Monthly Archives: August 2011
I’m exhausted these days. I shouldn’t complain. Who isn’t exhausted in our American overworked, stressed out society? I should clarify, I’m more exhausted than I usually am these days, and yet, I cannot sleep. I find this both strange and completely understandable. It is strange because I’m not given to being so totally wiped out and still unable to sleep at night. I find it understandable, because for the first time in my adult life since my mid to late 20’s, I am actually looking forward to my future. That last statement is a testament of just how pathetic my life has been over the last 25 years. Or, maybe, it is proof that I’ve been depressed and simply trying to survive. There really is nothing more life-draining, dehumanizing, energy-sucking, and damaging than a miserable relationship. I’ve experienced not one, but two of these in the last 25 years. One of the earliest signals to my younger self that something was indeed terribly wrong in my life was that I realized I had stopped looking forward to things in life. I stopped anticipating. My life had become something to be endured. Something to survive. I anticipated no joys, no excitement, no future. All I could do was survive…and I wasn’t even doing that for myself…I was doing that for my children.
I used to be the person who looked forward to moving. New locations, new digs, new people. I relished all the aspects of moving. For as much chaos as I’ve experienced in my life and for as much as people view me as being a free-wheeling, laid back, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type person, when it comes to moving, I am anything but laid back. This move has been no exception. I have systems in place that make moving as stress free as possible (as long as everyone around me does it my way). I also have methods that make the moving day incredibly quick and painless. Even though I’m a bit of a tyrant during a move, all who’ve moved with me, recognize that what I do works. I don’t end up with stuff scattered all over the old place or the new place for weeks. And I’m moved in and unpacked in a matter of a few hours an no one has to be inconvenienced or work overly hard. Smooth moves. That’s what I do well.
So, tonight, exhausted as I am, I cannot sleep because the minute I rest my weary head on the pillow, my mind begins scrolling through all that I have yet to do to get my family of six out of our house and into our new digs in the next 7 days. It’s pretty exhilarating, considering that just over a week ago, I had no idea I was going to be moving over Labor Day Weekend. Sure, I knew a move was in my future, like maybe six months down the road. I had no idea that within 24 hours I would find, tour, meet the landlords and put move-in fees down on what will be the largest and newest home I’ve lived in my entire adult life. Furthermore, I’m saving money in doing it. Even further, it is super-conveniently located and has all the modern amenities; something I’ve lived without for nearly a decade now. I’m excited. I’m anticipating this adventure. I’m looking forward to life in this new place. Above all, this symbolizes a casting off of all that was painful, ugly, broken and beyond repair in my life. As I toss or recycle each unnecessary or broken item, I’m taking another step closer to that clutter-free, minimalist lifestyle I seek. Stuff clutters. Clutter stresses. I’m done with both. The physical stuff and clutter are going, as is the emotional stuff and clutter.
It is much easier to do away with the physical trash in my life than it is to get rid of the emotional garbage. Of late, I am realizing the power of “letting go.” I know it sounds cliche, but I’m learning there are things I just don’t have any power over. As one who has been far too concerned with what others thought of me over the years (especially the ex’s), I’m learning that the very thing I wish I could control, but which I can’t, is others’ opinions and perceptions of me. Sure, I can do my best to put my best foot forward, but when I tell my ex that what he proposes won’t work for his daughter and I, I cannot control that he thinks I am a control freak or that he believes I’m intentionally sabotaging his relationship with his child. Where he’s concerned, I am a control freak about our daughter, but this is more due to his extreme negligence and abusive behavior than it is my desire to control in this area. In spite of that, I have no desire to sabotage any relationship he has with his daughter. He will never believe this. He will especially not believe this when he learns about our move. His reaction worries me. I then kick into feeling badly and somehow that I am again at fault for the conflict. I am learning to stop my mind from running down that well-worn path and, instead, to take a different route this time. This new route is one that affirms my ability to make good decisions and validates my intentions to move my family to a better situation in life. A situation where I can be present for my children instead of stressing out about all the things I will never have the money to repair or maintain or do for my children. I cannot be worried that this ex, who never cared about me or what was important to me, doesn’t understand my motives or intent. No matter how I present this, he will view it negatively and I will likely end up in court anyway (a needless waste of time and expense). I have to let that go. I can’t waste energy on that. With each item I throw out, I am banishing the memories of dysfunction and moving toward a healthier manner of living and relating.
