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Reality Overdose

The year, 2012, didn’t hesitate in announcing itself. Even before it’s calmer, more peaceful predecessor, 2011, had the opportunity to exit the scene, 2012 was pushing its way in loudly declaring that this was going to be a very different year. And, 2012, has not been wrong about that.

2012, began its oppressive rule when I had a biopsy the first week in January. It wasn’t a clean report indicating a benign issue. An additional excisional biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of cancer which lead to a third surgery to remove all the affected tissue and get what the medical professionals seem to enjoy calling “good, clean margins” or “nice, wide margins”. 2012 is literally leaving scars.

The year continued its domineering disruption this week with the start of my radiation treatments. Until now, I’ve quipped and teased and joked about it all. My coping mechanism is humor.

In spite of my ability,thus far, to remain positive and upbeat, I was silenced on Tuesday, when I attended my first appointment for radiation simulation.

“I’m here for the party.” I quipped as I checked in, garnering a smile and conversation from the associate at the front desk. Moments later, I was being led through the radiation department, to the special waiting rooms with lockers. The nice lady explained all the procedures carefully. After she left, I donned my hospital gown and headed out to the interior waiting room designed for those awaiting treatments.

I don’t know if it was her bald head, clearly indicating chemotherapy treatment or her courageous words as she spoke with another patient.

I believe am going to beat this. I’m convinced this isn’t going to do me in. My purpose here in this world isn’t quite finished yet.

It was then that 2012, slapped me full in the face and brought me up short. Suddenly, my mind grasped what I did not want to acknowledge: This disease is for real and sometimes, often, it plays for keeps.

There sat a woman, possibly even younger than me, in much worse condition than I. ( I have to say she looked strong and healthy other than her hairless head). She spoke confidently, but there was an ever-so-slight tremor of hesitating uncertainty in her voice. I realized then, that her plight could as easily be mine.

I wasn’t allowed much time to even get to know anyone. In less than a minute, I was whisked out of the room and led through a barrage of protocols required to prepare for my first treatment next week. Marked up with Sharpie marker, infused with India Ink and sporting four or five tiny but permanent tattoos the reality of it all begins to crush me.

I really do have cancer.
This is really happening.
I’m a little scared.

It was an overdose of reality shock taken intravenously, in a moment. This thing kills. Though my odds are really great for a cure, it could be worse. In fact, it still could get me…one day.

It was then that I began to shake.

I wish I’d at least had the opportunity to get to know her name before being ushered into my own room with the large spinning donut contraption. Her courageous words required applause, but time ran out.

Three days/nights later and I wonder how she is doing. I hope for her, that she is right. The grim realities of this disease hit hard in that brief sojourn in a waiting room. Tonight, I wonder, is she sick somewhere, alone? Is she dealing with the negative effects of Tuesday’s treatment and fighting off the pain and fear with every bit of her being?

I hope she’s not alone.
I hope she’s not afraid.
I hope her time doesn’t run out.

I hope she wins.

Rain On

It starts softly
the barest, tiny tap
Of water
On roof, deck, leaf.
Followed by
Another, hesitantly.
Then…
Another and another and another
In quick rapid-fire succession
Until what started out softly
And sweetly
Turns into a
Loud continuous pouring
Of water
Over everything.

Pour on.
Soak through.
My day is not ruined.
It is 3:00 am.

Rain on.

Chapter 7: The Bad News Is…

Today, when the sun comes up and business resumes, I will be attending my Meeting of Creditors, a requirement before having my debts fully discharged in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Prior to this, I spent nearly 5 years on a debt repayment program, trying to pay off credit card debt that was mostly The Evil Ex Husband’s. Never mind how that unfair trick occurred. I ended up struggling desperately to pay those bills, while trying to support my family, keep our home, and avoid bankruptcy court. A year ago, I met with my bankruptcy attorney and now, today, after an agonizing amount of paperwork, I have my meeting of creditors.

I am going into this meeting fearing the worst. This year, instead of owing more taxes, I am getting a healthy sum of it back. My attorney just informed me late Saturday afternoon, that the Trustee will take that tax return. In addition, my attorney informed me that because there was a few thousand dollars in my account on the day my petition was filed, (I had just gotten paid) I am likely going to be owing another $3,000. This is devastating news for me. I’m not a little angry about this. I’m depressed and I’m furious.

Bankruptcy is intended to discharge debt. Instead, in my case it is creating debt. I have $400 to pay bills and feed my family for the rest of the month. With two teenagers, one pre-teen and a gas bill for an old SUV that reaches hundreds every month, I cannot make it to the end of the month. I also have medical bills now, that I did not have when I filed due to having a small illness called cancer. I cannot discharge those debts. Further, even if all my debt is discharged it will not remove the huge student loan I will probably pay until I die.

I have definitely arrived at my lowest point since leaving The Evil Ex. I’m not sure how I’m going to make it. The fact is, I’m going to have to not pay some bills this month and this will put me even further behind for next month. Instead of providing me with a clean slate, this bankruptcy is adding more to the crushing load I already carry.

I’m praying that there will be some truly Divine Intervention this morning at this meeting. This beleaguered single mom needs a reprieve, not another bill to pay. I don’t have any rich relatives I can call on. Well, at least none who would deign to assist me right now. My only hope is that the God whose resurrection we celebrated yesterday will somehow perform a miracle on my behalf. I could really use it.

