Thursday, August 30, 2012

A shift in the breeze

I feel a change in the wind.  It's subtle, no gusting hurricanes but rather a little ripple on the lake where just moments before it was still.

I'm thinking about men.

So far, I'm just thinking.  I don't seem to have time or energy to do much outside of my work, my daughter, and my home, all three of which are all consuming.  I am not working out right now and feeling the sluggishness of that, in addition to the sluggishness of a thyroid run amuck.

But I'm thinking....

My finances are coming under control.  They have a direction, and that direction is positive.

My home is coming under control.  With a refi, I'm going to be able to do some necessary repairs.

Katherine is doing great. 

My job is positively, unbelievably great.  Not only does it pay the bills, but I enjoy it.

My head is in a pretty good place.  I'm proud of myself for dealing with what needs dealing with in my life, and for owning my mistakes, and for doing my best to make my life its best.  Aside from one major cancer freak out where in the space of five minutes I convinced myself that death was imminent, the gremlin in my head that says "it'll never work" is mostly pretty quiet these days.  The gremlin that says "you're a fraud, and you're not worthy..." merely whispers every now and then, and has stopped shouting.

Friends and family, all in good working order.

Self care, improving.

And perhaps because these things are in order, I find myself wondering about love, romance, dating: men.

I clearly don't need someone to rescue me.  Look at me, rescuing myself!  And I don't need a co-parent; I do a great job on my own, and Bryan is improving.  (Katherine is with him on vacation, and they're having a great time.)  I hired someone to help with the yard when it became clear that I couldn't manage it well, and I managed to get the car fixed without any input.

But I don't want a man in my life to complete me, or to fix me, or to rescue me, or to take things down from high shelves, or to do my dirty work.  I don't want a man to pay my bills, or to keep me safe.

But I think I'm starting to want the company of a man, or men, again.

When I went to the doctor to discuss my thyroid issue, I brought up the issue of sex after divorce.  I pointed out that I have only had one sexual partner since 1995 (and I think it's fair to say that I've been re-virginized in the divorce), and that I don't know much about navigating the landscape of a new sexual partner.  We talked a bit about awkward STD conversations (and I got a list of possible symptoms that made my eyes water - yikes) and staying safe, and I pondered out loud that I didn't know if I wanted to have some fun to blow off steam or if I was looking for partner material right out of the gate.  I know I'm "safe" given my own history and clean bill of health, but that list did take some of the fun out of the prospect of playing around.

As much as I'd like to have some fun - did I mention it's been a while?! - I think that for me it's not nearly as fun if there isn't an emotional connection, a deep one.  Not only would I enjoy some naked romping - who wouldn't?! - I'd love some long beach walks at sunset.  (Hey, don't laugh.  I live in a beachy area on the west coast, where the sunsets are spectacular.)  I'd love a partner to see plays and movies with.  I'd love a hiking buddy, and I'd like to get into cross country this year in addition to my regular snowshoeing, and it would be great to have a handsome man to drive into the mountains with, listening to NPR or music or flirting.  I'd love to meet someone after work on my non-Katherine days, perhaps for a glass of wine at the great French restuarant down the street from my office - I want to wear high heels and a skirt and enjoy the attention of a man.

And in the middle of it all I'd love a man to lean over, look me straight in the eyes, and kiss me slowly.  Mmm hmm, I'd like that a lot.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do about any of this yet.  Online dating seems, well, tired.  I'm not opposed, but I'm not sure that all of those lists and questions are the way to find an interesting person.  And I hang out with women, and the husbands of those women, and have few to no single men in my life.  I don't really want to wait until the divorce is final - that takes so long! - but wonder if I ought to.

So, more questions than answers; on the subject of men, I have very few answers, actually.

Well, I do have one answer.  I know this much:

I value myself, and any man I meet needs to value me, too.  I need to respect the men I date.  I'm not a one night stand.  I'm interested in exploring bodies more slowly than that, in tandem with exploring the whole person.  This may be a problem in a society where women who do not put out by the third date are considered prudes, but I'm okay with that.  (Okay, but possibly lonely!)  I am a strong woman, and I want a strong man.

