Thursday, May 31, 2012

So tired

Today I am so tired that it hurts.  Literally.

This is not an optimistic post.

I do not know how I will make it until bedtime on Friday.  Bryan has Katherine this weekend, and I may stay in bed all weekend without showering or dressing.

Reality is that even on the weekend I have obligations - grass mowing (and getting the lawn mower fixed...what the heck is wrong with it?!), packing up some kitchen stuff, catching up on bills, getting ahead on laundry, or at least caught up, calling my mother....

But it hurts to think about it.  Ibuprofen is not touching this headache.  I just want to sleep and sleep and sleep.

One foot in front of the other

Yesterday was a tough day.

In addition to the horrors seen in the media (which hit WAY too close to home), I had to exchange email with Bryan about move out dates.  He keeps wanting to push the date back: for me, it's a rock solid date, but he has suggested date after date after date, later and later dates.  This puts me in the uncomfortable position of having to reject him over, and over, and over again.

Just to be clear: I don't think he wants to be with me.  He's not asking for love, romance, or even companionship.  I just think that he can't bear the idea of moving out.  I don't blame him for not wanting to move away from our daughter; in his shoes, I don't know how I'd do it.  But I think it's more than that... I think it's inertia.  I think it's that he likes the illusion that living in "our" house allows him that things aren't that different than they used to be.

On days when he is "on" with Katherine, he still gets a lot of help.  He goes to the refrigerator, and it is stocked with snacks and food and even beer (which I don't drink, but he does, and I buy for him).  He never thinks twice about laundry for the girl - her drawers are magically refilled (and when the clothes get to small, they automatically show up in the next size - magic!).  He works on bikes out in the garage, and when she wanders around saying "I'm bored, Mama" I do activities with her.  When she says, "I'm hungry," I feed her.

When he moves out, all that will change.

I'm mad at him for all of this, sure.  But I feel sorry for him, too.  I fill hopeful about the future.  I feel certain of my own ability to manage.  I am proud of the effort I put in to making our lives rich and full, even on a shoestring budget.  He is depressed, angry, lonely (he has isolated from many people).

I know he's hurting.  I feel compassion for him, and I work hard on that compassion.  (It turns out that being compassionate is very hard work.)

But it absolutely wears me out to be the strong one, the one setting the agenda, the one who has to keep pushing him away.

And I feel even more worn out when I think of the to-do list associated with his moving out.  Some days I'm barely holding on by a thread, and I feel like I can't manage one more single thing.

Deep breaths.  One foot, then another, then another, then another.......

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Too much

Today I need this:

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

I am overwhelmed today.  This week I'm tired - we got back late from our vacation, and then needed to hit the ground running for the work/school week.

But today there was tragedy in my community.  The kind of terrifying event that makes you go inside and lock your doors.  Schools were on lockdown.  Choppers circled overhead.  There was a constant stream of news, and I couldn't look away because people I knew were impacted and I just had to know, as if my knowing would somehow keep them safe.

In the end, I am home, and those I love best are safe.  My beautiful daughter is doing homework at the table next to me, wishing we were watching a movie together instead, but happy anyway.

I am overwhelmed right now: Bryan is suggesting we push back the move-out date, my job is extremely busy, I live in constant fretting about money, I'm overdue for an oncologist appointment (no concerns, but still...there are always concerns), and my to do list is so long that it seems unlikely I'll ever get it all done so I live in a bit of a state of triage.  Those who don't know me well tell me that I'm fine and I've got it all together, but those who know me better give me hugs and tell me that I have what it takes to do this...

And my beautiful city has gone mad.

Love and prayers tonight for all those who are hurting, overwhelmed, unable to cope.  My struggles are nothing compared to the struggles of those who lost lives, or lost someone they loved, but they are my struggles, and knowing that there is such senseless violence in my community has hurt me, too.

It may be foolish, but this random violence made my own problems seem much harder to deal with.

Prayers for us all.  Tonight I will light a candle and try to find some peace.  I wanted to go to where the heron stands tonight with Katherine, but I am too overwhelmed even to go to that healing place.  Maybe tomorrow.

Surely, tomorrow will be an easier day.....

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Diving into Icy Water

I am back from my lovely vacation.  It was a retreat to a dear friend's cabin, so there was no escape from cooking or cleaning, but there was plenty of nature, lots of downtime, time with friends, hiking, and swimming in a place like this:

...and swimming in a place like this:

People do NOT swim in the mountains and lakes around here in May, unless they are insane.  Katherine and I are insane, and we love it.  The weather was unseasonably warm, and the water was a constant (and expected) freezing cold, but we dove in anyway.  I jumped off a county dock and my feet brushed the seaweed at the bottom, and I knew I was alive.  We jumped into a mountain lake where I couldn't see the bottom, and the metallic-snow-smell of the water let me know I was alive.  Living, with a capital L.

And to share that with my daughter?  There's nothing like it.  Reveling in nature, and in the beauty of our region, and in the fact that our bodies are healthy and strong, and that we are together....well, when I slice through the cold water, I get a rush like nothing else, and when I do it with her my body hums the refrain "that's my girl!" and I'm not sure if I'm talking about her or myself.


I used to hike most weekends, pre-marriage, and I always swam at the destination.  (Some like to hike to mountaintops.  I don't mind that, but I prefer it if there is a lake to jump in to cool off from the hard workout of the hike somewhere along the way, preferably the middle.)  I was a known skinny dipper: if I got to the lake and there were others there, I'd simply swim out in my swimsuit, then slip it off and hold it while I swum around where nobody could see me (because often I'd be the only one swimming).  This made me giggle, and felt a bit like wearing sexy lingerie under my clothes at a business meeting: it was a gift just for myself, a delicious secret.

Bryan wasn't into hiking, and he didn't smile at me the way other men had when I dove into cold water.  (Prior to Bryan, more than one man had found my antics in cold water HOT.)  Bryan frowned.  He told me I was foolish.  He rolled his eyes.  He said he was tired and wanted to go home.

I didn't hike or swim much at all during our marriage.

Our friends thought about jumping in.  They watched us smiling, and shrieking, and laughing, and they said, "Oh we should join you that looks so fun..." but they did not.  This did not surprise me, because it's not for everybody.  I am used to swimming alone, even when the hike is with friends.  Katherine is the only one I've ever met who will join me every time, no convincing needed.

Swimming in a mountain lake isn't unlike what I need to do with my life right now.  I'm diving into the pain, convinced that doing so will remind me what it feels like to be free, and that the exhileration of it will compensate for the fear and the icy shock.

In one month, Bryan needs to move out.

In one month, I will be my own primary breadwinner for the first time in nine years.

In one month, I will officially 100% be a single mom.

I've been standing at the edge of this lake, wading until my feet tingle with the pain, but soon, the wading must stop, and it will be time to dive in.  I think that I'll be underwater for a while, and that I'll nearly faint from the cold, but I believe that I will emerge more alive than ever, more myself than ever.  I only pray that this is so, and that removing the dysfunctional relationship from daily view will help Katherine emerge stronger, more sure of herself, as well.

It'd be easy to add up all the pain;
all the hopes and dreams you watched go up in flames...
But not me:
I'm alive.
I'm Alive, sung by Kenny Chesney and Dave Matthews

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Well my bags are packed....

No, I'm not leaving on a jet plane.  And no, I won't be wearing anybody's ring when I return.  (Does anyone even know that song any more?)  However, I am headed out of town with my girl and some friends this weekend, and we'll be out of cell and internet zones, so I won't be checking in here.  I hope that the conversations continue while I'm gone, and I promise to pop back in and join those conversations, and even start some new ones, when I return.

