Diary of a Divorce–Jan 4th

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SO MANY MEN, SO LITTLE TIME

      I never imagined myself as the kind of woman over whom men would fight and compete.  That happens to the beautiful women, the ones who never have to worry about having a man in their lives. So how did it happen to ME?

      I’ve been on an online personals website where I’ve met a scattering of men, most of whom were not worth the time it took to get ready for the dates. I had just about given up. Slowly, I withdrew my interest and figured I’d no longer initiate contact with any new ones. Should someone interesting come along and send me a message, I’d screen him to see if he even seemed like a possibility. I’d realized that many of these guys were there to play games, to see how many women would contact them, or to see if they could “score.” Ugh..

      My former therapist, who follows the teachings of Buddhism, told me that as long as I pursued anything–whether it was a man or something else–it would elude me. What I wanted/needed would come to me only if I released my energy on getting it. Sure, I figured. It sounded a lot like those married friends who asked me why not look for a guy in an interest group or through a mutual friend. Uh huh–like that ever happens! I’ve never been fixed up on a blind date, unless I was the fixer. And men in those groups? Hah! Mostly women show up.

        It seems that as soon as I “let go” of my marriage the last time, the universe received the message that I was truly done. I was free and able to stand alone, if necessary. I didn’t fear being without a man anymore. In fact, I realized I’m a whole lot happier living by myself–just me and the dogs. I don’t need anyone to hold me up or to “complete” me. I’m already complete.

        Then suddenly, a couple weeks ago, I got a very nice message from a man who had recently started to look for a partner on the website after losing his wife about seven years ago. They’d been married 35 yrs and had chosen to have no kids. Perfect! I’m SO over raising kids! Also, he has a dog and is retired, just as I am. He described himself as a “forever hippie” although he had all the “trappings” of those who hadn’t dropped out of the system. He had a home which is completely paid for. He has enough money from his deceased wife’s social security and some investments, and, best of all, he couldn’t be more mellow!!!

        We met at a nearby park with our dogs. We had lunch at a doggie friendly restaurant and then took a long walk.  He was attractive, perhaps a little shy of hair on top of his head but very tall. He couldn’t have been more gracious and more laid back–so different from the soon-to-be-ex. What a relief! There was nothing I said or did about which he disagreed. It was so relaxing and easy…And then he asked me out on New Year’s Eve. I accepted, even knowing that’s a somewhat pressured evening.

         Here’s something weird: His birthday is EXACTLY on the same day as my “real” husband, the one with whom I was married for almost 30 yrs and who died three years ago.  How strange can it get?

         In the midst of all this, I found myself in yet another strange new circumstance. A man who is in a specialized AA group which I attended almost 25 yrs ago has been writing a newsletter of that group. I’ve been on their mailing list for the last 25 yrs, receiving the newsletter monthly.  He is now living in New Mexico, having moved there a few yrs ago from California. I lived in New Mexico more almost 30 yrs ago. He has invited me to stay in his house anytime, just to revisit my old haunts.

         I always figured he was married.

          Every once in awhile, he’d write an article about which I’d disagree. I had sent him several emails, to which he replied in a very good natured way. He usually asked me if he could post my comments in the next month’s newsletter. No problem.

           Recently, he asked me if I’d like to join him when he takes his “birthday” cake in California in March. Yes, I said, I’d love to. It’d be great to meet him, at last! In the meantime, I decided to see if he was on facebook. Not only is he on fb but also I got to see a picture of him, his family, etc. He is no longer married, and he’s a very distinguished looking man who’s only a couple years older than I am. He is retired but still works in mediation through the courts. He is a very spiritual man with real character.

          Our emails during the holidays took a decidedly romantic turn. We began to write to one another from our hearts. And guess what happened?? He seems to have fallen for me BIG time. We have spoken by phone many, many times. It’s getting really complicated and intense. I really, really like him. He is such a grown-up, so mature, so in touch with his emotions and philosophy of life. What a refreshing change from my soon-to-be-ex. Actually, he’s like no one I’ve ever known.

           He recently realized that, when he still lived in California, he’d been at that specialized AA meeting when I’d just gotten sober. I was a total nutcase then–even more so than today, trust me!

          Well, he’s in New Mexico, and the online guy is HERE.  On the date New Year’s Eve, California Man couldn’t have been more thoughtful. He’d made movie reservations for us and even brought a bag full of snacks for the show. In his car on the way to dinner, a lovely and expensive fish restaurant, he presented me with a plant from his garden. He’d planted it in a beautiful pot. He also gave me a card in which he wrote that we should take it “slowly, to build a solid foundation” for our blossoming relationship. We kissed a few times, but it was nothing sexual. Yikes!

         In the meantime, I felt I owed it to the New Mexico man to let him know I’m still dating California Man. I can’t lead him on with any promises of waiting until he gets here. He had decided to come to my town at the end of January, and then again in March. Most of all, I don’t want to hurt him. He’s very special and precious to me already, and we’ve sort of known each other for years–even though we’ve never seen each other in person.

         Now what??? It feels like they’re competing for me! This has never happened before. I mean, I have dated more than one guy at a time in the past, but it was never so intense as this situation seems to be headed. Both of these guys want regular contact with me, in phone calls, emails, texts, etc. I’m overwhelmed…I was kind of hoping one or the other would be a real schmuck so I could let him go in favor of the other. But they’re both great guys. Holy moly!! California Man has already invited me out again–a day in the mountains on his motorcycle, followed my a romp in the park with our dogs. Then he’ll make me dinner. He’s a great cook!

