Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Four and a half months

It's been 4.5 months since we last met in mediation, but the day is here tomorrow. I'm feeling anxious and unprepared, despite the fact that there's really nothing I need to do to be prepared. It was his job to come to the table with a response to my proposal. Going to bed and getting some sleep would be the best possible preparation. But at 12:30am It's too late to have even done that much well. Even though there's anxiety and apprehension about tomorrow, I know it needs to happen and whatever the outcome, moving out of limbo into the next chapter with answers will help. Hopefully this stage won't drag on forever.
Hashem, help me tomorrow. I don't even know specifically what help I'm asking for. But... Help things fall favorably into place in such a way that creates the littlest acrimony and the most easy possible future path.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Post Massage Musings

I got a massage today. Started crying before the massage therapist was even in the room. All it took was the act of sliding between the sheets on the table that got the tears flowing. I don't get massages very often.  I've had maybe four or five over the last 15 years, but I predicted that it would be both draining and satisfying.  I was right.

I don't ever remember having a massage that wasn't ticklish on my back. I tense up so much when someone massages my back.  I enjoy it, and yet it can also make me tense up all the way down to my toes. I wonder what it would feel like to not do that. The massage therapist said with practice I could learn to relax those muscles.  It was really clear to her that I was carrying a lot in my back and shoulders.  She said I seemed very "guarded." I recognize that we carry emotions in our muscles and tissues and that there's an emotional-physical connection.  If you can learn with practice to be physically relaxed, what would the emotional counterpart be?  That might be an interesting goal. Where might I go on this journey of personal discovery and growth if I learned how to be relaxed physically for a massage.  If I was able to do that, what would that mean for my emotional health.  Then on the flip-side (in a completely contorted tangled acrobatic flipping kind of way), I wonder what it would be like to be so emotional healthy?  I feel like I'm pretty emotionally healthy now. If you've got it ALL figured out, then you don't really need anyone's help.  I realize even as I'm typing this that I've got faulty logic involved here, but this is the internal argument that I'm struggling against.  

I had lunch with my friend R today. We talked about how my divorce situation is different from hers because I have to, as she said, "buck up" for the sake of the boys. That's largely a good thing because it gives me a reason to be positive and move forward with my life. But when she said that, I instantly realized the connection between my tendency to "buck up" and my guarded back muscles carrying all that grief.

My dear friend who just broke up with her boyfriend (and who shares many of my same growth areas) is reading a book called Why Men Love Bitches.  Aside from my really not liking the B word, from what she's told me, the book makes sense and seems to corroborate some of the ideas that have been percolating in my mind about the failure of my marriage.  I was too nice. I didn't make him work hard.  Not in the beginning or anytime throughout.  And in theory, men need to feel needed.  They need to feel like they're winning something.  Now, given who he is, I don't think that he would have worked hard, but I would have gone through this all much sooner.  This is not about regret, I don't regret that I was in a 10-year marriage that resulted in my three beautiful boys.  But it is about learning from the past  for the sake of my future.  It seems like I need to learn to be more needy.  I know that's not quite right, but it's something like that.  And I should also learn how to fully relax and receive a massage.  I guess I need to learn how to receive.  That's the ticket.  Not to be needy, but to receive.  

Tonight, my divorced male colleague texted me at nearly 10 asking if I wanted to go out on a platonic date.  That was interesting and worthy of a whole blog entry in and of itself.  I drove him back to his apartment at the end and was talking about how I need an oil change, and he offered to do it for me.  I told him that wasn't necessary; he didn't need to do that for me.  He seemed quite sincere in offering, reiterating more than once that he would be more than happy to do it.  I of course told him that was very kind but unnecessary, that I could pay to get it done, he didn't need to spend his time doing that.  Now, this is a platonic work friendship, but I started wondering, how should I have acted differently if this was a romantic interest.  Would I take him up on it?  Would I have taken him up on it before?  I think taking him up on in it might be the right thing to do if I was trying to advance a romantic relationship (which I'm DEFINITELY not in this case).  Did I do that kind of thing with my STBEX?  In the beginning?  I can't even remember.  

The theme here is in learning how to receive, from oil changes to massages.  I'm understanding at a theoretical level that men need to feel like they are achieving something and feeling needed.  They can't feel needed if you don't need anything. 

