I love this time of year.
It is an easy time for reflection, to check in with myself and what I had hoped to accomplish this year. The blessing is that there are truly still 3 more months for me to decide if my beginning of the year goals still feel right or if in the past 9 months things have changed so much that I need to think about my next steps forward.
In my Care Giver Therapy Group, the facilitators are very good at reminding you of everything you have shared that you have been going through and reminding you that are still standing. When someone has a particularly difficult week, some one always ask you, "So what good things are you doing for yourself?" Some people walk, some treat themselves to some pampering, but for most, the answer is that I carved out time to come to this group meeting. It is a very interesting and diverse group, all united by loving and caring for someone who has depression, anxiety or Bipolar and the extreme wear and tear faced by the care givers.
For me, self care is my writing, going to the group therapy and making time with friends. This weekend is what I am beginning to understand will be my annual pilgrimage to my girl friends house for a small retreat. She is someone who I very much feel at ease with and at peace around and she is a wonderful friend to while away the hours reflecting on all that has happened in our lives. She is someone who has witnessed me at my best and loved me through my worst and ugly moments. Her friendship comes with no strings, no judgement, no advice. Just a big ole hug, a glass of wine, a full belly and then a pat on the head as she sends me back out into the world. When I leave her home, I feel settled into my bones.
My life is very different than it was this time last year, but I am still a big ole mess.
July and August had taken it's toll on me at work. Going to work was making me sick to my stomach. Working six days a week, back to back to back and having people take their stress and anger out on me was causing me so much anxiety that my stomach was hurting, my guts were endlessly rumbling and I started bleeding, which is a sign I had irritated ulcers. I had no back up plan, no savings, and no job prospects, but I gave my two weeks notice. Being unable to pay my bills seemed a far better option than me getting sick and losing a portion of my colon due to the ulcers for work related stress.
I had not been able to afford the $1,300.00 a month medications with my current health insurance and had been off the medicines for about a year. When I showed up in a panic at my GI doctors office they were able to give me her "samples" and she and her nurse started collecting other doctor's samples to get me through until we could find another alternative to this medicine that I could tolerate. Two weeks of oral steroids, antibiotics and the expensive medicines and I was on the mend.
At work, my manager asked me to not quit. She basically told me that I would either learn to set boundaries at this job or I would have to start over with a new employer. Like me, she knew this would be a repeated lesson until I learned to set and maintain my boundaries. My employer agreed to let me reduce my hours and I decided the devil I knew was better than the next learning curve with the next employer. Discussions were had and agreements were made, so I stayed.
My relationship of four years was also in serious trouble. My boyfriend had begun hiding information from me. Things he decided I didn't need to know. After his actions were inadvertently outed by his son at the dinner table, I asked him why he hadn't told me. His reply was, "I thought I would have it all taken care of before you found out." That one sentence wrapped up the core of why our relationship continued to have problem after problem.
In the prior four years, he spoke of wanting to be a partner, so we defined to each other what that meant, but when push came to shove in any area of his life, he decided what to do and what not to do. He carried the weight and tried to shield me from the burdens. He was so overwhelmed and stressed that he could not get far enough away from the situations to see clearly what needed to be done. He made his decisions and justified them. It was awful to walk beside him through these difficult times. It was awful to be in my head during those difficult times. I did not speak kindly to myself about being the woman who would put up with shit like this. I could clearly hear what I would tell a friend in my situation. My thoughts were so self destructive and angry.
Last summer it seemed that we were making steps forward, that we were really connecting and hearing each other. We had spent so many hours talking about our relationship and what we each wanted. We had the most incredible two week vacation full of non-stop, one on one, 24x7 car camping with four kids. We had spent many child free weekends curled up in bed discussing the future.
Then, in one Sheriff's letter left on the door, I began to see that we were no closer to being partners than we had been two years prior. Which means in the four years we had been together, nothing had changed after many, many, many nights of conversations and discussions about what we each needed to do to create a strong and happy relationship.
The problem is I love this man.
There are huge aspects of my life where he makes me incredibly happy. I have never had a better lover, travel partner, bed partner, or friend to talk to. The problem as I see it is that he wants to take care of everything and be the man and the provider...and what I want is a partner. But partners don't hide things from each other. They don't make major decisions without coming to agreement. They don't lie to each other. They don't try to cover things up.
A couple of nights after that initial conversation about the lying and hiding of information, I mistakenly asked if there was anything else he hadn't been honest about. It was supposed to be a rhetorical question, but it didn't turn out to be. He told me that he had not been absolutely honest, more skirted around an issue with his parents that he had agreed he would be 100 percent honest with them about. This had been a huge part of the condition of us getting back together the year prior. I was tired of lying and covering and half truths when I was around his parents. I had asked for proof that he was ready to wipe his slate clean and start anew, and him being honest with them was the gift he would give me to show me that there would be no more lying, ever again. His parents could decide how they wanted to move forward, once they knew all of the facts.
I had spent a fucking year believing we were all on the same page.
Slowly, it sank into my heart that we had spent 4 years supposedly working on our relationship and trying to rebuild a foundation for our love, only it was all a lie. All of those nights talking were wasted. There is no definition of partner that includes hiding things and lying to each other.
That cost me the final threads of trust I had clutched tightly in my heart. I asked him to leave me alone, to leave my bed. I am not in a place emotionally to want to "work" on our relationship. I just know that when I look at him I get angry and I don't know what to do with that anger. I have been trying to figure out what rebuilding trust actually looks like and if it is something I want to attempt.
The fucked up part is that I have had many visions of growing old with him.
I have told him this several times, but the caveat in that vision is that it is very clear to me in that we are not together consistently from now through then. When he has asked me where do I see our relationship in 5 years, I have told him I am not certain. In 10 years, I do not see us together. Much later in life, I do see us together. I literally cannot imagine what turn of events happen that allow me to trust him again, but I know this is my issue and I will need to work through it on my own.
What magical event is going to take place in my life that allows me to take a risk with my heart again? I can't see how it all plays out, but I know that I end up just fine.
While all of my relationship drama was happening, a very dear friend of mine's husband was fighting for his life against a very aggressive cancer. Her husband ended up with many complications eating and was in a great deal of pain. He is the first person I have ever known who was this kind of sick. I spent a lot of time praying for him and his family and in my head trying to make sense of such why this wonderful man, attentive father and kind husband had been given this shit hand to play. I wrestled with guilt that there was nothing I could do but pop in to see him, hold his hand, make some terribly bad jokes and then run as fast as I could to the elevator to cry.