          My head is swimming. Who would’ve guessed that now, in probably the last third of my life, I would be in such a dilemma? And it happened, just like my therapist predicted, when I let go of the search.

          I don’t know where this is going. I don’t know which man I will choose. How nice that it’s up to ME to choose! And what else have I done? I’ve resumed my normal activities. I’m still working on my memoir, still visiting my mother, still getting together with my friends, still playing with my dogs, still volunteering at the VA,  still planning my daughter’s wedding in March, and still staying sober. It is now just past midnight, which means I’ve been sober exactly TWENTY-FIVE years!!! That’s a quarter century, folks. My life has gotten so much better since I quit drinking.

           It’s 2013 now, and I am hopeful for the first time in so many years. The glass feels half full, not half empty. Even though I have “so many men and so little time,” I know I’ll be just fine if they both leave my life.

           January 26th, I’ll be officially divorced. And I can’t wait to see what comes next!!!

           Happy New Year to all of you too.

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Diary of a Divorce–Dec 26th

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THE PERFECT MAN AND OTHER MYTHS

         Has it really been over two weeks since I’ve blogged? I guess life has a funny way of happening in present time which pushes the past to the wayside. I had a big revelation today about my soon-to-be-ex: he has become “neutral” in my mind. IOW, I don’t feel passionately involved or passionately uninvolved anymore. I feel, well, neither. Days have gone by when I haven’t thought about him at all. When I do think of him, I picture him on our final night together–filled with rage and blaming, spewing out the words “Deal with it!”

         It feels remarkably good not to have to deal with IT, or with him, anymore. A peace has settled over my life. Strangely, I’ve not been into almost any expectations. I’ve gone out on a couple of online dates; I got right back onto that horse. The cool thing is that I go on the dates not expecting anything from them–either good or bad. If it’s good, well hooray. If it’s not, well, okay. That simple.

          I will never find HIM. There is no HIM. The “him” who’d be my “perfect man” would be an assortment of parts from the many men I’ve known and cared about over my lifetime. He’d have Wayne’s big heart and good looks, he’d have David’s intelligence, he’d have Jim’s sense of humor, he’d have Mark’s steady income, and he’d have Ben’s guitar skills. If you put these pieces together, you’d have my “perfect” HIM. It is foolish to search the world for one man to contain all these elements. It is one of our myths as women. We want the prince.

        Other myths: It takes a man to make me happy. No, no, it doesn’t. I can have my own happiness all by myself. Happiness lies within. No one “gives” it to us or takes it away from us. No one has that much power. Was it Will Rogers who said, “I guess I can be just as happy as I make up my mind to be”? I should paraphrase that.

         I’ve been finding my own happiness the past couple weeks, if not months. I have found I enjoy time alone with my dogs. We spent Christmas Eve walking through my neighborhood admiring the beautiful and fanciful decorations and lights on lawns and houses. I found I had the wonder of a child. To think that, just a few years ago, I got angry at those lights and at the happiness of others because I felt like I had my nose pressed up against the window peering in at someone else’s Hallmark card setting. This year, I caught the eye of several people I didn’t know as they were wrapping up their evening’s festivities. They called out “Merry Christmas” and I repeated the greeting, really meaning it.

        The dogs just sniffed every tree, bush, and fire hydrant and peed on each one. We had a really merry Christmas.

        The following day, I went to my AA club where they held a potluck luncheon. I sat around with old and new friends.  One woman I only slightly knew told me that I’d played an important role in her sobriety. She’s now sober over four years and introduced me to her new husband. They held hands and gazed with love into each other’s eyes as they joyfully told me she is four months pregnant. Instead of envying them, I felt incredible joy for them.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

       Afterwards, I left with a friend to the Veterans Administration nursing home. I’d found out that most of the vets there had nowhere to go on Christmas, no family, no plans. So I’d bought a bunch of inexpensive items at Big Lots, stuck them in gift bags, and took them to the V.A. The guys were thrilled to see me there. I started a poker game and a rummy game for those who didn’t like poker. I gave the winners–and the losers–a pick of a wrapped prize. Then I walked down the pods and handed out the rest of the gifts to guys who couldn’t get out of their beds. I felt like Santa handing out those presents.  It felt damned good!!!

         I’ve been listening to podcasts from a Buddhist lama who says that we don’t find happiness by getting. There is only ONE way to find happiness and that is to GIVE. Give till it hurts! It’s the oldest message in the world. John Lennon said it in Imagine. The only thing we take with us when we die is what we’ve left to others. I think I’m just feeling it deep in my guts.

         I’m starting the new year soon with some promising events ahead. No, not with either of those two guys from the dates. One of them was a nature lover and a backpacker. Nice guy but I’m not going camping anymore. The other was…well…how can I put this nicely? Just plain boring! He is very stable and has all those things we put on our wish lists for the perfect guy–but he bored me to death! I tried everything in my power to draw him out, to ask him something that might provoke an interesting response. Nada. Too much work! Maybe the two guys combined..well. maybe those two guys plus about five more!

