Friday, December 30, 2011

When the white surrender flag is raised



The beginning of the end ... 

My mom had just left to head back to MA after a week long visit with us. We had had a great week together. We visited DC, took the baby to the Zoo, had some great family meals together etc. She had even helped me clean the house during her stay; since I had been so busy between working and being a new mom our house was near disaster. Our son was 7 months old and I was inside tending to him. Maybe I had just finished nursing him? I’m not really sure and don’t remember the preamble to this story all that well. It isn't what is important really. The STBX was outside mowing the lawn and I was standing in front of our sofa holding the baby when his pacifier fell to the floor and rolled under the sofa and into the darkness.  I quickly swooped down, baby still in my arms, and blindly reached under the sofa to retrieve it. Instead of pulling out the pacifier, however, I pulled out an old white T-shirt of my husbands. I remember hoisting the baby up on my hip as he started to cry for his pacifier, and proceeding to just stare at what I was holding in disgusted disbelief. It wasn't just some random shirt that had gotten misplaced while folding laundry in the living room and then never put away. No. It was crusty and covered in yellow-crusted dried-up spooge stains. I was mortified. Beyond mortified. My cheeks still turn red to this day just thinking about how I felt holding that disgusting rag in one hand, as I held our innocent child in the other. 


"What if my mother had found this while she was helping me clean!?!!"


The question ran through my mind over and over at a furious pace as I stormed outside barefoot; screaming baby in one arm, spooge-rag waving like a flag in the other. “What the f*ck is this?” I yelled, as I ran up to him shoving it right into his face. He cut the lawn mower’s engine, took one look at me (I must have looked crazy pissed) and then another at his spooge-rag and had the audacity to say “I don’t know” very, VERY unconvincingly. And defensively too! I'm telling you. My STBX has some freakin' nerve.  Needless to say, I flipped out. I screamed a bunch of obscenities, threatened that I was leaving, with my baby still in my arms and still crying for his pacifier mind you, and then I threw the disgusting shirt down to the ground before storming back in the house.

This incident was the fourth or fifth occurrence of his hidden pornography addiction blown wide open since I had gotten pregnant. Each time, he promised it wouldn’t happen anymore. That he didn’t do it that often. That it wasn’t an obsession. That it wouldn’t impact me anymore. That our own intimacy would get better. The lies and broken promises go on and on. I would later find out he looked almost daily. I would later find out that he looked while riding the commuter rail to work via his cell phone. I would later find out that he looked while at work. I would later find out that he paid for it behind my back with credit cards I didn't know about.  When I found out that much, I stopped trying to uncover his habits and instead started planning my escape from the hell that I was in. It was over at that point and I didn't want to know any more. The uncovering of that dirty spooge-rag found under our sofa that day was like the white surrender flag going up on my ability to handle the bullshit anymore. And it was stained; just like our marriage was. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Single?

In my head and in my heart, I'm single.

On paper, well that depends. On some I check the box for "married" and often find I'm fighting with myself not to scrawl "not for long!" with a large dose of sarcasm adjacent the absurdity. I find that description of myself written down on paper a mockery of my progress thus far at starting over. A bad joke right there in front of me in black and white that I can't ignore.  At C's recent well check appointment with his new pediatrician, I checked "divorced" and penned in "will be" above the status as a way to sort of cope. I remember feeling smug as I handed the clipboard back to the receptionist. I didn't feel nearly as smug when I almost had to call the STBX to ask for our insurance information for C because my ADHD brain had caused me to show up as a new patient without my damn proof of insurance. It's now a week past his appointment and I still can't find the card. (Note to self: call insurance company before C's next appointment and request 3rd replacement card in the past 2 years. And give myself a smack for good measure.)

Technically, I'm separated and awaiting my divorce. We're pretty much settled on the uncontested route, since by the time all is said and done there will be nothing left between us to divide. As sad as that reality is, it is also a major relief. By the time the state of residence allows us to get a divorce (the waiting period is one long ass year from the date of separation), the dream home will have sold under short-sale with the bank (fingers crossed!) and debts will have been settled through my financial planning and the STBX's personal bankruptcy. Such a short marriage doesn't leave much for a couple to battle over in court, thank God. I guess that part of turning 30 and getting a divorce will be a blessing. We're too young to fight over pensions and retirement and it really just isn't worth the legal costs.