When I dropped him off tonight, past midnight, we hugged goodnight.  I had double-clarified when we first got to the restaurant that this was indeed as he texted, a "platonic" date.  We were on the same page.  We talked about a lot of different stuff.  He's a nice guy, but even if I was ready to date someone, and even if we didn't work together, there would be no interest on my part.  There's zero chemistry for me.  Zero.  And yet, as we hugged goodnight, I thought to myself, how very much I would like to be held by a man and tenderly cared for, even just for a night.  If I didn't know him from work and if there could be such a one night stand, I just might have fallen for it, even with the zero chemistry.  What does that mean, just that I'm lonely?  

Crap. I'd better go to bed.  It's nearly 2 am, and I have a school to lead in the morning.    

Friday, February 21, 2014

Quiet Friday night

Last night continued into this morning with very nice agreeable behavior from my boys.  I was/am feeling so proud of them this week.  (Except that I got their report cards today and that's a whole other story - quite frustrating, but I'm as much frustrated with the school as with them over it all.) The last week has been so relatively nice that tonight with my boys gone I'm back to feeling sad about missing my family rather than relieved at the break. Wish I could have Shabbat with them (with someone else cooking the dinner and helping make it all happen). Sure goes in waves. Didn't anticipate feeling this way tonight.
I went to Zumba and now need to quick clean up and eat a little something before heading to shul, but I've gone from high spirits to melancholy. Not wailing on the floor like I have been at times along this journey, but there's a sadness there. :(

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Nice normal night

Such a nice night with my boys. Just a regular night. Nothing special. Chores, homework, super simple dinner, swim lessons, bedtime routines. But all relatively smooth and feeling like a team. Hallelujah. Baruch HaShem.

"I'm well, thanks, how are you?"

"I'm not unhappy, I'm just not quite ready to be happy."
That's what Downton Abbey's Mary Crawly said in describing her grief process after losing Mathew about year earlier.
That's such a good description of the space that I've been in for the last few months. An oversimplification of course because some days have indeed been very unhappy. But largely that describes where I've been since late fall. I might be having a perfectly good day but the best I can muster is "ok" or "fine," if someone asks how I'm doing. Now I think I'm moving out of that stage into the next one. Into the I'm ready to embrace life fully and be happy again stage. Several times in the past week I've consciously thought about it and answered "I'm well! How are you?" when asked in passing. I just may actually be becoming that iridescent butterfly for God's sake. (Spiritual double entendre unintended, but it works.) Part of it was the trip with the boys. Part of it may be the pending sale of the house. Part of it may even be the year anniversary of his departure in the sense that a cycle of grief is closing in a ritualistic sense. And a big part of it in the last week has been an issue of perspective as two very awful things have happened to members of my community, as a friend has been diagnosed with cancer AGAIN after she has already lost her entire tongue and a good portion of her face to it. And another wonderful family is losing their daughter after a surgery went horribly wrong and she suffered severe brain damage. Puts everything into perspective. My heart is sad for them, but I'm also realizing how much I have and feeling such gratitude. 

As I type this, Dar's "It's Alright" came on. And it is alright.  Favorite lines coming true:

Because I have seen insane things,
It's a sad and a strange thing.
But it's time and I am changing.
Into something good or bad, well that's your guess.
I'm my own sovereign nation,
And it's alright, it's alright, it's alright.
And it's alright, it's alright

Now, I'd better get up off the foot of the stairs where I say down to check email after my run and shower and get to work!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Oy, what an idiot.

A few months ago we started this every other Monday night one on one routine where, after I've had the boys for the weekend, STBEX gets one of them for the night to give him some one on one time with them. In theory it's because he has less opportunity for one on one time and so this helps make up for some of that. The idea was that it wasn't necessarily an extra special event night but just a regular night with a little not more attention. He of course has turned it into dinner out and movie night for our NO. I wasn't even flipping out about that because I could understand the argument that NO might make that there are some movies he doesn't have the opportunity to see with his brothers around. But the events of last night are real evidence of my STBEX's lack of emotional maturity and authenticity. What the fuck is he thinking?!?!?? As if he and his girlfriend don't spend enough time together every day at work, he takes her along to go out to dinner with NO last night. After he commented that it was a long spell to not see the boys over the three-day weekend because he didn't get his normal Sunday spell when I'm working. After he complains that he doesn't get enough time with them in general. So he takes the time he does have, some precious one on one time at that, and shares it with her? I wonder how much NO has really expressed to him that he doesn't like sharing him with her. He says he has tried, but who knows what has really transpired. I've tried to be supportive of NO without enabling him or trapping him in an unhealthy dynamic where he feels like he has to pretend he doesn't like her just to be loyal to me. Last time this issue came up he seemed pretty upset, and I tried to be empathetic without being critical of his father (NOT EASY). This time, he didn't seem upset about it at all and so I took my cues from him and just tried to be excited with him about the sushi restaurant they went to that he was so ecstatic about. I was so tempted to ask, we're you ok with J-- going, but I controlled myself.
But how could his father do this? That the big heartache. How could he fritter away this precious opportunity for one on one time with his son? I would relish it. What an idiot.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Wait for it