         I’m meeting a prospective and interesting guy this Friday. He, like I, is “into” his dog. We share a lot of other similarities, but I’m not getting into any expectations. It will be what it is. The main thing is that we’re meeting at Dog Beach with our pooches. Afterwards, we’ll go with the dogs to an outdoor cafe for an early dinner. If nothing else, the dogs will have a good time. And me? I will take my own happiness with me on this date. I won’t look for it in him.

         There’s also been an interesting new development concerning someone I’ve “known” for many years. Stay tuned on that one. I’m really, really, really excited about this one.

        And…my daughter’s getting married in March. My son will fly out here to walk her down the aisle. I’m sure I’ll cry like a baby. I’ll be celebrating 25 yrs of sobriety on Jan 4th. It’s a milestone “birthday” and I will celebrate it both with cakes at my AA clubs and in private “parties” with my closest and dearest friends. I’m sponsoring two women now, and that brings me exquisite joy. We only “keep” it is by “giving it away.” We say this all the time in our meetings.

         2013 is the scheduled date to get my book published, at long last. I have worked for over four long years on it. I’ve gone to many critique groups for suggestions, and I’ve been working hard on the edits.  It’s brought back a lot of old memories about Wayne and also brought more than a few laughs and tears in the writing.

         I know it will be a good year. The Mayans believed, not that the world would end in December 2012, but that a new era would begin. I think those Mayans were onto something. May this new year be interesting. Is that a blessing or a curse? It’s up to us to decide.

Diary of a Divorce–Dec 10th

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SQUEEZING THE ORANGE

      I once heard a motivational speaker explain the concept of who we really are inside by a comparison to an orange. No matter how hard you squeeze the orange, what comes out is orange juice. So if you are an angry person, it doesn’t matter how hard someone “squeezes” you. What comes out is anger.

       I recognize my own anger issues. I realize it doesn’t take a lot of pressure to get me going. All it takes sometimes is to be told “no” or not to get my way. The difference between me and Mark, though, is that I’m aware of the anger inside and I’m working hard not to allow it to run my life. I honestly don’t think he has any idea how angry he is. The sad part of this is that his anger, which has festered over the years, explodes on those he most loves. When I didn’t do something he felt I should, he reacted as if the world was coming to an end. And this happened over and over and over again. No, he can’t help being who he is. He could manage to disguise it from most people. He could put on his charming persona to the world. But he will always be that orange. No matter what I did or said, I got the red hot orange juice.

        So why did I think it’d be different THIS time? Had I fallen into the trap of believing that time would fix him? If he just missed me enough…If he wanted me badly enough. No, it wasn’t enough. He hadn’t done the necessary internal work, which always starts with a recognition of what type of juice lives inside of us.

        And what was operating ME during this attempted reconciliation? That darn fantasy stuff. That twinkling Hallmark card commercial of the happy, loving couple. That hope. Haven’t I told myselff enough times that there is NO hope? There is only what IS. As a recovering alkie, I have never liked reality. I can wish, hope, dream, imagine and it changes absolutely nothing.

          The good news is that I recognized it so quickly. Nine days. Pretty damned good, if I say so myself. Nothing changes if nothing changes. Mark is Mark, no matter how much he tried to win me over one more time with the Great Guy routine. And, today, I am not willing to settle for BTN (Better than Nothing). Is it worth walking on eggshells all the time just for those moments of hand holding and whispered “I love you’s”? No, not anymore. I’ve learned I can do my life by myself. I don’t “need” anyone to make me complete. I AM complete. Yes, I would’ve loved to share my life with someone, and I still do. But not just anyone.

        The paralegal’s office caught the Stip before it was sent out. My divorce proceeds towards its intended end. By January, I will be a single woman again. In the paperwork, I indicated I want to return to my maiden name. Wish I’d done that at marriages number one, two three, and four. I want to go out of this world with the name I’d been given when I came into it.

        There is the possibility I’ll be alone for the rest of this lifetime. Maybe. I hope not, but it IS a possibility.  I’ve known true love, and it wasn’t with Mark. He was, after all, simply a rebound from the man I truly loved but who died.  I met Mark on an online site, when I should’ve been concentrating on grieving. I wanted some light times, some fun times, after all those bleak moments. Mark and I should’ve dated but never married. Oh, well. Lessons learned.  The guys on online sites are single for a reason.  Patience has never been my strong suit. 

       After this mistake,  I’m no longer in such a rush to find a new, warm body to lie by my side in bed. I’ve got the dogs, anyway, and all they do is love me. S-l-o-w down, girl! In the words of Scarlett O’Hara, “Tomorrow IS another day!”

        Oranges? They’re pretty sour anyway. Maybe the next time, I’ll pick an apple.

Diary of a Divorce–Dec 9th

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A STOMACH-TURNING END

      It was a short-lived reconciliation: Nine days, to be exact.  It wasn’t a good sign that I felt better when he left than when he arrived.  It came to an end over dog barf. Of course, that was but a symptom of the disease.

       He came over Friday, early evening, and we had an quiet night together because he was tired from a long week at work.  Okay, I was good with that. We don’t have to date and go out every weekend. For some reason, though, I didn’t sleep that well Friday night. Maybe it was the dogs, curled up around my head and shoulders, afraid they’d be kicked off the bed they’ve used to sharing with me. Maybe it was that Mark curled his body around me when I got back in bed after getting up to take a leak, and I was practically falling off the edge of my king-sized bed.

