Co-Parenting : Forgiveness Required

I may need to do a search through all the posts on this blog to find it, but sometime back in 2011 I wrote a piece about forgiveness. The act of forgiveness, how and why and the importance of it all. Four years later I can finally report back.

Four years ago I was still rather bitter about getting divorced. Hurt and angry, but I had decided that maybe forgiveness was the approach for me. So, I took a deep breath, said many prayers and chose to forgive my ex husband for his behavior while we were married.

This was not an easy choice.

There is something that happens in a break up that makes everything seem worse. Everyone you know chooses a side. You may think that I mean his side or my side, but I don’t. They decide how each single parent should co-parent when the other party hasn’t lived up to their end of the bargain during the marriage.

The most popular among my peers was the one that removed my ex-husband from not just the marriage, but from our life. As though POOF I had two kids and POOF I magically get a check every month to help cover their living expenses.

I was so angry at the time that I do have 100% parental custody. I could fly to China tomorrow without my ex-husbands permission and he would just have to deal with it. I won’t…but I have the ability. Anger makes us do so many things.

Then I thought about simply arranging supervised visitation. Only I was so poor. We were barely scraping by so there was no way to cover the cost of providing supervised visitation. I was quite irrational at this point so I maintained our distance. We saw my ex-husband about once every few months and not for very long, a couple of hours at most.

Then something I found sadder than the possibility of having to see my ex-husband on a more regular basis. It was our sons. They didn’t know him.

As a child of a single family home I know what that is like. My father was not a good person, at least as far as his behavior back in 1985, but we were raised by my mother and maternal grandparents. I had a relatively happy childhood. We had our drama, but what family doesn’t? Perhaps we had more drama than average, but I think we are all more interesting to talk to because of it…anyway. That’s a different story. I didn’t know my father. I knew what other people thought of him. I knew where he was from and what I thought of the people from that place. But I didn’t know him and that is a great cloud over the happy times. All of those times I saw my friends with their dads were sad times for me because I had never known what that was like.

As I became an adult I tried looking for my father to no avail. He didn’t want to be found in the digital age and therefore had no digital footprint. That didn’t mean the sadness was gone. “Who was he?” “How was he?” “Did I have other sisters or brothers?” “Did I have a step mom I didn’t know about?” Always having those questions is sad. I didn’t want that for my kids. Who was I to make that choice for them?

That is what I found to be this sad thing. I was an adult who had lived in a set of circumstances that made me mad. So mad that I thought it a good idea to remove the person that held the other half of their DNA in his genes.

But was I so angry that I couldn’t find it within myself to forgive a man for his behavior? How could I call myself a good person if at the first test of faith I proved to have none? It is no secret that I am a Christian, perhaps a different breed than the ones you read about, but I try to have a simple faith, based on love. In our church we are taught to love and forgive.

I was faced with two options.

One my kids didn’t really remember who this guy was that we sometimes saw really was, so we could just gently fade away and he could become a memory.

Two embrace the pain, and allow them to fully know their father and make the decision for themselves.

To do the first would have been the easiest choice for someone as angry as I had been. He didn’t know where we lived, who we hung out with, where I worked, all I would have had to do was change my phone number and we would have been done. Simple. Clean. Heartbreaking for him and for me. I would be setting my kids up for the same thought process I always had. Always wondering why I wasn’t good enough to be loved by the people who are supposed to love you the most.2015/01/img_2354.jpg

So I embraced the pain. The hardest and easiest choice on so many levels. The cold aloof anger has been replaced by hesitant resolve. Hesitant because everything we went through leaves a mark on the psyche, but resolve because it has turned out to be the right thing to do. My kids are 4 and 8 now. They know their father. They’ve seen where he sleeps and we know how he lives, where he lives, and why he lives.

Over the last four years we have fought and cried and been angry for past ills all over again, but there has been so much forgiveness and contrition. So much of what we have worked through together has made us better people for our next partners. We know more of how each of us failed the other that we will continue to work hard to not make the same mistake. We know that finding that next perfect person for our new selves will be hard, we each have a longer list of must haves…okay at least I do..but I am optimistic about the prospects.

Forgiving him has taught me more about my faith than any pastor could ever tell me. Forgiveness is not something that you do once and it is done, it is something you do every time you wake up and face the day. It’s choosing who you are and not wavering from that path every single morning. Choosing your words and actions before your emotions, and never letting the bad times get the best of you.

It’s also choosing to put the best choice instead of the popular choice.

Special note…A physically abusive spouse should be handled differently. An alcoholic husband or wife who did not exhibit abusive traits is very different from an abusive spouse. Alcoholics tend to only want to inflict pain on themselves though they learn to manipulate what they want out of people to get what they want. That’s how so many nurturing people become enablers. It’s like they can smell your ability to empathize on your sleeve don’t fall for that either.

