Monthly Archives: August 2012

Pain

Tonight, I lie awake.  The moon, this late in August is almost full, the second full moon we will have this month; a blue moon, they say.  The light floods the deck outside my bedroom, illuminating everything in a beautiful blue glow that can only be seen and appreciated in the wee hours, on nights like these, but only if you are one of the fortunate ones who cannot sleep.  I have my own beautiful, exquisite dreamland right outside the slider leading to my deck.  As the moonlight streams down onto my personal paradise, as I gaze from my bed out onto the deck, I think, “If I felt better, I would go out there and enjoy that beauty.”  Instead, I remain in bed and I wince with each movement.  Tonight, my back is killing me.  I can’t get comfortable.  I’m in pain.

image

If there isn’t emotional pain going on, then someone, somewhere is hurting physically.  It is the way of this life.  While it is true that we learn and grow and deepen during our times of suffering (if we are paying attention), I’m not sure that I like this particular aspect of suffering that I am enduring. When I was younger, I could do anything or nearly anything with no consequences.  I mean, really, almost anything.  Today, I attempted the “almost anything.”  I moved a tree from the tree store into the back of my vehicle. I then moved the tree from the back of my vehicle to the driveway of my place.  I then attempted to move this tree, with only a little help from one of my children, from the driveway clear around the house to the back deck.  The tree?  A Japanese Maple, as tall as I am and a little bit wider. This did a number on my back. Years ago, I could have done all this activity with no consequences, but these days, I pay for every bit of effort I expend.  My currency is pain and sleeplessness.

This year has been filled with pain for me.  Six days into it, I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer.  I have four children, three of them at home, the oldest is not yet fully launched.  What horrible timing.  Pain. I have had more financial struggles this year than I’ve had in a good, long while.  Another car blew an engine.  That’s a deductible I couldn’t afford to spend the family grocery money on. And in the professional work realm, I encountered a year that I would put up there with my top three worst years in the world of work ever.  Add to this, uncovered medical expenses which I am still paying off, and a boyfriend who suddenly decides to take off without giving me notice. I mean, I thought we were working on forever, and it turns out that he was only working on him and his kids and I was the stepping stone. Pain. Pain. Pain.

And with it, regret.

But tonight…I’m in a different kind of pain and it isn’t emotional.

Physically, my body is killing me.  It is punishing me for the work I expended today to create some additional beauty in my world.  Beauty that was worth the pain I am experiencing now, because if I’d known I was going to feel this way afterward, I would have still moved that tree single-handedly onto my back deck.  It is so worth it to me.  And, as I lie here in physical pain, pain that Vicodin was created for, I think this:  My body hurts, but my psyche does not.  While my body screams in agony and I cannot get comfortable, if I am honest I have to say, that, in spite of my recent experience of being abandoned faster than most people cash in on a lottery winning, I am doing okay.

And okay is okay.

I’m not happy about the fact that my love life is nonexistent, and likely to be so for a very long time.  (Actually, if I can’t have the Gone Boyfriend, I’m okay with this.  I just don’t want to go to the effort.) I’m not happy about the fact that I’m likely to attend all of my children’s monumental events in life…alone…while their other parents attend these very same events happily married with a second or third spouse.  Yeah, what kind of loser must I be?  Pain.

In spite of all of this, here is what I know: I am okay with me.  I haven’t settled.  I haven’t compromised.  I am the one I have to wake up to each  morning, and, for the most part, I am content with who I am and what choices I’ve made.  Sure, I’d love to rewind life several decades and make some different choices, but those different choices would eliminate certain people from my life that I simply find I cannot do without.  So, I’m okay with the choices that I would re-do, under other conditions.  I’m okay with where I am right now.  I don’t like a lot of my current reality, but I’m okay with most of it.

I’m good with the the fact that I’m able to provide for my children, that we are surviving and thriving in an economy where many are struggling.

I’m so grateful for all the people in my life who’ve given me hugs, emotionally and otherwise in my most painful moments and who, in spite of my drama, still care to call themselves my friend.

I’m grateful for a career, that while stressful and imperfect, enables me to provide for my family without having to depend on someone else…and to do so…reasonably well…and which allows me to make a difference in the lives of very important people who will someday make decisions that affect us all.

I’m grateful for a Japanese Maple…or two…on my back deck that will provide me with some beauty and a peaceful respite for some years to come. If I can just enjoy the beauty of a tree and a moonlit night, I think I just might always be content.

I’m in pain, but I’m content with my lot.  I’m good with this.

Home should be a refuge from the pain.  I, thankfully, have this refuge in my life.

