perspective! I love the introvert life! I think I am picking up more of those tendencies as i learn to live alone for the first time in 15 years. thank you for your authenticity and transparency! it is refreshing and cooling to my soul. thank you for it! THANK YOU! i wish you great happiness, peace and joy for the future! your courage is not unnoticed!

    • brennagee December 7, 2012 at 7:42 pm - Reply

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I’m glad you found me.:) I’d like to get your extroverted perspective. I was married to an extrovert and my children are a mixed lot.

      Yeah, I’m fairly transparent. Writing is my therapy. I learn about myself as I compose. It makes me so happy when my story resonates with others!!

      Much peace and satisfaction to you. Good luck with your journey. Alone time can be fulfilling. I usually end of craving people after some time alone. I recharge in solitude but love connecting with others.

      • Ann December 9, 2012 at 11:48 am - Reply

        i have two children, one is introverted and the other is extremely extroverted. i learn so much from them about the way people recharge because they are so honest and raw about their needs.

        i think since becoming a mother i have become more introverted in some aspects because i crave the alone time. but when it comes to processing things i am 100% extroverted. i cannot seem to get through something without talking it out. because of this…everyone knows my life. i have to live transparent because i live out loud!

        again thank you for your writings!

        • brennagee December 9, 2012 at 4:42 pm - Reply

          I’ve learned a lot from my children (I have one introvert and one extrovert and one ?) and ex-husband (extrovert) as well. It’s frustrating when their styles don’t mesh with mine but I at least have a slight understanding of why they react or don’t react a certain way. I think I am what Laurie Helgoe (Introvert Power) calls an accessible introvert or an ambivert. I like people and enjoy time with them but fully recharge in solitude.

          I know lots of people like you who need to talk out their lives. It ‘s the way you are wired.:) It takes courage to be transparent but ultimately everyone benefits, in my opinion.

          Thank you for sharing your thoughts.:)

  3. Doug Toft December 7, 2012 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    “Physical affection and respect are oxygen to men.” This is one of the most beautiful sentences in the English language.

  4. markat323 December 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    We have both had pretty eventful years, and I think we have both come out the better for them. Good for you for getting out and dating, too! I still haven’t tried venturing there. 🙂 I also just read the suckiest New year. Here’s to a much better night this year!

    • brennagee December 7, 2012 at 7:28 pm - Reply

      We are moving onward and upward M! Get out and try dating. If nothing else you’ll learn something and have some good stories.;) I have a feeling this New Year’s is going to be way better. May 2013 be spectacular!

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