Monday, March 28, 2011 now you know.

Well, well, well. Seems Mr. Hate has lost his job. Not right away, but as of December of 2011. At least they gave him some notice. More than I got when he fired me from my job as his wife and the mom at home.

I am going to be nothing but sympathetic, but only on the surface. Inside? Inside I want to say something like this:

So. Now you know. For 20 years and 1 day you chose to put your job ahead of anything else in your life. For 20 years you went beyond what you were asked, made them a priority, ate, breathed and slept for the company you loved. Time after time you put WORK ahead of your children, your wife, your family, your friends (remember the "softball game" incident? I do), the dog, for heaven's sake. You figured if you were loyal to them, they would be loyal to you. After all, they promised you they would be. They signed a contract with you. They provided your insurance, an office where you spent most of your time, and gave you an identity in the community.

And without even giving you a chance, just a lame "sorry" they cut you loose.

Did they give you an honest answer when you asked why? Or did they give you some canned answer about "Oh, c'mon, we all knew it was going to end this way someday, we both knew things weren't working...." even though you know in your deepest soul that you would have stayed and worked it out with them, if only they had tried to keep you? Did you get to find out from others that the company would have laid you off earlier, if only they hadn't had "the distraction of being an employer?"

So, how's it feel? Being discarded, judged as not worth keeping, dismissed? I am betting you don't like it much at all. You believed it would be your job forever, but it wasn't. Feel deceived yet? The company doesn't need you anymore, and without much reason they are letting you go. How would you feel if they spent your 401K behind your back, too? You know that life of retirement you were promised, and that you counted on? Kiss it goodbye. Enjoy the terror of nights filled with imagining your future collecting cans. Feel the angry knot in your stomach that you fear will consume you.

How does it feel to know that they just don't need you anymore? Would you like them to publicly blame you for all their problems? Planning on visiting your old coworkers every other weekend? How are you going to feel when you get replaced by someone else? Are you getting severance? Is it the minimum the state will allow them to give you? Feel THAT. Feel what it feels like to work really, really hard, and then get cheated out of any sort of fair settlement, due to their stinginess. Listen to them defend their actions with statements like "well, we needed some place to work" and "our decisions are no longer any of your concern." Enjoy the humiliation of walking into a room full of people who are still employed, and having them give you that small, weak smile of sympathy, while all the time you KNOW they are thanking God it was you and not them. A particular joy will be when you and the employer have to sit down with a list of things from your work area and divide them up. Feel the injustice when they, a million dollar company, insist on taking your compost bin, when they could have easily bought one themselves. Yes, you will be able to find it funny, because it is just SO ridiculous, but mostly you will just be scratching your head, baffled at what has become of the company you thought you knew. Where did they go? At what point did they stop making any sense, or lose all perspective? You will never, ever get the answer to that one. Ask them anything you want, and everything you need to know. Most of the answers they give you will be outright lies. Be ready - when you confront them on it, they will snort back "get a life" at you, and it will feel like a slap.

Do you feel scared? Do you feel confused, not knowing who you are now, what the heck happened that suddenly you are out on the street with no safe place anymore? Do you jump every time the phone rings, wondering how you could have put so much faith in a company that you now realize never really had your back?

And you know that guy that just showed up? The one they looked directly into your eyes and SWORE was not really the reason you are getting laid off, he is just a friend, he is just helping out with finances, etc.?

He's fucking your old boss.

How does THAT feel, Pet? (And, by the way, that all started before you were actually finished your job.)

Go ahead. Moan to everyone about how unfair this is. Cry yourself dry in your rage, terror and hurt. And watch people alienate you. Wait til all your friends judge you, and you find out they are saying, behind your back, how they totally understand it, and you never seemed happy there anyway, so the company really had no chance but to fire you. Join a support group for other folks who have been laid off, and see how it feels when you find out every single person there got a better severance package than you. See how you feel when your old coworkers all get invited over to the new office, and they gather to celebrate the new digs. Feel left out, much? Feeling the loyalty of your old friends, or betrayed?

I realize that you losing your job puts all of us in a precarious position, but seriously? Right now I feel like you have been served a big heaping plate of karma.

It could not have happened to a more deserving man.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I'm Floored!