I can’t complain…but…you know I will…just because….it makes a great story!

The Company Picnic

Most people have one day a year that they dread.  For some, it is the day they have to finally own up and pay the taxes.  For others, it is the particular day of the holidays when they have to sit next to one of the least favorite outlaws at dinner.  Some dread the day they have to put a child on the plane bound for dad’s for the summer.  For me, it’s The Company Picnic.

My company is a rather large organization with 19 offices in three cities.  We serve over 13,000 clients annually in a personal face-to-face environment. Our clients receive services from us, some of them for over 20 years.  We also have affiliates in other communities nationwide. So, essentially, my organization is a large one.  But it is dreadfully small on Company Picnic Day. As long as I live, I will never cease to question how I can be in a basketball gymnasium filled with thousands of people and never see a person I know, yet, take that same stadium and fill it with thousands of people from my company on what we dub as Company Hug Day, and I can find The Evil Ex even if I’m not looking (and I always am, just to avoid him).  This year, not only was The Evil Ex present and accounted for, but so was his Wife, who apparently has now been hired by the company and working in the same office he is working in.  To add insult to injury, his son’s wife, a cute young thing was also there. Now, I have nothing against their happiness, or the fact that apparently there is some real nepotism going on which I don’t understand, because The Evil Ex is not even good at what he supposedly does for a living. Why would the Powers That Be hire anyone associated with him?  I don’t get it. (In fact, the company had grounds and could have fired him 12 years ago.  I know.  I was there.  They didn’t.  Instead, in a classic case of sexual discrimination, they demoted me (the more experienced and qualified female employee…and I’m not making this up or being bitter…I can prove I’m the more qualified and skilled individual) and promoted him.  And why?  Because I foolishly made the mistake to fish off the company dock.  (I was not informed that this only works out for the men in the equation.) I was also too fearful and intimidated to take on the legal battle.   What I take issue with is that it just seems unfair that those who are so inept, succeed over those who are more competent …or seem to.   Okay, the job situation ticks me off, but he’s also inept relationally.  How is it that he gets a relationship though he’s a jerk and I’m a decent person of good character and I can’t find a match that will last to save my soul???  Yeah, let’s not go there.

He is a creeper.  I had a restraining order on him.  He has less than the normal minimum days with our daughter. He should have been fired.  But that’s not how the world works. They retain the men. And fire or demote the women, essentially ruining their careers…especially if they get pregnant.

I guess I am still bitter about all of that.  It doesn’t eat at me…at least 364 days of the year it doesn’t eat at me…but on Company Picnic Day…when I see him representing the most prestigious office in our region (think monied clients and a comfortable corner office to work out of)…the injustice of it all floods my psyche.  You see, back in the day, before we decided to fish, before he decided to stalk me and later abuse me, I worked at one of those elite locations, with that elite clientele, with a very comfortable corner office, with windows, all done up in blue.  My life was made. Until he entered the scene.  And I’m not bitter when I say this, the man is incompetent.  He can’t handle his own personal matters, let alone those required for his job.  The deal is this:  he’s a great liar and pretender.  He can present himself to so many as something he really is not.  He has a way of lying about things so that, while preposterous, they sound believable.  For example, this summer he perjured himself under oath.  He told the judge he was still providing insurance for all of his children due to the fact that one’s children are now covered until they are 26.  The reality:  he has 7 children…not including the one we have together which makes 8. Of his 7 children, 5 of them are adults, and 4 of them are married, over the age of 26, and/or have their own insurance coverage. So, he told the judge he was paying insurance and covering all these people and what it shakes down to is, he’s covering exactly two other children (besides himself and his wife) and not our daughter. I was stunned.  I was not able to reply to this statement because I wasn’t given adequate opportunity. He lied.  He wins.  He puts himself off as this great man of character and of God, but then he doesn’t  pay his half of the medical expenses and he’s an asshole when it comes to negotiating the differences regarding our daughter.  In fact, there is no negotiation. He just does what he’s going to do and I am left dealing with the fallout.  That’s  how our marriage was.  Can I expect anything different in our divorce?

So, he won in the work arena.

He won in the court arena this summer.

And today, apparently, he’s winning in the Love Arena, because he was there with his wife and daughter-in-law, while I was there, completely, undeniably,  and obviously, ALONE.