This was going to be my first friend to die.
Before heading up for my girl friend retreat last year, I stopped by the hospital just in case he died before I came back. I didn't want him to die without knowing that my whole life would forever be changed for having gotten to know him and his family and for the fact that he was going to die. That morning, he told me so. I gently hugged him, stood for a few minutes just holding his hand, told him I loved him and would miss him. He asked me to continue to be a good friend his wife and son. It was a moment I will never forget and that I linger in far too often.
I don't want to die not having lived the life I dream of. I don't want to die before I become the woman I know is in me. I am not ready to die.
I didn't see regret on his face when he knew he was dying. I saw resolve. When I met his friends from different stages of his life, they all described a man who had always been himself. He was the good friend, good man, good husband, good father, involved community member I had grown to know. He was steady and solid and just comfortably his real self.
If I were to die today, my friends would see regret on my face.
Being near death changes you. There is no way to be near death and not take stock of where the fuck you are in your life plan.
I was kind of a wreck when I got to my girl friends house. As much as I enjoyed the visit and the respite from reality, I was very preoccupied with thoughts of his death, my own death and most importantly what time I have left to live. It was like reliving my mid life crisis. I was not where I wanted to be. I was not who I wanted to be. I was not creating the life I wanted. I was not in a relationship with someone who I trusted. When I took measure of my life, I was irritated and pissed at myself.
That whole, I haven't come this far to only come this far quote kept cycling in my brain. To find myself at damn near the same fucking crossroad that I had stood at almost 6 years earlier trying to decide if I would put a single moment's more energy into my marriage or if I walked away, alone. The Universe will just keep recreating the same damn lesson, until I learn what I am meant to learn.
Am I willing? Am I willing? Am I willing? That is the drum beat I hear in my head from the Universe.
Am I willing to risk being alone? Am I willing to be alone to become the person I want to be? Am I willing to be alone to create the life I want? Am I willing to take risks? Am I willing to risk it all? Am I willing to be uncomfortable? Am I willing to be scared? Am I willing to fail?
There has never been a moment when I have thought can I be? Just am I willing.
At the end of 2016, I decided I was willing.
Fuck if life doesn't like to humble me often.
My car is misbehaving. I asked for the mechanics phone number. This afternoon that call will be made to see what it will cost to get her a check-up. I will also have him price out fixing my car heater so that the kids and I can have heat this winter. We have gone 2 long winters with no heat which means we huddle up in blankets in the car for the drive to school. Some days I am amazed at the level of bullshit I endure.
Then I remember every penny counts in my household and there have been too many other top of the priority pile items that needed our money.
While the heater doesn't put out heat, the bigger problem is she isn't gearing well. She is making these lunging jumps. I asked if there was a fluid that I might need to check and was told transmission fluid. I watched a video on how to check the transmission fluid and will do that this morning before I get started.
Yesterday morning I was walking into the kitchen to get more coffee and saw my first mouse in this house in 5 years. It scared the shit out of me and I screamed and then it ran off. I asked if we can get some traps for the entire house so I don't scare them off on my level and send them up or down to the other levels.
At work it feels that what I have to offer is never enough because I can't work until 5 p.m. every day. My whole worth some days comes down to not enough. Doesn't matter that I have a wealth of experience and proven skills, just matters that I can't work a full 40 and parent my children in the way my family needs. I am astounded that in this day and time of employers not being able to find capable & qualified employees that I have to hear weekly about how much more I could contribute to the company's success if I could just work those final 10 hours each week.
Doesn't matter that most weeks, I am not asked, but rather told about the after hours or on weekends work time that is mandatory. The fact that I am a single mother and my need to go get my kids from school and can't sit at my desk from 3 - 5 pm devalues my worth to my employer. It is a very broken record that grates on my nerves like the sound of a record that gets stuck in one spot and just repeats over and over and over. By the time I pick up both kids, it is 4:10 pm on average. I have been driving for a hour and the last bit is just as end of day traffic is picking up. I have no interest in coming back to work unless there is truly an emergency. And when there is an emergency I head back in and do what is needed.
If I sat at the office until 5 pm, then I still have a full hour or more drive to fetch my kids and they have been unsupervised for two hours. Then dinner to make and school work to be done and some nights we rush out to extracurricular activities. I cannot willingly choose to add this stress to my life. I don't want to gamble with my children's lives. Drugs, alcohol, and sex happen to unattended teenagers. My employers agreed to these hours and conditions last August to keep me as their employee. If this arrangement no longer works for them, that is their decisions to make. I am content with our current arrangement, minus the negative Nancy proclamation once a week.
My high moment of the day was going to the weekly Friends & Family Support Group for Depression, Anxiety and Bipolar. This group has been a lifesaver for me as a care giver for someone suffering from depression & anxiety. I didn't need to share this week as my family has had a week of calm. It was a huge blessing to acknowledge that I was only at the meeting to support others this week. It was wonderful to announce that my family life was very "even" this past week!!!
Going to this group each week gives me so much to think about as not only a caregiver, but as someone who also suffers from mental illness. I listen to how difficult it is to take care of and love someone with mental illness. I am blessed that this group has so many attendees from so many walks of life to share the skills I need to learn to help my son manager his life and how to "assist" him and not to further aggravate the bad days. In learning these tools I am listening to how much havoc mental illness reeks on those who take care of us. Most weeks it makes me so sad to think of how much I rely on my friends and family to help me emotionally. I am blessed to have such a strong support group and I am grateful that they are still standing with me after nearly three decades marred with some really difficult years.
Most Tuesdays, it is not an easy transition from going to the meeting to come home and needing to get straight into bed in able to get enough sleep to keep my life running smooth and balanced. I come home and am still processing what happened at the meeting and I know I need to shut my brain down and go to sleep, but even after 30 years, I have not even scratched the surface at mastering the art of letting go, not even for just the evening.
So much information was shared last night and I had so much running through my mind. I was getting ready to turn out the light and go to sleep when I remembered I hadn't set the alarm on my coffee pot. As I got up, I saw a huge object move on my bedroom floor, heading from my closet area towards my bed.