Why Do We Believe the Lies?

Why do we believe lies?

Why do we want to believe that everything said to us is the truth?

Maybe not for you, but for me…I always want to believe in the good in people.

I want to believe that their actions are for the best. I know that my actions aren’t always for the best, so why do I believe that others are that way?

Tonight I was watching the movie, “An Education” with a girl the same age as Carrie Mulligan’s character.

The film brings certain ideals to the surface.

Which, is why I ask, “Why do we want to believe lies?”

I remember thinking when I was 16 that certain things were just givens.

Wait for sex until marriage.

Go to college and grad school.

Complete a kick-ass dissertation getting a PhD.

Wait until I was 30 or older to get married. (Yep wait that long for sex too.)

Then there were my beliefs.

I automatically believed in the good in all people.

Mean people didn’t exist.

Cruelty had no place in my life so it wouldn’t have existed either.

Alcoholism was a TV character.

Drug addicts we also characters from some far off film studio.

Abuse and Divorce I knew about, but I didn’t think they would ever have an effect on my future.

I knew I would choose the perfect guy, get married, and never ever get a divorce.

That meant failure and I hadn’t ever really failed at anything to that point.

There was no way I would fail at the most important decision in your life!

Careers come and go, but the man by your side, who was to walk hand in hand with you forever, THAT was the most important thing.

No, I’m not having a “How did I get here” moment. I already know.

It’s just that tonight my movie watching friend said something along the lines of “I will never make that choice.”

For those who have seen the movie it is at the end of their first weekend away. The charming, older male lead and his cohort walk out of a house with a stolen map. She questions his morality and hers the remainder of the car ride home.

This is after he lies to get her to stay with him the weekend. Lies about having attended University, lies about knowing C.S. Lewis. Lies that she assists in facilitating because then she gets to have a really fun weekend. At the end of the scene he lies some more and changes her mind about how bad he really is…how morally depraved he had become since his idealized days as a teenager.

He lied.

She believed him.

She forgave and let him caress her check.

WHY DO WE DO THAT?!

Carrie Mulligan’s character believes that her moments of happiness are more important than the lies.

“An Education”

It certainly is.

Anyone who has had a taste, a smidgeon, of this education can attest.

It is this education that breaks down your very core. It’s the one that we get lost and need help to finding our way out.

I wonder if there is a way to prevent the inevitable.

I wonder if some men have an internal system, let’s call it a 6th sense, about gullible women. Gullible girls who will do or say whatever is necessary to maintain the affections of a man.

I was one of these girls…for the most part I still am.

The young(ish) romantic girl always wanting to believe the good in people.

I wonder…

Is there a radar system that we women can create to make ourselves remember the important parts to life when blinded by something bright and shiny?

Is there a way for women to not believe the lies?

Is there a way to keep us from lying to ourselves?

Then there is the fact that sometimes you do outgrow this…except where that area of the heart is inhabited by the original liar.

Despite anything they put us through we still want to believe them. We still have a soft spot for their depravity. For some it’s the opposing force to their happiness is our belief in their untruths and we let it happen.

I hate the lying, but more over I hate that I always want to believe them!

End bloggy rant…if you have any sage advice please leave it in the comments.

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Appreciation, Validation, and Tolerance

All relationships come down to appreciation, validation, and tolerance.

Variables of this have different words, but really this is all we do for each other in each of our relationships. We individually value the other persons effect on our existence that we validate their feelings, show them appreciation, and tolerate their differences.

This encompasses the scope of human interaction.

Like-minded people create change because they validate each others opinions and to show their appreciation for these opinions they work together. Often having to tolerate various life choice differences in the process.

A marriage is supposed to be a union of like-minded individuals for life. A joint venture as one existence. A conscious choice to live together for an indeterminant number of years (God willing) and do what is best for each other, your children, and your future. Sure there are some viceral aspects as well, but really you have to appreciate, validate and tolerate each other even after the chemical animal attraction ceases.

That’s what it is supposed to be anyway.

Life long.

Why do marriages have such short life spans?

I feel it is because we don’t verbally acknowledge our appreciation for the little things. We don’t say thank you. We don’t do big things that say, “I love you.”

People take their spouses for granted.

Friendships are often taken for granted as well. We simply assume that the other person will always be there, will always remain the same, when really it isn’t this way. Just as I change those around me change.

This appreciation also draws souls to each other.

Our souls see their familiars in other’s actions.

