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Hardship

He wanted to meet up this weekend. It sounded like a good idea over the phone. The problem is it was a meet up. The problem is he lives 150 miles away. The problem is, while the designated meet up point was lovely, it required 40 minutes of drive time and gas expense for me. With three and a half weeks left in this month and, now, $200 left to feed my family of four, I just can’t spend money on that kind of thing.

And how does one explain this without coming off as some sort of destitute woman looking to find someone to financially bail her out, or worse some sort of trailer trash? No offense intended to those who are destitute and live in trailers. I’ve been there. I really have. What I’m talking about is an attitude that oozes “needy” or “rescue me” or “life’s unfair” or even worse, “why bother?”

So, I zipped an email to him stating a partial truth. Due to my daughter’s stage production in a nearby town, she would be needing the car. I would not be able to make it. I said all the right things about how I still wanted to meet up, and I left everything in his court.

Silence.

Not like this is any big surprise. People go silent all the time. After all, he doesn’t know me. I’m merely a few profile pictures, some well-chosen words and a voice over the phone to him. That’s easily forgettable.

Not like I care. I really don’t.

I’m far more worried about how I’m going to feed my kids this month. There isn’t a food kitchen in town that will accept me due to my income, which is pretty decent for the area I live in…if I weren’t dealing with the financial fallout from a horrible marriage and the resulting bankruptcy and car repairs.

I have friends, though, and these friends know how to cook on a pittance. They are helping me with recipes that cost virtually nothing, but which will sustain us. I can hardly wait until this month is over and I can celebrate the fact that we survived. I’m looking forward to being able to post about how we made it through what seemed like impossible odds without over drawing the bank accounts.

You watch. You wait. I’ll win.

After all, everyone experiences hardship, right? So, the real issue is how we deal with it. Do we cave under pressure or do we conquer?

I fully intend to conquer. Caving, while tempting, is just no fun. Kicking a challenge? That pretty much rocks. Living to tell about it? Even better.

Stay tuned.

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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.

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