Technicalities aside, I'm single. I want to be, anyway. I feel single. And I'm pretty positive that I'm ready to be single. As the New Year approaches, and this starting over journey really gets underway, I'm crazy anxious to get my feet wet with dating again. As infrequently as my life allows. Because, let's face it ... I'm a single working mother with a photography hobby and somewhat of a social life with friends and family. My free time is limited and my availability is even more restricted.

Some might argue that I am not ready because I'm not divorced just yet. But I beg to differ and I'll tell you why I don't agree. This is my blog and I can do that.

Yes, I know that divorce is devastating and dating before that part is finished might be a bad idea on one hand if I haven't resolved all of the issues that contributed to the downfall of my marriage. But on the other hand, I am the one that left. I am the one that walked out. I am the one that decided I had had enough of the unhealthy relationship. I emotionally started grieving the "end" of it all six months before I physically got out of there. I feel like the initial heart-break part of the grieving process is really taking stage behind me now. Does it still hurt? Of course! Am I still actively cycling through the different stages of grief? No, not really. Getting through the holidays last week really proved that part for me. Solidified it, actually.

I know I am ready because not only do I feel comfortable with the idea of the STBX being with other women, I find that I don't give a rat's ass. I honestly hope he does hook up with some women in the near future. I would view that as healthier than fueling his pornography addiction, so as twisted as it may seem to some not in my shoes ... hooking up with real women on his part would be a step in the right direction in my mind. For our son's sake. I know that C needs a father with a healthy attitude about sex and some sort of respect for the opposite sex. Dating for the STBX might help him achieve that. Then again, maybe not. As I said, what he does with dating really doesn't phase me. I say "Cheers!" to him and sincerely wish him happy hunting.

I also know that I am ready because I know where my boundaries are and feel that I'm confident enough to voice them if necessary. I want to date; I don't want a rebound. I may be single of the mind and heart, but on paper I'm separated. And until I can check the box for "divorced" without any handwritten annotations, I am smart enough to know that I don't want my Facebook status to read "It's Complicated". Complicated does not belong on this journey toward wonderful.

If I really do meet Mr. Wonderfully-Right-For-Me before my divorce is final, he'll wait it out. He'll take it slow. He'll respect me and my boundaries. Resolving the issues of my marriage: why I said "I do" in the first place and what led to its fast dissolution, has given me both the wisdom and courage to know that is what I deserve from a man at this stage in the game. And that right there is the biggest argument of all that I can make as to why I am ready to put myself out there. Single? There is no question about it. I'm just ready.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Views of Mine

I'm really busy these days. "Duh", you say? Yeah, I know.

Holidays = busy

Christmas = Stressmas

First quarter-end deadline at the Patent Office since leaving VA and my failed marriage = motivation to go lay out on the frozen blacktop naked and hope that when a truck runs me over, I've already died from a stress-induced stroke.

But alas, I am trying to embrace the joy of the season. Remember?

So, to get back in the mood of all that wondefulness and such, I figured I would share with you a few "views" of mine that always seem to make me smile. When I see these things, I am instantly redirected and somehow freed from whatever it is that's trying to drag me off my path towards starting over living wonderful.

My backyard view at the house I'm renting. 
Getting up at the crack of dawn isn't really so bad when this is the view out the kitchen window. Oh and drinking coffee while viewing increases the wow factor, I tell you! 



This is J, my over-excited and full-of-love dog. 
She is my BFF. Even if I do have to pick up her poop. Since I work from home, we are inseparable and she fairs worse off when left somewhere without me than my 15 month old son does. Most days, she is my shadow and I trip over her a lot. Which is amazing to me, really, because she is 90 freakin' pounds of sweetness laying right behind me. How do I not see her? 


The decorated tree. 
Mostly because I view putting it up and decorating it all by my lonesome as a triumph in the divorce process. I am proud of the progress I've made so far and my decorated Christmas tree is a symbol of my accomplishments towards living wonderful.