They meet and validate the thoughts one with another and develope a tolerance for excentricities. Like magnets drawn together because it’s possible to have honesty, openess, validation, and complete appreciation for one another.

Personally I am on a collision course with a path to tolerance. Deciding my tolerance level. Reevaluating what I can handle. What I should be willing to handle. My course will take me on the journey required for creating proper boundaries. I am always overstepping boundaries, oversharing, and there are some places where that amount of openess are not tolerable. Then again I also put up walls, I cut people off if I haven’t known them long and they challenge my trust. I don’t give second chances often if I don’t feel like the person is adding to my life.

Where are you? How are you showing your loved ones you appreciate them? Are you meeting their needs? Are you taking them for granted? Do you know your tolerance level and your boundaries? Do you know you?

Why?

Because before you can appreciate, validate, and tolerate another you must do that for yourself.

Brief Observations

I guess I don’t ask enough questions of other people.

I don’t want to know too much about their situations, well because I remember what is was like to want no one to know what was going on with me and my life.

When someone seems – off – I just accept it as their eccentricity and work around their temperament. I make sure they have essentials, but don’t pry because I just don’t want the conflict in my life. I don’t care what you do with you as long as you don’t bring me into your mess.

After a decade of being neck-deep in a mess I put my big girl panties on and jumped ran out of this mess. Although at times I still feel like resolving it consumes all my energies.

I got burned – bad – but I’m recovering, so I’m cool.

Only I’m not.

Just when I think things are normal they revert to “Megan normal.” My problem is that I don’t know how to say no. Not the reason’s in the song “Can’t say no”

I simply have a soft spot for people in the mire.

I think everyone deserves a chance no matter where they come from. I think I have automatic faith in others, but once that is broken I kick myself.

“Why couldn’t I have seen this coming?”

“Why couldn’t I see the signs?”

This isn’t just with my ex-husband. This is with anyone.

To me this is how we should be. We should have faith in the rest of our species to do what they are supposed to do.

Only they don’t. Then we get mad. We shut ourselves down, and we build iron barriers between us and the rest of the world.

As a person who is codependant I have to work extraordinarily hard to maintain boundaries. I regularly forget they exist and I know that I need to consciously reconstruct them all the time. It’s like this constant thing I have to logically think through. I can do this. I can’t say that. I can see this needs to be done. I shouldn’t do this or that.

For most of the human population this is normal behavior, but for me it’s not.

It’s attachment issues. Totally acceptable if the attachment is to solid, stable individuals, but normally it’s to twisted, addicted, drama driven idiots. This includes friends.

I am a born listener and fixer. Try as I might I can’t fix everyone. When I was 17 years old I was driving in a car with my great uncle’s new wife and she just started pouring her heart out to me. I just stared straight ahead and listened. I didn’t know my uncle really well, in fact I hardly knew him at all. I had just met the woman going all stream of conscious on me that day.

When she was done it’s like she woke up. She apologized for telling me all the gory details, but she felt I could help her.

I couldn’t.

Honestly – I had never even been on a real date at age 17. I didn’t know the first thing to say. So I whispered a prayer and gave her a hug. I don’t know where she is now. Her marriage only lasted a short while after that, so maybe that was her answer to her problems.

That was the first time someone had ever done that, but it’s been repeated thousands of times, besides the friends that I grew up with – which in itself had gotten me into trouble. I was a bit of a gossip, until this one time a parent confronted me and I don’t think I have really gossiped again.

It’s one thing to hear a story – it’s entirely different to repeat it. I am still reminded of this when I hear something juicy and want to share, but then I remember how that felt so I don’t.

Can you tell I am trying to figure this whole codependant thing out still? I’m told it’s like alcohol or drug addiction. There is not a defined recovery pattern. There is only the day-to-day.

Each choice I make to spiral or to soar. Each relationship, real or imagined, a step to recovery.

I long for a relationship, a lasting, healthy relationship, but almost two years I still wonder if I will ever be able to let someone in. Well, maybe not let someone in, but let them in and not become everything.

This is a delicate balance that is foreign to me.

My delicate balance – Solid ground vs. a Free Fall

Single Parenthood is Trying

Holy Tuesday Batman!

It is Easter week and I am sitting at my new desk, typing on my new computer at my new job. I love it here. I can wear jeans and tennis shoes every day and if my hair is a little bit wind-blown no one cares. Alas I love riding with the windows down and the radio loud. This is the kind of place that likes people to stay 30+ years and retire.

This I could get used to.

So, what is going on with me? Besides the shiny new digs? Plenty…

My ex-husband was readmitted to rehab. Yes. It was less than a month before he gloriously (not really) fell off the wagon again. This time though I was not a witness and didn’t try to attempt to save him. I think this should get me life lesson points or something. I didn’t run to his side when he was released from his last rehab facility. That I know gets me points. As that seems to be all I have done for the last 6 years.