This is the future I see.
This is the life I look forward to living.
I am moving. It’s a sudden thing, and I am not prone to this kind of suddenness. I’ve been in the same residence for ten years, after all.
This move is the right thing at the right time for me right now.
There’s just so much in my life that currently falls into the area of “the unknown.” I don’t need the instability of wondering if, when, and where I am moving. And I need to move.
I need to get out of this place because psychologically it is draining me. There are just too many painful memories here. Memories of a love gone wrong, of insecurities preyed upon, of lives, hearts and psyches abused and damaged. There is also the glaring truth that no matter how long I live here and work to improve this place those memories and reminders contained its walls and corners will never disappear. I will forever see the improved thing and think of what came before.
It is time to move on.
Just like with the marriage, I thought for a long time I could fix it. I finally realized I cannot; I moved on and haven’t looked back.
Once that decision is made, it is amazing how things can fall rapidly into place.
Six months ago I was playing with the idea, the possibility, the wisdom of leaving. Five months ago and each month since, I’ve made decisions that put into play a series of events that moved me closer to being able to leave. The last, item, to find new digs.
Not so easy to do, when your credit is shot.
Amazing how miracles still occur.
This time last week, I had no idea I was moving. Had you asked me, I would have said, “Yes, I’ll probably be moving within the next six months.” I had no idea I would be residing in my new location in two weeks. I’m a big believer these days that when you know something is right, you know it. I believe that about jobs, relationships and homes. This home appeared and all the necessary details fell into place. I’m ecstatic. While it is going to be sad to leave (sort of), it is far more exciting to go. But going brings its own stresses and having less than fourteen days to pack up and move a family of six is filled with more than the usually day-to-day moving stress. It doesn’t help that this is happening right at back-to-school season either. It also doesn’t help that it occurred during the process of mediation with the second ex…the one I hold responsible for the damages to my current abode. Oh well.
So, I’ve been up writing to do lists, making plans, and…once I got the floor plan of the new place emailed to me…placing furniture.
There is the stress of going through the accumulation of a decade of misery and getting rid of it all. Sometimes I do wish I could just torch the place. It would be so much easier. Purging is good, and necessary, and we are doing it. I thought it would be tough for my kids, but they’ve gotten on board and are doing a great job. Of course, the carrot of New Stuff in a New Place is helping motivate them. There is the stress of packing and organizing packed boxes so that moving day isn’t complete chaos and the unpacking a disaster. There is the anxiety of trying to figure out how a new location will impact our lives and our routines. There is the excitement of looking forward to living in surroundings that are palatial compared to what we currently reside in. There is the anticipation of, for the first time in a decade, being able to put dishwasher detergent on our shopping list. Yes, folks, I have gone the last ten years without a mechanical (as opposed to human) dishwasher. This is exciting.
I’m struck with how this idea of place impacts our lives so much. For me, location is everything. I know there are people who can be comfortable in any setting. These are the people who can walk right into a new place and start meeting people right away. I’m not one of those people. When I enter a new environment, I have to give myself time to become acquainted with the environment, before I can comfortably engage with others around me. I have to take time to take in the details of the place I’m in. I don’t need a lot of time, but I prefer to have a few minutes to get my bearings.
Changing residences, even if the change is only a short distance like mine, can radically impact a persons’ lifestyle. This move, for my family, will alter things for us in a big way. For one, it is going to increase my commute time, for the next couple of years, at least. That, however, is the only trick part about this move and even with the increased commute time, my total travel time about 30 minutes. I can live with this. I can especially live with the savings in my pocketbook every month due to paying less in housing costs and utilities. I can live with the way this move will positively impact my lifestyle and increase the amount of time I have available to do the things I want to do like, travel, cycle, and write. Face it, with no yard to deal with, I’m going to have a lot more time. I’ve also totally eliminated the weekly arguments with my son about whether or not the lawn really needs to be mowed or not, which means I’m also reducing my stress load.
