Tag Archives: divorce

Things turn icky

I’m messy. I just can’t help it. I think it’s genetic. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to live in a clean and organized home, but I just can’t do it. I hold on to things and they pile up. Things get buried in the fridge and turn icky. I put things down where they don’t belong, thinking I’ll put it away later…which never happens. I don’t know why. I guess I just get distracted with other things and before you know it, another day has gone by and the pile of clean laundry I threw in the corner of my closet (because I was having company and everyone who knows me knows they are not allowed in my room because that’s where I pile everything when I “clean up” and they know damn well not to push me on that ) is still there. Buried under two other piles of clean laundry I tossed in there. And the floor is lined with stacks of mail and papers and kids report cards and school projects and photos and books and…. Ugh.

Not to mention, I live on Cape Cod and I’ve got so many better things to do with my free time during our oh so short summer…

Sometimes, though…I get motivated. Not the kind of motivated I get when I’m having company and I need to hide things, but the kind of motivated where I am ready to tackle one of those projects.  Unfortunately, it usually takes me feeling frustrated or pissed off to find this motivation. I’m dealing with a bit of an emotional speed bump right now, which makes me feel things I’ve been trying to shed from my soul all year…so I found myself cleaning out my pantry this evening. I filled up a full-sized trash bag, throwing out expired crackers, stale cereal, empty boxes (why my boys can’t comprehend how tricky it is when they leave an empty box in there…how am I supposed to know we need more? I don’t have x-ray vision.) I also ran a few loads of laundry and hung up all those piles of clothes in my closet. I felt accomplished. As I scurried around, I had to chuckle a bit. All I could think of was my marriage. Every time my ex-husband made me feel bad, I found myself filled with a powerful frustration which, of course, never got validated and never had anywhere to go. So, I would clean. After a while, he knew if he saw me cleaning at eight o’clock at night, he knew he was in trouble. Hell hath no fury like a scorned woman, I said to myself tonight. And that made me laugh, so there’s my sliver lining.

As I hung up my clothes, I stopped laughing. I came across a few items that reminded me of feelings I hate. I saw what used to be one of my favorite skirts. It’s a blue and white striped maxi, kind of nautical looking. As I looked at it, I remembered the last time I wore it. I had participated on a town committee last year and the local paper printed a photo of the members. I was the only female on the board. I paired the skirt with a navy blouse and thought it made a great business-casual look. I was excited to be on the board, even though it didn’t turn out quite as I had imagined (which is a misogynistic post for another day), and was also excited to have my photo in the paper. This was during the time when my husband and I were negotiating about getting a divorce. We were being fairly nice to each other, as he didn’t want to move out. I had sort of stopped sharing things with him at that point, as he had no clue on how to validate me and I had been through so much that spring that I just felt it was easier to keep things to myself. For some reason, I decided to share that day. I suppose it’s because he had been being so nice to me. I mentioned I made “the front page”, jokingly, as it’s just a tiny, local town paper. We both smiled at the joke. He picked up the paper and said, “Well, there she is!”  It seemed like it was a pleasant interaction between us, which I easily welcomed, after all we had been going through. He then held the paper up and followed with, “Well, it’s not the most flattering photo of you, now, is it...” with an expression on his face that I probably can’t describe, but just trust me…it matched his words. And just like that, I felt small again. God, I hate feeling small. I felt myself shrinking, trying to disappear. However, I did just go through several months of therapy, and had been working so very hard on myself, going to meditation, working on opening my Chakras…so I found my voice and used it. “You’re so rude”, I said, calmly. He got defensive and said something like, “Oh, so now you’re going to be mad at me?  You’re so sensitive. It’s just a comment, Jami. People say these things, you know.” We went back and forth about it, with me telling him how small he makes me feel and how people certainly do not say things like that, and him telling me how it’s all my fault for being so sensitive. I held my ground and he held his, and we kept that argument going until the next day, when he finally apologized (an apology I did not accept, FYI). Needless to say, I haven’t worn it since.

I know, you’re all going to tell me I should say “Screw him” and wear that skirt, but I just can’t. Maybe some day, but I just don’t like being reminded of feeling small, because when I’m reminded…I feel it. It fills me up and is real. It comes back so easily…like riding a bike.

So, the skirt will stay in there, along with the hat I bought on vacation and only wore once because he laughed at it all afternoon. I won’t throw them away, because I want to get to the point where I can wear them and not feel small. I know I’ll get there, some day….

 

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS July 8/17

 

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Marching on

My youngest son had a birthday yesterday. 14. It’s going by so quickly. I imagine he’s grown more than a year, emotionally. It’s been a kind of tough year around here. His dad moved out the end of October, and he’s had to adjust to things no child should have to adjust to. Divorce causes grief in children. They grieve the death of their family unit. It seems to have affected him a bit more than my older son, though things aren’t always as they seem, so one will ever really know. Part of me feels guilty for putting this grief on him, but I think that’s a normal feeling. Intellectually, I know this divorce is better for all of us in the long run. My children will benefit from having a strong, empowered, happy, butterfly of a mom…instead of the caterpillar mom they had…the one who was suffocating in her cocoon. Getting my intellectual self to match up to my emotional self just might be a life-long process, but I’m getting there.