"Mom, you know you don't always have to put it that way," says my middle child (MC) as I tucked him in tonight. He had indicted he was cold and so I was putting his baby quilt that I made for him over his other covers. He indicated that he meant I could put it with the back side facing up and then explained,"You made it with it in both sides so it can go either way. I've never seen another blanket like that." And then with a grin and twinkle, and utter sincerity, "It's pretty awesome!"
What more can a mom ask for? He's so funny. His cousin, same age (within three weeks), has loved his baby quilt to pieces that I made for him. I've re-quilted it three times. It is literally in tatters. My MC, in six years, has never indicated any real connection to his, until tonight. Sometimes you have to wait for it.

I'll wait for it with my boys. I'll wait for the validation that I've done right by them. That I've handled this all in the best way possible for them, to help them develop into responsible, emotionally healthy young men. To teach them (to the best of my ability) how to be emotionally authentic while not robbing them of a positive relationship with their father. I can do this.

I had such a great weekend with them. I felt so brave and bold. I took the three of them on my own to the mountain for three days of cross-country, downhill, and sledding. It was quite the adventure all by myself. First time they've ever been skiing. Not something we've ever done, so it wasn't even about doing something by myself. It was about doing something very new and challenging by myself. And I'm so glad I did it. There are so many things I want to show them. That if we work hard we can play hard. That we can do all sorts of things when we put our minds to it. That their mama is smart, capable, confident, cheerful, and wants them to have a happy life. I'm so proud of our adventure, of me for taking it on, and of them for their great attitudes while trying new things. They are great little novice skiers. :)

There were several moments when I was there that I felt so fully satisfied with my life. I thought, what would I have wanted him here for? He would have just held me back from all of this. And in fact, looking back, there wasn't a single moment when I was sad about not having a "complete" family. I've come a long ways. As we drove home today however, I found myself getting slightly melancholy at the thought of re-entry. So many things that I need to deal with that I haven't given a thought to in the last three days. So very satisfying. My eldest's teacher and educational situation that I need to follow up on. The house sale. The mediation process that I need to nudge my STBEX about. Work. That overwhelmed feeling kept coming back with each mile. But it didn't completely wipe out the positive feeling I have about our weekend.

And the best part of the experience was that I really feel closer to my boys. I feel like we were a real unit. Not that we weren't before, but it's continuing to unfold in new ways. I'm feeling more and more like we have a group identity with each other. We see ourselves as part of a team. That's what I've been saying for a year. And it's working. We have family meetings sometimes and other moments that are pulling it all together. And experiences like this will be part of that unfolding tapestry that describes and defines us as such. I feel like I'm both waiting for it, and building it at the same time. And it's working. I'm not saying it's perfect. The MC was a pain about helping bring things in from the car today, both NO and MC were embarrassingly obnoxious at dinner last night at a restaurant (we were the only customers), and there were other less than fabulous moments, but the good, happy, and/or proud moments far far outweighed the bad ones.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Same old same old

