Category Archives: Relationships

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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Benefits of Breaking Up

It’s not going to get ugly here. He’s not likely to pull a U-Haul up and empty my place one day while I’m out and I’m not going to slit his throat in the middle of the night while he lies sleeping on my couch downstairs until he leaves, which has already happened; the leaving part, I mean.

He’s just going to pick up his things and leave my life as casually as he entered it. I’m not exactly going to go about pretending everything is as it was. That’s why he had a deadline (Friday) to get out and that’s why he slept on the couch; something he abhorred, which is why he left earlier than his Friday deadline. Well, that and some help from his parents. Things have changed, but they aren’t ugly.

After every breakup there is a period of grief, I think. Really, I’m only guessing at this. I’m no therapist. In fact, I need a therapist. But it sounds good, so I’m going with it. I suppose, if the relationship was horrible, one might be relieved or even overjoyed at the end of the relationship. I certainly felt that way after I left The Evil Ex. The saddest part of that relationship was that I’d wasted my time in it and was now older. Men can successfully pick up on pretty young things no matter how old they get. The same does not hold true for women. Even if you are very attractive, once you hit a certain age, men seem to become more reluctant to date you, choosing instead your 21-year-old daughter. (Well, okay, that hasn’t happened to me yet, but, I suspect it might if I were ever to go bar hopping with her…which I will be sure not to do. My fragile ego could not take it right now.)

Beyond the turmoil of disentangling two lives, there comes the task of figuring out life in your new reality as a single person. I’m beginning to move in this direction. All of my children are informed of the split (they are okay with it). I have told my closest friends, and after finding out that he was totally checked out on me, I changed my Facebook status to single. Essentially, I’m taking the steps I need to take to be free of this relationship which I’m now finding out was a sham for nearly a year. This is good for me. I’m trying not to be bitter and angry at the way he treated me, at the way I allowed him to treat me. I’m keeping busy. Making plans. I’m trying my best not to dwell on my loss and not to despair too much about the real potential of a solitary future.

As I go through my days, I consider all the positive aspects of this change in my life. This helps to keep my mind from wandering toward the sadder parts and becoming maudlin about the whole deal. Here are a few things I’ve come up with:

1. There’s a whole lot more room in my king-sized bed to sprawl out in.
2. I will now have a room to call my own, as well as a closet and bathroom.
3. Maybe now I can move my desk area downstairs and out of my bedroom…or maybe not. He will no longer be dominating my downstairs with his desk area. At least I will be able to choose.
4. I will no longer have to urge my kids to”Quick, let’s clean up before he gets home,” when there never really was anything to clean up to begin with because he won’t be coming home.
5. I will not have to wonder where he put the latest thing he cleaned up or what things of mine he threw out when he cleaned.
6. I might be able to do away with the storage unit. We only have it because he felt the garage was out of control. (It wasn’t, and his stuff is mostly what we store there.)
7. I’ll save money, since I won’t be paying his car insurance, gas, food and gym membership.
8. I will have more time to write.
8a. I will have more time to spend with my children that we won’t have to cut short because he suddenly walked in the room.
9. I can do what I want, when I want without criticism.
10. I can plan my own future and chart my own course.

Even though breakups are sad, painful and rough, there are some decided benefits, especially if the relationship was floundering anyway. I’m sure I’ll have my moments of feeling like a complete relational loser in the days and weeks and months to come, but right now I’m trying to stay positive and think of the benefits. The list I’ve created here only scratches the surface. I haven’t even considered things like how much more honestly I’ll be living because he’s not around, and how much less stress I will experience because he won’t be constantly criticizing me or my children. I haven’t mentioned how I won’t ever have to hear him infer that I am poor white trash (wait…who’s picking up your tab and paying all your bills while you channel surf all day?). I won’t ever have to be out with friends and experience his sneer of disgust when I say/do something he doesn’t approve of. In fact, the more I think of it, the better I feel about this. In some ways, it will be hard and sad. I think the saddest part of all of it is that I was too kind, too generous, and I wasted so much time in a dead end relationship. In more more ways, though, this will will be great. Once I get over my shock at what has transpired and how unexpected it all was, I’ll be okay. This is the right thing to be doing.

I’m sad it didn’t work out but, to be honest, if it wasn’t going to work out, the thing I’m most sad about is that I didn’t realize that fact earlier.

Tonight I Cry

He left this morning, early, and was gone all day. I came home, his personal effects were gone. His place in the bathroom vacant, empty, hollow. It hurt. For so many reasons it hurt.

I thought we had something.

I thought we were building something together.

I was investing my life, my self, my heart because I really thought we had something, and not just any something, but something good, something that could go the distance.

He returned home this evening, mentioning he will be gone tomorrow. He let drop the news that he’d interviewed for a job two hours away. How long has he been planning this move, I wondered? What else is going on that you aren’t telling me. I voiced my questions aloud and received only unconvincing answers which confirmed my worst fears. He’s been planning this ending for a while. When he was going to let me in on it, I have no idea. Maybe he was going to write me a letter and leave it on his pillow. Or maybe I’d just figure it out when I returned home from work one day to find all his things cleared out.