I learned to validate my own feelings this year. By doing so, I’ve learned how to validate others. This has come in handy with my youngest, during his difficult times. His father does not understand validation. No fault of his own…he just doesn’t have that toolbox. My toolbox is full, and I have been validating the hell out of my children’s emotions. As my youngest heals, I can see his toolbox filling, as well. Our bond has only strengthened during this experience, as we continue marching on.

13 turning into 14, for him, has been a huge period of maturity and growth. I’m so proud of who he is… his values, his goals…just everything about him. I’ve been so blessed with these two angels on Earth.  When your children exceed your hopes and dreams on who they will turn out to be…there’s just no accurate description of how full your heart feels.

Happy birthday, son. I love you forever…

 

 

​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WKaO1a_ORw&sns=em

 

 

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Mar. 25/17

 

 

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The idea of a man

Almost my entire life, I’ve had a skewed perception regarding men. Though, I didn’t realize it was skewed until this past year. I’m glad I finally found out. Some women take those thoughts to the grave without ever knowing.

I suppose the confusion started when I was 13. I won’t go into details, other than to say I did not get to choose who to lose my virginity to, nor at what age I was to lose it.  The misconception grew, over the next few years, as similar scenarios played out with 3 different boys. By the time I was 16, it was painfully obvious what my purpose was with the opposite sex. Other than my body, I had no value.

As I got older, I was able to choose who I wanted to do these things with. The problem was, by that point, I didn’t know anything different from what I had experienced, so ended up putting myself in situations that left me feeling the same way I did at 13. It’s funny (not funny) how the brain talks you into recreating trauma scenarios, just because it’s all you know. You grow up accepting that “other people get those things…you only get this”. Having no value rings true, even towards yourself.

Long story short, I went to therapy. It’s been over a year now since I started. I learned that the heavy feelings of worthlessness and shame were not because of things I’d done…they were because of things done to me. I never knew that. Can you believe it? I honestly never knew that. Well, once I figured that out, I became angry. I was angry at every man who ever made me feel “less than”. Angry at myself for letting it happen. Angry at my husband for being just like them, even though I now know that’s the whole reason I chose him. I started to take my power back. I got divorced…and realized I did not want another man. One friend jokingly called me a “man-hater”. It wasn’t correct. I didn’t hate men. I just hated what a lot of men did. I started to speak up about injustice towards women…and spoke up loudly. I became a feminist. It was empowering! Lifting that heavy weight was liberating to my soul. It was like nothing could stop me…unless I talked about being with another man. Those thoughts caused a sinking feeling deep inside me. When I felt them, I felt defective and ashamed.  I guess I wasn’t completely healed…

So, I continued with my feminism. I continued with accomplishing new things and using my voice to keep that empowered feeling. I continued with therapy and yoga and mediation and writing…all the things I learned to do to nurture my soul…to heal. I started to lose a lot of that anger. I softened. I hollowed out my soul. Honestly, I’m not sure what I want the end result to be. Maybe I’m already at the end result. Maybe I’ll never get there. How will I know?  Do I need to be OK with having a man in my life to prove to myself that I’m totally healed?  I’m not sure I do.  What I do know is, after continuing my work, after nurturing myself the way I’ve always craved it, instead of fearing men… I’m now comfortable with the idea of a man in my life.  I’m comfortable with the possibility of meeting a man who empowers me, who lifts me up, who adores me…a man who values me.  And if that doesn’t pan out, I think I’ll be just fine…because I empower me, I lift myself up, I adore me and …I value me. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted. I firmly believe that the challenge is to love yourself. Once you are able to do that, everything else falls into place. What that “place” is, I have no idea…I’m leaving that up to the universe.

 

 

This post was written in response to Linda G Hill’s Stream of Social Consciousness Saturday…free-flowing, organic writing with no edits!

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Mar. 18/17

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Sewing security

 

It’s hard for me to remember my parents being married. My mom left when I was 9. You’d think 9 years would be enough to have lots of memories, but I guess it’s not.

I only have one memory of my parents having fun together. They were getting dressed up for a night out dancing. It was a 50s themed dance…Mom had on a poodle skirt and dad had a pack of cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve of his white T-shirt.  She looked so pretty and he looked so cool. They came home with a trophy. Sometimes, that memory makes me smile.

Oddly enough, even though I only have one fun memory, I also only have one fight memory. My parents were pretty damn good at hiding their arguments from me. So good that I was completely blindsided when they told me of the divorce. I thought parents got divorced when they didn’t get along anymore? My parents never fought. It was so confusing to me. The one time I remember them fighting was after they announced the divorce. Mom stood up and angrily swore at dad during dinner, and he got mad at her for fighting in front of me.  I just sat there quietly staring at my spaghetti, trying to be invisible. She left not too long after that.

