Thursday, September 20, 2012


There are nearly three months of separation between my ex and I.  The distance is wider than the Grand Canyon, and in many ways my life three months ago feels like a different lifetime.  I am not the same person, and my life is not the same.

I'm finding some peace in all of this.  Deep, deep peace, like a cobalt pool at the foot of a waterfall.  Peace like watching a sleeping child.

Recently some news came to light about Bryan, the type of news that once had the power to shake me and hurt me.  I worry for him: his life is not under control, and he's not making good decisions, and he's reaping the 'rewards' of his choices.  I learned some new information....

And I was okay.  Once the initial "Are you kidding me?" had passed, I felt deep sadness for Bryan.  I found myself saying a little prayer for him that he can find himself again, that he can summon the strength it will take to mend his life.

I did a little mental check - how will this impact me?  How will it impact Katherine?  Will I be able to manage it?  Will I be okay?
I'll be fine.  I will manage.  Katherine will be fine.  We'll be fine.  Actually, we'll be better than fine.  We're thriving.

He can swing a(metaphorical) punch, but the punches no longer hit their target, and with that distance I find my anger dissipated to something that doesn't burn me any more when I touch it.  With under three months distance, I find myself sending him little prayers the same way that I do for the homeless person with a sign on the corner, the same way that I do when the ambulance rushes by with lights flashing, the way that I do when I hear of a person with illness.  I see his humanity, his brokenness, and I wish peace and healing for him.

This is very new.

And somehow, like alchemy, my compassion for him is giving me joy.  I feel free, and filled with more hope than before, and lighter.  My life is rich and full, but I hear a little whisper in the wind, "It's right around the corner, keep going...."

What is right around the corner?  Riches?  Awards?  Romantic love?  (Oh, please let it be romantic love!)

I never knew that this kind of compassion would feel so good.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My part

I have heard, over and over, from many sources including therapists, books, websites, podcasts, and magazines, that in divorce it's really important to own your mistakes, to acknowledge one's own part, or one is doomed to repeat mistakes.

Easier said than done, as it turns out.  I have been filled with self righteous anger, and I might be justified by that anger, but it doesn't serve me.  I don't want to be angry and self righteous, I want to be happy.  I want to be HAPPY.  I want to be one of those people who radiates joy, who lives in peace, who spreads compassion.  As far as I can tell, righteous anger doesn't fit into that vision.

So, this is my attempt to spell it out, to not sugar coat it, to say it like it is.  Here are my mistakes in my marriage, the ones I own, the ones Bryan had no control over, and the ones that are mine alone to fix.  And, because it's too painful to own up to them without something positive, here are my thoughts on how I'll fix those problems in the future too.

Because I'm never going back again.

Deep breath.

*  I believed I would never get what I wanted.  I believed that I had to compromise, and so I got a guy who was overweight, and less motivated, and didn't treat me like a queen, because I figured that in the end that is who would want me.  Now, would you like to be with a woman who, deep in her heart, thought that she'd settled?  I believe that as much as I tried to ignore, deny, and hide those feelings, somehow Bryan saw them, and I do not blame him for not liking what he saw, because I wouldn't like that either.  I cheated myself by settling, but I cheated him, too.  Well, I'm never settling again.  I'm not going to cheat myself like that....and I'm not going to treat a man like that again.  It wasn't intentional, but it wasn't right, either.

*  I believed that I was inherently unworthy.  I'm still working out this one in my head, how I came to believe that I was somehow less than.  It goes back to childhood, to parents who name called and didn't always meet my needs.  I didn't believe in myself, so I didn't expect anyone else to believe in me.  It was an unhealthy, as well as unattractive, trait.  I behaved in a way that said, "I would never require you to treat me well," by volunteering - volunteering! - to do double the amount of work with half the resources.  When I got wise to my own behavior and insisted on more, to him it must have seemed like I was breaking character, and since he was satisfied with what I once gave freely he didn't want to change - he liked it the way it was, and *I* am the one who agreed to live like that initially.  Well, news flash, I don't feel like that any more.  I am more proud of myself, and my character, than ever before.  I actually think I've got something pretty special to offer, and I bring that to the table.  I think I know how to teach people to treat me, and I'm okay with walking away if they don't treat me the way I want to be treated.  I taught Bryan how to treat me, and I taught him the wrong stuff.