Instinctively I grabbed a flip flop and started after the huge ass spider walking across my floor like he was a superstar walking down the red carpet. As I neared, he realized I was coming for him and he hustled his ass under my bed before I could smack him. I turned on my cell phone flash light and located him. Fucker was sitting next to another shoe under my bed, all puffed up and on alert and not at an easy angle to smack with my intense fear of them jumping at me as I go to squish them. I sat there crouched down staring the fucker down. There are moments when my fear gets the better of me and this was one of those times. I didn't want to get up to go get a broom for fear of losing sight of him and well logically I would never be able to sleep in that bed again and would have to torch the mother fucker down.
As I have been advised not to use fire to kill spiders due to the house burning down risks, I just sat there. I asked myself if I thought it would be possible to stay awake all night until the spider got comfortable and decided to risk coming back out from under the bed. Could I stay alert and awake long enough to wait him out? What if I fell asleep and he came over and bit me? My son had been asleep for about an hour and probably wouldn't answer his phone. Could I risk losing sight of the spider to go wake him up. Would he even come kill the spider? My son announced the other day that he was not the house spider killer. I told him yes you are! That is your sole reason for you being able to live with me full-time.
My mind kept coming back to if I lose sight of this spider, I will never again be able to sleep in this bed, in this room.
I sent a text, a ridiculous plea for help. I asked him that I should not call upon, to come up stairs and kill a spider. I felt like an idiot crouched down holding a flashlight and pointing, but he came up, and killed it. One good whack. Then he left. I sat and continued to watch the carcass to verify the fucker was really dead so I could sleep without worry.
Today, after work, I will be purchasing stuff to spray on the inside of my house to make the spiders go the fuck away. They all appear to have had a very successful year eating and are huge. Yes I know peppermint deters them. I will be spraying our beds with peppermint. I will be spraying the house with toxic chemicals just to better my odds of not seeing another spider this fall.
Hopefully today I will be able to be a total grown up and get through my day without having to ask for any help.
4 minutes to help me lay down my worries for the day so I can focus on the things that must get done. "Cause I lose my shit every now and again!"
Happy Hump Day!
While having lunch with my daughter on Sunday, we got back around to discussing the completely bonkers conversation she had sat through between her dad and me on the front porch. I am still trying to gauge what to expect at Thursday's Girl Scout Meeting.
She said, "Mom, he didn't ever tell you half of what he talked to us about on the drive down or the whole way back home." I laughed because that is hard to believe. He talked to me for over an hour. What had he left out?
Take a moment now and go grab a trash can or barf bag. That's okay, go ahead. I will wait for you.
He ranted to our kids trying to prove to them (pure speculation) that he had a sexual relationship with this woman because he could tell them exactly how many moles she has on her butt cause he had his hands on both cheeks.
I shook my head and covered my ears in the universal sign language of, "please stop talking, because I can't take it". When he told me she had the best ass ever, I felt I had received the full and complete mental image of her wonderful perfect ass. Now I was left with questions? How many does she have per cheek? Are they in constellation groupings? Do they need to be looked at by a specialist?
In an attempt to get back to trying to figure out what had caused the argument, I asked her what had her dad and his ex girlfriend been fussing about that caused such a commotion? My daughter sat for a few moments trying to recall and then told me she wasn't actually sure. She had only heard bits and parts or it, however what she had heard loud and clear was the ex girlfriend telling my ex husband that his kids are really messed up and need a lot of help.
Well, that really sucks. I had and still have a litany of nasty mean thoughts about her parenting and her kids, but none of that is my business, so I will refrain from responding in anger and disappointment.
My hope is my daughter will either work diligently on her Gold Project or let her dad and I know that she is done with scouting.
This is one of the final weekly ties that I get to spend time with ex husband at each week. Monday is Boy Scouts. Thursday is Girl Scouts. It will not break my heart when those draw to an end and I no longer have to see my ex husband twice a week. I have done my time and paid my dues.
I would love for entire months to pass without seeing or speaking to my ex!
Mad Moles - Poem by Phil Soar
There's Mad Moles in my Garden,
They Party all night long,
Dancing with the wiggly worms,
They fill the night with song.
There's Mad Moles underneath the Turf,
They bump into the roots,
They dance the Samba with the ants,
And are never seen in suits.
Some of them can breakdance,
Or at least, it looks like that,
Some move like they have got the fits,
Or ants inside their pants.
They dig up lumps of soil and dirt,
Whilst jiving to the feeling,
Of Lionel Richie's old Cd's,
They're Dancing on the ceiling.
Their Ceiling is the green, green grass,
They lift it up in clumps,
They are welcome in the forests,
But not near cricket stumps.
There's Mad Moles in my Garden,
I really must evict them,
I'm sticking things into the lawn,
Just hoping to restrict them.
They haven't moved away just yet,
And burn the midnight oil,
I really can't put up with it,
They're messing up my soil.
There's Mad Moles in my garden,
It really is a sight,
Maybe I should just join in,
And party there tonight? ....
On this day when we are praying for those enduring Hurricane Irma, 60 some fires in the west and northwest, and remembering those who lost their lives when our country was attacked, I am also praying for my daughter.
She is such a strong and steady young woman. She rolls with the punches as best she can. When she is angry and hurt she is a handful, but she doesn't get angry or nasty very often. She is the girl you can tell your worries to. She can sit with you and hold them and remind you that you are not alone in this world.
The girl drama in her life is unimaginable. Since middle school she has made friends with girls who are not inclusive. They want her to only be friends with them and/or whomever they deem worthy. When I sit here and think back to how long this has been going on it has been the past 4 years.
We all hear about how nasty girls are to each other, but to watch it really happening, to read the text is heartbreaking.
The amount of control these girls want is insane. They unfriend her with regularity when she spends too much time with a girl they don't like. The text tell my daughter that while they like "her", they can't be friends with her if she continues to hang out with this other girl that they do not like. And not just one text, so many text, so many girls chiming in. The ability to group text and rally your bitches is mean. They are all snotty, bitchy and mean.
I cannot imagine 5 to 10 girls chiming in to tell me they can't be my friend because I am not doing what they want me to. I can't image the pressure and worry my daughter is carrying.
If you are a parent reading this, ask your child for their phone tonight. Have them sit down next to you and watch you read their text. Have them open up their group chats in Instagram, Snapchat, Ghost, Kik.. When was the last time you sat down to see how many different messaging apps your child has on their phone? When was the last time you spent an hour reading what your child is discussing and with whom? I dare you to do this tonight. Be prepared to see your child in a whole new light. Be scared, but do it and then be a good parent and talk to your child about the words they are using, the photos they are sending, the bully ass bitch they are being.
