Tag Archives: Relationships

Sobriety Collective Article

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  First of a Two-Part Series

I was not an alcoholic, nor an addict, nor a substance abuser. I was not even a “problem” drinker. After all, I was a college graduate, had stable employment, lived in a decent home, had a husband and two kids, and I was a Jew. Everyone knew that alcoholics lived under bridges or in shelters. Addicts stole and were incarcerated in the finest penal institutions. And, of course, both varieties came from dysfunctional families. Well, okay, my family was pretty dysfunctional.

Not only wasn’t I an alkie or a druggie, but also, in my career as a probation officer, I supervised them. They were on the other side of the desk. They were my caseload, and I was paid to “fix” them or to lock them up. I didn’t get arrested when I drove drunk because I had a badge.

Alcohol and drugs were my solution, not my problem. I used them to “take the edge off,” to cope with stress and unhappiness. I used them to help me feel at ease in uncomfortable settings—and anywhere was an uncomfortable setting. Mostly, I used them to feel attractive to the opposite sex.

Getting drunk and using drugs was cool—for a very, very long time. Most people would never have guessed I had a problem. I kept that secret behind closed doors. To the outside world, I was the life of the party:  I was funny and entertaining when I was loaded. My hijinks were the stuff of water cooler jokes at the office on Monday morning. My “outsides” looked just fine.

Towards the end, drugs and alcohol turned on me. My life got very dark. I drank daily and had blackouts in which I couldn’t recall what I’d done or with whom I’d done it.  I lived a double life: during the day, I was a professional in a job with incredible authority, but at night, I drank in the scummiest of dive bars with “lower companions.” From the time I got home from work and popped that first beer until the time I crashed at night with a wine glass by my bedside, I drank. After all, I had a stressful job and a difficult home life. I deserved to drink and to smoke pot!

I got sober on January 4, 1988. It was, and still is, a journey.

I’ve had a chance to take a good, hard look at my life as an alcoholic and addict in a memoir I recently had published:  Starting at Goodbye. I worked on it, off and on, for over ten years. In the first of this two part series, I will refer to a few excerpts to illustrate what my life looked like drunk and sober. The book is also an outrageous love story and testament to my late husband, Wayne. We shared thirty years of our lives together until his death from cancer. I picked up a hunky cowboy in a country western bar and took him home that night. Wayne was supposed to have been my last one night stand.

One of the main reasons I drank was to help me feel better about myself when it came to men. I had a horrible self-image based on my looks. I’d had horrible cystic acne as an adolescent. I was ridiculed by boys in both junior and senior high school because of my skin. I just wanted to be invisible if it meant they’d leave me alone.

When I drank, I felt pretty. I believed that if I went home with the cutest guy in the bar, I wasn’t so bad looking after all.

Here’s an excerpt from the book set early in my relationship with Wayne:

He flashed me his adorable smile and sexy wink, and I was toast. My anger melted like snow on a sunny day. I knew he was attracted to me for the security I offered, not to mention my cabinet filled with booze and a steady supply of pot. He needed my strength and stability. I needed him needing me. No matter what I did or said, he wouldn’t leave me. My weakness filled me with disgust, but I couldn’t really understand why I stayed. What was missing in me? Where was that empty space he filled? Why didn’t I believe I deserved someone who was my equal educationally, socially, and financially?

 We shared a desire to avoid reality. Although I managed to go into work most days, I found myself calling in sick more often after suffering worse and worse hangovers. With Wayne, I was drinking more than ever, matching him shot for shot. On weekends especially, we’d spend hours sitting around the dinner table sharing intimate feelings while candles flickered.

 “No one asked me to the prom,” I said. Tears plopped down my cheeks as I sipped sloppily on a glass of Gallo.

 “I’da asked ya if I’d known ya then.” Wayne leaned over and patted me on the hand.

