Monday, September 30, 2013

It's an epidemic

Lately, I've been hearing about other marriages that have faced the same damn thing.  Is there something in the water around here?  And it's always the men.  That's part of what makes the future seem so hopeless.  I don't like to play into gender stereotypes, and I know there are some women who have affairs and ditch their marriages.  Hell, my own sister did.  But it certainly seems to be more of a man thing.  If it was 50/50 then I would feel like there would be a reasonable selection of men out there who have lived through my side of the story, who are good men who deserve to have good marriages, etc.  It's not that I don't think they exist, it's more the issue of a reasonable selection.   And once I'm ready to date, how will I know that some guy isn't actually a creep who left his wife.  They can seem nice, but how do you really know without hearing the wife's side of the story.
I have an acquaintance who is becoming a friend.  She's the mom of one of the students at school.  Something about a vague Facebook post a couple months ago made me wonder what was up with her. Her veiled reference to pain raised red flags.  I inquired and eventually found out that she's going through the exact same thing I am.  The parallels are pretty astonishing.  Only she was able to "kill the unicorn" as she puts it.  Love that phrase.  She has a good story to tell about how she eliminated the possibility of a realistic relationship between her husband and his affair partner.  She's pretty awesome.  We went on a hike and then had a long conversation yesterday.  Being 9 months ahead of her, I feel like I want to offer her help and support, but what do I know.  I want there to still be hope for her marriage, and at the same time, my heart breaks for her because it seems like there is as little hope as there was for mine.  At least her husband is honest about his lack of willingness to try.  Mine pretended to try for 4 months.
Her husband is an attractive, friendly man and he came to a meeting today at school.  I couldn't help think, God, what if I didn't know the situation?  What about the other men out there whose situation I won't know.  What if I date someone like him?  Yuck.  I realize I'm borrowing a jack as we say in my family.  So, in a rather hopeless attempt at saving their marriage since I can't save my own, I wrote him the following letter this morning and gave it to him when I saw him at the meeting.

I wanted to talk with you today, but I wasn’t sure that I would have the time, the nerve, or the ability to coherently say what I wanted to, so I decided to write a note instead.  Please know first of all, this is not coming from any official capacity as a ---------- employee.  It is not my job as ----------- to tell people what to do with their lives, and so please don’t think that is why I’m doing this.  Actually, from that perspective I’m sure it would be very inappropriate.  However, as a woman who has lost her husband in the past year through an affair and a painful fracturing of my life, and as grown woman who nearly lost her father when I was exactly (your daughter's) age, I couldn’t help but say something. 

When I was 12 and in between 6th and 7th grade, my family was in the midst of a big transition.  We were moving home to Washington after living for 3 years in Alaska.  Like any marriage, my parents’ had had ups and downs, but after 18 years of marriage (yes, there are a lot of parallels here), they were in a good place at the time.  Something about the move triggered all these issues for my dad.  I won’t get into all the family details, but he ran off to Florida with a woman and then wanted to call it quits.  Long story short, no one thought their marriage could have recovered from that, but it did.  He came to his senses at one point and decided to do the work he needed to do to salvage things.  Given what I’ve gone through in the past year, we’ve talked much about that time in retrospect.  He has explained how unbelievably freeing it was in the long run to crawl out of the dung-heap or cesspool of the situation so to speak and clean himself off and become a new man.  Hardest thing he’s ever done, but once you’ve hit bottom, you have the freedom to make mistakes and see yourself as human and then work on refining yourself into the best person you can be.  He had to regain the respect of everyone around him, but the only way he could do that was to learn about himself and learn to love himself.  He spent a couple years doing that inner work.  Journaling, meditating, counseling, etc.  He still does that inner work.  He is far from a perfect person; none of us are, but he is a happy man with a family who loves him dearly, and who enjoys the benefits of a lifetime of marriage to the same woman.  They are retired now and so love being together.  They are as happy as can be.  That doesn’t mean conflict-free, even after 45 years of marriage, they still have the occasional frustration with each other, but less than ever now.  And though not an emotional man by nature, he is known to get choked up when he thinks about how close he came to losing it all. 