Not only are they hurting my daughter, but they endanger the life of the girl they don't like. They have traumatized that poor girl and added to the responsibility my daughter feels to be supportive of this girl. Maybe she likes her, maybe she just tolerates her, but after watching her be bullied and contemplate taking her life, my daughter can't figure out how to handle that relationship knowing the other girls are being so mean.
I have never had my friends speak to me like this, ever. I have never had my friends ask me to make changes in my life to make me acceptable as a friend. Hell my girlfriends have put up with me for years absolutely not liking my husband nor the boyfriend that came after.
I have a difficult time setting and maintaining boundaries in romantic relationships, but I have never had a single issue holding boundaries when it comes to my girl friends. Mostly, I am certain because they are truly friends and not selfish, self-centered bitches like my poor daughter keeps befriending.
I keep bringing my girl friends into our home so my daughter can see how we speak to each other, in play and on those occasions where we have to be blunt with each other out of concern. I am trying to help her put into context what is healthy and what is abusive. Her girl friends are abusive, controlling, demanding, punishing, manipulative, mean and full of negative energy.
They do not lift each other up. The do not have each other's backs. They do not deserve my daughter's friendship.
I have wondered if my daughter's failure to find decent human beings for girl friends means she won't have the abusive relationships in her romantic life. Last night I lay awake wondering which is better. In theory, you marry your best friend and tackle the world together. I would love for her to have this as her future life. The men in my life has generally turned against me and fought me when push came to shove in our world. I have always become the enemy, not the partner.
I know that my girl friends have always been a greater source of strength than any man has ever been. My girlfriends have always walked through the difficult journeys of my life, right beside me, quietly believing in my strength and ability.
Today, in addition to my prayers for all of the people in the world who are scared and facing danger beyond their control, I am praying for my daughter. I pray she finds real friendship. I pray she realizes she is caught in a cycle of abuse from her current friends. I pray she knows she deserves better treatment from friends and that she knows what she is experiencing is not normal or acceptable behavior. I pray that she knows she is loved by every woman in my life. Most importantly, I pray that she knows I love her and accept her as she is, especially during her time of struggle.
By Monday evening, I was feeling human again. Every pain had been eased down to a dull roar, with the addition of the nagging cough. I was able to log on to Facebook and see the photos everyone had posted of the camping event!
I was Face Timing with my sister when the kids arrived. I told my sister I would call her right back as I saw my ex was walking to the door. I assumed he was going to give me an update on how my son did.
Well that was the start of what would be a full hour and a half long conversation.
My son hugged me and walked into the house past me. My daughter hugged me and also walked into the house past me. My ex told me that our son had been really grumpy and that he had missed taking some meds, but seemed to be back on track. Then my ex told me that he needed to tell me the rest of what had happened. It seems that our Leader brought her neighbor, who is an attractive man who has no daughters to this camp out.
I had noticed him as he is easy on the eyes and not someone I recognize from the mom's that regularly attend the meetings. I had written it off as a dad I had not met.
My ex explained that he believes that the leader, his former girl friend brought this guy to the camp out. She is most certainly allowed to do that. I guess the one evening when my ex came from his side of the lake to be a part of the evening camp fire and community, the leader and this man had been pretty touchy feely and shared space very often. This wouldn't be a big deal at all except that my ex was caught off guard and didn't know she was already dating again.
I said to my ex, "You know she denies that you two ever dated." My ex appeared confused. I explained to him that two years ago New Year's Eve when I camped with the girls and the leader at Garden of the Gods, that it had been an interesting evening. The GS Leader is a little awkward with women. She runs hot or cold and you just have to hang in there to even begin to get a clue about her. Early in the evening she loudly referenced that her 17 year old daughter was the same age as she had been when she got pregnant with her. 17 + 17 = 34. I had assumed she was my age (early to mid 40'). I had to pull out my phone to do the math, because I couldn't believe my ex, my normal old angry, grumpy, Know-it-all old man, had bagged a woman even younger than me. I just couldn't get past that and was lost a portion of the evening in my own jealousy induced fit. Then as I watched her I relaxed back into the moment and realized it doesn't matter. She is pleasant and focus's on her kids. She is as good a step-mom as I could pick for my ex.
At the end of the night, I was returning from the bathroom to the space where she and I would sleep for the night when she jumped in front of me to nervously announce that I needed to know that she and my ex weren't dating. I told her that they were. My kids had told me so. She denied it again and again. I told her it didn't matter. My kids felt their dad was dating her. They spent a great deal of time together. She met my older step son. She met my ex's mom. She could call it whatever she wanted but my only concern was how my kids felt about it and that she was a good person.
She tried to explain that I didn't understand and she is bad at picking out men. I had heard her talk poorly about her ex in vague ways, many times. She tried to explain that she doesn't date. She is only focused on her kids. I believe I told her "what ever." I walked away from that conversation feeling like she was telling me, that unlike me she doesn't date because she is solely focused on her children. I applaud that, on some levels. Life has put people in my path at the most inappropriate time and challenged me to take a risk and walk away and trust that if it is meant to be, it will be there when the timing is right.
I did not hold firm and have ended up making a huge mess of the most wonderful love of my life.
There are mother years. Years when a father/husband has to let his children be her main focus. I truly do understand this.
I let the subject drop two and a half years ago because I know how difficult it is to try and have the best of both worlds. However, I know what my children and my ex told me. If she was more comfortable playing martyr, not my life.
We had a terrible event happen at one of our Boy Scout camping trips. My ex was at the camp out and also the Scoutmaster. Her son and another boy made a bad decision. Instead of holding them accountable and moving on, several people said, her son would never do anything like what was alleged.
It still catches me off guard that adults have managed to make into their 40's without having learned that all people are human and all humans make mistakes. These two boys made a mistake, but instead of doing the right thing, it was turned into a moral affront and I got to read a small portion of an email where she alleges that my ex is making this event up because she refused to date him. I was floored that in any way would she ever need to mention that in defense of her son.
It just all struck me as extremely weird.
I told my ex that is was weird to watch him play husband/boyfriend around her house and to hear what the kids were telling me he was going out of his way to do for her. The kids and I all felt sad for him when she moved on and he was still trying to be with her. I told him that while I had initially felt the pangs of jealousy about her youth, jealousy turned very quickly to wondering what her baggage was that she would find herself in a relationship of any sort with a man old enough to be her father.