      Or maybe it was something bigger…

       On Friday, he told me that the paralegal’s office had called to say there was a problem with the way his notary had signed the Stipulation we’d hoped would cancel our divorce. The paralegal’s secretary hadn’t submitted it to court, as promised. That meant waiting until Monday. It pissed me off because we’d rushed around getting all the paperwork done, and Mark had even overnighted it to me so she’d have it by Friday morning. I called her up to complain, and she gave me a lot of attitude about why she hadn’t sent it to the court. In conclusion, I realized this Stipulation was a bit more complicated than she’d let on initially, and maybe she didn’t know what she was doing. I contacted some free legal services online and got different answers from four different attorneys about whether or not the Stip would be legally binding. 

      Put this part of my post on hold for now…

       Saturday night, we decided to order pizzas and then sat down to watch some movies on Netflix. I noticed Mark was nodding off on the couch during one of the movies, even though he’d pop his head up every once in awhile and deny he was sleeping. You ladies all know what I’m talking about! When I needed to take a leak,  I put the movie on “Pause.” On my way back to the living room, I went into the third bedroom to close the blinds. As I did it, I noticed some clear-colored dog puke on the rug. I think one of the dogs might have licked some bleach I’d poured on a stain and it had upset his tummy. So I got some rug cleaner, sprayed the carpet, and blotted up the barf. I warned you it was a stomach-turning ending!!!

        The whole thing must’ve lasted about five minutes, max. When I returned to the couch, Mark was sitting up, wide awake now. He launched into a tirade about my lack of consideration for him that I’d put the movie on pause while he was watching it! Really? I was honestly stunned by the level of rage he had about this stupid issue–but then almost ALL of our previous fights had been about stupid things. Perhaps the stupid things only masked deeper issues…

        Each time I tried to discuss the situation calmly and rationally, he berated me more. Now, he claimed I was minimizing his feelings and disregarding/deflecting them like I always did. Nothing I said would get him to stop. He got more and more animated, pounding on the couch, flipping his body from side to side, and pointing at me to “Deal with it!”

        The rage in his voice and his irrational actions brought tears streaming down my face. I asked him, almost begged him, not to make such a big deal out of this. Each time I tried to reason with him about the “facts,” it only infuriated him more. I’ve learned Mark is an angry, angry, angry man–though he tries to hide it under a “nice guy” exterior to the world. He also manages to charms me each and every time after we’ve broken up. It’s very similar to physical abuse: rage, acting out, then remorse and flowers. I guess it’s considered emotional abuse.

        While I sat there crying, he intensified the attack, insinuating that I thought he was an asshole and worse. He said it, not me. His language was full of expletives. Though I may have felt like retaliating with a few choice words, I actually kept a fairly cool head. But when he started to get totally disrespectful, I’d had enough. I’ve come to believe, over the past six months and more,  I’m worth more than that.

       I got up, still crying, and walked into the bedroom after cleaning up everything we’d left out. I changed into my pajamas, cleared a spot on the bed for my dogs, and finished the night reading a book.  I thought about what had just happened and actually gave him a slight pass by concluding he’d probably still been really tired from the week. OTOH, I gave him no excuse for the vengefulness of his words and attitude.

       As my tears dried on my cheeks, I made a decision:  I am really through with this marriage. I’ve had enough. Done. Yes, I’ve said it before, and yes I’ve taken him back. But it feels different this time. In the past, we ended our marriage through emails. That allowed me to have hope. It took away the sting and memories of his festering anger.

       This morning, he approached me sheepishly as I made my coffee. “Hello,” he said–as if nothing had happened last night. Then he jumped into the shower. I wondered if he planned to leave or stay. Either way, I’d made my decision. Nothing more needed to be said.

       I heard him in the other room, packing a bag. I was actually relieved–he was leaving. As he walked to the front door, he made one more nasty remark that I needed to f**king realize the meaning of “commitment.” He added a comment about how I had mistreated him last night. And he left.

        I waited till he drove off and headed straight to the phone. I left a voice mail for the paralegal asking them NOT to messenger the Stipulation to the court and to let the divorce proceed.  It will be final in one month. Then I followed it up with an email.

        I can breathe again.

          Later in the afternoon, I got a friendly email from Mark. In it, he said we needed to talk. If we couldn’t work it out together, after getting “real” with each other, then perhaps we needed to go to a counselor.  He felt that I’d given him a “deaf ear,” as I’d done so many times in the past.

          He did apologize for making me cry.

          Too little, too late. I wrote back and told him so.  This marriage cannot be saved. I’m listening to my gut, for a change, and running for my life.

          I’ve heard from many people that others are put in our lives to teach us lessons. Well, this relationship has taught me quite a bit, mostly about how I am willing to be treated and what is no longer acceptable. In just the past six months, I’ve learned the following:

           1) I don’t need Mark, or any man, to support me financially. I’m totally self-sufficient. Although I’m far from wealthy, the money I get from my pension and social security is enough to pay all my bills. Maybe I have to live a lot more frugally than before, but my peace of mind is worth a whole lot more than money.

           2) I have been able to handle a lot of tough situations all by myself, without Mark. The major ones were getting my mother into assisted living and taking care of myself following  back surgery. I have also been able to handle things that break and need repairing around the house. If I need help, I can hire a handyman.

