Invictus…or I Decide My Response To The Darkness

IMG_0146I watched the movie, Invictus, last night…for the second time. No, I’m not going to review the movie, nor am I here to wax political about Nelson Mandela.  The poem, and the movie, resonated with me on deeper levels, more personal levels, for reasons of my own which are far removed from the movie.

Here is the poem:

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

~ William Ernest Henley

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Romance Is A Game Best Played On A Level Playing Field, Act 2

Continued from previous post….sfcablecar1

Sure enough, The Beau met Old Flame on Thursday night in San Francisco (liar, his phone was not off, duh!)

The Beau then took about 25 minutes to tell me something that really only required 5 minutes discussion and which I already knew anyway.  I kept wanting to interrupt and say, “Cut to the chase, please” but I refrained due to the remote possibility that I could be wrong and he could be telling me that he finally once and for all put it on the shelf with the Old Flame and wanted to move forward with me. 

I now understand the very definite advantage to going silent.  If someone is going to give me that kind of news, I’m not sure I ever want to sit through half an hour of hearing about how much fun they have with someone who is not me in what happens to be my favorite city in the whole world.  That was the most painful part.  Da** him!  Now I have to pick another favorite city. 😀

Apparently, The Beau and Old Flame (who is, get this, almost 21 years younger than he..I so knew my being only 11 years younger was an issue for him) picked up where they left off, but since she’s living with a fiance of 5 years that she’s supposedly leaving, and because she lives in Texas, there are complications.  Even so, before leaving her on Friday, he told her “If you’re leaving him, I’m interested in pursuing us.”

This, from a man, who couldn’t make a 90 minute twice a month commute work out with someone who has no five year live in fiance still in the picture.  

Yeah.  Like I said: When a man is into a woman….he knows, she knows and there is no obstacle too great.

5blarge5d5banimepaper5dwallpapers_range-murata_dioma1_6__thisres__70420Okay, so none of this came as any surprise to me, though it was painful because it was so disappointing on so many levels. I really liked The Beau. He travelled easily and by this I mean, he fit seamlessly (from our perspective) into our family. I absolutely know, and I speak with confidence from experience not from arrogance or wishful thinking, that we could have blended our families so easily. There was just a high level of mutuality, compatibility, communication and willingness to negotiate without giving ourselves completely up. And we agreed on expectations for behavior from the kids. He also had a wonderful way of calling the kids out respectfully, humanely and without overstepping his bounds, something that is such a must have for me. I think that is important in a relationship but especially when kids are involved.

But for all that The Beau really liked about me and he did “like” me, I was, for him, what the I.J. was for me. Everything, EVERYTHING about me for him stacked up in the “works for me” category for him, except one very important thing: chemistry (while we had it in spades, or so it appeared, it just wasn’t what he had with the Old Flame) .

In addition, The Beau simply was not emotionally available because he had a ghost from his past that just wouldn’t die. He has to follow his heart. I get it. I do wish him all the best.

I did tell The Beau this, “Remember way back when I told you my When A Man Is Into A Woman Philosophy and you disagreed with me?”

He nodded. hes-just1

I continued, “You just proved my point. You think nothing of trying to pursue something in Texas, when 90 minutes killed you with me. When a man is really into a woman….” I let my voice drift off. 

What could he say?

I told him, he needed to follow his heart ( like he needed or cared about getting my permission) and that I totally understood. (I really do understand and I wouldn’t want him hanging anywhere near me if any part of his heart is still somewhere else.)  I told him that I am disappointed but only because the way he feels about the Old Flame, is how I someday hope someone will feel about me and vice versa.  I am unwilling to settle on that score.  I reminded him that this is what I was trying to tell him a month ago, when the status of our “whatever we had” changed. I also told him, that I predicted he’d be married to her by the end of the year. We shook on it.

I also told him I was removing him and her from my Facebook. Not because I’m angry, but because I don’t need daily reminders that I came in second. Not that love and romance is a competition. It isn’t.  I don’t view it that way.  But I do not need reminders daily that I spent the last three months entertaining the idea there might eventually be something, when in fact, there never was the remotest possibility.  Ghosts who are not dead are fully capable of reincarnating themselves.  The real and vibrant living have absolutely no hope against the imagination especially when it centers around ghosts from the past and thoughts of what could have been.  In dating situations like this the the playing field is just.not.level.

Cue sad, romantic music.  Lights gradually dim as The Wild Mind sitting pensively at computer (stage right), picks up coffee mug, leans back in her chair and stares thoughtfully into space (somewhere stage left).   Curtain drops on Act 2 as music fades.

To be continued…

Life Sucks…But I Can See Clearly Now!