Tonight I’m in pain, because this new revelation that he’s actually been planning to leave me for some time is news I cannot bear. How do you live with someone you know loves you, allow them to pay your bills, feed, you, house you, and all the while you are planning the cruelest sort of reciprocation: instead of “I love you” it’s “Good-bye.”

I do not understand this.
Worse, I have no idea when this change occurred in him. I just sensed things were amiss, I addressed it, and he’s gone. He was merely biding his time looking for an out.

I thought we were good together.

Apparently, he didn’t agree, and I missed all the clues, until now.

I am a fool to have cared. I am a fool to have trusted. I am a fool to have believed.

Tonight I pay for my foolishness with tears. Tonight I cry.

Humorous…Or Not

The beginning of love is always fun, exhilarating, scintillating, exciting, happy.  The end of it, if analyzed, is bound to be many things.  Sometimes volatile, dangerous, and painful.  In my case, this ending is interesting, if not completely humorous. How can I possibly refer to the end of a relationship that was (or so  I thought) the love of my life, certain to go the distance, as…humorous?  I mean, after all, I am devastated.  I really am.  I would never have considered living with a man if I wasn’t 100% certain this was the real deal. We really had so much going for us in so many ways. I can’t even begin to explain or list the ways this relationship seemed so right.  And yet, apparently, it wasn’t.  I have yet to learn all the lessons from this.  Much of what has transpired and will yet transpire will teach me important lessons only after the throbbing pain of loss has subsided and I can try to look at what happened with a bit less emotion. I get that.  But right now, I’m riding an emotional roller coaster that rivals anything Disney or Six Flags could come up with.

So, in spite of the pain, how can I view this as humorous?  Well, having two very stiff drinks helps.

The truth is, I am crushed.  I am hurt.  I am in all sorts of pain.  (So much for that “calm before the storm.”)  I’ve cried a lot today.  He does not know this.  I will continue to brush back the tears, to sob silently behind closed doors (read in the shower), until he is finally gone from my residence and, sadly, from my life.

Since there is now no “faking it” in our relationship (I never did, but I know he did…if not in the bedroom, then certainly elsewhere), we’ve had some very interesting conversations.  He is one who likes to dodge issues; pretend like things are fine when, in fact, they are not.  I, on the other hand, prefer to know the truth straight up.   So, as people do, we had yet another conversation about the details of unwinding this thing.  Mind you, we aren’t storming around tense and antagonist.  We woke up this morning had coffee together, and began talking about the “unwind” like an old married couple might discuss the return on their mutual fund or the sale of some property or the latest developments with the grandchildren.  Since the Non-Boyfriend (NBF), is not exactly one to be direct and honest about his feelings, and since I for some idiot reason felt I needed to know where he stood (this is critical, because I have absolutely no clue how he feels about me and how he feels about “us” in general and haven’t for a very, very long time). So…I started out asking questions and got some good information.

He admits to being such a neat freak that he makes Felix Unger look like a slob.  He admits that this is not healthy, has created problems for us, but he’s at a loss as to know what to do.  (Read:  He’s unhappy with me because my teenager doesn’t leave his room Better-Homes-And-Gardens perfect every day. )  Here’s what my son’s room looks like…normally.

This is my 17-year-old son’s disastrous room

And the downstairs guest bathroom that he complains that my older daughter leaves a disaster (Yes, this is normally how it looks, not cleaned up for the picture.) :

This is the downstairs bathroom that is, apparently, always a mess. Hmmm, no one has been in to clean it. Is this messy?

And here is the kids’ bathroom, another source of contention for him:

Again, I did not clean up for these pictures and they haven’t been photo-shopped. Is this a messy bathroom?

He says he just cannot deal with the mess anymore and he is tired of cleaning up after everyone.

Whoa!  Screeeeeech!

Let’s make it very clear, folks.  This man is NOT paying rent.  He is NOT contributing to the bills.  He only pays for anything when asked and NEVER volunteers. And he DOES NOT clean up after anyone.  Lately, even though he’s making more, he doesn’t even pay when asked. He comes and goes as he pleases and he is tired of cleaning up after everyone?  (I was careful to point out to him that he had done absolutely nothing to clean or contribute to this place, without being directly asked, for the last two months.  He agreed with me.)

I responded to his above statement, by reminding him of the fact that he pays nothing to live here and, lately, he contributes nothing, and he comes and goes as he pleases.  I told him, if I were in that place, I would consider it my rent to do whatever I could around the house to keep the landlord (read: me) happy.

I pressed him further about his perspective.  Here’s how the conversation went:

Me:  So, how long have you known that this relationship was a dead end and you weren’t willing to go to the next level? (Read: how long have you known you wouldn’t every marry me?) Has it been, what?  January?  December?

Him:  Oh not quite that long.

Yeah, end of conversation.

I have only two words for him at this point:  GET OUT!

Actually, that’s not true, I have four words for him:  GET THE FUCK OUT!