This story gave me a tremendous amount of fuel to do anything I could to save my own marriage this past year, but alas, I was unsuccessful.  But maybe I can help plant a little seed that will save yours. 
I am very close with both my parents.  I always have been with the exception of about two years after my father’s affair.  As a 12-year old girl, very connected to my mother’s grief, it took me longer than just about anyone in the extended circle of family and friends to trust him again.  He fell from being my hero and champion to a place of the lowest possible value in my eyes.  He patiently waited it out over nearly two years as my anger toward him gradually wore away.  And I’m so grateful that he did and that it did.  Today we are as close as ever.  Thank God for my father who is helping me know as I navigate the horrible financial challenges of this divorce process I’m facing!  I know without a doubt though that had my father not come back, had he not been willing to do the hard inner work that was needed to rise out of that hellish situation like a phoenix, we would not have the relationship that we do today.  And not only would I not have a positive relationship with my father, it would have been very damaging to my own ideas about relationships with men and marriage.  Now, it turns out that I still chose a crappy partner apparently.  A man who is too afraid of the personal work one needs to do to keep growing in a marriage. I didn’t realize at the time that (my STBEX) was so incompetent in that area.  But he certainly wasn’t like my father, who had the courage at the darkest point to make the harder choice and do what was needed to save his marriage.  I wish I had married someone like that as I wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in.  I loved him dearly and we had a good life together and three amazing boys who don’t deserve to have their family torn apart.  And it doesn’t end here.  There will be no shared experiences of a united family for the rest of our lives.  I won’t get to share my grandchildren with the man I love who is also their grandfather.  The whole scenario sucks and the effects are far-reaching through generations.  But anyway, that’s my story. It doesn’t have to be yours.  You have a wife who loves you very much and who is willing (as I was with my husband) to go through this fire with you.  To do the work and come out together on the other side, not unscathed, but reformed and more beautiful than ever. I hope for your sake and your family’s that you make the harder, but eventually more satisfying choice.  I hope this especially for (your daughter).  It’s not that I don’t care about (your wife).  I can see how she’s suffering and I relate to exactly what she’s going through, but worst case scenario, she’s pretty hot and awesome and she’ll find love again, I’m sure of it.  On the other hand, this will be a pretty damn impossible thing for (your daughter) to recover from.  Or you could be a model for her and show her what it really means to be fully human.  I hope you follow my father’s path and not my soon-to-be-ex-husband’s.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Birthday legalities

Awhile back I sent the STBEX an email with proposed "policy" about the boys' birthdays.  This was in response to the experience we had with the middle's birthday, in which he played the victim card again and didn't come despite that I held it at a neutral location, invited folks using the joint email account we set up for the boys, and made sure to keep him in the loop about everything.  I wanted to avoid the miscommunication that leads to passive aggressive behavior on his part.  So here's what I said:
Regarding #3's birthday.  I think perhaps part of our communication difficulty about #2's party may have come from using language like "I'd be happy to."    Also given our current relationship, it isn't necessarily easy to work together in the old format of just talking about things casually and figuring things out in the office at night.  So, I don't know if we need to write it into the parenting plan or what, but here are some guidelines around birthday parties that could help avoid future conflict:
  • Baring other significant conflicts, the child's party will be on the weekend closest to his birthday, with Wednesday being a toss-up. 
  • Baring future unforeseeable negative developments, both parents are always welcome at any child's birthday party, and an effort should be made to make that possible.
  • Let the parent who "has" that weekend with the boys, have first opportunity to take the lead in planning the party.  (Here after identified as the "lead" vs. the "co-parent."
  • The lead may pass on that role and ask the co-parent if s/he wants to either take the lead on the same weekend or on his/her weekend.
  • The lead may plan the party single-handedly or may specifically ask the co-parent to do things.  The co-parent can say yes or no to those requests.
  • The co-parent (who isn't the lead) may ask (not just offer) to help with specific tasks, the lead can say yes or no to those requests.
I realize it's pretty legalistic, but it seems necessary in this situation.  How exactly did we get here?  