Aside from those two polar opposite memories, there is one constant that returns whenever my mind trails back to those first 9 years… my mom’s sewing machine. She had her own upholstery business she ran out of our basement. Each day after school, I’d hop off the bus, run up the walkway and fling open the front door… listening for the hum of her sewing machine. When I heard it, I relaxed. Mom’s home. There was a sense of security in that hum. I’d drop my books and run downstairs to give her a hug and tell her all about my day. It was so normal…I took it for granted.

When she left, so did that sense of security. No longer could I fling open the front door. Dad made me a key. I was coming home alone now. I’d quietly insert the key, slowly opening the door without making a sound. The house was quiet. Mom’s not home anymore.

 

This post was written in response to the prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday by Linda G. Hill

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Feb. 11/17

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A feather in the woods

Early last summer, I was neck-deep in the therapeutic process of dealing with my childhood trauma. I was also in the process of dealing with the real-time trauma of my imminently ending marriage. It was during those darkest times that my “awakening” began. As I started to wake up, I realized there was a much bigger picture I was a part of. I began to feel in tune with nature, understand spirituality and realized the universe was more intertwined with everything in my life than I thought it was. I started to see “signs” almost daily. The synchronicities were too many to ignore. The most fascinating ones were the ones with animals. Deer and hawks, to be exact.  I get that I live in an area where deer and hawks live, and understand there’s a chance I’ll see them from time to time, but this was something completely different…especially the hawks. They started appearing right in front of me. They would swoop right in front of my car as I was driving, several times a week. It was scary at first, but as I realized what was happening, I began to feel the peace in it all. Even though I wasn’t sure what everything meant, just knowing it meant something was enough for me.

My soon to be ex-husband thought I was crazy. He would make fun of me and my “signs”.  He even got the kids in on it.  It was hurtful to me. It wouldn’t be now, but back then…I was fragile. I would try to explain the significance of what I had seen, and he would often come back with, “oh, I see that all the time”, dismissing my enthusiasm. I would end up retreating to my room, feeling small and embarrassed.  It got to the point where I no longer shared my “sign” sightings with him. Seeing them made me feel excited and hopeful, and those feelings were so easily ripped away with his off-handed comments. I don’t think he intentionally wanted to make me feel that way, but that’s just how he is. My feelings have never been a priority in this relationship.

One day, I went for a hike in the conservation land on our road with my youngest son. He had gotten in trouble at school and was not allowed to watch TV or video games for the weekend, so I used that as an opportunity to get him to walk with me. Boredom made him eager to get out and do something, even if it was walking with his mom. He’s 13… you know how that goes. Anyway, we had a GREAT time! We took paths we’d never gone down before…got a little lost along the way, and he enjoyed deciding which path would take us back out again.  We came across no other people…just us and the woods. We enjoyed small talk about all kinds of things…school, relationships, careers…we created a heartwarming memory together on that simple walk. As we neared the end, I was really appreciating this one on one time with him…time with no distractions, no electronics….just me, my son and nature. On the final path out, something caught my eye on the ground. It was a feather. Off-white with brown stripes. I picked it up and called out to my son, “Look! A hawk feather!” I was amazed, yet not totally surprised, as the hawks had been making themselves known to me all spring. My son asked, “How do you know it’s a sign, mom?” He said it half sincere and half mocking. Almost like his automatic response was to make fun of me, like his dad did…but part of him was truly curious. I replied, “I don’t know it’s a sign for sure, but it feels like a sign. I know that when I look at this feather, I’m going to remember this kick-ass, quality time I spent with you. This day wouldn’t have happened if you didn’t get in trouble. It’s almost like the universe had you get in trouble so we could spend some quality time together. Every time I look at this feather, I’m going to smile, because I’m going to think of you, and I love spending time with you”. He paused for a second, smiled, and said “oh, I get it”, and led us out of the woods. I was glowing.

I pretty much floated home after that. I felt good. Moments of feeling good were fleeting back then, so I didn’t take it for granted. We walked in the house and my husband was in his usual position, in front of the TV. I was mindful of how I wasn’t sharing any of my synchronicity stories with him anymore. Actually, we had been barely talking to each other the past few days at all.  He had been trying to, but I had been giving him the cold shoulder. I was miserably depressed most days, and I’d had enough of feeling unworthy to him… and the rest of the world.  At that point, he was trying his hardest to not annoy me because he wasn’t ready to move out. Walking in that door, I felt so happy…so good…I figured I’d bite the bullet and tell him the story. Surely, with all that was going on, he would at least pretend to think it was cool. “We had a great time! Guess what we found on our walk? A hawk feather!” I was smiling from ear to ear. I showed it to him proudly. My son was smiling, too. That feather meant something to both of us now. My husband took a few seconds to change his gaze from the TV to me. With the slight condescending tone I’m used to, he says, “Are you sure that’s not a turkey feather?” My smile drops in an instant. “Don’t ruin this for me” I say back to him softly. He looks at me, shrugs his shoulders and says, “well, I can’t help it if it’s not a hawk feather” and turns back to the TV. I felt the tears stinging. My shoulders slumped. My son went up to his room, and I tossed the feather into the trash, went into the bathroom, and cried. He watched TV and didn’t think twice about it.