No action on my end - I'm not 'putting myself out there' yet.  I thought I'd wait a full year after Bryan moved out to begin dating, but maybe not. 

But the idea of that kiss, on a beach or in a restuarant..... mmmmmm.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Self Care

I wear my hair long, because I like it that way.  In part, I just like having long hair, but this is emphasized by the fact that I was once bald and didn't enjoy it even a bit.  Having long hair is like a statement of health for me - maybe nobody else sees it that way, but when I put my hair in a ponytail or flip it over my shoulder, I know that it is a sign that I am well again.

I also wear my hair long because I can get away with lack of care with long hair: a short cut needs regular maintenance, but with a longer one you can fake it a bit.

A bit.

My hair had grown straggly and sad.  It was starting to scream "I don't take time for myself."  My haircut let the world know that I didn't care how I looked.

Except....I do.  I wish to be beautiful - doesn't every woman?  And I have told myself that healthy hair was enough, but we all know that a good cut makes a world of difference, whether hair is long or short.

Today I took the plunge, pulled out my debit card, and got my hair cut at a decent salon.  In addition to getting my hair cut, I got product.

But it's not about spending the money.  Okay, it's a little bit about that, because everything has a cost to it....but that's not what it's really about.  What it's really about is taking care of myself.  What it's really about is putting myself back on the list of people who deserve full care, with an equal claim to being cared for.

Bryan had haircuts every six weeks.  We made sure he had work clothes.  Katherine grows quickly, but has always had a decent wardrobe.  Bryan took the money he wanted to fuel his hobbies, and I always did the best I could to make sure that Katherine had the after school activities she wanted.

I never quite seemed to make the list, and when I did - a rebelious pedicure, perhaps - I felt guilty about it.  Mostly, I spent "my" money on groceries or small treats for Katherine.

I'm putting myself on the list of people who deserve care.  I would never want Katherine to feel guilty for taking piano, and I refuse to feel guilty for buying an outfit for work or getting my hair cut.  And I'm carving out time to take care of myself, not just money.  I even made an appointment for October for a follow up cut.

Bryan never left space for me to take care of myself, and goodness knows he didn't take care of me.  That ends here, now.  I am taking care of myself.

It feels incredible.  And it's wonderful modeling for Katherine - I don't want her to repeat my mistakes.  But mostly, it's just for me, and it feels so darned good.

A baby step, or a giant leap?  I'm not sure yet.  But my mindset has shifted, and for the better.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


My oncologist, whom I adore, emailed me over the weekend.

I don't have cancer.

To say this is a relief would be like saying that to have one's arm torn off by a grizzly might hurt.  There are really no words to describe the sense of elation that comes with believing that I have another shot at life.  Every year, my appointment sends me spinning in this way; I'm just glad that now I only go a little crazy around cancer appointment time, and not all day every day as the first several years went.  (It's hard to forget cancer with scare after scare, surgery after surgery.)

I also got good news - well, I choose to view it as good news.  My thyroid is WAY off, and I'm extremely hypothyroid.  Why is this good news?  Because it explains my fatigue and general sluggishness this past month, and because there is a simple fix.  (I take a synthetic thyroid drug because mine has been "off" for years, and occassionally I need to alter the dosage.  It appears that now I need to alter the dosage immensely, but with that simple alteration I should feel better very quickly.)

I have felt like I am just slogging lately, and the fact that my PollyAnna brain went as crazy as it did on the way to my oncology center is proof that I'm just not myself.

I'm going to be okay.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

The voices in my head

Today I had to go get a blood draw in preparation for my annual oncology appointment.  I was busy at work, had to walk 20 minutes from my office to the appointment, and was running late.  I didn't have two minutes to think about the appointment...

Until I was halfway there.  And then, without my permission, my head went to a dark place.

