Tag Archives: divorce

My happily ever after is right around the corner

My happily ever after is right around the corner

In 2009 my husband of 16 years, boyfriend for the six years before that, told me he was done.  He wanted a divorce.  He actually said he wanted a divorce for the last ten years but put up with it all because, well he didn’t like confrontation.  He thought we’d been such good “roommates” for the last few years that he would simply move into the guest room and we would continue that arrangement for, oh, say another five years.  By then he would be ready to leave. 

A lot more was said, but I was in such shock that I don’t remember a lot of it.  As you might imagine, while he was being a good roommate, I was being a good wife.  I put up with a lot, supported him and protected him while we were waist deep in his crap. I believed I was making an investment and the payoff was just around the corner.  At some point we would be happy again; we would look back and laugh at these hard times.

So my investment went bust.  Well, I couldn’t wait for him to be ready to move out, who wants a bad investment lingering around sapping resources?  So a few weeks after he dropped his bomb, I found myself tossing his things into his car and watching him drive away.   You see, that afternoon he left with the kids for lunch and the park.  He came back at 8pm.  It seems he had a glass of wine with lunch, never made it to the park, and drank straight through to dinner.  Then he drove home.  With the kids.  I was angry and rather than suppress as usual, I called him on being irresponsible. He became enraged at my lack of gratitude for taking the kids out for the afternoon. 

There was a time when I would stand there and take it, back before we were roommates.  I never would have confronted him.  I would have apologized for appearing ungrateful and told him he misunderstood.  But you know, that November, I’d had enough.  So when he told me I was ungrateful I took a deep breath and defended myself.  That’s when he threatened to leave.  And I started to laugh.  Like divorcing me wasn’t enough, wait, there’s more!  He might actually leave!  It was ludicrous.  He was ludicrous. 

I remember it was scary and exhilarating.  This man who I couldn’t imagine spending my life without… in a matter of days I suddenly couldn’t imagine spending another second anywhere around him.

Well, because he doesn’t like confrontation, and he doesn’t like to be wrong, and he doesn’t like paying his debts, we still aren’t divorced.  My attorney told me last week we have a mandatory settlement hearing first week in February. We must agree to the dissolution that day or the judge will end it under his own terms.  So I’ve been reflecting a lot these last few days.

I’ll finally be divorced first week in February.  For the right things, I am very grateful.

Incidental family

Incidental family

When my landlord decided to lease the guestroom in my house, Gaefan became an incidental member of our family.  When he moved into our lives, I was one year into the divorce process, one year into a job hunt, I was way behind on rent and I was shouldering $80k of credit card debt my ex created by secretly supporting his failing business with my credit cards. Since he used my cards, I was also dodging the phone calls from Citibank.

My parents were retired and lived inTexas.  Still do.  My father had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  I was working six part-time jobs and still not able to pay the bills.  I had also started dating a guy fairly regularly.  He was employed, good looking, crude and probably an alcoholic.  Some of my best stories have to do with the Boyfriend Candidate.  He was and is quite something.

So basically, I was busy and panicked.  I had relationships going and coming.  I was trying to keep the lives of my three boys normal, at a level of privilege they had gotten used to, but was impossible to maintain.  The days of immediate gratification and spontaneous generosity were over.  I came up with an empowering action list.  I love lists.

Option 1. Get a job.  I had been a stay-at-home, home-schooling mom to my slightly autistic son.  That would have to end.  He started brick and mortar and I started pounding the pavement.  I submitted my resume to over 500 companies in the 8 months I was out of work.  I had temp jobs that floated me.  I transcribed.  I participated in surveys, and I dated for dinner.  Best of all I started web and blog writing.

Option 2. Get remarried, quickly, to man who would make all our problems go away.  It could happen.  I figured I’d fall in love again one day.  If that day could be today, that would be really convenient.

Option 3. Prepare to move back to Texas.  If 1 and 2 didn’t work out, singularly or in combination, that would be all that was left.  Me and my three would be moving into a three bedroom with my elderly retired parents, one of whom was suffering from dementia.  These are not the warm fuzzy grandparents that I hear other children have.  My mother takes no prisoners and my dad is a mystery.  So finding a job or finding the love of my life was really critical.