The next day, I went to a therapy appointment. I wasn’t sad anymore. I was angry. Not at him, but at me. I felt like such a baby for crying over a stupid feather. What the hell was wrong with me? There are worse things in life than finding out a hawk feather is a turkey feather, for Christ’s sake!  My therapist could tell by my scowl that something was bothering me. I didn’t want to tell her. “It’s so dumb. I have no idea why I’m so upset about something so stupid. I don’t even want to tell you, it’s so ridiculous”. I really had no intention of telling her how childish I was being about a stupid feather. “Tell me”, she said firmly, with a protective yet nurturing tone. Reluctantly, I did. I finished the story crying, saying “I don’t understand why I’m so upset about a damn feather!” I was so angry at myself for having those feelings. In her typical knowing way, she tells me “I know exactly why you felt that way. He crushed your spirit.” I looked at her through my tears and asked, “But he’s probably right. It probably is just a turkey feather. He’s probably right about all of my signs.”  My therapist is all about empowering women, and damn…she is good at it. “So what? All feathers are signs.” Really? I did not know that. “And who cares what he thinks? This is about you, not him”. She follows with, “Please tell me you kept the feather.” I told her I threw it away. She shook her head and sighed. As I said it, my head hung down and I felt a little ashamed. She was right. He crushed my spirit, but at that moment, I also realized…I let him crush my spirit. It was amazing how I could spend 2 days beating myself up for how my husband made me feel, and she can make me stop in 5 minutes, just by validating my feelings. I’m telling you….validating feelings just might be the answer to all the world’s problems. 

I went home and immediately dug through the trash. I found the poor feather, covered with wet coffee grounds and some other substances I wasn’t quite sure of. I delicately washed it like a baby in the sink and let it dry. I never told my husband, and he never brought it up. I’m sure the conversation went right out of his head as soon as it happened, while I dwelled on it for days. That’s how we rolled. I’m not sure if he even remembers it when he sees the feather. I’m finally at a place where I really don’t care what he thinks.  I have it in a small bud vase that I filled with sand from my favorite beach. It’s sitting right in my dining room, next to a picture of my son. I look at it every day and smile, thinking of that hike. That feather makes me think of how much I love spending time with my son, just like I said it would.

 

This post was written in response to Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

 

 

 

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS and #JusJoJan Jan. 28/17

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17 Water Glasses

I’m starting to notice a theme around here, ever since my husband and I separated.  Shortly after he moved out, my washing machine broke. I used the power of Google to fix it on my own. I felt badass. It was empowering to repair something I normally would have relied on him for. Two weeks later, it broke again. I was deflated. Just like that, I lost my badassery. Just as I was about to give in and call a repair man, I figured out how to fix it again, making me badass, once more.

A few weeks ago, my dishwasher broke. Once again, I used the power of Google to fix it on my own, and once again, I was badass. I mean, come on…how many of my girlfriends are repairing major appliances? I don’t want to brag, but I’m kind of a big deal.  However, the theme being what it is…last night, the damn dishwasher flooded again. Except this time, I didn’t let my badassery just whimper away like last time. I brainstormed, and quickly came up with a solution. When I fixed it last time, I unclogged 7 years worth of unscraped food from the drain pipe. I figured the driveway snow marker I used to unclog it was too skinny, so it must have only opened up part of the clog. I imagined that goop closed itself off again. No big deal. I’ll just unclog it better. Piece of cake for a badass girl.

I strut myself down to Home Depot, in search of whatever the tool is that I’m imagining in my head. I was picturing sort of like a toilet brush, but skinnier and longer…something that would really scrub the sides of that drain pipe and rid us of this alien food blob pipe clogging mess, once and for all. I start searching the plumbing aisle, and my toilet brush de-clogging thingy is nowhere to be seen. Reluctantly, I look for help. I find this cute, older gentleman employee and start to describe what I’m looking for. He’s quite adorable, in a grandpa-ish sort of way, so I don’t get annoyed or frustrated when he says he’s never heard of my “tool”.  He seems impressed that I’m attempting to unclog a pipe….you know, because I’m a woman. Anyway, turns out the tool I’m really looking for is called an “auger”, and it’s not a brush, its coiled metal. Whatever.