Instead, what I said was this:

“Well, then.  You could have at least have been a gentleman and gotten out once you were sure, instead of taking advantage of me.  I’d like you to work on finding a place where you can stay immediately.”

He mumbled something about working on it and named the 10th as a deadline.

I followed up with, “Well, since I just paid your rent, your utilities and your car insurance, and since you have absolutely no ability or motivation to pay me back, you will make sure this house is spotless.  You can start with the floors downstairs and making dinner tonight.”

I’m changing the locks on the afternoon of the 10th, maybe even before. (He does not know this.)  He cleaned the floors and made dinner tonight.

He can’t leave my life soon enough right now.  (And, yes, obviously, he is not telling me the entire truth about where he is with things, which is really the reason we are breaking up; he simply cannot be honest, not with himself or with other people.)

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

~ William Shakespeare

I find it humorous how relationships can turn on a dime.

I find it humorous, how, when a relationship end, the emotions can turn on a dime.

I have one week…just one more week.

 

 

Cease Fire

I’m seeing a pattern, or rather, I saw a pattern. I’ve been married twice, divorced twice and now this relationship that ended up being a non-relationship. I have only these significant relationships to reference, in addition to a small smattering of dating experiences (three months or less), since my last marriage and before the Non-Relationship. The pattern I notice is this: after a relationship ends and you’ve both admitted it is over, or that it should be, there’s a cease-fire of sorts. You both pass each other in your daily routine saying little; just trying to survive. You may be in pain, but at least you have some direction about where things are headed, even though you might not like the direction. The fighting stops. It’s over, why fight?

For me, when a relationship gets to this point, I end up feeling more relieved than anything. I’m glad I’m no longer wondering or worrying about what’s up. I’m no longer pissy about the fact that my partner has gone emotionally AWOL. I immediately begin standing on firmer ground as I move through the days immediately following the split. I feel a bit like that now, but this is different. I’ve never lived with someone before marrying them and I’ve always been able to separate physical living arrangements at about the same time the breakup occurred. That’s not the case here. He’s going to be living in my home for the next several weeks with no obligation to me. I’m really uncomfortable about this. I don’t think he’ll be a jerk, but if he decides to be, it could get bad.

I hope this isn’t that fateful calm before the storm. That cease-fire that occurs before you both begin to get on each other’s nerves. I hope we are done being disagreeable.

Slowly, Then All At Once

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It’s happening. The Hesitant Boyfriend (who is no longer really a boyfriend but an additional child in my life) is no longer hesitating. He’s moving out. Of course, I’m also not giving him any other options, either.

I guess, if I was honest with myself, I knew this was coming. I also knew it was coming long before now. I feel like a fool for hanging in there so long, hoping things would change, knowing that with each passing day, and each passing paycheck he brought home that we never discussed (much anyway), that things were not only not improving, they were declining.

Ernest Hemingway, when asked how he went bankrupt, responded, “Slowly and then suddenly.” I think the breakdown of a relationship is like that. It happens slowly, then suddenly it’s just over. It’s been that way for me, anyway. I drag my feet, fearing to face what I suspect (know) in my gut is the truth. Finally, something happens that makes it ever so obvious that not even I, with my head-in-the-relational-sand ways can even deny, that he’s just not into me…or, at least, not enough to be living in my house with no financial obligations to pay for anything and no commitment to spending any kind of decent time with me. Then, it becomes painfully clear to me that I’ve been an idiot to allow this person to take advantage of me (because, when you take from someone without any intention of ever reciprocating, that is exactly what you are doing). By the time I figure it out, there’s no argument about it being over. It becomes clear that he’s okay with it being over as much as I am finally convinced that it can’t be over soon enough..

This explains much of the hesitation of The Hesitant Boyfriend. He’s known it wasn’t going anywhere for a long time. He couldn’t exactly admit this, because to do so meant he’d be kicked to the curb before he could even finish his explanation. He couldn’t afford to be kicked to the curb (where would he go and how would he pay for it?), so he denied his own innermost feelings, pushed them aside and tried to make like everything was fine. It worked, for a little while.

But his harping on my children for the most inconsequential things increased, his resentment over not being able to see his kids regularly (I warned him a year and a half ago this might occur), and he deliberately made plans to be busy during the holidays, something he did last year, which I told him would be a deal breaker if it happened again. I haven’t even mentioned the disrespectful manner in which he treated me in public, of late, the incessant and insulting putdowns, and on and on.

It happened slowly, then suddenly. We encountered the situation I told him would be a deal breaker and here we are.

After the clarity that comes with instances like these, things tend to unwind rapidly. In our situation, the Hesitant Boyfriend, who will in the future not even earn the title of ex, but instead will be referred to as the Non-Boyfriend or NBF has agreed to begin looking for another place with a tentative move out of the 10th and certainly by the time the 1st rolls around. Im getting the locks changed and canceling him off my insurance. He will leave with his books, clothing, and personal effects and his truck. I will keep everything else since I’ve easily paid for it all ten times over in the last year. Even he does not argue this.

