Divorce Transitions or How To Slay a Dragon—Another Year Later

Costumes_Halloween_Lady_Dragons I wrote this last year at about this time of year over on my other blog. It is rather lengthy so I’ve broken it down into a series of several posts.  Those of you who have been through the divorce process and are trying to heal up after it, might have some very significant and quite possibly different perspectives to share.  If so, I hope you’ll leave a comment.  I certainly don’t profess to have the only valid experience.  I only share mine and what was helpful for me.  I love hearing what others found helpful.  I know my readers do too!

I spent most of my childhood growing up in rural eastern Oregon.  My family lived in the same home from the time I was in third grade till after I graduated from college.  We drove the same ’68 Chevy Camaro and never had another car.  My mother had the same job in the same office building across from the county library until she retired many years after I was grown and beginning my own family.  My grandparents lived across the river in Idaho, a mere six miles away.  They owned a department store in town where I spent my pre-school years hiding in the racks peeking out at customers from behind the clothes.  It was a stable, predictable, secure childhood.  Very little ever changed.  It was not the kind of beginning that exactly prepares one to deal with the transitions that come after a marriage ends.  But, if we are fortunate, and I was, we should not be preparing for such sad events.  There just weren’t that many dragons to slay back then…and…I guess that’s a good thing.

clocks-med Change is the only constant.  This is never more true than when going through a divorce, when emotions run high and everyone is running scared at some level.  Everyone, except the attorneys and the dragon.  They are running to the bank.  (Sometimes I think I am definitely in the wrong career.  Hmmmm, is it too late for a law degree?) Even so, I am grateful for a good attorney who helped me see the issues clearly and without emotion.  The dragon is bigger and has the fire-breathing capabilities.  You can easily determine where the dragon fits in your own analogy.  For me, it was a volatile and completely unstable partner who was an incredible con artist and who had everyone believing (including myself) that I was the crazy psychotic problem child.   

Phase 1–Acceptance

This is the first transition and probably the most difficult in divorce:  accepting that the marriage is over.  Accepting that one partner wants out badly enough  to formalize the dissolution legally can be a difficult and heartbreaking reality to grasp.  Whether you are the one initiating the divorce or the one having to accept that your partner is saying, "I’m out!",  the very first step is to accept that no matter what happens, when the dust settles you will in fact be divorced.  Nothing else but this will be certain as you head into the process of negotiating like you’ve probably never in your marriage or maybe your life negotiated before. It is not unlike dodging the fiery blasts of the dragon’s anger as you attempt to defend your kingdom. The finances, the assets, the kids, the child support, the alimony and the acrimony will all be undetermined until the judge raps his gavel or until the two of you sign out of court. Until then, you just don’t know how the dragon will move, twist, or turn.

BooksandGavelA_jpg When I walked in to see my attorney…a good two years before I actually retained her…she told me these words, "Look, I can’t assure you of anything except that by the end of this you will be divorced."  She was right, and despite what is oft said about attorneys, she was honest, direct, a great strategist and she advocated on my behalf.  She helped me negotiate the frightening web of legalities to ensure the best possible outcome for my children and I.  She was there to negotiate some of those transitions for me.

Plan on the transitions.  Expect them, anticipate them, negotiate them and then live them.  My attorney helped me plan and prepare for the first phase of transitions but I had to first face the reality that nothing I could do was going to change the eventual outcome.  Armed with this knowledge I was able to take a more active role in determining and shaping my own post-divorce world.

If you are at this place in your life and the inevitable is going down, I encourage you to begin doing your own research.  Find out what the laws are in your state or county.  Find out how property is usually divided and how the courts generally treat custody and parenting issues arrangements.  Your attorney can be a valuable resource in this area.  You can also do your own homework.  There are many great resources on the internet. 

It helped me to think of life in three categories: the things that were non-negotiable for me, the things that I could easily give up, and the things that fell in between these two extremes. It became a matter of prioritizing.  When it came to negotiating with the ex, I knew clearly what I had to barter with and what wasn’t up for negotiation from my perspective.  This ended up being irrelevant for me as my ex didn’t even show up for the hearing and the judge ruled everything as proposed by my attorney with some added stipulations making it more difficult for the ex should he seek to drag me back to court in the future. This, however, is extremely rare.  Expect a battle and arm yourself intelligently and thoughtfully for it.

 

Old Maids and Fairy Tales

This post originally appeared on my MySpace blog in 2007 back in the day when I actually maintained a MySpace page.  That was in the pre-FB days.  My, how things have changed!  I migrated this piece over to CABsPlace when I originally started blogging.  I’m moving it here now, because it is vintage Wild Mind thinking…with some minor updates. Let me know what you think. 

cinderella-stories-with-the-disney-princesses-8236784-800-600I was one of those misguided people who grew up with the idea that somehow the right way, or the good way or the proper way to do the "fairy tale" was to go to college, meet Mr.. Prince Charming, upon graduation get married and then begin doing life.  I was also under the misguided impression that if I wasn’t engaged by the time I graduated, my odds of ever getting married were rapidly declining and I was running the risk of dying an "old maid". 

Now, I have no idea where I came up with these absolutely ludicrous ideas.  I mean, my mother certainly didn’t instill those into me.  In fact, she was the one who constantly admonished me to spend time figuring out who I was, what I wanted and what I was about before even entering into marriage.  It was her voice that encouraged me to spend a few years after college being single and on my own so I could learn whatever I needed to learn to be able to stand on my own two feet.  My father agreed with my mother on that score and together they actually taught me to reason logically, value education and intelligence and to stand my ground in the face of adversity. 