My ex didn't' like train of thought, and said she might have "daddy" issues. "Okay" I replied, thinking in my head, "MAYBE?"
While it totally sucked going to GS when they were dating or playing, it is equally sucking to watch him sit outside now, all alone.
Back to my front porch...
I guess the scene happened after I left camp. My kids both tried to stop the conversation between their dad and his ex girlfriend, as did the mom who would have been my camp site mate had I not gotten sick.
I guess there is still a great deal on anger and confusion between my ex and our GS leader.
My ex stood on my porch and detailed way too much out for me. I repeatedly told him, that I believed him and our children and he did not need to give me examples of how intimate they had been. He wouldn't be stopped. Even when I started making gagging noise to his stories of her son walking in on them doing some heavy "petting" and her shirt being wide open. I also stood firmly planted while he told me how fabulous her ass was. Best ass he has ever had in his hands.
Breathe in, breathe out. Let it go playing in my head. No need for me to expound upon the wonderful sex I have known since our divorce. Give him his moment, he did bag a woman almost 20 years his junior. All hail the great and mighty Ex!
Ummm, hurl. Not a picture my daughter or I needed painted in our minds eye. I believe when you allow your children to see you with another partner, you are in a relationship. Maybe not a traditional, long term one, but it is generally accepted that if you introduce a new partner to your family, that it is with the understanding that there is hope that this will be a regular and wonderful thing. When you have sleep overs with a person of the opposite sex while your children are home, it implies to most adults that this person matters to you. My children have only met two of the five people I have dated since the divorce. I am not a prude, but I didn't have anyone sleep over who I didn't hope would be a regular addition in our lives.
My ex agreed, but didn't seem convinced that I believed him and continued. To further explain, he added "and I certainly don't put people's junk in my mouth if I am not dating them." I looked at my daughter and then at my ex and told him this conversation had to stop. Then he told me that there were times when her older daughter would say (I assume uncomfortably) in front of them that it was sad that her mom had a better sex life than she did.
Personally, I think a mother should have a better sex life than their teenage daughters.
With bile crawling up the back of my throat, I announced again that he and I have a similar understanding of what a relationship looks like, to us.
I asked if we would be attending Girl Scouts anymore with this troop. I was told that we would as my daughter has interest in earning her Gold Award. I am not so certain how this will all play out, but I am far more interested in attending GS this week than I have been in months.
I called my sister back and rehashed the conversation with her. I love that she is strong enough to share the horrific mental images with via Face Time so I can see her process what I was telling her. Watching her face contort made my day!
Your married friends will sometimes make you feel like you chose the easy way out when you chose to get divorced. Like they are in the trenches working hard to save their marriages and you just get to give up and start anew! To any of you who have children and have gone through divorce, you know that your marriage doesn't end, it just changes.
Seven years this month, is when I told my ex that I wanted a divorce. That life seems like a dream in a far away place.
It has taken seven years of judges, mediators, court, many, many thousands of dollars, and 4 humbling unemployments (for my ex), and 2 years back alimony payments finally being Paid In Full for us to reach a point where we are able to stand on my porch for and not be mean to each other.
I mentioned to my ex that maybe next GS Family Camping over Labor Day Weekend, we should get tent sites closer to each other so we can let the kids hang out without all of the drama? :)
The drive up into the mountains to the lake we camp at for our Girl Scout Family Camp is delightful. The trip takes about 2 to 2.5 hours on a major holiday weekend, but it is a gorgeous trip. You are driving up this windy wooded road and then BOOM you get to the top and are greeted with a vast view of a huge flat valley with more mountains off in the distance. You actually get to do this twice before you get to camp area. Both times are worthy of pulling over and spending a hour watching the sun set, but you know you have to keep rolling forward because you have a tent to put up in the dark if you don't keep on task.
I arrived without trouble and began unpacking my car. Within minutes, my son showed up and helped me set up my tent. I gave him a snack, a soda and a hug and sent him back to his dad so I could get some sleep. My head had been pulsing with a dull throb for some portion of the day. This is my high allergy season and part of the beautiful vision upon arriving at the lake was all of the beautiful yellow sage bush in full pollen blooming glory! However, I was prepared. I took my allergy medicine, sprayed my allergy nose spray, put on a nose strip to help with the congestion I was feeling and rubbed on my DoTerra Breathe Essential Oil Mix. I was going to be fine. I even had my nose cones to keep my sinus passages open so I didn't bother my tent site neighbors with my snoring. I put on my sleep eye mask and curled up in my bag and went to sleep.
I woke up in the middle of the night with a nagging cough. No worries, I reached into my bag and pulled out the cough drops I sleep with in my mouth to deal with the allergy drainage that nags my throat and causes incessant clearing of my throat.
Then I heard the owls hooting. I began missing the fan that I sleep with at home to drown out the noises.
While trying to get back to sleep, I realized my face really hurt. The sinus pressure had not eased at all, after taking my meds at bedtime. I QUIETLY unzipped my tent and tip toed to my car where I had stashed a cooling bead eye mask that I use when I get a migraine or sinus headache. I shut the car door as QUIETLY as I could and tip toed back to my tent, crawled in and QUIETLY zipped my tent back up. I applied more essential oil to my chest and temples. While doing that I noticed my teeth really hurt.
Fuck, was I grinding my teeth? I stretched my mouth open and closed trying to relieve the pressure. I have an essential oil mix for my face that has oils for relaxation, so I massaged that into my face. I also popped a Tylenol in hopes of waking up without all of this weird pain. I went through an entire roll of toilet paper blowing my nose.
I really tried to get back to sleep. I could tell my body was exhausted, but I was so uncomfortable. As the first rays of sunlight hit my tent, I acknowledged that it was time to get up and start the day. I told myself, that I could always take a nap anytime I wanted, as this was my holiday weekend and I was in charge!
I made some hot coffee and hoped that the warmth would be enough to ease my sinus pressure. Maybe it did a little.
What was fabulously distracting was something that kept catching the corner of my eye splashing in the lake. I stared for quite a long time trying to figure out what was makings such a huge splash in the lake, really all over the lake.