*  I did not stand up for myself and stop unhealthy behaviors before they grew out of control.  There were serious warning signs after we got engaged, but I went ahead with the wedding.  When we were first married, there were really serious signs of trouble, and when I brought them up and he resisted conversation, I backed down and tried to sweep it under the carpet.  Denial is not a good coping mechanism, and it catches up eventually, and everyone pays.  Had I stood my ground - standing up for what I truly believe - the marriage might have ended sooner, but it also might have been saved. I believe I know how to stand my ground now.

*  When we dated, I tried to be who he wanted me to be, instead of being who I really was.  I watched more TV.  I went to fewer plays, and more restuarants.  I exercised less, and ate more.  I wanted a guy who worked out (as all my other boyfriends had), who did volunteer work, who cared about his job, who cooked, who went to plays with me, who hiked with me.  But I wanted him to like me, so I went along more with his lifestyle, thinking that surely the laid-back ways were just the early-love stage of things, and they'd change when it got serious.  Well, from his perspective, it was probably ME who changed.  He probably thought "Wait, we love spending tons of money at good restaurants!" when I said, "I'd rather eat at home so that we could spend the money on plays and concerts or travel," and he probably thought that my attention to health (diet and exercise) came out of the blue, when I thought I was being who I'd always been.  The lesson?  I need to be who I am from the get-go.  I didn't do him, or me, any favors when I went along with his way of doing things when that wasn't really me, and I didn't do either of us any favors when I expected him to change over time, too.

*  I keep running into a quote that says, "When someone tells you who they are, believe them."  When Bryan and I met, he told me he didn't ever want to get married, have kids, have the white picket fence.  I knew I wanted all of those things.  Over time, he changed his mind....or that's what he told me, and I really wanted to believe him.  Ultimately, I should have listened to what he told me up front.  He's not a horrible human being for wanting no responsibilities, or for enjoying laying on the sofa with a drink while watching TV, but it wasn't a good fit for me, and I chose it anyway.

So, yes, he screwed up.  He was not an ideal husband by any standards.  But this isn't about him, it's about me, and I screwed up too.  I wasn't ideal either, and I contributed to our problems.

I am determined to learn. I am determined to have the life that I dream of.  I have made so many positive changes in my life in the past year, and I am more "me" than ever before.  I do not know if deep romantic love is in my future, but I think it is.  I do not know how many more lessons I need to learn, but I know I'm trying.

Best of all, I'm finding some peace with who I am, and who I am not.  Whether my new understanding helps me to find a beautiful romantic relationship or not, it is gaining me joy in the rest of my life.  Owning my mistakes is painful, but I'm not as afraid of pain as I once was.

And just for the record - I am NOT beating myself up over this.  I have learned a great deal, and without the path I took, I wouldn't be who I am now.  And you know what?  I'm okay with where I am, and now that I've started learning the lessons instead of just fighting the awful fights of cancer and divorce, I can say with better clarity that those fires have shaped me, and that I am stronger, wiser, and kinder as a result of those experiences.  I do not regret marrying Bryan: being married to him gave me the best daughter I could have imagined up, and truly, sometimes she's like a spirit from my dreams.  And maybe, based on my childhood experiences, I needed to experience life with Bryan to learn the lessons that will bring me to the love of my life, the man of my dreams.  Or maybe I will learn to be fully satisfied without a partner, finding my satisfaction in a job well done, in family and friends, in travel, in volunteer projects that help make the world a better place.

Only time will tell.

But I'm glad this little exercise is done now!

Monday, September 10, 2012


Well, here I am, swimming.  I dove in, and sometimes I don't think I can see land but I'm still swimming.  The fact that I haven't drowned is an accomplishment, I think!