I pull into my driveway with my shiny new auger, just as my husband is pulling out. He was dropping my son off, and noticed my purchase. Wearing his typical “you are an idiot” expression, he says to me, “you know, we have TWO of those downstairs”.  I hate that condescending “you are an idiot expression”. It’s the one he wears when he knows something and I don’t. He tells me to return it. I say “OK”, but I don’t want to. Sure, it makes sense to return it, seeing how there’s two of these things sitting somewhere in my basement, but I just went to Home Depot and figured out what I needed, sort of impressed the grandpa employee, and really, the whole point of me doing this is to show I don’t need him. I decide to put those feelings away, and get back to the task at hand. I say goodbye and head to my kitchen. Since I just did this same thing two weeks ago, I know the drill. I empty the cabinet below the sink. I unscrew the C clamps holding the pipe to the wall. I turn off the water. I loosen the hose clamp that secures the drain pipe to the Y pipe of the sink (remember, I learned all these plumbing terms last time, so you know…this is how I roll now). I use a paper cup to manually drain the dishwasher and I check the sensor. And by “checking” the sensor, I mean I rub my finger over it 3 times, because really, how do you “check” a dishwasher drain sensor? Do you ask it tenderly, “Hey little Buddy, are you alright? Just checking on you.”  The sensor seems fine. I put a bucket under the pipe and cautiously pull it off the Y pipe. I peek inside the hole, kind of nervously, as I remember the horror scene that was inside there last time. Nervous, but excited. I’m pumped to use my new auger. Wow, I really dig using the word “auger”. I’m pretty sure only badass people use augers. Anyway, I peek in and….damn. It’s clean as a whistle. Part of me feels good about that, because it means I really did successfully clear the pipe last time. The other part of me, however, is deflated. I’m sitting on the floor, surrounded by my tools, staring at a broken dishwasher I can’t fix. It’s 11pm, and I’m tired. Tired and deflated and completely non-badass. I look at the sink, and it’s filled with about 17 water glasses. You know, because I’ve got two teenage boys and they pour a beverage, take two sips, put it down, forget about it, then pour a new glass. All. Day. Long. Yeah, at this point, I’m the opposite of badass. I would write the word down if I knew what it was. Lame-ass? Close enough. As I’m deciding whether or not to wash all those glasses by hand at 11 o’clock at night, or leave them until my boys die of thirst, while simultaneously wondering which repairman I’ll be calling in the morning…I remember something. Two weeks ago, when I first started researching “dishwasher won’t drain” on Google, every site I went on said to try resetting the drain cycle first. I did that back then and it didn’t work, and I guess I just forgot about it. I picked my lame-ass up off the floor, started a wash cycle, hit “stop” two times to initiate the drain cycle (yeah, that’s right…I am kind of a plumber now), and what do you know? It mother effin worked! And just like that, I became a badass again.

I think the next time I’m feeling deflated, like I can’t do anything, like I’m helpless…I’m going to remember this. I’m not helpless. There’s always going to be road blocks in my life, things that make me feel like I’m taking two steps backwards in this process. I just have to remember that I’m still me, even when I don’t feel like me. Even if I hadn’t been able to fix it, I’m still pretty badass for trying, and I think that goes for everything in my life.

 

This post was written in response to Linda G Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS and #JusJoJan Jan. 21/17

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Divorce and the dishwasher

 