            3) My life is full without him. I volunteer at the VA, I’m finishing the editing of my book, I have the dogs for company, I love to garden, and I attend regular meetings to maintain my sobriety.

            4) My friends love me and support me much more than any man ever could. I can live without a man but not without my friends.

  and probably the biggest one:

             5) I can be by myself without shriveling up and dying. In fact, I love my own company!

           I’d say those are some pretty major lessons I’ve learned. Why would I ever want to go back into the shackles of a relationship like the one I had with Mark? No, I won’t say I’m done with men. I’m sure I’ll want their company again–probably sooner rather than later. But I never, ever want to revolve my life around a man again. I’m worth more than that. I can say that aloud today without worrying or caring if that makes you want to barf. I’m pretty good at cleaning that up too!

Diary of a Divorce/Reconciliation–Dec 4th

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THIS IS NOT A HALLMARK CARD MARRIAGE

       Yes, I’m still IN my marriage. In fact, we are now experiencing a blip in calling OFF the divorce. The judge already signed the Judgment of Dissolution in October, although we wouldn’t be “officially” divorced until the end of January. Huh? Does anyone understand this?

       I called the paralegal’s office to tell them to cancel the divorce. Not so fast, the clerk told me. You’ll need to file a Stipulation–and pay a $220 fee to process it. OMG, are they kidding? Apparently NOT.  The last time I filed for divorce, I was able to change my mind by withdrawing the petition. Now, we have to expedite this Stip, and it’s not “guaranteed” the judge will sign it!  Then, we’d have to wait until January to remarry. That would be my FIFTH marriage. I’m not doing it!!

       Is this the way the universe is punishing me for my impulsivity? Or is it just a karmic lesson?

       Here’s a riddle for all my followers: How many times can you divorce the SAME guy??? In my case, I divorced husband #2/3 a total of two times. I remarried him and then again divorced him a final time in order to marry my current husband. Then, as you may know, I filed for divorce from this husband TWICE.

       Can’t the woman make up her mind???

        I am not a conventional person. You will never see my life story depicted in a Hallmark card commercial. My question, though, is how many of those supposedly “perfect” marriages and relationships are the “real deal” and how many are facades? I have concluded that most people who brag about their marriages are full of b.s.

        One of my friends, who has what I’d assumed to be an ideal marriage, claims she and her husband have never had a fight. Oh, really? Well, in my marriages, I’ve argued, bickered, and fought verbally.  So my friend’s assertion had me feeling like my marriage was a bad one. This belief internalized into a depression during which I felt inadequate as a woman and concluded that I’m a defective human being, incapable of a mature relationship.

        This friend let it slip once that, when her husband dares to disagree with her, she gives him the silent treatment. He can’t bear living like that, so he ultimately gives in to her demands. Doesn’t this really count as a “fight”? I say it does!

         Another friend used to get flowers delivered to the office all the time from her husband. What’s the occasion, we all asked. Oh, he just loves me, she said. And he bought her clothing and jewelry and perfume–just because he loved her so much. Sounded good until we learned a few years later that she was having an affair with another man and decided to divorce this “perfect” husband who just loved her to bits. Maybe SHE needed to love HIM just a little bit more.

         In the future, when I listen to deluded women trying to impress me with their perfect unions, I plan to tell myself that it’s a load of crap.  I don’t believe it anymore and I’m not going to judge my insides by their outsides. The difference between me and those women is that I am HONEST about our difficulties. I don’t try to paint it all over with a big smile so everyone will be jealous of my relationship. A relationship is HARD work, and I defy anyone to live with another human being without having some strife and/or disagreements.

           I don’t care anymore if others want to judge my marriage. The truth is that I don’t want anyone else’s marriage. I want mine–warts and all–divorce filings and all. I’ve always alleged that you learn a lot about your spouse when you divorce them! How are they during the divorce proceedings? Vindictive? Difficult? Angry?

           My divorces have always been amicable. I wish I didn’t have to go down Divorce Lane to find it out, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Mark and I are a work in progress. We’re defining this new attempt at a better marriage as we go along. When he says something that I take as a hurtful comment, I’m trying to speak up as soon as possible to clarify what he meant. Otherwise, I take the hurt and twist it into anger and then it becomes a resentment. When the straw breaks this camel’s back during some other blow-up, all those unexpressed feelings of hurt emerge from my mouth in a burst of rage. Then I’m right back where I started from with a “get the hell out.”

            Maybe it’s time to try something different. Maybe it’s time to admit divorce is no longer an option.  Those fees I’ve paid to the State of California are getting ridiculously expensive! I could’ve taken a couple of round-the-world trips on what all of this turmoil has cost. We will stay married, and we’ll just have to create the kind of marriage that works for us. We haven’t yet figured out the day-to-day living arrangements. His apartment lease is not set to expire until May 2013. Maybe living apart, except for weekends, is a good way to transition for now.

         I’ve really enjoyed having the house to myself. I think I’m more like a cat–clawing at Mark when I don’t want to be petted. Sharing the house again fills me with some dread. I hate having to give up my coveted closet space once more. Here I go again, moving the heavy jackets into the storage shed in the garage. Sigh..

          It’s been our pattern to reconcile, to be in la-la land for awhile, and then Mark moves back home. Soon enough, the same old arguments start, and I want him gone. We need a new pattern. This one has worn out its welcome.