 “No one wanted me. I was so ugly with my pock-marked skin. And all the boys in high school were so damn short. Some of the meaner ones teased me in front of everyone, called me a giraffe. I sucked it up and cried later, all alone, in my bed.” I took another sip, knocking over the glass accidentally.

 “Ahh, baby. I think you’re beautiful.” He jumped up to get a sponge to wipe up the mess and got out the crystal decanter to pour me some more wine.

 On nights like these, after I poured out my sob stories, we’d stagger upstairs and pass out on the bed. Often, with the room spinning, I’d puke my guts out first….

 I hated feeling so desperate. I questioned my attractiveness. What’s wrong with me? Wasn’t I pretty enough? Passionate enough? Feminine enough?

 The answers lay in the bottom of a liquor bottle. Once I was drunk enough, I could push down the pain, postpone the issues, and ignore what was happening in my life. 

Because I was a functional drunk and Wayne wasn’t, it was easier to focus on him as the alcoholic. His father suggested that I attend Alanon with him.

Here is an excerpt of my first Alanon meeting:

At 6:30 on the dot, Nathan arrived to drive me to the community center in Costa Mesa. A sign posted on a door declared “Alanon meeting here.” We entered a brightly lit large room with dozens of metal folding chairs arranged in straight lines. Slogans with trite sayings like “Let go and let God” had been posted on the walls. A woman dressed in a conservative, navy suit stood at a podium on stage. I surveyed the audience, composed mostly of middle-aged women in dowdy lounge wear with worn, beaten looks on their faces. This is going to be a laugh a minute.

 The leader read aloud some material from Alanon literature, which was followed by enthusiastic clapping. A parade of others stepped up to the podium, announcing their names, which were echoed by the audience—“Hi Loser!” Each told a tale of woe about husbands, boyfriends, or adult children who were out of control from alcohol. There was continuous mention of “the alcoholic,” as if he or she was an inanimate object.

 They had no sense of humor regarding “the alcoholic,” that’s for sure. I had to stifle a desire to laugh out loud on occasion hearing them describe some pretty riotous drunken antics. If they could’ve read my mind, they’d have booted me out of the joint. I didn’t want to humiliate Nathan, so I kept my feelings to myself.

 They ended the meeting by joining hands and reciting some stupid prayer with which I was unfamiliar. I think they said it was the Lord’s Prayer, which lent the whole shenanigans a clearly Christian slant, adding more icing to this unappetizing cake. I’ll give them a piece of my mind if they try to convert me, Nathan be damned.

 After the meeting, we were steered to a table which held Styrofoam cups, a big coffee urn, hot water and tea bags, and an assortment of pastries and cookies. Nathan nudged me in the direction of a group of women who had congregated in the area, and he suggested I talk to them about Wayne. One woman who appeared to be the head sob sister was surrounded by a group of fawning women. I approached the bunch timidly as they formed a spontaneous opening to allow me into the circle. I found myself tattling on Wayne, focusing on his sporadic work history, and recounting tales of outrageous bourbon-related incidents. The head sob sister swept me into her arms and hugged me tightly. Her cohorts made sympathetic tsk-tsk sounds while patting me on the back and muttering jargon.

 A tear slipped down my cheek as I grew more comfortable with this new role of victim. I began to embellish the stories, culminating with a synopsis of the SWAT blow-out.

 “How awful, you poor thing,” one grey-haired matron said, locking eyes with me. “Keep coming back!”

 I was beginning to relish being the center of attention. Hey, this isn’t so bad!…

Is this what the future holds in store for me? Sitting around with a bunch of pathetic losers talking about “the alcoholic”? Might as well shoot myself now and get it over with. Is being with Wayne worth it? I need a stiff drink. 

 

The second part of this two-part series deals with my realization that I too might have a substance abuse problem.

 

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/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 15th

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Diary of a Divorce–Nov 15th

I WAS WRONG, DAMNIT!

     If there’s one thing I hate to do, it’s to admit I made a mistake. I blew it. I miscalculated. I jumped to conclusions. I screwed up.