So, it’s done. The unwind is happening and, as much as I do care for him, I am not going back there. To be honest, I’m relieved. It will be good to be able to come home at night, to enjoy my children without his criticisms and insults. I’ll save money, because I won’t be feeding him, fueling his car or paying for his car insurance (something he was supposed to reimburse me for but never did). It isn’t going to be exactly fun to be hanging out in the evenings alone (when my kids are at their other homes), but it certainly won’t be much of an adjustment and it will be a whole lot more honest. I’ll miss my cycling buddy, and I’ll have to learn to change my own tires, but those are small consequences to choosing to leave something that constantly created stress for me.

No use crying over something that really wasn’t. I gave it my best shot, and I do love him, but I’m so unwilling to stay in a lopsided and disrespectful relationship.

I’m looking forward to changing the Facebook status to something other than in a relationship. I’m looking forward to knowing what my holidays are going to look like and who is going to be in them. I’m looking forward to gaining back the control of my life that in some surprising ways had been seductively and gradually lost. Finally, I’ll miss the fun times, but I won’t miss the critical negativity that’s hung over our place every time he walks in the door.

He might be moving out, but I’m moving on.

An Open Letter To The Guy Who Spilled Ketchup On Me

I was sitting there, in the Dairy Queen, waiting for my daughter and her friend to come back from the bathroom.  I felt a cold wet sensation on my side, my back, my arm, my thigh.  I thought for sure that my daughter and her friend were playing pranks and throwing ice.

I turned to look at the offended locations on my body.  Instead of ice, I saw, ketchup.

Disbelieving, I looked up to see you looking my way just as dumbfounded.  As if you, in your wildest imagination, could not believe that you had dropped the ketchup, let alone that it landed all over me.

You were obviously embarrassed.

You fumbled.  Desperately seeking to right a wrong that somehow strangely couldn’t be righted.  You handed me all your napkins and there were many.  You went to get water for me to use to wipe the red stuff off my attire. You were worried that you had damaged my fine attire.  Never mind that I was wearing a discount skirt purchased from Ross Dress-For-Less and my bike shoes.  Okay, the bike shoes were somewhat expensive, but you wiped them clean.

I, in return, was so shocked that I did not, I’m afraid, respond well at all.

You see, when I felt the cold liquid on my body and through my clothing, I was really certain, the girls were playing games.  They’d been a bit silly all day and after a meal laden with carbs and chased by sugar in the form of soft serve ice cream cones, I was certain, they’d grabbed ice from the ice machine and were tossing it at me…for pranks.

My shock, Mr. Ketchup Guy, was not because I had ketchup on me, as much as it was because I did not have water or ice on me.  I was stunned…but not for the reasons you supposed.

You hurriedly helped me clean up, then disappeared to your table on the other side of the dining hall.  I walked by you on my way out, in shame, you didn’t even look up or glance my way.

Mr. Ketchup Guy, I owe you an apology.

You did not deserve my response today.  Never mind that my response was not what you thought.  I was not angry with you. I was not, though I’m certain I came off that way.  You did not deserve to leave that place thinking you had offended me or angered me or upset me.  You did not deserve to experience embarrassment.

I was just so completely stunned that my kids were not throwing ice at me, that it took me a bit to realize what was going on.  You handled everything so smoothly and so well and so quickly, I didn’t have the time to tell you.  Then, as I left the place, suspecting you still harbored some embarrassment about the entire episode, I failed to approach you and to thank you for the napkins and the water.

But it really wasn’t the napkins and the water that I’d have thanked you for.

It would have been for the courtesy, the chilvary, the emotion in the person that felt that spilling ketchup on a lady in a fast food restaurant was worth being addressed rather than ignored; that the incident was worthy of some embarrassment on your part.

Many would have acted like the incident never happened.

Thank you for not being one of the many.

Please accept my apologies for not letting you know how grateful I was for your response and for relieving any embarrassment you might have experienced as the result.  I was amiss to not assure you that I was fine and the clothing washable, yes, even the expensive bike shoes.

It was clear to me that you are a gentleman, while I did not behave like much of a lady.

Thank you for being part of an endangered species rarely seen these days.  I regret to think that I might have taken steps to hurry your kind closer to extinction.

Please forgive me.

Hope

Hope.  It’s a great term.  It has all sorts of positive connotations.  We hope for something better, always.  When things are rough, we hope they will improve.  Certainly, without the hope of a better tomorrow, one’s spirits lag and motivation declines.  I wonder sometimes, is hope a good thing…or does it just serve to delay the inevitable?  I mean, if we knew things weren’t going to get better, at least for a long time, would it change our behavior?  Or would we still cling to our hopes?  I do not know.

We hope for an improvement in our circumstances, but the reality is for many the world over, that things will not improve…ever.

We hope to have that wonderful experience of a deep and meaningful relationship with a significant other, but for many, myself possibly included in this, it might never happen. Soul mates seem to miss more than they connect it seems.

And that brings me to another question.  What is a Soul Mate anyway?

That question brings me to yet another question.  How do you recognize a Soul Mate if/when you meet him or her.