I think I’m being tested. Is it normal to need this many major appliance repairs in the span of 2 months?  My husband moved out on October 23rd, and since then I’ve had to repair the washing machine TWICE…and now this.  Am I crazy to think he’s sneaking in here and sabotaging my appliances to make me appreciate him? This is what I found this evening, of course…AFTER my son had put away all the dishes (so, I guess I might have to re-wash everything we own now. You’ll understand later). At this stage of the game, I’m not one to waste time. I head straight to YouTube. I learn how to remove that round filter you see in the middle of that milky mess. But first, I had to take a paper cup and manually remove all of that nasty water. I’m chuckling, because at the time, I thought putting my hands in that water was the gross part. Fool. Anyway, I drain the water and pull out the filter. Apparently, you are supposed to clean this thing as part of your regular maintenance. That in itself is funny because, really…who performs “regular maintenance” on their freaking dishwasher? So, this filter is beyond disgusting. It’s a cylinder made out of metal mesh, like a screen, and completely coated with a pinkish-hue film of slimy gunk. I clean it out, and check the sensor. What the hell is the sensor? I have no clue, but YouTube told me to do it, so I did. I sort of rubbed my finger over it to “check it”, and then checked the drain hole for blockage. There was none. I searched the internet a bit more, and saw videos explaining how to check all sorts of things under the control panel. Things like switches and pumps and plumbery stuff like that. I bust out my new tool box (my sister thoughtfully bought me one for Christmas, after my washing machine escapades), removed the panel, and immediately noticed signs everywhere warning of electric shock. I realized I would need to figure out how to shut of the breaker before attempting any of the videos I watched, and really, I have to draw the line somewhere. I want to be independent around here, but I also don’t want my kids to find me fried on the kitchen floor, so I put the panel back on and start thinking about calling a repair company. I’m disappointed, because all I can hear in my mind is my husband saying to me, “You’re going to miss me around here, you know. When something breaks and you need me to fix it, I’m not going to be around”… like I’m a helpless, dependent nothing. I’d rather call and pay for a repairman than call him, admitting my helplessness. I was frustrated, because I’d spent so much time working on this and thought for sure I could do it. Before completely giving up, I took a chance and called a friend for help. He’s pretty handy, and knew exactly what I was talking about. My friend guided me to the drain hose that leads to the Y valve in the pipes under the sink (don’t I sound so freaking mechanical right now? I just learned these words tonight). I unscrew the C clamps that are holding it up against the wall and unscrew the ….damn, I forgot the name of the other clamp, I guess I’m not quite the plumber I thought I was a few minutes ago. Anyway, I pull the hose off the pipe, and this thing is FILLED with this…this…substance. No, substance is not right. It’s like a rubbery, snotty, liver-looking, clotty, gelatinous yet meaty…organism. No, it’s not alive, but it could be, maybe on another planet. This is what I’ve been using to wash my dishes. How on Earth are we still alive? Apparently, this “clog” is 8 years worth of wet food, and it’s blocking almost 3 feet of this hose. I grab a bucket and look for something to unclog it. All I can find is a campfire marshmallow stick. I shove it in there and I can feel it in the sludge of this moist food alien baby byproduct. I pull it out and it’s like I lanced a giant wound…coated with the innards of this poor, suffering alien. Unfortunately, it’s not long enough to clear it. Each time I poke it in, I feel like I’m slowly killing someone in there. It feels fleshy. “So, this is what it feels like to stab someone”, I think to myself. My friend brainstorms and suggests I use a snow marker from the driveway, and by golly, it worked. I sloshed it around in the baby alien body (sorry, but this thing really did take on a life of it’s own…I came THIS close to naming it) and turn on the drain of the dishwasher. You know those gross videos floating around the internet of people lancing these giant cysts on people’s bodies, and they explode like 2 ton zits…like the old play doh hair dresser toy that would push it out like a sausage machine? That’s what it was like, but grosser. Picture diced up liver, lightly tossed in diarrhea. I’m pretty sure I just performed a medical procedure on this hose. It’s entire infected gut product ended up in the bucket…like a back alley colonoscopy. Blood everywhere. It was completely disgusting to watch it ooze out like a giant pimple… yet somehow, oddly satisfying. Anyway, it worked! I ran a cycle and it drained, smooth like butter.

So, it wasn’t completely independent appliance repair, but still way better than paying Sears a couple hundred bucks to come over.

My new motto as head of household, “Fix it yourself, or find someone to teach you how!”

 

This post was written in response to Linda G Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday. The prompt was “coat”. Thanks, Linda!

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS and #JusJoJan Jan. 7/17

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Divorce, kids and validation

My husband moved out October 23rd. Since then, I’ve had him over to dinner every other week or so. The kids see him throughout the week at basketball games, or sleep over his house a few nights. We’ve been getting along extremely amicably around them. It’s been so important to me for us to be as much of a “family unit” as we can, while living in two separate homes. I held our annual Thanksgiving sleepover here with my in-laws, as well as our Christmas Eve party with them. Today, my husband came over in the morning and we exchanged gifts together, as we always have done. After, we all drove together to my mother in law’s home for our annual Christmas dinner. People are so surprised when they see us doing these things together, especially with my in-laws, and I’ve  felt kind of proud for being able to pull this off. My kids have been happy and adjusting well to the new routines…it seemed.

After our dinner at their grandmother’s, they went over to their dad’s for a bit. After an hour or so, I receive a text from my husband, saying our 13-year-old son has been crying for the past hour, “because we’re not a family anymore. I feel really bad for him”. My heart lurched into my throat. I hadn’t pulled it off, after all. I called my husband to get more details. He said my son was alone in his room downstairs, while my other son and husband were upstairs. “So, he’s all by himself down there, crying?”, I asked. He said he had offered him to stay down there with him, and my son said he didn’t have to, so my husband went upstairs to watch TV.  What the hell?

I immediately drove over there. My husband and older son were watching TV upstairs. I go down to my youngest and he’s lying on his bed, in the dark, sobbing. I lie down next to him and just hold him. He keeps crying, and I keep holding. I try to imagine what I can say to make him feel better, but I know nothing can. Through his tears, he tells me he’s sad thinking about the “old days” and how he misses us being in the same house together, doing things together…simple things like eating dinner as a family. I tell him he’s right, it is sad. I tell him how bad I feel that he has to go through this…how divorce is one of the most stressful things a child can go through. I wanted to validate his feelings, not make them go away.  I suggested we invite Dad over for dinner tomorrow, and he thought that would be a good idea. I was amazed at this 13-year-old boy’s ability to put words to his emotions. He described occasionally having tears well up over the past few months, but was able to make them go away. He described an overwhelming sadness today after spending the holidays together, then coming home to his dad’s new house. “It doesn’t feel like home here. Even Dad says it doesn’t feel like home”. He couldn’t make the tears go away this time. During the conversation, he tried to stop crying by using slow breathing techniques. God, he is so precious. I kept telling him that crying is the best way to release this pain he’s been stifling, and that it’s unfair he has to deal with this situation.  I agreed that the house was not like our home. The room has a bed and a dresser in it. That’s all. I suggested we buy some things to make it more “homey”. He didn’t think that would work, because they are just “things”. This kid is smart. So, I suggested we come up with ways to create new memories there. When they visit their dad, other than watching TV together, they don’t do anything. This is how it was when my husband lived here, but wasn’t as noticeable to the boys because they had me doing things with them. Now that I’m not there, it’s pretty noticeable that all dad does at night is watch TV and stare at his laptop while drinking wine.

