Tag Archives: Divorce

Diary of a Divorce–Dec 10th

Standard

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.

Advertisements

Diary of a Divorce–Nov 27th

Standard

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–October 24th

Standard

LOVE MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND–OR IS THAT MY HEAD SPINNING?

     I’ve been reading some blogs lately from people whom I follow. They are writing about love, and, perhaps, they are missing having love in their lives.

     I’ve known love–REAL love–and I’ve learned it’s not a feeling. It’s an action.  Let me explain.

     We all love how we FEEL when we’re first meet someone new and become infatuated with them. They tell us what we want to hear about ourselves–how lovely we look, how they can’t wait to see us again, to touch us again, to hear our voices again. We are walking on clouds, in a delirium of fantasy and excitement. God, I love that part of “love.”  The word “love” usually is uttered when one person in the couple announces at a romantic moment or right after sex that he or she is “falling” in love. It’s no accident that we feel we are “falling.”  We are in a trance, our cheeks flushed, the happiness radiating from every pore. We have fallen…Into a form of insanity!

      The truth is that what I’m loving is how HE makes me feel about MYSELF.  I feel beautiful. I feel treasured. I feel valued and lovable. It’s not really about him or about loving him. I love how he makes me feel about myself. I’m saying this twice so that I can hear it myself.

       The husband I’m now divorcing said he couldn’t help “falling in love” with me. Then he said the magical words: “I love you.”

        I wasn’t sure if I truly loved him, but what could I say?  “Oh, how nice! How flattering! Thank you so much”?

        No, I went against my gut and told him I loved him too. We had been together less than a month.

        I knew deep in my heart what true love was. I learned it when my previous husband (#2 & #3) got ill with brain cancer. I watched this once beautiful, sexy, strong man be replaced by a brain-damaged, dependent child who could no longer walk. His  thoughts revolved around food and sleep, the most elemental of primal needs, and it was my job to take care of all his needs. I sat for hours in wooden chairs in emergency rooms and hospitals, even after having major back surgery. I drove him to treatments, to chemo and radiation, while he argued with me like an obstinate 6 yr old–and while I worked full-time. I had no thought of myself or how I was “feeling.” I was a human savior, and it was my duty to keep him from dying. I cleaned up after him when he couldn’t make it to the toilet, I lifted his 250 lb body off the floor when he fell.

         No, I was no martyr. I cried and railed against the unfairness. I complained bitterly about what had become of my life, the darkness in which I lived, the fact that I had no time left for my own needs. When I didn’t think I could do it for one more minute, I did it for many more hours, months, and then years.

         During those days, weeks, months and years, I learned what love looked like. And I learned it had nothing to do with how he made me feel about myself. Love was truly about giving to HIM, about caring more about someone else than I did about myself, even when he wouldn’t and couldn’t reciprocate. I got no appreciation or words of love from him during the almost four years I took care of this man with whom I’d shared almost 30 yrs of my life. Before he’d gotten sick, he’d been there for me. He’d been my protector and had loved me unconditionally. He would ultimately follow me to the ends of the earth, at my whim.

       He had been the wind beneath my wings.

       At the ending stages of his life, I realized just how much I loved him. Not the fantasy of him, not the storybook version of the prince with the ruby slipper–but a real and very vulnerable man who’d stuck with me through thick and thin.

          He taught me the meaning of love. And then he died…

         I don’t know if I’ll ever know love like that again. But I do know that I’ll never again say it to keep from hurting someone’s feelings.  When my soon-to-be-ex told me he loved me, I should’ve said “Thank you for saying that,” or even “Thank you for enjoying how I make you feel about yourself” But love? No, I don’t think I ever really loved him. Now, I even wonder if I ever liked him.

          I already knew what real love was and is:  an action.   I still miss and ache for the one true love of my life. Even though at the very end of his life I made lots of mistakes, mistakes I’ll regret forever, I know I acted always out of love.

         As John Lennon said: “The love you take is equal to the love you make.”

          After we’re gone, the love we give is what we leave behind. In the words of another song, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.” 

          Today, show somebody you love them.

Diary of a Divorce–Oct 16th

Standard

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.