Personally, I just don’t get it.

Maybe it is because I’ve never really experienced a decent relationship with the opposite sex.  Maybe, I’ve not yet met my “soul mate”.  Quite honestly, if there is such a thing as a soul mate, which I doubt, how would I recognize him if he came along?

But hope would keep me thinking that there is always the possibility of such an experience happening, no matter how old I am.

I just don’t buy it.

I mean, relationship with another of the opposite sex is fun…at first.  Everything seems to roll along smoothly.  You connect.  Things are easy.

But let’s face it.  No one, these days, has a perfect life.  The other person has issues, right?  They either have too many children from the Evil Ex, or maybe Evil Ex is plural.  They probably have debt.  They certainly have child support payments. This alone means you are going to be a very broke woman for a long time to come.  So…with all that noise…in life after divorce…how do you recognize your soul mate?

Most people I talk to mention hopeful statements like, “When you meet him, you will know.”

Really?  I thought I had met him…2.5 times before.  It’s been a bust on all counts.  I’m now living with a guy that I kinda sorta think likes me…maybe?  Yeah, he’s the .5 part of the 2.5, because he’s certainly willing to live with me…and off of me…without making any legal commitment that says, “We’re in this together and it’s going to cost a boatload of money and angst to make it change.”  Yeah.  I feel great about that.

But I hope things will change.

But I hope there is still a relational future for me.

But I hope I’m wrong on some things.

The reality is this…I think…(note the hesitance there)…

Who really can say what real love and commitment is?  A decent relationship looks different from every vantage point.  There is no set formula.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  There’s a definite pattern when it comes to relationships that don’t work.  More about that later…maybe. But lasting relationships seem to be very different.  What works for you, might repulse me.

I also don’t think relationships are necessarily easy.

People disagree.  They get annoyed.  They certainly think their own kids are better than their partner’s kids.  And, there’s always the money to stress about if the rest of the relationship seems okay.

I don’t know.

I used to hope that there was a possibility for me of “real love”.

These days, I simply wonder what that means, and whether or not I would even recognize it.

 

Trashed House~My Payment For Trying To Do A Good Deed

I wonder, is it my payment for doing a good deed or is it just that somewhere along the line, maybe when I was a kid, (I was a really bratty kid and lied a lot to my parents) I earned up some really bad karma. Or maybe, it is that bad things, sometimes really bad things, happen to good people. I don’t know. My right wing fundamentalist evangelical Christian friends might say it is because I’m being punished by God for not attending church every week, tithing, and being a faithful servant. Well, as for not attending church, tithing and being faithful they’d be completely accurate. I’m just not sure that’s how God rolls though. I mean, think about it, when Jesus walked the earth he hung with some of the lowest of the low according to society and the religious elite of the day. Rahab, a harlot, was used to save some godly peeps and, well, I kinda think God tends to look past the mess in our lives right into our very inner being and that is where he deals with us on an individual basis. I think the outer stuff, the yuck that I am dealing with now, is just life. It is also the result of me being a naive person, when I should not have been. It is also the result of me simply making some very foolish choices. Hindsight is always 20/20.

But about the next bad thing that has happened in my life. The thing that makes me wonder what kind of evil karma I built up throughout my life only to have it be dumped out on me this year has to do with the rental. I’ve only alluded to it. Here’s most of the story.

Last year, I made the decision to go through bankruptcy (actually a smart decision given all the details which I will not disclose here). In the process, I decided to surrender my home. This was also a smart financial decision when you run the numbers, again, something I won’t bore you with here. This was not a case of me being angry at the bank for whatever reason. I just wanted to make a fresh start financially and the home was more financial and physical burden than I was going to be able to deal with. However, the entire process has ended up taking far longer than expected (over a year and counting). I knew it would take some time and I was not able to stay in the house and risk a move during the middle of the school year. I have three school age kids and my own career would not have been able to accommodate such a transition at such a time. I was getting legal heat from the Evil Ex and needed to make sure my daughter was enrolled in a good school and that she was doing well and liked it. I decided to move to a nearby town and in September we found a place to rent and settled it. And that, was going to be that…or so I thought.

I was approached by a friend….(you can see this coming, can’t you?)…who mentioned that her son and two friends were looking for a place to rent temporarily and would I be interested. Well, no, not really. I mean, I really had no desire to be a landlord or make the place a rental; I just wanted out. But this was a friend I have known and worked with for 14 years. Her kids and my kids grew up together, went to school together and our kids are now graduating together. This woman has impeccable character and is a top notch quality person. Her son is also. The friends came highly recommended. So, I did a bit of research, wrote up a rental agreement, we all signed it, they paid their move in money and I moved out. I left the place in pretty decent shape. It wasn’t perfect. I had some stuff in the garage still to move out, but the place was, for all intents and purposes, a clean and homey dwelling. The friends of the friend’s son turned out to be disastrous.