Please, God, make it possible, somehow, that I can keep that tax return and not have to owe money. I just can’t take another financial blow.

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.

 

 

Hesitating

Have you ever had that conversation in a relationship where it dawns on you that you shouldn’t be having this conversation? It suddenly breaks into your awareness that the fact that this particular conversation is occurring is the huge red flag signaling that something is way not right?

Guys are pretty easy to figure out, if women would only shut up and listen. When we do they not only say what they think, they do it. Or, as in my situation, they don’t do anything relationally significant except clutter the landscape.

The other day, the guy I’m living with, said…regarding us and marriage, “I’m just hesitant…”. Of course he then lists reasons why he is hesitant to move our relationship forward. To me, the reasons are irrelevant. He told me all I need to know. He is hesitant. Okay. That’s fine.

But it isn’t fine.

We’ve been together well over a year. He’s had time to see things as they really are. He’s living with me. But he’s hesitant.

Tonight I told him, he’s taking up space in my life. I told him he needs to move out. I told him that if he’s hesitant then he has no business living in my house, eating my food, taking advantage of me and cluttering the landscape. He needs to get out and quit taking up space in my life.

I just really do not have time for this and I hate clutter. That, unfortunately, is what he has become.

Random Sleepless Updates or How I Forgot To Give This Post A Title

My last post found me just mere days away from moving into a place that I was very glad to be moving into and moving out of a place that I couldn’t wait to leave.  I was full of angst about being able to move and be unpacked and settled (or mostly so) before the beginning of a new school year.  The fact that move in costs were going to eat well over half my take home pay for the month of September only prevented the sleeping pills from having any effect.  I was also stressing about recent flare-ups with my second ex, which looked like they were going to head us all back to the courtroom and more time and expense I wanted about as much as one wants a root canal. I had plenty things to keep me mentally wound up for hours each night.

Then September 1st happened.  We got the keys at around noon, and, to our delight, we were given clearance to begin moving in.  That meant an extra day of moving!  Since I had everything except the last minute stuff packed, it was merely a matter of picking up the hand truck and the appliance dolly and getting things in the trailer.  We were able to move enough of our stuff over that day to spend our first night in our new place that night.    The next four days were spent completing the most organized move I’ve ever been part of, and I’ve seen a few, back in the day.  I slept every night, though I was awake each morning at about 5:00, unpacking.  We were pretty much moved and unpacked by Labor Day.  Though we still had a few things ( camping gear, Christmas stuff, and my daughter’s college things) to get at the old place, we were essentially done and out of the boxes in four days.

The 6th was the first day of school, which meant a new school for my youngest (more potential angst) and back to work for me.

The following weekend we moved my daughter in to her apartment a few blocks from campus of her university.

This is my first weekend home.  Well, my first half-weekend home, since tomorrow I’ll be making trip number #2 up to the daughter to bring her the rest of her things.

I’ve slept fairly soundly most nights since moving and I LOVE the new place.  I was worried the kids wouldn’t like the new place…they all love it.

I was worried the ex would serve me papers.  So far, nothing.  I pray he doesn’t ever for any reason.

I was worried about the finances and, as I expected, it’s been an incredibly tight month.  I knew it would be a stretch for us.  I also banked on it being worth the stretch and the sacrifice.  So far it has been a smart decision. Tight times are not fun, but in this case, I’m glad I took the risk.

In all, it has been an incredibly good move.

My daughter is enjoying school for the first time in her life.  It is a joy to see her hop happily on the bus each morning and watch her complete her homework and do her reading each evening without strife.  I love being able to see her off on the bus, walk back to my vehicle half a block away, and drive to work and still arrive early.  There are other reasons it was a good move for all of us.  I think sometimes a place can harbor energy.  If this is the case, then our old place definitely held some negativity and pain for us that we needed to leave behind. Our new place is light, bright, clean and convenient.  We are all happier and more cheerful here.  The bickering among siblings has almost completely disappeared and it is peaceful.

For the most part.

I mean, nothing’s perfect, right?

The neighbors across our driveway are in the habit of leaving a night light on for their dogs.  This is not really a night light but a regular ceiling light which illuminates the very large window they have at the top of their place and which shines all night long, right into my bedroom window.  Also, when these neighbors are out back in their yard (I should just say dirt, because there is no yard just a patch of dirt), they can see right up into my bedroom.  First thing I’m doing after payday?  Purchasing some plants that can act as a screen.  I’ll place them in containers on my upper deck and I won’t see them at all.

Someone in the neighborhood has a dog that enjoys singing to the moon most of the night.  I spent one entire night up listening to this.  I cannot believe they didn’t hear this.  I also cannot believe no one has reported it.  I made the best of it.  I unpacked about four or five boxes.

The commute between our new place and my kids’ high school is eating up my gas budget and is exhausting me.  Teenagers keep late hours, and I just sold my economical Toyota Corolla Wagon.  Had to. The thing was beginning to cost me more and more to maintain and repair.  It was good to sell it, but I’m going to need to get a more economical vehicle than my ’98 Dodge Durango 4×4. So now there is that to budget for, after I get caught up financially from this whole entire move episode.

So, tonight, I’m up, losing sleep, not from worry or angst, but because I have a teenager I have to pick up from a school event which is ending quite late.  My life has improved dramatically in the last three weeks.

I’m moving forward and, for the first time in many years, I’m enjoying it.  The future looks very hopeful from here.

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