In the three weeks I was working at the restaurant where we met I told few people the depths to which we sank in our personal life since disappearing from there so many years ago. The one person I did speak to (because he was our roommate before we had children) got completely irate and my ex should be glad he has disappeared again. That sort of made me sad. Not that he didn’t understand the events of the last 6 years until they were explained by me, but because I never realized how bad things were.

Love Survival really is blinding…

Well…most of the people at the restaurant I avoided like they were the plague for the last six years, but it is in seeing them again that I realize the ex husband was the problem…yes…again.

But guess what – I got the two best parts of him in our boys. Elijah and Michael are amazing.

I have been having problems with Elijah’s anger and behavior, but it is not the end of the world. Although…apparently I think I am yelling too much. Yesterday he told me that I would have been happier if I had never had kids. WHERE DID THIS IDEA COME FROM!? I grabbed him. Hugged him. Talked to him. Held him for a minute while I fought tears. I explained that I would be miserable without them. They are what wakes me up every day and brighten my thoughts every moment. They make me.

I told him to NEVER think that. EVER!

Michael on the other hand…he is nearly two. Any parent knows what that means.

This is the age that we do occasionally wish we weren’t parents because everything is a struggle.

He is trying to exert his independence while I trying to shelter and control. He wants to walk by himself and not hold my hand. He doesn’t realize that I want to hold his hand because the cars will run him over or dogs might eat him. (Not my dogs…I don’t have any…but someone’s.) I do not remember this happening with Elijah, but every night is a battle at bed time. He doesn’t want to sleep in his bed, he doesn’t want to sleep at the appointed hour, he doesn’t want to bathe, he doesn’t want to drink milk anymore. He doesn’t want to listen anymore. He gets frustrated by his inability to communicate and he is willful.

Needless to say evenings have been FUN lately. (Grumble grumble)

This reminds me of another conversation I had recently with Elijah, and what I found in his bag yesterday morning as I was getting him ready for school.

He wants a dad.

Have I told you guys this yet?

He asked me to find a new dad for him because while he loves his dad…the distance and sobriety rules for seeing his kids…he doesn’t see him. Heart crushing agony there (at least on my part.) I feel HORRIBLE for him! It brings up new anger issues within myself. All the things that I hate my ex for rise to the surface when these talks happen. Then there are the papers that I found in his bag. They must have had a “What do you want to be when you grow up?” day.

He wants to be a dad. That’s it. Not a policeman. Not a doctor. Not a pilot. A Dad. I admit to crying a little.

I reached out to my girls group and one of my good friends explained that he doesn’t want to be HIS dad. He wants to be a good parent. He wants to do stuff. He wants to show his kids how to play in the sand and enjoy mundane things.

He wants to be like the person who is raising him.

I hope she is right. I hope that this isn’t another attempt at telling me he wants a dad.

I haven’t talked to him about it yet. I think I will tonight though because he doesn’t get to watch TV or play with toys because he has been lying about his behavior marks lately.

This is the most wonderful, challenging, heartwarming, heartbreaking experience I know of…and it’s only going to go on and on.

So…anyone know any single dads that want a chubby Italian wife with two gorgeous boys? 😉

EDIT: I think (as it is Holy Week) I should say one last thing. I am surviving because I believe that God will never give you more than you are able to handle. He is truly the one that keeps me in His hands and provides for me every step of the way. Without Him I am nothing. Every step of my struggles this last year has only proved that He is making my path. Not me. After looking over my life experiences I can see why the points fit together as they do. Why I had to go through every thing I have been through since childhood. These are the things that God knew I would have to go through to get me where I need to be to be the best I can be.

My Child and Anger

There comes a time as a parent when we begin to recognize that the choices we make have a lasting effect on our children. For some it is not until they are adults, others are teenagers, but mine…my oldest…he is an old soul and the evidence is there.

The boy I call Kid

By old soul I mean he has always had this look of age about him. Even though he was 8 weeks premature we called him our old man the day he was born. He is a born thinker. He knows things. He notices changes in attitudes and relationships.

He is just like me.

But he is also just like his dad.

He is moody. He lashes out instead of exhibiting a bit of self-control. He loves music. He is a born musician. He loves karate.

He is angry.

This hit me at 10:30 this morning after a call from his teacher.

He was in reading circle this morning and supposedly without provocation just hauled off and hit a girl this morning. He not only knows he is going to get in trouble at school. He knows that he is going to get in trouble at home. So, when I get the call from his teacher I am – for a moment – floored by his behavior.