So then he agrees that he wants the lead role for #3's party, and so I don't mention the fact that I've heard no plans yet a week before his birthday.  The weekend before he emails me a sample of the invitation, but when I responded that I was surprised he used his personal email as the RSVP email, he didn't change it.  It was pretty ridiculous, RSVP John Doe,  But whatever.  And then it was forecast to pour down rain, and so I, being me, and perhaps not listening very well to my therapist's previous advice brought it up to him on Thursday before the Saturday party.  "Do you have a plan if it rains..." And I gave my (unasked for) blessing for him to move the party location to his house near the park in case of rain.  Why did I do that?  I was trying to be nice.  Trying to be helpful.  Trying to make peace, throw him a bone so to speak.  But why?  That's a good thing, right?  So why is it wrong?  Hmm.  I'm trying to remember why my therapist would say that was wrong other than just that it was unsolicited.  He didn't ask for my help.  He didn't ask to be rescued.  So I should have waited to see if he asked for help.  But again, why?  Is it just because we need to shift our relationship to one with markedly different patterns, or is there a reason that goes beyond our relationship, that's affects my relationship with others in general?  

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Love Potions

So I've been sucked into the television show Once Upon a Time.  I've never been much of a TV watcher.  I don't have that kind of time.  I never understand how people do.  But since spring, I've been rotting my brain with a lot of TV.  I'm deciding right now that I'm going to give myself a solid year of TV brain rot, then I'm going to put limits on it.  I could definitely use some limits.  I watched all of the Downton Abbey episodes in the spring and summer.  (Now I have to wait until January with everyone else to see what happens.)  Then I worked my way through the final season of the Office.  The storyline with Jim and Pam killed me.  I saw more love between those two actors portraying fictional characters than I believe my STBEX every had for me.  I was bawling one night watching it.  Who knew prime time comedic sitcoms could have you crying your eyes out.  Then one night a couple of weeks ago, desperate for a movie or something, I came across Once Upon a Time.  It looked like a pleasant diversion for the evening. Now I'm completely addicted.  And with the instant delivery of Netflix, I have the unfortunate ability of watching one right after another.  I've already wasted my life on 16 45-minute episodes in the past week or so.  I've not been sleeping just to stay up and watch TV. How stupid is that?  But the show is very creative.  And with a cliffhanger at the end of each episode, it keeps you coming back for more.
Anyhow, aside from feeling ashamed about all the TV watching, the show got me thinking about love potions (since there is a whole magical element to the storyline).  On one hand, I don't really believe in such nonsense, right?  I'm a rational logical Western soul with a very "new-agey" belief in God and all things spiritual that is far more in tune with what little I know about quantum physics than fairy tales or movies with Charleston Heston.  And yet, that woo-woo side of quantum physics and all things spiritual also allows for me to shrug my shoulders and declare, "there's more to life than we understand, right?" So, no, I don't really believe in love potions, and what I'm about to say must certainly be coming from a place of pain that's just looking for any explanation for everything that's happened, right?  At least I'm ashamed to admit, even to an anonymous audience of none, that maybe there could be such a thing as an effective love potion. And yet, if I had been a firmer non-believer, I wouldn't have used one.    But I did.  I was warned to be careful, that it's powerful magic.  It was made specifically for me by a magic man in my Peace Corps village.   And it worked.  He did fall in love with me, or so it seemed. But it the magic powerful enough to last a lifetime?  I didn't ask how long it would last.  I should have done so.  Seems like an important question to ask in retrospect.  Is that why he was in love with me?  Was it the love potion?  Was he compelled to love me only because of that? Was it beyond his will?  Did it wear off?  I wouldn't ask these questions to any sane person, but I can't help wonder about them in secret.  