Their relationship, at least from my perspective, didn’t look at all like the fairy tale I envisioned.  They got married after being divorced twice in front of the justice of the peace, for crying out loud!  No, white horse drawn glittery carriage for them.  Though, I have to admit that my dad, who was an amateur rock hound and who cut and polished his own semi-precious stones as a hobby, did all right where the ring came into play.  He cut, polished and had set the most beautiful blue sapphire I have to this date ever seen.  It was huge.  It was sparkly. It was some serious bling! It was gorgeous and it had fairy tale written all over it.  Come to think of it, it was probably as big as Cinderella’s carriage…but I digress.

My parents were practical, responsible, intelligent people.  They’d lived long enough to have the fairy tale beaten out of them. Or maybe they had learned along the way that the fairy tale exists, it just doesn’t always look the way the storybooks and Disney portray it.  Hmmm.

But…being young, headstrong and unwilling to consider (at least at that age) that my parents even had a clue about how to do life, much less that they actually made good choices in the romance department, I did not listen.  Instead, I forged ahead, dreaming of the day when my own fairy tale would be realized. 

Anyone who spoke to me of enjoying being single and seeking my own life independent of any man was received by me with the same response most folks would give Dracula.  I didn’t exactly pay them any heed.  In fact, I smiled nicely and avoided them like the plague.

Fast forward, two marriages, four children, and a quarter of a century later and I’m thinking my parents and all those well intentioned advisors may have had it right all along.  No, not may have, they did have it right all along.  Instead of seriously considering spending my 20’s discovering me and learning to be comfortable with me, which would have then later helped me to recognize Mr.. Prince Charming and make a more informed marital decision, I jumped into marriage.  I didn’t know him, I didn’t know me, I had no experience with which to make decisions and I was very miserable for many many years and it spiraled out of control less than 20 years in.  When I self-destructed as the result of my own self designed disaster, my "fairy tale" self-destructed.  You’d think I’d have learned from my mistake.  You’d think. But no, I tried to fix the first wrong, by committing a second one.  I married a second time only a brief two months after the ink was dry on my first divorce.  As you might imagine, thus began the nightmare from which I couldn’t awaken and it lasted for six long and terrifying years.

My parents had it mostly right all along. I should have taken my twenties to just get to know me as I am.  I should have taken the time, as my mother advised, to figure out what my likes and dislikes are…apart from parental admonitions.  Apart from a significant other’s overbearing demands.  Apart. Alone.  Me.  Unedited.

Now, today, here I am, a lifetime later (it seems), taking their advice.  I am, at 40+,  doing what I should have done 25 years ago.  I am a slow learner.  In the education world we call that the student who needs more time.  I guess, that’s me.  I needed more time…and now I’m taking it.  But, to be honest, it’s really not easy at this stage of the game. 

You see, when I was twenty, I had better odds of having more time.  In my mid-40’s, it’s likely, I don’t have that kind of time left.  There is the sense, in some ways, that time is running out, and, to be honest that worries me occasionally.  But it only worries me sometimes, not all the time.  I don’t dwell on it ever.  In fact, I have reached the point where I mostly don’t care.  I am no longer afraid of being the "old maid", because simply stated, the old maid doesn’t exist, and even if she does and even if I were her, after what I’ve been through, I can confidently say there are fates worse than that.  I’ve lived one of them already.  I’m not soon going to sign up for it again.

Young people today are waiting longer to get married and that, in my mind is wise.  Some, no many, are choosing never to marry, even though they could.  People are living longer, women even older than me are far more active for far many years than in past generations.  I look around and see many women who are single, divorced, widowed and I don’t see a single old maid among them.  I see people choosing life, enjoying life and making choices that work for them, because they know themselves well enough to say yes to the options that they know they can live with and enjoy.  They easily and without apology say no to the options or choices that would be unhealthy or damaging for them.  They do this because they know who they are and what their limits are.  This is a very good thing.

So, as the mother of three daughters and one son, I’ve worked hard to debunk the Old Maid myth and rewrite the fairy tale.  I’ve worked hard to encourage my children to be themselves and get to know themselves.  This requires some detachment at times as a parent.  It also requires skill in listening, accepting and keeping lines of communication open.  Critical, judgmental and harsh evaluations cannot be entertained.

Do I always enjoy hearing about my daughter’s latest agony with a guy she likes, a catty girlfriend who just betrayed her, or the relational stresses any of them might at any time be experiencing? Hmmm, no, sometimes it’s just too much information, but I’d rather she discuss it with me than not.  It also gives us the opportunity to practice taking a look at who she is, what she’s about, what her personal goals are and how all the noise around her fits into that.  In the end, I can’t walk with her into her fairy tale, but I can give her the tools to write it for herself in whatever manner she chooses. And, I can help free her from the Disney image of what that fairy tale must look like.  This is what I am doing with her and each of her siblings in turn.

As for me?

Well…sigh. 

I often think my chance at love, romance and enjoying life with Prince Charming may be well past.  I hope not.  As a realist, I have to entertain the idea that this just might be my reality.  I have to move on. I have to deal with me.

cameron_diaz_mike_myers_shrek_001If he does appear…my Prince Charming doesn’t have to fight any dragons or wake me with a kiss from an endless, enchanted sleep.  In fact, he doesn’t have to do anything. He just has to be honestly, to the core, himself.  No apologies.  I imagine when he finally rides onto the scene, I will be busy ruling my kingdom, he will be busy ruling his, and we will know ourselves well enough to recognize that what we have together has all the makings of a very fine fairy tail. It won’t look like Disney.  At this point, it might not even look as good as my parents’ fairy tale, but, then, it might look a whole lot better too. It won’t matter, with any luck we’ll recognize each other when we cross paths and we’ll know the fairy tale we want to create and we won’t hesitate to set about making it happen.