     No matter how I phrase it, I was wrong. Yes, me–the wise and cautious, all-powerful, all-knowing me. And now, I must live with the consequences.

     It’s about The Cowboy–that guy who lassooed and roped my heart. That guy I suspected of having an agenda and of feeding me a line. That guy I accused of carrying on with over 2000 women. Yes, those of you who follow my blog know all about it. Things didn’t add up…or maybe things were going too well. Was it an act of self-sabotage? If something looks too good to be true, can it be true?

      I had a wonderful time with The Cowboy. I was smitten, head over heels, kissing the dogs and telling them I was in love!!! So what’s wrong with this picture?

      I didn’t trust it, or him, enough. There had to be an explanation for that wonderful evening, for those romantic texts, for the woozy way I felt inside when he took me into his arms and kissed me on Main St, USA. So I started to do some research, some spy work on the internet. There’s so much info to get from so many places. Yet everything I found checked out with what he’d told me. It was my gut troubling me, so there had to be something WRONG with him. After all, in the words of Woody Allen, I wouldn’t want to join any country club that would have ME for a member!

       Ah ha! Facebook and those 2000 + women! I knew it…something was rotten in Denmark. And I did what comes naturally: I confronted him with my evidence.

       Rightfully so, he was “turned off” by my accusations. Instead of backing down, I pursued it further. I texted him a few days later and INSISTED he tell me what he was after. Was it money? Was it sex? What was his game???

        When he told me I needed to be more trusting, I threw it back in his face. “MORE trusting???” I said.  “Said the spider to the fly. Jump right ahead in my web….And tell that to your next victim!”

        When he denied my allegations and claimed he’d done nothing inappropriate on our date or in any of our contacts (all true), I wouldn’t back down. His denials fired me up even more. I said some really mean things, some cruel things, which I now regret. What gave me the right? After all, he’d done nothing wrong. It was all in my head. I wished him well, and told myself “good riddance.”

        But I couldn’t get the whole experience out of my head. My friends added to the skepticism by feeding me even more stories of women who’d been taken advantage of by scumbag men–men who’d ripped them off of thousands of dollars or who’d broken their hearts. I’d always felt I’d never be in their shoes. I was too careful, wasn’t I? But could it happen to me? How lucky I was to have nipped it in the bud before I fell victim.

       So I texted him again. What he told me made me a little nervous. It made sense. He explained about most of the women, almost all of whom knew each other. Geez, why didn’t he mention that to me before?  We texted back and forth, and I began to drop my guard.  Had I been…gasp…wrong? I allowed for the possibility and realized I might’ve screwed up bigtime. Remorse set it.  I concluded our texting by telling him that, if he felt we could go forward again, he should send me a picture of a cup of coffee the following morning.

        He did. I breathed a sigh of relief. Then, still questioning myself,  I looked one more time on his website.  He’s an avid photographer, generally photographing the planets and stars.  He has some exquisite shots of the galaxy….And there.. OH NO..there before my eyes, something I hadn’t noticed the last time I’d looked, was a tiny notice: Anyone who wanted to follow his photography could “subscribe” by going onto his facebook and/or twitter account. Anybody. That meant potential models looking for a photographer. That meant men and women…There were both on his facebook account, some of whom confirmed even more things he’d told me about himself.

        According to my Twelve Step Program, this meant I owed him an amends. I had to…gulp..apologize. And I did…I felt mortified by what I’d said to him. By all rights, he probably should kick me to the curb and never speak to me again. Oddly enough, he tells me we’re “okay” but he’ll need a little time to recover from the entire episode.

         I might’ve blown it–the genuine article, a really good guy. Only time will tell. I’m trying to be more honest with him and to share about my everyday life, instead of the simple flirtations I had sent in previous texts. He hasn’t asked me out again–yet–and I suggested we might be better off talking by phone in the future. Texts and emails allow us to write things we’d never say to someone’s face or even in a phone call.