There are other ways that this move will impact our lives. A new environment contains new requirements for maintenance and upkeep. For example, this new place has hardwood floors on one level and carpet upstairs. The floors downstairs will need to be swept. Someone is going to have to have that job every day. Dishes will no longer be stacked on the counter glaring at us until someone decides to put them away, but they might remain in the dishwasher forever if I don’t assign that chore to someone. Since we’ll now have an indoor laundry area, there’s absolutely no way we can just dump the stuff out in the garage and “get to it when we get to it.” I am going to have to make sure the kids understand the new expectations for handling laundry and keeping our nice new place (built in 2005 instead of 1978) clean and tidy. The list goes on and on. The place we live in often dictates how we operate in our daily lives. I am only just beginning to realize how I’ve limped along for the last decade simply because the location we lived in was so unhappy and outdated.
So…the stress and details keep me up.
I’m anxious about making it all happen as smoothly as possible especially where our school year transportation routines are concerned.
I’m very excited about how positive this is for all of us. It’s going to be a crazy ride, but it will be worth it. Hopefully, once the move is over, I will be so exhausted, I’ll actually collapse into a deep and contented sleep…maybe for the first time in over a decade.
Events of this evening conspired, from the very beginning, to sabotage a good night’s sleep. I should know better than to play a board game with my boyfriend before calling it a night. Besides both of us being very competitive people, he’s a poor loser. He’s even worse when in comes to winning. I do believe “ass****” was the word I used to describe him to his very face. On top of that, I absolutely hate playing games where it is a slaughter with me on the losing end. It isn’t all that fun for me to be on the winning end of a slaughter either; I much prefer a challenge where I, at least, feel as though I’m somewhat competitive even if I lose. After tonight’s third slaughter, with my beau (not sure that’s even an appropriate word for him right now) gloating ruthlessly, I just got up and walked away. Okay, huffed off, is more like it. I heard him laughing about it after I left the room. I didn’t talk to him the rest of the night. I detest arrogant ass**** winners. His words? “I don’t play to lose.” Really? Seems to me that you sure lost out on something tonight, with all that arrogance, Big Guy. Put that behavior on the top of the list of “Things That Kill Romance.”
Now, I’m not suggesting, by any means that he should have “let” me win. That, in a way, is arrogance in reverse order, in some situations. However, given that I’d played this particular game maybe five times total and he grew up playing it like some people used to play backgammon back in the eighties, it wasn’t exactly an even match. I think he could have saved his championship tournament play for another time. The whole scenario just didn’t engender any loving, caring, positive feelings in me for him. In my words, “Well, there’s really nothing about this that is fun for me.” If you win by a landslide, for crying out loud, at least have the decency to be kind to the person you annihilated rather than divesting them of their last shred of human dignity. Big romance killer. Just.don’t.touch.me.
As soon as I’d settled in to attempt to sleep, as if that was even going to be possible with my annoyance meter soaring off the charts, the dog comes into the room and begins licking herself. It’s a sound I hate. I mostly hate it because it happens incessantly these days. She’s licked off most of her fur on her haunches and she is LOUD about it. Loud. Lick. Lick. Lick. Lick. It is worse than a dripping faucet and far noisier. It grates on me.
So I banished the dog from the bedroom and closed the door. Most of the time, she will just sleep outside the bedroom door or find another place in the house to camp out for the night. Tonight, she decided to sit outside my bedroom door and bark. Bark….Bark…Bark….Bark. I get up and let her out. She comes back in; same routine. In the bedroom: lick, lick, lick. Banish to the hall: bark, bark, bark.
So, I’m infuriated and exhausted by the dogs in my life, and now, both of them are in the bedroom resting peacefully and I’m here typing away about ready to code out, I’m so frustrated.
And…I am out of sleeping pills.