          I’ve never claimed Mark is a bad guy. He isn’t. In fact, he’s a pretty terrific guy. But we need to figure out how to live with each other, be honest about our feelings, and keep the passion alive. You’ll notice that, in Hallmark commercials, the couple is usually surrounded by children and grandchildren sitting around a Christmas tree.  My card would be a whole lot less wholesome, perhaps with us dangling from a swing in an X-rated embrace! You can have Hallmark. I’ll settle for REAL.

Diary of a Divorce–Nov 27th

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WE INTERRUPT THIS DIVORCE FOR A SPECIAL BULLETIN

       There have been major developments in my life since I last blogged. Let me lead up to the “biggee.”

       My 93 yr old mother, who has symptoms of dementia. recently moved into an assisted living home. It is a lovely house in a residential neighborhood ten minutes from my home. There are only five residents, including my mother. Due to the financial aspect, she must share a room with another woman. Because my mother sleeps in a large recliner anyway, I’d asked the owners of the house if she could sleep in the “living room” area. This affords her the privacy she needs so she rarely has to go into the shared bedroom. By the time the residents awaken, my mother is up too so there is no inconvenience to anyone. They approved the arrangement, and I’d hoped that would avoid the potential for friction.

        I thought it’d take my mom about a week to begin bitching about her “roommate,” but it started up immediately. After listening to her delusions about a neighbor in her former retirement community for almost 15 years, I was burnt out on hearing her constant complaints. I truly believe I chose a beautiful and an ideal living situation for my mother where she can get 24 hour a day care from the staff and have all her needs met. It was a good decision, one that will allow me to look myself in the eye without guilt or remorse because I know it’s what’s best for her. Of course, I’ve heard nothing but negative comments from the other members of my family questioning my decision. That’s how my family rolls. NONE of them, however, had been willing to do anything to help me with this difficult decision.

        So on Thanksgiving, we were going to have a small family gathering at my house. On top of everything, Thanksgiving always falls around my birthday, so we were going to have a little birthday celebration too. My mother started right in with her roommate resentments as soon as she got into my house at 2:00 pm. “She accuses me of taking her things,” “She follows me around the house watching me like a guard” and on and on. My mother complained she’d rather be on the streets than be kept prisoner in this house. Alright, you get the idea.

        I asked her several times to agree to hold off on her complaints during our holiday dinner. She agreed, and then she kept it to herself for a few minutes until I turned my back. Then she started it up again. For the most part, I ignored her. But then my daughter told me, right before she and her husband took off, that I couldn’t return Mom to the assisted living home until 8:00 pm. This meant I’d have to listen to her complaints for a total of SIX hours!!! Towards the end of the evening, I felt like my chest was going to explode.

         I finally lost it when a cousin asked me in a loud voice, “Why don’t you let her move in with you?”

         And it was “on.” I confronted him, my aunt, and my mother, and then I ran into my bedroom with tears streaming down my face. I lay down on the bed for about 15 minutes before there was a tentative knock on my door. My friend, who’d spent Thanksgiving with us, told me that my relatives had some gifts they wanted to give me. I came out of the bedroom, still crying, and opened the gifts.  By this point, everyone was remorseful and apologetic about his or her behavior. I just wanted to get my mom out of my house.

          During the evening, I felt so alone. There was no one to comfort me or support me during this gut-wrenching experience. I snuck out of the party for a few minutes and crept into my office to check my emails. I decided to zip out an email to my soon-to-be ex, Mark, to wish him and his family a very happy Thanksgiving. They are the Hallmark commercial type of family, with his parents’ house beautifully decorated during the holidays.

           After I dropped off my mom, I found an emailed response from Mark. He’d wished me a very happy Thanksgiving and an early “happy birthday” too. I don’t honestly know what drove me to do it, but I replied in a jovial tone, “I guess this means no gift this year, huh?”

            And it began. We started to email back and forth–the truth as it is for both of us. Did we want to open up this can of worms one more time? We had managed to avoid each other for six full months, and now this?

            I told him I had the song “Here come these tears again” by Jackson Browne rumbling around in my head. He said “Don’t think twice, it’s alright” by Dylan was in his. And so it went during several exchanges. I commented finally that he’d been the one who’d always cautioned me not to send emotion-laden emails, and, yet, we’d ended our marriage in emails. I asked him why he couldn’t, even once, pick up that “shitty phone.”

           He said he needed some time to process all of this. So did I. Would I awaken to a message that he didn’t want to open up his heart again? That we were better off leaving it alone?

           The following morning, I awoke to an email from him asking if we could get together that evening (Saturday) to talk in person.  I had secretly hoped it was what he’d say.

          I had a writing group meeting in the afternoon but told him we could meet at about 7:00 pm.    My head was spinning. Should I level with him? Should I be real and share my true feelings one more time? Was there any hope for this marriage?

            My writing group urged me not to let him come into my house but to meet at a restaurant. It seemed like a wise plan. Of course, beforehand, I had to spend about an hour trying to decide what to wear. I didn’t want to look too provocative, but I also wanted him to see what he’d been missing! I carefully applied my make-up and drove to the nearby cafe.

          When I first saw him, my heart started to flutter. He still looked really good. If he’d looked horrible, would it have made it any easier? He approached me with open arms and pulled me in for a warm and very long hug. I could feel my walls were up, but it still felt great to be held–especially after that disastrous Thanksgiving and the tumult surrounding my mother’s placement.