Things started being a problem almost right away. I’d drive by the place and see that it wasn’t being maintained, then the rent began to come in partial payments. Two months in and I was working on evicting them. Fortunately, they ended up getting out within the 30 days after being served the rental termination notice. Then I got another renter in, who was actually, at first, responsible and timely in her payments. She got some roommates to help share the rent and utility expenses and all was golden. That lasted about two months and things began falling apart. There were violations of the rental agreement, which I followed up and she attempted (though not satisfactorily) to remedy and I gave her a 30-day notice of termination of the rental agreement (we have a month-to-month). Rent was not paid completely last month and rent didn’t appear at all on the first. I went by to collect on the first, no response. I went by the next day. The house looks deserted, but the door is wide open. No answer when I ring the bell. I try contacting my tenant with no response. I drive by the house the next day, the door is closed, otherwise there is still no sign of life. The dog does not bark when I go to the door. This goes on for a week and I’m beginning to think they’ve abandoned the house. Finally, I get in touch with the tenant, over a week after the missed payment and the termination notice. She confirms that she received the notice. She also confirms that they have indeed abandoned the place, with the intent to come back for her stuff by the end of the month; the others have already gotten all their things out. In a phone conversation, I express my concern about the security of the home if no one is living there. She agrees that she will get her stuff moved out within the week and move the rest of her stuff to the garage. I gave her till the end of the month to get her stuff out of the garage. In exchange I get the possession of my home and I won’t go after her for the late rent. Her week to move her stuff ended yesterday. Today, after my radiation treatment, I went over to the house to check things out.

This is the scene that greeted me when I drove up to the home:

I just had a really bad feeling about this. I immediately texted my tenant asking about all the stuff and she actually texted back saying she’d had a garage sale and this was the leftovers. On the mattress, there is a sign that reads, “Free. Please take.”

This is what the living room looked like when I entered:

Those are the window blinds that were in great condition when I moved out…now all broken and scattered on the floor. The big black stain in the middle of the carpet was not there when I moved out. You can’t see it well from here, but there is also smoke damage on the fireplace brick. Nice. Here’s the other side of the living room:

It gets better, before we head back to the bedrooms, let’s check out the kitchen.

The back slider was left open. Check out the grass in the back yard. We left them a lawn mower. It sure looks like they made good use of it. Here are views of each side of the kitchen:

2They left the kitchen sink.

And some food for any guests that might stop by:

I just can’t fathom how people can operate like this. They were in violation of their rental agreement for trash being left around. I gave her the appropriate amount of time according to state law to correct the problem. An attempt was made, but it was nowhere near satisfactory. Look what they left behind in terms of trash:


The thing that really irks me about this is that for the entire time I was renting this house to both sets of tenants, I paid for the garbage service which included a recycling bin and a yard debris container. What kind of mentality is it that thinks that it is okay to live in squalor like this let alone leave it for someone else to pick up? But let’s just do a quick tour of the rest of the home. My skin is beginning to crawl and I’m glancing around for the rubber gloves and sanitizer.

Part of the rental agreement stipulated no smoking in the house or garage. Apparently, the rules don’t apply to these folks.

Those aren’t just carpet stains you see in that picture with the pillow in the corner. That is dog poop on the carpet.

Of course, no rental trashing by tenants is complete without some damage to the walls. This hole is about a foot long from top to bottom.

That wasn’t the only hole either, but it was definitely the largest one. In all there were three holes in walls, and a wall had been repainted a hideous purple-blue color. The wall was previously white. Other damage to the home included damage to lighting fixtures:

Broken glass on the floor:

The toilet looked a lot like the kitchen sink:
I guess they had a crappy experience living in my home. Here’s the genius work in the master bathroom:
I’m not sure you can make them out. The writing reads, “I am beautiful. I am a leader. I am an amazing mother and friend.” I’m thinking that explains a lot. She must have run out of Prozac.
Last but not least, the garage is the coup de grace:
These mattresses are as high as I am tall.
Yes, folks, this was the disaster that I walked into today after getting my tenants out. When I moved out all the lighting fixtures had just been replaced. Now they are all damaged and missing light bulbs. I had just had someone put new screens on every window a couple of years earlier, and only one window has a screen left. There are stains on every carpet, holes in walls and the yard alone will take weeks to clean up. There is damage to doors, the air vent grate has been kicked in and there is rotting food everywhere.
Upon returning home, and while uploading the photos, I did a quick Google search on landlord’s rights when tenants trash a house. Turns out, in most states, this is not a police matter, it is considered the risk one takes when renting. It becomes a civil matter. In my case, I know these people are unemployed and even if I did go to court and win (which I would), I wouldn’t see any of that money ever. I’d spend more than I’d be awarded just to get it back. Here’s another kicker: I have to do this clean out myself as I have absolutely no financial resources to pay someone to clean it up. The Hesitant Boyfriend’s long stretch of unemployment and even longer stretch till he gets paid for the work he started last month is straining my monthly budget beyond belief and it was already strained before I picked up the tab on his car payment and insurance this month. (Which he promptly decided to increase the cost of by getting into a fender bender with a Cadillac.) Add to this the fact that the 18 y.o., just got her license and her cost to be insured inflated my insurance bill to over $400 a month.
Yes, I am the poster child for the club “Smart Women Who Basically Make Idiot Choices In Every Aspect Of Their Lives”. Or maybe Some Divine Being mistook me for the Morton Salt Girl who is comfortable with the idea that when it rains it pours.
Which leads me back to the thought about karma vs. punishment vs. it’s just life. This all happens to be just great timing. The tenants are out of the house, but the house is completely trashed. Just making the house secure and sanitary so it isn’t a public health hazard is going to take some doing. I’m halfway through my radiation treatments and my energy is in limited supply as it is. Just as all this crap is hitting the proverbial fan of my life, The Hesitant Boyfriend and I ran headlong into a deal-breaker, that I just can’t get past. I’ve told him he needs to move out and get his Hesitant Stuff sorted out, because sorting it out in anger on me or my children is just not how I roll. All of this is just very, very, very unfortunate.
This afternoon as I looked upon the devastation that is my life right now, I turned to my son and said, “I am truly at the lowest point I’ve ever been in my life. It is worse, even, than when I had to call in help to clean out after the Evil Ex.” And yet I had no tears to cry. I could do nothing, but make sure the doors were closed and locked, all the electrical items unplugged, and walk back to my car and get in and drive away and try not to gag in the process. My brief search on Google helped me realize that while tenants can trash houses, and unhappy people who are unhappy tenants often do trash houses, my situation could have been so much worse. While this clean out is bad and I’m going to have to figure out a way to get it done quickly and on the cheap, it is basically a matter of dumping and cleaning. At least, I hope that is how it works out.
As I am up late documenting this damage and pondering the irony of this all, I strangely aware that while none of this is fun for me, I’m not exactly in a panic about any of it. It is kind of like I’m playing a game of Monopoly and I pulled the “Go Directly To Jail. Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $200” card. I’m stuck in the Monopoly Jail of life right now, not able to move forward or improve my situation because I simply keep drawing the bad cards. It’s a season. It’s not forever. (I sooo have to tell myself that right now because there is that teeny voice that sometimes squeaks, “What if this NEVER changes?” or, worse, “What if things just keep getting worse?”)
In a nutshell, it can all be summed up in the following conversation I had today with my oncology nurse:
Nurse: So…how are things going? How are you handling the treatments?
Me: Great. This is the least of my worries in life.
Yes, she looked at me like I’m crazy. Maybe I am…just a little.

How Do You Know When It Is Love?

When I was younger, I knew so much more than I do now. I knew exactly how my life was going to go and I knew that one day I’d fall in love and recognize The One. I grew stupider with age, apparently, because my life did not go as I planned and I have no idea what The One would look like or act like if I crossed paths with him. What I do know is what doesn’t work for me. I guess sometimes knowing who isn’t the one, is very helpful, but it doesn’t help you recognize him when he appears. It only means that without the red flags, he could be the one.

I also wonder, if everyone who could possibly be the one, turns into not being the one eventually, no matter what.

I mean face it. At some point, everyone reveals their issues. At some point, even if the issues aren’t deal-breakers, they can become so exhausting one just gets tired of dealing with them…again…and again…and again. Sometimes it just seems as though it might be easier to throw in the towel and just go the road of life alone. As people age, the “luggage” they haul around becomes heavier to tote also. It also, on occasion, can bust wide open spilling all sorts of questionable items here and there. This creates conflicting and painful emotions for everyone involved.

I know that my past does not qualify me to discuss what true love is. I’ve experienced my share of failures in the love department. I’m certain that my partner picker is broken, or at least sporadically defective like a watch that works but which goes out intermittently. I pick people who are good people (like my first ex), but who is not good for me. At other times, I pick people who are not only not great people, but who are disastrous choices. (My very first sexual encounter and my last ex come to mind. Interesting that both relationships had so much in common.) In spite of the failures of my past, I think I can adequately discern when a relationship is decent. Sadly, I have a difficult time discerning when it is time to call a relationship quits and when it something worth hanging on to, in spite of all the noise created from our luggage that busts open at the most inopportune times.

So…rather than bust my relational brain (which is of limited capacity anyway) worrying about what love is and whether or not I will recognize The One (if he’s even still out there and available), I have decided to base my decision making in relationships on how it is different than past failed relationships. I know, it sounds convoluted and like I’m sneaking in the back door, but hang with me for a minute.

In the past, my relationships have been a certain unhappy way. Granted, my expectations were completely unrealistic, but also, things were horrible and I was unhappy…desperately unhappy. Of course, I didn’t realize this usually until after the initial glow of infatuation wore off and by then I was usually married to the guy. So, after spending nearly 22 years collectively in very unhappy relationships, and since being divorced, spending a significant time meeting people and learning what definitely won’t work for me, I think I’m getting a little better at sensing when something might be significantly better than anything I’ve had in the past.