At what point is it going to stop being so awful that my boys are doing so much with HER? I guess, it's getting easier in a way. It's not overwhelmingly painful, just head-shakingly annoying. Not that they see that. I was the perfect co-parent today. Fuck yeah. I listened with enthusiasm as they told me about going to the movie with Daddy and J---- that they had said they so wanted to go see with me. "I understand," I say, "We'll go see another movie. There are several you've said you want to see."  "Sounds like fun," I respond when I heard that they went bowling with Daddy and girlfriend. But the winner was hearing that they when the winter storm caused a power outage at his house, they all got picked up in her car and had dinner and a sleepover at her apartment. Calm. Breathe.  I took it all in stride.  Didn't freak out.  Because I don't.  I take my cues from them. They seem happy? Great. "Well, it's nice you didn't have to sleep in a cold house," I say.
My MC says with enthusiasm that he likes her. He doesn't get it. Just as well. Better for him in the short term, and maybe the long term. The LO doesn't really seem to have an opinion. He's too little. He doesn't use her name, just calls her "Daddy's friend."It's my NO that is struggling. He has expressed repeatedly that he is unhappy about spending that much time with her. Wishes they could have gone to the movie with just Daddy. Didn't want to spend the night at her house, blames his little brother for refusing to go back home because he didn't want to spend the night in the dark cold house. I've gently asked him if he's talked to his father about how he feels.  "Kind of," seems to be his answer.  I don't know how much I'm supposed to sympathize.  I want to say something like it's hard, all these changes, isn't it.  But I'm worried even that might make him think I'm wanting him to think it's hard, to not like it.  But I think at some level he gets it.

And at some level, so does the MC. He is such an enigma. We were cuddled in his bed talking one night last week (in a rare intimate moment discussing the divorce experience) and he asked me questions again about what caused it. And he said, "is it because Daddy didn't talk about his feelings?" Where did he get that? I know I have NOT said that. I have said that one thing I've learned in this experience is how important it is to talk about our feelings and how I want them to learn how to be good at that. I have never made the connection with his father. I asked him where he got that idea.  From me? "No,"he answered, "Daddy said that."  I questioned a little bit more, and then he wasn't sure at all if Daddy had said that or if he just came up with that idea.  Interesting I thought.  That isn't the obvious reason for the divorce, but the fact that my STBEX refused to confront scary confrontational feelings MOST DEFINITELY contributed to the mess he got himself into which was part of all of this.

Anyhow, my big internal question for the evening was whether or not I should send him a simple text saying, "in the unlikely event that you find yourself with the boys and without power again, please let me know, and I'll take the boys and trade you a different day rather than taking them to her house." I decided to let it rest. Not at all easy to do. But I see no potentially positive outcome from it.  He doesn't abide by his agreements to me, so what does it matter if I ask him to respect that anyhow.

Monday, February 10, 2014


Found out that not only did my boys go to a movie and bowling with the girlfriend this weekend, when the power went out at their father's (on account of the ice storm), they spent the night at her house. Is this just to be expected right? Nothing I should be upset about? That's just how it's going to be?!? Do I say nothing? Do I send a simple text saying, "if you are ever in the situation again where your power goes out, please see if I'm available to take the boys in trade for another night rather than taking them to her house." Or is that not my place as a co-parent in this new fucking unbelievable paradigm?

Laziest weekend ever

I've just had the laziest weekend of my entire adult life. Lazier even than a vacation. I haven't ever gotten dressed today. I haven't done anything, except make eight quilt blocks last night for my cousin's twins' quilt project. I've read Time magazines and the newspaper (not even books!) and napped and watched movies. I truly can't remember a weekend this lazy in the last 10 years. It was needed.  It wasn't depressed; there wasn't crying or overwhelming sadness.  I wasn't paralyzed, just very still. Not still in a spiritual way with meditation or anything, just in a slothy kind of way. And it was good. Not fabulous, but like I satisfied some need. A need to be nothing to anyone, not even myself.
It was aided and made possible by the snow/ice storm.  Yesterday I only ventured as far as the corner store for milk and potatoes and then later at night went to my good friends who live right across the street to share dinner with them.  She's sick and I offered to bring over matzo ball soup.  It gave me an excuse to make and eat an actual dinner and to see some other humans.  Today, I never left the house, hence the not getting dressed.  I can't remember ever doing that as an adult.  Seems like even when I've been sick I got dressed to some degree.  Even with brand new babies there was some degree of getting dressed.  But when I didn't have to get up and go to work today because of the snowstorm, I just took it as an excuse to be utterly lazy.