It sounded like this:

Man, I hate going to this place.  All that chemo, all those horrible memories.  Ugh.  It's been a while since I've been there.  I hope no cancer grew in that time.  God, what if they find something?  I had a headache last week, my first migraine, but maybe it wasn't a migraine, maybe it was brain mets.  I can't think like that....but it's so scary.  One little blood test, and it can turn my whole world upside down.  What would I do?  If it came back?  It could be back.  It could.  What would I tell Katherine?  I would try to be calm.  I would tell her, "We did this before, we could do it again."  Last time I was really public about it, maybe I could fake it this time....wear a wig all the time, keep working, not tell anyone except my closest people.  Maybe I could do chemo after work.  Could I work through it?  Would I lose my job because I couldn't work?  How could I put Katherine through that again?  And oh no, what if I put her through divorce and then I died?  How could she stand it?  Maybe I could have Bryan move back into the basement when I got really sick, to transition him back in to take care of her more.  Maybe I shouldn't get divorced, because if I'm just going to die anyway, I just can't put Katherine through it....I could put up with Bryan for I ready to die?  I don't want to die...

And this is how it was.  I stopped myself when I realize how quickly I'd spiraled downward, I got it together, I got into the building.

The very first thing I heard upon walking in the doors was, "My friend just lost the battle after eight years."  I'm just over seven years out, and as I walk into the cancer institute that is what I hear.  Is it is a sign?  Please don't let it be a sign.

I make it through the blood draw, and then escape as quickly as I can back to work.  I sit down and promptly start sobbing, and my boss hugs me and promises me that I'm well and that it will all be okay.

It'll all be okay.  I'm allowed to get divorced because I'm not going to die., so Katherine won't have to deal with any more pain caused by me.  I'm going to live a long, long time.  Right?

I get test results in a week or so.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Year, New Me

As someone who has spent most of my life involved in academia (either my own or my daughter's), September has always felt like New Year's to me.  Around Labor Day I feel a need to get my house ship shape (in this sense, it's fall cleaning, not spring cleaning, for me - I'm about to move back indoors after the summer and I want my nest to feel good), but I also tend to get reflective at this time of year about the shape of my days and of my life.

This year, there is even more to reflect upon.  Divorce has it's own huge set of problems - heartbreak for Katherine, scheduling conflicts, "doing it all" on my own, financial burdens, childcare where once I was there for childcare, and a whole lot of adjusting - but it has many positive changes, as well, and I realize that all this change is a chance to create new habits, to cultivate the type of life I most want for myself.

Here are my questions for myself as I structure my new life.  Perhaps these are not unique to me: doesn't every divorcing/newly divorced person need to ask themselves these questions?  Ultimately, I am getting divorced because I believed it would immensely improve my own life, and ultimately improve my daughter's life, so I can not squander that opportunity. 

A new year is a new chance to get it right.

Questions and Ideas to Ponder:

I'm going to wait another couple of months to figure out how paying for the nanny and some house repairs impacts me, but then I'm going to visit a financial planner.  I am way behind on retirement savings, my personal savings is next to nil, and I also want to make sure that Katherine has a growing college fund. I am ready to face all of that.  How shall I structure my finances?  What is "responsible" and how much is allotted for "fun"?

And I want to travel, and I need to figure out how to make that happen.  I was born to travel, and Katherine was, too, just is just learning that.  I have frequent flier miles that have languished for a decade (no, I didn't lose them, fortunately) and she and I need to see Europe - maybe Italy, or perhaps France.  And I want little local trips, too, to fun small towns nearby, as well as beautiful cities only a couple hundred miles away.  What is feasible?  What are my life's travel goals, and how can I reach them? What am I willing to give up (travel is expensive) to make travel happen?

And there's hiking, camping, and backpacking.  And skiing - perhaps cross country this year, because it's less expensive, but I would dearly love to downhill again (I learned as a child but haven't skiied in a decade), and I know Katherine would love skiing.  And we always snowshoe, and we love that.  (Especially if we mix in sledding.)  Can I fit in these outdoor activities that I love?

And then there's the day to day practical stuff.  How to fit in exercise for the dog and myself, how to structure my week to allow for grocery shopping, food preparation, reading to my beloved girl (which I admit on the too-busy days just doesn't happen).  How to make sure that we get down time, but also time with friends and extended family.

And should we schedule a "family" dinner once a month?  A time for Katherine to have both of her parents together so that she can feel wholeness?  Or is that just too weird?  Could we do it?  (If Bryan was crabby, I can't imagine it would help her much...)

And how many hours am I willing to work?  There's the 8-6 that I am committed to, of course (including commute), but what about weekends and evenings?  As we build a business, should I give more than that?  How much more?  Should that be built in, too?