           We talked…and talked…and talked. It was clear that, after we’d finished eating and drinking cup after cup of coffee, the server wanted us to leave already. Mark asked if he could come over, but I cautioned him that I was not going to be intimate with him no matter what. He came over, and we talked and talked and talked some more. The flame was still there between us.   We kissed passionately, but he respected my need for distance until I felt sure.   Neither one of us wanted to let go.

           We decided we’re going to try one more time to work it out. We will talk through our issues together as best we can, but, if we can’t do it by ourselves, he’s agreed to return to counseling. We will probably never live together again. Neither of us is conventional, and we’re just going to have to figure out something that suits us–not what is expected by society and how it is in other, more traditional marriages. Neither of us is sure what that is yet. It’ll have to be a day at a time.

          He came over yesterday to celebrate my actual birthday. He showed up with orange roses, rare this time of year, but the color I wear all the time. In his other hand, he held an ice cream birthday cake. We spent an intimate and beautiful day and evening together. It wasn’t all serious. In fact, we realized that’s a major problem for us: we both take EVERYTHING so seriously. We once had a major argument over some expired tartar sauce!

        When he pulled the ice cream cake out of the freezer, it slipped out of its box. He managed to catch about half of it, and the rest went splat on the kitchen floor! The dogs rushed over to eat it–not good because it had chocolate cake and frosting. It was hysterically funny shooing away the dogs while Mark balanced half the cake in his hands.

         We laughed till our sides hurt.

         It was probably my favorite birthday celebration. So is there hope? Do I dare risk those tears again?

         The more you resist something, the more it’s there. I’ve been trying to resist being open and honest with Mark–or even having a conversation with him–for six months. He’s never really been gone….The divorce is set to be finalized in mid-January. Both of us suspect we’ll have to cancel it–AGAIN. We’ve been down this road once before. The only one who benefitted from our separations has been the state of California with its high divorce fees. But hey, it’s only money.

          I tried to forget Mark and minimize the feelings I had for him by masking it with anger, by making him “wrong” for me. I also resorted to my pattern of dating other men, in the hopes I’d find someone newer and better. I went on all those stupid dates, and it didn’t work- Not with the guy who had the leaky car roof, nor with the motorcycle guy who’d probably been homeless at one time, nor with the denying me a kiss guy, nor with the alleged “travel partner,” nor with the guy who spent four hours with me before rejecting me by phone later, nor with the married cowboy or the guide dog man. It was all entertaining, but it got really old. Maybe the problem was that I’d found Mark too easily after ending the marriage of my previous husband who died of cancer. Maybe I needed to see if I’d missed out on anything–or anyone. You know, “The grass is always greener, ” isn’t it?

       The truth is that I was really lucky to find Mark when I did. We were incredibly lucky to fall so hard for each other right from the start. Maybe all the universe conspired, or was aligned, to set it up so we’d finally meet after both our paths had almost crossed so many times in our pasts. Who knows?

      Mark didn’t even try to date anyone during those six months, though he admitted he’d thought about it.  Six months abstinence for Mark is probably a record.

      He says he never stopped loving me.

        And I have to admit, finally, that I love him too.  There’s no way this genie is going back into the bottle.

Diary of a Divorce–Nov 18th

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“IT’S NOT A DOG”….but WAS HE?

       I was not excited about meeting “Guide Dog Man,” but I told myself I should give him a chance. We shared a passion for dogs and for volunteering. In fact, his volunteer work is 24/7 since he lives with the dogs he trains for the blind. I liked the fact he’d served as a veteran, but he hadn’t known combat.

       What was the problem, then? First, I didn’t think I’d like his looks on his profile. He wasn’t ugly or grotesque, just not terribly attractive the way I like men to look. Set that stuff aside, I told myself. It’s not all about looks, right? And, of course, I was still ruminating about the Cowboy and wishing it were he I was going to meet instead of Guide Dog Man.

        I made a half-hearted attempt to get ready and to look good for him. God, all the time necessary in preparation for these dates was getting to be a pain. First impressions are so important when you don’t know someone and haven’t seen what they look like on “good behavior” as opposed to those times when relaxing at home in the backyard or have a case of the sniffles. Okay, I was satisfied with my makeup and clothing.  He couldn’t possibly be disappointed in that area.

        GDM left me a message saying he’d have to rush home from work, go home to get his dog, and then meet me at the coffee shop at approximately 5:45 pm. Normally, I get to the online date location just a tad late–to leave them in anticipation. Okay, it’s not terribly considerate, but it’s the honest truth. This time, however, I had a sense of wanting to get this date over as soon as possible. I’d decided I was no longer allowing these dates to drag on for up to five hours, as some of my first dates had lasted. GDM had stipulated in his profile that the first date should last no longer than an hour. If there was an interest, then the couple could plan for a longer second date. Sounded good to me.

        So I arrived on time. I stood outside the shop waiting for him to arrive. When I saw a man approaching with a dog, I wasn’t sure if it was GDM. After all, a lot of the guys don’t always appear the way they do in their profile pictures. As the man approached, I asked him if his name was “Stephen” (GDM’s real name).

         He asked me if I was waiting for “Stephen,” and, when I responded in the affirmative, he jokingly said, “Then, yes, I’m Stephen!”

