Sunday, December 26, 2010

Time Managment! The Musical

Hello again. Wow, time management is the topic of the week for me, it seems. I am just not doing a very good job being me this week. What is it that makes the internet so addicting, or the book so good, or the nap so compelling, that I am willing to toss aside better choices to wallow in things that may gratify for the moment, but add no value to my actual day?

Why is it that I can know I need to get x things done in y time, but self sabotage myself just enough to make sure that it just doesn't happen? What is this need I have to flagellate myself for things not done? Is this masochism? Some innate belief that I just don't deserve a clean house, or a tidy desk, or to be on time, or what have you? Or am I just lazy?

It's too easy to excuse myself with a shrug and an "oh, ADD, you got me again!"

I want my life to be more than just lived. I want to know that at the end of the day I have done more than gotten the high score on whatever visual salt lick has me in it's grasp at the moment. I want to be proud of myself for the things I have accomplished, the infrastructures I have in place, the pieces of paper I HAVE'NT lost this time, the accounts paid in full, the appointments not missed. I want to be a functioning adult. I understand that sometimes these things just happen, and the stocks and flogging may not be necessary every time. But gawd almighty, I am looking at four days on my own and a looming New Year's Eve party that I am looking forward to having, and welcome. So why am I sitting here lolling in cyberspace, when there are things to do, lists to make, toilets to swish and swipe?

Could it simply that cleaning the house is just too effing boring? wah wah wah. Be glad you have a house to clean and pick it up already. Could I maybe just once shut off the eternal soundtrack of my less than spotless mind and not berate myself for the mess existing in the first place, but instead hurrah myself over each room that I conquer? That would be a nice change.

How's about I attempt to welcome in 2011 with a new soundtrack. That might be the best house cleaning maneuver of all!

Where did I leave the mental floss?

Friday, December 24, 2010

And they're off!

Do you think it will ever bother me less, watching my children drive away to spend a holiday with their Dad?

Will my breath catch a little less next year?

Will my heart just keep beating, without that little pang?

Or will I eventually not even notice when they leave. Wave and wish them well and then just get on with my day? To be honest, that is pretty much what I am doing now, other than moping in this blog post.

Okay. Enough now. Gonna go watch "Love Actually" and put a bicycle together.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Faces around the table

Celebrated my Dad's birthday today, at his home, with almost all the family around. It was lovely to have everyone there, smiling, eating, more smiling, more eating. We almost lost him a year ago, so the fact that he is here at all is so miraculous to me.

Dads are hard, aren't they? I have so many friends who struggle with their dads. Conversations are either arduous, or they can't do enough - ever - to live up to the old man's ideals, or they are polar opposites politically, or a hundred other things that divide and separate. And some dads are so wonderful that when they go, they leave a hole so huge it seriously disturbs the soul of the ones left behind. They careen adrift, wondering how they will sail, now that their captain, their touchstone, their very compass is gone.

My dad is somewhere in the middle, I think. There were hard, hard years between my dad and I. My parents divorced when I was very young, and between Navy placements and life choices I rarely saw him. And he just isn't a call to chat kind of guy. I spent YEARS railing against my dad for not being the Robert Young clone I yearned for. I burned inside when high school girls would casually answer "Thanks, it belongs to my dad" when I complemented a particularly cool sweater. I had no such closet to raid, and I hated my dad for that. I hated him for not coming to my school plays, not being there to advise me about boys, not knowing the names of my friends, not being Mike Brady, Jason Seaver, Cliff Huxtable (a doctor!!!) or any of the other dads I saw on TV. And oh, GOD, why, oh WHY couldn't my dad be Harry Dean Stanton from Pretty in Pink?

I remember telling someone that "my dad has been more influential in my life through his absence than his presence." Ouch. Did he really deserve that?

So many hours in the therapy chair were necessary for me to learn to love my dad for who he was, and to let go of this ideal dad that I was just not going to have. Yes, there was mourning for the dad I would never have, but constantly moaning about who my dad wasn't didn't get me very far either.

Taking the time to learn who my dad is has been a very, very good choice. He is more than the sum of his parts. He loves me. He really does. And no, he didn't always love me the way I wanted, but I know now for sure that he loved me the best that he could. I know he heard me singing to him in the hospital last year, and I know he is glad to hear me when I call now. And I am glad to hear his voice when calls me, which he did, at last, learn to do. I could do without his views on Sarah Palin, and Obamacare, and I know that my total lack of knowledge (or interest in) any organized sport makes me a puzzle to him, and the women's movement missed him COMPLETELY, but he has the heart of a lion, and he looks scary, but cries if you give him a birthday card with a bird on it. Big ol teddy bear!

Happy birthday dad. I am glad I got to know you, and my children got to know you, and I am glad you are still here to stand in the circle and lead us in grace, and hug us with your big bear arms, and be generally dad-ish and old school and wonderfully, wonderfully YOU.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Difference?

What feels different, now that I know Mr. Hate is gay?

The realization that there was NOTHING I could have done to save my marriage. Even if I did every single solitary thing the counselors said, we would have failed anyway, in the end, as he would have figured out he was gay eventually. This feels like....relief. Justification. Almost "I told you so." You see, inside I knew I was trying like crazy to fix us, to fix me, and I knew he wasn't trying. Not as hard as I was. And he continued to blame me, label me a failure, and I bought in to that. His accusations fit my insecurities, and made me feel totally unworthy of love. But I need to own that I bought into that, because I did. But now I feel relief. It wasn't me.