And church.  And volunteering - I haven't volunteered since I started working again.  How does that fit together?

And can I make a Sunday meal that carries over into leftovers for the week?  A roast, a soup, a lasagne or enchiladas or something like that that we can share with friends or family to end the weekend on a gentle note, and to prepare us for the week ahead?

And what about my "off" days, when I am sans Katherine? How should I use those days?  What percentage of them should be spent on working vs. home projects vs. travel vs. down time?  Can I carve out time to write?

Do I want to consider dating?  When?  How much?  To what purpose?  Am I ready to look for a mate (yikes, that sounds daunting) or am I ready to look for fun (hmm, is it actually fun to date?)?  How do I feel about post-divorce sex?  Am I capable of having a sexually fulfilling relationship with a man who isn't partner material, or am I really much more old fashioned now than I used to be?  And if I wanted to date, how on earth would I find suitable dates?


I don't know the answers, but I do love the questions, and in my experience, if I keep asking myself the questions, the answers will come.  At this stage of my life, I know better how to listen to those answers when they come to me, and I'm better disciplined to heed those answers.  I know that I feel better when I go to bed at 10pm, when I eat a salad for lunch, when I don't drink too much wine, when I carve out time to really be with Katherine and not just get from point A to point B through the day.

So, my questions for you, dear readers:

What questions are you pondering as you contemplate life post-divorce?  For those of you who are just embarking on this scary journey, what do you anticipate for your own questions?  For those of you who alongside me, newly separated, how are you managing your own questions, and do you find it exhilerating or frightening or both?  And please, for those of you who have this behind you, please please advise me, and all of my readers!  I want to learn from you, and I don't need to reinvent the wheel: please share your wisdom.

Can't wait to hear from you!

Monday, August 20, 2012

I got a wife!

Remember how I said I needed a wife?  I am delighted to announce that I found one.  She's part time, and I have to share her, but I couldn't be happier.

Which is all to say that two friends and I are participating in an after school nanny share, and this weekend we hired someone.  She will met the girls at their bus stops, give them healthy snacks, help out with homework, take them to after school activities, and even help out with light housework and food prep.

Which means....I will come home to a daughter who is happy, healthy, well cared for, whose primary homework is done.  (I'll still do projects etc. with her, but this removes the nightly math worksheets from my routine.)  It means that sometimes when I walk in the door, the house will smell of something cooking in the oven, or the salad will be ready and so I can just throw something on the grill.  It means no more scrambling to ask friends for childcare favors.  It means that I'll get a bit of help with a basket of laundry or vacuuming.

Oh, glory hallelujah!  This is the best idea EVER!

To top it all off, I think she might just be Mary Poppins.  Fabulous references, very warm, incredibly articulate, college educated and supplementing a job working at a preschool.  And the girls, including Katherine, love her, and they think that she's wonderful and can't wait to be with her.  And she's an active person involved with social justice and she has healthy habits (non-smoker, likes to eat natural foods, very active) and has so much to offer....and she could even "talk the talk" about American Girl dolls.

Because it's a three-way share, I am only paying $70/month more than I would for the after school program at the community center.  She'll only be at my house 1/3 of the time, so only 1/3 of the days will have chore help or food help, but she'll be with Katherine every day (at one of the three houses).

The friends with whom we're doing the share are close in proximity, temperment, relationship.  The parents enjoy one another, and the girls enjoy one another.

I'll let my readers know how it works once it really gets going, but I am ecstatic that this looks like it's going to work out.  May we live happily ever after!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back to School Shopping

Every year, back to school shopping has stressed me out.  Katherine grows so fast, and there are always so many things to buy, and the budget was so tight, and Bryan would act like I was being a spendthrift by giving me pursed lips and cold eyes.

Shudder.  Not happy memories.  I would end up buying some items for our girl but feeling guilty and getting a lecture that our finances weren't good etc.

I HATED always feeling guilty about money.  Even groceries made me feel guilty, because perhaps I was spending too much.  There were several years when I went to FIVE grocery stores to get the best deals from each....but I still felt guilty all the time as if the fact that I was the one ringing up the broccoli and paying for it made me bad with money.

