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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 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–Oct 16th

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MAKING A SPLASH!

       I have depended on the various men in my life to help with repairs around the house when something breaks, as it inevitably does. Husband 2/3 was a contractor who was basically skilled in just about everything related to construction. He was a genius at building and had an artist’s eye to create beauty out of everyday material. He turned our fixer-upper home  into a cozy, adorable, beautiful masterpiece where I just had to ask for something to be done and he’d do it (in his time, of course!) The house is a testament to his talents.

        When he was struck by brain lymphoma, I could no longer depend on him for anything that went wrong. Actually, I couldn’t count on him for anything anymore. It was beyond sad. This once virile, strong man ended up in a wheelchair. I became the one who had to make all the hard decisions, and I was suddenly cast into the role of fixer-upper around the house. I’m embarassed to say I’d never changed a lightbulb or unplugged a stopped up toilet when it’d been so much easier to tell him to do it.

        It took me HOURS to plunge my first stopped up toilet. I cried through the whole experience as s**t splattered on my walls and into my hair. I felt so inept and useless. BUT I did it! When it flushed normally, I cheered like a high schooler whose team scored a touchdown.

        Even before #2/3 died, I found a replacement in husband #4.  He was an engineer, but he still knew how to do things around the house. I thought I’d found my new prince! The problem, however, was that he never wanted to do any of these things and would procrastinate endlessly. I wanted to keep from being the screaming fishwife, so I sat quietly and stewed in my resentments. I even hired a handyman a few times to do things #4 was unwilling/unable to do.

        When I “asked” #4 to leave for the final time, I found myself dreading anything possibly going wrong around the house. The truth was that I didn’t want to learn about these mundane chores. I didn’t want to have to read an owner’s manual about what, for the “average” man comes naturally.

         Of course, things did start to fall apart with time. It’s part of the experience of being a home owner. As I struggled for hours, mostly in resistance, I finally undertook to fix little things around the house. Lightbulbs? No sweat. Picking lint out of a dryer so my clothes wouldn’t be wet after circling for an hour? Even a moron could do it (including me!)  One of the worst of the worst was when I had to use a trap to kill a tree rat and then lifted the bloody bag to dispose of the body. Yuccccck. But I did it. Last week, I came home to find one of my dogs had brought a barely alive brown mouse from the garden and dropped it onto my bedroom carpet. I wept as I had to scoop this half-dead mouse into a bucket, shoved it outside, and dropped a heavy rock on it to put it out of its misery. I knew that, if I didn’t, the dogs would use the poor thing as a toy until they killed it slowly and miserably.

         I didn’t (and often don’t) want to do all these things on my own. I want someone ELSE to be responsible…but there is NO someone else. It’s up to me now.

      I watched my gardener spend 10 minutes mowing my tiny front and back lawns and then blowing leaves with those infernally loud gas blowers. As I resentfully wrote my $65 monthly check to him, I decided it would be my last one.  I bought my own battery-operated, lightweight mower and I’ve been mowing my lawns ever since. It’s a snap! And good exercise! I love the blower. It’s actually fun, and it’s electric so no ear-splitting whines and no more inhaling those noxious gas fumes. I haven’t mastered the edger yet. You could say I’ve got “trenches” down each side of my lawn where a straight edge seems beyond my grasp. With time, I should master even that.

       Then the pump gasped its last breath in my outdoor fountain. Oh no! #4 had made such a big deal out of replacing the previous pump. For some reason, the one he purchased (after little hints from me for months and months) wasn’t the right one. He went back and forth to Home Depot before settling on one that became the bane of my existence. It filled daily with tiny leaves I’d have to pick out one by one.

         I was in terror! It was now up to me to find a replacement. I spent many hours on the internet last weekend gathering info on GPH (gallons per hour), size, specs, etc. In despair, I called several companies hoping they’d guide me in finding a replacement for my now discontinued pump. It seems that October is a bad month for outdoor gardening supplies. Few had them in supply anymore, and no one had a clue how to help.

        Finally, I took the broken pump to Home Depot and searched for a female “associate.” She was very blunt, very cut and dried–but extremely helpful. I told her I’m divorcing and don’t have a clue what I’m doing. I’ve done that before in HD when I needed a drill and a weed killer. The women ‘get” it and are so encouraging.

        I brought home the pump we both agreed seemed to be closest to what I needed. I held my breath as I twisted the tube into the existing hole. Impossible. It didn’t fit. I almost started to cry again. But then I lifted the plastic container and two size adjusters fell from the package. I figured why not see what they could do? As I wiped off the accumulating spider webs that landed on my hands and face from the fountain parts, I shoved in one of the adjusters. It fit!!!!

        I switched on the electricity and…..out pumped the water, making a delightful splash in the bottom of my fountain!

       As I sit here luxuriating in the serene sound of that lovely concrete fountain in the shape of a long-haired woman, I am beyond pleased with myself.

       Folks, I think I’m gonna make it alone. I’m feeling again like that Helen Reddy song title: I am woman, hear me roar.

        And I decided to cancel that date with the potential f**k buddy who requires several women to satisfy his appetites. I deserve better, so much better.