See you soon!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Falling out of love at different times

I know when I fell out of love.  My love withered slowly, and I tried everything I could think of to revive it - watering it with counseling, fertilizing it with sex, shining sunshine on it with a marriage class, pruning it with biting my tongue - but no matter what I did, I watched the flowers turn brown and the leaves drop.  One day, I looked at it again, and saw that it was dead and dry, and there was no hope, and that no amount of care in the world could revive it, and I was done.  Almost immediately afterwards, I asked for a divorce.

But I wonder all the time how it was for my ex to fall out of love with me. 

I'm pretty sure he loved me, as best he could, in the early days.  His marriage proposal was sweet, thoughtful, and romantic, and I thought that the proposal itself spoke of the greatness that would follow in our marriage.  I was sure that any man who proposed like that understood love and romance; I did not understand that it was the last great romantic gesture he would ever give me in our relationship.  I did not understand that it was the end of his making an effort to connect with me, for that matter.

As I was the one to point out that our marriage was dead ("See?  There are no leaves left, even in the summer...."), he knew clearly when I fell out of love, because I told him, using the words, "I'm sorry, but it's over, and I would like a divorce."  When I realized that I was the only one watering, tending, caring (he'd given up on making any effort, following any counselor's suggestions, by then), I made a conscious decision to stop loving, because trying to love him hurt me far too much.

But when did he fall out of love?

I think that maybe he fell out of love with me a decade ago. 

Typing that makes me wince a bit, because the truth hurts, and a decade ago I was singing his praises to anyone who would listen, overriding that little voice inside me that said, "this isn't right....why isn't he responding any more?"  It was more than a decade ago that he showed me the temper that he'd hidden until we were married.  His libido, once matching mine, fell as soon as we were engaged.  He became more distant with each passing year, and my questions of "Hey, do you want to talk about anything?" and "Are you okay?" and "Is there anything I can do to help?" only angered and annoyed him; he'd respond "I'm fine! Leave me alone!"  He was clearly not fine.  And he clearly did want to be left alone.  He didn't want to go out on dates with me.  He didn't want to sit next ot me on the sofa watching a movie together.  I had to drag him out to family excursions.  And he became less and less helpful, more and more resentful of any request I made of him to help with childcare or household tasks or any of his time.  And dreaming for a future?  Forget about it.  We had a hard time making plans for the weekend, let alone for mutual long term goals.

Three different years with three different counselors did not impact things at home.  He made it clear that the counseling itself annoyed him, and he found me disloyal for dragging him to counseling.  He yelled, he argued, he stonewalled, he lied, he avoided, he slept in the guest room.

But here's the thing....

He was hurt when I asked him for a divorce.

I don't think he even KNOWS that he fell out of love with me long before I fell out of love with him; I think he's in deep denial, even now.  I think that his personal truth is that I left him because I'm uncaring and disloyal and selfish - why else would a wife and mother leave her husband?  It's hard for me to sit with that one, because it stings.  I want to protest, knowing that protesting does me no good, so I remain silent.

Can someone fall out of love without noticing?  If he did notice, then what prevented him from taking action on that information?  Why would anyone stick around if they were as miserable as he clearly was in our marriage, and unwilling to work on it?

And why do people fall out of love like that?  I fell out of love because he became unkind to me, and because he clearly didn't want to be with me.  What causes someone to stop loving someone else who loves them?

When did you know that you had fallen out of love?

I'm pretty sure that there are no answers to many of those questions, but I'm asking them anyway.  Readers, I'd love to hear your experiences, even if the answers to my own situation are an eternal mystery, even if there is no certainty.   I look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Adult bullying, aka High Drama Communication

Lately I've found myself in the middle of some neighbor drama involving trees.  My neighbor wants me to cut some trees in the parking strip down, and I don't want to.  Still, I said that I would look into the laws, do some research on what types of trees they were and what threat to the sewer line they may or may not pose, and get back to him.

Though I've contacted the authorities in charge of parking strip trees (they told me I would not get a permit to remove the trees; the trees belong to the city and do not meet the qualifications for removal) and shared that information with him, he's not satisfied.  He's yelled at me, he has ranted in my face as I said, "I'd like to be neighborly and do the right thing; let's work together on this..." and then he got so mad that he actually took a hatchet to one of the trees.  (According to the authorities, this is criminal trespass, and I should have called 911.  I didn't, but had to send a scolding email saying, "If you do this again you leave me no choice but to call 911...")


In addition to rocketing my blood pressure, making me check the real estate listings (no, I'm not going to move, but it is tempting), and making me wonder if my neighbor is actually insane, this has gotten me thinking about communication and drama, and how some people communicate in such high drama that they guarantee their own failure. 

He made it sure that he would fail.  He guaranteed that I am no longer inclined to view him as a reasonable person, and that we are now set up as adversaries.  No matter what happens with the trees, he has failed.  No more watching his cat while they're away, no more borrowing an egg, no more nice exchanges on the sidewalk.  And needless to say, it feels a lot chillier in the neighborhood now.  Even if I find out I *have* to remove the trees because of some city ordinance (unlikely), ultimately, he has a loss where none was necessary.

The funny thing is, I think my neighbor wants me to think he's smart and reasonable.  Based on this behavior, I (ahem) don't see him that way. . . and I'm much less inclined to treat him that way.

So, if you want to create high drama communication, here's what you do:
1.  Yell a lot.
2.  Lay down absolutes.
3.  When someone else talks, talk over them.
4.  When someone gives an alternate viewpoint, tell them that they're ridiculous.
5.  When someone says, "I'd like to reach a consensus we can both live with," say "It's my way or the highway!"

If you do this, and your bullying tactics work, you will get what you want, although you won't make friends.  But if your bullying tactics don't work, you set yourself up for some pretty brutal fireworks.

I think that this is what happens in divorce all the time.  One party lays down the gauntlet, angry and loud, and the situation turns from one in which perhaps both parties can get what they need, and changes into something where there are going to be winners and losers, or maybe just losers.

I know a story about a toaster that ended up costing $10,000 in legal fees.  Long story short, a divorcing couple (I'm friends with one of them) got into an argument about their toaster as they split assets.  One got the toaster, one didn't.  And then it was time for the one who didn't get it to make toast for her kid, and she couldn't, and so she got mad, and she communicated her anger by breaking into the ex's house and stealing back the toaster with a few choice words.  He was so angry with this method that he froze her bank accounts.....and high drama ensued.  I think it's fair to say they both lost....big time.

Now, I don't know what would have happened if she'd called him and said, "Our child likes toast in the morning and I would like the toaster back please," or if she said, "I really need a toaster, so I'm going to Target where I will spend $15 and buy a brand new one and I'm making that a line item in our settlement," or if she made her kid a smoothie in the blender she got instead, but in any case, I doubt that it would have cost $10,000 in legal fees.  But yes, she sure showed him, and she got that toaster.

I'd like to believe I'm smarter than that.  Sure, I get mighty angry sometimes, but in the end, I want to be happy.  $10,000 in legal fees to get a toaster would most definitely make me very, very, very unhappy, and I think it's fair to say that I'd rather give a total stranger or my worst enemy my toaster rather than run up that many fees to protect it.  And I don't want to yell back at my neighbor because I believe that when I take the high road, maybe I'll feel better about my life, and maybe I won't bring out his need to hatchet anything else, and that trumps the idea of the (rather satisfying in theory) idea of calling him a lunatic to his face. 

