Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Strong Song

This is a blog post I wrote on March 19th, just two weeks after he left (or I kicked him out, depending on who's telling the story).  It’s the last post of the family blog.  I happened to see it when I looked back at that blog for something today, and wanted to put it with to repost it here, because it fits here.  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The MC never ceases to amaze me.  This morning was hard for me; I'm trying to hold it together for their sake and not let them see my despair.  I put on some music to empower me, my new favorite song, "The Cave" by Mumford and Sons.  I was singing along to it and then to the next one that came on, and MC said, "I like that song that was on before this one."
"I do too," I said, "It makes me feel strong.  Sometimes playing music can help me feel strong and more cheerful."
"You know what's a good song for feeling strong?" he said, "number 12 on Daddy's CD."
"Daddy's CD" is a mixed CD pair that I made for their daddy a few years ago with a bunch of empowering songs, some cheesy, some less so.  Though he hasn't ever really listened to them much, the boys LOVE those CDs.  Meanwhile their father and I and the sitters have grown very tired of listening to the same "Hot Stuff" and other songs in that genre ad nauseum. Nevertheless, I was most curious which one he was thinking of and rather incredulous that he not only knew a song that could make you feel strong, but that he knew which number it was and on which CD.  He couldn't describe it, so we went to put it on.  Soon, "Strong Enough," by Cher was blaring through the speakers.  I nearly cried.  That child is so unbelievably insightful sometimes.  Beyond what he even understands. He couldn't possibly understand the full power of those lyrics, the affair imagery and everything.  It had to be a coincidence.  But I just had to check on one thing.  As Cher sings, "I'm strong enough to live without you..." I said to him, "It's true kiddo, I'm really strong, but I'm not strong enough for that.  I could never live without you.  I will love you forever."
To which he simply responded with a hug and a kiss in return and said, "Oh, I don't know about the rest of the words, just the strong part."
God I love that kid.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Damn Halloween

He gets the boys for Halloween.  He took them to the pumpkin patch two weekends ago, which meant there was very little reason to go again.  He had them this weekend so he carved pumpkins with them.  Don't they all look so happy and engaged with their pumpkins.  Doesn't matter that I am always the one who gets excited about carving pumpkins with them every year, and who initiates the event, assists with it all, and cleans up after it all.  This year, he got to it first.

I fully realize the ridiculousness of pouting about a mess of pumpkins.   1) I should be glad I didn't have to deal with the mess this year. 2) The boys aren't going to remember in the future whose house they carved pumpkins at the year we split up; it SO doesn't matter. and 3) There are MUCH bigger things to worry about in the world and in our very own lives than some stupid pumpkins.

Nevertheless, It was painful.  Yet another thing ripped from my life this year.  Not the picture I wanted.  Not them at their "house with Daddy." (I try to call it that, always so careful to avoid "my house" and "Daddy's house" but instead using the far more awkward "your house with Daddy" and "our house" when speaking about our homes so that they don't feel like their just a moving piece in our lives but that they have two homes which really belong to them.

I actually saw them a few minutes before this picture was taken (I stole it from Facebook).  I dropped the MC off after taking him to a birthday party for the afternoon, left them all in his kitchen, about ready to carve the pumpkins.  They love me, I know, but they hardly noticed me even leave; they were so focused on the pumpkins.  I walked myself out the front door and right as I got to the door it started pouring down rain.  FML I thought as I walked to the car to go back to work for the afternoon.  I worked until close to 7.  Then came home to a cold, dark, empty house.  A far cry from the cheery pumpkin carving scene I would have liked to have been a part of.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Honoring my feelings

I decided to do it.  I spent two nights writing the letter below and looking at it and thinking over it and then pressed send last night about 1AM.   It was in a word document, sent in an email with a note that read:

Attached is a letter for you to read at your convenience, if you so choose.  No reply is required.  I've spent a few days writing it.  Hopefully I don't regret sending it in the morning, but I'm pretty confident I won't.

And I don't regret sending it.  And I'm surprisingly at peace with the unknown.  He may respond.  He may not.  I won't pretend that I haven't wondered about it a bit today, but not with anxiety or apprehension.  It's gone.  It left me.  I've released it.  Hopefully I'll be able to maintain that posture.  I couldn't help but wonder if he had read it when we were talking about the MC this evening when he came to pick up the boys and the former was having a meltdown in his room.  We stood there talking like nothing unspoken had transpired, which was only mildly strange.  It's quite possible he hadn't even read it yet.  Or that he may never.  In any case, it doesn't matter.  Actually, not getting a response at all is perhaps the easiest path.  It's the one I'm already on.  Anyhow, here's the big letter.  A weight off my chest.  

