I have a friend I’ve know for quite some time who is an executive coach. This man makes a living coaching top executives at companies to improve outcomes (and I imagine this means profits) for the organization. He makes more money in one gig than I make in several years. He’s probably made and lost more money over the years than I will see in several lifetimes. As I type this, he is involved in putting together a deal that will allow him to quadruple his income and expand his business. He’s doing this at a time in his life when he should be (or most people are considering being) retired. He doesn’t punch a time clock. His office is in his home or in a coffee shop or cigar shop nearby. He lives in a tower and drives an Audi. He controls his time, his life and mostly his levels of stress. He does what he wants, when he wants with no demands imposed on his life other than those he chooses for himself. It’s a pretty good gig for supposedly being retired. But it hasn’t always been this way for him. He’s had some pretty rough moments along the way. Read the rest of this entry
Ever notice how we human beings have ways of marking the passage of time? Sure, we have our calendars, our reminders, our clocks and gizmos. I’m talking about the not-so-obvious ways of marking time. The methods which mark time in subtle ways that leave you realizing after the fact how time has passed rather than noting it up front.
I am not a winter person. I like cool weather but I’m really a sunny, summer person. I mark my years mostly by noting the passage of the seasons. The months from January to the end of March are dreadful for me. In the region where I live winters are relatively mild, but temperatures can vary from a balmy 60 degrees one day to snowing and freezing levels the next. I find this pretty tough on my system. I’m always glad when Daylight Saving Time arrives. Even though I lose an hour, I can see that summer is on the way, and with it, some more consistent temperatures.
I must confess. I have not been up late at night…much…lately. I’ve been sleeping very well and feeling good when I wake up the next day. Never mind that I was sick for two weeks with food poisoning. My bills are paid. There is food in my cupboards. And there’s a wee little bit to offset the unexpected thing that might come up. It is amazing how having a little extra cash in the bank and a car that is reliable changes one’s outlook on life. It’s also pretty incredible how that makes it easier to sleep. It’s been a good month. Or rather, a good couple of weeks. I can’t complain. And I won’t start now, even though, life has turned on the proverbial dime for me, once again. Read the rest of this entry
So, go figure. My finances suck. We’ve been over that. My love life is non-existent. I just had a guy I supported walk out on me after two years. He gave me three days’ notice and he was gone. Haven’t heard a word from him since. After my two epic fails at marriage, I don’t know which hurt worse, to have the marriages end, or him walk out after I invested so much financially and emotionally for two.fucking.years. It is now all water under the bridge, but at times, it still stings.
I’m at an age and in a demographic where there isn’t much dating action, and if there is, it isn’t serious, nor is it even remotely authentic. Face it, after 45, there are so many obstacles to overcome, so much history to wade through, so many people’s scrutiny you have to undergo before a relationship can even be viable, let alone long term. I’ve given up on that area of my life ever being a source of pleasure or happiness. People who really know me, will know what a big deal that is. Most people tend to understand that it is the nature of the beast these days. Dating after divorce is, at best, a difficult thing, and unlike wine, this does not improve with age. Oh, to be 35 again. Before the wrinkles. Before the mistakes. Before the calendar reveals the stigmatizing number of years you’ve been on this planet (because you cannot lie about that).
In spite of all that, the little surprise I’m experiencing is this: I’m actually having fun. I’m enjoying life more than I ever have. I’m happy, in spite of the fact that nothing (except my delightful children) is as I would have expected it and most of it reeks of pathetically miserable failure. I can’t keep a relationship. I can’t catch a break financially. I rent, on purpose, instead of owning. My car is ready to self destruct at any moment. I should sell the thing and try, if possible, to get some money out of it to put down on a more reliable car. But…how to do that? It’s crazy. I have more problems facing me than solutions. I have experienced more endings in the last year than beginnings. I have more reason than ever to despair, instead of hope. Read the rest of this entry
“Mom, my graduation from my fellowship is Saturday, August 24th. Can you come? Dad can’t make it, and really would like someone here for me. Plus there are many key political figures I want you meet. Can you please come?”
How does one say no to child who asks, no begs, for you to remain present and involved in their adult lives. This isn’t because the apron strings haven’t been cut. No, this is my firstborn, the independent one who has chosen to do life her way since she was born. She drives herself to achieve impossibilities, she still fights sleep, she’s been tapped to lead a prominent campaign for a candidate of her political party, and she’s intentionally choosing to sit out a term of college to gain this experience. This is not a needy, clingy child who is having a tough time leaving the nest. This is strong, intelligent, independent woman we are dealing with here. So, when she asks, especially when she asks in this particular way, a caring parent pays attention. Even if she is not yet 22 years old. I was very close to having to tell my daughter no this time.
