Mirror, Mirror


I have been more reflective lately. I’m not sure if its because the numbness is wearing off or if my normal routine is feeling more normal, but every now and again I’m brought back to the beginning by a question that cues up the memories.

Even harder than the question of Why? which I have no control over, I’m often asked by the professionals in my life the questions of possibility…. Do you want to harm yourself or others? Do you think about killing yourself? Do you think of hurting or harming yourself? Are you planning on doing anything reckless? 

When my therapist started asking me these questions I was just numb and answered too honestly. She made me sign a piece of paper – a commitment saying that if I found myself in a dark place that I would call a friend to take me to the hospital. I rolled my eyes, and even now if she makes reference to it I simply respond… it’s just a piece of paper. When the doctor gave me a “standard measure of depression test” and got to the question on harm, I told him I refused to answer.

In my divorce support group I expressed my frustration with the constant repetition of these types of questions. I guess what makes me so frustrated is the fact that there really is no right way to answer them. If you say No then you aren’t facing your real emotions. If you say Yes, then you’ve got to learn to control your emotions. M saw a therapist every week for the past five years and what purpose did the answer to those questions do for him. No signed piece of paper or affirmative response prevented him from picking up a gun.

When the pain hurts so much that to breathe take a constant reminder to exhale, you will think about every possible way to make it stop. That’s the answer I want to give — but finding someone who understands that level of pain to understand the intent behind that answer is harder that just dealing with the pain. What is the right way to answer those questions and is there a right way? M chose to make a decision that while to me seems negative, at that moment it was positive.. for him… at that moment it was the right thing to do… for him. But it was his choice.

Today for the 190th day in a row I made a positive choice… for me.

Advertisements

A Rocky, Stinky, Sweet State of Normal


My therapist told me to keep writing. I haven’t been faithful to that request. I have been doing a lot of stuff outside of the blog. I’ve been living. Living a new (another) life and finding what has proven to be a rocky state of normalcy for me. In hindsight, perhaps keeping up with the writing would make it feel less rocky.

I have started attending a divorce support group. Last year, I went to one meeting right after M left–it was the week they talked about anger.  I left that class and told the facilitator that it wasn’t the right time for me.  I didn’t “act” like what they showed angry to look like. I had anger in me and wrote about it, but I wasn’t fired-up angry, if that makes any sense. I certainly wanted with everything in me to hate M, to hate her and I didn’t, I couldn’t and I still don’t. I wondered and still do- what’s wrong with me that I don’t have any feelings of hate toward them? Wouldn’t THAT be normal? Don’t normal people lash out and break things and scream at  the top of their lungs until their face is red. Don’t they start fires and burn pictures of past memories and toss belongings onto the lawn, don’t they try to retaliate? And yet, I had none of those feelings. I would share that with folks and they told me I was numb, they told me it was because I understood the love of God for me and therefore could show compassion to those that hurt me. It didn’t make me feel normal to hear any of those things.

In one of my question and answer sessions with A, he came out and asked me one night, Do you blame God? I paused. I cried. I said yes.

I’m a “good, Christian girl” so of course I’m supposed to believe that nothing slips through the fingers of God without Him knowing or allowing. I’m to believe that God is sovereign and that nothing catches Him by surprise. And yet I couldn’t wrap my mind around how five years ago the Lord allowed me (and M) to lose our worldly belongings and have nothing but our family to cling to. Yes, my “family” was quirky but weird as it was to others, it was mine. It consisted of me, M, and our two dogs. Then in a matter of 13 months I lost one dog, then the other dog, and finally M. I lost all of “my” family. I remember saying to God, I don’t understand. What’s next? What else am I going to lose? What’s left to be taken from me?
I was scared to know the answer.

After a pause, A replied Yes, God allows everything but don’t confuse that with Him being the author of it.  And I realized that was an answer my soul could accept. I didn’t want to hear it but I needed to and I didn’t like hearing it anymore than I liked that M and her had an affair and continued to spread lies about me even after they got what they wanted.

I’ve realized I was angry but that my anger was misplaced and the reason it didn’t “look” like what anger should look like, is because how do you “show” anger at the Creator of the Universe when He is the one that I desperately needed comfort from? It’s like biting the hand that feeds you… you may not like what is being served for dinner, but if you’re hungry enough you will eat.  In all of this, I was still counting on the Lord to be my source of strength and to live up to the promises His Word says about having a hope and a plan for my future (Jer 29:11) and that I would have a table in the presence of my enemies and MY cup would overflow (Psalm 23:5).