October 24th, 2013


The past months have undoubtedly given me an unprecedented opportunity to learn about myself, in new and somewhat unexpected ways, and accordingly, I’m doing a huge amount of personal growth.  It's hard work, but hopefully that work will pay off over time.  I hope for your sake that you are also doing that inner exploration.  After all, what is life for if not to self-actualize, and the goal keeps moving as we near it. 

I’ve been wrestling with a pervasive feeling for the last week or more that keeps finding its way back into my heart despite my efforts to ignore it.  Then after talking with my therapist about it earlier this week, I decided to do the opposite, and honor it.  After all, one of the things I’ve been learning is that I need to honor my feelings more.  Who knew!? I thought I was pretty good at knowing my feelings!  Hmm.  I’m learning that knowing and honoring are two different things. 

Anyhow, despite the huge amount of vulnerability this takes, I’m going to honor these feelings by following through with my desire and sharing them with you.  I can do that because I’m pretty confident that the personal risk is actually low, I can’t really get hurt more than I currently am, and the risk of that is worth the act of honoring my feelings, and the infinitesimally small sliver of possibility. 

For the past week or so, I’ve felt this overwhelming need to make sure you know that I am not a roadblock here. I’m pretty certain that you know that already, but I need to make certain that you do.  Why am I choosing to put myself out there when there’s been no sign from you that you are interested in moving in any direction other than the one we are moving in?  I don’t know.  I guess I just want to make sure you know what’s in my heart.  I’ve said things over the past several months that might have led you to believe that there was no hope.  Things that were honest, but also could have got in the way if there was any part of you hoping for reconciliation.  Comments like, “if I could, I would never see you again.”  I’m not saying that’s inaccurate, but it’s only half the picture.  That’s how I feel given what is happening.  It doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t have tried had you made any move to do so.

So for what it’s worth, I want you to know:

It might not be too late.  To change your mind about all this. 
To repair and rebuild and create something more beautiful. 

I haven’t said it until now, because it didn’t seem like the right thing to do.  But as I’m learning, perhaps the lesson for me is to worry less about the right thing to do and more about listening to my heart. 

So I’m putting it out there now. Of course, I recognize there’s very little chance of success (in any form), but I want to be honest and let you know that I would be willing to try if you were.  Yes, I am hurt and angry and confused and harbor very little confidence, but I’d be willing to try, even if I couldn’t imagine it ever working out.  Why?  Because I remember loving you.  And because I haven’t stopped missing you and what we’ve shared.  That doesn’t mean that I’m not angry and hurt and that there isn’t a huge loss of respect that has occurred, but I also believe in miracles.  And I know that I find you attractive, funny, intelligent, and skillful.  I know that marriages can come back from just about anything and also be built on very little and still survive where there’s the will and desire. I believe that I would be able to dig down and find the embers of my love for you and rekindle it if things were different.  And a lot of things would have to be different.  But if you asked me, will you try, with me, for me, for us, for our family, I would.  The analytical me weighs it on two hands:

·      I’m hurt beyond description.
·      I don’t trust you.
·      I’ve lost respect for you in many ways.
·      Some days being without you is quite frankly far easier than being with you, both as an individual and as a parent.
·      I'm learning more about what I need, and I’m not sure that you are able to provide it.
·      And of course, I have every reason to believe you are still in a relationship with someone else, which makes all of this a moot point.
·      We have much in common and are compatible in a lot of ways.
·      I loved you dearly and deeply.
·      There are many moments when I miss you and our life together.
·      I know that you have many admirable qualities that I value, I can still recognize them: funny, analytical, skillful, creative, responsible, handsome.
·      You are the father of my sons.
·      I’m deeply saddened at the loss of our family’s future together and the loss of sharing a lifetime of learning and growing with a lifelong partner let alone celebrating our children’s and eventually grandchildren’s lives together.
·      I am an incurable romantic and optimist who believes all things are possible, someone who refuses to give up, and will put my whole self into things that matter to me.

As you can see, for me, there are still more arguments for trying.  Of course, that may not surprise you because that was my posture all last winter though it didn’t change the situation.  But I wanted to make sure you still knew it.  Please know that this is not about fear of the future, finances, mediation or anything else.  It’s just what I’m feeling about us and our family, beyond all of that logistical stuff, and I’m putting it out there. Maybe you never loved me to begin with (I really don’t know), in which case I wouldn’t want you to consider such a thing, as I don’t believe it would ever be possible.  But if there’s a part of you that can still access some of those deep down feelings, I want you to know that it could still be possible.  I recognize that’s a pretty weak offer, with words like “could” and “might” and “possible,” but that’s as much as I'm sure of at this point. 

I needed to honor my feelings, and I’ve done that.  I’m not expecting a miracle.  I’m not expecting anything really.  I’m not worried about what you’ll say.  You can’t take anything more away from me emotionally.  I’m not hoping or looking for any particular response from you.  You can pretend you never got this, you can simply say thanks but no thanks, you can send me a long thoughtful email about how you feel the same way but don’t have enough faith that it could work to try, or you can shock and surprise me and say ok, let’s give it a try. (I’m not holding my breath for that, and to be honest, that would be scary too.)  The truth is it really doesn’t matter which response (or absence of a response) you choose, my need to honor my feelings has been fulfilled just by sharing these thoughts with you, regardless of the outcome. So please don’t feel any obligation in any way.