So into my very ordered, yet unpredictable life comes Gaefan.  He was all hippie auras and holistic transcendence.  He was so far out there he looped all the way around, back to self-righteous and had no idea.

When I met Gaefan, it was late at night.  I opened the door to a much older man, shaved head, energetic.  I didn’t get any kind of a vibe off him so he seemed safe.  Not a child molester, not a gay pedophile, not hot for me.  No flags.

He was British and had the accent.  Clearly delightful.  I gave him the tour.  We have a yard; he had a dog.  I told him then my children were allergic to dogs so his would need to have limited range.  He seemed ok with that.

And he was in.

All he wants for Christmas are his three front teeth

All he wants for Christmas are his three front teeth

Christmas light update:  they are still working.  I think we have a truce.

My youngest son, when he was about a year old, was going up the bunk bed ladder and fell down.  His mouth took the brunt of the fall and probably hit more than a couple steps on the way down.  By the time I got to his screaming little self there was blood gushing from his mouth.  I could see his top front teeth positioned in completely unnatural ways.  I had visions of the ER and a long night with a suffering baby.

I paged the pediatric dentist.  She called me back right away even though she was at a cocktail party.  She told me just to move the teeth back where they belonged.  I was stunned.  I was actually driving the car around in circles not knowing if I needed to meet her at her office or go to the hospital.  Instead she sent me home.

I did as I was told and it worked.  I put the teeth back.  Got a cold compress and saved his teeth.  For about two years.  Then he came home from daycare, smiled and his upper teeth were gone.  They had broken at the gum line.  No one saw how or when it happened.  He didn’t have an accident.  I can only assume they were fractured from the long ago fall and that was the day they decided to fall out.

The roots of those teeth had to be removed.  The broken bits were sharp.  Which Sam misunderstood to mean “shark” like he had “shark teeth” which wasn’t an entirely bad description.  We were at a maxillofacial surgeon’s office to get that done.  They don’t like using general anesthesia on babies so they used all locals to remove the teeth.  Sam takes after me in that he does not respond to painkillers.  The meds didn’t really work.  He didn’t dose off and he screamed like murder during the procedure.  The roots of these baby teeth were half an inch long.  The doctors had to physically pull me from the room while I was screaming I had a right to be with my minor son.

My now ex-husband told me I needed to mind the doctors.  I was disruptive, a distraction.  I should have divorced him then.

When my son was in recovery I went in.  He was literally like a caged feral animal.  He hissed at me.  The nurses told me not to worry because the meds caused a type of amnesia.  He wouldn’t remember a thing.  But I would.  I toss an imaginary grenade every time I drive by that office.

All of this is to explain why my son doesn’t speak well:  he has no upper teeth.   And because of that he says the cutest things.  He can’t say “you’re welcome”  for instance.  It comes out “I’m Malcolm.”

“Thank you Sam!”

“I’m Malcolm Mama!”

I just love that.  That’s really all I wanted to say.

Next time I go naked

Next time I go naked

I went to the Boyfriend Candidate’s house the other night.  I think the relationship is getting stale, and I’m concerned.

I walk in his door, granted the three kids are in tow.  Also I must say, he was sick and I was having neck pain.  We are old indeed.

I call out, “Hello?” And the three kids start calling out his name.  We go to the living room.  Empty.  The playroom.  Nothing.  On to the kitchen.  Here we find him.  He is reading the Economist, glasses at the end of his nose.  He delivers this heart-felt welcome.  “Oh hi.  I didn’t hear you come in.”

I have problems with this and if the kids hadn’t been bouncing around the kitchen, I would have called him out.  Not hear us?  We are a herd; that’s not possible.  There was a time when he would have been sitting on the front porch looking for me, waiting for me with some anticipation.

He didn’t even stand up.  It was disappointing and hurtful in the way you would expect, but I immediately went to the bigger picture.  Do I want to come home to a guy who doesn’t stand up and embrace me?  My marriage degraded over the course of 20 years into that kind of nonchalance and mutual apathy.  What does it say that that the BC and I have already hit that mark?