         The jury’s out. The shoe’s on his foot right now. In the meantime, I’ll go ahead with my life and remember this brutal lesson. I have yet another date with a guy from the online site tomorrow–just for coffee. I think I’ll go there for a brief meeting and leave much sooner than I usually do. My first dates have lasted more than four hours, on average. This guy sounds nice: he raises guide dogs for the blind. He’s also a veteran, which I hold near and dear to my heart. But he’s not my Cowboy.

          Live and learn. And remember the words of Dylan’s song: “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.” This time I’ll have to trust the way the wind blows. If it’s meant to be, it’ll blow him right back into my arms. If not, it’ll blow him away from my life. Can it be that we women have become too cynical, too cautious, too untrusting? Would we even notice real love if it fell into our laps?

         It’s all that baggage we carry from failed relationships, disappointments in love and marriage. After all that, can I keep my heart open?

Diary of a Divorce–Nov 12th

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PATCHING A MAJOR WOUND WITH BANDAIDS

         Death and Divorce–two of the top stressors in the hierarchy of suffering. Both cause unbearable emotional pain, and many of us turn to what appear to be simple solutions to salve the wounds. That is what I’ve been doing with this online dating, and I’m finding that I’ve only been adding to the damage. Big surprise.

         This latest episode with the “Cowboy” really knocked me for a loop (or lassooed me to the ground). Monday Morning quarterbacking always sheds light on the darkness. I have been running, ducking, doing whatever I can to avoid the inevitable feelings of loss. I thought “Cowboy” would be a quick replacement for my soon-t0-be-ex-husband. I’d found this dashing, romantic man who’d take me into his powerful arms and remove all the sadness and disappointment. I’d have a new and shiny toy, a thrilling infatuation, a stroll into the life of another. Here was someone who hadn’t yet heard all my stories, someone who’d be magnetized by every word that fell from my mouth. I LOVE that stage!!!

         It was not to be, and reality came crashing down soon enough. No diversion would be offered to distract me from those painful feelings. Damn it! I even felt angry at my ex for “forcing” me into this situation by being such a schmuck causing our marriage to end! Blame him for my predicament. Blame anyone but myself. No, I’m not beating myself up for nurturing this fantasy. What red-blooded American woman wouldn’t fall for the fairy tale of wrapping her arms around the waist of her loving man as they rode off into the sunset on his trusty steed? My god, I was primed for the taking.

          I’m a recovering alcoholic and have been sober for almost 25 years. As part of my nature, I don’t like reality–in fact, I hate it!  I love pictures filtered by a hazy lens. I love the twilight, just as the light of day fades into the promise of evening. And I want it all NOW. In fact, I want it yesterday! I am not one who is crazy about deferring anything except the bill for my pleasures. That has not changed with sobriety, and I doubt it’ll ever change no matter how long I avoid the bottle.    Tell me the story about the handsome prince that rescues the princess. And make sure the ending is a happy one.

           My stories have not had happy endings. The love of my life died almost four years ago. I miss him with each passing day. There is no replacement for that kind of love, even though the story was often filled with bumps and bruises (not the physical kind!) He aggravated me on a regular basis. I often wanted him gone…but not for too long. Now, he’ll never come back. I can’t lift a phone and tell him I’ve changed my mind about our separation or even our divorces. I can’t get him back no matter how much I grieve. He is gone forever. There’s no easy piece to complete that puzzle, no tool to fix that broken part of my heart.

            Mark was supposed to do that, and it ended badly too. Why do I think it’ll work now with yet another one, another Mark? Yet, it seems part of this well-established pattern.

             On top of it, I’ve got my rapidly aging and deteriorating situation with my 93 yr old mom. She’s eager to go into the assisted living home THIS Thursday. I’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to get her to let go of years worth of memories in her home. I went over yesterday and tried to sort out the junk (which is what most of it is) from the valuable. She clung to dusty artificial flowers and old dime store plaques from strangers and relatives alike. She shrieked as I tried to toss out old cassette tapes that she has never listened to. They are part of HER dreams, part of her memories. In her eyes and her rabid mind, I saw myself clinging to the past, believing that things were real because of the rosey cast with which I’d painted them.