And by alone, I mean really alone.  The last couple of years I told myself it didn’t matter.  And, really, it didn’t, because I didn’t have his wife and daughter-in-law in my face at close proximity. (Yes, our last names all end with the same letter so I must attend all the excruciating meetings with them.) But also, I knew I was going home to someone.  I knew then, at least, I was in the relational ball park.  Last year at this time it appeared I was winning or, at least, staying in, that particular game.  This year, it is a totally different story. I’ve been kicked off the island, or my partner couldn’t leave my island fast enough.  My inability to maintain a relationship over time is glaringly apparent to me, to the world, to the company and, worst of all, to the Evil Ex and his family who now, apparently, works for our company.

This does not feel good.

I mostly don’t mind being alone, but never having a significant other in my life was simply not what I ever wanted in life.  In fact, even more than kids, I wanted that quality relationship with another adult. I gained in the kids arena, but apparently I’m a complete flop in the relationship arena.  This just doesn’t always sit well with me.  In fact, at times, like today, when I am faced with my failure, it is incredibly painful.  I wonder why he gets the happy relationship though he never spoke to me ever, once, in six years, in his passive-aggressive abusive manner of dealing with people. He is disrespectful, unreliable, and irresponsible and all sorts of other things I don’t want to take up space with here.  How does he get love and I can’t find a quality partner to save my soul? He’s a taker, an abuser, and people flock to him.  I don’t take, I give, I deal honestly and fairly, and men use me up and move on.  No one stays.  What’s wrong with me?????

So I posted that video and post about being Alone.  I’ve made my peace with being alone.  I can handle it.  I’m content most of the time.

The truth is, I’ve lied.  I like being in relationship with a man. I like the companionship.  I don’t like being alone…in that way. I especially don’t like the idea that this is the end of the relational line for me (and the sad reality is that age being what it is, and men being what they are, it is the end).  Like I said, most of the time, this is not an issue with me.  I enjoy my boring, little life.  I have wonderful friends. I love my kids.  I’ve been blessed with four beautiful, intelligent, dynamic individuals as children, who are so successful, in spite of the fact that they had so many risk factors (divorce, poverty, etc.) working against them. I can’t take credit for that.  They chose that. The work I do daily matters, not just to the people I work with, but to the people they, in turn, impact.  It’s an amazing job and I am good at it. I’m grateful for that.  And if you asked any of my friends they would tell you and they do tell me that I am an amazing person.

But…

at the end of the day…

when the kids have gone home to their families…

the friends are busy with their own lives…

…and I can no longer work

…I am alone.

I don’t exactly want the highlight of my days to be my latest, greatest Facebook status update.

I don’t exactly like the idea of rocking alone on the front porch of the old folks’ home.

Apparently, I’m just not amazing enough.

I hate Company Picnic Day.

Life Superior

“Mom, my graduation from my fellowship is Saturday, August 24th. Can you come? Dad can’t make it, and really would like someone here for me. Plus there are many key political figures I want you meet. Can you please come?”

How does one say no to child who asks, no begs, for you to remain present and involved in their adult lives. This isn’t because the apron strings haven’t been cut. No, this is my firstborn, the independent one who has chosen to do life her way since she was born. She drives herself to achieve impossibilities, she still fights sleep, she’s been tapped to lead a prominent campaign for a candidate of her political party, and she’s intentionally choosing to sit out a term of college to gain this experience. This is not a needy, clingy child who is having a tough time leaving the nest. This is strong, intelligent, independent woman we are dealing with here. So, when she asks, especially when  she asks in this particular way, a caring parent pays attention. Even if she is not yet 22 years old. I was very close to having to tell my daughter no this time.

Why would I do such a thing?

The problem is a financial one more than anything.

More than once, this month, I’ve regretted the fact that I allowed the insurance company to pull The Gone BF’s payment out of my account. Sadly, he was attentive enough to our finances to wait until the payments had cleared before he decided to head out. More than once, over the last few weeks, I’ve wondered why I let this relationship go on an why I didn’t do something earlier about it. The fact that he is now gone, brings a different kind of sadness. It is a sadness that comes from realizing the truth when you worked so hard to ignore it. It’s a sadness that comes from realizing you had to work at ignoring the truth, that he just never was that into me, in spite of his helpfulness and wonderful words. He’s gone. I’ve no doubt he is glad to be gone. He hasn’t contacted me in well over a week. I don’t expect to hear or see from him again. I do wish I hadn’t been such a fool, but other than that my life is greatly improved since he left. But I am annoyed with myself for having paid his insurance bill.