P.S.  Your response (or lack thereof) will have no bearing on any of the logistical stuff we continue to deal with (parenting, schedules, mediation or anything else). So whether you find me easy or difficult to work with in the future, please understand it has no connection to this.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Is Jason Mraz a real man?

Every time Jason Mraz's song, "I Won't Give Up" comes on I want to cry.  It's one of the songs that I put in a collection and sent to him three days before the end of our marriage.  I meant it.

When I look into your eyes
It's like watching the night sky
Or a beautiful sunrise
Well, there's so much they hold
And just like them old stars
I see that you've come so far
To be right where you are
How old is your soul?

Well, I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up

And when you're needing your space
To do some navigating
I'll be here patiently waiting
To see what you find

'Cause even the stars they burn
Some even fall to the earth
We've got a lot to learn
God knows we're worth it
No, I won't give up

I don't wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I'm here to stay and make the difference that I can make
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got, yeah, we got a lot at stake
And in the end, you're still my friend at least we did intend
For us to work we didn't break, we didn't burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I've got, and what I'm not, and who I am

I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up, still looking up.

Well, I won't give up on us (no I'm not giving up)
God knows I'm tough enough (I am tough, I am loved)
We've got a lot to learn (we're alive, we are loved)
God knows we're worth it (and we're worth it)

I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up

I sent him the lyrics with several other songs of a similar vein while homeward bound from Hawaii.  When he picked me up from the airport I was prepared for our meeting.  I had thought and thought about what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it.  My time away had not been easy for us.  There was a tremendous amount of tension over the phone.  He had avoided me nearly every day.  I got off the plane and got in the car and then asked him to pull over so I could talk to him before we drove home.  In short, I held his hands and tried to look into his eyes and tell him just how much faith I had in us still.  That I had enough love for the two of us if he could just trust in us enough to figure it out. 
Then just ten minutes later we were in a fight because he said that I hadn't called him enough while I was gone.  I argued back that he was the one who hadn't wanted to talk to me.  He kept not calling me back, saying he had work to do or was going to bed (lies that I later discovered when I compared his story with the Verizon record for the first time.  Then as was often our pattern, I stopped arguing.   Empathetically tried to recognize the feelings he was expressing, apologized for arguing and any pain he was feeling that was connected to me and asked if we could please start fresh.  Why does it seem like it was always me to apologize?
Anyhow, my intention tonight wasn't to relive that night, but to post this song.  I wanted this so badly.  I want this so badly.  A man that is emotionally intimate enough to think about the relationship and do the work.  And I'm not certain that such a thing even exists.  Are there men like this?  This singer must at some level understand this or how could he have written such a song.  But perhaps it only exists in music?  Perhaps the singers who write these songs are actually self-obsessed emotional flirts who can talk the talk but not walk the walk.  Wouldn't be surprising, even if depressing.  I want evidence that there are men who would feel this way about a marriage.  Are there men who are willing to read all those relationship books?  To actively work on intimacy issues?  Right now, knowing that the exist would be enough for me.  

Grief has a way of catching you by surprise

Grief and loneliness can be absolutely paralyzingly can't they. Can't get up from the bottom step of the stairs right now. Had a bawl session sitting here after he walked out the door with the LO, taking him to school this AM, after taking the other boys to school. It was an unusual morning and the slight change in routine has thrown me. And every since last week I've been fighting the urge to ask him if he's really sure this is what he wants. You really don't want me?
The more normal things become sometimes the harder it is. The adrenaline of anger is gone and all I'm left with is grief.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Parenting a heart in pain