That's exactly it, actually.  I let myself believe that I was bad with money, and that my financial situation was the way it was because I was inherently bad with money.

Well, separating has been quite a wake-up call.

I am living on less than before, and shockingly, I'm coming out ahead.  I took a 10 day road trip and stayed in hotels for five nights, and I'm still ahead financially.  Typing that makes me feel pretty much GIDDY.  I know what my bills are and when they're coming in, and I'm still okay!

With Bryan, I'd say, "Honey, I just checked the balance and there's only $50 to get us through the next three days until payday."  He'd say, "Okay, do you want to order pizza for dinner since we have enough?"  Um, NO.  Our savings was pretty much nil and NO I DID NOT WANT TO SPEND OUR LAST $50!  Okay, sorry for shouting.  I get incredibly angry when I think about it.

Living like that was hard.  I knew that if I didn't spend it, he would spend it, and that there would never be savings, and that at the end of the month there wouldn't be enough, no matter what.  I shopped the day the paycheck came in to make sure the cupboards were full.

Ugh.  It makes me shudder thinking of it - it wasn't very long ago, and the thought still fills me with dread.

So: it's the 19th, I haven't spent all of the money, there is money to carry over into next month, and when I get those zillion notes from school about extra supplies and PTA fees and sign ups for some activity that Katherine is just dying to do, I will fill out the checks and know that they're covered!

And today Katherine and I are going school shopping.  She doesn't need too much right now, but she will be able to pick out an outfit for the first day of school that makes her feel special and happy, and when I pay for it I will smile because I've got it covered, it's not going to break us, and because I love being able to take care of my daughter.  AND - I have a couple items I've been putting off buying for myself, and I can buy them, too.

Now, who's good with money?  I am, that's who.  WAHOOOOOOOOOO!  And I'm just getting started.

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Questions for readers:

Are you able to better manage your finances after divorce?  We all know that divorce puts many women into poverty - which is criminal, in my opinion - and that not everyone comes out ahead.  What is your story?  How do you manage your finances after divorce?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Insistence and Persistence

This business of creating boundaries is hard work.

It comes as no surprise that since boundaries were a major issue in our marriage, they continue to be an issue in divorce.  Yesterday's post is proof of that ongoing problem.

But I'm not giving up.

I sent a cordial but firm email stating my discomfort with Bryan coming in the house when I'm not there.  Again.

He was snappy in response, and returned his key.

Here's what I learned from all of this:

I want him to behave well.  I want him to do the right thing without me telling him what to do, I want him to be responsible, and I want him to acknowledge that I'm being reasonable, fair, and cordial.

And that may never happen.

I can not control his behavior, and I certainly can't make him be nice to me.  Acknowledging that is something I've been working on for a long time because it is really hard on me when I go out of my way to be kind and fair and he still snaps at me: it feels like a breaking of the social contract, and I feel pained when I think I'm being kind and he is rude in return.  I have protested too much "But wait....I said....what I meant was....can't you see...." and it has had no impact on his behavior except perhaps to further annoy him.

Well, that's changing.

He was annoyed that I insisted on boundaries.  It stung a bit that he was annoyed....but it doesn't matter.  I know that I was being fair, and reasonable.  He owns his response, and really, it doesn't have a thing to do with me.  I don't need to fear his responses any more, because he can take his bad mood to his own house where I don't have to tiptoe around it any more.

What I care about is that I behave with integrity.  It would be nice if he responded beautifully to that, but ultimately, it doesn't matter to me.

This is not rocket science.  This is Relationships 101, and I should have learned it a long, long, long time ago.  Still, it feels like a giant revelation to me to FEEL this an not merely "know" it, and I'm excited by this progress.

I insist on boundaries.  I will persist in giving out boundaries that I believe to be fair and reasonable.  I will persist in feeling good about myself no matter what he thinks of me.

Now that is progress, don't you think?

Monday, August 13, 2012


I am a feisty, sassy, in control, independent, strong woman.

That is why I am more surprised than anyone that I turned into such a doormat during my marriage.