Until then, I’m defeating the scary dragons that threaten on occasion to consume my castle and my kingdom on my own, doing quite well at it and enjoying, well, almost every minute of it.

After reading that, I realize, it is probably geared mostly toward my female audience.  I’ve been doing some thinking though lately and my hunch is that men aren’t so “undesirous” of the fairy tale as we might be led to believe.  It might look different to a guy.  I don’t know. It’d be nice to hear what some men out there think about the fairy tale.  I think maybe we are all closer to being on the same page than we think about what we want and hope for in relationship.  What do you think?

If Life Were A Supermarket, Where Would I Find You?

Copyright CABrasseur, 2009

Some of you might know that I have another blog titled Welcome To CABsPlace. I’ve kind of let that dangle a bit as I try to clarify really what my own vision is for each of my blogs.  For now, I think I’ve decided to make CABsPlace more of my personal or family blog and have it deal more with parenting, home improvement, and single mommy stuff, while this one will address more adult themes of mid-life singles, divorce, relationships, dating, self-improvement and personal growth, as well as parenting.  To that end, I am going to start moving some of the CABsPlace Posts over here in cases where the content is more suitable for this blog.  This is the first of such posts.  You’ll know the original post content because the font will appear (hopefully) in a different color.  And, yes, I am taking liberties, at times to edit and enhance (this does not mean re-write) the posts when necessary.

I hope you enjoy these.  Some of them are my earlier works and it is interesting to see how much I’ve changed in my thinking and my writing in the last couple of years. Do, please, let me know what you think.  The feedback is incredibly valuable to me.  

The email comment read, “If life were a supermarket, I bet I’d find you in the desserts and treats aisle”. I pondered this statement momentarily, thinking, well that’s a pretty creative way of putting yourself out there.  However, I thought to myself as I gazed at the digital text, I’m not so sure that’s entirely accurate. I mean, desserts and treats?  Fun?  Yes.  Sweet and yummy? I like to think so in the right circumstances with the right kind of guy.  Complete fluff and no real relational nutrition?  Not so much.

I decided to rewrite myself as if my life were a supermarket. Where would one find me? Here’s my start to that creative question. 

Check out the decadent phallic symbols in this picture!

If life were a supermarket, I’d be in the desserts and treats section because I am fun, sweet, yummy, tasty and gooey and, at times, in the appropriate context with a suitable member of the opposite sex, very decadent.  I’d also be in the fine wines section because I am aging well and I deserve to be savored rather than gulped and tossed aside.  You’d find me in the the tri-tip steak section because I am tender, flavorful, tasteful and authentically real unlike the hot dogs or bologna slices you find in the processed lunch meats aisle.  You’ll  find me in the produce aisle especially near the dark green leafy vegetables, the mushrooms and the zucchini because I am really down to earth, health conscious, but not fanatical. You’d find me in the coffee aisle because the smell of fresh brewed coffees is more about ambiance that caffeine and mood is so important to a satisfying relationship.  You’d find me in the cleansers and detergent aisle because while I’m not OCD, I am definitely a bit of a neat freak and I like my home and my things and my children to be clean…as well as myself and my own clothing. Of course, you’d find me in the toiletries aisle, at some point, because like all good moms, I take care of the details and I’m prepared for any emergency. You would not find me in the fast food or chips and dip section, because I have a bit more substance than that. However, even I have been known on occasion to indulge in popcorn or cotton candy and even I, on occasion drink a beer. But I don’t frequent those aisles often and if you caught me there it would be a chance meeting indeed. You might find me in the section with wild jalapeno peppers because I can be hot and spicy.  You’d find me in the International Foods section because I love the world, it’s peoples and hope to travel to meet them someday in their own countries, at their own tables, in their own settings. In short, you’d find me in any aisle with food that authentic food goes well with fine wine, friends, good music, good times and the making of cherished memories…that is…if my life were a supermarket.

Now, if your life were a supermarket, where would I find you???

Have fun with this!  I look forward to your comments.

Early Morning Coffee

Beautiful Woman Enjoys Coffee This is a special time of year in spite of all its hectic pace, congested traffic, brawls over parking spaces, and time spent waiting in line to have gift wrapping done so you can support your child’s extracurricular organization. In spite of the added awkwardness and possibly uncomfortable and painful moments that arise when children spend their lives in two homes instead of one, this time of year is still something to be relished, cherished, savored, experienced. 

At this time of year, just like every other season throughout the year, I begin my day with my early morning coffee.  In fact, especially at this time of year it is a creature comfort of mine to wake early without the aid of alarm clock, while the house is still dark, pad barefooted out to the living room and turn on the Christmas lights.  All of them.  The lights on the tree, the lights under the tree, the lights on on the speaker, the lights above the piano, the lights on the bookcase and on the sofa table (which is not behind the sofa).

After turning on the lights, I stumble through the kitchen to the garage to let the dog out to the back yard; to her side of the back yard so she can do her morning business.  It is then that I get down to the important business of brewing my morning coffee.  While waiting for the coffee to brew (a task that seemingly takes forever), I start the fire.