I could write for hours and it wouldn't be enough time to describe this journey that I'm on with my eldest son.  They are all dealing with this life transition in their own ways, but it's always most evident with number one (NO).
He is so angry and defiant some of the time.  But just some of the time.  And he can go back and forth from obstinate and fiercely apathetic (that does make any sense, it's not necessarily contradictory) to good-natured and cooperative in seconds.  I picked the boys up from their father's house around 2:00 after working until then.  They were all in good spirits.  It was another spectacularly beautiful crisp sunny fall day here.  We've had a good line up of them.  We got home and I told the boys the plan for the remainder of the day.  I was hoping that we could have a family movie night (before a school night bedtime), and that it could happen if we accomplished the following: homework, haircuts, fresh air exercise, dinner, and rooms picked up.  Sounds like a long list, but it needn't be.  I just wanted to squeeze in 20 minutes of exercise on their bikes.  They had about 15 minutes of homework.  Haircuts happen at home.  Rooms shouldn't take more than 5 minutes, and I had a super easy dinner planned.  My NO, who had been asking for a family movie night, immediately quipped that it wasn't possible.  He wasn't even going to try it because he knew he would just end up losing it.  So self-defeating.  Drives me crazy.  He flipped back and forth all afternoon and evening between rallying and cooperating and loudly asserting that he wasn't going to do anything because it wasn't even possible.  In the end, we did just about everything.  Haircuts, check.  Dinner, check.  Homework, check.  A short bike ride around the neighborhood, check. Picked up rooms, check. Then I asked him to come downstairs and help me for two minutes, to make up for the fact that he had been so defiant and unwilling to help with so many of the other steps in toy pick up, dinner prep, dinner clean-up.  I just wanted him to work with me for about 2 minutes picking up some toys and stuff in the kitchen.  We weren't early enough for a movie at this point, but we were early enough that I was going to let them have 30 minutes of TV.  Come on NO, help me for 2 minutes and then you can watch TV and then we'll still have time for a proper tuck in with stories and everything.
"NOOOOOOOO!  I won't do it.  I don't care.  I can't.  It's not possible."
I started to get frustrated with him, but thankfully I got emotionally analytical instead.
He was on the floor, with his back intentionally to me.  I got down on the floor to talk to him quietly.  He turned around to put his back to me again.  I sat down behind him and talked for a bit about how I get it.  Shared some thoughts with him to see if any of them resonated with him, including the following.
I get it kiddo.  I think I understand how you're feeling.  Sometimes when you're unhappy about everything in your life, do you sort of want to make sure that everything stays bad.  It's like you don't want to succeed at anything because then something would be right and then you'd have to feel good about that and right now you just want to be mad about how wrong and bad everything is?  
"Yeah," he agreed.
I talked with him about grief and my memories of other times of grief in my life and the roller coaster that one experiences when you have a happy moment and then you feel badly about the happy moment because it seems to dishonor your grief which causes you to come crashing down out of the happy moment.  This journey is kind of like that sometimes.  He agreed.
Somewhere along the conversation he allowed me to snuggle up next to him and hug him from behind. We sat there on the kitchen floor for awhile talking.  Mostly me talking and him listening, but it was clear from his non-verbals that he was relating to what I was saying.
At one point he said he wishes he could just go back to three years ago.  "Why three years ago," I asked. Before any of this happened, he explained.  "But this wasn't happening three years ago," I said.  "Yeah, ok, then one year ago," he responded.
"Or really, six months ago for you," I said, "you didn't really know until then did you?"
He said that he didn't really know until last spring, but that he felt like something was different last winter.  He didn't know what it was, but something was wrong.  I don't know if he's saying that now just because I've since told him that the problem as I was aware of it started last fall or if he really did sense the difference.  Or perhaps it's a combination.  He might not have thought anything of it at the time but in retrospect saw the significance of certain things.  I feel so badly at the thought of him carrying around concern without being able to lighten that burden by talking to me.  I told him as much.   I told him that I'm sorry that he had to go through that alone, that he shouldn't have had to.  If I had had any idea how things would have turned out, I would have been more honest.  But then again, maybe I wouldn't.  I don't know what was right or wrong or how much of his memories are altered by retrospective vision.
In any case, I think he felt heard and understood, and for a moment, not trapped in this failure to succeed or be happy pattern that he's been in.  Poor kid.  He's got so much weighing on this heart.
I put the boys to bed and instead of reading to him I pulled out the siddur and sang Adon Olam.  I love that song when life seems bleak.  It's a reminder of God's power and strength when we need it most.  NO needed it.  He seemed to thoroughly appreciate the snuggle and song at bedtime.  And the MC, who had already been read to and snuggled with, nearly threw a fit that I was "singing from the prayer book" for his big brother and he didn't get that.  Who would have guessed he would want that when he usually acts like he's not paying attention.  He's such a complicated little guy.

Why do I miss that miserable excuse for a husband?

The other day I was so tempted to send him the following text that I texted it to my sister instead just to get it out:
It might not be too late you know. To change your mind about all of this. To figure it all out. To repair. Just wanted to put that out there.  
Of course I knew better than to send it to him.  I knew I had to send it to my sister instead.  She replied: I understand why you felt that way.  And if he had given you any signals, it might be worth it. But given what I understand, it would be the wrong application of vulnerability. 
She was right.  Of course I already knew that, but it's awfully hard to remind yourself all the time.  I wonder what he would do.  Would he respond at all?  If so,  how would he respond?
In the first few months after he left, I checked the Verizon bill regularly.  I was addicted to knowing what his phone records looked like.  How much was he talking and texting to her?  What patterns could I deduce?  I've mostly weaned myself from looking.  Instead of daily or even multiple times a day, I've only been looking at it every couple weeks now.  Only if something really triggers my curiosity.  Of course it can't really tell me much, but for better or worse I like to think it gives me some information, as painful or neutral as it is.  Clearly it will be good when our phone lines are separated so that it's no longer an option.  It seems as if they are not often (if ever) sleeping in the same house based on text records.  They text back and forth late at night and very early in the morning.  Seems like if they were together they wouldn't be texting.  And what difference does it matter?  I fully recognize how completely pathetic it is that I am snooping in this way.  It's all that I have left though.