Justification is the part of me that sees now that not only was it not me, but that adult voice inside of me that knew he really wasn't trying has been completely vindicated. And the war inside of me between my childish, unsure self and my calmer, much more knowing adult voice has just found its clear winner. After 45 years!

LISTEN, girl! Hear what you now know. Your adult intuition has known all along what your childish self refused to relent. He didn't try. He lied, again and again. And you weren't too stupid to figure it out, you were too scared to stand and say "No!" But you lost your marriage anyway, and as it turns out, it's a financial hardship, but that's all. Almost every part of you lives in more truth now, and that can never be anything but a blessing.

Why does it feel different? My voice is different, it fears no lie now, but demands truth. My eyes are different now. Mr. Hate is not some hero, some out-of-my-league prize to show off to my high school enemies and thus refute their dismissal of me. He is no more than a man, and a pretty poor example at that.

In this moment, warmed by the thin winter sun and feeling the first stirrings of real power and knowledge inside, know that there is NO FEAR. Safe and warm and grounded in the knowledge of truth, feel your strength. Seriously. Hold on to this feeling, and use it to go forth and be better than you ever thought you could. No. Wait. Turn that around. Go out and be exactly who you have always known you could be. It's all in there, and it always has been.

Why do I feel different? Because I see now that my childish self didn't believe in me, and I married someone who didn't believe in me either, and in all honesty, I used him. I hid from what I was afraid of anyway and I hid behind him and blamed him for blocking me.

He's not there now. What's blocking me now is me, and knowing that, not being willing to hide anymore, makes me feel different.

What else feels different? The idea of dating again feels different. I won't have to present like someone else's reject. It's not that I failed as a wife, it's that I wasn't a boy.

OH MY GOD. "Dr. Freud, paging Dr. Freud...." Did I just write that? Mystic crystal revelations flying today! My father didn't stick around because I wasn't a boy, and neither did my husband. Seriously?

But for the first time I can see that it's not so simple. They left because they needed something else. And really it has nothing to do with me, who I am and what I did or didn't do. It has to do with them. No judgement, just different needs. But how many years have I spent wearing a horse hair shirt, flogging myself for not being enough, not feeling wanted, or chosen? Being chosen isn't about the offering, it's about the chooser. Giving these men so much of my energy and emotion was my choice. Knowing that it was me all along makes me feel different.

I feel different because now I know I can parent how I want, spend money how I want, decorate how I want, LIVE how I want. I feel different because seeing how deceptive and just plain WRONG Mr. Hate was in his choices punches up how right so many of mine have been. But not in relation to his choices, that's not exactly what I mean. I mean that now, today, I am standing firmer in my choices and realizing that in a lot of ways I am very, very smart. Very smart. My intuition is quite sound, and I feel I have proven it.

How is it different? How can it not be? I see my life entire now. I did not fail at my marriage, I was deceived, and I chose to deceive, and I do not choose that anymore. Truth brings a clarity and with it a tidal swell of strength that I have sorely needed. At first I was upended, carpet pulled out from under me, terrified. TERRIFIED. Blind, thrashing, wounded.

Now I am stood upright, grounded, blinking in the sun. Not abandoned, but definitely "left alone" in the "stop getting in my way leave me alone and let me get on with it" left alone. Let go. Freed.

I feel different because I am free of the burden of his happiness, free from the shackles of his limitations and insecurities, and released from the ropes of my own making. Not only can I run the race set before me, but I will run it. With focus and with purpose.

Because I am different now.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

We have taken our first steps into a larger world

So. Still processing this, so it may be a bad idea to blog about it. But I am finding blogging to be a pretty darn helpful sieve.

Met with Mr. Hate last night for coffee (though I had tea, and please, for the love of Gawd, next time I have a pot of tea at 6:30 at night, remind me to order the decaf!). And we actually managed to talk some stuff through. At least he talked, and I mostly listened. That was really, really challenging for me and my monkey mind. There is SO much I would like to say, so many Al-Pacino worthy speeches I have composed in my head, so many Norma Rae moments I have scripted, that it was arduous to sit quietly, never mind the visions I had of pouring the scalding tea on his lap. I spent quite a lot of time writing before I went to this meeting, and a good amount of time in meditation and prayer. Isn't that sad, a little? This man used to be my heart's delight, and now he unnerves me no end. I realized that it is not him so much I am afraid of, but my reactions to him. And I held it together, and for that I absolutely thank my God who met me when I wanted to be excellent, and gave me the strength to make it so. I really can do all things through Him that strengthens me, and I need to remember this and lean on it more. and more. and more.

Now I did have a slight advantage here, as I had a looooong talk with one of his relatives who had sat with him last week, and listened to him sling absolute lies for over an hour. So basically I went in to the conversation knowing that a) he was told to apologize to me, and b) he is a delusional liar, and I needed to keep that in the forefront of my mind the entire time.

But I would be lying if I didn't admit it was really, really good to hear him say "I am sorry." And he did say those words. And I asked him exactly WHAT he was sorry for, and he said he was sorry for not being up front with me, and for what he did to contribute to the breakdown of our marriage. And here's the weird thing. He kept saying things like "but you know, our marriage wouldn't have worked anyway, because we didn't communicate well" and "you know, I really was interested in reconciliation" and I just baffle at that because, I mean, HE IS GAY, so really it didn't matter how well I communicated, and how much love I showed him, because our marriage was just not going to work, was it?

