Tag Archives: divorce

Tender moments

Last night my ex husband came over to celebrate our son’s birthday. We have an amicable relationship, but really haven’t spent too much time together this year. He moved out a year ago, after a tense and difficult summer. I think we’ve learned how to co-parent without pressing each other’s buttons by keeping our distance and creating boundaries. Not too shabby for someone I cringed at the thought of last summer.

Our son opens his gift and soon disappears to his room, in his typical teenage boy fashion. My ex and I are left sitting at my dining room table alone. I can’t even remember what we were talking about initially, but the subject changed to my father. I haven’t really shared much about my problems with my dad on here, and I’m not so sure I want to start tonight, but we’ll see…

Jeez, I can’t really go on with the rest of the story without giving you some sort of background on my dad. Hmm…

OK, so in brief… my dad loves me. I know this to be true. I can feel it when I’m with him. He loves me in the best way he can. The only way he knows how. It is difficult for me to accept this way, because I crave so much more. Intellectually speaking, I understand why he is distant. Emotionally, it kills me. Hey, that summary REEKS of someone in therapy, doesn’t it??

So, my ex tells me my dad reached out to him to see the boys. Another long story about why he needs to go through my ex, but I’ll sit on that one for a while. I’m pleased he’s making an effort to see them, but the conversation leads from one thing to another to another and the next thing you know, I’m crying…pouring out a few raw pieces of my soul…to my ex husband. I just couldn’t help it. The tears were down my cheeks before I even realized what was happening. And I just kept talking. Sharing the pain of my unmet emotional needs regarding my father, with the man who also left my emotional needs unmet for the past 20 years. Crazy, huh? The weird thing is, it didn’t feel crazy. He appeared to be listening sincerely, and appeared to feel bad for me. For all I know, I could be wrong about the sincerity, but I really don’t think so. He validated a few of the things I’ve done…things other members of my family have criticized me for. As much negative shit he and I have been through with each other this past year, he still understands what it’s like to have a dysfunctional childhood. At least that’s something we can connect on.

I spent a good half hour there, talking to him about my family, my childhood, the pain, the abuse…and for those moments, it felt like we weren’t in the middle of a sometimes tense divorce. It wasn’t like we were best friends, either. It was like we were two people who understood familial pain, and he was listening to me without judging me. Kind of a big deal, now that I’m looking back on it. We had some moments of tenderness last night.

I stopped crying and we went upstairs so he could say goodnight to the boys. He checked out my drum set and listened to me play a song, and he didn’t laugh at me at all. I’m actually getting kind of decent at Creep….for a 45-year-old brand new drummer mom. We walked downstairs, while he gave me advice on fall lawn care and getting things ready for the winter season around here. It came time to say good-bye and he hugged me. Not a quick, meaningless fake hug…but a long, sincere, probably sympathy hug. Normally, that is the exact OPPOSITE of something I would want to do with him, but I accepted it. And thanked him. And meant it. While I in NO means would even consider reconciling with the man, or even want to spend another evening with him like that, it did prompt me to think of how I don’t have a man in my life to support me during all this, and that left me feeling kind of empty…

You know, even though he’s not apologizing for all his stuff over the years, I forgive him. I forgave him well before last night. That’s the reward of processing your shit. That’s how you know you’re healing…when you can forgive someone who’s not sorry and feel good about doing it. I had told him about forgiving one of my family members, one who had treated me so badly as a child and still can be quite toxic to me. I told him how even though I can’t have this person in my life, because it would just cause me more pain, I’m still loving this person, from a human standpoint, from a distance. I’m wishing this person peace, as I know it can’t be easy being so miserable and agitated all the time. I asked him if he thought that sounded crazy, and he said yes. He and I…simply not on the same energy level. He’ll never “get” me, and that’s ok. That’s why we don’t live together anymore. But, he got me enough last night to create sincere, tender moments between us. And I’m smart enough to know that when those unexpected tender moments arise with someone, I don’t ignore them.  I will heal.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Mr. Tin Man

I cried at the gas station today. Just a little. It came out of nowhere, I think. Well, I’m sure all the country music I’m listening to isn’t helping. All in all, I think I’m doing pretty damn well. I’m continuing to make impacts with my patients at work. I’m loving having routines again with the boys being back at school. Family dinners are the best! I’m keeping social with my good friends, the one’s who love me and check in on me and value me. I’m meditating, and attending my meditation class every week. I’m going to therapy, working on getting back to being happy just being me. I’m getting there. But today, as I’m driving around to see my last few patients, I became sad. For some reason, I started thinking those stupid unlovable thoughts again. I hate them. Why can’t they just stay away? I’m doing EVERYTHING I’m supposed to be doing to rid myself of them. Fake it till you make it, then fake it some more, I guess.