In my support group, we are in week two of the “trifecta” (anger, depression, lonliness) and I realize that I’m never going to be able to slap or punch M, (and it’s not prudent to do that to her either) but I can be angry at M even though he isn’t here anymore. I have things I would like to say to him, things I want him to know but there are all sorts of ways to work through that. My display of anger isn’t so unusual–anger takes many different forms. Television’s depiction of anger in divorce was what was guiding me to believe I wasn’t handling this normally but I’m handling it as normally as I would handle things.

So my new sense of normal has currently got me in a raw state–like an onion–all my layers are being peeled back and I’m learning a lot about myself. I just hope that it’s not so stinky that I offend anyone, but rather, maybe I will be like a Vidalia onion… sweet and bloomin’!

Whoomp There It Is


We all have friends who see through right through us. Some friends are gentle about it while others just come right out and call Bullshit.   My friend A is one that just calls it as it’s seen.  Our conversations usually start with me throwing out some questions, mostly pondering but inevitably A will always say… there seems to be more to that question and I usually respond with “No, not really, I was just wondering. A few more questions and more pondering from me, and another question from A, “What is the basis for these questions, stop beating around the bush.” And in the midst of just chatter, it finally comes out… “I feel alone” and A says…. “there it is.”

I think I feel alone because there just don’t seem to be enough of the “right” words (whatever those might be) to soothe my soul, to soothe my mind, to soothe my heart. Friends share words that offer me great comfort but I don’t know if I need twice as many words because I’m splitting my grief between the loss of my marriage and then the loss of M. I honestly don’t know.

I have another friend MB, she is more of the gentle side of calling bullshit. MB has been in the thick of it all with me since day one — 5 months ago. A few months back, before M passed away, MB and I were getting our nails done and she was remarking on how I was doing. Based on something I said she called me out on a way that I had been acting around her. And she was right. I do act differently around different people. Some I feel safe around to just be as I need to be in that moment, while others I feel are tired of hearing me talk about it and don’t want to be in the trenches. And I’m personally torn because I still feel as if I need to be/should be “over” this by now. Anyone that knows me, knows that when a task is at hand, I like to rip it apart and work right through it, sometimes, making up the solution as I go along.  Up until these past few months, I was always the practical one, now I tend to be more emotionally driven.– be it working through a problem because I’m happy, or sad, or motivated.

There really isn’t a sense of normal anymore, but then again, I don’t know what normal would look like. I get to make up my new normal now and I’m wondering if I’m ready for it? I guess that’s the big question during all of this chatter that I’m saying now…

Am I really ready to move forward?  and there it is.

Legally Divorced, Emotionally Widowed


Legally divorced and emotionally widowed….there is no other way to say it.  It’s the only way to describe this chaotic, conflicting, non-sensical way I’m feeling.  I was barely getting used to not referring to M as my husband and now he’s gone.

Eight days ago, I was mentally & emotionally stable.  I was in a good place; happy with where I was at, the progress I was making, the fact that for once in a very long while, I was happy–maybe not all day every day, but every day, I was truly happy.

Because the divorce happened so quickly, its natural for people to think of M and then think of me. Now that he’s gone, I feel that people are looking to me to be the representation of him. I wonder if they think of me as shallow and hateful because I’m not visibly a puddle of tears wondering how I’m going to move forward.  What they don’t see is that behind closed doors or in the comfort of my closest friends, I am a mess–confused by the emotions that are within me.

I had been telling M goodbye for 4 months. I had been mourning the loss of my marriage for 4 months. I had realized that the person I loved stopped existing 5 1/2 months ago and I didn’t know this new person claiming to be M. I don’t know why he chose the path he did, why he started making the choices he did, I just know that four months ago, he told me about his affair and 9 days later he moved out.

And yet, here I am, once again, telling him goodbye. Here I am walking through the stages of grief once more. Here I am, replaying different scenarios over and over again in my mind. And mostly, here I am again … angry.

This time my anger is much different. I know that this time it’s a defensive anger – an anger that exists because even in death, I have heard more lies that M told. Really M?! Really?!  You had the nerve to tell co-workers that I wanted the divorce, that you still loved me and that I was the heartless one?! Again, I say Really?! I want to just plaster billboards all over town with the link to this blog. I’ve spent the past four months working out some hard emotions because you scoffed at the idea of reconciling or rebuilding our marriage.  I’m angry because it doesn’t matter now – I have no one with which to be angry, I have only the memory of you getting the last word.

As for “her”… I am conflicted because I want to say to her that she flatters herself if she thinks that what she did or said caused M to make the choice he did 7 days ago, but that’s not fair — I don’t know what she is feeling and its not my place to tell her how she should or shouldn’t feel.