By my second cup of coffee, I felt coordinated enough to get out of my tent and walk down to the lake. Sure enough, it was fish. Big fish the size of my outstretched hand flopping or jumping about a foot out of the water. Silliest thing I have ever seen in real life and it had me giggling, which turned to laughing, which turned to coughing fits. I took some photos and spent about half an hour sitting there trying to catch it on video. It was a really nice way to start my day.
I spent the next hour or so sitting and soaking in the morning before both of my kids showed up.
I told them I hadn't had a good night and really wasn't feeling well. I asked if they wanted to head over to the Hot Springs to soak for a bit with me? My hope was a hot soak and breathing in the steam would ease my pain. I mean, hell my camp roommate hadn't even shown up yet. We had plans to drink wine and catch up on each other's summer adventures.
The kids and I packed up lunch and went off to the Hot Springs down the road. If you follow my blog, you know that one of my favorite things to do while camping is stay near a hot springs, so I can get my daily hot relaxing bath. I was worried it would be crowded with the holiday weekend, but it wasn't. We moved from extremely hot to cooler, to the coolest, and kept cycling through them. While I could have stayed the entire day, the kids were ready to get back to camp. I told them I was going to head home after I dropped them off. The hot springs soak did help, but the thought of another night not feeling well and not in my bed did not sound like good idea.
When we got back to camp, the kids helped me pack up. Before I left, I popped by to see my ex husband and to ask him to keep an eye on our son, who was giving me sulky weird vibes.
As I started the long drive home, the pain behind my eye balls and the pressure in my ears became increasingly unbearable. I surrendered to the fact that I was going to have to either get down the mountain in time to pop into the Little Clinic at the grocery store, or go to the emergency room. It was a long two hours from the camp sight to the first real place where I could maintain cell service. It was about 4 pm when I called and spoke to the nurse at the clinic and verified that they would be open until 5 pm. I was only 45 minutes away on a good day, but this was a holiday weekend, so I drove very strategically and as fast as I could. The final 4 miles down the mountain had me in tears. My ears would not clear. Just intense pressure and pain. Once down in town, traffic and the traffic signals seemed to be conspiring against me. I slid into a parking spot and ran in as fast as I could feeling like I was on the verge of a migraine and about to lose my vision in my left eye.
I walked up to the sign in booth at 4:52 pm. I am sure I looked frightful. The nurse was extremely nice while she tried to help me sign in. Having been on my own for the past two hours, I hadn't realized that I was not able to hear most of what she was saying to me and by the look on her face, I was speaking very loud to her.
I was ushered in to see the doctor and it she told me my blood pressure was very high and asked if this was normal. I explained that my blood pressure has never been high, but that the fast driving and attempt to beat the clock thus sparing myself 5 hours minimum at the emergency room may have been a little stressful on my system.
She confirmed I had a sinus infection, but she also told me that both of my ears were infected. I was given a lovely regimen of antibiotics, Allegra D, flonaise and was told to take Tylenol for the pain and use hot compresses for my ears. She also advised me not to go back up the mountain until I had several days of the meds under my belt and/or until my ears stopped hurting.
I was grateful to get a pass to not have to drive back up to camp the rest of the weekend, but my stomach and bowels do not react well to antibiotics, and it would be almost four hours until the pain eased enough for me to open my eyes. I did find that putting two drops of Basil Essential Oil on a cotton ball and putting that in your ear feels really, really good. It almost puts too much heat out at first, but if you keep them for an hour, the warmth is perfect. I will try to remember this when I have grand babies!
I crawled into bed about 6 pm and stayed there most of the next two days. You won't believe the conversation my ex husband and I had two days later when he brought our son back to me.
Getting packed for going camping can feel like a huge ordeal.
For many years, my gear was stored in various places throughout the garage and house. After the second Cub Scout Camp out over a decade ago, I started a big clear plastic tub. All forms of miscellaneous items are stored in this box. Lighters, cocoa, spoons, spatulas, toilet paper, salt, pepper, trash bags, oven mits, coffee in tea bag form, cheap ponchos, bug spray, sun screen, etc. The plastic tub is stored in my mud room right next to my tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad.
Work was kinda ridiculous on Friday. I am not usually an obstinate muttering bitch, but I was on Friday. The energy was tense in the office. My manager, who is our top performing sales person was trying to wrap up all of her loose ends so she could finally take a week off from work. She was trying to manage the chaos that happens when we try to take time off.
I was complaining about our internal inventory paperwork bureaucracy and lamenting on how nice it would be one day when I could select the items I want, enter the dates I need them and boom, get a receipt and have my order placed. How cool would that be? I buy things quite often online and it is kinda freakin seamless in 2017. Our internal system is not. There are email request to multiple people to make certain it isn't already checked out. Then there is a form to be completed and emailed (and both the form and the sent email are printed for our file because sometimes we are told the form wasn't sent). Then there should be a follow up email to verify that someone of three people who you sent it to received it and have pulled it out of inventory for your event. There is even a printed form list that you can use to check off and verify you have completed each of the required and necessary forms and processes.
In our explosive growth this past year, you sometimes need to pick up the phone to verify things haven't been sold out from under you. There are two offices and a ton of sales people all using the same inventory items. This additional step is one I forget, and have been burned for not doing.
Then you have to schedule a pick up from our Denver office by our Colorado Springs crew.
It is just a lot of little steps that can really bite you in the ass if you forget a single one of them. And the day before or on the day of an event is not the time to realize a portion or all of your requested items did not make it down for your event.
In the middle of my venting rant which took place in the 10 feet from my desk to the printer where I was picking up one of my mimeographed copies to document step one of the 12 step process, I was told that I also need to verify that they "understand" what items I am requesting to rent. WTF? I think that was my undoing that afternoon. If I look up the item in their inventory system and it has a "NAME", then when I use that same "item name" in my request it should be easily understood what fucking item I am asking for, right? My manager seemed to get hung up on my exasperation that I should have to copy and paste the item image onto a separate form where I have clearly referenced the exact name of the damn item from their own database.
I muttered that I was "just venting". Which most days means sorry, lets pretend I was using the voice in my head that only hear. Seems, venting is not allowed on the last Friday of each month. I was going to ask to see a printed copy of the memo went out explaining what days I could vent and what days I couldn't but I decided not to because there was a chance that the email actually existed and I was in fact violating a company policy.
She must have seen the snarky thought roll across my face because I normally concede,shut up and return to my desk and breathe loudly. But I didn't return to my desk. I stood there. Then it was explained to me that this is why I get commission. I kinda didn't react well to that load of bullshit.