I feared Bryan's temper - the way he would freeze me out, or yell at me, whenever I displeased him.  I didn't have to insult him to make him angry: I would just say, "Are you sure we can afford that?" or "Please don't speak to me in such an angry tone," and he'd go into his lizard brain, angry and cold, and over time I took on more and more behaviors to avoid provoking those responses.  I was the stereotypical frog in boiling water: when I first got in, the temperature wasn't too bad, and by the time I realized that it was boiling, I was nearly cooked.  In this way, I stopped saying, "That is not okay with me," as often as I should have, and I found myself in a marriage that was so broken that the only way to fix it was to get out.

I'm awake now.  My eyes are wide open, and I LOVE that I have my sassy streak back.  Not sassy in a "don't you talk to your mother that way!" kind of way, but in a playful, feisty, strong, in control way.  I love rediscovering my sassy self, whether it's reigniting my career, going on an adventurous road trip with my daughter, or just finding the courage to say, "My life is worth it, and I won't live like that any more," in response to my unhealthy marriage.

But in the midst of a divorce, I'm finding that it's still possible to fall into the old ways, and it's troubling.

Bryan has been borrowing my car.  Without asking.  He's been bringing Katherine to my house, without asking, and inviting her friends over here, and eating my food.  While I was gone, he slept in the guest room for a few days, saying that his place was too hot.

We had discussed the childcare schedule repeatedly, and he has repeatedly forgotten, and then acted like it was an inconvenience to him to watch his own child. (Need I remind you that he is being paid to sit on the bench?  And that I am working full time, and yet we're arranging childcare left and right, patching together a summer schedule?!)  When I came home from vacation, he acted as if he was shocked that he was on duty for 24 hours, even though he hadn't seen his child in 10 days.  What's worse than that is that when I tried to gently remind him of our conversations about the schedule, he was snarky and rude in response, and when I said, "I don't think Katherine needs to hear this, could we talk about it later?" he was rude again.

Okay, so he's rude.  This is no surprise, and I don't want to waste my life thinking about it any more.  But what I do need to figure out is this: how do I avoid nasty fights (especially in front of our daughter!) while sticking to my guns?  It is NOT okay for him to spend time in my house without me.  Our agreement is that if Katherine forgets something, she can come over here with him to pick it up, but NOT hang out here.  And do I really have to say "get out of my fridge!" and "stay away from my car!" again?!

I can't imagine what he would do if I went over to his place to hang out.  I don't know why I'd even consider it, and yet he keeps coming here....even to sleep here when I was gone.

But I hate the fighting.  And I hate it worst of all when it's in front of Katherine, who doesn't deserve that in her life.

My current plan is to document this stuff and then bring it up in front of the mediator.  At close to $300/hour that is a very expensive plan, but I can't think of a better one. 

Readers, do you have advice?  Please do not advise me to speak using "I statements" and using positive language; please do not advise me to use non-inflammatory language and stick to only the facts; please do not advise me to have these conversations in email so that it's non-emotional in tone and there is a record of who said what.  I'm way ahead of you there, I'm doing that, but still I need to confirm things, and still we need to communicate, and still, these exchanges continue to be a bit ugly.  I could understand why Bryan would get upset with me if my conversations went "You asshole, we talked about this seven times last week, can't you get it through your thick head that you agreed to take Katherine tomorrow while I'm at work?" but I do not understand why when I say, "I have you down for taking Katherine tomorrow, does that still work?" he instantly gets defensive and short with me, acts like we've never had the conversation and that I'm suddenly imposing on him (never mind that it's HIS daughter too!). I don't want to get in fights....

I'm not a doormat.  I'm Wonder Woman.  Really.

But I don't just want to take it, either.  Being a doormat doesn't suit me.  I do NOT wish his dirty feet upon me.  And he can't act like he lives here and he's not granted a free pass to bail on his daughter just by saying "Well, I forgot" whenever he feels like it.

So - during divorce, how do you keep it out of mediation or litigation, and encourage civil conversations?  How do you deal with an ex's amnesia regarding agreements?  How do I point out "here is the email thread where you agreed to all of this!" without adding fuel to the fire?

How do you stay out of the doormat pose? 

Am I alone in this?  I'd love to hear what you have to say - thanks.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Settling In


Bryan was grouchy, grouchy, grouchy when I returned, and he seemed to have some sort of amnesia about everything we had discussed about scheduling, ever, which was frustrating....but managable.