I also wish my daughter, for all her competence, had informed me earlier. I would have planned this month so differently. Traditionally, the end of summer, with it’s back school registrations and expenses, is tight. This year is no exception. Even though I am past my bankruptcy, and I am doing all I can to improve my credit, I still don’t like using the credit cards. I have one with a small limit that I use and pay off every month, but it didn’t have enough on it to cover the expenses for this trip. On a whim, exactly a week ago, I applied for a credit card with a $1, 000 limit. Okay, in my past life, that’s a low limit, almost an insult. In my current financial recovery life, it’s an indicator that my life is improving. If you read through the credit repair literature, most suggest that it takes about a year to be approved for a credit card with that kind of limit. I was approved and it has been just over two months since I received my discharge letter. This was great news. Now to hope that I received the card in seven days rather than the ten of the 7-10 business days it takes to receive the card.

Waiting. As time drew near and my mailbox remained empty, I made up a Plan B. The Good Ex is usually great about giving me cash if I write him a post dated check. I hate doing this, but this was an exception and for a good reason. So, the stress was off as far as whether or not I was going, because The Good Ex was very good about it and payday is very near.

I have to say though, that in a situation like this that involves unplanned expenses four days before payday, having a credit card helps. What also helps is that this summer, I worked five extra weeks. What I spend this weekend will be paid off in a week. I will get to see my daughter and support her. But having that credit card would mean I’d have a cushion. It would mean some extra in case something happened. It would NOT mean a spending spree, it would mean I could enjoy the trip without worry.

Yesterday afternoon, as I was firming up our plans, I texted my oldest, “If that card is in the mail today, my life will be superior.”

I am pleased to report that my life is indeed superior.

Givers And Takers

There are givers and takers in life. Which are you?

I’m not sure people can be classified so distinctly into one or the other category. I know that throughout my life, I have been both. TGBF, while it would seem took more than he gave, actually gave quite a bit…at least there for a while he did. I gave a lot, but I also, especially at the end, took my fair share or as much of it as I possibly could, once I knew he was going to bolt.

We both gave and we both took. He gave time and effort to making sure the daily routines in our home ran efficiently. He truly was at our beck and call and seemed glad about that. He did so much for me and I was grateful. I gave more tangible things, food, shelter, stuff, because I was able and glad to do it…at least there for a while I was. Once he made his decision to leave he began to ease up on the giving and started doing more taking. Sensing something was wrong, I backed off on giving and because to focus more on taking…or getting paid back…for things he promised he’d pay me back for, which he never did, and which, I now realize, he won’t ever. The relationship deteriorated to the point where iI asked him to change or leave and he threw the neutron bomb of relational endings by moving immediately to a place far away.  (He later texted me and told me he did this so we wouldn’t get back together. My response? Good to know.)

This is all water under the bridge, as they say.

I ponder these things, in the wee hours of the night, because, well, to be honest, I don’t know the reason because. I just do. There’s a part of me that wants to try to make sense of the confusing turn of events. There’s a part of me that wants to try to learn from whatever went wrong so I don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. There’s part of me that wishes that, if it wasn’t going to work out, it had never happened. There’s a part of me that is just still really confused and bewildered.

Last weekend, the night that TGBF was to come and get his things, I met up with some friends for drinks. One of the women stated, “If the guy doesn’t make more than I do, I don’t give him a second thought.” She’s been taken advantage of and made her costly mistakes. Apparently she’s learned her lesson. A lesson, I suspect I need to learn. (When men treat women like this, is it any wonder women begin to put demands on men like this?)

The saddest thing of all, for me, is that the man took two years of my life and I have nothing but his furniture and a whole lot of painful confusion to show for it. It’s reason enough to never date again, or, if I do to make sure I’m less of a giver and more of a taker the next time around.

Yeah, I’m so not ready to date.
I’m really okay with that.

Alone-ness

It’s now the end of the second week after The Gone BF and I parted ways. It’s been a week since he ran away to a distant land and started a new life there. The first week was unbearable, this week, surprisingly, not so bad. I think it really helped to force myself through my routines. It also helped to have friends and my son around to help. Realizing that all the drama merely reflected the immature character of The Gone BF, rather than my failure as a companion or person, moved me to a better place more quickly than I hoped. Not being in contact with TGBF also kept me from wallowing around in sadness; ending it quickly the few times he did contact me, proved to be an effective strategy. Work, as much as I dreaded it, going in, proved to be a blessing. It kept me busy and mentally focused on something other than my miserable situation.

In fact, by Wednesday I was sleeping better and drinking less. The bottle of gin I purchased, upon learning that TGBF couldn’t get away fast enough, is long gone, and has been replaced by a small bottle of cheap red wine that tastes so badly, I was forced to mix it with Sprite, just to get a glass of it down. I will finish the last glass of that wine tonight, and tomorrow, I exercise and drink only water. It is time to get serious about taking care of me.