Tonight I went to a grown-up birthday party.  Mostly all couples from the school, university, and synagogue community.  I'm glad I went, it was good to talk to people, but it's hard then to come home alone.  I'm not such a social butterfly.  Parties are never as comfortable to me as intimate conversations. And I was far better at going to parties than my STBEX was anyhow.  One of the things that came out in long withdraw was something about how he was sad that I could seem so engaging at a party but that he often saw that from across the room.  I really don't have any idea what that means.  For one, we often were standing together at parties.  Secondly, I'm hardly the social butterfly that comes alive at parties and then withdraws one on one. Nearly the opposite.  And if he did find me appealing from across the room, wasn't that a good thing?  As in, "yay, I get to take that woman home with me."  And I enjoyed the coming home.  I liked that transition from the party environment to going home with my partner.  To talk about whatever, compare notes, debrief the evening.  It feels very empty coming home to my sleeping children, the departing babysitter and then silence.  And I know that I'm looking back with a skewed perspective.  The reality is probably that he was anti-social at the party and then we probably came home to him being grumpy, but I'm not remembering it like that.

The point is I miss him, and I'm annoyed with myself that I miss him.  Some moments more than others, and some moments perhaps I'm just missing the perks of partnership rather than him specifically I suppose.  But I'm missing... nonetheless.  And as if all this doesn't hurt badly enough, I almost find myself needing stronger evidence of his lack of willingness to work on his marriage.  As if seeing them happy together would rip my heart out more than it's already been ripped out.  But I'm needing something more painful (is that even possible) to keep me from feeling like sending a text like that one above.  It's good that I have some written reminders of just how confused and unappreciative he was.  If I ever get really tempted, I should pull those out and remind myself.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Taking care of myself vs. taking care of others

One more thought about that conversation with my sis last night. At one point she was saying something positive about what would come out of all of this growth process in the future. She was saying how I would come out stronger etc. and I stopped her and said something about how that was the point that I was unhappy with. That I'm so very tired of being strong. I'm beginning to hate that word. What I desperately want is to be cared for. That I KNOW I will get through this experience BECAUSE I'm plucky, strong, and focused on the positive and that's exactly what is part of the problem, that I always have to take care of myself instead of being taken care of. And she stopped me and pointed out that that's where I'm confused. I'm confusing pluck and good spirit with taking care of myself. I had just a few moments earlier described how in any conversation ever, if I'm brave enough to say to someone how my feelings have been hurt or how I'm feeling vulnerable or uncared for, I immediately switch to taking care of them. For 12 years with my partner if I brought up something that showed I was hurt, that immediately made him feel like a victim, no matter how appropriately I voiced the issue. So I would almost instantly switch gears into taking care of his feelings. I've done that with my parents forever. Caring for their feelings before my own. So to say that I'm tired of having to take care of myself and desperately want someone else to care for me more is only partially true. I HAVEN'T actually been taking care of myself. I have to learn how to do that. That very phrase, "taking care of myself," makes me think of self-indulgence and time for me for things like exercise, girlfriend time, a massage, etc. (Even as I type those I find it hard to put them down for fear that this invisible nonexistent potential internet audience will judge me.) But there's a more important part of taking care of myself that I've been missing. Every time I try to take care of my feelings in relationship to someone else I sublimate my feelings to take care of them instead. Good point sis. I'll think on that.

Wise words from my sis

Talked with my sister for over an hour tonight.  Good, helpful, real conversation.  Shared some of the big ideas I've been exploring about my fear of vulnerability and how I've been recognizing this pattern where I don't allow myself to feel pain from others and disappointment in how I've been treated.  It all started because I went to have dinner with my parents tonight and that was hard.  It is the first night they are spending in their new home in town.  Everyone is so excited for me.  No one gets that I'm actually grieving their loss.  They always stayed with me before and now they are across town.  Right now when I'm lonelier and more alone than ever, and they are moving out of my guest room into their own house.  That's hard, but then my mom told me they had already been invited to a social engagement in their new neighborhood for Friday night.  Didn't occur to her that Shabbat is special to me.  Doesn't matter that she should know from many many previous conversations about this topic that that night is important to me and is also very difficult right now.  Instead of ignoring it, I acknowledged that I was sad and disappointed.  That I wish they had thought of that.  It was awkward.  I could feel the pull to let her off the hook.  She wanted me (and I wanted) to say, "It's ok.  Don't worry about it.  I understand." But I didn't.  It was uncomfortable.  But I think that was the right thing to do. She kept pushing for it, to be let off the hook so to speak, to be deemed not guilty.  But I didn't.  Finally I just said, "I don't want to talk about it," which is better than saying, "it's ok," right?