Currently, I’m in a relationship that I’ve been in since mid-2010. I mean, I met the guy in the first half of 2010, but we didn’t really get serious until that October. In February of 2011, he moved in and we’ve been together ever since. Now, I’m not saying this is the ideal arrangement, nor am I saying it is always perfect by any means. I’m also not saying it is horrible either. What I am trying to get at is that this relationship is quantitatively different than any other relationship I’ve ever been in. The ways in which it differs from every other are very positive rather than negative and unhappy.

Yes, this is the same guy that said, just earlier this week, that he was “hesitant”. Like I said, things aren’t perfect. On the other hand, what I failed to disclose in that post is that I am also hesitant. Some would say my reasons for being hesitant are far more significant than his reasons, but I kind of think that depends upon who you are and what your tolerance for pain is. (I’m only kind of kidding about that last part.) But from the onset, let it be known that I am fully aware that if this relationship is going to work, it is not going to be trouble free. I have an Evil Ex who is beginning to threaten some ugliness. I have 4 children from two previous marriages and coordinating the parenting plans is a Herculean effort in scheduling. Not to mention, my kids carry their own anger and resentment about how their lives were destroyed through divorce. Yet another adult male figure in the mix can make the relational dynamics a bit tense, at times, even though, for the most part, they really do get on well together. But on occasion, my luggage can spring open and fly everywhere. As can his. He also has an Evil Ex, and she makes my Evil Ex look like Glenda, The Good Witch. He also has 4 children from his liaison with the Wicked Witch. Oh, and did I mention, he’s unemployed and has been for 2 years. Further, because he’s been unemployed for that long, he owes a lifetime of back child support. The Wicked Witch has a stranglehold on the children, so having them come visit us, ever, is not an option. Like I said, I have no illusions that if this relationship is going to last, it isn’t going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination. But then, was anything worth having that easy to come by? It’s a question I wrestle with.

I digress.

I was trying to explain how this particular relationship is so very different than any other.

First, we are not only on the same page about things in life, we think in tandem. I can look at him and know what he’s thinking most of the time. We have the same values, goals, priorities, and interests to find a ton of things to talk about with each other. We have enough different interests to provide each other some space and independence.

He’s also intelligent. Like, on the brilliant edge of intelligent, which makes him a clueless geek in other ways. And…for me…it is incredibly important to be in a relationship with someone intelligent. I often find, when dating the less gifted, that there is that point you reach when you both finally just run out of things to say. Now, for me, to run out of things to say, means I have really hit the wall. With my Significant Other (SO) we never run out of things to talk about. And the things we talk about are really, really interesting; not just stuff about the weather.

Another way this relationship is different is that I’m not afraid. In the last two marriages I had, I lived in constant fear that the guy would become angry and punish me emotionally for whatever sin I somehow unknowingly committed. In my first marriage, he punished me with his explosive anger. The Evil Ex punished me by pretending I did not exist. In this relationship, I feel confident enough that I can disagree, and I am not worried that I will be mistreated as the result. Further, I don’t risk straining the relationship when I disagree. Wow. What a concept. I can say, “No, I am not okay with that.” We might have a discussion. We might even argue. We always come back to the table and negotiate an agreement that we both can live with. Always, at least always, so far. This is huge to me since I’ve spent a large portion of my life in abusive relationships where I had to try to anticipate the other person’s mood, and I lived in fear. I could never express myself honestly without fear.

We have fun together, even when we might be having a problem in another area of our lives. We still seem to be able to genuinely enjoy each other’s company, knowing somewhere deep inside, that we will work that problem out too.

He can admit he’s wrong, and mean it. That’s significant. Few men are able to do this. Fewer, still, mean it when they admit it. He actually goes one better and tries to change. And the change sticks.

He is willing to try to grow and change and become a better person. This challenges me to look at where I’m not as perfect as I’d like to think I am, and where I might not be the best person I could be and it motivates me to renew my efforts to improve.

He believes in me. He doesn’t exactly say this all the time, but he does say it sometimes. The rest of the time, he demonstrates it.

He wants to spend time with me. After a year and a half, he still looks forward to spending “just us” time.

I could go on.

Is this love? Is it a good match? Is this something that will last?

I don’t know.

What I do know is this:

  • If he were dying or seriously ill, I would not mind caring for him.
  • I can see us hanging out together at the old folks home.
  • We are working through some really tough single parent post-divorce issues right now and the lines of communication are open and the stress only momentarily flares.
  • I don’t want to be with anyone else. If it isn’t him, I don’t really want anyone else…ever.

So, I’m not sure I’m any closer to defining true love or determining who The One is, if there is such a thing, but I do know this: This relationship is significantly different and far more positive and beneficial than any other relationship I’ve ever been in.

Because of that, while I might not necessarily go racing to Vegas to get hitched this weekend, I’m not exactly going to kick him to the curb either. Will it last? I don’t know. I can’t predict the future. Based on the cards showing in this hand so far, I’m thinking the odds are great that it will last, in spite of the challenges we will have to face and endure in the next decade or two.

One last thought, if something were to happen to him and I were unable to see him ever again, I would be deeply grieved. I’ve never felt that way about anyone but my children before (well, and family and a few close friends but never a boyfriend or partner). I think I have to pay attention to that.

 

 

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