By Thursday, not only was I feeling better, I was actually in a place where I could begin to feel hopeful about the future, and more accepting of the present. Today, some of my old contentment has returned: I look forward to coming home, I love my place, my kids, my work. I believe this feels like contentment. I feel no desire or need to rush out and replace TGBF, and I like being able to keep my home exactly the way I want it. I am even looking forward to the days to come. I’m beginning to look forward to fall, the cooler air, and the golden colors. It will continue to be my favorite time of year even though it was at this time that TGBF and I started dating. I’m making plans for the holidays and I’m not dreading it, even though this year at Christmas I won’t have any of my children. I’m planning to go visit friends and family elsewhere, and that will be my gift to me.

I’m alone these days, and it isn’t by my own choice. Even so, I don’t view my aloneness quite the same as the loneliness I experienced early on. This alone-ness is comforting, it is familiar, it does not mark me as an untouchable or a failure. It is my freedom. I really do not mind or dread this experience two weeks out. It is bearable. I can see hope from here.

Now, maybe you are one who dreads being alone. I’ve included a link to a video poem I love. It’s just as affirming now as it was two years ago before the TGBF entered the arena of my life. Enjoy!

How To  Be Alone

Dating

Online dating seems to be the shiz these days. Everybody’s doing it. More couples than ever before meet online. Half a decade ago when I left the Evil Ex, I decided to give online dating a try. I actually did this because my oldest daughter set up the profile for me. I later modified that profile and tried out just about every online dating sight in existence. I could tell you that the creepers stalked Plenty of Fish, that eHarmony was a rip off unless you are into long distance relationships and have a ton of frequent flyer miles saved up. Match.com seemed to have the most professionally employed individuals in my age bracket and, indeed, this is where I met The Gone BF. But, I met The Gone BF just as I had decided to give it all up anyway.

You see, online dating, or constantly meeting up, is downright exhausting. This isn’t to say, that it isn’t fun. I met a ton of fun interesting people, several of whom I remain friends with to this day. The problem with online dating is that you have to have your game on, you have to have this ability to be interested until you know you’re not, and you have to be aware that people are liars. Plus, it just
seems like every date is the first date.

I’ve also noticed that online dating tends to follow a pattern. I personally never make the first contact; my inbox is usually slammed with those seeking to make my acquaintance, or get into my other inbox. I attribute this to several things: I know how to write a profile that gets the guys’ attention, I pick effective and truthful pictures, and I was younger back then. I’m not sure I’d have the same luck today. I’m not sure I have the emotional energy to even try. But, I was talking about the online dating pattern of profile, contact, digital contact, phone contact, F2F (face to face) contact. Most of the time it ends up sizzling out about the third email. If it gets to a meet up, I’m usually disappointed. I’m figuring it won’t be the same game it used to be this time around, and I’m just not sure my fragile self-esteem can bear being passed over for younger gals with enhanced boobs and fewer laugh lines.

Now that The Gone BF is gone, never to return, I have wondered what the future holds for me. I can’t possibly envision another relationship. Not because I wouldn’t like one…eventually. I mean, the idea of rocking away on the porch of the old folks home all alone, doesn’t exactly appeal to me. On the other hand, giving over even one inch of my newly acquired closet or bathroom space is just as distasteful to me. (Yes, I’m going to need therapy just to mitigate my strong tendency right now to become a completely self-absorbed reclusive cat woman.) Getting to know someone takes time, effort, sometimes money, patience, and a whole lot of emotional fortitude…all, of which, I lack these days. Mostly, I just want to be left alone.

On the other hand… it might be fun to just see what’s out there.

Naaaa, I’m not holding my breath. Something about all the good ones being taken comes to mind.

Loneliness

The days and nights are hard right now. No, I would not wish this particular man (the Non BF, now turned the Gone BF) back for anything. Things have transpired, text messages sent from a day’s drive away, that revealed that this man was many things, but never was he in love with me. He was far too immature for that. He was also unable to be honest, about where he was with things, about what was troubling him, about what he wanted or needed. He’s also unable to take responsibility for his part in this, it remains all my fault and he contends that “he never wanted this.” (And yet, he did nothing to prevent it from happening when he easily could have, instead running as far away as he could, not unlike a petulant adolescent.)