Gratitude vs. Worrying about the Future

I've got a long ways to go before I'm that iridescent grateful butterfly that I want to be. Right now I'm just lonely and hopeless. I don't want to live my life partnerless. I don't want to believe that's what I was meant for. I have too much to give and I believe too much in relationships or that. My sister doesn't even believe in marriage anymore and yet she always has a man willing to be by her side and help her with whatever she might want help with. But despite my desire (not for the present, but just for the faith that it will be there again say before I'm in my 50s or something), I can't picture ever being with some. I have such a hard time believing that it's possible. Not because I'm not worth it. I believe I'm worth it. I just think all the potential equals are already taken. And I see no evidence from the past that makes me think it will happen. No track record. I realize I shouldn't even be thinking or worrying about this now, and when the time comes that I'm ready for it, positive thinking is essential. Law of attraction and all that stuff. It won't happen if I don't believe it can happen, etc., but how will I even get my heart and mind to be that optimistic someday.
I guess I just need to focus on today and not worry about how I'm going to be positive a year from now or some point in the future.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Coming home to an empty house

You know what sucks? Working a 14.5 hour day and dealing with hard challenges and coming home to an empty house at close to midnight. Hungry. Tired. No one to hug me and say, atta girl and put me in bed and I can't even fucking go to bed because I have to prepare for tomorrow's big mediation session. F my life right now.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Nonsensical musings

I feel like my head is spinning in so many directions at once I have a hard time seeing clear answers.  I can’t even tell for sure how many questions there are or which ones are relevant or worthy questions or subsets of connected questions. 