I don't want to fight over toasters, or trees.  Actually, I don't want to fight at all.  I want to behave like adults.  Of course, sometimes the drama is brought in by another party (a neighbor, an ex) and then we're stuck with the drama that they bring to the party.  In my case, I'm hoping that bringing in an impartial third party such as a mediator with the ex, and the city authorities over the trees, will bring some peace to the situations, and keep the drama to a minimum.  Still, I'm at the mercy of others' mood swings, and sometimes all of the reasonable behavior in the world can't make a high drama bully stop.

What to do?

So, my questions for my readers:

- Why is it that some people communicate in such a way as to escalate drama?  If you could help me figure this one out, I'd be pretty appreciative.  And if you can explain how to de-escalate their drama-inducing-communication, you should write a book, or at least a pamphlet, for wide distribution.

- How do you manage high drama situations?

- How do you take the high road when someone is creating high drama communication?

- How do you avoid drama without agreeing to it?

- And just for fun - what are your high drama communication stories?  When did your ex create havoc where it was unnecessary, just because they clearly were acting like a bully-lunatic?  Vent away.  :-)

Monday, May 21, 2012



I saw her from the car,
A tiny thing barely able to walk,
Smaller than any fawn I’d seen before.
She was so new, so untouched by the world,
That her beauty – bright white spots in red gold fur;
Dark, round, blinking eyes  – was
Nearly too much to bear.  Her
Small body made my throat tight
With longing.

Next to me, the man who once
Said he loved me
seemed more
Concerned about getting to the viewpoint
Than seeing one more deer.
He continued driving.
I took her loveliness with me,
A reminder that there remained in the world
Something so untainted.
I held the thought of her
To my scarred chest as a balm.

On the way back down the hill,
The viewpoint seen,
I eagerly sought a second glimpse.

Her neck twisted back upon itself,
she lay still and broken.

I am torn between remembering
The vision of her grace
And the horror of her ending.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

How I can be an optimist, despite it all

Over on the Daily Plate of Crazy, Big Little Wolf is having a conversation about how our principles and our pragmatism operate when we're at our worst.  I'm starting to see that principles, attitude, and pragmatism all come together in something that I think gets at the essence of who I wish to be.

 In her comments to me on my prior post, BLW wrote:

I say these things only to make this point: a good attitude is extremely useful (very helpful with our kids), but attitude and pragmatism are not mutually exclusive. Understanding that many of us are at our worst during and after divorce, we can prepare for that if necessary. We can also use that knowledge to understand that it's a painful process, with many tentacles, but pain often comes before healing - even if healing takes considerable time.

This is important thinking for a self-proclaimed optimist of the PollyAnna variety.  There are plenty of people who believe that optimism is for fools, and that it can be dangerous for its lack of pragmatism.  (Perhaps I should revisit Barbara Ehrenreich's book on the subject in another post, for she's covered it in great detail.)  But BLW points out, correctly, that pragmatism must be linked to optimism, and this is when it starts to get exciting.

I'm convinced that to dismiss optimism is to miss the whole point of being alive. I think it matters.  And I think that the best optimism comes with pragmatism, and the two operate hand in hand.

A fool disregards the facts, refuses to look, pretends that there is nothing amiss.  If that fool puts a positive spin on things, people call her an optimist, but at heart, I believe that she's more fool than optimist.  The Secret swept through America a few years back, proclaiming that all we had to do was declare our intentions and life would give us what we asked for; this is the ultimate in foolishness if you ask me.  (Don't even talk to me about how angry I got, reading it as a bald, breastless woman.)

A pragmatist, on the other hand, trudges through things, one foot in front of the other, acknowledging that life is difficult and that there are difficult tasks to do.  Pragmatism itself is not about joy, and so sometimes pragmatism is confused with optimism's opposite, surly negativism, but this is no more accurate to me than calling an optimist a fool.  It's tricky business, though, trying to make pragmatism and optimism meet. 

In divorce, optimists might believe that the future is rosy, that there is a new life waiting to be found.  Pragmatists, on the other hand, have a to-do list that is daunting, and they're too busy trying to figure out if they can pay the mortgage AND keep junior enrolled in piano lessons, and they have to cancel book club because they can't get childcare, and, well, who can blame them for being a bit joyless.

But it can come together.

Optimism, Pragmatism, and Principles

When I gave birth to my daughter, I knew that I wanted that baby more than just about anything, ever.  I had visions of our life together, of motherhood, of all I wanted to give her.  I knew I'd go to the ends of the earth for her, and that doing so was part of my deal with my unborn baby.  I wrote her letters before she was born, promising: "I will do whatever I can to keep you safe."

I didn't have to wait long to get tested as to how far I was really willing to go to protect her.

At the end of my delivery, everything went wrong.  My baby's heartrate dropped in panic inducing ways, and my own blood pressure went sky high into dangerous levels.  Two crash carts were called in, and the room filled with a dozen doctors ready to face the worst.  To say that it was frightening doesn't even touch on how I felt - I was in agonizing pain, and suddenly I understood that my life, and my baby's, were at stake.

 My gynecologist looked at me, and raised her voice to me (the only time she ever did so).  Get this baby out NOW, she commanded.  DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?

Yes, ma'am.  I understand.  If I don't get the baby out, both of us are at risk of dying.  I understand.

My principles laid out, I knew what to do. My principle was clear to me from the onset: do anything to protect my baby.

My principles fed my attitude: my baby was worth whatever it took, and whatever I gave her was from love.  I would give her everything I had to save her, because she was worth it to me.  I would give her anything, including my pain, and maybe my life, with love.

And then pragmatism had to do some work.  As people called, "we're losing them" my gynecologist said, "NOW.  I mean it.  Get this baby out NOW!"  I knew something inside me was wrong, that things were scraping, that my body wasn't "right," but the pragmatist said, "We have to do this.  We will push with all of our might, and when we feel tearing, we will not stop.  We will bear down, and we will force this baby out."

When my daughter was born in the next contraction, her hand was above her head, and she scraped my birth canal; it felt like birthing a cheese grater.  When I tore, I knew I was tearing, and I kept pushing anyway, making the tear worse...but delivering the baby.  It was a physical feat, but more, it was a feat of will and desire.

And it was worth it.  So, so worth it.  Delivery complete, both of us left the danger zone we'd been in.  I had lived by my principles and done my best to protect my baby, taking a pragmatic approach (I was under no illusion as to how ugly it was going to be, but I did it anyway), and in doing so, uncovering the greatest joy I've ever known.

Principles + Pragmatism = Joy

I happen to be very, very, very fond of living with joy.  I'll go out of my way to find joy, to identify it, and to keep it.  And I have learned that if I apply my principles with pragmatism, I'll find joy eventually.....and this keeps me optimistic.  Eventually, if I apply my principles with pragmatism, I'll find joy.  There is reason for optimism!

It's not a secret.  It's not The Secret.  But my optimism is founded in the truth that I Know How To Find Joy.  If I live according to my principles (which requires first, knowing what my principles are, and second, taking a pragmatic approach to living by them), then I will locate joy....and that is why I can be an optimist.  It might not work out entirely the way that I want (I still do involuntary Kegals when I think about my stitches after birth), but there is joy in doing what I believe, and this allows me to approach life with optimism.

So how does all of this apply to divorce?

Divorce is it's own kind of ugly - I don't know how many (metaphorical) stitches I'll need by the time this is over.  I can already feel where I will tear, though.  And this leads me back to the inspiration for this post, BLW's words:

I say these things only to make this point: a good attitude is extremely useful (very helpful with our kids), but attitude and pragmatism are not mutually exclusive. Understanding that many of us are at our worst during and after divorce, we can prepare for that if necessary. We can also use that knowledge to understand that it's a painful process, with many tentacles, but pain often comes before healing - even if healing takes considerable time.