Life sucks.  Have you noticed that?  I mean, okay, it doesn’t always suck, but a lot of it really sucks.  The older I get the more I notice that more of life simply sucks.  Just watch the news.  Most of it is bad, even deplorable.  Think of this.  You are beatuiful and energetic when you are young but but you are also hopelessly stupid, naive and inexperienced or else you are so jaded and calloused as to be well, no fun.  Then, just when you have life sort of figured out, or more figured out than you ever have, you die.  So life sucks. 

There is this one aspect of life sucking that I was thinking about today.  Life sucks because it is filled with change and often this change is accompanied by loss and grief.  Every little change has encapsulated in it some sort of loss.  Even if the change is good and positive, there is some loss of the old way, the way things were, the way things have been until this specific change however grand or minute it might be occurs. Even if it means one must part ways with some preferred way of thinking about things, the change can be dramatic and can range from being merely uncomfortable to completely life altering.  Today, I experienced one such change which inconsequential as it might seem on the surface refracted shades of larger changes and the dynamic of emotion contained within those changes.  Change and transition which happen to us on a small scale each and every day and on a much larger scale, once or twice in a lifetime, can be pivotal  points in our lives.

 Today, I had to go to my eye doctor and have my eyes checked.  Now, my eyes are fine, but I’ve had glasses since I was 17 years old and probably should have had them earlier, based on the number of car accidents I was in before I got corrective lenses.  Maybe I’m just a crappy driver, but since the carnage inflicted on the auto industry diminished greatly after I started wearing glasses and my driving did not, I’m thinking I probably needed them long before I was 17.  Anyway, since then, about every year or so I have to go to the eye doc to get the peepers examined.  Today, was the day for that exam this year. 

But the sucky part was that it wasn’t my usual eye doctor anymore.  I’ve been going to the same eye doctor for about 15 years now.  He’s a great little Greek guy who’s been practicing in my area forever.  Certainly, long before my first husband and I moved here in ’93.  He’s funny, personable and competent.  He also houses his practice in this old two story craftsman style home that has been turned into office space.  The place is warm, inviting and quiet when you walk  in.  Though there are other customers in the place, you don’t know it.  There is this feel that you are the only person there and the only one that matters.  There are also pictures of Greece taken when my doctor would travel back each year to visit his family.  The white of the buildings and the blue of the ocean mesmerized me.  I always liked going early and sitting in the lobby and thinking what it would be like to be in that place, Greece.  Would the sun be warmer, would I be tanner, thinner?  Yes, I was most certain I would be  warmer,tanner and thinner if I were there.   I really liked those pictures.

My eye doctor is retiring.  He will not be practicing anymore after tomorrow.  I tried to get in to see him one last time and was unable to.  Instead, I had to book an appointment with the new offices that my doctor sold his practice to.  This is what sucks.  No more warm, cozy, two-story craftsman style home office building with mesmerizing pictures of Greece.  I now must drive to the other end of town to go get my eyes checked at a trendy, upscale Eye Center. Ugh. Flourescent lights, office carpeting, a big, huge waiting area that rivaled the Department of Motor Vehicles and pictures depicting the cross section of the eye instead of the coast of Greece.  Like I said, life sucks. 

So, after filling out my customary mountain of  insurance paperwork, which I guarantee is going to create more work for me in clarifying the transitional screwups that always happen when you change service providers, I sat and looked around.  I thought about this sucky part of life.  My eye doctor was really awesome.  I didn’t want a change here.  I wanted things to continue just as they always had.  I did not want my doctor to retire.  I mean, what’s he going to do to keep busy anyway? Go to Greece and take more pictures?  Well, he can’t hang them in his office anymore, so what good is that?!  In addition, I began to ponder how weird it is to get to know new people in settings like these where everyone is a stranger, in spite of the fact that I’ve lived in this community for 15 years.  I looked around and I realized I knew no one.  The folks in the other office all knew me by name and greeted me by name. They didn’t need to ask who I was, they just pulled my file when they saw me check in.  They knew me.  These people didn’t know who I was from Adam. Well, I’m sure they probably figured out I wasn’t Adam, or John or Harold either, but they didn’t know me, not really.

I also didn’t know how this system worked.  I mean, go here, fill out this paperwork, return it or don’t, or should I eat it after reading?  I had no idea.  Whatever, I filled out the paperwork.  I had a momentary urge to put some really hysterical off the wall stuff on the form when they asked about family history, alcohol consumption or smoking habits and what sex I was, but I decided to simply stay with the boring straight answers this time.  As if the paperwork wasn’t enough of a puzzle, just trying to figure out the layout of the place was a challenge.  I wondered if I were to start at the check in desk and someone were to shout go, how long it would take me to dodge down the first hallway and go through the whole place till I found my way back to the starting point.  It was a good thing that the assistant came and rescued me from my reverie at this point.