This therapy process is hard work.  And then I wonder why is this necessary.  Why do I have to figure all this out in order to be happier in the future.  I was happy before.  Pretty happy.  Is it possible to be happier?  Can I have that?  On the continuum of relative happiness, where was I before?  And how much of that do we have control over.  On one hand, I believe in “choosing your own mood.”  Choosing to be happy even when life serves you a raw deal.  But if I follow that line of thinking to an extreme, I think that potentially leads to a “blame the victim” mentality.  If we are happy because we choose to be happy, does that mean we are miserable because we choose to be miserable.  What about when life gives you crap?  And I don’t even mean my bourgeois problems of self-absorbed, depressed, narcissistic husbands who up and quit all of a sudden…. Though tangent, that’s not altogether a bourgeois problem.  I say that because it isn’t ruining my life in the same way that it would be another woman in another time and place in history, but actually, it would have been thoroughly devastating to other women in other times and places…. But anyhow, I’m thinking more like victims of fatal illnesses or genocide or war or other horrific things.  There is an ugly flip side to that “law of attraction”/”choose your own mood”/”all we are in control of is our responses” philosophy which hints that if life sucks, it might be because we weren’t positive enough.  Like the subtle suggestion that eating organic food and living holistically will keep you from getting cancer, so therefor, the people who get cancer must have been because they weren’t eating organic food and being emotionally healthy enough.
But what does this train of thought have to do with me.  So, as I explore myself and figure out how I’ve been in relationship with others, I am struggling to find the nuanced explanation that will allow me to understand how I attracted my spouse and was attracted to him while also not being determinist.   If I accept that there are qualities about me that I need to work on that led to that relationship than it seems like I’m also accepting responsibility for my life following the path that it has.  And while we have to accept responsibility for our choices, and it’s also healthy to examine patterns and see how those patterns enabled certain events to unfold, taken to an extreme that becomes determinist. 
I don’t even know what I’m trying to see.  I see myself writing nonsense and thinking in circles, but I can’t get clearer. 
And I’m too tired to write the dozens of pages that it would take to spell out concrete examples which would help me make sense of it.
Random themes:
Feeling lonely…Noticing the pattern between highs and lows in this current experience of mine… the high of the first day of school today.  Happy community, excited staff and kids and parents, successful day.  I was ON.  BUSY.  In the center of it all.  And then ALONE.  The juxtaposition was hard.  Thank goodness for going to a friend’s for dinner.  And I got to cook!  Which I realize I like to do for people who care about a meal and never get to really do anymore, since my boys don’t value my cooking. 
Thinking a lot about feeling vulnerable and how I have FOR YEARS, protected myself against feeling vulnerable by justifying other people’s behavior, from friends to family members to loved ones.  By seeing the best in others, and generally assuming that they have understandable reasons for their behavior that is largely unrelated to me, I have, for as long as I can remember, allowed myself to not feel hurt, or to get hurt very little.  It’s not that I don’t feel hurt at all, but I relatively quickly (from instantly, to faster than usual, defined as “not being a grudge-holder”) get over it. 
So what are the ramifications of this behavior?  How has that impacted my life?  I’ve always thought that has impacted my life positively, but I’m now questioning if life characteristics, if there have been negative ramifications as well.  Has this prevented people from falling in love with me?  Why have so few men ever been attracted to me? How?  Don’t people like positive people, right?  People don’t like woe-is-me folks.  I hate even having this inner dialogue because it seems so self-pitying, which is abhorrent to me. But I also feel the need to understand the cold hard truth.  Why at 28 years old had so few men ever been interested in me?  And he hardly pursued me.  For God’s sake, I responded to his personal profile.  I practically threw myself at him.  Sure, he asked me on the first few dates, and I agreed, but from them on, I guess the control was in my hands.  I didn’t see it as such, but I do now.  He didn’t object, and responded largely positively, but in retrospect, passively.  I led from the get-go.  I didn’t realize it at the time. 
And what good does it do to understand that and come to terms with it?  It seems like that’s worthy of analysis, but I don’t know why?  What’s the lesson?  Not to pursue anyone ever again?  It’s not like I had done very much pursuing or had been pursued, either one. 
Well, I’ve vomited nonsense here for 40 minutes, and still don’t even know what my questions are.  Still don’t even know what the important themes are.  All I know is that I must get to sleep or the morning isn’t going to be pleasant with the boys. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Sometimes when in alone in this big house I feel paralyzed. Can't imagine what it would be like if I was more of a social person. I already like a lot of quiet alone time. What if I didn't?  While sometimes the stillness is a relief, other times it just brings on terrible loneliness and grief. So much of my job is also spent on solitude that it's enough. I didnt talk to anyone last night, I went to bed without talking to anyone, I slept nicely but woke up completely diagonal (not typical) in the bed and even that made me sad wondering how I'll adjust to sleeping with someone again someday (god willing). And now it's silent until the boys get here soon. 
I should have hopped into the shower, but instead have just been paralyzed, not sure what to do with myself.  And now they'll be back in a couple minutes and before long I'll likely find myself wishing for things to be a little quieter, but where's the balance?  The sweetness of balance that comes with companionship. Quiet moments with intimacy. It's not like I've never been alone. Not like many women I know, including my sister who jumped from her marriage to her new partner in the wrong order. I've spent plenty of years alone. I know how to be happy and satisfied and feel complete by myself, but that sure as he'll doesn't mean I prefer it. Goes back to that color personality inventory vs the Myers Briggs. I'm neither introvert or extrovert really. Maybe a little bit more of the former, but more significantly I'm someone who craves quiet intimacy. 
I feel like none of this is a new response to this situation, but I'm feeling it in a new way now. As if I'm entering stage two of this new separated life. Not sure how it's different than stage one, but it is. Less on the surface sadness, I'm doing it. I can cope. I'm adjusting to my new life and smiling and being happy and not affected every moment by the train wreck, and yet realizing that now I'm entering the long haul phase. The train had left civilization where everything was in your face and headed into the wastelands for a long trek so to speak. Doesn't mean it's still not functioning and doing a good job, or that there's not even the potential for lovely scenery along the way, but it's a lonely solitary drive. 
And here come my boys from outside. :)

Monday, September 2, 2013


The loneliness part really sucks. I've got 4 boys happy in the backyard and I'm making dinner and there's supposed to be someone else here to share it with. To laugh and talk and smile with while we watch them and cook dinner and talk about life. And the stupid idiot, he left at the hardest time. Research shows that having kids under age three is the most stressful time. He couldn't hack it and left before we could get to easier times.