And I basically called him on it, and I also told him he needed to pay my legal bill. And we will see if he does. He paid for my tea. Hey - it's a start, right?

He danced all around what he kept calling his "situation" his "revelation" his "discovery" and it was a good twenty minutes in to it before he actually said the words "I am gay" and to my knowledge I am the first person he has said it to. And if any part of your mind thinks it is easy to watch and hear your husband's mouth say those words, you are wrong.

In the overarching sense I do see what he is trying to say about our marriage. There certainly were communication issues between us, and of course I had things I could have done better. But does that excuse him making me sit through years of counseling, blaming me for everything that was wrong with him? And that he would not apologize for. He just kept yammering about how he really was interested in reconciling, how I wasn't very nice to him when he first left, how I was so angry, etc. And maybe that's partly true, but you know what? HE's GAY. Doesn't that rather trump the rest of it? He still won't admit that he should not have bought the house the way he did, and he should not have blamed me for him being in the hospital that time, and many other things he did that were just WRONG and so very painful. And part of me knows he is completely full of it, and I am betting this whole attempt at being nice was just because he is working some angle, and he just is not capable of actual, real, honest relationship.

But, what if he is at least trying? My brain knows all evidence points to him being completely full of shit. Oh, but my heart, my poor broken heart needs a rest. Can't it just believe, even for one second, that maybe he really is sorry, at least for the things he said he is sorry for? See, part of me sees the discrepancy already. He says he is sorry for the things he did for contributing to the breakdown of our marriage (say it with me - HE's GAY) but when pressed, he apparently would still buy the house the way he did, and would still blame me for what he said to me that day in the hospital. So what has he learned? And what have I learned?

My major concern from here out is my children. I don't know if he heard me, really heard me, but he has GOT to stop using them as messengers. I asked him how he ever got the idea that he should tell the kids first, and he said "Larry." Ah, Larry, the eternal blame-taker. Larry the therapist who also, apparently told Mr. Hate to leave me, told him to buy the house, told him every other piece of crap advice that Mr. Hate has used to justify his actions. I have never met him, but I have to say, I think he is probably the worst. therapist. ever. That, or he has the worst. client. ever. who does whatever he wants and then blames it on Larry. Whatever.

I just don't want him to do that anymore. The kids have got to come first. He needs to stop forcing them to spend time with him, and to try to actually connect and make relationships with them. And there he is basically doomed to fail because even with the latest bit of self knowledge, he has no idea who he is. How sad is that?

The financial piece is where tempers flare, even now. He did not do right by us, and I told him that deep down I hope he knows that, but I doubt it.

I told him I had lost all trust I ever had in him, and that he needs to acknowledge, to really hear that it is a direct result of choices he has made. He lied to me over and over and over again, and that will take a long time of excellent behavior on his part, and he could start by paying my legal bill. (See what I did there? Repeat repeat repeat....)

Hearing that he had taken up with Roomie before we were divorced was very, very painful to hear. Adultery. Ta for that.

And of course, he wanted a complete list of all the people I had told of his situation. And I didn't give it to him, but I told him this was his news to carry, and I was not going to do his work for him here. But I reminded him that he told the kids it wasn't a secret, and they told their friends who went home and told their parents, and we live in a teeny town, so basically, his work is done.

Look, the basic take away is this. I miss having a friend who knew all about me for over 20 years. He is a bullshit liar and delusional and the weakest, most cowardly cheap bastard narcissist ever, but he is also my children's father, and for their sake I have to be more than excellent. Do I want to bury a hatchet in his head? Honestly, yes, a little. He has hurt me beyond what I thought I could endure, he has damaged my children, and he has told more lies in three years than I will in a lifetime. But he is the father of my children. How does it profit them to live with hatred and scorn?

I have read the Bible cover to cover and forgiveness is on almost every page. It's time to put my faith into actual practice, and I had better figure this one out for the sake of my own soul. Could I actually do that, knowing that Mr. Hate still thinks his life is my fault? Could I actually forgive this man, who has caused me to suffer more pain than I ever thought I could feel and survive?

I think I would be very proud of myself if I could do that. Oh, the relief from putting down the burden of burning anger and walking away!

What would my children see? It's such a difficult question. Will they learn that forgiveness is divine and a healing option, or will they learn that mommy was such a doormat that she let their dad walk all over her, treat her worse than dirt, and still forgave him?

I need a time-turner, a crystal ball, a guarantee. And that is the one thing I will never have. Feh.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The thing about dark nights....

Is that eventually they pass. And thank GOD for that. It's been a hard week, with so many emotions I ran out of emoticons by Sunday. Can it really only be a week I have known the real truth? "Running the gamut" is an excellent phrase, btdubs. I feel exactly as if I have run a very, very long way. My lungs are literally sore, I feel spent and yet somehow charged that I have run so far.

People are amazingly kind. Seriously. Remind me of that on my "people suck" days. Because Anne Frank was totally, completely, and amazingly prescient when she noted that people are intrinsically good, deep down at the cellular level. Not many people know what has been going on with me, and I have fought my natural instinct to crow from roofs (it's the hair, I am descended from a long line of Scottish roosters), and kept pretty much my own counsel on this one. Well, I mean, other than the fact that I am discussing it here....LOL. Anyway. The people who do know have been incredibly kind. So much love is out there for me. Just when I thought I should just hang it up, that love was meant for some people, but that the Universe was trying to explain to me that the music had stopped and I had no chair. Love is not for me, I thought.