His tears finally slowed down and we went upstairs. I told my husband of our talk, and about our plan to create memories in the home. He said “there’s nothing homey about this place at all” and starts rattling off what he doesn’t like about it. Luckily, my son was in the bathroom when he said that. I cut him off, “stop saying that in front of him”. No wonder he’s sad going there….he hears his dad complain about it not feeling like home, then spends the night alone in his room. Jeez.  My husband did not look excited about the plans to “make memories”, but I did not give a shit, at this point. My oldest suggested they buy a chess set for over there, as they had played it today. We came up with a few other ideas, and it seems as though we have a plan. My heart softens, as the crisis subsides. I ask my husband if he would come over to have dinner with us tomorrow….and he says “no”. He has plans. I can tell by his face, along with his vague “plans” description, that it must be a date. I look at him, with the “look” and look at my son. The son who was just crying for 2 hours and wanted his dad to come to dinner tomorrow night. My son says, “It’s fine” and stares at the TV, with tears welling in his eyes again. He stifles them down, and I let him. All I can think of is me as a child, always responding, “It’s fine”…when it definitely was not fine. I look at my husband again. He says, “It’s fine. I’m taking them skiing on Thursday, that will be plenty”, like it’s his call to decide how much time together is enough for our distraught son. I pretend I’m not furious with him, and gather the boys to leave. I let them head to the car first, and I shut the door. “Do you have plans specifically for dinner tomorrow?” and he says “yes”.   “Can you switch it to Tuesday, or even later tomorrow night?” and he says “no”. No elaboration. I can tell he’s feeling defensive, as he says, “What’s the big deal if I come over the next day?” In my head, I’m thinking “the big deal is that your son has been crying for 2 hours about us not being a family anymore. The big deal is that your text said you ‘felt so bad for him’.  The big deal is that you are not coming to dinner with your hurting son because you have a fucking date”. But I don’t say any of those things. I just leave. Because if I say those things, we end up in a fight. And if we end up in a fight, we don’t parent well together. So, I hold it in…I stuff it in the box inside my soul and save it for this blog.

Once we get home, the tears are gone. We actually had a great conversation for almost an hour, talking about different medical careers (my son is FINALLY interested in talking about his future), colleges….all kinds of things. It was a great conversation that we probably wouldn’t have had if this crisis hadn’t occurred. He commented on what a great talk it was… we made a good memory tonight, after all.  He went up to his room to play Xbox online with his friends. I think he feels better after letting those emotions out, and hopefully better for not having to stifle them or make excuses for them.  I know that makes me feel better when I’m feeling like he was.

I know this will get better. I know he has to have his ups and downs processing the death of his family unit. I know my husband will continue to disappoint me. I know I will cry probably more times than my kids will. But I have a tool box now. One that my husband doesn’t have. I keep adding to it, every chance I get. Eventually, it will hold enough tools for the both of us, so we won’t notice how empty his is. And I’m filling my kid’s tool boxes, too. Mine was completely empty at their age, and we can all see how that worked out. Teaching my children how to deal with pain, instead of hiding pain…and validating their emotions are two of the biggest gifts I can give them. They are gifts they won’t even realize they are receiving, but that’s OK. I don’t want them to have to realize it. I want validation to be normal for them, not something they unknowingly crave their entire lives. Fingers crossed….

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Robot girl cooking

When I was a little kid, I imagined myself to grow up to run a restaurant. I used to open the cabinet doors in the kitchen and pretend they were the swinging doors to a restaurant kitchen. I’d write up fake orders and tape them to the door and pretend to cook up delicious meals to my imaginary patrons. When I turned 9, it wasn’t pretending anymore. Mom had left, so Dad assigned the task of cooking to me. He would plan the menu for the week and tape it to the refrigerator. He’d prep the meals and leave me detailed instructions on how to cook them. By the time he came home from work, I’d have a hot meal on the table for him and my brother and sister. Baked stuffed pork chops for 4? No problem! Not bad for 9. My siblings were 16 and 18. I’m not really sure why they didn’t get this job. Well, I know why my brother didn’t…he was a boy. Boys got treated differently in my family. When mom left, it was my sister’s responsibility to babysit me every weekend. Never my brother. He got to go out and do whatever he wanted with his friends while she had to stay home with me, resenting me. I don’t blame her. It’s kind of a shitty deal, just because you’re a girl. I guess that’s why I got the cooking job. I was a girl and I was home after school. I was a “latch-key” kid. I’d let myself in, make a snack, do my homework, and cook dinner. Every night. Same routine. 9 years old, and I was pulling my weight, filling in for mom. I never questioned it. No one did. Whatever Dad said, was. I mean, if we weren’t going to question why mom left, why the hell would we question why a 9-year-old was cooking dinner every night?  At that point, I was so numb, I was like a robot…so it really didn’t matter.