I’m standing there, pumping gas, with one more patient to see. The sun is shining warmly. There’s hardly any wind. A perfect afternoon to sneak a few hours in on the boat. But work is work and you just can’t predict how long it’s going to take, and today took longer. That’s probably another thing contributing to my sadness…putting the boat away soon. For all I know, I could’ve had my last day out there already. So anyway, I’m standing there, pumping the gas, and I see a man across the way, finishing fueling up. I look at him. He glances at me and carries on. Nothing special about it. Just an average guy who happened to be pumping gas at the same time as me. Next thing you know, I’m crying. Flooded with the thoughts of my inner critic, or inner child, or whoever the hell it is that knows I’m never going to find the love I’ve been craving my entire life. Boom, back in an instant. I’m swallowing hard, blinking away the tears, wondering why the fuck I’m crying at the gas pump over love. God, what is going on with me? Last year, I was perfectly fine to never have even a conversation with another man again, and now I’m aching with emptiness at the knowing of it’s not ever happening for me.

I think my problem is that I finally opened my heart enough to admit I wanted it to be loved. Yeah, I think that’s it. It’s easier to not want love when you seal that sucker up. Safer. You’re protected that way.

But no, I had to go and open the damn thing up, exposing its vulnerability. And when you open it up, and nothing happens, it’s a weird kind of fragility. It kind of starts to close and harden, like it’s going to heal,  but not like the old shell. Just a light scabbing occurs, and as soon as you move, it cracks open again. And it bleeds…right out your eyes and down your cheeks at the gas station. So yeah, I suppose if I just stay home, lying around, doing nothing with anyone, just being still, stuffing it all down, numbing myself with TV or Facebook or nothing…it might harden enough to last. Harden, mind you. Not heal. Big difference. Because I don’t want to harden my heart. That’s armor. Protects you enough, but doesn’t let anything in at all. I also don’t want it to be raw and hurting, either. Because then, when nothing comes in at all, it burns. Neither one is significant of good living. What I truly want is for this heart to be loved and nurtured and adored and held gently. I want it to be needed. I want it to be healed. God, that’s vulnerable just to admit, isn’t it? To acknowledge I want my heart to be loved, yet admit it isn’t? Admit it hasn’t ever? Admit it most likely never will be? Not the way I need it to be. I’ve learned that lesson. Excessively. Doesn’t mean I won’t still try, even though I know the lesson. I just don’t like the alternative. Which I guess is why I cried today. I don’t like this alternative at all, and apparently, I’m totally onto the fact that I’m faking it. Damn.

I’m getting better, though. I kind of love myself enough to know what I deserve and not to take less, just because that’s all that’s offered. Kind of.

I’m turning 46 this year. I think that’s kind of a long time to go without being loved. Or loved in the right way. I know some people never find love. Never have children. Never got to grow up having family. So many of us never find what we yearn for. I’ve been told by just about every man I’ve been with that I want too much. I always felt so ashamed for that, trying to figure out how to stop being so needy and how to just be happy for what’s offered to me. I’m trying to not do that anymore. Though there’s not really any men in my life to try it on, so I guess the “trying” part will have to wait. However, I’ve just recently discovered the concept of “attachment types” and let me tell you, it’s opened my eyes. (Thank you, Deborah!) You can read about them here. I’ve got to figure out how to stop being attracted to these “avoidance” types. Or, figure out how to change myself to a “secure” type. Not happening any time soon, I’m sure. In the meantime, I’m filling my days  with work, my kids and my friends. (I’ve got my drum lessons in an hour…working on a Metallica song!) Trying to fill up as much of the day as I can so I don’t notice what’s lurking. But I notice, anyway. Funny how you can be surrounded by people and still feel lonely. I know I won’t be able to stay this way forever. It will either harden back up, or it will just break. So for now, I’m just protecting it and loving it the best I can, and hoping someday, my love for myself will be enough.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Rebirth, part two.

What’s with me and all these rebirths? You’d think one would be sufficient. That’s the thing about me…if I’m going to do something, I’m going to DO it. I’m hard-core like that.

I had a rebirth last year. That’s what I like to call it…”rebirth“. It’s easier than saying “I lived my life traumatized, numb and in pain until I couldn’t take it anymore and experienced PTSD, spent a year in therapy, learned to meditate, had a spiritual awakening, learned to write, sold my business, left a bad marriage, told my soul piercing embarrassing shame story to the world…and to my family…, released 30+ years of shame and guilt, discovered my self-worth and emerged a new me“. A “Rebirth” is easier, right?