My sis reminded me of this good blog called Momastery alternatively pretty funny and pretty wise.  I liked several posts of her that I read this evening, including this one. However, then I discovered that she and her husband got back together.  Yay for them, I thought.  I summed up my response in the following email to my sister:

I started out really liking this.  Relates well to the one I was mentioning about being broken on the bedroom floor.  Then I see she got back together with her husband.  Yay for her.  She nearly died and now she has him back.  And it's hard, yada yada yada.  Wish I hadn't read that.  Especially that part about how she would have never believed it possible a year ago.  
Now I'm filled with hope, disgust at the hope, jealousy, self-pity, etc. It's all there.  Good God.  

But I LOVED that part in the mona lisa smiles one where she says she leaves her daughter crying on the floor because someone has to suck it up around here and the part where she's not getting any more water.  Ever.  

 And she replied as follows:

I know, I get that the whole husband part is a rub…but this is good stuff that she said:

“You can stop striving for good and resisting bad and instead –  surrender to all of it. You can stop judging your circumstances and your life and your people. Striving for good and resisting bad is the source of all of our worry, all of our stress. All our problems stem from our refusal to surrender to what IS.”  

You said tonight, “I was happy then.” Personally, I don’t fully agree with you from my memory of it, but that’s your story and you’re sticking to it for now. You’ve decided that THEN was GOOD and NOW is BAD. But my favorite line from the Power of Now is that a rainy day is not bad, IT JUST IS. God never said Rain is bad. We humans (well really our Dad) decided that Rainy days are bad. But it’s just rain. And it doesn’t have power, it’s not good or bad, it’s just rain.  When people say, Dance in the Rain…. I say Fuck You, stop being so perky. Because, as you said, I’m contrary. But the truth is, I have more fun when I do decide to dance in it.

Love yourself first (oxygen mask goes on the parent first when the plane is going down), start experimenting with FEELING not SOLVING, then love your boys, ….and for goodness sakes, let’s not worry about the future.

I think you’re amazing. I think you’re going deep into stuff you’ve preferred to ignore (cause we all do until tragedy hits). I know you didn’t want this, but would you really have wanted to spend the rest of your life not looking at this stuff? That’s an honest question. If you had to go through this hell, but come out truly knowing who you are or stay like you were – which would you choose? Maybe this isn’t a good time to ask.

How did she get so wise that little sister of mine?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

On grieving and broken hearts

I read this article on grieving yesterday and it resonated with me.  I have a lot of support in words and I know that people would probably give me more support if I asked for it, but it's so hard to know how to ask.  I wish everyone knew these things.  But we all forget.  Even when we know.  Even when we've grieved ourselves.  That being said, I think if you've really grieved yourself you are potentially more compassionate and better able to give what other grievers need.  There's a poster on the wall at the shul that says "There's nothing so whole as a broken heart."  It's by a chassidic Rabbi, Medel of Kotzk.  I was asked by my MC what the poster said and meant (it has two bandaids laid out in the shape of a heart) as I was standing in the hallway next to his father and we were trying to get him to go to class. Not an easy thing to answer in that context right in front of my STBEX.  But I've been thinking on it regularly since then.  It's so true in so many ways.  And then yesterday I read this piece by Julie Peters about the emotional and spiritual value of being broken on one's bedroom floor.  It's all about Hindu mythology and the Goddess of Never Not Broken, Akhilandeshvari.  Among other bits of wisdom, here's this: "So now is the time, this time of confusion and brokenness and fear and sadness, to get up on that fear, ride it down to the river, dip into the waves, and let yourself break. Become a prism.All the places where you’ve shattered can now reflect light and colour where there was none. Now is the time to become something new, to choose a new whole."   

Go to sleep

I need sleep more than anything in life right now, and it's right there for the taking.  So, why do I stay up so damn late doing things that are far less valuable than getting more sleep.  Nearly 2 AM?  Were reading those blogs so important?  Have they improved my life?  Hard habits to break.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Good shabbos

I hate these Friday evening handoffs. Leaves me alone and family-less when I should be cooking dinner and pulling challah out of the oven for five. I am getting ready to pull challah out the oven, but it's just for me. I've never baked it just for me, but my NO wanted me to have the little loaf he braided at the enrichment day today. He argued that it made the most sense for me to keep it because his brother didn't contribute to making a loaf and it was really too small for them all to share. That could sound like a cast off, here take this challah, it's not good enough for us kind of attitude, but that's not what it felt like at all. It felt like he was reaching out to me. There were all these unspoken words. Perhaps I just imagined them, but I could swear he was silently saying, "You should have this challah Mom. I don't want you to have to go without challah for Shabbat just because we're not with you."