As usually, happens, I think, this ending became final, for me anyway, as the result of a small incident: a stupid text message. This man had lived with me for two years. In all that time, I had never been anything but crystal clear about what I would tolerate and what I would not, what I could pay for and could not. He knew that I believed we were working on something lasting. This was not a casual roommate or friends with benefits arrangement for me. He knew this. He also knew that the only reason I was cohabiting with him was the understanding that eventually there would be a public, legal, formal commitment. It turns out, The Gone BF, knew he wasn’t going to marry me, and I’m now beginning to suspect he knew this for quite some time, at least a year. Yet, all this while, he was perfectly content to live a charade of loving me and wanting to spend the rest of his life with me when he had no intention of doing that at all. So, the sad, depressing truth is that this man knowingly used me. The even sadder truth was that I truly cared about him, enjoyed our time together so much, that I unknowingly let him use me. I ignored the thousand of teeny tiny flags that should have indicated a disconnect somewhere. You know what they say about hindsight.

Two days ago, he texted me, angry that I had not given him any hangers, but instead had packed up his clothes in garbage bags without them. (He’d literally gone through every closet in the house, collecting all the white hangers for himself, so that each piece of his clothing hung exactly half an inch apart on white plastic hangers.) And now, the man who lived for a year for free while I paid for everything, is bitching at me because I kept the hangers. Hangers, I might add, that I purchased at the Goodwill when we moved in to this new place last summer. Again, his tone and message implied that this was all my fault. It suddenly became very clear to me how juvenile this man was, and also how very self-centered he was. While we were together, this was hard to detect because he really did a lot to help out…at first. In retrospect, though, he ended things without discussion the minute they no longer worked for him. It was a small, silly text message, but it was the moment I mentally disconnected. No, I truly never want to see this man again.

It doesn’t necessarily make things easier. I was living a fantasy that wasn’t ever what I believed it to be, but I enjoyed my fantasy, for the most part, and didn’t want it to end. Instead, it ended harshly and abruptly. Literally, one week all seemed great; the next he is gone and, after two years of unemployment, he has a job and is living in a city far away. There was no discussion, no haggling over stuff or money, and certainly no good-bye. The angry teenager just ran off.

So, I pass my days slugging through my obligations, trying to maintain composure. I’m experiencing now, for those first few agonizing times alone, all those things we did together, which I enjoyed so much: grocery shopping, meal preparation, morning cups of coffee, bike rides to a favorite lunch spot in a nearby town. I’m doing these things alone now. It’s painful, and my chest feels like it is going to be crushed with the weight of the loneliness. The reality is, that I will very likely be doing these things alone for a long time, possibly the rest of my life.

I miss what I thought we had.

Death and Finality

It’s over.
He’s picked up the rest of his possessions and he’s gone. I was not here when he did this. I left his things in the driveway. They are now gone.
He entered my life two years ago. Now he’s gone.
I will never see him again.

Today he texted me to tell me he got a job in the bay area.

Today he left for his new life; a life that by intentional design excludes me.

There won’t be any back and forth. There won’t be any bumping into him around town. There won’t be any keeping in touch. He’s gone. The last memory I have of him, he was getting into his truck and driving off.

It is as though he has died; this ending is that sudden, that abrupt, that final.

I’m now left with the task of picking up the shards of my heart, but all I can do is look at the mess and wonder where to begin. How does one possibly begin to heal after this? How does one possibly begin to put it all back together? And the big questions: how does one keep from becoming bitter? How does one ever begin to trust again?

****
It’s 5:00 a.m. and I’ve been up since two, tossing, turning, hurting. Finally, the tears have come. Slowly, silently. I hurt.
****
On a good note, the state has not adjusted the child support reduction yet, so I received the entire child support amount this month. It is a small consolation, but it is a big blessing in my otherwise disastrous life.

On another good note, I decided to buy myself a “Voted Off The Island” consolation gift. I bought myself a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2. Now, I’m an Apple girl. I’ve been holding out for an iPad 2. I’m still going to get one eventually. At work this week, one of my colleagues had a tablet that wasn’t an iPad. She let me play with it. Half the price; same amount of fun. I’m still getting used to it, but I can tell this is going to be wonderful. The fact that I was able to buy it on credit, and that next month I will pay it off, is another blessing.

I would never place a higher value on material things than I would on people and relationships, but if the relationship in question is going to screw me over and destroy my heart, there’s nothing like a new tech gadget to soothe the pain. I’m also pretty grateful for my “new” living room furniture and my “new” 32-inch HD TV among other things.

So, while my life is a complete disaster in the relationship arena, I”ve taken steps to keep myself busy and distracted until enough time passes until I can look at what’s happened without experiencing the excruciating pain I currently feel.

The Non-Boyfriend is officially dead to me. It’s as final as it can be. Now it’s time to move on and try to heal over so I can be ready for whatever adventure awaits.
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Getting Voted Off The Island

When parents divorce in my county, if there are children involved, the parents are required to take a class that deals with the issue of helping children through divorce. It’s not a horrible class ,but it is required. The judge will not award a decree unless both parents take the class. I signed up and took the class as soon as I could after filing for divorce from The Evil Ex.

I remember the class well. I was there, fighting back tears and doing my level best to appear calm and well-adjusted, in spite of feeling like I might, at any second, dissolve into a liquid mass of human saltwater. I signed in, took my gratuitous paperwork, got some awful coffee, and found a seat near the side of the room toward the front. Shortly, after I sat down, a man entered. He looked like your typical geeky professor type. He strode up to the woman at the sign in desk and announced, “I’m being voted off the island, and I hear I have to take this class, so here I am.”

So much for feeling miserable. I couldn’t stop chuckling about it each time I thought of it for a good year afterward. Humor has a way of numbing the pain sometimes.

This week, I’ve been fortunate. I’ve been able to work. I have a job that allows me a great deal of time off each year. This is not paid time off, but it is still time off. Because my job is so demanding and stressful during the rest of the year, I loathe working during these off times. This year, due to medical expenses from my cancer treatments and the gradual drain of the Non-Boyfriend on my pocketbook, I decided to sign up to work five weeks this summer. This week was week three. It’s been wonderful to have something to go do each day that helps me forget that I am being voted off my own island.

On Tuesday of this week, the Non-Boyfriend and I voted each other off the relational island. Later that day, one of my colleagues began sharing at break, how his wife of 27 years just voted him off the marital island this last May. (I did not start talking about my situation. He brought up the topic all on his own.) He is still reeling from the shock and surprise and grief that comes from being blindsided. I can relate.

I mentioned a few posts back how I changed my status on Facebook to single right after I realized that the Non-BF had been planning a secret escape from our crumbling island. It wasn’t long before I had friends commiserating with me digitally, offering their condolences. Many contacted me privately. Some of these folks are single eligible men. One of them is a person I “met” digitally about four years ago through a blog I was writing at that time. He lives on the other side of the country, and even though I’ve long since stopped writing on that other blog, he’s kept in touch through Facebook. We’ve never met in real life. He, too, was just voted off the island of relational bliss.

Yesterday, he mentioned flying out to see me at the holidays. We will both be sans children and negotiating a “couples” holiday season alone. Neither of us is looking forward to it. Now, I’m fairly certain this will not happen, but I do find it interesting how things in life can conspire to distract me from the pain I am dealing with. Random little interactions like this tend to be like the emotional epidural that completely knocks out the pain of the relational rejection I’m birthing. You can still feel the pressure, but the pain is not there. I’ve been voted off the island by one particularly unhappy individual through no fault of my own, really, unless finally saying no to mistreatment is a fault. Less than 48 hours later, I have people entering my life inviting me to visit their little island for a bit.

No, I’m not going to stay long on any of these islands. I will most certainly not even spend the night. I am not ready for that. But, I ask you what is the harm of stopping by someone’s island for an afternoon of friendship, sun, and maybe even some libations? Can anyone refuse an invitation to spend a day at the beach with fun companions?

I was voted off an island I didn’t realize was crumbling. Maybe it is time for me to realize that there are possibly much bigger, stronger, more enjoyable islands out there.

Questions

He walked out at 7:00 a.m. yesterday.  He looked worn, tired, angry, and so disgusted.  As he shoved the last few things in his truck, he didn’t even really look back.  He just got in the vehicle, turned on the motor, and drove off.  Never mind that he left most of his clothing here and all of his precious books.  I haven’t heard a word from him.  Not a text.  Not an email.  Not a phone call.

Part of me is crushed.  How could someone spend two years of their life with me and then walk away like that without a second glance?  And then, to leave all of his belongings?  He must have been so miserable for so long and yet he hid it.  The question I keep returning to is, “Why?”  The unanswerable, why.  Was he so desperate that he stayed here and “put up” with us because he had nowhere else to go? Did he feel about me the way I felt about my last ex?  Like I just couldn’t take it any more or I’d go crazy or maybe even do myself in?  The other part of me thinks, “Wow.  I can’t be rid of someone like this fast enough.”