And then I lost most of the data from my computer, which was frustrating...but managable.

And now the girl is off with Bryan, I've recreated my most important spreadsheet (budget!), the laundry is almost done, the fridge is restocked, I made a healthy (e.g. not at all vacation-y) meal for myself, and I think I'm ready to move forward with the week.

Deep breaths - ready to dive back in.  Ready to live my life, enjoy every bit of it....even with the day to day, not vacation life.

Here I go!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A moment to reflect

Katherine is still asleep, lying in the bed next to mine, a giant inflatable dolphin on the floor next to her (for the pool) and her arm wrapped around her favorite stuffed animal.

Gazing at her, I'm overcome with the kind of love that makes me choke up and her say, "Oh, Mama" with a smile and an eye roll.  But to say that I am madly in love with my daughter is no understatement.  Her ability to withstand the immensity of the changes in her life makes me incredibly proud: the girl has character, in spades.

This trip has been so very good for both of us.  We haven't spent this much one on one time for ages: usually there are other kids and other adults with us.  But here we are, in a town where we don't know anyone, sharing a small room, and doing activities together, just the two of us.  I was a bit nervous - would I bore her?  Would we get tired and crabby?  Did I bite off more than I could chew? 

No, it's all been close to perfect.  We got hotel rooms even though we were being spontaneous - and our last three nights are all in the same hotel, in our favorite coastal town, only six hours from home.

We couldn't have done this trip with Bryan.

For one thing, Bryan doesn't budget, so putting together the money to make this adventure happen just never happened.  It shocks me that he makes more than I do, but that I'm able to do this trip AND be responsible, whereas we could never seem to travel together.  We really did budget: we stayed in the most inexpensive hotels (including this one, because though it's the nicest one we've been in we have their cheapest room, no view and twin beds, but I don't care because it's darling anyway), we've picnicked some of our meals (breakfast this morning: fresh cherries, hotel coffee, and pastries; dinner last night was cheese, salami, bread, and fruit) and done inexpensive ones elsewhere (today's dinner plan: clam chowder bread bowls at a beachside place).  We've had a little cooler with snacks - bread, stringcheese, carrots - and some contraband like potato chips.  Bryan didn't want to do any of those shortcuts.  He wanted the nicer hotels, he wanted to buy five dollar coffees, he wanted to eat steak.

Bryan couldn't budget to get here, and then once here, he couldn't stay in budget.  But we did both: we're okay financially, we've been responsible, AND we're having an amazing time.

We've also done the trip in a way Bryan wouldn't have enjoyed.  All day in a car for 15 hours (including breaks) would have make Bryan crabby and unbearable to be with, and I would have been so stressed out I would have likely felt like crying.  Now, I'm not saying that Katherine or I thought that was the best part of our trip, but it was absolutely fine, and it was worth it to get to our destination.

And hanging out with my friends, doing kid stuff, would have bored him, too.  No way could he have done a day  in the city with three kids, walking miles and miles, dealing with crowds, without some serious grouchies.

And he doesn't hike any more.  He did, but then he stopped.  And we hiked in a dry area with cacti, and we hiked the Redwoods, and we've done miles of beach walking.

And I never could have done the "let's see how far we feel like driving" method of spontaneous road tripping, because if anything went wrong I'd deal with not only the problem (the possibility of no hotel, or a bad hotel) but also his temper about it.  Instead, we've done what we felt like doing, spent

And so here is the crux of it: On this vacation, I'm reconnecting with my adventurous soul.  I'm not putting energy into trying to please a man who does not wish to be pleased by my, I'm putting energy into creating adventures, laughing, playing with my daughter, exploring.  I feel free, and happier than when I left.  I feel strong, and connected to myself.  It has been an absolutely amazing bonding experience with Katherine, and I feel like I know her more deeply than before.

It's true, I'm getting divorced because the man I married lied to me and treated me with more anger than love.  But this trip has reopened the possibilities once again to all of the joy that awaits in the world: adventure, fun, laughter, connection, nature.  I don't need to be rich, and I don't need to have a partner.  Once the focus of the bad marriage was removed, I could focus on this other stuff, and be the person I want to be.