C and J "bonding". 
I'm calling it that to fool my brain. As cute as they are together,it is very hard not to think of all the disgusting grossness that it really actually is when my son shares his food with the so not starving dog. I've recently witnessed C holding out a cracker to J for her to lick, and then continuing to munch on it himself after she's effectively frosted his snack in dog slobber. 


My child, fast asleep. 
I don't really think I need to explain this one to anyone out there reading this that is a mother, single or not. When my child is asleep, it's pure heaven. Seriously, I swear that I can hear angels singing and see doves flying around my house while everything, including the dirty dishes in the sink and unkempt counters, is wrapped in a cloudy beautiful haze.



Well, I hope my views have enlightened you as much as they do me. Well, maybe that isn't quite possible per se. More realistically, I hope at least one of my views made you smile. Just sharing them with you made me smile and feel all happy and stuff. That's what I call wonderful!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Breakup 101, Episode 2

Don't just survive the holidays post break-up. Thrive. Embrace them. Enjoy yourself, your friends and your family.

I know, you're thinking "Yeah, right!" with an enthusiastic "As If!" eye roll and maybe a hand gesture or two straight out of Clueless circa 1995. But hear me out.  I also thought similar advice read over at Divorced Before 30 was a bunch of horseshit. I could not wrap my head around the 2011 Holiday Season being anything but miserable. How could I possibly embrace the "joy" of the season in the midst of the divorce process?  Over the last month and a half, I've been determined to somehow figure it out. Here's what I've learned so far, in no particular order:

1.) Give yourself plenty of time to face those first Holidays post break-up. Accept that they are coming well in advance. Don't bury your head in the sand or hide under the covers refusing to wake up and smell the hot chocolate. 

The first thing I did was put my Christmas tree up a week after Halloween. I thought I was crazy, and so did some of my friends, but I just knew that I needed the extra few weeks to really accept that this holiday season would be my first as a single mom. So, I put C to bed one night, drank two glasses of wine and then proceeded to drag the 9 foot pre-lit fakeness that the STBX and I had bought together last year -- that I wanted nothing other than to light on fire, watch burn and then send the charred remains through a wood chipper (or the fake tree equivalent) -- well, I dragged that sucker in its huge box up an entire flight of stairs while ascending backwards on my ass so that I wouldn't fall with it and break my neck. I swear I wasn't drunk. That beast was heavy!

Once it was up in my living room, I felt pretty damn proud of myself.


I stood back, admired my talents at assembling the tree all-by-my-superwoman-self, drank another glass of wine and then went to bed. And it stood like that in my living room, properly gated off from the destructiveness that is my toddler, for a good solid week before I could bring myself to put any ornaments on it. I think I had to get used to seeing it on a day-to-day basis to actually accept that no matter what changes I might be going through in my personal life, the holidays were coming around whether I liked it or not.

2) Get rid of old sentimental keepsakes, ornaments etc. and buy one or two new holiday keepsakes to celebrate moving on and your new life. 

OK, so I'll be honest and admit that I haven't exactly gotten "rid" of the bride and groom ornaments I collected over the last couple of years. But I did take them out of my ornament box, wrap them in tissue paper and stick them in a drawer I never open with a few other things I plan on sending back to the STBX some day. I'm actually thinking of sending them to him this year with a card as a Christmas "gift" so that he'll have to deal with the emotions tied to them too, but I can't decide if that will be healing for me in some way, or just too vindictive and mean to even be healthy.

I did hang this ornament on the tree and I must say, it is now my favorite and the most meaningful to me. Moving back to New England to be near friends and family during this time in my life after being in Virginia for 6.5 years with the STBX has been the best decision I could have made so far in the divorce process.


4) Watch a holiday movie, purely for laughs, that is NOT a love story. If it makes you smile, laugh and forget about the misery that you're been going through at all, watch it a few more times between now and New Years.  

I've chosen "Elf" as my replaying movie this season (haha, "smiling's my favorite!"). Another holiday classic that would do just fine for this purpose is "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation". I'm sure there are more, but I'm not really a movie buff and you probably get my point.



5) Avoid "Black Friday" shopping and any other hot and crowded display of consumer American craziness like the plague.  Do all your shopping either online or at off peak hours in not-so-popular stores. 