Dig me! I put a new floor down in my bedroom this week. Is it perfect? Nope. Am I in love with it? YES! I am ridiculously proud of myself for getting this accomplished, and so well at that. It was yet another one of Mr. Hate's "I will get to it" items, and although we lived here for 12 years, it remained just industrial grade plywood with scraps of mismatched carpet stuck to it. Feh. I figured I would just live with it, but slowly I realized that I needed something....nicer. As I grow into this house, my home now, I need it to reflect ME. What I love, what the kids and I want to see. This once was my marriage bed, and now it's just mine. So I needed to take ownership of the space. I must admit, the freedom to choose what I wanted to have in here was intoxicating. No arguments in the Home Depot aisle, no snide comments about my taste. Just me. Mine to choose, mine to install, mine to live with, no matter the outcome.

After 20 years of always hearing what I did wrong, how I had disappointed, I did this work, and it is good. It was quite challenging in places, and I needed One's help more than once, especially to move the furniture, but I stuck it out, and I am totally in love with how it looks. Warm, shiny, and smooth. I still have a few spots under the register to finish, and finish them I will. And it won't take 12 years either.

I didn't spend a whole lot of time listening to the little grumpy thought gnomes that kept popping up to screech at me, either. This is MAJOR, and I feel the strain of flexing new muscles. (I also feel the agonized strain of stretching my old muscles as well, and my knees look like Monica Lewinski's). I am learning a new way to talk to myself, to believe in myself, and to trust the decisions I make.

The fact that my children saw me doing this project is critical. They need to believe in me too. Perhaps some day they will remember me doing this, and feel encouraged to face their own tough projects. They even helped, some. Third looked on with admiration as I used the jigsaw, hammered the pieces into place; saw my pleasure with my job well done. I want my children to learn to be pleased when they have done something well. I want them to feel pride at their accomplishments, and to be brave enough to try something outside of what they think they can do.

And I will tell them they did it well. I hope they believe it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

None are so holy that they cannot be holier, none so devout that they ought not to be more so. Who is there, living in the uncertainty of this life, who is either immune to temptation or free from blame? Adversity harms us and prosperity corrupts us, and it is not less dangerous to lack what is desired than to be full of what is granted. There are snares in the abundance of wealth, there are snares in the distress of poverty; the former raises us to pride, the latter goads us into complaint. There is a trap in security, and a trap in fear, and it makes no difference whether the mind held by affections for earth is occupied by joys or cares, since the sickness is the same whether one is weakening under empty luxuries or suffering under anxious care.
from sermon 49 of Leo the Great (February 21, 443)

My Pastor, who is a great, great lady, sent out the above as part of a Lenten devotional series she put together. I have to admit, I really struggled with the grammar and the content here, especially that weird "not less dangerous" part. But I parsed it and read it and got there in the end. Lots of heady stuff.

I have definitely been full of the white whine lately. Even though right now I am in a period of skinny cows, I realize, as I read this, that I am still surrounded by cows that are fatter than 80% of the world, and I should be a LOT more grateful than I have been. I realize that I spend so much time railing against Mr. Hate for leaving us so poor, and not enough time thanking God for the things I do have. A shift in my energies in this direction is certainly required. My longer-divorced friends tell me that eventually I will not even raise an eyebrow when I hear news of the ex. What a relief that will be! For now he still has the power to get under my skin, and I am tired, oh so unbelievably tired, of him, and his lies and his drama, and their effect on me. Enough now, enough! A mind set of gratitude, forward thinking, and joy will be so much more productive and just.....better.

And yes, there is a trap in security. A big one. I lure myself into believing all the anxieties I have keep me "safe" and I guess in some ways they do, but they also keep me hidden. I don't take chances like I used to, I don't run at life the way I used to, and I never audition anymore. What happened to the girl who would have SLEPT on stage given a chance, and desperately waited for the Phoenix to come out every week so she could read the auditions list? Theatre has been a huge part of my life since I arrived on this earth, and I have left it neglected for years now, because I grew too afraid to be on stage. How sad.

There is work to be done. Sigh. And....I'm off!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I Met My Husband's Boyfriend Today....

There are some sentences you just can't imagine you would ever have to type, in your entire life.

Today's blog post title serves as an excellent example.

I knew it would happen eventually. It had to. And really, it's high time. But still. Meeting his boyfriend was easily one of the most surreal moments in my life. And yes, Mr. Hate is my ex-husband, but still, people.

I met his boyfriend.