It’s August. The still midnight air hangs heavy like a thick comforter that won’t move, suffocating in its stillness. The air conditioner is ineffective in my badly-in-need-of-updating 1970’s-style ranch home. You could say it’s a fixer-upper. The windows, the single-pane aluminum type, gather condensation on the inside during the winter and do nothing to keep in the cool air during these sweltering hot nights. Back in the days of the last marriage, a second-mortgage was taken out, the amount of which was originally intended to finance the much needed home improvements, however, the ex’s coercive tendencies along with my fear and intimidation of him, combined with my desire for a great deal less chaos than we had at the time, resulted in all that money going toward his custody battle. It was a losing battle on all fronts. Custody was not awarded, the resulting parenting plan divisive and chaos-inducing, and it ate up all the second-mortgage money; a total of nearly $30K. The house remains a fixer upper, just like my life.
I’m awake tonight, thinking of the summer nights four years ago, when I was homeless, having left my house and my ex under a civil protect police escort because the tension between the ex and I was at an all time high. I’d been advised by the officers to get out, since he wasn’t leaving (and he was much bigger than I). One officer said, “I’m concerned that if you don’t leave, this has all the makings of something tragic we will read about in tomorrow’s paper.” In the 30 minutes I was allowed to gather the most important essentials, I cut cable wires, grabbed technology, clothing and only the essential toiletries. Not one of my more glorious memories. In fact, when I have to define the word shame, that episode is one of the top five in my life that come to mind. In times like that, you quickly learn how little stuff you really need in this life.
I ended up living in a small travel trailer in a trailer park borrowed from friends while I waited for the court hearing to see which of the two of us would end up with the house that I had purchased on my own, without him. Tonight, I remember those nights. In the trailer, with my daughter, then six, hardly a lock of any protective value on our flimsy trailer door, a hundred yards from the interstate with the incessant rumbling noise of semi’s barreling by. There was little sleep to be had during those nights either.
I’m back in my own home now, but on the verge of leaving it again, this time, for good and by choice. When and how, and where my final destination is, I don’t yet know. These uncertainties occasionally keep me up at night. When they don’t, they certainly gnaw at me all day long and re-surface in my dreams. When I was younger, I only had myself to worry about taking care of, and though I wasn’t always certain of the destination or the outcomes of my choices I didn’t have the ever-present concern for another human being’s physical survival and emotional well-being. These things, these parental worries, nag at me all.the.time. The worries always end with the final, culminating question: Will the children be all right?
So much has happened in the last four years. On the surface I’ve gone from sleepless nights frightened behind flimsy travel trailer walls to sleepless nights behind sturdier, but deteriorating, stick-built walls. I’ve rebuilt a life after a very traumatic second marriage and subsequent divorce. My children and I are working on healing, a process which I will forever regret that they have to endure and for which we will all likely be healing from for the rest of our lives. We’ve established routines and created a new way of being together. It is a way that emphasizes honesty, respect and consistency. This doesn’t mean things are always calm and quiet, but they are stable and they are much safer for us all. I have to say, “No, I can’t afford that,” much more often than I used to, but after four years, things are getting better…or they were until the latest recent developments on the job front and with the second ex transpired. The thoughts traveling through my consciousness vary greatly from details of how I will make ends meet with these new colossal expenses looming on the horizon, to knowing deep down, that somehow we will survive because we always have.
Among the thoughts of financial worries, dealing with the fallout of divorces, job stresses and the well-being of all my children swirls the heat, the deep silence of the heavy night punctuated by the yowling of neighborhood tomcats, there is the knowledge that the bad times don’t last forever, the good times will return though they won’t last either. This set of challenges must be faced and endure,and though it won’t be easy or fun, at some point in the future, I will be able to look back on these nights, the way I do on those trailer park nights and realize, “I made it through that. It’s going to be okay.”
Look…I accomplished nothing today. At least, nothing the rest of the world would consider important. So I did what I did. Spent some time with my youngest and she kicked me to the curb because I’m old and ugly and uncool…so I went to a nail appointment which had to be “rescheduled” because my nail tech can only take me in limited doses. I then returned home to find that all my other children had fled to their other parents’ home in order to get out of doing chores at mine…I then realized that since I’m poor, ugly and old, there’s just no way anyone is going to give me a break, so I figured…now’s a good time for a cocktail…this occurred at 10 am in the morning…you can now understand why I accomplished nothing today. I’m good with that…