She led me back to the interior of the building, past a little additional waiting room and millions of little examination rooms.  This was not feeling comfortable at all.  Too sterile, too professional, too impersonal.  I was feeling kind of sad by this time. I know my doctor wants to retire, but why did this change have to feel like losing my home on some levels?  It reminded me that this town is growing so quickly and there is less and less personal interaction anymore.  I do not like this part of life.  The part where the people you love and care about leave and move on or, worse, die, really sucks.  Sometimes when someone I love leaves my life the pain is so real I feel it on a physical level, right in my chest.  It physically hurts.  Now, okay, I wasn’t this torn up about the retiring eye doctor, but it did feel like that when my marriages were disintegrating or my parents died.

So, with all this deep, philosophical introspection and musing going on I followed the pretty young lady assistant with a diamond stud in her nose back to the examination room.  I put my purse in the place she motioned to and sat in the big blue…or was it red…chair with the eye apparatus near it.  As she takes my chart and pulls up my information on the computer screen, we talk and I size up the place.  Okay, so far so good, no weird stuff here.  I figured out quickly why they hired her though, she could input that data fast! She was also personable and friendly and pretty.  Now, in spite of my fairly melancholy and somewhat negative musings, I’m a bit of an adventurer and though I regretted being forced into this particular change in this particular area of my healthcare at this particular juncture of my life, I’m usually up for a bit of adventure and I do like meeting new people and going new places.  There’s something about new and different that is good every now and then to change things up a bit.  So, before I knew it we were chatting away and she had figured out what my prescription should be and she had me fitted for new contacts.  Well, it wasn’t exactly that instantaneous.  I was there for three house, but it really didn’t seem that long even though I had to go to the little waiting room, get put in front of the refraction machine and then go back to the little waiting room then back to the original room and all that before I even met my new Eye Doctor.  But the assistant and I had a great time.  We determined that the monovision correction I’d been using for the last two years, which required I carry a pair of granny glasses around on a chain around my neck in case I should ever need to read a book or a menu while I had my contacts in, was not the most effective method of correcting my distance vision.   Duh!!! Instead, she suggested I try this kind of contact lense with multifocal correction in it.  It essentially operates like the old bifocal but corrects for distance, mid-distance and near.  I looked at her stunned.  “This is possible?” I asked.  She nodded.  I asked about pricing, and it was only slightly more than the contacts I’d been using.  I mean, the idea of not having to have a pair of reader glasses in my purse, at my bedside table, at every location in my classroom and in my home where I might need to read something up close will not only save me the extra amount these contacts cost, but just the freedom of not having to pack around granny glasses on a chain around my neck floored me.  I was ecstatic.  By this time I was beginning to really be glad my eye doc was choosing to retire. 

Then they dilated my eyes and I met my new Eye Doctor.  She was personable, professional and competent.  She looked nice but I had a hard time seeing her since my eyes were dilated and I thought she was kind of cruel to blast my eyes with that bright light thing but other than that she was alright.   I mean, I wondered what I was expecting, that she’d be some kind of monster? She wasn’t.  I would have much preferred that she be male, attractive, and single and really into me but, hey, I can’t have it all my way can I?

Well, I left the doctor’s office today with my eyes so dilated they hurt.  I stumbled, sort of, out to my car and put on my sunglasses and sat and thought for a moment. What things we can learn from the most benign events in our lives if only we pay attention and observe. Four hours ago I was bemoaning the sad but normal changes we all experience in life.  Four hours later and I can see perfectly, both distance and close up and I’m not having to reach for my granny reader glasses.  Life is funny.  It’s downright strange and bizarre.  Life does suck.  There are parts of it that are so painfully sad that I’d almost rather not live it.   (Okay,  I’m not suicidal, please, even though when given the option I will usually choose to avoid the pain rather than face it head on…I hate pain so much I could never do myself in…it would simply hurt too much, besides, it’s a fairly permanent solution to what, I’ve found, are mostly temporaray problems.)  I hate goodbyes.  Having my eye doctor retire, not being able to go to his office in that nice craftsman style home with the pictures of Greece on the walls and where everyone knew me by name felt a bit like what I’d imagine being shoved out of my home as a kid before I was quite ready to go would feel like. It sucked.

But there’s an up side. The up side is this:  I now can see clearly and I don’t have to use Granny glasses and I’m not in pain.  I’m so going to love that!  I mean just the thought of it, let alone the reality of it, is enough to make me feel twenty years younger.  In addition, I’m not fumbling around half the time trying to adjust from one visual task to another.  And I don’t have a headache.  This is the best part of it.  I am not experiencing pain like I was before.