It went pretty well, and I am quite proud of how I handled myself in the exchange. It was in a public place (restaurant, I was dropping Third off), the fry were all there, etc. I showed my children a truly excellent example of class, decorum and openness, and I could actually SEE them taking a breath and realizing the moment they have been anxious about passed and we all survived. Second caught my eye for a just a tick as I was leaving, and I swear, I saw something like pride in her eyes, and the definite sparkle of a shared laugh. She connected with me there for just a tiny moment, she GOT it, acknowledged it to me, and I will remember her look for a long time. And it was also hella awkward, but survivable, and even as it was happening I was thinking out what I would tell my girlfriends, but most of all it was....sad.

Because here's the thing. He seems like a nice guy. Really. He's good looking, well spoken, and appears to be a kind person. I can totally see the attraction. I think we would get along very well. And maybe we will. I don't quite see how, but life, as I have learned ad nauseum, has a way of altering paths faster than I can keep up with. He seems like someone I could (and would) have been friends with, if things had been different.

And there I go, arguing with reality again. Things aren't different. Mr. Hate handled things the way he did, and because of his choices, events will unfold in a much different way than if he had been honest and respectful. But he wasn't, and the energy I spend mourning what wasn't serves no one.

But hey - this is my blog post, so indulge me for a minute.

We could have been friends, the three of us. I easily have that much love and compassion in me. I could have sat at the table last night with them and celebrated One's upcoming birthday. I could have gone over to their house, we could be sharing some of the bigger household tools and things we both need occasionally (like the rototiller, log splitter, etc.). The children could relax, seeing that their parents might not be married anymore, but that there is still love there, just a different sort. But that reality would require Mr. Hate to be someone entirely other than who he is. Entirely. Be so much more than who he is. And he is not.

Oh, how I feel sorry for Boyfriend. He has such a road ahead of him. I wish I could warn him:

Look out! Everything that ever goes wrong will be your fault. Always. Every major decision Mr. Hate makes will be unilateral, you will never be included, and "Larry the therapist told me to" will be his excuse for every choice he makes that turns out poorly. He will never be accountable for anything. He will blame you for every one of his illnesses, his sleepless nights; every time something he has breaks, he will ask you pointedly if you used it. He will never let you in, not really. He will dismiss every idea you ever have, and insist his way is better, even when you can see it is not. He will flash money around to impress you and your friends (oh, and enjoy the free health insurance, btw, and ta for that, asshole), but when it comes down to brass tacks, Boyfriend, you will never, ever come first. Ever. And it will whittle away at your soul. You will begin to doubt yourself. You will decide it is easier to acquiesce and keep the peace than speak your truth and have to endure another fight. You have to be diminished, you see, to justify his size.

And that is a sad thing, isn't it? Because you seem like a nice man. You have been good to my children, and nothing else in this life could commend you more to me than that. And you are in for a world of heartbreak, because you are living with a shadow, not a whole man.

If you could really get to know me, what would you do with what you see? I am not a malicious, histrionic, unstable shrew of a woman at all. Perhaps, as you and I spent time together, you would see who it is that has been evil, who has lied, who is at fault for the children refusing to spend weekends with their dad. If you got to know me, the truths you think you know would shift, and you would find yourself asking yourself some pretty tough questions, and having to look at that meal ticket of yours in a whole new light. So really, when you think about it, Mr. Hate had some pretty good reasons for making sure we didn't meet for a long time, didn't he? If you and I got to know each other you would eventually realize that your boyfriend is full of shit. And then what, Boyfriend?

If I was your friend, I could tell you all this. You would see it for yourself.

And, oh, what temptation resides in THAT dear readers! I need to be so, so careful here. I am working so hard to become more than I was, to become the woman I know inside I am. There is no place in my new life for vengeance, for onslaughts, for underhanded devious excellence designed only to throw the flaws of others into focus. I am striving each and every day for authenticity and absolute truth. For me to be ever-so-calculatingly excellent in front of Boyfriend, just to show him what a liar his boyfriend is, is wicked tempting. And totally beneath me. They have their own path to walk, and my attentions are much better served elsewhere. If they live happily ever after spending all the money they can get their hands on it needs never concern me. I have my own house, my own ducks to keep in a row, my own gardens to tend, metaphysical and otherwise.

But it is a conundrum. Because I *am* working hard at all those things, and I am getting stronger and so much braver and raising some pretty excellent young people, and making the house my own, and yeah, not every day is Anne of Green Gables worthy, but on the whole, I am living a life I am increasingly proud of. And if I spend any time with Boyfriend, he will see that. And somewhere in his mind, a little voice might stop and say "huh. This doesn't jibe with what he said...."

Boyfriend, you're standing knee deep in gasoline. And you just met your match.