I’m not sure I even know what a normal childhood is anymore….

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Dec. 24/16

This post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday with Linda G Hill. The prompt today is “cook” and my job is to write “organically”….no editing. Freestyle blabber….Merry Christmas!

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Love breakthrough

Emotional roller-coaster. That’s the best way to describe my feelings this year. Ever since that one ugly marital fight a year ago in September, I’ve felt it all. Well, almost all. Frustration and resentment stemmed from that day, and lasted through couples therapy. It  transformed into sadness and longing as I transitioned into individual therapy to process my Mom/abandonment issues. After I peeled off that Mom layer, all hell broke loose as I processed the sexual, physical and emotional abuse that followed. Fear, shame, sadness, anger, disgust, guilt, depression…basically months of negative emotions. It seemed as though it might never end, but it did. Little by little, I started having happy moments, empowered moments, fun moments. Like a pendulum, I would swing back and forth between the highs and lows, though luckily I could see some sort of light at the end of the tunnel. I kept up my “work”… therapy, writing, meditating, nurturing myself… trying to love myself.  Sometimes, I was just going through the motions, but that’s just part of the process. The positive moments eventually started to outnumber the negative ones, and I turned the corner.  I started believing in myself. I started to feel a little less unworthy. I shed a lot of that heavy guilt and began to learn, appreciate and accept…me. Though, throughout it all, one thing kept bothering me. I couldn’t feel love. Through my painful, exhausting work, I rewired my brain enough to believe that the people around me loved me. I knew it to be true, in my head. I just couldn’t feel it. So many times, I would find myself nervously admitting to my therapist that I couldn’t feel anyone’s love or caring for me, not even my children. I was ashamed of this. It made me feel ungrateful to admit it, like I was not appreciative of the people around me. Especially when I said I couldn’t feel the love from my children. What kind of mother says that? This type. This mother who is nothing but raw, open and honest sitting on that couch. I give therapy…I give me…my all. I’m not wasting time playing games or pretending. I want to be “normal” so desperately, so I tell Susan everything. Everything. Each time I told her this, I looked down in shame, imagining her thinking I’m ungrateful or selfish or whatever it is I’m thinking of myself when I say it. She didn’t.  Each time she reassured me, “It will happen in its own time”, smiling. Smiling, like she knows. I never believed her, because I knew I was different from her other clients. She thinks she knows, but she doesn’t know.

Well, she does know. I’ll be damned if there’s a thing about the human soul this woman does not know. I’ve been not feeling love since…well, since…hmm. I don’t know. I guess that’s a long time. I’m sure I’ve felt it at some point in my life, but right now, I can’t recall. I can remember feeling it, but with conditions. Knowing it was at risk if I didn’t play by the rules, and is that really love? Anyway, it happened. It happened at my butterfly party (see last post). I wasn’t sure if it was the alcohol, or maybe the song, or just that I was with a fun group of people, or I was tired. I felt like I had to blame it on something, because I was afraid to let myself think it really happened. If it really happened, something else would happen to make it not real, or go away, and I would be left feeling empty. Feeling loss. Feeling that hole inside my soul again. It’s much easier to just set myself up to not let the things I want to happen occur, then I won’t be disappointed. But you know what? It happened. And it wasn’t the booze. And it wasn’t the song. I know this because it happened Saturday night, and each day since then, I’ve thought about it…and cried. Oh sure, I cry all the time, but not this type of cry. This one is hard to describe…a feeling of love, joy and belonging, mixed with the sadness of knowing it’s something I’ve been missing for so many years. As I was surrounded by that circle of friends, as I looked into each of their eyes as they smiled and sang to me, I felt it. I felt love and I cried, because I honestly thought it was just never in the cards for me to feel that…to have people want to give me that. This is what I’ve been working on all year.  I went from a girl who felt she didn’t deserve a damn thing in life… not love, not kids, not attention, not even going to therapy, to a girl who felt she deserved to throw herself a birthday party. A party to acknowledge her freedom from the heavy shame she’d been carrying around from her childhood. A party to acknowledge her bravery in getting divorced so she could preserve her true self. I stood right in the middle of that freaking love circle and accepted it all. I felt no shame. That’s when I realized I had accomplished my greatest feat yet…I had learned to love me.

“People smile and tell me I’m the lucky one….”

love-circle

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