You're post break-up and you don't have the energy, patience or will to properly deal with stupid people or crowds with an ounce of class or any manners. 'Nuff said. You will loose your shit on an incompetent check out woman, who doesn't know how to enter in your Kohl's cash, and instead charges the full amount to your credit card causing the other shoppers in line behind you to wonder just how recently you were let out of the insane asylum and if they should maybe switch lines. This is of course, just a fabrication, and not at all what happened to me recently while out shopping with my cranky toddler in tow among 10,000 other batshit crazy people with too many coupons that don't know how to drive. *sigh*

Failure to heed the above advice will cause you to fall a week or two behind in your acceptance of the approaching holidays and could derail all efforts to actually embrace them.



6.) Know that you are not the lowest scum of the earth if you don't send out holiday cards this year. Tell everyone you've gone tree-hugger and are giving the Earth the ultimate gift by saving trees for Christmas.  

And if you do send out a card, pick something simple and generic foregoing the family photo and/or the newsletter-like update on your now single status. Your lone name on the sentiment will be plenty self-explanatory. Find joy in the fact that your "send to" list has been dramatically reduced automatically. If you want to reduce your list further, only send cards out to those who actually send you a card. If I follow this last bit of advice myself, so far I'm sending out less than twenty cards compared to the eighty or so sent out last year. That is called winning, my friends.

7) Experience the magic of the season through the eyes of a little one. 

Whether it is your own kiddo, a niece or nephew or you have to borrow the experience of children from a friend etc., watch one kid's eyes light up while watching the 1964 television special "Ruldolph" for the first time, or after sitting on Santa's lap at the mall, and your heart will instantly warm.  For me, its been seeing my son's awe of our decorated tree that has helped me to not scoff off the magic of the season. I don't have any chance of him sitting with Santa for at least a few more years given the fear-induced meltdown we experienced at the mall a couple of weekends ago, so his amazement with our tree will have to do for now.




So, that's all I've figured out so far. I made it through Thanksgiving without gaining any weight, have simplified my holiday season "to-do's", tried to have some patience with myself in the process and am still working on embracing the joy of the season as best I can. If not for me, at least for my son. My focus is purely on him and not me, because the true meaning for this time of year is about being thankful and sharing with the ones you love. And the love I have for him is something to be celebrated, married or not. Divorced or not. With or without Santa.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Wounded Wife

In a chapter of the the book The Silent War called "The Wounded Wife,"author Henry Rogers reprints "Emily's Story". I’m posting it here because I am not ready to share my own story of my porn addicted husband and this one does a pretty wonderful job of putting my feelings about the experience into perspective.

Monday, December 5, 2011

When bombs explode

The STBX and I conceived a baby on our wedding night. It was totally not planned. We were going to wait a couple of years to have kids actually, so when I was a few days late less than three weeks after we came home from the wedding, I nearly had a heart attack! My shock and fear quickly melted into surprising bliss and excitement and by the time we went for our first sonogram, I was already in love with the tiny being growing inside of me. I thought it was the most romantic thing in the world to conceive a child the night we got married. The STBX wasn't exactly as thrilled as I was, but he seemed genuinely happy about the change of plans after the initial shock wore off. Seemed.

I remember driving to our sonogram appointment like it was yesterday. I can hear our conversation and laughter in my ears. I can feel my slightly bloated 9-week stomach under my hands. I can smell the car. It’s like the memory is as real to my senses as the present moment is. We were both grinning from ear to ear and talking about how excited we were to hear the heart beat and catch a first glimpse of our precious baby. He was driving and I kept leaning over to kiss him and be affectionate. We hadn’t argued at all in weeks. Things were going great and I remember thinking to myself, “I knew we would be better after the wedding nonsense was over! And now we are going to have a baby; Life can’t get much better than this!”

I had no idea about the bomb that was just waiting to go off on us at the doctor’s office.