Then again, I know I should give him a break.  He’s sick.  I’m edgy.  The children can have a numbing effect.

Next time I may have to walk in naked and check his response.  Then I’ll know if I’m really in trouble.

The anti-girlfriend

The anti-girlfriend

So I announced to the Boyfriend Candidate that I would never be his girlfriend.  When I start thinking like “girlfriend” I start thinking like a twenty-something and putting all those expectations on him that just don’t matter to a forty-something.  He was oddly disappointed.

He said he liked to think of me as his girlfriend and didn’t understand the issue with semantics.  But whatever.  I should do what I need to do if it means we can still hang out together.

And ever since then, he’s been acting like a boyfriend on steroids.  I’ve never had such a great boyfriend at a time when I especially am not looking for one.  Right now, he is in the other room nursing my sick 12 year old, tolerating my 9 year old’s need to watch South Park and politely telling the 6 year old not to pick his nose.  It’s an interaction that any mother could relate to, but not a mere mortal of no blood relation.

The BC actually left work early last week to check on my sick son.  I was at work myself and couldn’t leave so he checked it out.  He brought my son a sandwich and stayed with him until I got home.  My ex-husband during our seventeen years of marriage never did anything like that.

I’m confused.  If this is “boyfriend” then maybe I should be his “girlfriend”.  If this is “man trying to convince me that boyfriend is not such a bad idea therefore I should be his girlfriend then after he proves his point he goes back to being average guy”, then he can never be my boyfriend.

It’s all so confusing.

Forget it; he still won’t be my boyfriend.

Hello, goodbye, repeat as desired

Hello, goodbye, repeat as desired

The Boyfriend Candidate and I broke up not too long ago.   Again.  We do this about every three weeks, and we’ve each totally lost credibility with each other on the break up front.  This time I was picking on him — pretty much all day — most likely as a result of general frustrations with the relationship.  I was indirect, provocative and uncommunicative.  So we got in a fight.  He called me an ugly name.  And then defended it when I graciously gave him a chance to retract.  I was done.

So a week goes by and in that week I’ve been really asking myself hard questions about why I’m dating in the first place.  Are my frustrations with the relationship because it doesn’t serve a purpose relevant to my life any more?  I think I’m on to something.

I’m 46.  I have three small children who deserve my time and energy.  Now that I’m working, which means I can provide everything I and my children need, I’m not looking for a man to save me/us, to be the responsible party or to fund us, if you will.  I’m in bed weeknights at 8pm because I’m up at 4:45am.  When exactly am I suppose to nurture an adult relationship anyway?  So seriously why am I dating at all?

Sex is an obvious answer.  Adult companionship generally.  To be adored in that way a man adores you has particular attractiveness to me.  And you know I got all those things from the Boyfriend Candidate.  What I didn’t get that was frustrating me was “traditional marriage material.”  He isn’t that Prince Charming.  He’s a salty old curmudgeon, truth be told.  I don’t want to be with him every day.  I don’t want to live with him.  I can’t imagine the nightmare of merging lives.  But you know, I don’t think I really need that.  If he gives me the adoration, even part time, might that be enough?  I think anything more is an old dating paradigm from my early twenties that has expired.

I can reinvent the adult relationship now.  So I’m taking some time to figure out what that will look like at this point in my life.  Naturally I spoke with the Boyfriend Candidate and, as usual, we’re back together.  This time I am relieving him of those traditional expectations which aren’t relevant (or possible) any longer.  Maybe I can be more tolerant.

Honestly, he never thought we split up which slightly irks me.  I did make a dramatic exit.

What happened here?

What happened here?

I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the whole process.  I’m writing an explanation in hopes that this will jump start me again.  I hear that works.