         I could tell he was interested and flirting with me. Hey, that was cool with me. This guy had a pretty good sense of humor, and he kept checking me out head to toe, clearly interested in what he saw. I also liked his dog! Since Stephen was late, it would serve him right to see another guy flirting with his date. This guy, Bob, asked me lots of questions about myself. He was stunned I was waiting for a date I’d found on a personals site. He wanted to know all about it.  He said he was single too and might decide to join the personals site I was on. I told him that, if I got stood up by, or liked him better than, the REAL Stephen, I might have my date with him instead!

          As he continued asking me questions, I realized he was trying to figure out if he’d met me before. Huh? And just minutes before the “real” Stephen walked up, Bob and I realized we HAD dated each other several times maybe 25 or more years ago! What a coincidence! The coffee shop wasn’t even in my own neighborhood! I even recalled Bob’s last name.

          Stephen looked stunned assessing the situation as I tried to explain in the rapid-fire way I talk when I’m nervous. I immediately sensed I felt no love connection with him–though I did think his dog was cute!

          I walked away from Bob before we had a chance to exchange phone numbers. I recalled him as being quite a nice guy those many years ago. It would’ve been fun to catch up, but I had a date to attend to. Stephen fastened his dog’s jacket, which said “Guide Dog in Training”, and we entered the coffee shop.

         Almost immediately, we were confronted by an old nasty fart of a man who said, “No dogs are allowed in this restaurant.”

          Very quietly, Stephen answered, “It’s not a dog.”

           I got a whole lot more animated and started arguing with the Old Fart. I tried to explain that GDM was training the dog to help the blind. Old Fart responded, “You don’t look blind to me,” directing his remark to GDM.

           What a bastard! I was furious!!!! GDM simply turned away and went to the counter to order our coffees after asking me what I liked in mine. Half of my mind was focused on my date, but the other half was consumed with fury at the Old Fart. How dare he!!! I figured it would be some sort of karma if he became blind in the future and needed to rely on a similar dog. I couldn’t keep my mind on GDM, and it didn’t help when he admitted that he too was ruminating a bit about Old Fart’s remark.

        I tried to steer the conversation to other topics, but GDM seemed only to have one topic he felt comfortable discussing: his work with the dogs. Normally, I’d be fascinated about the process, but GDM was b-o-r-i-n-g!!!! How could he do such meaningful work with so little outward passion for it? Some of his comments bordered on the sarcastic. Many times, he’d ask me questions about myself but then interrupted by interjecting a really dumb joke. When I’d ask him if he preferred not to hear the rest of what I had to say, he insisted I go on. This small talk with him was feeling like a battle, and it was wearing on my nerves.

         Just then, Old Fart headed to the exit, which was right next to our table. I spoke up by saying, “The dog is a guide dog, sir.” Stephen told me that the Old Fart responded, so quietly that I missed it, “Go to hell.” This was directed at me! I just wish I’d heard it because I would probably have followed him out the door and gotten into a big argument with him. At least THAT would’ve been interesting!!!

         The conversation with GDM started to grate and to grow really old.  Then he did the dealbreaker: He started to lecture me on the way I “should’ve” handled someone as ignorant as Old Fart. I started to fume. It was the same kind of thing that my soon-to-be-ex did to me on a regular basis. It was done by both men in a condescending manner, like I was a little child who’d misbehaved. I’d had enough of this date.

         I got up and went to the restroom, where I checked my watch. The date had lasted an hour. I was through. I came out of the bathroom, lifted the cup of coffee which was half full and disposed of it in a trash can. I didn’t sit down at the table, nor did I make an excuse for why I was leaving. I’d caught GDM totally off guard with my behavior. I’m sure he’s not used to the woman calling the shots and deciding when the date is over. I suspect he likes to be in control. F**k him. Just because he’d bought me a stinking cup of coffee, I owed him nothing. I was tired of the stereotypical role we women take on whereby we must keep the conversation moving and focusing on the man. 

          He  jumped up to walk me out the door.  I gave him a hug, gave the dog a pat, and wished him the best. Then, I left. It felt great to be in charge. It felt fantastic not to stammer a lame excuse for why I was leaving. This guy wasn’t for me and never would be. End of story. I got into my car and drove home, where I’d wished I’d stayed all night in my warm pajamas instead of being on a date with this moron.

         This dating scene is getting really old. The prospects are getting slimmer, and I’m beginning to conclude that, yes, all the good ones are already taken.  BTW, Cowboy has texted me several times, usually keeping his comments pretty neutral. He did address my concerns about putting my mother in the assisted living home, but there have been no more romantic gestures or an invitation to get together again. I think it’s over. I’ve asked him several times why he doesn’t call. He finally promised in a TEXT today that he would call.  Of course, he didn’t. Now, ladies and gents of the jury, why do YOU think he doesn’t call but prefers to text? Could it be that he has a WIFE sitting in the next room???

         I  just have too many unanswered questions about the Cowboy. I know he’s still married. He’s admitted as much. But I think they’re still living together. He has not been forthcoming, and I don’t trust him AT ALL. My gut is screaming to let this guy GO. I know it’s what I need to do and what I will do. No more responses to his texts. No more admissions of how much I like him. Time to move forward…if only he wasn’t so damned cute. But the memory of that romantic kiss that happened over a week and a half ago has faded and turned to suspicion.

        According to GDM, HIS dog is NOT a dog. But I’m beginning to wonder if all men ARE.