I know what my principles are.  They are:
- honesty to self and others
- compassion to self and others
- protect my daughter
- be a great role model for my daughter
- live the best life I can live
- make the world a better place

I already know that divorce is not my best time.  It's been an ugly road to get here, and I'm not okay yet.  I am operating low on Maslow's heirarchy, even as I fantasize about operating at the top.  And my ex is an angry, depressed person who self-sabotages and acts passive-aggressively and it's hard to have a logical conversation with him because he either shuts down or blows up, and I feel judgemental about him and angry that he put us in this position.  I know I'm in the danger zone for acting like this:

I know lots of people who wouldn't blame me (although the "cheater" label doesn't apply....I don't think....).  Sometimes he behaves badly, and I really want to act the way he does in response.  Who could blame me?

But I won't act like that, because then I couldn't look our daughter in the eye.  I won't act like that because it's not who I want to be.  There are days when I think he deserves it, true, but *I* don't deserve it.  I want to live with joy, and for that, I'm going to have to take the high road.

I have a lot of to-do lists.  We're meeting with the mediator soon.  And I've run the numbers more than I can count (thank you, Excel).  I have plan A: he pays what he ought to; and I have plan B: I get nothing.....and I'm determined to make it work even if it's plan B.  I'm working on keeping the house, but I'm talking to a realtor too.  And I know that whether I get plan A, or plan B, I'm going to try to live my values, and that will give me some joy along the way, even when I feel tearing.

And I've got an ace in the hole.

Childbirth introduced me to pain.  I healed from that pain, and marveled at my body's ability to do so.  But it was nothing.

My real pain looks like 15 surgeries related to breast cancer, several of them with more complications than I can list.  My real pain looks like the doctor telling me that it's 50/50 that I only had a few months left to live (yet here I am, healthy again).  My real pain looks like radiation burns that made my skin crack open and ooze unmentionable things....and it looks like caring for my daughter and my husband yelling at me in the middle of it as I was hunched over from that pain.  My real pain looks like riding a bus to chemo while my husband slept at home.

So, I know a thing or two about pain, and I know that it goes away: either you die and so you don't care any more, or you heal.  I have healed, over and over again.  I know how to heal, and I  know what it looks like.  I know that there can be unheard of complications, but still, eventually, I can heal.

So yes, I'm an optimist.  I believe that I can heal, over and over again, no matter how deep the wound, no matter how terrible the odds.  I'm a pragmatist, because I know how to thank the surgeon for her care, right before she cuts off my breast, and because I know that it doesn't matter how much I hurt, if my little girl needs dinner and nobody else is feeding her, then I need to make dinner.  And I know what I believe in, and who I want to be, so I let that guide my decisions.

Forgiveness falls in there somewhere, in the neighborhood of compassion.  All of the intentions in the world can not control every word that comes out of my mouth; I'm not infalliable, and I wonder what my ex would say if he read this post.  But I can say this with certainty: I try my hardest to do my best, and I apologize if I screw up.  Maybe it's optimistic to think so, but I think that is enough.

So, somehow, this is going to work out.  I will make mistakes along the way - oh, I've made many, including along that cancer path - but I believe in my ability to recover from them.  I will lose my optimism some days, and my pragmatism other days, but it's okay, because I won't lose what I believe in. 

I'm alive, and I'm glad to be alive.

No matter how many tentacles reach out to squeeze me.


How do you hold your sanity when the tentacles of pain grab you?

What tools do you use to live your principles when you're tempted to throw them out?  What's your ace in the hole?

Are you an optimist?  How do you maintain optimism in a world that is often ugly?

I hope to hear from you.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The lonely high road

A dear friend of mine is the child of divorced parents, and ever since I met her in college, I've heard stories of that particular divorce.  The image of her father rolling up his car window and driving away with her in the backseat, as her mother yelled, "FUCK YOU!", is emblazoned on my mind, as if I'd been sitting next to her.  I know that I don't want that for Katherine, and I know that it's all too easy to get to that place.  I'm looking for role models, because I really want to do this as well as is humanly possible.

In an effort to avoid repeating the divorce mistakes made by so many, I'm looking for role models.

The Good Divorce

One of the first books I found on the subject of divorce was The Good Divorce: Keeping Your Family Together When Your Marriage Comes Apart by Constance Ahrons, Ph.D.  It was an auspicious start to my divorce research.  In the book, Ahrons outlines an ideology for approaching divorce in a child-centric manner.  I read it twice before I asked for a divorce, hiding it in my bedroom (we were already sleeping in different rooms a lot of the time, his choice not mine) until I was ready to commit to divorce.  If I was to sum up the whole book, it would be, "Take the high road."  The high road means being compassionate, it means controlling one's temper, it means placing the child's needs first and foremost.  This seems like a sound strategy for me, and reading the book actually solidified my decision to divorce; it was the first strategy I'd seen that looked like something I could live with.  (Make no mistake, the book doesn't advocate divorce, and it doesn't paint a rosy picture, but it doesn't paint a picture of parents screaming at each other through a car window, either.)

With the book under my belt, I thought that it would be relatively easy to find lots of people just like me, lots of blogs about women (or men) going through divorce just the way the book had defined.

I have taken to scouring the web to find just about every divorce blog there is. This is such strange territory for me: none of my close friends are divorced, my parents and my grandparents aren't divorced, and I don't have many footsteps to follow in.  Surely there are people out there doing it the way I hope to?

There are plenty of angry, vitriolic blogs about divorce.  Some of them are funny and entertaining, but when I read them I get a little chill to think of living in that kind of bitterness.  I don't want to live like that, and I really don't want my daughter to live surrounded by that.

I don't know about you, but she doesn't look very happy to me.

I keep remembering, "Anger is a poison you drink to kill your enemy."  I don't want to die like that.  Sure, I'm mad - don't get me started - but I want to be HAPPY.

So far, I have found only a few blogs where the parents are both able to put their kids front and center, and have reached a place where they are living lives that aren't a testimony to anger and pain.  Here's my list, in case there are others out there, like myself, who are looking for a little inspiration in the divorce department. 

The first one, which is also the first one I found, is Molly Monet's Postcards from a  Peaceful Divorce.  Molly and her ex meet for dinners with their kids, she speaks kindly of him, she reflects on the marriage positively even though she is glad she is no longer in that marriage.  I have grown very fond of Molly - a woman I've never met, or conversed with, and who likely has no clue who I am - and I've been rather in awe of her.  Hers is the standard to which I have held myself, and mostly, I have felt like a miserable failure as a result.  Overall, she comes across as a hip, happy, successful, well rounded woman who not only raises her kids with love and patience and joy, but manages to have a successful career, a commitment to yoga (and all of its health and social benefits), AND a dating life.  I have spent hours trying to figure out how to be more like Molly, and how to achieve her brand of divorce.  I hate to admit it, but recently when she admitted to some struggles that she's been going through, I felt a tiny bit of relief, because she's actually human, and her revealed humanity helped me to be gentler with myself.  (And I hate that I would revel even a tiny bit in someone else's suffering - really, am I that small?!  But I am incredibly grateful to Molly for putting it all out there, for me to look up to, and I'm also grateful to her for revealing that everything isn't perfect, because that gives me permission to be imperfect as well.)