But there is love for me out there. I don't know if it will be the romantic kind, but oh, there is love in the world. And there is love in me. *I* always told the truth in my marriage, a fact that has been of huge solace to me this week. I am capable of great love. I can even imagine a future now where I am friendly, open and welcoming to Mr. Hate and Roomie, even if they are not. I have never met Roomie, but I will be nothing but excellent when I do. I need to be more than excellent from now on, and not for their benefit, but for my own. I am setting an example here that three very, very important people are watching, and I need them to see what real love looks like. So I need to up my game and get it together, because it matters more now than it ever has. His being completely unhealthy means that he will probably not respond in any sort of kind, but that does not excuse me. He spent last week dragging Roomie around Ireland, leaving a trail of lies that is still hanging over the air there, singeing the tops of the shamrocks. It is HARD not to confront him on them, especially as he seems to be telling lies that are not even worth the telling - like who hired a lawyer first, and who was responsible for dragging the divorce out so long. I have to wonder, when he tells such outrageous whoppers, does he even know they are lies, or does he actually believe the bullshit he slings? I am curious in an almost scientific observer way. How can he rewrite the truth so often and so far from center? Where does that come from? What does he actually believe? It is most peculiar. I need to get Scientific American or at least Alan Alda on this one.....remind me to google the science of lying. I could win the Nobel, write the definitive work, oops, the ADD has got my monkey mind, where was I?

Excellent. That's it. Excellent.

Going forward I am going to be as excellent as I can, and he won't respond in a healthy way, because he cannot respond in a healthy way, and I would be lying if I didn't admit that parts of me know my being normal and healthy and excellent will chap his ass raw and the schadenfreude is delicious (and a spelling WIN). But when it's all said and done, what will people remember? What will I remember? Karma is real, and he should be TERRIFIED.

In some strange way it's easier that he is a homosexual. The burden of failure is heavy to carry, and he did, and continues to, load as much of that burden on me as he can. But really, there is nothing, absolutely NOTHING I could have done to save our marriage. I just don't have that one thing he is looking for..... And putting that burden down is a huge relief. The fact that I accepted so much of it and carried it for so long is subject for much reflection, and a whole 'nother post.

What I need to do is pace myself. I am almost giddy with relief, and giddy can make a girl do some funky stuff. I need to take this slowly, acknowledging that grief will still back up on me from time to time, and I should not rush this. I imagine all sorts of Meryl Streep worthy moments where I appear on their doorstep with a big smile (and sometimes a plant, other times baked goods) and greet Roomie warmly. Um....ya. Maybe not this week. But I would like to meet him, someday. He spends a lot of time with my children, and it looks like he is here for a while, so we need to get acquainted. I want Mr. Hate to live in truth, and if Roomie is his truth then amen to the both of them, and could you do me a favor and stop lying? Ta.

If you were one of the people who answered the phone when I was crying this week, God bless you, and know that it meant everything to me. I am not finished with this, but sometimes a week is a lot more than seven days, and I do feel better, at least in this moment.

There is love for me in the world, and I have so much love in me. And truth. Lots and lots of truth.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Secrets and Lies

Quick back story: Several months after Mr. Hate moved into his palace of shame (the house he bought behind my back, with all the money in the brokerage account) I found out, through the children, that he had acquired a roommate. I asked him then what the relationship was between himself and this man, and he said "Just friends." I asked him this repeatedly. My lawyer asked him- twice. The weekend before we went to court for the last time I looked him right in the eye and asked him to tell me the truth. "I was your best friend for 20 years" I said. "I would like to hear the truth from you."

He looked me right in the eye and said he and Roomie were just friends.

I asked him again, last Sunday night, after something One said that made me uncomfortable. "No!" he said.

He lied.

He took the kids out for dinner on Tuesday, and I went over a friend's house to drop off some dresses I had hemmed for her, and to hang out a bit. And when I got home, the children told me he told them over dinner that he and Roomie were more than just friends. "Dad's GAY!" they chorused, thinking it all very funny.

I felt as if ice water was being dumped on me. What kind of a chicken shit coward makes his children proclaim the news that he was too ashamed to say? What kind of a man uses his children in that way? I could have freaked out. I could have been in a rage. I could have seriously unhinged, and they would have taken that heat. And he let them. I have no words vehement enough to express how I felt.

And let me make this point very clear: my issue is NOT with him being homosexual. There is absolutely, positively nothing wrong with being homosexual.

I have huge issues with cowards and liars, however.

Rule number one of the divorce handbook says: "The children are never to be used as messengers. " and yet he does just that, again and again. And no matter what anyone says, he keeps right on doing it.

In that moment I wanted.....Oh, I wanted.....I don't know what. I wanted to make sure the kids were okay. And they were! Third looked at me with giant, troubled eyes and said "Mom, it's worse than you think. Dad smokes!" and I laughed a little, then. I have done a really, really, really good job raising these kids. They think it is worse to smoke than be gay. And they are right. It is.

They think it's HILARIOUS. One said "oh, please! With all the chrome in that house? Totally gay!" A little stereotypical, but basically well adjusted. And I feel glad about that. I really do. Growing up, we had one girl in school who's dad was known to be gay, and the scars across her wrists will serve as a lifelong testament to what her childhood was like. That will not be my children's experience, and for that I am grateful that we live when we do, and where we do. If my people had settled Texas or Nebraska this would be a much different story. But we live here in liberal Massachusetts, where this just won't be a very big deal. At best a curiosity, at worst, a predictor of how ignorant others are. Nothing for my kids to lose sleep over, anyway.