I ask the basics.

“Was he provoked?” “No”

“Was he having any other sort of outburst?” “No.”

I speak…or should I say try to speak to Elijah. He offers nothing but a whimper.

He knows that what he did was wrong and he knows that it is not a good day. He will not be meeting his goal of getting a green for his behavior today. He’s in kindergarten and they grade behavior is a color based system. His goal everyday is to be green.

Since changing sitters to an old friend of the family, his behavior has been amazing. He has gotten green almost every day. The last week though…it’s like a different child is there.

I am wracking my brain after I hang up with the teacher…what is changed? What is different?

Then it hits me like a ton of bricks.

He is angry with life.

For starters the safety of the home we had built in New York. He was three when we moved there and was five when we left. He loved it there. He loved his school, his friends, and his life in the snow.

We move here and his dad leaves us. Or do we leave his dad?

We move, then have to move again, then we settle in and that’s when the losses begin. Last year we lost Troy and Nanny. My other losses he doesn’t know, so they don’t hit him the same way. But for a while Troy was like a father to him and Nanny…Nanny was the grandmother he had seen almost every day since birth. Except for the months we spent in NY.

The thing about his dad’s leaving is that I don’t want him to have this man he knows to be his father somewhere, but whom he never sees. I know the pain of that. My parents split when I was young and the knowledge always in the back of your head that he is somewhere…it hurts. Every time you think about it is like a knife to the heart. You can’t help but blame yourself for them leaving. You always wonder if you were perfect if they would come back.

He is his mother’s child. So much.

He acts out now the same way I acted out as a child. It is hard for the friends that grew up with me in Burnet to understand, but most of elementary school I spent in detention. I repeated fifth grade. I had behavioral issues because of the life that existed around me. At that point I decided to be absolutely perfect. Always doing what I was told. Always behaving.

I knew I was smarter than the behavior. I had to prove it to myself. I was 10 years old.

Elijah is only 5. I don’t want him to have to wait that long to know that nothing is his fault.

His behavior is completely removed from what is happening in life. He has a right to his feelings. He has a right to be upset. He needs to talk to me or to a counselor.

He is so perfect. So amazing. So wonderful. I don’t want him to think anything other than about the wonders of life.

I want him to be happy.

I know that I realistically have no control over his emotions, but I can help him understand them. I can help him recognize them.

I spoke to his counselor. I spoke to his teacher. I will be picking him up in a little while and we are going to spend a little time talking. I think a trip to the beach is in order as long as the rain holds. We love the beach. We feel happy and safe there. Listening to the constant roar of the waves on the sand. Steady, dependable, you can count on them to be there every time you see them.

Parents are human. They are less dependable. They are your parents forever, but they are flawed. They don’t have all the answers. They don’t recognize what they’re doing until the children are lashing out.

I’m kicking myself for the things that could have been different…but I can’t change them. I can simply teach my son that I’m flawed. His dad is flawed. But it doesn’t matter because we love him.

Whatever else is going on we both love him. Will always love him.

I will always be there for him.

I will not let anything keep him from finding his happiness.

Home is not a Location

Yesterday I asked…What is home to you? Is it a person, a place, a thing?

I have always thought like Pumba…”Home is where your rump rests!” I was 15 when The Lion King came out and since we moved so much as children I found truth in it. Home really is wherever you make it.

Or so I thought at 15.

Now at 31, I am reconsidering. I think, like a commenter yesterday, that home is the feeling of comfort that you have in your soul. A wholeness not brought on by location or surroundings, but grown to fruition within ourselves…or at least I’m starting to think anyway.

I’m not there yet. I learning. I’m growing, but I’m not there yet.

I have been researching my own past to try to determine when life changed so dramatically for me that it creates tension where there should be none. Since it is February 21st is doesn’t take long for me to understand when that break happened.

When I became a shell and less of myself.

By this I mean that I have spent the last 15 years trying to fill a void that can’t be filled by anyone but myself or God. I believe I have a strong faith in the Lord, but it is today and this day for the last 15 years that makes me know I am weak of faith.

Maybe it’s just this day in particular that makes my faith weak.

February 21, 1997 is the day we confirmed and found my grandfather’s body in Lake Buchanan. He and our pastor had been fishing and got caught in a storm on February 19th. They suffered hypothermia and drowned.

I cried for days, weeks, years even.

At first I had the rest of high school, my activities and my job to fill the time. To fill the void.

I thought little but of the schedule and what had to be completed for the next goal to be reached. For the next accomplishment to be met. As good a show as I could put on I found no happiness in any of this. I finished high school in 1999, without a plan. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. Go to school. Don’t go. Get a certificate in a profession. Just go to work. I had no freaking idea.