Another blog, which I discovered more recently, is Cuckoo Mama's This Cuckoo's Nest.  (Like me, Cuckoo Mama is blogging anonymously.)  Cuckoo Mama isn't all Zen like Molly: actually, she gets pretty pissed off and blows off steam on her blog about her "beer monkey" ex and his shenanigans.  But still, she puts her kids' needs front and center, even where the ex is involved.  The kids stay in the house, and she and the ex take turns "birdnesting" in that house, so that the parents have to move in and out, but the kids stay there.  This is an act of selfless love that only someone who has resorted to divorce could possibly understand: deciding that the marriage is too broken to continue, but sharing a physical space with that person, takes the patience of Job.  Cuckoo Mama writes funny rants about dirty dishes left in the sink, and she threatens with her purse brick, but she puts it front and center that she's glad to do this for her kids, and that it works because her ex is a decent guy.  I may aspire to be just like Molly, all peaceful compassion, but I relate to Cuckoo Mama, because she is angry but she does the right thing for her kids anyway.

Big Little Wolf's Daily Plate of Crazy is a blog about many things, including divorce.  Big Little Wolf is wise, compassionate, and contemplative, and whatever she's writing about, I tend to love it.  (Although I don't share her passion for Mad Men, but don't tell her, because she's a cool kid and I want her to like me, and she's crazy for Mad Men.)  Recently I commented on a post of hers about where truth lies in divorce, and she gently told me that it is much easier to see truth a few years out from divorce, rather than right in the middle, as I am.  Maybe this is why she seems to be so at ease with her divorce: she's no longer living it, she's moved past it, and it no longer defines her.  I need to go back and read her archives (they go back to 2009), because I'd like to get to where she is now, but she's right, that's going to take me a few years.  In the meantime, maybe I can read about how she got there....

An unusual - and therefore refreshing - blog is When The Flames Go Up, by ex-spouses LOD and AskMoxie.  They take turns blogging their perspectives on divorce, and they are thoughtful and considerate of one another.  This proves that it CAN be done, and I cling to their blog for that particular piece of hope.  They don't want to be married any more, but they are still kind to one another, and that makes them great co-parents.  Beautiful, don't you think?

There are lots of angry divorcee' blogs, to go along with the ones I've listed here.  In William Quincy Belle's post The War of the Divorcees, he mentions the possibility that maybe, as a man, he should wear a cup when he reads some women's divorce blogs.  I don't deny that there are reasons to be angry: when I read The Bitter Divorcee's description of how her son needed stitches after her son's drunken father hurt him, and how he doesn't even pay pittance child support, I don't blame her for being bitter (and I admire the grace with which she handles herself, given the circumstances; I enjoy her blog, too, even though it's not the model of divorce I'm hoping for, because she's wise and thoughtful even in her circumstances.)

But what I've learned in searching out blogs about "good divorces" is that really, decent divorces are few and far between.  When I read The Huffington Post's Divorce section, it seems that the world has gone mad, and it's mostly about adults behaving like over-tired toddlers, screaming for the sake of screaming.  The type of divorce I'm still envisioning isn't easy to come by, and most of the time, when I tell people my vision, they look at me as if I'm deluded.

I want to act like that too.  But don't you think I'm too old?!
Then again, those are the same people who told me that NO WAY could Bryan and I live in the same house with Katherine together for a year after deciding to get divorced.  They told me that it was impossible.  They told me that I'd never make it.

It has been lonely, it has been isolating, it has been frustrating, it has been exhausting....but it's been a year.  The high road is lonely, but I'm glad that I've got a few havens on the internet to show me that I'm not truly alone in my approach, and that maybe, just maybe, I can make this work for everyone.

Do you read other divorce blogs?  Which ones?  What inspires you?  What makes you laugh?  Where do you find intelligent discussions about divorce?  Do you have a divorce blog?  Please, let me know....especially if you've found others who are taking the high road.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Sometimes the day to day is so difficult that I forget to dream about the future, but today I'm filled with dreams.

I'm trying to imagine what life will be like one, two, or three years from now.  How good that might be: how Katherine might adjust beautifully to this new, strange life we're giving her.  How my career - inching forward now - might really take off.  How being a working single mom might just seem like being alive, instead of a daily hurdle.  How my finances might be stabilized.  Trips to take, stories to write...  Maybe some romance.  Maybe.

And then I start to think of the shorter term, and that looks better, too.  Bryan is slovenly, and sharing a home makes that hard on me.  More importantly, he's liable to be sweet one minute and angry and confrontational the next, so I feel like I tiptoe around trying to stay out of his way; there is no sanctuary in being at home when he is there.  He often has Katherine in front of the TV while he sleeps or plays on the computer or works on a bike in the garage, and it's so hard for me to watch, and to hear as she says, "Daddy will you play with me?" and he replies "No, I'm busy."  "Busy with WHAT?!" I want to yell.  I try to say nothing.  (Sometimes, something slips out.  Like Cuckoo Mama, I might be wise to invest in duct tape.)

But this summer, that will shift.  He will move out - hopefully within a few blocks of our house so that Katherine can walk back and forth unsupervised at her will - and our home will be a sanctuary again.  I will have friends over for dinner again, mine and Katherine's.  I will steam clean the basement, top to bottom, to make it livable again.  I will help Katherine with her homework, and he will not tell me I'm helping her all wrong as he does now (even though he's unwilling to help, hasn't read the assignments, etc.).  I will make dinner, and he will not tell me he hates vegetables and make faces like a toddler.  I will stop wondering what all of my biting-my-tongue is teaching Katherine about how men should treat women, and what is okay to accept.

I will not have to listen to passive-aggressive anything in my walls again.
If Katherine's husband spoke to her the way Bryan speaks to me, I swear I'd kidnap her and move her to the other end of the earth.  Thinking about that gives me the courage to do this single mom thing, and if it was the only reason, it would be enough reason to divorce.

I pray that when he has his own place, he will feel connected to his own life once again, and he'll be more engaged in living.  I pray that knowing he can't see Katherine every minute he chooses, when he is with her he will really be with her.
I pray that when he is sleeping for hours during the day, or playing video games, since I won't see it, and nor with Katherine, I won't have to answer "Why does Daddy just lie on the sofa?" ever again.

I pray that when he moves, he will take his angry storm cloud with him, so that I can feel the sunshine on my face.  I pray that Katherine feels this sunshine, too, and that somehow it makes up for his absence.
I have been mourning the end of our marriage, and the end of Katherine's nuclear family even more than that, for a long time.  I wrestle with it daily.  But I really, really think that good things might come out of this for all of us.

I'm counting on it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Not ready to date

A little follow up.

After my coffee date - still considered a success because I put myself out there and kept my dignity - I decided that I'm just not ready for any of that.  I deleted the OkCupid profile that I'd had for a few months, and the one that I never paid for but used to see what else what out there, and I decided that I am just not ready.
Table for one, please.

I wish I was, but I'm not.


I've been struggling with faith.

As a little girl, I wanted to be Mary - yes, that Mary, the mother of Jesus.  I knew that she was good and kind, and I wanted to be *that* good.  I felt my faith devoutly, and I wanted to be the best that I heard of Christ: infinitely kind and selfless.  I grew up in a household where the word "christian" was used as an adjective to describe exellent attributes; if we heard of someone doing a good deed, my mother would say, "oh, he's a good christian man."  I never really questioned it until I had a Jewish boyfriend, and my mother said, "He sounds like a good Christian man," and suddenly I realized that she really meant "he sounds like a person with good values" and she had it confused with theology.  It opened a crack, and the crack became a chasm.
So, in my twenties, I became an atheist.  I threw it all out: baby, bathwater, and the whole bit.  I grew disgusted with religion in general, and rolled my eyes at almost the mention of religion.  Opiate of the masses indeed, I decided.  Definitely not for me.  I was above all that.
When I got married, an Elizabeth Barrett Browing poem was read, and the line that caught in my throat in a romantic way was "I love thee with my childhood's faith."  I missed being a person of faith.  (The irony that my faith went away, and my love for my husband also went missing, is not lost on me.)