This is who I want to be.  In a moment, I'll sign off here, and wake up my sleepyhead girl.  We'll eat the pastries we picked up yesterday (pastries for breakfast - decadence!) and I'll make sure she gets some fresh fruit.  Then, we'll slip on our flip flops and head to the beach, splash in the surf, play in tidepools.

When we go home tomorrow, I'm taking it with me.  This trip has been a chance to reconnect with Katherine, but also with myself.  In a few short weeks when school starts and we're deep in routines, we'll have this trip to draw upon.

And every night, for the rest of my life, I will go to bed knowing that THIS IS WHO I AM.  An adventurer.  Quick to laugh.  A planner who is able to be spontaneous.  A woman of deep joy.

And my daughter?  I see her opening up, feeling her own life filled with possibilities.  She still gets her dad, and she will still love eating pizza and watching TV with him, no holds barred, but now she gets me in this way, too, and it is bringing out those parts of HER, not just of me.



I don't have a profile of my readers, but from the comments and emails I know this: women who are considering divorce often come here.  Now, if you've got a case of the marriage blues and are wondering what's out there, I hope you see enough to scare you straight: divorce is HARD, and it's hell for kids.  Make no mistakes about that, and get to a marriage counselor and read relationship books and give it your all before you throw in the towel, because you owe that to yourself and your kids.


If you are married to a man who makes you feel small and less than, and if you feel completely lost in your marriage, trying to please someone who is impossible to please.....then read this post, and know that it doesn't have to be like that.  Know that showing your children who you really are is a gift to both of you.  Know that it is possible to wake up deeply joyful, every single day, because you've got what it takes.  It takes a ton of work, but man, I can't tell you how good it feels. 

Single and filled with possibility is a million times better than married and small.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Reviews are in

Reviews are in from Katherine.  I asked her her favorite parts of the trip, and she said, "Well, how could I decide?  It's a great trip, it's all my favorite!"


Tonight we are at a cheesy little hotel on the coast - the cheesiest I've been in for perhaps fifteen years.  Think wood paneling, a pink bathtub, and very bad art.  It's so bad it's good - I giggle just looking around.  But it's clean, and across the street from the sea, and there is a pool, and so Katherine loves it.  It is affordable, and I like that, too.  (It also had a vacancy, making it my number one choice.)

At this very minute, we're watching a silly TV show together.  But we've hiked, and done a Jr. Ranger program in a national park, and swum, and seen the sights, and driven gazillions of miles (the down side of a road trip is the road - I know, so obvious, but it needed saying).  Today we saw elk, and whales.  How incredible is that?!

But the best part is that my beautiful girl is loving it, enjoying my company.

The other best part is simply that I'm DOING it.  I made the budget work, I've planned, I've managed, and I'm making it happen.  Bryan didn't travel well, and I do. 

Ahhhh.  Now, back to my vacation.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

On the Road

I'm clearly not a beat poet, but I am on the road.

I write tonight from the middle of my nine day vacation with Katherine.  We've completed over 1000 miles, we've seen some cool sights (including incredibly cheesy roadside attractions: though it's not my style these days, I remember clearly loving them as a child and my parents refusing to stop, so we're stopping for them!), and we've spent time with dear friends.

As we drove away from one of my dearest friends' home, Katherine was very quiet.  "I'm really going to miss them," she said.  It touched me deeply: the two children are both boys, and usually she only cares about girls, but there was wonderful chemistry amongst the children, and we everyone had a fantastic time.  I wiped away tears as I drove away: the time with them was perfect, and I will miss them deeply.

And now it is just Katherine and I for five days, putting miles under us and stopping to do wonderful things together.  The last two days will be spent lazing on a beach, so that hopefully when we pull into our driveway we will be rested and ready to work hard again.

But right now I'm just reveling in my girl.  My gorgeous daughter with the incredible soul, the one I'm so proud of.  The one who has been through so much alongside me.  I'm having fun with her, and we deserve it, and I'm delighted.

Savoring deeply.

Monday, August 6, 2012


Katherine and I are on a week plus long road trip together.  We've gone all the way to San Francisco, and we're playing tourists and visiting one of my dearest friends.

This is bliss.