God I hate this. Not even the smell of it baking up all delicious in the oven makes this grief any easier.
And what exactly am I grieving? I'm so unimpressed with him at this point, I don't want him back. I guess I'm just grieving a long list of things. A cohesive family. Or the idea of a cohesive family. Companionship. Dreams for the future.

But on a happier note. The boys were good this afternoon!!!!!!!!! They each did a couple small chores (putting away their clothes and bringing garbage and recycling bins back in from the street) without a battle. NO made a cool braided duct tape whip for his Indian Jones Halloween costume. The MC didn't ever devolve into crazy can't listen tornado mode. And the LO was easy and happy. It may have only been a couple of hours and we weren't really trying to accomplish much, big ill take it as a victory!
And my challah's done. And then I'm going to go pick up the keys to my parents' new house. (They'll get here tomorrow. We'll see what it will be like having them live in town but not actually with us. I predict positives and negatives of course.) and then to synagogue.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

He IS angry at me

My NO and I battled again tonight.  Same damn thing.  But I didn't let it emotionally exhaust me to the same extent.  We got home from a late trip to the grocery and hardware store at about 5:45 and I told the boys that while I made dinner, their job was to take out the garbage and recycling.  It didn't happen. Of course.  And yes, I got frustrated with them and showed my disappointment by saying I didn't want to be with them right now because I was frustrated with their choices and made them eat their dinner at the kitchen counter instead of at the table with little brother and me.  They both really turned it around, especially the MC.  My breathatarian as we call him has taken to eating lately and wanted a second breakfast (for dinner) burrito.  Amazing.  Anyhow, I made him clean up the effects of his toy/costume tornado earlier and HE DID!  And then I made him a second burrito.  And then he went upstairs and cleaned up his room.  He was amazing.  He completely and totally turned things around.  He didn't even throw a fit about the bird's nest from several years ago that little brother found and smashed into little broken twigs all over his bed.  It was incredible; he just got a container and started picking it all up.  I've never seen him quite that responsible and willing to do work (that he hasn't chosen to do).  Number One also turned things around, at least with his attitude.  He still never managed to get the recycling and garbage out, but he did end the night respectfully.  He was so tired that after brushing his teeth, he got in bed and wasn't even reading.  I went and sat on his bed and talked with him for a few minutes before reading to the others (in a reverse of the normal routine).  I told him what Dr. P and I had talked about.  That I knew we would get through this and be able to look back on this really hard time and see how we found our way to a better time.  In contrast to two hours earlier, when I kept pointing out that he wasn't being "on my team," I told him how much I loved him and how much I trusted that we were going to come out of this together.  Our conversation (definitely one-sided in words, but two-sided in intimacy and emotions), went something like this:
"I understand that you're angry sometimes, kiddo," I said, "Is that right?"
He nodded his head.
"And sometimes you're angry with me, right?"
More nodding, sad, sorry eyes.
"And sometimes you're angry with me not about things like garbage and recycling, but because you wish I would make this whole big change in our lives better and make it not happen at all, is that right?"
He was snuggled under the blankets and his poor face showed me how close to tears he was.  Fighting them back.
"It's ok to feel like that, kiddo.  I still love you.  I know we're going to get through this and it won't always feel like this.  We won't always be battling. I know we love each other too much for that."
More nodding on his part with big glassy eyes.
And I can't remember what I asked exactly but I wanted to double check that I wasn't misinterpreting all that head-nodding, so I asked something to asses whether he wanted me to be there and having this conversation, and there was confirmation, so that felt good.

And then he came in and joined his brothers for a family story.  It was a good tuck in.  The older two were perfect and the LO was, well, what we know three-year-old's to be.  Nothing that a stern voice and the threat of a closed door can't handle.

And I can't help but wonder if he has conversations like that with his father.  I doubt it.

Dr. P said that research has shown that I only need to do a good job of this parenting thing 1/3 of the time.  Go figure.  I do a pretty damn lousy job of it sometimes, but I'm also confident that I'm doing a straight A job a 1/3 of the time, and I get passing grades for at least another 1/3.  So, there.  It will all be ok.