            It is time to let go. Time to cherish what IS for today and to let loose the fantasies of what never was. The hard part for both me and my mom is that what we take with us is what we leave for others. In the end, what will I leave? I will stay in my pajamas today and allow the feelings in, instead of trying to fight them. There IS no easy answer, no romantic cowboy who will sweep me off my feet and onto the back of his horse.  Maybe it’s time to give up living in fairy tales.

Diary of a Divorce–Nov 9th

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WTF?

      For the benefit of some of my followers, who were/are anxiously awaiting an update on my date with “Cowboy,” here it is:

       I am totally and completely CLUELESS about what is going on with dating!

       Yesterday afternoon, it started to drizzle. I’d set up a whole beach day, so that had to be changed at the last minute. After rearranging our meeting plans, we finally settled on a coffee shop near the Pier. We had hoped to take a stroll afterwards to watch the sunset together should it stop raining. Afterwards, we were planning to go to a nice seafood restaurant near the Pier. I was excited. He must’ve sent me a thousand texts telling me how excited HE was about meeting me. Though I tried to keep down expectations, I knew it was useless. I wanted to meet this romantic guy who’d sent me texts each morning with little cute screensavers, and then put me to “bed” each night with the same. He was already texting by using words bordering close to the L word. I shit you not! All this without meeting yet!

       So I rushed to switch my hair appointment to make sure the blond looked extra sparkly the day before the date. He admitted in a text that he too had gone to his stylist for a new cut. That’s when ONE big item was revealed: He lived in a BEACH town about 45 minutes from my home, not full-time on a ranch. He explained that he hadn’t mentioned that fact on his profile because the neighborhood in which he lives has million dollar homes, including his. He hadn’t wanted to attract women who came onto him for his money.  When I told him I was totally thrown off track by this news, he looked sincerely surprised, “Oh, hadn’t I already told you?”  Nope.

      Yes, he does own a ranch and spends weekends there, using a tractor to do work and wearing a cowboy hat to keep the dust out of his eyes.  But the story had somehow shifted. WAS he a cowboy?  What was going on here? PLUS, he told me he’s raising a teenaged son who lives with him weeknights. I hadn’t counted on dealing with the aggravations of kids again….hmmm.

        When I first pulled up in front of the coffee shop and laid eyes on my NON-cowboy, or part-time cowboy, I was thrilled. This guy was HOT. He looked MUCH better than any of his photos. Wore his hair spiked up fashionably, and had two silver earrings in his ears. His body was MUCH better looking in person, and it surely didn’t hurt that he’s 6’3″ to my 5’11”. I’d gotten dolled up in a new red top with jeggings and black riding boots. I was looking kind of HOT myself, if I may say so.

         We hugged, and I found myself almost tongue-tied. There WAS serious chemistry. He looked like a deer caught in headlights. He told me I was “really pretty.” NOW, we’re talkin’.

          All systems were GO throughout the night. He admitted he’d checked out my ass and found it looked smokin’. (He didn’t have to know I had a little help from Spanx!). The conversation flowed easily between us. I wasn’t surprised because we must’ve texted hundreds of times previously as well as talked on the phone. I found out things that made me like him even more. I’d known he was an “engineer,” but he explained he was a “rocket scientist” who works on repairing rocket systems. Nice! I knew he had a Master’s degree, and he struck me as being quite intelligent and a good conversationalist. He has even travelled around the world, including going on safari in Africa–one of my favorite spots on earth. What could go wrong? We were meant to be!!!