When I started blog writing over a year ago, I had tight deadlines, daily writing assignments on all kinds of topics.  There was a sense of urgency, I felt a responsibility, and I got it done.  I still get it done.  I write daily for several websites.  In the course of those writing gigs, I also was asked to blog from my unique perspective: the middle aged single mom, three young boys, one autistic, dating after 20 years, perimenopausal, retiring parents, one with Alzheimer’s point of view.  That’s a lot and you’d think there would be tons of material.  But even then, posting once a week, I would get stuck.

Then I lost the self absorbed blog.  Seems the demographic and I didn’t exactly mix.  And I missed it.  I missed the objective musing on this life and the hysterical qualities it had somehow acquired.  And speaking of acquisitions, I acquired in the last few years a boyfriend candidate, a hippie room mate, a really good friend, the belligerence of my absent-almost-ex-husband, an estranged brother, a circle of divorced mom friends, a full time job, a new set of co-workers, an old car, a crazy young guy friend, an old rock star, and a ton of threatening letters from CitiBank wondering when I’m going to pay off my ex-husband’s exorbitant debt.  Yes, bat shit crazy indeed.

So my life is richer than ever.  Almost always almost too much to handle, but one way or another it gets done.  And I’d love to write about it again which is why I started this blog many weeks ago.  But I find trying to pull together my old posts, new essays, ideas on post-it notes, memos to self in the margins of my Franklin, all just a bit daunting.  I found a note “fart on demand”.  I can’t remember for the life of me what that meant.  See, now I have to do research.  Add that to the list.

It’s sort of a big philosophical as well as practical question: how do I get on with it?  [Even at this moment, while I’m trying to think and organize ideas my Calvin is sitting at the desk across from me barking, literally. He’s my 9 year old.]   I think in the end I just have to do it.  My friend Belinda at the office told me yesterday that the only real great advice she got from her years of therapy post divorce was this:  In order to live your life, you must go through it.  So put your head down, aim forward and just go.  So that’s what I’m doing now.  But first, I’m going to give myself a break.  These postings won’t be perfect.  I’m mixing past and present, musing on the future.  Sometimes it won’t make sense.

It really is just like life.

 

Sorry kids, I don’t feel like being a mom

Sorry kids, I don’t feel like being a mom

One of the things I’m most proud of is my ability to discuss menopause.  And I love that about my generation generally.  I deplore euphemisms like “the change”.  Ugh.  Aren’t we grownups?  So I think for me and my friends, menopause is a health issue, an inevitability.  And a source for huge laughs and lots of commiseration.  It’s no different than arthritis.  It can be discussed without shame or embarassment.

So I’m at my office talking about menopause with my co-worker Belinda who is about ten years older than I am.  She has successfully navigated the menopause waters and is a big help.  Unlike my 70 year old mother who gets wildly uncomfortable when she senses the conversation turning to hormones and can’t we change the subject for God’s sake?

Belinda told me about a great book on menopause.  I looked it up and read a chapter or two.  I was thrilled and relieved to discover that a weird thing I’ve been experiencing is actully part of menopause for some women.  My toes cramp and cross over.  It’s seriously referred to as flat toe.  For months I’ve been worred that it was the first sign of a significant neurological disorder and I’ve been afraid.  But no, it’s hormones.  Evidence that I’m getting old.  Awesome!

In addition to the freaky behavior of female extremities, the book discusses how empowering this time of your life can be.  And not solely because you can own sex without pregnancy, but also because the hormones that provide care giving instincts, the compromisers and the accommodaters, start to lose their oomph.  You no longer have the urge to mother people and make sure they feel good or cook nourishing meals for everyone and keep the house perversely clean.  It gives women a killer instinct at just the time in their career arch when they need it.  I probably won’t surprise anyone that there is a divorce spike during this time – my divorce came right on cue.

Of course someone will need to tell my six year old why I think he should drive himself to school and make his own dinner, but that’s okay.  I won’t care since that mothering instinct is a distant memory.  Really they should tell women this stuff before they delay motherhood.

By the time you become a mom, you won’t feel like it any more.

4.5 seconds flat

4.5 seconds flat

So the Boyfriend Candidate was over not too long ago.  It was getting late.  The kids were half asleep in the living room.  Naturally we steal away to the kitchen to make out like teenagers.  I love that, that whole notion of recaptured youth.  I never saw it coming as one of theose benefits of being divorced.  I get to slip through a wormhole and improve upon mispent youth.