Mostly I don’t want her to feel the pain or confusion as to why he did what he did. Three years ago when we lost a friend to suicide, M and I talked about his depression and the struggle he fights each day to stay this side of life. He talked about his past suicide attempt many, many years ago and how it had nothing to do with anyone else. It truly is that the person experiencing the anguish is at a point of seeing no other options.   I don’t know why, but I find that having that conversation in my heart brings me peace.

90 days ago, we were separating our stuff, making new lives for ourselves – now in a few days, his stuff will be distributed and donated and deemed worthy or unworthy of being retained by family members. Legally I have no say to anything regarding M or his property and yet I am probably the one that knew him best. Emotionally, I am having a hard time pulling my heart back into sync with my head and returning to my state of mind just eight days ago.

I feel like I’m more of a widow than a divorcee… 60 days to divorce and 62 days to a “forever-goodbye.”  Who the heck can even make sense of that?

Recalculating


Life’s like a road that you travel on; When there’s one day here and the next day gone. Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand; Sometimes you turn your back to the wind.
Tom Cochran, Life is a Highway

I haven’t posted in quite awhile because I am finding that my Mac is pretty much so outdated that adding a post is starting to become a bit of a challenge. A new laptop is just one more item that I recognize I need to add to my new life and I can’t help but recall that just two months before D-Day, my parents gave M a new ipad for his birthday and how I now know that FaceTime was just one of the ways he communicated with her thanks to that gift. He disgusts me.

Recently I had an opportunity to get “out of dodge.” I needed to go some place where no one knew me or my story and where I could just go and be without constantly wondering if that was his car or her car or if I would see them around town. My friend K made arrangements to get her parent’s timeshare and we were off to Myrtle Beach for the weekend. As I was planning to go, it occurred to me that I no longer had a GPS or luggage. M took all the luggage on his way out of the rental as well as the GPS. To be fair, he did ask me if he could take it and of course I said yes (smacking myself in the head now!)

Within two hours of arriving in South Carolina, we went to a local pawn shop and I sold my ring. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Make no mistake, sure I was sad and had moments of “wow, I can’t believe this is it” but for the most part, I really haven’t looked back. It probably also helps that I’m not going to be scoping out women’s hands looking to see if they are wearing that ring, nor am I wandering into a pawn shop here and seeing what my life is worth based on that ring.

As K and I drove around town and were talking, she filled me in on what the dating world is like these days. I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit scared. We had a great laugh over dinner as she shared with me some of the craziness that she is witness to when it comes to men and the way social media and texting play into it all now. It’s definitely going to be a challenge for me to get back out there and while I do miss the thought of someone to love, I’m definitely not ready to drink the Kool Aid just yet.

I shared with K some of my concerns about dating. I made the comment that I sure didn’t feel like I was a “catch” now… I’m 44, divorced, I have bad credit due to the chain of events that moved us from Arizona to Georgia 4 years ago, not to mention that I’m back living with my parents. But she said something to me that I have taken to heart over the days as I’ve let it sink in. She said “You are a catch. You know what you want and you know what you won’t settle for now.” She’s right– everyone has a story, and in mine I’m not going to relive my past mistakes. I’m working on becoming financially stable and right now that looks different for me than it might for someone else. I’m very aware of red flags and already more trusting of myself when I see them, even in people that I am just getting to know on a friendship level.

So, how’d I spend the money I got when I sold my ring? I bought a GPS. Sort of symbolic and ironic since I’m working on recalculating my own life, not only literally with a new budget and new adventures with old and new friends, but also emotionally and spiritually. I AM a catch and I work hard each day to remind myself of that–some days I’m not successful at it, but I keep trying.

For my friends reading this blog, should I start to get down about things and start to drift back into “romanticized”memories of my life with M, I’m counting on you to say to me “Recalculating” so that I know I’ve wandered into the past and its time to focus on the road to reality.

Control+Alt+Delete


What if it really was that easy? Before it was just a joke… a funny way to say I wish I could do that again, now it’s all for real. I’ve been single… well, let me re-phrase that, I’ve been divorced for 38 days. I still carry M with me– we are still “connected” for another 22 days.

Control: The divorce decree stated that he needed to pay me what he owed me no later than 60 days after the date of the divorce. In the past 38 days, I’ve seen M three times. Each time I believed I was getting what he owed me. $170, plus some personal items. And each time, I’ve been told one thing or another: “waiting for all the final bills to arrive”, “the bank is holding the check”, “he’ll pay me next payday“. And each time, I still believe his “reasons” until I step away and say to myself…”Seriously, Z, why are you still believing those stories?!”  And those are the times I wish I could rewind the conversation and tell him to give me what he owes me and to get his priorities straight.

I was foolish to believe him and yes, I do accept that.  A wise friend kindly reminded me that I needed to manage my expectations. Going by past behavior, its not likely I’ll see anything from him and if I do, it will be icing on the cake. But it doesn’t stop me from wanting him to recognize that he “o w e s” me…. Something … Anything … Everything! But I can accept, painfully, that I will likely get Nothing. I can’t control what he will do, but I can control my own expectations.

ALT: in those 38 days, I’ve managed to remember what it was like to be “me.” My first full paycheck, I bought glasses and contacts. The glasses I was wearing had been broken for 10 months but I wore them because there was always something else that needed to be purchased. I scheduled a haircut, got my nails done and had my eyebrows waxed. I bought mascara, a very simple luxury, but when having to make the choice between bananas and mascara, i recognized that bananas were the safer choice to come home with.

I went to the Opera for the first time. I chose Hansel and Gretel because at least I knew the story line. I took myself to the town theater production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. I’ve dined alone simply to remind myself that I can sit there and look other folks in the eye and smile. I even went to a friend’s bonfire and mingled with an entire group of people that I didn’t know.  It’s been nice remembering “me”… doing things that I used to do.

DELETE: I’m selling my wedding ring. It doesn’t mean anything to me anymore, well it doesn’t mean much. I pulled it out of the jewelry box and like an idiot, slipped it back onto my finger…. and I cried. And just as easily as I slipped it on, I slipped it off. I’m taking it to the pawn shop tomorrow. I loved my ring, it was meant to be a “starter” ring that would get enhanced with a bigger ring at 5 years … instead, M bought a big screen TV and a PS3. He had the nerve to mention this when he was telling me that he felt like I wasn’t happy, and that he wasn’t good enough for me — that he never got me my ring or took me on a honeymoon etc.   But its time to say goodbye to it. There’s no reason I need to see it each morning in the jewelry box.

As far as my marriage, if given the chance to do it all again, would I? I don’t know. it seems silly to ponder those sorts of questions. I’d much rather ask myself… given what you know now, are you willing to try it again?

I think, yes.

Bittersweet Slumber


It’s an awful thing to just have your own thoughts with which to contend. 

It’s been 95 days since D-day. Some days it feels like forever, some days it feels as real as yesterday. Nights are still the hardest.  I have one job to do at night, sleep, and I can’t even accomplish that successfully. Since this happened, my sleep has consisted of maybe 4 hours of rest each night. During all of this, I have been amazed at how my body will still function, but I’m thankful every day that it does. My trainer would tell me that she wanted me to consistently eat at least eat more than 600 calories a day.  My “yoga teacher” would tell me that she wanted me to sleep more than just four “broken” hours each night. And with each comment they would make, I would simply reply, “I hear ya. I don’t disagree with what you are saying. I want that too.” 

Last Thursday, I started taking a new prescription allergy pill. And the sleep has come — quite unexpectedly. But it is a bittersweet slumber- I had embraced my new routine and grown to accept it. I would roll from one cool side of the bed to the other. I would re-awaken my computer and hear whatever I had set on Pandora for the night. I would check in on Facebook, and sometimes, I would write a blog post. But mostly, mostly I would I would find my friend that works overnights.

When you work overnights, life can be lonely. Similarly, when you can’t sleep, life can be lonely. This was the best of both worlds for both of us and I am forever grateful for my friend on the other end of the phone. However, this weekend, I awoke to a string of texts asking how I was, and then wondering where I was. The texts came not only from the friend I mention above, but from other friends with whom I chatted with regularly. Many of them in Arizona or California, so my midnight and 2 am wake-ups weren’t such a crazy time on the West Coast.

But with the stillness during the heart of the night I never had to feel alone. No matter when I sent out the “You there?” text, it was always received with “Yes!” and we would chat until my eyelids got heavy and I could fall asleep again, typically, only to awaken about an hour or so later to send out the next “Are you there” message.

Over the past couple of days, I’ve noticed that I only wake up once or twice now during the night. I’m dreaming, but they aren’t like before — I don’t wake up gasping for air, trying to catch my breath, and as an added side, my appetite has returned.

Had it not been for my overnight friends, I don’t know that I would have been able to have worked out and cried out and laughed out so many of my questions and anxieties of the past months.  Each of them has contributed so much into me and each has helped me keep my sanity whilst the rest of the world peacefully slept. The world was blissfully unaware that the tiny ray of light streaming from my bedroom window was illuminating a mind so manically awake that I thought I would go crazy.

Tonight, I see my yoga teacher. She will be thrilled to hear that I’ve been sleeping more these past few nights.  But neither my yoga teacher or my trainer will know how bittersweet their happiness for me actually is.