Now, silly as it seems, this little routine somewhat undramatic (or maybe a bit overdramatized)  change in vision doctors revealed a timely lesson for me.  Sometimes the pain, loss and corresponding grief we go through in life are necessary for our greater growth, development, ultimate maturity and improved vision.  (If I were writing to a strictly religious Christian audience this is where I’d insert any number of Bible references and there are many which would apply.  Those folks will know what they are so I’ll skip that part for now and let them provide them if they are so motivated.)  Any one of the maybe eight or ten people following my blog regularly will note that I’ve bemoaned my dating fate of late with folks going silent and perfectly good candidates opting out.  True, I haven’t shared the number of times I’ve opted out first, but, be that as it may, the dating life has been sucky and painful just as the eye doctor thing was painful and sucky…at first.  But here’s the thing that crystallized for me today.  The pain I experience or the sadness or, better, the disappointment I experience, only serves to help me clarify for myself what it is that I’m about in this journey we call life.  People opting out, aren’t necessarily a rejection of me, though it does feel that way for a few minutes.  It’s life.  My eye doctor didn’t retire because he didn’t want to provide services to me anymore.  How ludicrous is that thinking?  Yet that is exactly the logic behind the woe is me mentality that bends us up into knots when something we thought could really be great or was really great doesn’t work out.  Whether it is a dating relationship, a marriage, a career or a healthcare provider, all these things are just other people making choices that impact us.  Our value is not determined by their choices.  It is  painful to lose something that was wonderful, fulfilling,  warm, cozy, beneficial and positive.  It is painful to lose the familiarity of someone knowing my name and having a cute, cozy office with Greek pictures on the wall.  It was wonderful pondering the possibilities that might have transpired had any number of those wonderful men not gone silent. But it was simply not to be and because of it my vision is improved.  My vision is improved because I now see more clearly what I’m about in relationship and I see much more accurately the great qualities that I do hope Mr. Right, if he appears, will possess.  I also see much more clearly and with less pain and effort physically because I was able to change doctors and benefit from improved technology and service. 

I think there are greater lessons to be extrapolated here.  Simply put, sometimes we have to wade through some misery to figure out what doesn’t work so that when we come face to face with what does work, we recognize it.  One of my Christian friends was talking to me the other day and he said, “Check it out.  God gave Adam the task of naming all the animals before He brought Eve into the picture.  After looking all the animals over, Adam probably had a really good idea that none of those were a good fit for him and he was better able to recognize/appreciate  Eve’s beauty and fit for him because of the process God took him through”.  Now, I know, sounds a bit churchy, at points, but the idea still holds.  If we pay attention, we learn.  We learn what works and what doesn’t.  We learn how to be better people.  We learn to recognize those things and people that  are healthy and positive for us and those who are dangerous and toxic and we are able to make this determination with increasing effectiveness, accuracy and efficiency…but we must experience some pain in order to get there. 

That’s the part about life that sucks the most: going through the pain to learn how to avoid it, but, to be honest, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, because, guess what, now I can see!!!!  In so many ways beyond just my physical vision, I can see!    I love the freedom, the confidence and the convenience that this improved vision brings.  For example, I’ve been at the computer for hours now and no headaches and I can see perfectly, without taking out my contacts or using Granny glasses. It is worth enduring the suckiness to benefit from the lessons.  Of course, I’d never say that while the lesson is being taught.  I, like many others, will drown in the misery, but, unlike many others, I’ll be watching, listening, thinking and learning all the while.  I’ll be glad when I’ve finally aced the test. So, while life sucks, I guess it isn’t completely for naught.  I’ll take the suckiness to gain the vision. 

I’m still going to miss those pictures of Greece though.

I Have That Sinking Feeling He’s Going Silent

There it is again.  That sinking feeling that he isn’t going to call.  He is just going to “go silent”.  Not a good-bye.  No explanation, if one could even be given after just four dates.  Nothing.  Silence.  Thud.

The worst part is that I thought we were really clicking.  I mean, he had to drive two hours each day to see me. And, he did it without me suggesting it.  In fact, I worked hard to discourage it knowing it was quite a drive in addition to putting in a full day of work.  When we were together the time seemed to just fly by and those are his words not mine.  Then, the night before I had to leave town since the conference I was attending ended the next day, we said our good-byes.  Okay, I’m not going into detail as to how we said them, but, suffice it to say, that there was nothing in the parting that indicated he would not be continuing to pursue knowing me as much after meeting as he had the entire six weeks before.  But, I returned home and no call, unusual in itself since he was hammering me with emails and IMs before we met.  I zipped him a nice friendly email, thanking him for taking time out of his schedule to spend with me, letting him know once again how much fun I had.  It was short, sweet and nice, but no response.  Nothing. Silence. Thud. 

That sinking, sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that comes from feeling fooled by my emotions or by another human being.  I’ve met quite a few folks over the last year.  I generally know what I want or what I’m looking for (as if dating were like going to the grocery store and I’ll just find any number of them sitting on the shelves or in a display case).  I really know more of the kinds of things, perspectives, attitudes, behaviors, lifestyle choices, habits that won’t work for me in a long term relationship. I also know more of what will.  This person, without a doubt, moved over into the “definitely has potential” category. I began to let my mind think, “maybe” and “I wonder” and “hmmmm, what if?”  and then, he went silent. 