I felt like I was back in a cocoon this past month. Even though I emerged as a butterfly last year, I never really took flight. I came out with my new wings and just sat there for a bit, looking at them in wonder. I even got comfortable moving them up and down, feeling a little pride in having them. Earlier this summer, I thought I was about to take that first flight. It was pretty amazing to realize it was finally happening. I can remember saying to my therapist, “don’t you think it’s too soon?” I was scared. However, my inner voice was telling me this was a go, so I went. If I’ve learned one thing this year, it’s to listen. So, I flapped my wings and got ready for flight. But the flight got canceled. Dammit, I hate it when that happens! You get all packed up, build anticipation, make all the plans…and they cancel the damn flight. And like most people, when your exciting travel plans abruptly disappear, you get pissed. I became angry, sad, even in denial for a bit. I kept trying to talk them into rescheduling the flight, explaining why I needed it so bad. Nope. Once a flight is canceled, you just have to suck it up and wait for the next one.  My problem is, I had a hard time sucking it up. I was like a little kid, stomping my feet, pouting, crying…”Whyyyyyyyyy????  Even though I knew exactly why. Intellectually, I understood everything. Emotionally? Hell no. My inner child still needs some work. She’s fragile. I get it. She’s been through hell. I don’t blame her for feeling rejected, resentful, hurt, unworthy… that’s what traumatized inner children do when flights get canceled. And those feelings are so painful, they decide, “well, I’m never going to try to fly again, if this is how it’s going to end up!”  I ended up believing her, for a bit. That’s been our survival tactic our whole lives. Numb, avoid, protect. So easy to slip back into. My inner voice was telling me to stop, but my inner child is a little bit louder…

Here’s the thing…all those things I wrote in the first paragraph, describing my original “rebirth”…those things don’t just go away. So sure, I spent some time feeling unworthy, swearing I’d never fly again. But it didn’t last long. Not long at all. And to tell you the truth, the flight wasn’t even cancelled. It was just rerouted to a place I wasn’t expecting to go to. It’s like booking a trip to Hawaii and as you’re buckling your seat belt, they announce you’re going to Cuba. “Wait…I think there’s been a mistake. I’m supposed to be going to Hawaii. I paid for Hawaii. I packed my hula skirt and everything….”  Too bad the pilot doesn’t care about what you planned for. He’s the one flying the plane. Flying that plane.  So, I did some thinking. Did I want to try Cuba? I’ve heard some people go there now, but not many. It’s rich with culture, but not the safest place. There’s a pretty decent chance you are going to get hurt there, even if there are some nice parts to it. No, I decided….I did not want to go to Cuba. Even though it hurt to know my Hawaii dreams were dashed, I didn’t want to take the risk of getting hurt in Cuba. I’m pretty sure they have a sub-par medical system there, and most likely, the hurt I receive there won’t be as easy to heal. My inner voice was telling me I was worth so much more than Cuba, and I listened. So, I unbuckled, grabbed my bags, and cried my way off that plane. Picture one of those kids in the toy store having a temper tantrum. Yup, not pretty. I cried for a few weeks, wishing I could change the past. Angry at the pilot for making me think we were going to Hawaii. Angry at myself for not noticing the fine print on the ticket. Sad at the realization I was never going to get that hula lesson, even though I was SO damn ready to try the hula.

Here’s where the rebirth comes in….

In the old days, I would have stayed on that plane. I would have put my desires aside and taken whatever was handed to me, because it was better than nothing. I still would have cried and felt the anger, even though I was on a trip. I would have shamed myself for doing so. And those negative feelings would have lasted FOREVER. Seriously…they may fade, but they leave an imprint in your soul and shape the rest of your life.

Now, since my first rebirth…since I filled up my emotional tool box… I got off the plane. I allowed myself to have the emotions, because hey…it does suck when your plans are foiled. We’re talking HAWAII, people!!! It’s disappointing. I even shamed myself a bit, but…and here’s the great part…I realized what I was doing. I noticed the old behavior. I could tell I was back in my cocoon again and was about to feel that familiar sense of suffocation. And even though it took a few weeks of struggling…I changed my thought process, and I am now out of that cocoon. Maybe Hawaii will happen some day, maybe it won’t. But I sure as hell am not going to Cuba.

Instead, I went to the jewelers. I’ve been procrastinating having my wedding band cut off. It was my grandmother’s, and we all know how attached I am to her, and this ring. But we also all know I’m never going to get back to my marriage weight in order to get it off my fat finger, so I had it cut off yesterday. Damn you, French fries!! I may never meet my soul mate, but I’d hate to miss on him taking me to Hawaii because he kept walking when he saw my ring. Or maybe I’ll just take myself to Hawaii. Either way, it’s time for a new me…again. My wings are out and I think they’re ready. Commence “Rebirth, part two”.

 

 

 

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Sept. 2/17

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail