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Who Does This?

His byline read, “Who does this?” It was a valid question, after all. Who does this? Who displays a bunch of photos so anonymous strangers, trolls really, can view them and thus make a decision based on whether or not they will contact you? Who goes through this in hopes of finding a viable long-term relationship? The sad truth is, everybody’s doing it, or so it seems. Even more pathetic, I have jumped in this pond again.

I deleted Who-Does-This’s initial email to me. He didn’t say much other than hello or how are you; a simple cut-and-paste statement made by trolls when trolling. I discarded it without even checking out his profile. But he contacted me again. His second contact was no more brilliant than the first, but I looked at his profile this time. 54, okay, that was good since I’m looking for someone who has to be at least 45…if you could call what I’m doing, looking. I cruised through his images, impressively, he had many, and he was attractive. Then I noticed he lives about 90 minutes away in a city near me that I am not even remotely interested in visiting, let alone spend significant time in. Dealbreaker. That’s when I saw his byline. “Who Does This?” Maybe I should have been cynical, but it cracked me up.

I ventured a response, “I have the same question: Who does this? And why are we here? Are you really 54, because you look 45.”

And now he wants to chat. All will be well and good until I have to actually meet the dude. This will involve getting dressed up. Getting dressed up means I must wear shoes. Shit. Why didn’t I think this through a bit more thoroughly?

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What’s Holding You Back? Could It Be…Reality?

Lately, I’ve read a great deal of people writing and exhorting things like this: You can be whatever you want to be.  You can do whatever you want to do.  You decide.  If you don’t like  your life the way it is now, make the necessary changes and create the life you desire.

Okay, seriously?  This is 20-year-old thinking.

I mean, when I hear someone say that I am in complete control of my destiny and that any minute I can just unilaterally shelve everything and make a change (that works for me and me alone) then, well, I’m thinking this person is young, and so very optimistic (I do applaud this) and they do not have children.

So, let me dial it back about three decades for you.

I was one of those who believed exactly that:  I was in charge of my future.  I was in charge of my life.  If I didn’t like something, then I could make decisions and change it on a moment’s notice.  It could be the 7:30 am class I’d signed up for which I hated so I figured I’d change it, (I’m so not a morning person) or it could be the fact that I’d rather be living in the San Francisco Bay Area instead of the Pacific Northwest, or the Southwest, or the East Coast, take your pick.  It could be any number of things.  When I was younger (24+)  and had no real obligations, there really was nothing holding me back. Nothing.  I’m not kidding.  I made great money as a 25-year-old.  I was making bank and had no obligations.  The few credit cards I had, I could pay off in full each month (gross amounts of money I wish I now had). In addition, I had time.  I had time to regroup my losses.  I had time to correct my errors and regain my losses (if there were any).  I simply had time…or so I thought.  But…we don’t ever really know how much time we have…and we are never an island unto ourselves.

The reality is, you can’t always make the decisions you’d like, because you aren’t always completely in control of your life, unless you are an island.

I know.  That sounds blasphemous to many.  Sorry, but it’s true.  As much as I’d like to send it out to the universe that I am this or that…the reality is…what the reality is.

Think of it this way, if you are your own person and you have no obligations or commitments to others then, maybe, you can just up and do whatever you like whenever you want and, possibly, there really is nothing or no one holding you back. This is, at once, the best argument for remaining single forever and, at the same time, for leaving the single state as quickly as you can.   I feel for you if you are in this place.

The reality is, that as life goes on, life becomes less and less about us and more and more about those we love and what is best for them.

For the average 25-year-old, there aren’t many people you have to consult to make decisions about your life.  If you are lucky, your parents will support you in whatever adventure you take on.  You also, if you are lucky (meaning you did what you needed to do to make sure you were employable at a better-than-minimum-wage rate) have an income that provides for your basic needs and allows you the ability to make some choices with your life. In addition, you have the golden opportunity  that I call “TIME”.  At 25, you have an entire lifetime ahead of you.  If you make a bad choice, you have time to regroup and mitigate the losses.  It’s a very different story when you are say, 50 or 60.

So, let’s consider the mantra of “What’s Holding You Back”  (clearly a 20+-year-old perspective) from a more seasoned stance.

As a person well over 40, let me tell you “What’s Holding Me Back”:

  • I would love to consider another career field.  While it isn’t entirely impossible that I make the switch, the reality is that I am currently in a field where I am required to have at least a graduate degree.  The cost of this for me: $46,000. I have about 15 years to pay this off while I try to feed and clothe my children on a salary that is a fraction of what most other professional people make. I can’t possibly consider taking out more loans for a career field switch, especially when the likelihood is that I cannot have these loans paid off before I retire in my current profession.  It is wishful thinking to believe that I can completely jump ship on the professional field I’ve been in since 1985, and think I’m A.) going to be able to fund this life change, and B.) be able to pay off the debt in the time I have left to work.  This is just not going to happen.  The reality of economics and time hold me back here.
  • I would love to sell everything I own, find a job in a BIG CITY (read San Francisco Bay Area or something really decadent back on the East Coast), but the reality is this:  I have children.  My children have friends and lives that I have to consider in every decision I make.  I can’t just quit my job and move.  I have to consider how that’s going to roll with the kids that the respective ex’s.  (Yeah, I hate that part.)

The  reality is, no one is completely in charge of their destiny.  At 20, I might have had more freedom to make more choices.  At a much older age, this is not the case.  I now have children, ex’s, significant others, and employers to consider…and if you think considering the employer isn’t important consider this:  I work in a career field where, if I move, I take a significant pay cut and I lose the security of knowing I have a job in years to come. I’m sorry, but I have children to feed, clothe, and hopefully prepare and send to college.  Me, as a single mother of four,  taking a pay cut, or even risking it, is so not an option.

So…what’s holding me back?

Really?  You’re kidding me, right?

Because that’s the question a 20-something would pose.

What’s holding me back is my obligation to the other people in my life that I am responsible for and the reality is, I can’t just ditch that for something that works for me, but fails them. So, I remain in a place, that I like, but I don’t “LOVE” and I do a job that I love in a place that is, at times, troublesome and which makes me wonder if there isn’t something  better elsewhere…yet…I endure it, not because I have no desire to change, but because it is best for those who depend upon me.   All of this is holding me back from what I would personally love to be doing…if I had my druthers.

The reality is, I am responsible to others and for others, and it is no longer just about me. I cannot make these  decisions in a vacuum, excluding their input or perspectives.

So, here’s what’s holding me back:  It’s my decision to recognize that it isn’t always just about me and that sometimes, I must think of others before I think of myself, even if those choices aren’t ones I would choose in isolation.

What’s holding me back is my love for the other  important people in my life versus me choosing to make life all about me and what works for just me.

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.

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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.

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.

Wide Awake and Nothing To Do

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Tonight I’m exhausted. I should be able to sleep; I’m certainly tired enough. I even took a sleeping pill. I’m so tired that just writing this takes effort. And my legs and feet hurt today. Every day it seems it’s something new. Aging sucks. The pain keeps me awake when I should be sleeping.

But here I am.

Wide awake and nothing to do.

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.

 

Thinking of Doing Something Different

Have you ever in your life thought of just quitting everything, packing things up (or getting rid of them), and starting life over somewhere else doing something else? A new place; a new life; a new history to look back on?

I have several friends, myself included, with college-age children. The kids are heading off to college. They are traveling; moving across the nation in some cases, to begin the next step in their lives. I sometimes, no, often, wonder what it would have been like to go back and do life differently. I sometimes also wonder if it is getting to be too late for me to do some of the things I’d really like to still do. Like live and work in the city. The real city, not just the smallish one I live in now, which is more like a bunch of overgrown towns pushing at each other than a real city. With a skyline. And a waterfront.