Commission is for the 171 phone calls and 352 emails to and from the client to complete a sale. Commission is for smiling, finding your pleasant voice and holding the sweaty hands of your clients until they can clearly see your vision and pay in full. Commission is paid to those who have the patience and personality to give excellent customer service, every day and to manage the unpleasant phone calls when things go very, very bad. Commission is for closing the sale.
Anyway, I don't usually raise my voice at work, but my manager does. I obviously had a little volume that needed to explode so I watched myself as I got louder and louder to match each octave she raised her voice. My argument was that I have a valid complaint about our antiquated internal bureaucratic Dewey Decimal style 1980's inventory rental system. Then I got the guilt trip about how busy all of the people who make my world run are and how I just don't understand. I get that they are busy, our system still sucks.
Normally I shut up, but I just couldn't. This little voice raising, guilt trip, commission explanation went on for a bit longer. I have a valid rant. News Flash: Melissa, no body gives a shit.
The conversation ended.
In my head it was the scene from the movie Office Space, where Milton is told to move his desk again and then his boss takes his red stapler. Not that I was muttering about burning the building down, but I was muttering for sure!
My manager will be back soon and I can tell I am already itching for her to come out of her office and vent. She does this often. Hell we all do. Which is why I was so irritated that my moment of venting was deemed a personal affront to our hard working, busy employees by my lazy elitist ass instead of just a moment of blowing off some steam.
When she starts complaining, I can't wait to remind her "that is why we get commission, so suck it up buttercup!"
I probably won't say it out loud, but knowing me, it will be broadcast in my smirk and the crinkling of my eyes.
My manager knows that we had a weird exchange between us that day and will easily read it on my face next time she comes to me to "vent" about a client that is requiring more than the usual hand holding or when her requested inventory items are sold out from under her or don't arrive because she didn't complete the 12 step carbon copy process to thoroughly complete her order.
Needless to say, I was ready to leave work at the end of my shift. I came home and was very pleased with my camping gear prep and threw it all in my car and began my journey up the mountain towards a much needed camping weekend!
This is mainly rhetorical, so if you wake up tomorrow and find I have deleted your detailed list of links and options for dealing with depression, I apologize in advance. Sorry, not really sorry.
How do you manage your child's depression? Hell, how do you manage your own depression?
When you pick up your child from school and they tell you they are having a very depressed day and that they want to go cash out some of their money they earned this summer to treat you to sushi, how do you react? What do you say?
Honestly, my fear jumped into my chest immediately. We are still so close to the times earlier this year when depressed days were not discussed and I almost lost him. We didn't have a vocabulary for it yet. I hadn't recognized it was time to teach him some new "feeling" words.
I still feel very reactionary when he tells me he is feeling depressed. I don't ever want to lose him. All of this hits me square in the heart in the 10 seconds since he got into the car and said depressed. I am still in the kiss and go school line just sitting there.
The adult in me ask if it is based on something that happened during the day? His reply, "nope, just one of those out of the blue days."
I don't want to believe him, surely someone said or did something. You don't just get depressed, except in our family we do.
You can lecture them for sure. Who doesn't love a good lecture, right? I have been on the receiving end of those heart felt dialogues where every question is gauged and weighed to see if it merits the emotions I am feeling. Today, I decide to just keep my mouth closed and my ears open.
I have a check list of things to do instead of sitting and being depressed. He does as well.
Listen to happy music, dance, call a friend, call your mom, essential oils, go for a walk, pet a dog...
I keep my jumbled thoughts to myself and remind him my belly is messed up due to my ear infection and the antibiotics and offer to take him to the grocery store to get a take out sushi box so I can just eat some soup. He concedes that my dinner offer will appease him.
In the grocery store, he grabs a bag of cookies. I start to open my mouth to mention that we don't eat our feelings, except in our family we do. We also drink them, don't voice them and/or soothe them in the arms of a lover (good, bad or unknown). Some of us have been known to self soothe themselves into quite the shit show all because we can't seem to find the damn list of things to do when you feel depressed or overwhelmed.
It is really difficult to find a consistent friend to call on when you suffer from mood disorders. The drama gets old really fast to most people. The repetition seems almost personal and intentional if you don't suffer with depression. Finding someone to just be with you in that moment is very rare and special.
I had a friend laminate a small version of a list of "what to do when you are feeling depressed" for me many decades ago.
I used that laminated card to make lines of cocaine on a couple of occasions. I should stop and take a moment to thank the Gods that I am alive to tell my stories. There came a day, when I had to drop the card in the trash at a gas station so I didn't find it in my wallet and start thinking of how much easier things would be if I could just escape reality for a little while.
The problem is you have to have enough experience to know that you can make it to through the depression and that it is worth drudging through. That takes time and patience and endless repetition.
I will admit, I don't always want to leave the weight of depression. Sometimes it feels like bouts of depression are the only time I get to sit fucking down. Then there are the days the weight feels inhumanly crushing and I get scared I can't get the weight off of my chest, that I stayed too long.
Depression can be so very heavy and sometimes it doesn't seem possible or worth trying to move through it. Some times, even after you find the list, and you are holding it with both hands, staring at it intently, the magic just doesn't work.
My mind snaps back to my son and I realize it was a long holiday weekend with his dad, who isn't quite on board with the meds and their importance and our kids need for routine. Busy holiday weekend, weird schedules and I kinda saw some of this building, but then I got sick and had to come home.
I am happy tonight is a group therapy night and when we get in the car I causally mention that this might be a good question to ask tonight to see how people his age deal with getting themselves out of a long day of funk. All I can do is keep walking my walk and showing him what this adult does.
He is a year away from being a legal adult and I am actively working to remind myself that I can be a person he reaches out to when he needs help or I can teach him responsibility and accountability for his actions. It is such a slight of hand, the difference between the options. Most people don't notice when you stack the deck in their favor. If you are a care giver for someone with mental illness you know about stacking the deck in their favor. It offers a chance that the day will go well. I didn't notice or comprehend until I started attending the care givers group. There are no lectures, only slight head nods by a diverse group of adults who also once held onto the magic list like a lifeline. We all have access to the same information, but until you come to a group, you don't realize you are not alone in being pissed at that stupid list. There is no need to read the list out loud each meeting, we all have it memorized.