June following graduation I watched my 2 year-old niece. Just me and her for the whole month. I stayed busy, we went places, we did stuff. July I went on a trip to Europe. The first week planning, two weeks there and the last week of the month I had a decision to make.

Go to the recruiter and become a military private or go to school until I figured out what I wanted.

I chose school. Then I got bored. Some people just aren’t built to sit and learn in a class room. I’m one of those…but may still go back. I’m deciding that now.

When people ask if I would repeat high school again…go back in time…knowing what I know now I respond immediately with a yes. I would go back because I would have knowledge of the accident that was to come and I would spend more time with my grandfather. I would listen to his words and take notes on how to do things. I would want to be near to him. I miss him. Even now as I write this out the tears flow…and yes I’m at Starbucks. Receiving stares from people who know nothing of what I write.

Each of us have an adult that we are close to in our youngest days. For me it was him. I know he wasn’t perfect, but I worshiped him.

I lived with my grandparents from age 12 until I was through high school. The first years we were there I could be found, when I wasn’t at school, helping my grandfather. We had a garden, we built a shop, we made a bigger garden, we fixed up the house, plumed a sprinkler system, and I learned more than I can ever remember. I was his shadow.

The gravity and immediacy of this loss have haunted me. My dreams. My fears. My life.

I feel myself getting close to people and then immediately recoil knowing that some how I will lose them and I don’t want to feel that kind of pain. The pain that rips your soul from you…even if just for a while.

I can honestly count the number of people I have allowed to get close to me since high school on one hand. The people I still depend on for emotional support don’t need me to dig into those feelings. They have always been here and they don’t need me to mention it.

I am trying to open up to people. Trying to not push as much as I want to, I know sometimes I am an utter failure in this, but I’m trying.

I have tried to fill the void of his loss with rebellion. Yes…I rebelled, but I’m not much of a rebel.

I have tried to fill the void with a marriage. Terrible idea.

In my need to be whole I try to patch up the broken. I try to fix the other people I see in need. I can recognize the pain in their eyes because I feel it in me. I recognized that pain in my ex husband’s eyes and made thousands of failed attempts to help him. Ending with the realization that you can’t fix what doesn’t know is broken.

Behaviors learned from parents are the hardest to break. For me it’s chocolate, coffee, and delicious food, for my husband it was vodka,  prescription drugs, and ignorance. If there is a problem take something…it will disappear.

Only it doesn’t.

The problem is there for the partner – the true partner – in a marriage. They are forced to handle the situation and eventually because they are broken themselves they just learn to tolerate the experience. The life that would drive a normal person from the relationship becomes their link to wholeness.

I was happy because I was making him happy. Innocence and inexperience are tragic flaws in the hands of an addict.

Relationships with everyone I was close to became secondary to the relationship I had with him. He became my home because together we were one.

It is a tolerable existence when it is just two people living life together. You know there will be ups. You know there will be downs. You learn what will fill the downs to make them come back up. You live life as they teach in AA, “one day at a time” but nothing is ever normal to the world on the outside looking in, even if it seems normal to you.

Then the two create a third person. A child, helpless and innocent. A person that needs protection. A person that needs your constant attention.

Eventually you recognize all that is broken in your life. I had the realization that I was still broken.

Broken of spirit.

Broken in soul.

Broken to the point of not remembering who I had been. I tried to leave…but the hole would tear back open.

The hole that had been left by the death of my grandfather had been filled by this man, although I didn’t understand this fact. So, I would go back. I allowed myself to go back because he made me feel whole. He made me feel like I was home. I found comfort in the pain because it gave me a reason to be where I was…I was home.

It’s funny how so few letters it takes to change hole to whole to home.

Where is home for me?

I now understand that it is not in location. It is not in the people that surround me.

I have to find it with in me. I thought I had found it within me, but days like today…or maybe just today…I recognize my void is still here. Still waiting for me to fill it. Still waiting for me to understand what I have missed all these years.

If you seem to be in a holding pattern, as I explained yesterday, what do you think you are missing?

I think if we figure out the source we can find the resolution that will create wholeness.

Where are you? Your roots?

What do I need right now?

What do I need now? A hug. A big bear hug that says “everything is going to be alright.” You can’t get those hugs from just anyone. It must be someone close enough to not let go too quickly; especially if in fact I do crumble and start to cry. They better know to not let me go.

I wrote not-so-long-ago about coming out of a depression that I had been in…but this week I feel like I am back there. I think if I were allowed to I wouldn’t have gotten out of bed today. Honestly. Would. Not. Have. Gotten. Out. Of. Bed. Today.

Lucky for me I don’t have that option. I have to get up. I have to go to work. I have to make sure the boys eat. I have to make sure I send notes with them to school and their folder is signed. There is so much that HAS to be done that I don’t have the option of becoming one with the bed. No matter how appealing that might be at the moment.

Anyway…this evening I am thankful.

Thankful for my friends. Thankful for my children. Thankful for the possibilities for the future. I don’t know how it’s all going to turn out yet, but I do know the journey…well…the journey is the best part.

Some day I will be here again...

Family Ties

Wasn’t Family Ties an awesome show in the 80’s? I don’t really remember it, but I remember how I felt at the end of each episode. No matter what happened during the first 20 minutes of the show the last 10 solved all the problems, and wrapped it up in a nice little bow. It was uplifting, fabulous, and the characters are eternal.

That’s not the family ties I mean though in my title. The family ties I am thinking about are the ones that exist between a woman and the family that was created when she married a man. When you marry, you marry the family. You do not marry one girl, you marry a clan of people all with one goal – make sure she is happy.

I know that part of why I kept returning to my husband, at the core, was that I love his family. I love that my self-confidence has been built by them. I love that no matter what was going on in their lives they took the time to see how I was, took the time to build me up, took the time to listen with non-judgemental ears. They would listen and tell me their experience, but then they would say, “But you do what you feel is right.”

If I didn’t do what they thought I should, that wasn’t a problem for them. They simply accepted it and we moved on. It was never brought up again. It was never beaten down in a spiteful fury. It simply was.

These people are my family now.

I know that I have my mother, my maternal grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins that have been constants in my life from my mother’s side. We are celebrating the Flores family’s 101st family reunion in a few weeks.

I know where I come from.

I also have my father’s family, my Italian-Irish cousins, a people that I better identify with as I have such pale skin, crazy dark curly hair and eyes that change with my mood. 

These are all my blood relations, but blood is not the only thing that creates family.

Your family is the people who love you, whom you love, who have made unwritten commitments to you.

As anyone knows my divorce is final next week. I am supposedly a single momma with nothing tying me down…save the boys and all. But after talking to the people I consider family…I have come to the conclusion that I am not sure how all of us are going to move on. They love me and support my decision in my divorce, but they still want weekends and holidays with me.

Yesterday was the funeral for my ex husband’s stepfather’s stepmother (try saying that three times fast). While I was with this family it became clear to me that I am just as much a part of their family and life as they are of mine. Today, another phone call this one from my ex husband’s biological fathers family about his paternal grandmother. She is having tests run to determine what type of cancer has formed in her liver. Tomorrow at 7 am.

This is a woman whose couch I have sat on every morning for better than half of the last 11 years. At minimum twice every month since March. Usually I can be found at her house any Saturday morning I am in town. It is my refuge. My place of solace, my home away from home. My permanent address for the last 11 years has been her address.

These are the ties that bind and hold me in limbo. For all my heart I love these people. These are wonderful, amazing individuals and families that have become so much a part of who I am that no matter how I feel about being married to Danny, they are still a part of me.

I was discussing this with a friend of mine; she and I agree that for anyone to accept me and my baggage will have to be a saint. They may not even exist.

How can a man accept this? All of these people that are tied to a former marriage? How can they understand that these people are part of me and part of the deal? These are now my people as much as my blood relations are and in some cases, I go to them first for advice, support, and cherish every moment we have spent together.

Part of me says that if they can’t accept this they are not for me. Then there is another part of me is scared that I will never find someone who does accept them.

What do you think? How is it possible for someone to accept all of this? How is it possible for them to understand the love and ties that bind me to a man that I have divorced? How have you all handled this situation?

 

“No one will ever see how amazing you are until you do…”

 

“No one will ever see how amazing you are until you do…”

How true this is. A friend of mine came over Friday and as we were combing through our recent years rehashing all of our stories she told me something I never think about. She said that I am too hard on myself and that it is completely unattractive.

She then told me that I need to realize that I am a beautiful, amazing person.

Apparently my lack of self confidence, even though I act like a confident person, shines through. Or maybe it’s more of a giant blinking orange badge, hanging like Flava-Flave’s giant clock necklace around my neck. 

I guess my months as a Mary Kay sales girl lend themselves to my psyche right now. “Fake it til you make it!”

Even though I lack self-confidence in huge, giant, monster size portions, I can walk with my head held high, my shoulders back, look the world in the eyes, and embrace all things.

When did that not become enough?

I know. It was about a year ago when my identity took a hit. I was no longer someone’s wife. I was no longer someone’s life partner. Even though it was mutual and a relationship that needed to end. Our identities still need time to resolve the new information in our brains.

Who am I?

What do I stand for?

Now that I’m not bitching about my husband and the things he does, what do I talk about!? (I still bitch plenty, don’t let me fool you.)

If you are like me you jump right into school. You move to a new house or apartment. Maybe even start dating right away-before your paperwork is even filed. You change all the outside influences on your life. To no avail…nothing works to make you, you again!

As I sit here looking around my little apartment there are few material possessions that I have kept through all of this. I have a few of my family photos, some paintings of Paris that aren’t even hanging on the wall, and some books. That is all I kept of the last ten plus years.

No wonder I am a little wobbly on the confidence factor. I do not think that my stuff makes me who I am, but my stuff is reminders of where I have been. It’s easier to remember who you are if you remember where you’ve been. As someone gifted in the act of locking bad memories, I really don’t remember everything that happened. It’s just something I have always done…I don’t know why…but I honestly consider it a gift from God.

Now I am confronted with having to find my voice. Having to build myself, my self-confidence, my ego.

It is only through great friends that I have been able to actually hold up the mirror and say to myself, “Maybe they are right.”

I am not perfect, far from it, but I am me. I am an analytical artist. Creative, smart, religious (a recent discovery-believe me  I am just as shocked as you), perceptive in everyone’s life, but lacking in common sense for my own.

I can give great advice, but don’t trust myself enough to follow my own advice. It seems to work for everyone else, I think I’ll start trying.

I am more than a mom, I am a woman.

I hold an opinion on everything from the cost of gasoline to the Republican National Committees nomination for President to what diapers are best. Want to know where to get the most absorbent, cheap diapers?! Just ask, I’ve tried them all. 

I bake and I am pretty good at decorating a fancy cake.

I have learned to cook and I enjoy it! I never had to cook before.

How do you know what you’re missing if you’re never given the opportunity to enjoy doing it?

I have decided that I have an appreciation for my ex’s choice in music, but still can’t stand it. I love Adele, especially her song “Someone like you” it’s amazing. Her voice is entrancing. I can finally listen to the Foo Fighters, Shinedown, and Red Hot Chili Peppers without having to fight for the stereo.

I know how to clean! Agh! How could I not know that? I didn’t often have to clean. I have learned that over the years I have become a pretty tidy person! Who knew!?

I keep weird hours. Last night I was writing on my book until midnight and this morning I was up at 4am. But I don’t have to answer the question, “What are you doing?!”

I no longer have to fight all the time, but that has created a new problem. I will try to pick a fight with anyone. I might not say it in so many words, but I want you to fight me back. Respond. Argue. Give me a reason to feel some adrenaline.

I am not easy to get along with, and I don’t get out of my own way. 

That one too is a shock to me because I always thought it was my husband and his addictions that caused all our problems. How sheepish I feel knowing I was wrong! An overactive, over-harsh, over-analytical mind is just as bad. Perhaps in certain situations worse than being dependent on a chemical substance. That is something physical. That is something you can grab and smash. That is something you can put words to and understand.

I have always held the belief that I am not scared of anything.  “Nothing to fear but fear it self” and all that jazz. Another discovery, I am scared of all kinds of things, but that might be a different post.

I follow John Cusack on twitter, one of the few celebs that I follow, but his whole “apocalyptic, shit disturber” personality appeals to me. Yesterday he posted the following quote, and if you are where I am read this, then reread this, let it tell you our next step.

“Delight is a secret. And the secret is this: to grow quiet and listen; to stop thinking, stop moving, almost to stop breathing; to create an inner stillness in which, like mice in a deserted house, capacities and awarenesses too wayward and too fugitive for everyday use may delicately emerge. Oh, welcome them home! For these are the long-lost children of the human mind. Give them close and loving attention, for they are weakened by centuries of neglect. In return they will open your eyes to a new world within the known world, they will take your hand, as children do, and bring you to where life is always nascent, day is always dawning. Suddenly and miraculously, as you walk home in the dark, you are aware of the insubstantial shimmering essence that lies within appearances; the air is filled with expectancy, alive with meaning; the stranger, gliding by in the lamp-lit street, carries silently past you in the night the whole mystery of his life…Delight springs from this awareness of the translucent quality in all things, whereby beauty as well as ugliness, joy as well as pain, men as well as women, life as well as death — the grinding clash of opposites between whose iron teeth all systems of philosophy are crushed at last to pulp — are seen as symbols; in the true meaning of a symbol, whose Janus-like face contains at once that which exists in time and space, and that which transcends it.”–Alan McGlashan, “The Savage and Beautiful Country”, 1967

Let us find what delights us. Build our lives on our dreams and hold on for the future. I am sure it’s going to be an amazing ride.