I've had an on again off again relationship with exercise my whole life. It has never been as inherent to me as it is to some. But I do know that I feel better about myself when I've done it, which I've hardly done at all in the last six months. And now that I'm eating regularly again, I'm going to end up gaining all the weight back that was the one silver lining of last winter's misery. I'd like to stay at 132, but I've already crept back up to 135. Not good. Certainly don't want to end up back at 150. I like these size 6s. So, I guess I should figure out a way to exercise since giving up food is never realistic for me. I looked on YouTube this morning and did 10 minutes of Zumba. Wow am I out of shape! Maybe the new rule is I can't watch Once Upon a Time until I've exercised. Then again, I can hear Dr. P saying don't be so hard on yourself. Put so many rules and expectations on yourself. Cut yourself some slack. Maybe she would say that. But maybe she doesn't realize how much TV I've been watching. I feel like a guilty kid who everyone assumes is not stealing candy but really is. Then again, is watching a couple of hours of TV a night during the lowest point of your life really such a sin? I won't be a couch potato forever. Never have been. Balance. It's all in the balance, I know.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

When I can go without crying every time

I told Dr. P today that I think I figured out that I'll know when I don't need to go to therapy every week when I can consistently go to sessions and not cry.  Not that crying is bad.  It's good to get it out, right? Though exhausting.  But clearly if I still have a need to get that much out, I still need to be going.  Today I just sat on her couch and sobbed for a little while.  No words.  Nothing really needs to be said. What is there new to say?  She's heard it.  I know it.  It just hurts.  It's just hard.  Unfair. Etc. I'm exhausted and alone. Today I was talking with my son's preschool director and another parent, both of whom I've known for years and we were all relating over the challenges of school mornings with kids.  And I was talking in a congenial way about such challenges and then I think perhaps I started to sound a little overwhelmed, and she said to me something about how I have a lot of challenges, but I've "got my head above water." And I quipped back that at least I had my nose above water.  Laughing as I gave an impression of standing on my tiptoes and trying to keep my nose above the surface.  And then she said, very supportively, "and you know how to swim."  "Yep," I said.  "I do."  But it didn't make me feel any better.  And later sitting in the therapist's office I realized it's because I'm so tired of treading water or swimming.  I just want someone to give me a life raft and pull me for a little bit.  And the tears flowed in warm fat rivers down my cheeks and kept flowing for some time.
I'm surrounded by support, but inherently alone, because no one can walk this inner path but me.  And sometimes it feels (like when you're sick), that all that support around me isn't all that helpful in keeping me afloat.  Like giving encouraging words to someone who is trying to swim across the English channel or something.   Encouragement is great for the spirit, but it's not actually going to help me get across.  It's not going to get the boys up in the morning and to school.  It's not going to get the laundry done or the groceries purchased or anything else.  I get that my life lesson here is to let people in more, to learn to ask for help, and I'm going to do that and work on it, but even if I manage to do that, I have to learn to do that on my own.  This part of the journey is solo.  
And then maybe that's where I'm wrong.  Maybe seeing it as solo is just a symptom of my fear of being vulnerable with others.  Maybe I have to realize that nothing about this is a solo journey. But then the flip side of my brain says, no, in the end it all comes down to a solo journey.  We are born and die individually (usually), and we connect with others throughout our lives, but we connect best with others when we are full and complete in and of ourselves.  Hmm.... And maybe it's neither of these.  I've always been a fan of the yin yang approach (though I don't usually think of it in Eastern terms).  But maybe it's both at the same time.  That constant tension between oneness (as in unity with all) and individuality.  What does all this have to do with me?  I have no idea. Tangent.

I'm trying to remember some highlights from today:
  • She recommended to me to not ask my eldest "why" when he's throwing a fit, even in what seems like a nice supportive way.  Either he doesn't know why, which can make him feel badly for not knowing, or he knows (at some level) that he's throwing a fit because he's angry and he's partially angry with me, and he feels like he can't say that.  Instead, just empathize with him and give him words for it.  I do A LOT of this, but in part of those compassionate well-meaning conversations I do say things (albeit lovingly) like, "What do you think is making you so angry.  It's ok to be angry.  Usually anger is on top of other feelings, hiding something underneath it, can you figure out what's underneath it?" She explained how even for a 9-year-old, parents still have a certain god-like quality to them (certainly for the younger ones).  And where they are developmentally, they can't fully wrap their brains around the fact that I can't fix this and make their lives better again.  So they're angry.  As angry at me as they are at their father.  Just because I can't do anything to fix our life, doesn't mean they fully understand that.  And I suppose, part of what they've lost (Dr. P didn't say this, I'm just thinking it now), is the sense that they are safe and that parents will keep their world in order.  Their parents (from their perspective, there's little distinction between me and their father) have shown that we don't have power to keep their world in order.  And that makes them scared, angry, and confused.  
  • When doing the repair work with my eldest, I should let him know that I'm confident this is a temporary thing we're going through.  "I know what we're going through is hard now, but I know that in just a few years, I'm going to be standing up there with you as a bar mitzvah and we're going to realize how far we've come, how much we've made it through."  I think that's a good strategy.  I want to try and remember to use it.  
  • It's clear that I'm looking for someone to tell me what to do.  I almost wish that the house would sell and fast so that I'd be forced to make a decision.  This ambiguity is very difficult.  In my constant desire to have a solution to work with for every problem, I am looking for someone to hand me a set of instructions for what to do next.  What proposals to make about the settlement.  What to do about the house.  Etc.