School has started, and with it, homework.  Mary Poppins had her first day with us today, and it was a rousing success.  Work is a bit crazy right now, but manageable.  I'm making lunches, walking the dog more days than not, keeping the house in decent order, holding my temper with Bryan and trying very hard to be Zen yet maintain boundaries (tricky territory).  There is doghair in the corners, a zillion projects left undone, but the important stuff is happening.

But oh dear God I am tired.

Friends came over all day Sunday, and one friend had a bit of a crisis and needed support until past Katherine's bedtime on Sunday, and though I was so glad to help her out, it exhausted me.  I needed down time with a book on Sunday - I'd actually planned for it! - and it didn't happen, which means that I started Monday by being exhausted.  Oh, and it was Bryan's weekend with Katherine, but I ended up having her all day Sunday....and he asked me to take her Friday night and part of Saturday too, but I said no.  On Saturday I had commitments that had me really busy and not relaxing at all, so I'd been counting on that Sunday downtime.

Which means that by this Friday I will be completely losing it unless I can pull of another miracle.

But to keep it in perspective....

One of Katherine's classmates lost his father this weekend.  The dad was young and healthy, but there was an accident, and now a nine year old boy has become fatherless.  Today grief counselors came to the school to help the kids.  Katherine told me only two people cried, and she was one of them.  Sensitive soul that she is, this does not surprise me.  I'm glad she's processing, that she could talk to me about it, that there was someone there to help.

Prayers for the family for whom nothing will ever be the same.  Prayers that the little boy will find comfort.  Prayers for the life cut short too soon.  Prayers for my sensitive daughter.  Prayers that I can keep perspective on my own problems, remembering how blessed I really am.

That's a lot of prayers for an agnostic Unitarian Universalist.  I might have to stop calling myself an agnostic if I keep this up.  Right now, though, I'm too tired to consider my own theology.  I just need the prayers.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Diving In

Well, I feel like it's all about to get calmer, at the same time that it gets crazier.  School begins tomorrow, and with it Katherine's activites for the fall begin, our new childcare arrangement begins (I think I shall call the wonderful new nanny Mary Poppins for the sake of this blog).

And getting up to make lunches, and working out homework, and piano practice, all start up too.

It's not too different from what I've been doing, but somehow it all hits home that this is how it is now, and that I have a lot of responsibility.  Somehow autumn seems like the real world, as if summer has merely been a dress rehearsal for all that is to follow.

Can I do it?  Yes, I believe I can.  But that doesn't mean that I'm not nervous about it.  I so desperately want Katherine to be well, to do well, to find success with her studies.  I want to believe that the ugliness of divorce is mostly behind her, and that she will thrive in this new life of ours.  The stakes are very high, and knowing that makes me nervous.

Deep breaths tonight; tomorrow I dive in.


On totally different note, I have a message for my future partner, the man of my dreams (MOMD):

Dear MOMD,
I feel like perhaps you are closer now than you have ever been before.  I'm not sure I'm looking for you, and yet I do long for you.  I believe that I will know you when I see you - your kindness, compassion, sparkling eyes, gentle strength, passion, and liveliness will reveal who you really are.  I know that you won't come until the time is right, and that I may have a good deal of work to do to ready myself for you, but please know that my arms, as well as my heart, are open and waiting for you. When you find me, I hope that you see a woman of strength, character, integrity, and passion.  Together, we will build a life with Katherine (and your child/ren) that is truly extraordinary.  I will try to be patient, and I will keep myself very busy, growing and learning, until you get here...but please know that my heart is open.  I can not wait to love and be loved by you.
Love and slow kisses, PollyAnna

Readers, I don't have a plan.  I'm avoiding online dating right now, and I don't have two minutes to go out and meet anyone, and I don't have any hot single men lurking in my circle.  An evening home alone often sounds better than going out after a long work week, and an evening with girlfriends sounds better than looking for guys in a bar - where will I find MOMD?  No, I don't have a plan.  But my heart, once under lock and key, is speaking louder than before. I'm listening.