Why would I do such a thing?
The problem is a financial one more than anything.
More than once, this month, I’ve regretted the fact that I allowed the insurance company to pull The Gone BF’s payment out of my account. Sadly, he was attentive enough to our finances to wait until the payments had cleared before he decided to head out. More than once, over the last few weeks, I’ve wondered why I let this relationship go on an why I didn’t do something earlier about it. The fact that he is now gone, brings a different kind of sadness. It is a sadness that comes from realizing the truth when you worked so hard to ignore it. It’s a sadness that comes from realizing you had to work at ignoring the truth, that he just never was that into me, in spite of his helpfulness and wonderful words. He’s gone. I’ve no doubt he is glad to be gone. He hasn’t contacted me in well over a week. I don’t expect to hear or see from him again. I do wish I hadn’t been such a fool, but other than that my life is greatly improved since he left. But I am annoyed with myself for having paid his insurance bill.
I also wish my daughter, for all her competence, had informed me earlier. I would have planned this month so differently. Traditionally, the end of summer, with it’s back school registrations and expenses, is tight. This year is no exception. Even though I am past my bankruptcy, and I am doing all I can to improve my credit, I still don’t like using the credit cards. I have one with a small limit that I use and pay off every month, but it didn’t have enough on it to cover the expenses for this trip. On a whim, exactly a week ago, I applied for a credit card with a $1, 000 limit. Okay, in my past life, that’s a low limit, almost an insult. In my current financial recovery life, it’s an indicator that my life is improving. If you read through the credit repair literature, most suggest that it takes about a year to be approved for a credit card with that kind of limit. I was approved and it has been just over two months since I received my discharge letter. This was great news. Now to hope that I received the card in seven days rather than the ten of the 7-10 business days it takes to receive the card.
Waiting. As time drew near and my mailbox remained empty, I made up a Plan B. The Good Ex is usually great about giving me cash if I write him a post dated check. I hate doing this, but this was an exception and for a good reason. So, the stress was off as far as whether or not I was going, because The Good Ex was very good about it and payday is very near.
I have to say though, that in a situation like this that involves unplanned expenses four days before payday, having a credit card helps. What also helps is that this summer, I worked five extra weeks. What I spend this weekend will be paid off in a week. I will get to see my daughter and support her. But having that credit card would mean I’d have a cushion. It would mean some extra in case something happened. It would NOT mean a spending spree, it would mean I could enjoy the trip without worry.
Yesterday afternoon, as I was firming up our plans, I texted my oldest, “If that card is in the mail today, my life will be superior.”
I am pleased to report that my life is indeed superior.
The days and nights are hard right now. No, I would not wish this particular man (the Non BF, now turned the Gone BF) back for anything. Things have transpired, text messages sent from a day’s drive away, that revealed that this man was many things, but never was he in love with me. He was far too immature for that. He was also unable to be honest, about where he was with things, about what was troubling him, about what he wanted or needed. He’s also unable to take responsibility for his part in this, it remains all my fault and he contends that “he never wanted this.” (And yet, he did nothing to prevent it from happening when he easily could have, instead running as far away as he could, not unlike a petulant adolescent.)
As usually, happens, I think, this ending became final, for me anyway, as the result of a small incident: a stupid text message. This man had lived with me for two years. In all that time, I had never been anything but crystal clear about what I would tolerate and what I would not, what I could pay for and could not. He knew that I believed we were working on something lasting. This was not a casual roommate or friends with benefits arrangement for me. He knew this. He also knew that the only reason I was cohabiting with him was the understanding that eventually there would be a public, legal, formal commitment. It turns out, The Gone BF, knew he wasn’t going to marry me, and I’m now beginning to suspect he knew this for quite some time, at least a year. Yet, all this while, he was perfectly content to live a charade of loving me and wanting to spend the rest of his life with me when he had no intention of doing that at all. So, the sad, depressing truth is that this man knowingly used me. The even sadder truth was that I truly cared about him, enjoyed our time together so much, that I unknowingly let him use me. I ignored the thousand of teeny tiny flags that should have indicated a disconnect somewhere. You know what they say about hindsight.