         Well, one thing: He is only separated from the soon-to-be-ex-wife, but he said they’d never had a really “romantic” relationship. It was mainly about shared parenting.  He has repeatedly told me how VERY romantic he is and how he finally couldn’t stay married to this non-romantic woman. He had originally planned to wait to file for divorce until the 16 yr old turned 18, but he decided early this year (and more so after tonight?) to file sooner. His house is for sale. He hinted that, maybe after it sells, he might buy a house closer to where I live. Hmmmm. I allowed for the fantasy..

       When we took a little stroll down to the Pier, he pulled me into his strong arms and planted a sweet, but respectful, kiss on my lips. I pulled him in for a little more kissing–nothing too long or deep but the sparks were flying all over the place!!!

         The bill for the seafood was pretty high, and I made a half-assed offer to pay for some of it–which he, of course, refused. It was all lookin’ so good… He fit all the criteria of my “perfect” guy.

         Finally, it was getting late and I knew he was heading to his ranch to spend the night. It was over 2 hours away. He walked me to my car, and we spoke of many, many more times together. I imagined myself soon becoming his official “girlfriend.” I liked the sound of it and the thought of getting to know this terrific man more and more in the future. I drove off, my head and heart spinning. I came home and kissed the dogs, reporting to them that I thought I was “in love.”

          So far, so good. I was so buzzed that I couldn’t go to sleep. I got on the computer and googled him, verifying many of the things he’d told me about himself. He had his own website based mostly on his interest in photography and work on rockets. This was fun!! It was like having a continuation of the evening!!!!

        Then I checked to see if he was on facebook and…..to my horror, I found he had about 2000 “friends,” most of whom were scantily dressed women. WTF?  Yes, he’d told me that he’d received about 3-4 offers per day on the personals website from “professionals” who’d sent him their email addresses and often their phone numbers. He had told me he was thinking of cancelling his account because of these solicitations.  What was odd about the fb account was that he had very little posted about himself. Instead of asking if one wanted to be “friends” with him, it asked if you wanted to “subscribe” to his fb page.

        A huge red flag–or was I reading too much into it??? I went to bed with an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach.

        This morning, I awoke and raced to my cell phone to see if there was a message from him. Sure enough, he’d sent me a sweet “cup of coffee” with a floating heart in the middle of it and a short, but cute message. I wrote back a cute message and debated saying anything about the 2000+ women on fb. But I couldn’t let it go and sent him a second message asking him about it.

          And guess what his response was????? Nothing…all day and night. This from a guy who’d sent me dozens of texts every day. No cute goodnight screensaver tonight and no hearts and flowers. Nothing.

         Alright, I’ll admit it: I’m super, duper bummed out. I’ve been in a crappy mood all day. Sure, maybe something came up at his job. Maybe he was just too exhausted from a long night last night and the long drive to the ranch. Maybe, maybe, maybe???? Or maybe there’s something to that fb page with all the women. Could this whole thing have been a weird set-up? But, if so, why? He seemed totally “smitten” with me yesterday. He couldn’t have said more wonderful things about my fun personality, my pretty eyes, my beautiful smile…and on and on.

            Please help me, what am I missing in this story?  I did a complete name “search” on the web. Everything else checks out, including the name of his estranged wife, the cities of residence, the job, everything.

             I’m lost…and discouraged…and distrusting. Did I blow it by asking about the fb page? Did he find me too pushy, too “jealous” even?   Honestly, I don’t get it. I really, really liked this guy. Is it a sign that I need to withdraw from this online dating scene and stay away from men? Is my picker broken? All I could think was that I’m so glad I didn’t sleep with him. In the old, boozing days, I would’ve. I’m obsessed enough about him after being with him for one night. Imagine how upset I’d be if we’d spent the night.

             I think I learned a few lessons from the ex-husband fiasco. The main one is this: SLOW down, get to know someone for awhile  before getting intimate, and, mostly, watch my own back. If I’m not for myself, who will be?

              No, I haven’t totally given up yet. If I don’t hear from him tomorrow morning, I’ll call it a wrap. What a shame…

Diary of a Divorce–October 24th

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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.