I remember lying there half naked, exposed, the STBX on one side of me and the nurse on the other. The doctor kept moving the wand around and around searching, but there was no baby on the screen no matter how many uncomfortable swirls up towards my uterus he tried. The silence was deafening as we all stared at the empty screen for what seemed like forever. I remember squinting my eyes over and over again to fight back the tears and maybe try and will what I felt in my heart to exist to just appear before us on the screen. Nothing happened. After an eternity of staring at nothing, I just started wailing over and over again “Where is my baby? Where is my baby?” until I was convulsing in hysterical sobs. The poor nurse tried to comfort me, because honestly, the STBX didn’t really understand the implications of the doctor saying phrases like “empty gestational sac” and “blighted ovum” right away. He was like a deer in headlights staring at me and didn’t know what to do. I would like to think that he was horrified and scared. I would like to think that in the chaos of such an emotional bomb going off on us, thoughts like "You're actually not going to have a baby" overwhelmed him and broke his heart. 

But, such was not the case at all.  In time, I learned that his inability to comfort me in a way that should have been naturally reflexive in response to our newly built dream blowing up in our faces had to do with his inability to have empathy for me and what I was experiencing. He couldn't empathize with my devastation. With my grief.  I learned this definitively after I went through the traumatic ordeal of a D&C to medically handle the miscarriage a few days later, and he acted like taking the day off of work to bring me to the surgery center was a huge inconvenience to him. We argued the morning of and he basically admitted to me in the heat of the moment that he barely viewed the loss as anything more than one would view a glass of spilled milk. And he wasted no time telling me to “get over it all ready” a week after the surgery. I was still bleeding when his heartless words cut me like a knife to the heart. 


I didn't know what to think after that. In the aftermath, I wasn't just heartbroken over losing a baby that we hadn't even planned for, but I was heartbroken because it was painfully obvious that the man I married wasn't there for me the first time I, as his wife, needed him to be a strong and supportive husband. It was our first test as a married couple, and I couldn't ignore the fact that we had failed. For some reason, I trudged onward anyway thinking that something else would come along in our lives to fill the void created by his lack of empathy. Nothing ever did.   

Sunday, December 4, 2011

30 is the new 20. At least it's mine.

This morning, I stumbled over to Elizabeth Tannen's bog post, "The End of the Twenties: An Ode" and had a sort of revelation.

In my marriage, I too was excited, enthused and eager to turn 30. I wasn't scared at all and I didn't feel old. I felt like I was just living, and feeling fantastic at that. I was doing it all. I had my career and my man, our dream home and our first son all bundled up and ready to move on forward with me from the disasters and stress that come with living in my twenties into the tranquility that seemed to await me in my thirties. In my twenties, I spent most of my energies trying to figure it all out and now going into my thirties, being married and settled down, I obviously had succeeded and could just relax, right?

Wrong.

In my twenties, I had sort of defined myself. Through trail and error of the course of a decade, I had learned that I was confident, out-spoken, kind of an internet social media junkie and more passionate about my stance on various topics than I was at 18 or 19. I was happy (or so I thought) and knew that I controlled my own destiny (or so I thought). I also thought that as long as I had the stability and comfort of my marriage, I -- and effectively, we as a family -- could get through anything.  I thought I knew where I stood with others, especially with my husband and our love for one another and our child (and any future children), and I was set to work out all of my flaws as the next part of learning to grow and succeed in life. I was done with figuring myself out. I was ready to fine-tune the wonderful that was me. I was done with carving out a path for myself, but instead ready to decorate where I was at in each moment in time and with every step on each road of the journey I had started.

Wrong.

Most of what I thought turned out to just be so wrong, words can't even describe just how wrong.

Now that my marriage has failed, I'm not as excited or enthused to be turning 30. It's like I'll be perpetually stuck in the mind-set of my twenties because with the separation and an impending divorce, it's as if I am now on a journey of re-definition for myself. I'm still the same confident, out-spoken and passionate woman and mother ... but everything I had come to know and think about what lie ahead for me has been erased. The road map of my life is completely different than I expected and I have to figure it all out again.

Sometimes, just thinking about that part, the figuring it all out again part, is just exhausting. I don't have the same energy that I did a decade ago. But I do have more drive and more focus. I tend not to waste time and, let's face it, you waste a lot of time in your twenties. I'm a 29 year-old about-to-turn 30 single working mother, I don't have time to waste.  I'm starting over at 30 and feel hardly different at all than I when I was 20. Well, minus the stretch marks, laugh lines and lack of confidence in at least knowing that I can and will be wonderful no.matter.what.
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