There is that sickening, thick, heavy, flat, painful feeling that comes from not understanding what went wrong or why. No email, nothing, not a phone call even.  Certainly not the instant response I’d been getting over the last six weeks that indicated he was checking emails and my blog regularly to hear from me or read the latest post. There was a text every morning before I went to work and connection, in some form, four or five times a day.  It was the textbook “when a man loves a woman there is no doubt” scenario. Then he went silent. 

It was a definite and noticeable change in temperature, but I saw none of it coming while I was with him. Silence. Then, a couple of days later, I get an email from him.  Short, to the point, impersonal, but also nothing about the status of things between us from his perspective either.  He simply said he is going out of town to visit his adult kids out of state and will be gone for four days.  No further noise from him since. Silence, Thud. 

Unusually silent on his part.  And…for the fourth time since May…I have that sinking feeling that things will not be working out or moving forward…and I have no idea why.  None. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if there was no real interest on my part, or if there hadn’t been some considerable time getting to know the person and, here’s the biggie, if I hadn’t let my heart start opening up to the possibility that this might have the potential to be something interesting.  I find the entire process, exhausting and not a little painful.  It is mostly annoying.   On one level, if I must be honest, it just flat angers me.  A six week, two month, three month relationship where the man spent all that energy and time making himself a very real and present force in my life only to go silent without a good-bye is appalling to me.  It floors me.  But then I am a woman, and I don’t understand how really handsome, together, intelligent men can deal straight up on a Wall Street Business deal and hide when it comes to love.  Going silent is like telling me that whatever we had did not exist.  It invalidates the time we spent together, and it marginalizes me.  You see, when I give someone the greatest gift I can give…which is my time…the very essence my life and his is made of…it is dehumanizing when I don’t even receive the courtesy of a good-bye. 

I know mentally, this is just the way it is.  In each of these situations I’ve experienced this year,  nothing was really invested (except my freaking heart…but no big deal there right?).  All the relationships were in their infancy stages so, best to bail early rather than not bail and wait.  And…in all these cases…no one was obligated either way.  But that’s not the point.  It still feels bad.  It feels worse than rejection, even though I know mentally it isn’t at all about me, but more about decisions he’s making.  I mean, when I have to make the same choice to discontinue contact with someone, it isn’t so much about that person being a failure in Dating World or Life as it is just me recognizing that I simply for whatever reason cannot move forward with this person.  Since I know it, I need to act on it.  I’m certain these men all felt the same way too.  They saw something, felt something, knew they couldn’t go forward and had to act on it. It’s about them making right choices for them.  It’s not really about me. But it still feels bad and it feels especially bad when they don’t say anything, if even by email, and, instead I am kept wondering, wondering, wondering…what happended.  It is dehumanizing, demoralizing and discouraging. 

In the silence, wondering what happened, experiencing that sinking feeling, until one day, several days later or maybe a week (but I’ve become good enough at recognizing the trend the minute the first text message is missed), it becomes clear that they have not contacted me, and they will not ever again contact me.  Thud.  They are simply just not that into me…worse…I wasn’t even important enough to earn an explanation, email or otherwise. Sigh.  Sick Feeling in the stomach. Regretting what is now, all the wasted time and time is the very essence my life is made of.  Moving on. Taking a deep breath and moving on. 

Doesn’t anybody out here in adult dating world over 40 have a conversation any more?  What is so wrong with saying kindly to someone that you don’t think you’re going to be able to continue things further and releasing them from the possibility that they spend the next day, or two or  week or so of their life wondering what happened or if it even really did happen?  I mean, don’t kid yourself, we’re all really good at making excuses and giving others an out. Women are especially good at making excuses for men and their poor behavior.  He could be really busy, he’s catching up for time missed at work, he’s blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.  And this is how days are emotionally wasted when one could be spending the time mentally, emotionally moving on.  The reality is….there is something to that book, “He’s Just Not That Into You”.  Men know how to use the phone, they know how to express that they care, they are not timid, they will contact a woman if they are interested enough in her.  If they don’t…they aren’t.  If he doesn’t where I’m concerned…he isn’t…and I simply don’t have time to waste wondering or worrying about that…and the fact that he didn’t even say good-bye says more about his character than it does about my foolishness for actually taking a risk and momentarily believing in the cad.

So I’m thinking, that in every instance, where I’ve experienced this sinking feeling, I’ve been 100% correct.  I’m not going to sit around (like that was happening anyway) even one second more and wonder.  As far as I’m concerned all I know is what I’m experiencing right now.  What I’m experiencing right now has cast enough doubt in my mind as to make my decision clear.  I don’t want to be stumbling around wondering what’s up ever again.  I spent far too much of my last marriage dealing with the silent treatment, and this propensity in an individual, where I’m concerned, lands them squarely in the “won’t work for me” category. 

Let the silence continue.  I’ve got life to do and I’m not waiting around for the silence to end before I do it.

Negotiating a Divorce And Trying To Read The Crystal Ball

Today I tasked my students with attempting to begin their personal narratives in an interesting and creative way.  Now, it’s my turn and I am stuck.  How to begin? 

It was a dark and stormy night….na…taken, overused.

On Wednesday I was talking to a friend of mine….boring.

Hmmm, it is easier said than done.  It’s always easier to tell others how to do something and to give examples, but when it comes down to doing it yourself, it can be a much more challenging task.

This is how it is for me when I talk to my friends who are going through divorce.  I’ve been through divorce twice myself, but I also went through a custody trial on behalf of my second ex before he was my ex.  That means three times, I’ve needed to retain attorneys to resolve affairs of the heart that went bad and involved children and houses.  Once I settled out of court, once I experienced a two day, very tense and humiliating trial at the end of which I had no solutions and $30,000 less to my name.  The third time, the opposition never showed up so the judge ruled in my favor and  my attorney still stuck me with the bills.  None of these experiences was what I’d consider fun.  I never want to go there again. 

I hate to see my friends go through the pain, the anxiety, the fear, the tension, the complete range of unhappy emotions that come with negotiating anything in the legal realm, especially in family law.  It is so agonizing to stand by and listen and watch my friends knowing that I didn’t like what they are experiencing when I went through it.  It is painful to care for my friends and to see them experience such doubt, uncertainty, and angst.  It is hard to not be able to help in any way other than to sit by and listen.  Giving advice based on my experiences wouldn’t even be relevant because every situation is different.  The stakes are always high, as are the emotions but the nuances and possible consequences of all the negotiations are never just a simple black and white.

Even so, there are some things I’ve learned that I wish I would have known before going into the process and while enduring the process.  These are the things that are on my mind right now.  I’m airing them as much for me to revisit and clarify what I’ve learned and where I’ve travelled and why as much as to put it out there for anyone who might benefit from it.

I am not an attorney and none of this is intended to in any way replace the counsel of a good attorney. I am not a psychologist and I cannot give that kind of advice either.  All I’m really doing here is sharing what happened to me, what I wish I’d known or done differently.  Maybe it will help others maybe it won’t.  I’m really not all that concerned about that.  I just need to sort out for myself the jumble so I can be clear about the paths I chose and where they are now leading me.

One thing I wish I would have done in every case is wait and not panic.  This is not always possible.  When you are in the legal battle with someone you used to be very intimate with but with whom you cannot bear to be allied for a moment longer, waiting is especially hard.  Waiting is especially difficult if the person is abusive, dangerous or volatile.  Until you have that signed document you are still linked to that individual to some degree. It makes waiting nearly impossible, especially when the longer you still have the married label the further and more thoroughly the other person can destroy you financially, emotionally, maybe even physically.  When this is the situation, and you must wait, panic can eat you alive and prompt you to make decisions you may later regret. In my case, I made many good decisions, but there are some that I wish I’d waited on.  I wish I’d asked more questions of my attorney.  I wish I would have considered negotiating some other areas more thoroughly.  It might not have made a difference, but then again, it might have.

I also wish I could have seen more clearly how the deal I was negotiating then would affect my future which has become my present.  I think I did a very good job of this when considering the children.  I think I should have thought through it all a little more on the financial end.  I wish I could have seen a little more clearly then how it all would impact my future in post-divorce life.  How closely will I be connected and for how long will I be linked to this individual in the years to come? How much communication will be required between the two adults in question and is the amount required even going to be possible given the nature of the relationship?  As long as there are kids and money involved the chains still linking me to my past relationships are there even if they are invisible most of the time.  This sometimes negatively affects my present peace of mind.  Sometimes I wish I would have done this differently, though I’m not sure even now what that “differently” would be. 

 And this is the trouble with divorce, especially if there is a huge breakdown in communication, which it seems there usually is.  Because there are so many unknowns, so many possible and probable different outcomes, trying to see how my present decisions will impact my future life was a lot like gazing into a crystal ball and seeing nothing but formless shapes and figures among the misty haze. It simply isn’t possible to anticipate the future in every instance.  I think the people who are really good at computer programming could come up with a program to identify all the potential variables, courses of action and potential outcomes, but who has time or patience for that?

The best thing I did (and maybe the best any of us can do) is to  listen carefully to my attorney (get a second or third opinion if we need to) and try not to let our emotions rule.  The best we can do is to do the best we know how to do at the time.  In the end, I just had to move forward in confidence, knowing that I couldn’t know all the possible outcomes.  I had to forge ahead making decisions based only on the pieces of the puzzle that I could see and that my attorney could see. I forced myself to believe that it would all turn out okay, even when I was plagued with fears of the “what if’s”.  What if I lose the house?  What if I can’t make it financially?  What if, what if, what if…. There were nights I tossed and turned with the angst.

As it turned out, as most things turn out I’ve learned, most of what I feared never came to pass.  It ended up in some ways, in most ways, far better than I could have asked.  It ended up in a few ways more difficult than I imagined.  I simply did the best I knew how to do at the time.  It has to be good enough. This is the biggest lesson I take with me as I move forward into each day: I will be okay if I just do the best I can at the time.  When I get down and discouraged and starting thinking “I wish I would have” this is always the place I end up.  I did the best I could.  If I’d have known better, I’d have done better.  I just wasn’t able to read that crystal ball clearly enough, but it’s all turned out okay anyway.

Swirlies And The Problem With Interludes

I have the swirlies. I’ve just experienced an interlude.  Wasn’t planned.  Wasn’t expected.  Was fun. Very fun.  Not exotic.  Not spectacular.  But unusual, unexpected, and very, very unique.  It was signature.  It was classic.  It is the stuff good romance stories are made of whether they end in happily ever after or not…and not all of them do.  But now, it is post-interlude and I have the swirlies.

The swirlies.  It’s that state of mind, hmmm, maybe that state of emotion too, where everything’s  in motion.  My thoughts, my feelings, my reactions, my motivation, my thoughts, my feelings, my reactions, my motivation…all of it is just swirling around like leaves in a breeze. The wind’s not blowing hard enough to just clear the yard of all the leaf matter.  Leaves are in motion, spinning, floating, dangling, coming to rest momentarily, then getting picked up again by the next breeze that floats through.

This is my state of mind this morning.

I’m filled with thoughts.

I’m fill with emotions.

I can’t sort any of it out.  I’m not really even sure I want to. 

I can’t keep any of it still for more than a moment or two and it all comes bubbling right up to the surface again.

I have to go back to work tomorrow.  Correction.  I have to go back to work today.  Because there is laundry to be done, a house to be cleaned, bills to be paid, and children’s needs to meet.

But I am filled with emotions and thoughts and my own needs.  I have my own questions.  I wonder.  I doubt.  I fear.  I hope.  And, none of it will settle.  I want.  I do know this.  I know what I want and that is not swirling.  Everything else is swirling around that. 

I have my own wishes…and my own regrets.  I wish I could have….I wish I’d said…I wish I’d asked…I wish.  I regret that I didn’t…I regret that I did…I regret…

And I wonder.  I wonder what.  I wonder if.  I wonder why. Will there be the opportunity for a re-do?  What if there isn’t.  Why?  Why not? What? What if? 

I also fear.  I fear the if…the when and the why.  Maybe, especially the why or worse…the why not.

Thoughts dash in and then out and back in.  They are swirling, roaming, floating, dashing, fleeing, swirling.  I have the swirlies inside. 

It is evident that today I will not get any answers.  I don’t even know if there are any answers to be had. For that matter, I can’t even pin down the questions.   So without questions, answers make no sense anyway.

I will not get any nearer knowing or resolving or settling anything today, I don’t think.  The leaves in my mind just refuse to be raked and bagged.  I am certain that it is going to be a waste of time to even try to address the tumbling mess of emotional and cognitive matter moving messily about my wild mind. 

So, I am going to give up and go do something else. 

Like laundry.  And making breakfast.  Or preparing for work tomorrow. 

Or any matter of other really normal, routine, business-as-usual things that I would be doing anyway….if the last three days hadn’t happened.  And that’s the problem with interludes. 

The really good ones can’t be planned.  They come as a completely unexpected surprise.

And, when they are over….

When they are over…the return to reality can be almost painful. 

Because a really good interlude, especially one that isn’t planned or scheduled, can put one in touch with what really matters.  And sometimes, it’s just hard to get back to the laundry after that.

Who Says Real Estate Is an Investment??!!!!!!

I am ready to sell this freaking fixer upper at a loss just to get out of it.  I am sick of all the little crap that goes wrong that I have no idea how to fix.  To figure it out takes days, weeks, and costs millions of lives.  I can’t do this any longer. 

I had a friend come in and fix the freaking drip in the kids’ bathroom which is the larger bathroom in my home.  Now, the hot water won’t freaking even turn on.  I am pissed.  Shuffling four children through my bathroom in a day (and my bathroom is the size of a broom closet and the shower alone only holds half a human being) is completely unrealistic. 

I’m thinking I want a rental, that I sign a forever lease on which keeps my rent the same, protects me from them selling the friggin’ property out from under me and requires the landlord to do the handyman work. 

The other option is to find and marry Prince Charming.  He only has to be good at three things:  home repairs, sex, and conversation.   Okay, it would be good if he picked up after himself and had a job.  Now, what the hell odds are those? 

I’m doomed!

Spinning

Stupid title.  I can’t sleep. My mind is spinning. I can’t concentrate or stay awake enough to get the papers I need to grade graded and yet, when I try to relax my mind keeps working.  Ugh.  This is what purgatory must be like.  You can’t rest but you can’t work either.  Ack!!!  I hate the end of the grading period…and election day and bill paying day happen to coincide.  Sometimes I just dont’ want to make any decisions.  Today, well, tonight would be one of those times.  So, I’m going to head to bed and hope that I can grade all the papers tomorrow afternoon/evening and still meet my deadlines.  I swear, I’m cutting it real close this time…but my mind is spinning and my heart is racing.  Sigh.

With Gratitude I Hear My Neighbors Fight

I wrote this poem as part of a writing assignment the same summer I separated from my ex.  Summer 2007.  The assignment was to take the first line of someone’s poem and create your own poem from it.  I, for the life of me, do not remember who the author is to credit this beginning to…but, I’ll figure it out and post it soon.  In any event, I certainly don’t claim the title or the first line as my own original work and I am greatly indebted to the original author for their inspiration.  I’ll do my homework and post the information soon.

With Gratitude I Hear My Neighbors Fight

 

With gratitude, I hear my neighbors fight

Two campsites over

I didn’t know what it was at first

The music of muffled comments

floating through the air

gradually growing in intensity but not too loud

Short staccato vibrations in the otherwise

still summer night.

There syncopated beats

Sneaking in through the window of the travel trailer

I borrowed from friends

 

Looking out, my eyes see the silent, lifeless shapes

of an RV park asleep

A place for happy families vacationing from their real lives

A make believe journey they can escape

by simply packing up

and going home.

They can choose to stay or leave.

 

But not me…for now,

for me this is not vacation

This is real.

Late at night,

in the deep, dark, noisy night

Semis rushing by, air brakes blasting

Their noise chases sleep when it tries to land nearby

Disturbing the silence

Not a hundred feet from my flimsy door.

This is not a vacation, it is my real life.

 

For now it is my escape

From a living nightmare

A nightmare I thought would never end

It is a refuge from hell

A halfway house for my kids and I as we flee Hades

This this is where we live…for now

But this is not our home.

 

With gratitude, I hear my neighbors fight

Two campsites over

the music of muffled comments

Sneaking in through the window of the travel trailer

I borrowed from friends

 

And for now, I know we are safe.

And I hope we will soon be home.

Peeved about the Plumbing

I’m in the process of reading Upton Sinclair’s book, The Jungle, about the Chicago meat packing industry.  Jargis, the main character, heads to America to make his fortune and is met with misfortune after misfortune after misfortune.  He seems to survive but just barely and gradually becomes the worse for the wear.  He ultimately falls in with what Sinclair dubs as “high class criminals” and things get better for him but only because he resorts to criminal acts. 

I once heard it said that it was not money that corrupts, but poverty. 

I have not had a happy experience reading Sinclair’s book.  But at the same time, I’ve been immensely relieved reading this book.

It is depressing, nothing goes right, the people Jargis love all die and he has to give up his morality and decency to survive. 

His struggles mirror my own over the last year and a half all too closely.  At the same time, this book  descriptively elaborates for me that not only could my situation be far worse, it describes in painful detail just exactly how much worse and in what ways. 

After two really poor marital choices, I am in the same boat many people my age are.  I’m over 40, single and reeling financially from a divorce that left me with more month at the end of my money than I care to experience.  I own my house, but I couldn’t sell it for what I owe.  It is a real fixer and needs more work done to maintain it than I can afford right now, and not being handy, the task of learning to do any of it myself is nothing short of overwhelming and terrifying.  Of course, tonight the drains backed up as they usually do at this time of the year because of roots growing into the drainage pipes. I can’t call the plumber because it would be extra charges and I just paid all the bills and there isn’t enough left over anyway.  Hmmm, which bills do I pay late on now?  This last year and a half has felt like one onslaught of financial disaster after another and with four children at home, it isn’t like I can get a second job in the evenings. It’s been a tough year. In many ways, I feel the hopelessness of Jargis, working and working and falling further and further behind.

On the other hand, my experience is vastly different than Jargis’ and I am grateful.  I haven’t had any of my children die.  I get paid pretty decent wages, which, as the debts get paid off will become more than they seem to be now. And, unlike Jargis, I am making progress in a positive direction, just not as quickly or painlessly as I would otherwise wish.  I’m not transplanted to another country where I don’t know the language and the rules of the society.  I enjoy my job and do not have to do dull labor day in and day out. I do own my own home and don’t have to worry when a landlord will evict me because they want to sell their home.  I am able to make my payments and foreclosure is not a reality for me, like it is for so many others across the country in these discouraging economic times.  My experience is nowhere near Jargis’ on so many levels and as I read this book, I am more and more appreciative of the times I live in and the fact that I really do have so much. 

I’m still really peeved that the drains backed up tonight. 

I wonder if, when I look back on this period of my life, I will remember it as Dickens said, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” ?