There's been so much that's happened lately I find that I haven't written here because I feel the need to update.  But that's silly if it's just for me and not an audience.  I already know the big events of the past few weeks.  An offer on my house, the county-required parenting class for divorcees, the awful conversation about resuming the mediation process, the fear over not knowing where to live next and what to do, the frustration with my eldest son's education, the wii that is now part of Disneyland Dad's house, the argument/confusion over the parenting calendar, and so on and so forth.  It's been an exhausting emotional week or so.  No wonder I just had to not-exist in a way this weekend.  Tomorrow, back at it.  Exercise, work, parenting, etc.  The school's are on a two-hour late start schedule in the morning, but I'm going to be unavailable.  I'm going to go exercise before work.  He can deal with that late start.

Then next weekend I'm going to take them to the mountain for two nights and two days.  I've rented a room and we'll cross-country ski, sled, and downhill.  They've never skied.  It seems like a big adventure to try to take on my own, but I want to do it.  I want to use those new ski clothes I bought last year.  I want to show them that moms can make all sorts of exciting adventures possible in addition to making them work hard.  I feel intrepid! I feel mighty.  I feel adventurous.  What I really really wish is that someone was doing this with me, but alas, there's no one.  I won't let that stop me though.  And I asked another single mom friend and son to come join us on Saturday.  They won't be staying the night but will come play on Saturday with us.

I think there should be an online match up service that matches up families, especially single-parent families using algorithms like kids ages, interests, general values, etc. to make it easier to meet new family friends during this time.  There is a single moms and dads online search thing, but it is clearly for dating, not for friendships.  I think it's a great idea.  If I had tons of time and money I would make it happen, but I can't take this on, that's for sure.  :(

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Bring on two months of joy!

Welcome Adar.  I open my arms to you.  To two topsy-turvy months of looking at the world upside down and backwards and finding joy.  Adar started tonight by the light of the moon, but I think it might have started around noon for me.  My realtor called to let me know that there was an offer on my house.  I had a showing on January 8th and then again on the 28th to the same folks.  It's not technically on the market, as we pulled it in October and were planning on listing it again in March.  The offer is 10% lower than the asking price, with a whole bunch of conditions, but there still seems like a significant reason to hope.  Such mixed up feelings.  I love my house.  And I'm scared, overwhelmed, and super excited to find a new home, to move out of limbo.  I don't want to get too excited; I know it is far far from a done deal, but I've also had a pretty good feeling about this.  I think my energy and mood has shifted somewhat and it's time to see some shifts in my experience as well.  It doesn't mean that everything is easy now, far far from it, but I feel like I've made it over a hump of some sort.
Tonight after putting the boys to bed, I talked with the STBEX for a little over an hour on the phone.  I don't know when we've ever done that.  Such a long conversation. Now I feel myself starting to cry again as I type this.  I got off the phone and felt both pleased with the feeling and outcome of the conversation and quite suddenly heartbroken.  How could I have a conversation that was so devoid of heartbreak with someone who has broken my heart so profoundly and whom I loved so very much just a year ago.  It's only been two and a half months since I sent him that letter saying maybe it's not too late.  I almost feel like I'm sad simply because of the lack of sad feelings.  But the conversation was probably as good as two divorced parents could hope for, all logistics and parenting: the offer, summer camp, parenting calendars, schedules, the new wii (that he purchased without consulting me and that I'm mad about) , NO's pain and heartache (of which he sees none), chores, the proposal for support that I'm waiting on for the dissolution, etc. A good conversation.  Stayed clear of anything too emotional.  Talked very briefly about the support proposal, just in that he needs to actually respond to my proposal from 10/14/13 quickly now so that I can move forward in knowing what my options are.  I made it clear that we need to move forward in discussing it, but that I didn't want to discuss it over the phone (mediation being the place of that).  I felt good about protecting myself.  He was looking for a little sympathy about his job at one point, and I didn't give it.  A man called the home number earlier this week and asked for his cell number or how to reach him or if I could take a message for him and give it to him, and since it was work related, I told the man to call him at work.  STBEX was probing about that; I could tell he felt it would have been better for me to not say that he no longer lived here or to have taken the message.  I told him simply that I wasn't his secretary and that it seemed appropriate to tell the man to call him at work.

Not to minimize the sadness that's still quite present much of the time.  Wednesday night this week, I was a mess.  Couldn't do anything with myself.  I struggle with loneliness so very much.  And the loneliness is bad enough without the accompanying pessimism that it will always be this way.
wok up an hour later sitting upright in my bed with my laptop on my lap.  and a stiff neck.  must sleep properly now.