Having a baby brought some faith back into me.  I felt the little person inside me moving, and knew that it was a holy thing, nothing short of a miracle.  I looked into her eyes, and was certain of a presence larger than myself.  I started to call myself an agnostic.
Then cancer hit, and I started to pray, without premeditating such ideas: I did not decide to pray, I did not decide I believed in God, I simply prayed.  All of my prayers sounded like "pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease" as I begged for my life.  The more coherent prayers sounded like "I want to live, please let me live to see Katherine grow up, please let me live," but mostly they were whole body prayers that made me tremble in the wanting; they were wordless begging.

I still call myself an agnostic; I believe that the nature of God/god/gods/goddess is unknowable.  I actually find a great deal of comfort in the unknowability of the divine, because when I try to put it in a box, it never fits for me.

So, I continue to wrestle with my faith, but I find that I do have a kind of faith.  My faith in the divine and my faith in myself are tangled up together; a messy grouping beyond unraveling.  When I have a dark night, as I have lately, it feels that I am completely alone in the universe, and that there is no possibility of recovery, and that none of my dreams will come true.  But then something lets the light in, and that something feels divine, and it whispers to me that I will be able to make my dreams come true, and I feel comfort.

I have taken a huge leap of faith in asking for a divorce.  Faith that my career will revive, that my finances will revive, that my daughter will thrive in our home when it is without conflict.  Faith that I can trust that I really did try everything to save my husband from his depression, faith that I really did my absolute best to save our marriage.  Faith that the voice that tells me that I am more valuable to the universe when I am living my truest self, opening up my possibilities, instead of remaining small in a marriage that hurts my soul, is telling the truth.  Faith that somewhere in this lifetime, there is love waiting for me: romantic love that is tender and fierce, that accepts me as I am and draws out the best in me.

I wrestle with my faith daily, as much as Jacob with his angel...and for longer than a night.  It is wrestling with myself, and with the divine, all at once.  It is wearing, and I am weary.  I don't have a text to guide me the way Christians have The Bible or Muslims have the Qur'an.  I do have their stories, though, and I also have Mark Nepo and The Dalai Lama and Rumi and Mary Oliver, and I have the seasons that freeze and thaw.  I don't know what the result of my wrestling will be, but I continue to wrestle.  And I continue to hold on to the brave hope, faith, that somehow this is all going to work out.


Monday, May 14, 2012

A hint of hope

It's just a hint.  Just a wee, itty bitty hint.  But I might be onto something.

Today I listened to How She Really Does It, a podcast program that brings in inspirational speakers, and today the (archived) podcast I listened to was with Danielle LaPorte.  Ms. LaPorte has a new book out, The Firestarter Sessions, that is one part inspiration mixed with twelve parts brilliance then sprinkled liberally with spirituality, but grounded in the everyday world with practical exercises.  It's heady stuff.

So today, in addition to reading Mark Nepo in the morning, I turned to Ms. LaPorte, and got some hints of what it is I might need to do, what it is that will save my soul from this fearful trembling that I'm struggling with.

Because I am still PollyAnna, but I'm the little girl PollyAnna, the one that puts on a brave face all day and then wets her pillow with silent tears at night.  Okay, maybe I'm not quite that melodramatic, but mine is not a "oh crap that driver cut me off in traffic" kind of malaise, but a soul sucking fear that maybe I can't keep my home (and the stability it represents to both Katherine and I), that I don't have what it takes to drive the career I want most....that maybe ultimately I'm not special at all and I will fail at whatever I set my hand to.

Soak in that last line - I fear that I'm not special and that I will fail in all that matters to me.  Feel that fear: feel how cold it is when it slinks into your bones, when it tightens its grip until those bones crackle and begin to splinter.  Feel how lonely it is, feel how dark, feel how confusing.  It's the kind of dizzy that makes you nauseaus.

If one of my friends was reading this - and they're not, because I really am anonymous, and I highly doubt they're doing super-sleuthing across the internet to seek out a blog that they don't know exists - they'd protest.  They'd talk about my innate leadership abilities, my smarts, my endurance.  They'd tell you how they believed in me, how it will all work out somehow.

But the kind of quaking I'm talking about can't be touched by kind words, or a hug, not even from a beloved girlfriend.

Are you still with me?  Because when you read this, don't be fooled into believing that just because I've decided to live life as PollyAnna, I don't feel suffering.

This is what suffering looks like sometimes.

But today, reviewing Ms. LaPorte, and with a little help from Mary Oliver, I think I caught a glimpse of what it is I'm supposed to be doing.  I heard a little fluttering of something warm and alive, deep down in my soul, where it has felt so cold and lonely, and I thought, maybe it is possible.

All souls have dark nights.  I've had darker than this one, and longer, too.  But that doesn't make me any less grateful for the pinprick of stars, that tiny streak in the darkness that whispers "perhaps it will work out somehow..."

Thanks, Ms. LaPorte.  I'm going to do those worksheets, the ones that I dog-eared, the ones that have some hard work in them....

And I'll revisit this from Mary Oliver, too, because when it's dark out, Mary Oliver's light shines, and today this one is speaking to me.  With it, maybe I can even hear my voice.

The Journey
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Pulling myself up by my bootstraps

Monday morning - a fresh week, a chance to get it right.

PollyAnna is still missing today but I'm going to power through until she shows up again.  I'm determined to work harder until my life turns out the way I'm hoping it will.  I'm determined to fake it until I make it, and that is what I'm doing today.

I will make my life happen.  One foot in front of the other.....

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Loaded holiday

Happy Mother's Day to all of the moms out there...

It has been a hard weekend.  I feel worn out by all that I need to do, a list that includes getting another job, getting Bryan to move out, figuring out my finances, and a million more petty items.

And Katherine just interrupted me for the ten billionth time today and I just need her to sleep so that I can get ten minutes to simply be....because the week ahead looks daunting. 

I am really really missing PollyAnna tonight.

Friday, May 11, 2012

PollyAnna MIA

It happens every now and then.

PollyAnna - that is, my belief that everything is going to be okay - goes completely missing.

This week I worked extra hours, and I went to a play in the middle of the week (which involved begging childcare favors and moving the sun, moon, and stars to make it all happen), and there was the coffee date, and the usual household things and caring for my girl.....and now I'm crashing, and it feels like I'm crashing hard.  I want to roll up into a little ball and wait for whatever this is to pass.

The little voice inside my head, the one that I've trained to say "you can do it!" and "this is all going to work out!" is saying "you'll never make it work" and "you can't do this" and I just wish it would shut the hell up.

I know that I'm tired; I'm bone weary and worn out.

And my date was rather depressing, despite my spin on it.

And I FELL ASLEEP at the play, one of those two second head bouncing jolting awake moments, and I was so damned tired I wished the play would just end so that I could go to bed.  (It wasn't riveting theatre, but more than that, I am just so tired after work and mama-dom.)

And work is not going smoothly, and then I get these moments of self doubt, and I think "my God I can't do this and yet I need to add MORE hours...." and my whole body just feels the fear in that one.