Two days ago, he texted me, angry that I had not given him any hangers, but instead had packed up his clothes in garbage bags without them. (He’d literally gone through every closet in the house, collecting all the white hangers for himself, so that each piece of his clothing hung exactly half an inch apart on white plastic hangers.) And now, the man who lived for a year for free while I paid for everything, is bitching at me because I kept the hangers. Hangers, I might add, that I purchased at the Goodwill when we moved in to this new place last summer. Again, his tone and message implied that this was all my fault. It suddenly became very clear to me how juvenile this man was, and also how very self-centered he was. While we were together, this was hard to detect because he really did a lot to help out…at first. In retrospect, though, he ended things without discussion the minute they no longer worked for him. It was a small, silly text message, but it was the moment I mentally disconnected. No, I truly never want to see this man again.
It doesn’t necessarily make things easier. I was living a fantasy that wasn’t ever what I believed it to be, but I enjoyed my fantasy, for the most part, and didn’t want it to end. Instead, it ended harshly and abruptly. Literally, one week all seemed great; the next he is gone and, after two years of unemployment, he has a job and is living in a city far away. There was no discussion, no haggling over stuff or money, and certainly no good-bye. The angry teenager just ran off.
So, I pass my days slugging through my obligations, trying to maintain composure. I’m experiencing now, for those first few agonizing times alone, all those things we did together, which I enjoyed so much: grocery shopping, meal preparation, morning cups of coffee, bike rides to a favorite lunch spot in a nearby town. I’m doing these things alone now. It’s painful, and my chest feels like it is going to be crushed with the weight of the loneliness. The reality is, that I will very likely be doing these things alone for a long time, possibly the rest of my life.
I miss what I thought we had.
When parents divorce in my county, if there are children involved, the parents are required to take a class that deals with the issue of helping children through divorce. It’s not a horrible class ,but it is required. The judge will not award a decree unless both parents take the class. I signed up and took the class as soon as I could after filing for divorce from The Evil Ex.
I remember the class well. I was there, fighting back tears and doing my level best to appear calm and well-adjusted, in spite of feeling like I might, at any second, dissolve into a liquid mass of human saltwater. I signed in, took my gratuitous paperwork, got some awful coffee, and found a seat near the side of the room toward the front. Shortly, after I sat down, a man entered. He looked like your typical geeky professor type. He strode up to the woman at the sign in desk and announced, “I’m being voted off the island, and I hear I have to take this class, so here I am.”
So much for feeling miserable. I couldn’t stop chuckling about it each time I thought of it for a good year afterward. Humor has a way of numbing the pain sometimes.
This week, I’ve been fortunate. I’ve been able to work. I have a job that allows me a great deal of time off each year. This is not paid time off, but it is still time off. Because my job is so demanding and stressful during the rest of the year, I loathe working during these off times. This year, due to medical expenses from my cancer treatments and the gradual drain of the Non-Boyfriend on my pocketbook, I decided to sign up to work five weeks this summer. This week was week three. It’s been wonderful to have something to go do each day that helps me forget that I am being voted off my own island.
On Tuesday of this week, the Non-Boyfriend and I voted each other off the relational island. Later that day, one of my colleagues began sharing at break, how his wife of 27 years just voted him off the marital island this last May. (I did not start talking about my situation. He brought up the topic all on his own.) He is still reeling from the shock and surprise and grief that comes from being blindsided. I can relate.
I mentioned a few posts back how I changed my status on Facebook to single right after I realized that the Non-BF had been planning a secret escape from our crumbling island. It wasn’t long before I had friends commiserating with me digitally, offering their condolences. Many contacted me privately. Some of these folks are single eligible men. One of them is a person I “met” digitally about four years ago through a blog I was writing at that time. He lives on the other side of the country, and even though I’ve long since stopped writing on that other blog, he’s kept in touch through Facebook. We’ve never met in real life. He, too, was just voted off the island of relational bliss.
Yesterday, he mentioned flying out to see me at the holidays. We will both be sans children and negotiating a “couples” holiday season alone. Neither of us is looking forward to it. Now, I’m fairly certain this will not happen, but I do find it interesting how things in life can conspire to distract me from the pain I am dealing with. Random little interactions like this tend to be like the emotional epidural that completely knocks out the pain of the relational rejection I’m birthing. You can still feel the pressure, but the pain is not there. I’ve been voted off the island by one particularly unhappy individual through no fault of my own, really, unless finally saying no to mistreatment is a fault. Less than 48 hours later, I have people entering my life inviting me to visit their little island for a bit.
No, I’m not going to stay long on any of these islands. I will most certainly not even spend the night. I am not ready for that. But, I ask you what is the harm of stopping by someone’s island for an afternoon of friendship, sun, and maybe even some libations? Can anyone refuse an invitation to spend a day at the beach with fun companions?
I was voted off an island I didn’t realize was crumbling. Maybe it is time for me to realize that there are possibly much bigger, stronger, more enjoyable islands out there.