It is a beautiful, warm, peaceful late summer evening.  My urban garden  is flourishing.  I’ve packed up his belongings and placed them in a corner of the garage.  Yes, even the things I would like to keep…like the books.  I’ve changed the locks, changed the code to the storage unit, and removed him from all of whatever accounts he was on that I was paying for.  I’m stuck paying his bills for this month…but next month should be easier.  Tonight, we grilled  hamburgers,  my son and I, and my daughter and her friend sat at the kitchen counter eating their foot long sub sandwiches, and we just chatted, freely, easily, without contention.  Something that hasn’t happened for a very long time around here.  It was peaceful.  Later, my daughter left to go to the theater with her friend and I watched Napoleon Dynamite with my son.  It was the most relaxed evening we’ve had in, what, two years?  There was no grumbling about the minuscule crumbs left in the sink, no complaining about how poorly the dishwasher was loaded.  There was no guilt about the fact that we were relaxing instead of cleaning our already spotless place.  It was truly a peaceful, lazy, golden summer evening.  And…for all of that…I am deeply relieved and grateful.  I believe I may have, as they say, dodged a bullet, somehow.

And yet, in the background of my mind and my life, the questions seep through.  Why hasn’t he contacted me even to make arrangements for his things?  What is going on? Where is he sleeping at night?  Is he okay?  Is he really relocating to be closer to his ex and the kids?  How long was he so unhappy?  How long was he hiding, lying, keeping secrets?  What went wrong?  How could I have seen this coming?  How on earth could I have avoided it?  And then, the recriminating accusations that always surface, “What a fool you have been…AGAIN. You are such a relational loser.  When will you ever learn?  You are just no good at relationship.”

And this is when my strength fails.

I tried like anything to learn from the mistakes of my past.

I tried like anything to put 100% into this.

I tried to the best of my ability to give and to love.

And, for what?

Again, I’ve failed.

In times past I could point to mistakes I’d made.  Things I did that created stress, strain, tension in the relationship.  I could point to ways I was too controlling, ways I over-reacted.  This is not to say I was the only one to blame for the demise of the relationship, but I could, in these past situations, at least see areas that I probably didn’t handle so well.  Areas, that I could improve upon next time.  Things I could point to that contributed to furthering the misery instead of alleviating it.  With the Non-Boyfriend, I’m simply at a loss as to what went wrong, why it went wrong and what part I had in it.  I have nothing I can point to that I screwed up (other than that I gave way too much with far too little in return).  Maybe that is completely the problem.  Maybe I did give too much, invested too much, without adequate commitment up front from him to begin with.  Maybe that set the precedent for everything that followed.  It’s possible then, that when I finally got tired of the giving with no return on my investment, he just created a situation he knew I would not tolerate, and freed himself.  I just do not know and the wondering is going to drive me crazy.

I’ve dated a few men since I left the Evil Ex.

I’ve had a few “relationships”, none of them lasting this long.  All of them, the men ditched (or I did) as soon as we were uncomfortable. We didn’t just hang on.  Now, I’m not thrilled with how some of those men chose to exit the scene, but I have to hand it to them, they did exit the scene as soon as they knew it wasn’t a fit.  They didn’t hang on for two years, then bolt.

I may go to my grave wondering what happened here.

It’s going to be difficult to stifle my own accusatory tendencies that want to make me the culprit for whatever it was that transpired here.  I’m going to have to fight the tendency to blame myself for what went wrong.  I’m going to have to continue to listen to those good, and decent, and objective (I hope) people in my life that tell me, sometimes shit just happens and you can’t see it coming and you can’t necessarily avoid it.  My friends would tell me, “Well, maybe you didn’t do everything perfectly, but that’s just no excuse for someone living on your dole, while actively planning to leave you and tell you about it after the fact. That’s simply not honest.”

So, I swirl in the post-breakup emotions of despair, hopelessness, and wondering what the hell I did wrong all the while feeling like somehow I’ve been gifted a pass out of a horrendous nightmare that could have transpired had we stayed together.  It is the epitome of mixed emotions…and I hate it.

I miss what I thought we had.

I miss him when he was at his best.

I don’t miss his unhappiness, his negativity and the stress I’m now realizing he brought into our home, because he somehow just didn’t think we were good enough, or clean enough, or whatever enough.  (I personally think those are excuses.  He was miserable, for whatever reason, and he just needed to get out.  He created an out and went for it without looking back.  Maybe that’s just my rationale designed to comfort myself about this crazy situation, but, maybe there’s some validity to it. He had everything going for himself here, and he tubed it.)  I don’t miss a lot of things that he brought to the table that I didn’t like, but which I overlooked because he brought other strengths to the table.

I can spin around in this place forever, wondering what happened and why it happened.  I may never know the answer to those questions.  It’s possible I don’t really want to know the answer to those questions.

At some point, I’m just going to have to let all the questions go…unanswered…if need be…and move on.

In the meantime, the comfort of friends is a most welcome thing.

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