So we’re in the kitchen and he starts whispering, which I find annoying because I’m trying to listen for little feet which may be walking in our direction.  We might get caught!  And there it is: high school.  Back then when I was making out in the kitchen I had half my attention on where my mom and dad were and what they were doing.  Were they talking?  If so, where in the house were they?  How many steps would it take for them to get to me and would that be enough time for me to straighten myself out.

I’ve gone full circle.  There is something beautifully insane about being afraid of getting caught by your own children when just yesterday I was afraid of getting caught by my parents.  Is someone always trying to catch me?  Is my attention always going to be divided?  How nice, how unusual it would be during these deeply meaningful, developmental make out sessions, if I could just enjoy and listen to my own internal musings.  How much of lust is ultimately riddled with fear?  It does make me wonder if they are intertwined and related.  And is that ultimately dishonest?  If I’m not paying attention to me or my guy in those moments, am I really there with him?  Can I really enjoy it?

What a bunch of BS.  Oh yeah, the moment can be enjoyed.  Just as long as I can get my clothese back on in 4.5 seconds.

It’s a big adventure

It’s a big adventure

I was laying down with my youngest little boy tonight.

Me:        You use to be so little!

Sam:      One day I’ll be 100 years old!

Me:        Make it 150!

Sam:      And you’ll be dead!

Me:        Maybe I’ll die on a big adventure….

Sam:      Like in the desert.  I don’t want you to die.

Me:        I promise I won’t die until you don’t need me any more.

Sam:      I’ll always need you, so you’ll always be here?

Me:        For as long as you need me!

I started thinking.  And I’ll let you in on a secret:  I think in weird loops so here goes.  I started thinking it’s interesting that children see the end of your life story, not the beginning.  I see the beginning of theirs, but if everything goes the way it’s suppose to, I’ll never know how their story ends.  Thinking about my children dying then made me wonder why I had them in the first place.  Thinking of them dying, maybe in pain, maybe alone…. ugh.

So from there I went to thinking that’s a good reason for me to tell my childless friends why their occasional doubts about their decision (or unintended consequence) to stay childless is really ok:  you don’t ever have to ponder your children dying.

Then I had a mental argument with myself.

Me:        Dying, so what?  The joy that your children will feel will far overwhelm any pain or anguish that comes into their lives.

Me2:     That’s bullshit.  Where in your life experience can you say your joy has surpassed your anguish?

Me:        OK.  That’s a good point.  It does seem like the stress and anguish far  outweigh the joy.  But maybe that’s because anguish happens to you and you have to get off your ass and create joy.  Joy doesn’t just happen.  It takes effort.  Anguish happens.  If you want more joy, if you don’t want to be laying on your death bed thinking the scale tips toward disappointment, then you have to do something about it. You have to create it.

Me2:     You’re a self-righteous bitch.  What you’re suggesting is I laugh more, I make more friends, I seek out moments of happiness and enjoyment, I see the positive side.  Oh good God, that means making an effort.  And I’m tired.  You know that.

Me:        Get off your ass.  Do it now.  I don’t want to linger in the shadows with you.

OK so all of this happened in about two minutes.  Most of it while brushing my teeth watching Sam trying to lay flat under the sheets so I wouldn’t see him.  My God, I remember doing that with my mother.  In Oklahoma.  In the bedroom she grew up in.  The beginning of her life story which I would know nothing about.

Today my almost ex-husband decided to scrap the dissolution we’ve been working two years on.  For a marriage he desperately wanted to end, he can’t seem to let it go.  And that little bit of anguish will continue.

Tomorrow I’m going to a 5 year old birthday party.  I’m going to solidify friendships with these new people in my life.  I’m going to laugh really hard and leave my phone number with at least one other mom to set up a play date.  I really don’t want my life burdened by anguish.  I don’t want to leave that model for my children.

When I die on my big adventure in the desert, I want my kids to know I was laughing.