There is nothing more wonderful, more peaceful and more serene than sitting on my couch looking at the serene glow of a festively decorated Christmas tree, coffee mug in hand, while the fire crackles and snaps warmly, reassuringly, comfortingly in the fireplace.  Surely, come what may, everything will be okay.

j0430486 In these early morning weekend hours, I build kingdoms, establish a million possible futures, rewrite my past mistakes while retaining all the lessons learned and never, ever do I write the kids out of the picture.  In these early morning hours, I consider how things were just two short years ago when I had to go begging food at the local church food pantries in order to keep food in my progeny’s bellies while paying off, what seemed an overwhelming and insurmountable mountain of debt; most of which wasn’t even mine. In these early morning hours, I reflect on how slowly but surely things have improved.  I appreciate the strength I’ve mustered from somewhere deep within to prune back all to the bare bones, to re-evaluate my life and adapt, adjust, reinvent when needed but mostly to just keep putting one foot in front of the other, one burned meal on the table after another and to simply show up and be counted in the world one more time for one more day, often, when I wished I didn’t have to.

I know I am not alone.  Not in my enjoyment of early morning coffee; not in my surviving divorce and the crushing financial realities that often follow. 

And, so, you see…the moments of this season that are lit with the shining light of gratitude, appreciation and mostly hope are to be treasured above all and enjoyed in quietness and solitude with an early morning cup of the dark, liquid brew we all know as coffee. 

j0441005 Plenty of time for the traffic jams, the long lines, the noise and the piped in holiday music that triggers my gag reflexes better than sticking my finger down my throat.  For now, it is me time.  It is the height of the holiday season here in my quiet little living room, fire warming the house, tree aglow and coffee warmth in my hands and on my tongue.  I’m thinking how bad it was and how far I’ve come. 

I’ve survived.  Till the next big thing anyway, but I’ve survived thus far.  If I can, you can too.  Just keep getting up every morning.  Just keep going to work.  Just keep doing the daily stuff.  Pretty soon it stacks up and things do get better.  They always change.  Misery and pain are never permanent.

Even though I can’t afford even the best deal on a new HDTV or the latest in iPhone technology, even if I can’t afford the latest killer deal on the surround sound theatre system or the family package trip to Mexico for the holidays, even if I’m going to have to continue watching every expenditure like the proverbial hawk for a few more years…I am grateful. 

And in spite of my inability to enter into the spending fray of the season with abandon, I’m still celebrating.  I’m still joyous and maybe even more so because I can’t “spend” on material things.  This situation I’ve found myself in has, as my mother would have once informed me, been a “blessing in disguise”.  I’ve learned to be so much more appreciative of what I have.  I value the little things so much more. 

The little things.  Like a red ornament hanging on a fake tree that was purchased without using a credit card or overdrawing the bank account. The little things like two siblings who usually tear each other down in sibling squabbles playing a board game together with me for hours without one demeaning comment. 

The little things, like a warm cup of coffee on a cold wintery morning with a warm fire blazing.  Coffee, mug and firewood all paid for. Little things.

The joy in my life and the contentment in my heart and my hopeful outlook about the future…not such little things. 

******

j0406570 Coffee Drinker’s Prayer?

Caffeine is my comfort; I shall not doze.
It maketh me to wake on early mornings:
It leadeth me beyond to get up and go to work.
It restoreth my energy:
It leadeth me in the paths of consciousness for its name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of the weary, overworked and under rested,
I will fear no Equal™ or other sugar substitute:
For thou art with me; thy creamer and thy stir stick, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a 20 oz. venti with an extra shot before me in the presence of  Starbucks:
Thou anointest my day with clarity, at least more than I would have had without you; my mug runneth over.
Surely aroma, flavor and warmth shall follow me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the Mocha Mansion forever.

Single Parenting and No Regrets?

“Never regret.  If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience.”  ~Victoria Holt

regretsNever regret.  Those words on the surface sound like a great way to live.  Live life so that you have no regrets.  The idea is great, the reality non-existent, I suspect.  I don’t think it is possible to live a life completely without regret.  I don’t think one needs to wallow in and torture oneself with regret either.  We can learn from our mistakes and our past, and move on but still be saddened by the way our past plays out in our present.  I for one, never wanted to be in my forties parenting four children alone.  Here I am and doing well, but it is not what I would have chosen.  I would have chosen a loving marriage that worked over single parenting any day. 

 A Nice Idea

When it comes to love, marriage, divorce and single parenting there’s an entire galaxy of regret to be realized. Regrets of time and emotion wasted, of poor choices, of insufficient self knowledge, of the realities that now face the person tasked with parenting a child or children alone without the help of a loving, supportive, participatory partner in a marriage that worked. Regrets of diminished financial resources and not being able to now provide the childhood experiences that you once hoped you could, not to mention the increased demands on the dwindling time and energyof the single parent.  Granted, this isn’t everyone’s single parent reality.  It is the reality for many, however.  Specifically, on many levels, it has been mine.  I don’t think I’m alone here.  When it comes to life after divorce, especially if that life now involves single parenting, the idea of living with no regrets is simply that: a nice idea.

Mixed Feelings About Single Parenting

I’ve recently come across a fellow blogger who seems to be a kindred spirit.  She’s walked the single parent road for much longer than I.  Her tour of duty in Single Parent World is just two years from being over, while I have a decade of duty left.  Her recent article titled, “Single Parenthood: How Do You Really Feel?” resonated with me.  I, too, am proud of what I’ve accomplished in the last few years, the stability and safety I’ve fought for and aquired for my children and I, and the slow, arduous climb back from financial disaster.  These are accomplishments I celebrate, but with every celebration there is that cloud of regret that hovers over the silver lining.  It’s a mixed bag.  On one hand I’d never go back to the nightmare I was living before.  At the same time, I prefer that I’d made better choices, known myself better, behaved better myself so that I could have avoided being in this place now.singleparenting

The regret is that while I am content in my life as a single parent it would have been far better for us all to be part of an intact family with a marriage that worked for us all than not.  Single parenting, while far superior to my previous reality, is not what I ever wanted for myself or my children and it isn’t the existence I’d choose even now had I any other choice, most particularly, that of sharing with a partner who fit us, who was loving and supportive and personally competent. 

Things Are Forever Different Now

 Things are different for the single parent.  For most of us, financial resources are much more limited, especially early on.  This reality hit me hard when I realized that I was not going to be able to put my children in piano lessons, soccer, volleyball, gymnastics or any other of the many activities they previously enjoyed. Not only was I not going to be able to put them in all the activities they previously enjoyed, I couldn’t put any of them in even one of the activities.  Do the math.  Even in my small community where things are less expensive than they would be in a larger city, the cost of dance lessons runs about $40 a month.  That alone is almost my garbage  bill. Multiply that amount by four. Add to that the increased time and fuel expenses involved in driving the children to their activities and the reality of making this happen on my own, without the financial assistance from the ex or transportation help from the same makes this an impossibilty for those of us saddled with the financial responsibilities of home ownership, debt repayment and without the assistance of large incomes or public assistance.  When I’m rationing milk to make it to the next payday, paying for piano lessons is not going to happen.  Things are forever different now.
 
 Traveling The Path
 
I’ve been a single parent for two years now and I have about 10 years before my youngest is launched, five years before I’m down to just one child.  I’m a good parent, not prone to allowing my home to deteriorate to disaster with food,dishes, dirty laundry and trash strewn everywhere.  My kids do chores, have their friends over on occasion, spend the night elsewhere on occasion and are involved in scMoving onhool activities and sports. I have a career that pays the bills and allows me time off with my kids most of the time that they are not in school.  Because of my parenting arrangements with my ex’s (yep, that was plural), I have regular time to myself with no kids.  For me, life in Single Parent World is far better than for most.  I can’t complain, and most of the time I don’t because I know, as with anything, it could be so much worse.
I deal with the same issues of fatigue, inability to have any kind of time to put together a decent meal that isn’t microwaved in some part, trying to spread limited finances, time, and energy among four (now three, one is at college, I remember now) other people and still have something left for myself.   My life, my children’s lives, are moving on.  Most of the time it is simply a matter of doing what I know I must and can do today.  The future is too overwhelming to contemplate, the past still too painful at points.  I often don’t feel as though I’m doing anything right and sometimes, for a few brief moments, I feel as though things couldn’t  be better.  Most of the time it is trial and error, guess and check as I find my way in this strange new world.  It is a way that while bumpy and steep, at first, seems to be smoothing out somewhat.  The path has leveled off, the terrain more appealing, the walk not so cumbersome, the weather far more mild most of the time.  Even so, it is not a path I travel without passing by brief moments of profound regret for what I would have preferred over this. 

Star Wars and Marriage?

Yes!!! Another analogy!  Yes!  Of course, it is about relationship!  That is after all what I do here. Admittedly, this one is darker than I usually tend toward, but, you must understand, I’m in kind of a wacky mood tonight and having fun with it.  In the past, I’ve tended toward the dark side out of sadness or momentary discouragment with dating or relationships.  I’m so not in that place tonight.   

 A friend sent me a song by The Human League and I went searching for it on You Tube.  I used to love this group back in the day but never owned any of their albums, tapes or CD’s.  As I was reminiscing via You Tube, I stumbled across this video. So, I started out doing something completely different and ended up here.  This was seriously a post with a mind of it’s own.

If you’re at all familiar with the classic Star Wars, you will appreciate this.  I think the entire video is analogous to a long term relationship in many ways.  You invest, you get through some awful stuff together, you go places together and it just doesn’t work out.  Seriously, what is up with that???!! 

Anyway, whether you agree with my analogous perspective on this one or not, watch the vid.  It’s pretty creative.  Enjoy!

The Writer’s Demise

Seriously, I don’t know how good (read paid and making it financially or aka J.K. Rowling and other) writers do it.

Okay, here’s the deal for me tonight. 

I have a million things spinning around in my head.  Several great topics started.  One…or two…almost finished.  Nothing ready to post.  This is not like me.  I usually post without thinking and that is painfully evident to us all…please do not comment on that reality.

But in the last 48 hours I have had…

….the I.J. break up with me (okay, really, really that’s good, because remember the post about that dating problem awhile back that got so much interaction?….Well….hahaha!)  Really, you so need to see the email, but…I haven’t had the freaking time.  He decided to break up with me (in a sense) and I decided to really do nothing about it…hmmmm…maybe I should have done something different?  But we’ll all never know because this week I have no time to sit down and write anything more thoughtful and creative than “I have no time”.  That sucks!  How do good writers get around that?

…the news delivered to me that my most recent X (God forbid there will be more than I already have) is going to be married soon.  That’s always great fun…and in my case…I’m not really joking…it is fun!  I have just one more excuse to quit here and do something else…maybe in another country or…at least at a university…whatever…I’m leaving this place and not feeling a bit bad about it…I don’t care how long it takes.  I’m not going to live in this valley and run into two brainless (okay that was mean) women who push their boobs out and look at me like, “Hey, we got what you weren’t capable of keeping.”   Yeah, have that ladies, if that’s what makes you happy.

But, of course, that all brings to mind the idea that a failed relationship is not all one person’s fault.  So, I’ve denigrated the X’s plenty…it is only fair to ask…what part of the failures do I own?  Would make for  a decent post maybe?

…Wow!  Tons of stuff on the professional front to tangle with.  I’m waffling from feeling like I have my game on to “I got next” every other minute…it’s a real trip and I kinda like it…but that ‘s because I’m in a place in life where I can afford to play…take risks…and have fun…(read, I’m secure in my job and my abilities at least right now).

…the news delivered to me that my youngest has a freakin’ high I.Q,~  Oh, man, sucks to be my kid, sucks to have friends that are school psychs….and sucks to be the cute little blonde girl who is sooo underachieving and has a (mostly) brunette brainiac mom.

I could go on, but won’t.

The writer’s demise is this…there is so much to write about…and so little time…and where do we carve that time out…because good…scrap good…any writing takes time.  Where does one find the time in the daily schedule of life? 

I guess we just wait for the weekend…

Brave New Post Marriage Dating World

I have several friends lately who are just newly divorced and starting to think about dating again.  After many years in a marriage, no matter how bad it was, one can really miss the companionship of another adult.  And, yes, one misses the sex too.  Although, in some cases, the sex might have been nonexistent long before the marriage ended or it might have the reason the marriage ended. 

Whatever the situation, many of my now single friends are trying to negotiate this new world that I refer to as “Post 40 World” (even though some of us are not really post-40, all of us feel like it) where we are now single, in our 40’s, not ever wanting to be here at this stage of our lives and with a boatload of responsibilities (aka, baggage).  We try to date, and if our personal worlds don’t bring us near any prospective individuals that we can even consider talking with over coffee, we turn to the online arena.

Online dating has advantages and disadvantages.  It’s been said that in 2006, 1 in 8 married couples met online.  I can only imagine the number has swelled in the last few years. As one who recieved her graduate degree online, and feels fairly comfortable with the way the digital world can expand our ability to connect with those from places we might otherwise only read about in books, online dating doesn’t scare me.  However, I say that, knowing full well, I’ve been very, very fortunate so far.  Those I’ve met have been decent people.  Only one in probably a hundred or so folks have lied about their age and that’s pretty good.  No one, so far, has stalked me, though there have been several that I wished would have.  

Today I received an email from a friend who is just recently and hesitantly venturing out into the world of online dating.  He’s a card carrying member of “Post 40 World”.  Married his true love and when he did so he did it for life but she didn’t have the same agenda.  She’s moved on and now he’s here in “Post 40 World” wondering how to navigate the terrain.  Well, like I’m the world’s greatest expert in this.  Anyone who reads my blogs can tell I struggle with trying to figure out how to do the dating thing when things are so very different than they were when you were in college and had your whole life (and your best body) going for you.  So, I gave my friend some pointers.  Here’s what I said.  Look the advice over and see what you would add:

1. Create an alias and don’t reveal your true identity until after you have met the person in the flesh.  Okay, you can give out your first name, but much other than that, just don’t!  Remember, if they have even your last name they can find out exactly where you live.

2.  Don’t believe the pictures. I’ve been burned and had many friends who’ve been burned by the fake picture. It’s disappionting and a huge waste of emotional time and energy when it happens. Hold everything at arm’s distance until you meet. 

2a.  Be very cautious of someone who doesn’t post any pictures and isn’t willing to send you any.  Be equally cautious of the person who posts a picture that looks airbrushed or like it is of a magazine model.  (It just might be.)

3. Don’t spend a lot of time chatting online.  Exchange a few emails, get to know enough to determine if you would like to meet or not, then meet.  You can create this big fantasy online and then when you meet be completely disappointed and heartbroken.  I’m not sure why this happens, but it does.

4.  Be cautious of the person who after a few tries still finds excuses not to meet or talk on the phone.  I personally hate to talk on the phone, but will do it.  I’d rather just meet. If the person is unwilling to do either, suspect that a.) they are not really interested in a relationship like you are or b.) they are not really female. 

5. Be very suspicious of those who cannot communicate reasonably well in writing.

6. Never entertain further communication from those who ask you for money…it is probably a scam from someone outside the country.

7. Trust your gut (you already know this, I know).  If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

8.  Don’t make a dinner date your first meeting. Something light and casual like coffee or a walk is great.  It can be shortened or lengthened as you feel and you don’t have to endure a long night with a lot of expense if the interest factor just isn’t there.  

9.  Obviously, don’t tell anyone where you live until you’ve checked them out and know they are who they say they are. 

These items are the most salient points I could think of on the fly.  I realize I am pretty inexperienced in this realm, after all, I’ve only been dating for about a year and a half. I’m still evolving in my view of what it is all about. I feel I’ve had a good experiences overall with online dating, but I’ve also been very foolish and very lucky because worse things didn’t happen than did (in other words, it could have been so much worse and you could have read about me in the papers…I’ve really been that fortunate).  I also live in a much smaller area and not a big metro urban area…so, maybe the risks are fewer?  Not sure about that one, but it sounded good.

What else can everyone add to help those out who are trying to find their way in this Brave New Post Marriage Dating World?

The Friendship Files Are Born

The Friendship Files began with my story about Sleepovers and Regifting.  The humorous anecdote told to me by a friend, made its way onto my blog with full prior approval by those I was writing about.  The friends I  wrote about loved the retelling and asked for more.  The friends who read the story were entertained, amused, and inspired. Then came the Friends Who Pull Off A Great Bash,  Christmas Party Friend and Mr. Knows, and Mexico Friend and Husband.  I currently have Mr. Christmas Eve Party, Colorado, Single Girl, Gamblin’ Betty, Aspiring Writer Friend Back East (AWFBE), Semi-Professional Photographer Friend (SPPF) and others waiting for me to tell the story that reveals the way they’ve impacted me, inspired me and encouraged me by simply being my friends. Sometimes they’ve simply done nothing more than make me laugh at times when I thought I might sink into the quagmire of despair.  They rescued me, each and every one of them by just being them and by loving me in their own peculiar ways. I am beginning to have people line up to tell me their story and have me write it.  I love this!  Each story tells me something more about the way life is, we are, family can be.  Stay tuned.  There are so many ways my friends enrich my life and make me a far better person than I would be otherwise. 

There are also those friends who stopped in at a point in my  life when I needed whatever they had to offer, or maybe they needed what I had to give, but they didn’t stay long.  They all taught me something because I was willing to pay attention. This is what my friends and aquaintances do for me.  They move me toward being the best possible me I can be.  If you are blessed, your friends do this for you as well.  I only hope I am the kind of friend that returns the favor in this regard. Maybe in these vignettes that I’ve written and will be writing you’ve found something of life, of love, of hope, of the human condition we all partake in that resonates with you.  If so, I hope you’ll comment.  If not, I hope you’ll comment.  No matter what, I do hope that The Friendship Files bring you hope, encouragement, inspiration, laughter, and when needed that clear realization and assessment that only you can make for yourself when you realize you’ve bumped into an area of your life that you need to take control of and master so that it doesn’t master you anymore. 

May “Further Tales From The Friendship Files” encourage you and help you find the strength and determination that you need when you need it most, the humor to help you laugh at yourself and the desire to seek to be the very best you possible…after all…that’s what you were born for.   

P.S.  Mr. Christmas Eve Party don’t despair. Even though I haven’t written your story yet …your graciousness in inviting me in to your family’s inner circle at a time when I was most lonely meant so very much to me.  May your kind multiply and fill this earth rapidly.

God’s Gone To Meddling–He’s Gotten Involved In My Love Life

I’ve been thinking a lot about the romantic notion that there is “someone for everyone”.  I’ve also been thinking about the notion I’ve had from my youth that I really don’t need to spend my time looking for Mr. Right.  I should just go about my life and he (if he indeed exists) will somehow magically surface. Well, that is a very oversimplified way of stating the idea that if there is someone out there for me, I do not need to spend any energy looking for him, he will come to me.  Instead, I should be spending my energy being the best me I can be, pursuing my own interests, being authentically me and Prince Charming will see me from afar or from one of those areas of interest I’m pursuing and come riding in on his mighty steed (or his whatever fuel efficient economy car) to woo me and carry me away to happily-ever-after land.

 

Now, 30 years later and I’m thinking that these ideas need revision.  First, we don’t know for sure that there is “someone for everyone”. How would we prove this…if such an idea were provable?  If two people were born on opposite ends of the earth and were “meant” for each other how would anyone, including the two in question know?  How would we know if Person A were meant for Person B? What would happen if Person A died before they could meet?  Would Person C then become the perfect match for Person B or is Person B flat out of luck?  No, we cannot determine for sure that there is indeed someone for everyone.  In fact, if we just look at the birth statistics in any given year or series of years we find that one or the other of the sexes born in a given year, outweighs the other.  In romance, there is simply not a clean scientific one-to-one correspondence.

 

The idea that if I just go about doing my life, Mr. Prince will appear, is also a theory that needs revision.  Why?  Because, it made sense when I was young, beautiful, childless, and had my entire life ahead of me and the possibilities for how I could spend my time as well as who I could spend my time with were virtually unlimited.  Such is not the case in post-40 single-mom-of-four-kids world.  The possibilities for how I can spend my time are now relegated to working to keep a roof over our heads, parenting the said four children, eating, sleeping, grocery shopping, housecleaning, laundry, yard work, and paying bills.  There isn’t much time left over, except for every other weekend and about five weeks the rest of the year that I can just do whatever I want. In addition, the possibilities concerning who I spend my time with, have significantly diminished since those carefree college days where the men-to-women ratio was 7 men to every 1 woman.  Add that reality to the fact that I now know myself better and have been shaped by all the experiences in the last 46 years.  I’m now far more scrutinizing and, yes, picky, about who I spend my time with, let alone, who I might consider becoming romantically involved with. To further complicate the situation, I have my children to consider.  My children have already experienced the worst of the blended family scenario and it was so abusive and bad that we had to get out.  It failed.  We aren’t ready to repeat that experience any time ever.  The nuances and intricacies of any relationship that would work for me and mine, are complicated indeed. The old romantic notions just don’t fit or work anymore.

 

Yes, these romantic notions need to be completely revised, or maybe rewritten altogether.  Hmmm, possibly, even discarded outright. I think it is possible to make an intelligent, considered and deliberate decision regarding who I become romantically involved with.  However, I also know that it is completely in the realm of possibility for me to overanalyze things and thus completely miss a good thing were it to come my way. I’m actually more concerned that this second option would happen.  I fear I will find so many reasons not to invest, instead of seeing that the person in front of me fits me like hand and glove.  It might feel right but I’ll pick it to death on the intellectual end and walk away.

 

It is along these lines that I’ve been also thinking more about God.

 

I have always been part of the Christian religion.  However, I have not always been a Christian and most of the time I have been a Christian, I have not been very spiritual. In fact, I’ve struggled to be a “good Christian”.  I’ve struggled so much, I finally decided to give it up.  But that’s another story altogether. I am not a religious person.  I do nothing out of “religion”, however, spiritually, I ascribe to the Christian principals as communicated in the Bible.  I disagree most of the time with what the established Christian church (regardless of denomination) does, simply because I feel that the church today has fallen into the same trap the religious leaders in Jesus’ day fell into:  they are all about building their own little power kingdoms and not at all about true communion with God.  I’ll be the first to say that my problems and failures in my own spiritual journey cannot be blamed on the effectiveness or inadequacy of any human religious institution, however, I can say that more often than not, the “church” has done more to isolate me from God than to draw me near to Him. This should not be.  So…after a great many years of involvement, over-involvement to the point of collapse almost, I spun wildly out of control spiritually, made some very foolish mistakes and landed myself on a very long sabbatical from “the ministry”.  My head was messed up, my heart was broken and my spirituality was at an all time low.  That was the state of affairs for me as I entered my second marriage, which failed, for a number of reasons, none of which, added to my spiritual health.

 

So, I took a break from all things religious.

 

For a long time.  For about two years now, maybe almost three.

 

And…surprisingly…now that the human voices of guilt, condemnation and disapproval have faded to silence, I think, I actually think I can hear God’s voice.

 

Okay, now, this is not the venue to discuss the validity or otherwise of the existence of God.  That’s not my purpose here.  Long ago, I mucked through all that for myself.  I was not brought up in a religious home though I did get some church in my younger years. If anything, my parents were staunchly agnostic almost moving toward atheistic.  They hated religion and were very intellectual.  I’m sure I’m an embarrassment to them. I know what that world view holds.  I know.  I grew up in it and was immersed in it just as fundamentalist right wing religious zealots immerse their children in their world view.  I didn’t rebel. I just watched and looked and considered. But this is not the venue to go into that particular journey either.  Suffice it to say that it seemed more conceivable to me that this intricate and finely tuned universe we live in was carefully and thoughtfully designed rather than originating by random chance and thus, I took a step and opted in favor of a loving, creator God who desired relationship with me as opposed to the futile thinking that we are here by chance and we die and become food for worms (which we do but that’s only because we no longer have need of our physical houses).  I made this decision at the ripe old age of 18.  I haven’t been much of a “super Christian”, but I haven’t regretted the choice either.  I believe there is a loving God, who desires intimate connection with humanity and not just humanity, but each one of us as individuals.  He wants to orchestrate wonderful things for us that we cannot imagine, but He has by His own design limited himself in some ways.  He will not force Himself on us.

 

So it is into this context that over the last two years and more specifically over the last six to eight months that spirituality and my dating life have converged.  The questions I have about having never really been in love, wondering if there is indeed someone “out there” for me even at this “final hour”, how do I go about meeting him and what part God would play in all this ultimately boil down to trust.  The issue, really, for me, is trust.  If I believe there is a personal God out there who loves me and cares about me as an individual and not just as part of a collective whole why am I not willing to trust Him with my love life? 

 

Would he care about my love life?

 

I think so.  Great theological question.  Also a lengthy topic for another blog, but yes, I think God cares about this element of our humanity.  God says it is not good for us to be alone.  He’s a God of community and commitment, so, yes, I think He’d care about my love life.  And, I know I have issues of trust originating from way back when and continuing on to the present day.  It is hard for me to totally trust that someone truly cares about me without having an agenda.  So, of course, I shift that over to my dealings with God.  Trusting God has been tough for me.  Not trusting God has landed me in a heap o’ trouble that I think I could well have avoided, but I don’t know for sure since I haven’t ever really trusted God and observed the results.

 

So, the other day, somewhere out of nowhere, that still, small voice whispered to me as I was frantically going about my daily business.  It was such a different thought that it stopped me cold, “So, after two failed marriages, an active dating life with no interesting possibilities for a relationship that looks like it might go the distance, a bunch of people wasting your time then going silent, don’t you think you might try trusting me with your love life?”

The question stopped me in my tracks.

Trust God with my love life? I almost laughed.

It would be much more dramatic if I could say that I thought that was absurd.  I did not.  I did not think anything of it.  I just thought about the concept.  Trust God with my love life?

Then I thought, “Wait. If God is who He says and who I say I believe He is then He most definitely cares about my love life. There are plenty of examples in the Bible where God orchestrated romance on behalf of the individuals involved and He had nothing or very little to work with and He had human beings screwing it up all along the way. Hmmm,”  I continued in my thoughtful reverie, “If I believe what I say I believe about God then I must put Him to the trust test. I must trust Him with my love life or my spirituality is not worth the energy it takes to explain it.

 

So, my response to God?

 

Just this, “Okay, God, I’m going to trust you with my love life because if I can’t trust you with that then I can’t trust you with anything, but please don’t let that mean that my only options are those emasculated mamby pamby fundamentalist nuts whose Christianity keeps them from speaking English and whose chief desire is finding a woman to wait on them, because after all ‘by God, they are the man of the household’. God, just give me a man who is into you, not hung up on Christian image and who is 100% male and masculine and still respectful, kind, and not afraid to show he cares.  And, oh, yeah, God, if it isn’t too much to ask, make him one of those guys who can do more than just show up.  I’d like to be able to talk to him and, better yet, have him carry enough of the conversation that I get a chance to listen to him and that I can admire what he has to say for a lifetime, or the rest of our lifetime together.  And then, God, I really simply just want that one companion that fits, like hand and glove in so many millions of different and impossible ways, and, please God, let me recognize him when you put him there in front of me….but I guess you already know all that about me. Okay, God, have fun with that, it won’t be easy.”

 

And that’s how God got involved with my love life.