It was a hard week, even though I thought it "shouldn't" be.

I am really, really hoping that a good night's sleep, some catching up on my to-do list on the weekend, and I can make this all okay.

This is part of the single motherhood thing.  It's not glamerous, it's not pretty, it's not sexy, and it's not inspiring.  It's exhausting, and I feel like I'm in danger of losing my faith in my ability to keep it all together, financially, personally, and the rest.

I really am ready for a break.  I need a break, somehow, somewhere, to show me that I'm on the right path, that I can do this, that I can make it work.  God, are you listening?  I'm a little desperate here.  Help?  Please?


I like it better when PollyAnna is running the show, because right now there's a lot of Debbie Downer.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Why it's better to be older

This morning I woke up reflecting on my coffee date, and feeling pretty darn smug about it.

I mean, sure, the date itself was a dud, and there is no potential relationship there at all; but still, it was a wild success.

It was a wild success because I didn't leave my dignity there in the coffee shop.  It was a wild success because I enjoyed myself, even while having coffee with a stranger.  It was a wild success because I walked away thinking, "Hey, I can do this!" and not "OhmyGodnobodywilleverloveme!"

When I was twenty(ish), every possible first date could be The One.  Every word was fraught with meaning, and those meanings indicated my own worth.  When I was twenty(ish), a date like yesterday's would invoke fears like, "Is this all I will ever get in life?" and "Will anybody ever really like me?" and "Is this what I need to settle for?" and "What's wrong with me that even a guy I don't like doesn't seem to be into me?"

It's a totally different story now.

At forty(ish), what someone else says is a reflection of who they are, and not who I am.  A bad date is not an indication of my entire future, only of the present moment.  I don't have to lose myself in someone else's view of me, and whether one stranger likes me or doesn't is totally irrelevant, especially when I've already identified that we don't have a lot in common at a deeper level.  I can interpret his words differently - when he talks about "being middle aged" he's feeling bad about his own life, and I don't really care what he thinks about mine....I feel young and vibrant, and I'm sorry that he doesn't feel that way about himself, but it's not about me.

At twenty(ish), everything was about me.  At forty(ish), very little is about me.  I am more aware that people are wrapped up in their own heads, their own small dramas, their own perceptions about the world, and that usually their good and bad days don't have one thing to do with me.  At forty(ish), I take a lot more responsibility for how I feel, and for how I respond.

Here's what I hope that the man across the table saw yesterday:
I love my life.  I am kind and polite.  I'm opinionated but not bossy (there is room for someone else to have an opinion, but I don't feel a need to be silent when I disagree).  I smile a lot.

Whether he thought I was hot or not, whether he thought I was successful or not, well, sure, I'd like him to think I'm all that.  But in the end, I know who I am, and my opinion of myself doesn't rest on his opinion of me.  And that's good, because he was a nice enough person, but I don't want his opinion of himself to rest on mine of him (which could be summed up in a yawn - ouch!).

Ahhh, I've come a long way.  And it feels good.  So, thank you to Mr. CoffeeDate, for reminding me of all that.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A little like a dentist appointment

I had my coffee date today.  It was a bit like a dental cleaning: it felt clinical, and while it wasn't painful, it was uncomfortable.

He gave me a little talk about how middle age is where you've either made it, or you haven't, and if you haven't, you're screwed.  How delightful.  He did buy our coffee and treats, but he didn't tip the server.  There won't be a second date.  (The first half of our date I nodded and acted rather pleasantly.  The second half of our date I said, "Well, I disagree..." a fair amount.  I don't imagine he'll be asking me out, either.)  It was most definitely not a match.


I'm really glad I went.  I hit my goal by going: I met a nice (if not good for me) guy, we shared some banter, I maintained my dignity - no major gaffes - and we all left intact.  It's good practice for me, and that is all I wanted or needed.  My soul mate will wait for me, and this clearly wasn't him.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Dating baby steps

My toe is in the water.

I gave out my phone number, and accepted a phone call from a gentleman I met online.

It was awkward, but I just went with it.  He talked a lot about himself.  I let him lead.  I had things to say, too, and I think I carried my end of it pretty well.  I don't feel sparks, but he does seem like a nice guy.  It must have been okay, because we talked for an hour! 

We're scheduling a coffee date.  I don't have high expectations for it, but I do think it's good practice.  I think I'll like him in a general way, though at this point I don't have any sparks.

And I have a coffee date with someone else scheduled for Wednesday - someone possibly more interesting!  I haven't spoken with him, as we're just leaping straight to coffee, but I like his online profile.

Right now, all I can imagine are a couple of coffee dates, nothing more.

But it's good to be back.

Move Out Date

Bryan and I have set a move out date of July 1st, less than two months from now.

This is the ultimate leap of faith for me, because I would be in financial trouble if he moved out tomorrow; I still don't make enough to cover the household expenses, and he can't make up all of that money.

But I am going to make this work.  I am.

I am working half time.  I have hope for making that full time, and I'm working my network as hard as I can, and I have possibilities for extra work.

I also have one more resource, one that I've never called upon.....a wealthy grandmother.  She keeps saying "If you need something, let me know," and through cancer, through all of this, I never asked her for a cent.  In my life, I've never asked her for a cent.  But I'm going to ask.  I'm going to ask her for a sum of money that seems staggering to me, but is what I need to keep going and keep the house.

Because Bryan has to, has to, has to move out.  His depression makes him lie on the couch all day on most days, doing nothing but playing video games.  He is usually snarky and rude to me.  He is unhealthy in so many ways that it is painful for me to watch.  He models behavior to Katherine that makes me cringe.

I actually believe that his life will improve immensely when he moves out, contrary to what he may or may not believe.  I think that our relationship feeds his depression because he feels that I am unfair to him in some way, and I think when he's lying on the sofa watching me scurry around taking care of our daughter, working, making meals, caring for the house....some part of him knows he is being a total schmuck.  I don't know what he sees when he looks at himself in the mirror, but I know it's not pride.

I am pretty sure I am going to have to help him find an apartment, get him packed, and deliver things there.  I am already resigned to that.

Our deal is that he gets a place walking distance from our home, which should be relatively easy because we are not too far from a street lined with apartments (though we live in a single family homes area, it's close to an urban village area).  Katherine will be able to run over to say "Look at my cool ______!" and say hello whenever she likes, within reason (e.g. not at bedtime, not when she should be doing homework).  If she forgets something, it'll be easy to go back and forth.

Katherine has had a year to adjust to this idea, and we've had a year of the custody schedule that we agreed to.  Her counselor has seem dramatic improvement in that time and has suggested we scale back on appointments.  We can now talk openly about "when Daddy moves" and she doesn't skip a beat.  It will be hard when he's in a different home, I know that.....but my heart tells me it's going to be okay.

And no, it's not ideal for her.  What's ideal for her is that she grow up in a home with two parents who love her, who model great behavior to her, who teach her how be in relationship to a partner.  What she got instead was two parents who love her, who taught her tension, anger, frustration, anxiety.  She got a parent who yelled a lot, who lost his temper, who shut down in the face of conflict and stormed off; she also got a parent who tiptoed around trying to make everything perfect so that things would be okay, and then would occassionally erupt in tears or anger and say "Why do you act like that?".  It was at the  point at which I realized that I was teaching her to live life that way that I got the courage to say "Enough."

Katherine knew how bad it was.  She would try to make it better.  She would look sad, and shut down.  Her grades fell.  I kept trying to make it better, and it kept getting worse.  I tried to compensate in every way I could for the tension in our house, but she had a lot of stomach aches.