A friend of mine is making her dreams come true. She and her sister are combining households, saving money and in the next year or two, they will move to France, where my friend says she hopes to live until she dies. You can read about their journey at Lipstick And Baguettes. A dream like this is amazing to me, but to do it requires more than I can ask of my children right now.

I wonder if I will ever travel out of the country. If I do where will I go? Sometimes, though I am content with my existence, I feel as though nothing will ever change, no matter how much I might like it to or try to make it something different. On the the other hand it is wonderful where I am, and I think I could stay here forever. At the same time, I know I don’t really want to.

Of course, right now, nothing looks great. Everything is crummy because I don’t feel well. I’ve missed a perfectly grand, sunny weekend being sick with this cold. I had the The Hesitant Boyfriend go out and get me some NyQuil. I’m pretty glad he didn’t hesitate on that. Seems like it might be time to take another dose.

My Life on The Titanic

Someone once stated, “All we have to fear is fear itself.” For the most part, I’d agree. I have my own statement about fear, “Fear never made a good decision.” Today, as I faced my first of 33 sessions of radiation, I wonder if facing the unknown isn’t also a valid enough cause for fear. By unknown, I don’t mean the unknown where the possible risks or consequences are relatively minor. I’m talking about the high stakes unknown where the risks are great and the consequences unknown or potentially damaging, lasting, or life threatening.

My life is a convergence of unknowns right now. This creates a great deal of stress for me. Stress is not good for our health and even more so with those dealing with cancer or pre-cancer.  I liken my life to a vessel like the Titanic, which is large and carries the responsibility for the lives and futures of many. I’m not a control freak, but I do like to have my cake and eat it too, whenever possible. I like everyone to be able to do their life and attend all their events. With five or six schedules to deal with, this can be a challenge. I find that if I know in advance, I can usually plan things or get the needed help or money in order to make it all happen. As long as I know far enough in advance, I can maneuver around the icebergs in life and make sure it is smooth sailing for everyone.

When navigating icy seas at night, charting a course that is mostly unknown is, to me, terrifying in many ways. Of course, not many are gifted in seeing the future. This unknown is always with us, and for the most part, I don’t worry a bit about it. But today, lying in that treatment room, both arms frozen over my head, alone, with only the buzzing, clicking and spinning of a very large, intimidating, flat-faced one-eyed machine to keep me company, I felt my first really strong emotions since this whole breast cancer journey started. it wasn’t panic, but it was something close. It wasn’t fear, but it was something close to fear. There was great sadness there, too, along with wonder and a substantial dose of gratitude, which is always part of my emotional palette.  Maybe it was just the fact that I was tied down in a room with a very large and intimidating machine that seemed to move of its own volition that spooked me.

The radiation treatment took barely 25 minutes from the time I walked in the building to the time I walked out. I feel nothing…yet. More blue ink drawn on me to ruin my clothing and, with no great fanfare, I’m off to a day of making life smooth for everyone; dodging icebergs along the way and retorting as needed.

But I’m scared.

What if I have made and am making devastating choices with irreversible consequences?

What if the results of these decisions, intended to make the sailing through life smoother for us all, actually make things worse?

And…the question that plagues me and can really make me crazy if I let it…what if…instead of getting better, things don’t ever get better…or they get worse?

Then of course, there are other unknowns, more practical ones.

What is my schedule for radiation treatment going to be?  Will I need to take more time off?  How will my body respond?  Will I be able to continue work without having to take any time off?  My last treatment is scheduled to be June 5.  That is three days before the last day of school. How will this impact the rest of the school year?  How long will the effects of radiation last and how will that impact my summer?

Then, there are issues about the school district discovering my recent move and insisting I complete an inter-district transfer, since my new address is out of the district where my two older children attend school.  This gets tricky because it means both districts must approve the request.  If they do not, then I have a daughter, who within seven weeks of graduation will have to face finishing her senior year at another high school.  Now, I can’t imagine any school district official being so evil as to insist that this happen, but budgets being what they are, school districts are less likely to grant transfers than they have in the past.  I will also have a son, who at the end of his sophomore year, will have to attend high school where they have none of the activities that he is currently involved in.

On a side note, you might wonder why I moved if the high school in the district I was moving to was inadequate.  The move was a good one, for my youngest.  The entire family, even the high-schoolers were, and still are, in favor of moving to where we moved.  I just didn’t imagine the transfer issue would be a big deal.  I’m now hearing that it could be. I don’t yet know. I filled out the paperwork and we will just have to wait and see.  It’s an iceberg I can’t exactly dodge or move right now.  I’m kind of hope it’s a mirage and it will evaporate as I approach.

Then there is the added stress of the Evil Ex seeking a modification of the child support. The unknowns here were more frightening until I met with my attorney this afternoon.  I had to part with $150 hard earned dollars, but it was money well spent and good information I received. She was able to paint a picture of the worst likely scenario (bad, but not intolerable).  She was also able to paint a realistic picture of what was likely to happen.  This helps me chart the course through the iceberg strewn sea of Post-Divorce Dealings With The Evil Ex.

In other posts, I’ve mentioned the financial iceberg that creates stress as it slides along the ship that is our family.  I worry that any day now an edge will puncture us and we will sink.  For now, we remain afloat.

The icebergs continue to converge with no relief.  One after another appears out of the fog of unknown possibilities and they are all frightening in their own way.  I can’t do anything about them right now…I can’t even see them clearly enough to know which direction to turn the ship.  All I can do is survive today.  And after today, tomorrow.  And after tomorrow, the next day.  I hope that, by so doing, I will eventually find that I have successfully maneuvered my way through the icy currents I’m experiencing to warmer, more pleasant waters.

Money, Cancer, Aging and Losing Forty Bucks

The cats are at it again. Sometimes I really wish I would have paid attention to the fact that cats are nocturnal creatures before I allowed my children to talk me into getting one. I really wish I would have realized how wild their behavior can be at night before I signed on to take in four of the homeless creatures. Tonight they are flying around the house like they’re on speed, claws fully bared, tearing the place apart and me with it. It’s not cracking up to be a peaceful night of slumber.

In addition to that, finances have me tossing and turning. My daughter needs to apply for financial aid so she can continue schooling and because my cash flow and ability to help is zero, it’s creating some stress. No, it’s creating a lot of stress. I’m filing for bankruptcy, which is a smart move, but the paperwork burden and getting the right documents to the right people in the right amount of time has me twisting up the sheets as I toss and turn.

Then this cancer thing, yes, it is cancer, gnaws at me. While it really is the least of my worries right now (early stage, non-invasive), it still has me wondering sometimes about how much time i really have left on this earth. I hate thinking about that. Then that thinking leads me to realize I have no life insurance, and that I probably couldn’t get any now anyway. Then that leads me right back to stressing out about money that I don’t have now,and the lack of it I’m likely to face after I can no longer work. If I live that long. Then, of course, that spins me into a cycle of worrying about the kids, which takes me back again to the money. And so on.

I swear this all giving me dementia. I forget things more often now. I can’t remember where I put things. I can’t remember entire conversations, sometimes. This is terrifying to me. Today, I had $40. I stuffed it in my pocket until I could get it into my wallet, which I wasn’t carrying with me at the time. Between then and an hour later, that money completely disappeared. I retraced my steps, searched everywhere. No money. Now my mind is obsessively reviewing my day trying to figure out where the money went. I didn’t spend it. This I know for sure. Where is it?

There appears to be a momentary lull in the cat craziness. Now the place feels like a tomb, and the silence is problematic. I can’t win here.

I think there are some of those pain pills left from my last surgery. I didn’t use them for pain since I didn’t really have any pain, but they were rather effective in helping me sleep. Something I can’t do when wearing a bra to bed and after breast cancer surgery, that’s exactly what one is instructed to do. In fact, I was instructed to sleep but also to wear the bra. These two instructions were really mutually exclusive orders. I blew through the pain meds using them as sedatives. I think there might be one or two left.

I think I’m going to have to go find out for sure.

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