I know my son is very smart and learns by doing. He is a hands on type learner. He will walk through the steps several more times before he feels confident he can get through a bout of depression. He will have to try all of the tricks to figure out which ones will work for him and which ones won't. He is very hard on himself and I know he has his own internal dialogue in process, so today I gauged it is safe to listen and not speak. He is capable of figuring out the next step he needs to take, he alerted me to his mood and after filling his belly he got himself grounded again after some wobbly steps and get his homework completed.
I can't fix this for him, but for as long as possible, I will keep my arms out and open for him.
As a generation of divorced parents raising kids, I understand that we are all creating these weird blended family units that schools and scout groups have to deal with and figure out how to assemble us into the old normal family unit formulas. I know it is exhausting for everyone to navigate these new social units.
Please know it is equally as difficult for those of us creating the new social unit as it is for those of you still in standard, traditional marriages. There are no check boxes yet to easily tick off or ever enough room in those tiny little spaces provided to explain what is happening in our children's home lives. Hell, most people get this weird pinched look around the eyes when you try to explain in person that this person is my ex-husbands former girlfriend, who is also our Girl Scout Troop Leader. Or, this is my mom's former boy friend of five years who has been a part of my daily family life along with his children but they aren't dating any more, but live in the same building but we don't acknowledge each other any more.
I didn't see any of this playing out like it did, but I have tried my best to roll with the changes as they have arrived. It catches me off guard sometimes, the weirdness of it all as I walking into my Girl Scout Leader's home as she and my children and ex are finishing up cramming a meal in before the meeting, I have knocked to announce myself and entered, trying, with each step to shed the uncomfortable. Trying to accept the new normal and accept life as it is at this exact moment with out my disappointment and fear attached. Trying to live in the now.
I will tell you it did get easier as I chose to see my ex-husband not as my ex-husband, but as my children's Dad. I think I removed him from any ownership I had and put him in the distant weird family member realm. He was no longer my ex-husband, he was this old angry family member who attends every family function but always feels put upon that he has to waste his time attending. Yes it was weird to see him playing a very familiar husband/boyfriend role in someone else's home, but after two years, it all became very normal. It was interesting, to say the least to see him flitter and flutter around trying to be helpful. It helped me remember when we were first dating and helped me open a dialogue with our kids about what life was like when Mommy and Daddy were first dating. It was good to see him somewhat happy, as happy as he will allow himself to be. The kids and I had months of conversations that started with, "There was a time when..."
I did (and still actively do) a great deal of healing and forgiving work during that time. I don't want to be filled with hate towards the man I chose to marry and create children with. I do not enjoy him anymore. I can't be around him too long anymore. He is still choosing to hang on to so much anger and pain and hate that it just eeks out of him. We have radically different political view and with every passing day, we get further and further opposed to even being able to have safe conversations about the world. I can however talk to him about our kids and the challenges they are facing. We disagree on most things, but I have become more comfortable in working around needing him to accept how I feel things need to be. I am 100% fine if he just relinquishes control and tells me that he is stating for the "record" that he is against whatever I am doing and will not be held responsible for the outcome. This is my new normal with him.
I acknowledge that he feels what I am asking for is wrong, a bad choice, ridiculous, hopeful, not logical and I sit through endless analogies until he figures out that he doesn't have a better plan or solution, so we might as well do what I am asking for if I allow him blame me for all future time and readily wear the Scarlet Letter (actual written document, signed and dated by both parties and witnessed by a third party) stating that he "told me so." When I know we need to have a family meeting about the kids, I print a blank copy of this form and take it with me so we can complete the entire process in one sitting instead of the ping pong game of emails that just never fucking end when we don't complete the paperwork together!
Everything sounds blissful, correct? We are figuring out this mess of co-parenting. So, this story should start with this weekend was our annual Girl Scout Family Camp Event. Our GS Leader gets 10 camp sites or so and we all pile in with multiple families sharing a tent pad/RV site. My ex chooses the farthest site away from everyone as a general rule. Last year, I brought my long term, live-in boyfriend and we stayed on the other side of the lake. We had our own drama as I don't like for the two men to mix. My ex is an angry verbal know it all asshole. My boyfriend is the touchiest, feeliest, clingiest love bug I have ever known and this pushed my ex's buttons like crazy.
Because my long term goal is to be able to be with my children when they have and raise their families, I work every day to not irritate my ex with pure Melissa bullshit issues. Melissa having a boyfriend is nothing but a pure bullshit issue to my ex.
I know I will need to be able to sit in a small room with my ex while we wait for our Grandchildren to be birthed. Having my boyfriend draped over me, does not go over well at all. I get it, macho bull shit and all, and so I have opted out of the relationship. It was the easiest battle to end. When I stopped bringing my boyfriend to events, a whole layer of drama with my ex ended. Everybody's focus goes back to the kids.
While it was weird to see my ex creating a new family dynamic of his own, his girlfriend really didn't bother me. I could sit and drink wine with her. However, I didn't realize how young she was. I had assumed she was around my age, and let me tell you there was a moment of ugly jealousy that flared for this "former trophy wife". But as quickly as it made me feel old and ugly, I bounced the fuck back and asked myself what is wrong with her that she would be interested in a man almost 20 years older than her. Then I giggled and decided that this was an easy "not my fucking issue" and made peace with the lucky bastard being able to locate yet another young woman to parade around.
I don't want holiday's to be an issue of my inflaming. I can envision my ex and I sitting at opposite end of the table with our children as adults. It is who I am, and it has been a vision that I have seen since the day I knew our marriage was over. Interestingly enough, it has become reality in the past year. My ex has walked into my home and sat down at my dinner table to have family meetings this past year. We have shared a meal together while we came up with a group game plan for what the next school year looks like.
I made that happen. I got out of my own way and stopped listening to the world around me tell me that what I want for my family is not normal or needed. I know it is going to be normal and my kids need me to do my best to make this one tiny area of their lives less stressful. My long term desire is to be standing there with my ex witnessing and experiencing our children create and live their lives, not be punished and miss out on seeing my children's lives unfold because I couldn't stay married to their dad. I have done my time and served my sentence for ending my marriage.
So, this year for family camp out I would be going alone. I had asked a girl friend to go with as we had talked about camping all summer and never made it happen, but at the last minute she ended up having an emergency and couldn't go. No big deal, I can so do this divorced grown up thing on my own, right?!