After a few months of adjusting to the idea of divorce, her grades started climbing.  She started to seem happier.

I can't give her the childhood I dreamed of for her.  But I'm going to give her the best I can, the best within my power.  I haven't lost sight of that.


I think I'm reverse aging.

Getting divorced is enough to give anyone gray hair, it's true, but it also makes me feel surprisingly young.  I feel an awful lot right now like I did in my early 20s as I was graduating college, trying to establish a career and looking for a mate.  Only now I'm divorcing, trying to establish a career, and looking for a mate (sort of).

Right now, the future is very uncertain, and while that could age me a couple of decades (and on some days it seems to), mostly it makes feel young, in ways good and bad.  I feel like I'm on the edge of a giant precipice, and while I know I could fall and break on the rocks below, I feel certain that I could also fly and see new worlds.  It's terrifying and exhilerating.  I've already taken the leap of faith that good things are ahead: I did that when I asked for a divorce, uncertain as to my own ability to withstand singledom, uncertain as to its effects on Katherine, and utterly lacking in the career department.  So far, two of three have sprouted wings....and the career is happening, albeit slower than I'd wish.

Anything is possible.  And just like when I was 23, it seems that the world is at my feet, and that there are grand adventures possible.  I could learn a foreign language, I could travel the world, I could write a book, I could make pottery, I could meet The One, and I could have the beautiful life I always dreamed of.  At 23, I refused to believe any differently, and I was determined to make my dreams come true.  By 40, it all seemed flat....but not much later, and it all seems possible again.

I'm getting a do-over, and I like it.

It's funny how divorce has changed some of the little things in my life.  When we started to divide up furniture into his and mine, I suddenly realized that I didn't like the straight, heavy lines of the furniture that we had purchased together - it was his style, not mine, and I liked curvy graceful lines.  Suddenly, I am eating vegetarian food three quarters of the time, instead of the meat heavy diet we'd shared due to his preference.  I'm spending more time on my self care like make-up, because he's not saying "what's the point of that?" behind me, or rushing me out of the bathroom.

But little things add up, and little things make big things. I like the way the house looks better than I did.  I like the way I look better than I did.  My body feels healthier.

So all that stuff adds up to reverse aging.  It comes at a high cost - gone is certainty, gone is stability(such as it was!).  But in its place is possibility and hope, and how I have missed living a life so full of possibility and hope!  I literally feel younger than I did, and I like that feeling, even with all of its uncomfortableness.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


So it's been about a week since I put up an online dating profile.  This has been a very good way to get some practice chatting with men, and it's been very good for my ego.

Some disclaimers:
Wow, there are some weirdos out there.  Serious weirdos. 
The attractive, interesting, together guys are outnumbered by the insecure, messed up, not-attractive-to-me guys by at least 20:1.  This is okay with me, though, because I'm not looking for 20 guys, more just for 1.

I still don't know what I want out of this.  I don't want a new relationship....yet.  But I do want a little flirtation.  It's nice to be noticed, to be complimented, to be pursued a bit.  I've been asked on a couple of dates, and I've been pursued by a dozen or so guys.  A dozen!  After being married a dozen years (and partnered more than that), this is pretty amazingly fun.  Of that dozen, there are a couple who are moderately interesting to me.  I haven't chosen to go on a date yet, but we'll see.

This looks nice....

I had my profile up six months ago and didn't receive nearly the same level of interest, even with the same pictures.  I think that this is because guys are smart.  (Look!  I am NOT a man hater! LOL)  I think that when they read between the lines last time, they heard, "I'm feeling a bit insecure and very uncertain, and if Prince Charming would please show up to rescue me I'd be really grateful."  I got some interest then, but not from people I'd want to go out with.  This time, I'm sending out a different message, more like, "Okay, let's try this out!  Ready to laugh, let's take it slow and just have some fun and see what happens."  (And by fun, I mean fun, not sex.  I've tried to convey in that profile that I'm not looking for hook ups.  I'm not dealing with sex right now, I'm shelving it until the time is right.  I assume I'll know when that is.)  The guys that are attracted to me this time, overall, are better fits for me.  (I started to say higher quality, but hey, who am I to judge?)

It is nice to be flattered.  Really, really nice.

Something new I'm trying this go-around is that I'm not reaching out to men, I'm waiting for them to reach out to me.  Part of this is a mindshift about my own ability to attract attention: I decided that I AM a catch, and that men WILL contact me.  This is proving true.  The other part of this is that I am not interested in passive men, and I'm not interested in doing all of the work....ever again.  If a guy likes me, he can darn well shoot off a pleasant email in my direction.  The truth is, if he's not willing to take that much of a risk for me, he's just not for me.

I'm a take charge kind of girl.  This is a very new approach for me...but I think that there is something to it.
So, I'm dipping my toe in.  I'm pleasantly surprised at the temperature of the water.  I don't have expectations about what will happen, but so far I'm enjoying the ride....and that is all I can ask for.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A woman's perogative

So it seems that I have not quite settled on any dating answer.

Part of me is yelling "Wahooooo!  Let's do this!  We're READY!" and the other part of me is much more tentative.  I really am betwixt and between.

It's been a few days since I reposted my online profile, and I'm getting all kinds of interesting messages.  "Interesting" ranges from nice guys with normal-ish things to say, to total weirdos, to young'uns looking for cougars to hook up with.

Let's just think about that last one for a moment - oh my gosh it makes me howl with laughter!  There are actually guys out there who want to hook up with me and have hot sex because I am fifteen years older than they?  I've received notes like, "If you were my professor, I wouldn't be able to pay attention in class because you're so hot...."  My response is a combination of laughter, yuck, and flattery.  Oh, yes, I'm human, and I feel a bit of flattery, even when it's all so blatantly out there and not my style.  Needless to say, I will not be hooking up with any youngsters (under 35 is a youngster to me....but I've been hit on by 20-somethings) to get my groove on.
While sometimes I might feel like the first photo for a second, the idea of that being me in the second photo is enough to stop me, even when that third photo looks pretty damn nice.

What the weirdos say is too weird to post here.  It's nice to have a delete or block button, let's just put it that way.  Do these guys get any action with that weird pickup style?  Well, not from me, that's all I know.
Of the three, I'm pertty sure that the last one is the worst.  Seems like it could be good, but really, it's smarmy and very, very bad.

I've also been hit on by a few nice guys.  Guys who seem to have their act together; fathers; people that strike me as guys who would be good guests at a dinner party.  They have interesting lives, their travel history makes me jealous, they have interesting hobbies.  They are age appropriate.  (I figure five years older or younger is a nice age range; I wouldn't be opposed to dating someone ten years younger in theory but I think those guys are looking for a woman to have kids with, and that shop is closed.)

The nice guy who has his act together and happens to be smokin' hot is a rare breed.  A rare breed.

What I haven't found is a spark.  I'm not sure if it's because I can't find a spark online - where is the twinkle in the eyes?  The confident (but not swagger) walk?  The way that he holds eye contact?  I can't see that, so maybe that's missing.

It's nice to think that nice people will be interested in me.  Maybe the time hasn't come yet, maybe online dating isn't for me, or maybe I just haven't met the right guy online (even for a date, I don't believe that I'll fall in love with a profile, but I would like a profile that gives me a couple sparks!).  Maybe I'm too particular - but I don't think so.  I'm not in a hurry, and I know what I like.  I'm prepared to wait for it, and in the meantime, life keeps me rather busy.  I figure when I meet a guy that I really want to go out with, I'll know.

In the meantime..... it's one day at a time.