But I have lost sleep. I sent him an email with no body text, just a subject line "Explain yourself, please." No response. He did phone later in the week, to speak with the kids, and it did not go well. I told him we needed to have a conversation, and he refused. It seems we are NEVER going to discuss it. Ever. But I have some legitimate questions. How long? Was everything we had a lie? Was my health ever compromised? Was it happening when I asked him to tell me the truth? How is it that he looked at me and lied? If he knew this was his situation, why make the divorce so acrimonious?

If he had come to me years ago and told me, I would have been hurt, sure, but I also would have been his biggest ally. I could have been his friend on this path. We could have told the kids, together, could have worked out an equitable settlement for both of us, could have come up with a parenting plan that suited all of us. Instead, there has been anger, secrets, and lies. My older sister was shocked. Not that he was gay, but because he is such an incredible asshole, and continues to be so.

I am supposed to parent with this person for the next 60 years, and I cannot believe a word that comes out of his mouth. What do I do with that? What do I do with the dark, dark feeling that my whole life has been a lie? I remember at my wedding, how no one could believe a girl liked me had landed a guy like him. Handsome, wealthy, that whole European thing going on, so charming and sophisticated, and clearly going places. What was a guy like him ever doing with a girl like me?

Well, now I know. It was all a lie. A girl like me could never land a guy like him.

Not really.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Out, OUT, damn thought

Geesh, where is Stewart Smalley when I need him?

Getting control over the finances is getting easier by the day. Getting control over the housework is just a matter of self-discipline and time management (thanks, Concerta!). Getting control over the monkey mind chatter in my head is proving the hardest slog of all. The same soundtrack has been running in there for DECADES. The Greek chorus knows the tunes by heart, and sings them all day long.

"No one else has a house as gross as yours!"
"If people really knew what you thought, they would not go NEAR you!"
"You don't need something else to fail at."
"If we had been boys, he never would have left"
"You are just not good enough"
"You are just not good enough"
"Everyone else can do this - what is WRONG WITH YOU?"
"You should not be doing x, you should be doing y"
repeat x 40 years or so

Hateful little tune, isn't it? I used to spend a lot of time blaming the people who said those things to me in the first place, but aye, here's the rub - who decided they were right? Who decided the things they said deserved to be remembered and added to the soundtrack in the first place?

Me. That's who. So there is no point in assigning blame, or being angry at the people who said those things to me. I am the one who gave them credence, and a place to stick their words. That being said, if I started the soundtrack, surely I can be the one to shut it off? In theory, this must be correct. In practice, it's nigh on impossible. But I try.

Awareness is an important first step, and one that is at least improving. When I catch myself beating myself bloody over something, I do push the pause button now, and I do change the soundtrack. And it *is* helping, albeit slowly. I don't know why people have said such harsh things to me. But I know that I don't have to listen to them for one more second.

God bless my pastor, who gave SUCH a wonderful and helpful sermon this weekend. God does love me. He CHOSE me. He is the one I should listen to, turn to, focus on. And that has entered the soundtrack too. Or at least I am trying. And I believe God grades on the curve.

What will it be like, when my monkey mind does learn a new song? I look forward to that day. I really do. It's not about shutting anyone up, or getting back at those who told me I couldn't, wouldn't, shouldn't. It is all about me. This is totally about me learning to sit with myself, to accept goodness, search for joy, and gratefully take it all in.

I quote the Waifs: "Take it in, take it all in. This is a day that will not come again. Take it in, take it all in. This is the day, and it's here for the living."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful for Thanksgiving

So, yeah. The holidays still make me a little sad. I miss being married. I do. Sometimes I even miss being married to the man I was married to. Before he lost himself, and lost his way, and lost us. But -- to quote his favorite phrase, "the reality is...." (and how ironic is THAT?) that I am not married anymore.

But you know what? I am still thankful. I am! I am thankful for the many messages of support God, the universe, Mother Earth, Love, has given me since the day Mr. Hate left. I am thankful for every day I get to tell my children "good night" or "I love you!" and I don't have to phone them to do it, because they are right here. I am thankful that I have a warm bed to sleep in, and food on the my plate, and people who really, really love me. Maybe not the same people who were willing to sit in my home and eat my food three years ago, but people who love me, just as I am.

I am thankful for the new muscles I am flexing, the new strength I have found, the things I have let go of, and the things I am learning to let go of. I am thankful for the new boundaries I have found, and the old boundaries I have broken through. I am thankful.

And, like Red.....I hope.

Thank you.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Engaging vs enabling

My new favorite phrase, delivered by the smartest woman I know: If someone is crazy all by themselves, you don't have to help them by engaging in their crazy with them.

What, is that fifteen words, maybe? I'll let you count while I rave on. My life was literally CHANGED by that sentence. I have been struggling with how to not engage with Mr. Hate without enabling him to continue to treat me so poorly. And there it is. If I am just matter of fact and make my point and then get outta there, I have done my job. His reaction, his batshit, his rewrite of history is none of my business. And if I have enough anecdotal or historical evidence to support a theory that his crazy is gonna be all over something, I don't have to say anything at all. And that does not equal enabling. It is self-protection, and it is an action. It is the active choice not to act, not to do the dance that we have done for years, for eons, to death, because I choose not to do that dance anymore. Of course he needs me to yell, to send hateful emails, to do all the things I would have done in the past. If he can demonize me, than he can rationalize to himself what he has done. If I am crisp, professional, and follow through in a completely rational manner, his crazy will no doubt go on a rage, but that is his issue, and not mine.

SOMEbody got her $20 out of HER copay today, for true.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Nice one, God!

Had to go to the Social Security Administration office today, to file the final "change of name" form. I thought I would be more excited about it, but really - that is one depressing office. I am glad SS exists, but man, those are some hard luck cases you see in there. I actually recognized someone I knew, and discovered that the SS waiting area is one of those areas where you don't say hello. (joining "gynocologist" "colonoscopy" and "therapist office").

I waited for my number to be called, and approached the desk. The woman spoke about four words to me, took my form, and did not look up again as she looked over my form and entered whatever magic words were necessary to erase the past 20 years of Elliott-ness and restore me to my former, single self. "Okay. Here you go. 24 to 48 hours for processing." No smile, no "good luck" - nothing.

On the heels of that pleasant altercation, I left feeling a little less jaunty than when I arrived. But I smiled as a warmish breeze blew, warm for November anyway, and I took a deep breath and kept going.

And then. Oh, and then. I got in the car, and the VERY first song that came on was "The Cave" by Mumford and Sons.

"And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again."

Nice one God. And thanks for the messages, the almost constant messages, that I am going to come out of this just fine.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Oh, I am struggling with anger today! Red-faced, bile in my spleen anger. Where to put it? I know everything you know about anger. I am the one carrying the boiling pot in my bare hands, twisting in the wind, suffering the effects of the stomach acid. I KNOW. And yet I seethe on.

How DO you just put anger down? Is it enough to throw six trays of ice in the tub, punch and kick at the wii fit screen until exhausted, cry, scream, what??? When is it really gone? It seems to me that anger is rather an endless pool. Just when I think I have fumed all I can, a fresh wave descends.

Certainly I know the balm of the tincture of time....things that enraged me in high school, say, don't bother me at all now. But there are other things. Oh, yes there are. Things that ALWAYS push my buttons, make me furious. What to do with those? Examine the button - check. Come up with strategies - check. Use force when necessary - check. Self-care - check.

Perhaps my entire supposition here is off: surely anger will occur in life, and perhaps it is best to just feel it when it happens, without hurting innocent bystanders, of course, and then step away. I think maybe it's the "step away" that I am struggling with, isn't it?

Still, right now I would LOVE to wreak actual, painful, hideous revenge on someone. Make them CRAWL. Ugh. Hardly the peace-loving demeanor I strive for. What do you know? My seamy underbelly revealed in all it's horrid splendor. I want the universe to make damn sure that he feels the pain he is visiting on others. FEELS IT. Gross.

I don't want this. I want to forgive, to be able to move on. But I have to admit, right now, if I had some magic powers at my disposal, the shit would be raining down on him so hard, he would need a hat. A big one.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Scarlet woman!

So. Maybe I flirted today. Okay, so I totally did. With some random guy at the supermarket. Don't even know why I did it, really. I just sort of struck up a conversation with this man because I liked his shirt, and next thing you knew we were chatting away, and maybe I was smiling, and laughing, and he was sending signals, and maybe it was okay with me.

And then it was over, because someone was coming in to the parking lot, and he had to move, and then I was already in my car, and so that was it.

It was SO WEIRD though. See, I wasn't much of a flirt when I was married, because, well - I WAS MARRIED. But now I am not. So. See.... well, you know. I could have a story now. A "we met in the parking lot" story. I am not looking to meet someone -- not at all. Not at all ready to get anywhere near a date. But "500 Days of Summer" was on yesterday, and she has that whole speech about how she was in a diner and this guy asked about the book she was reading and now they were married, and it stuck in my head, I guess. So I told some random guy in a parking lot that I liked his shirt. And he smiled at me and chatted back. Which made me feel somehow encouraged. Like maybe sometime, someone will speak to me in a diner.

And I will have a new story to tell.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Time Management

Oh, it's fun to have ADD! Isn't it? While there are many challenges, there are supposed to be many blessings as well. The literature will say adults with ADD are more creative, have great ideas, can multi-task, yadda yadda yadda - I can't help but feel they say these things to make us feel better. I quote Alanis: "It's like rain, on your wedding day..."

I have another day free, not being on the work schedule until the afternoon today. And like home owners around the world, everywhere my eye falls I see something that needs doing. But where to begin? Yes I make lists, Yes, I follow Flylady, ( albeit loosely, and have a host of other structures in place to help me. But where to begin? I look around and already feel overwhelmed -- another hallmark of ADD. The Greek chorus splits on this one. Half of them stand to the side and twist their togas in frustration whilst chanting "JUST START" at me, whilst the other half is dancing in glee singing "we knew she couldn't do it!" Gotta send them to the Middle East to work on peace solutions or something.....

But starting is important, and start I shall. I love the feeling of getting things done, don't you? That feeling when I am lying in bed at the end of the day and know that the house/town/planet is maybe just a little better off than it was in the morning, because I was good at being me that day. I managed my time, got things done, was a big ol' grownup, and didn't mess it up, just for that one day.

Maybe just for today, that will be enough. I will be enough. Maybe just for today I will not spend my time before sleep berating myself for the coulda/shoulda/wouldas, but will make the choice to celebrate what was finished, or at least worked on, and give myself a pass on those things left undone for one more day. None of it is life threatening, after all.

Could it be I am finally going easier on myself?

Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Damn you DNA!

I was so excited to get to spend last night hanging out with Second. Fourteen is a TOUGH age for a girl, but she and I have found some really good, connective moments lately. Times when it has just been the two of us, and I am so relieved to know that she is in there, still, although mostly lost amongst the teenage dramz of hair flipping and eye rolling and general parental avoidance that marks her current tribe.

She bought a new camera last week with the Gran money that arrived a few weeks ago. She really impressed me with how well she researched her choices, and narrowed down what features she wanted. The thing is -- it worked for two days, and then it went to some sort of techno heaven where I could not reclaim it, even after carefully following the directions in the manual. Of course, I had been the last one to use it, thoughtlessly (ahem) borrowing it to photograph her last field hockey game. So there was a good hour or so of "MOM! YOU BROKE IT!" followed by me frantically and also methodically trying to fix it.

I made the radical suggestion to take it back to the store and let the people who actually know about cameras try to fix it. The technician at the store was one of those guys who I totally get. He loves a puzzle, that one. From first sight I could TELL he was not going to walk away until he had cracked it. An hour later he had been on the phone to Zeus himself up there on Mount Olympus, and even Zeus couldn't fix it. Well, what do you know? It wasn't me at all. Even in the seemingly perfect world of cameras, a lemon craps out now and then. Did I get an apology? Nope, just denial. "What, mom! I never SAID you broke it!" Alzheimer's runs in my family, but it's not here YET peeps....So the technician asked us to come back today when the manager is there, and they are going to give us a new one, hopefully, since the camera *is* only two days old.

And Second went into the funk I know so well, but have never actually seen her do before. She is either getting a new camera, or they are going to send this one off to get fixed. It's going to get better. It is! But she stewed the whole way home. "I wanted the ONE THING I have wanted for ages to be perfect. But noooooo - I can't have ONE THING go right!" Oh, how the heart weeps to see the reflection embodied. All that whining aloud I have done in front of them seriously came back to bite me in the ass. I said all the things to her that I wish someone would say to me when I am being thoroughly martyred. And it did naught. Oh, Second. I do apologize.

And thus the Anne Shirley chorus erupted in my head: from now on I shall relentlessly seek silver linings and poop rainbows and laugh at tribulation, and quote the classic poets and be a GOOD MODEL for my children! Sure. That'll happen.

Right after Zeus calls to personally apologize for making a camera that was less than perfect, and provides us with a year's supply of free prints for our troubles.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Epic fail at failing

Everyone says I am too hard on myself. Everyone. For years now. Have I tried to fix it? Can't really say. I suppose I try to give myself a break now and then, but to be honest, I don't feel that I push myself that hard. If you saw my house, you would know what I mean....I think its more the case that I ream myself over everything I do wrong, and don't forgive myself for much.

Example: walked out of the house last night and was greeted by a flat tire on the car. Whee. Things like that are SUCH an interruption, aren't they? But really, I was quite lucky - I was home, everyone that needed to be somewhere was there, First let me borrow his car to drive Third to her game, and on the whole, no harm, no foul.

I didn't even address it last night. Have the day off, so I figured I would get around to changing it and then drive over to the dealership later today and get it straightened out. I was so stuck on the idea that I was going. to. put. the. spare. on. myself. Except that -- I couldn't. Could NOT get that stoopid locked bolt thing to turn, even the slightest bit. So I had to call AAA in the end anyway. And the guy changed it in two seconds, and life went on.

Here's how the Greek chorus in my head sounded:

I am woman, hear me roar!
God, please help me do this....I need to stand on my own two feet...
Of course you can't do this! You are a pathetic cartoon, call AAA already, like you are supposed to
I don't have any money to tip the guy, and he is going to hate me
Call AAA already, of course YOU can't change a tire!
The AAA guy is going to laugh when he sees how I tried to do it
Everyone is going to laugh at you - you suck at this. If you weren't such a fat, out of shape, goofball, it would be done by now.
Call AAA

I called AAA. And seeing it now, written out, I am getting a hint at why people might say I am rather hard on myself. I think the biggest question is why I hesitated calling AAA in the first place. I paid for the service, why not use it? Why did I want to do it myself so badly? Why do I think there is some inherent cool factor in doing stuff like this myself?

And why do I allow that Greek chorus to go on striping me? I wish I knew how to shut them off. It's like a double bind now. I hate how I feel when I listen to them, and I hate myself more because I put them there and have yet to figure out how to shut them off.


Monday, October 25, 2010

it glitters, but it's not gold

So, the Homecoming Dance was this weekend. First was going with his girlfriend, so he just took a shower got dressed and left, but Second took HOURS to get ready, get her hair and shoes juuuuuust right; clearly this was a major frock opportunity. We were invited over to the house of one of the girls in her class in order to take photos. How precious are these kids gonna get, I ask you? I think I *may* have yelled "Bye Mom!" on my way out the door to my Homecoming dance, but perhaps my memory slips....

Anyway, photo calls seem to be de riguer these days, so I dutifully trundled off to the photo call, with Second looking picture perfect.

The house was, in a word, stunning. Total tract mansion, complete with two story family room, "communications nook" (bulletin board and a phone for us regular folks), and my least favorite home feature EVER - the refrigerator with a facing panel that matched the ones on the cabinets. The husband, fresh out of Greek mythology, was meticulously dressed from head to toe in that "oh, these are my casual clothes!" look the rich so carefully construct and execute. The wife, all Lily Pulitzer size 2 ass of her, was the requisite beautiful, coiffed, perfect. I only saw the bottom floor, but it seriously looked as if Pottery Barn had exploded in there.

It was a lovely house, it really was, and the host and hostess had made efforts to make sure everyone was comfortable. Plates of sliced calzones set out, nibbles, a selection of sodas and water bottles. I had an iced tea and did my best to be friendly and meet people. I finished my iced tea, and nonchalantly asked Mr. Host where they kept the recycling.

"Oh, just chuck it right here in with the rest of the trash!" assured Mr. Host, even pulling out the garbage drawer, with detachable bag insert, to show me how easy it was to just throw it away. But I couldn't. We recycle EVERYTHING here on the Homefront, and there was no way I was going to add one more can into that bag of mixed trash staring me in the face. So I deferred and said never mind, I would just take it home with me and recycle it myself. And he was not offended, but he was brought up short. He accused me of being "a real greenie, huh?" And I said no, but I didn't back down, either. He then got all "oh, now I feel guilty!" at me, and I told him, not forcefully, but well, directly, "I don't want you to be guilty, I want you to be different!"

That house does not look beautiful to me now. Not one bit. How can people in this town, in 2010, not recycle? There they sit in a million dollar home, and they simply could not be bothered to do one simple thing - recycle. Hometown has curbside, single stream recycling. How much easier does this guy need it to get? What can be the rhetoric he uses to rationalize this behavior? Does he think it's beneath them? Do none of the uber rich recycle? Is it somehow some sign of less than stellar wealth? Do they not want to offend the neighbors by putting out a less than stylish green recycling bin? I just don't understand it.

I don't want too, either. This town really is just one big high school after all, but I just don't wanna play their reindeer games anymore. Mr. Host, you and Mrs. Host are picture-perfect, and all shiny on the surface. But your ignorance and complicity make me so sad, and frankly, very, very tired. If you need me, I will be under the bleachers with the rest of the nerds like me. The ones that will be carrying water for the beautiful people like you for the rest of our lives. Shame on you.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

a gun shot or a starter pistol?

I don't know why I even focused of the sound of the gavel. But oh, how that became the center of my thoughts. I obsessed over how my marriage, which started with a kiss, in a church full of people we loved, and who loved us, would end in a room full of strangers, with that bang of the gavel. I fixated on how it would sound like a gun shot, the shot behind the barn that would finally put the tired horse that the divorce had become to rest. The sound of ice cracking on an unsafe pond, and down I would go, submerged in icy terror, sure I would not survive. The sound of a shock, a rip in the air, death.

I was terrified of that noise. I thought about it all the time. How its sharp staccato would rip a hole in what was left of my heart. Finally tear in two the what was not totally broken. Not. just. yet. I was just sure it would echo in my head for years.

Except, someone asked me a tilting question. A woman I have never actually met and I can't even say for certain that I know her real name. She is a "friend" from an internet game I play, not even someone I really know, but all it took was one question from her to change the entire game.

What if it's not the sound of a fatal shot? What if you hear it as the sound of a rocket launching, fireworks going off, or...a starter pistol?

And that was it. Suddenly that sound I dreaded became open with possibilities. Could it be that I had the power to decide how that sound would, well, sound? The idea that I can have power over ANYTHING is still one I am getting used to. For 20 years I thought of him first, to the point where I could not even figure out if I was hungry, thirsty or tired, unless I thought of how he would feel about first. But maybe it's on me now. Maybe I could decide it was a starter pistol, and I could set the pace I run at. Wow.

I grow almost giddy with the opportunity, and more than a little overwhelmed at the responsibility. I DON'T WANT to be in charge, I whine. Oh feminist me, I must admit - I liked not having to worry about the 401k, the trash going out, the tax return. I thought that is how it went - you divided things up according to your skill sets. He did dead things in the yard and retirement savings, I did funerals and school visits (ofter indistinguishable, btw...). But if this is all up to my to decide - quelle horreur! What if I choose poorly? I am not always so sure which is the cup of a carpenter (and if you get THAT reference, congrats - we are now best friends, you and I....word!). And it won't be Elsa screaming whilst I turn into dust, it will be the children, my family, the other members of the coven. Didn't I see it coming? Everyone else knows, what's your problem? Suddenly I am 14 again, and hopelessly hopeless and just WRONG. No one to turf in onto, it's all my fault. I chose, I must deal with the consequences.

Interesting to note that in the movie in my head I am only ever wrong. Can't say I have spent a lot of time mulling over scenarios in which I get lots of things right and people admire "how well I have done." That one? Ummm.. ....feh. Not so much.

Of course the biggest joke of all is that in the end, no gavel. A simple nod, as the judge recited the line I am sure she has had to say too many times- She pronounced our marriage dissolved and that was it. No bang. No gunshot. No starting gun. I remember I watched the clock. Time of death: exactly 10:30 am.

But I have decided it was my starter pistol. If we accept that I have the power to decide what it was, I should also have the power to decide if it was. And I say it was so. A starter pistol announcing the start of my new life. The one where I decide what the sounds are.

....and she's off!