Friday, September 28, 2012

Virtual Visitation with a Douche Canoe

Photo Credit: wired.com

With cameras on computers, video chatting, Skype, FaceTime on Apple products and the like, it's reasonable to schedule regular "virtual visitation" when crafting a parenting plan for divorced parents and such provisions in court ordered parenting plans are becoming more and more common.  Especially if there is a geographical distance between a parent and child(ren), it seems that being able to actually see children, while not in person, and to have them see their parent, is still better then a phone call, email or text.

It seems ...

Don't get me wrong, I completely agree that while there is no replacement for direct one-on-one interaction between individual parents and children, using technology to virtually spend time with kids can be a positive option for many divorced families.

It can be.

That's why when the STBX proposed the idea of having twice-per-week FaceTime "visits" with our then one and a half year old son during negotiations for a court ordered parenting plan and visitation schedule, I agreed without much hesitation or argument.  At the time, I couldn't think of a better way to dedicate myself to preserving and fostering the relationship between my C-man and his father through whatever means available.  With the STBX only traveling to MA for in-person visitation one weekend each month, I believed that the frequent interaction during FaceTime calls every week would help more than it could hurt.

In some ways, it has.  I firmly believe that the frequent visual contact with his father, even if it is only via my iPhone, has helped our young son learn who is "Daddy" is in a much more profound and loving sense (he was only 13 months old when we separated).  I also know that the calls during the weeks between those monthly visits ease any separation anxiety he may experience during the actual visits themselves.

And that's pretty much where the benefits end as it pertains to virtual visitation with C-man, who is now two years old.

After months and months of these "virtual visits", I'm discovering that as sensible as the concept may be as an alternative option for visitation, it is very limited in its effectiveness to promote an engaged relationship between parents and children.  Especially if one of those parents is a douche canoe and doesn't even try to make the quantity of the time spent video calling with our very young son a quality experience.

Lately, our FaceTime calls to Daddy every Tuesday and Thursday night, amount to me desperately trying to encourage C-man to "talk to Daddy", while his wonderful father (sarcasm) says hardly a thing back to him (toss in a "Hey Bud" every 3 minutes or so and that's the total extent of douche canoe's effort).  During these "virtual visits" I'm pretty much following around an active and playful toddler trying to play with him with one hand as my other holds the damn iPhone.  C-man is usually distracted (he's only two!) and has the attention span of a fly, which is to be expected, but does his father even try to keep him interested in engaging with him? No!!

And people wonder why I call him a douche canoe? 

On at least four separate occasions since May of this year I've made the suggestion that maybe the STBX pick up a few books that we have that C-man loves having read to him.  You know, since C-man is just a toddler and simply not developmentally able to carry on a meaningful conversation with his father during these "virtual visits" I thought, being the engaged mother I am, well I just thought it was a swell idea.  It seems better than tossing out a few "Hey Bud's" every few minutes while I try and wrangle C-man into looking at my phone to "talk to Daddy". I even sent the STBX a list of some of our favorite books (The Cat in the Hat, Hop on Pop, Make Way For Ducklings etc.).  I figured he could read the book to C-man and we could follow along, turning the pages, while I propped my phone up in a way so that he could see us (namely, C-man).

Has the STBX picked up a single book to do this? No!!

Why?  Because he's a douche canoe!!

Needless to say, I've come to dread FaceTime each week and my intuition tells me that it won't be long before C-man will too.  I long for the day where my son is old enough to manipulate the phone on his own without the threat of it getting tossed in J-dog's water dish or having to deal with multiple hangups or mutes (he loves to push the buttons!), but at the same time my gut is full of dread because I know if something doesn't change with his father's effort during these calls, they are going to amount to 10 minutes of his father interrogating a reluctant child who's just waiting to hang up so he can go off and do something fun and entertaining.

And so it goes, technology can bridge distances created by geography and circumstance but it is powerless to influence the outcome of complex relationships between parent and child.  That is clearly up to the people in those relationships themselves and being that one of them is a child in this case, it would make logical and sane sense for burden of effort to fall on the parents.

I feel like I am doing my best to do my part every Tuesday and Thursday evening during this alternative visitation option for the STBX.  I truly want my son to get something out of this time with his father.  However, his father isn't doing his part and being the douche canoe that he is, I won't hold my breath waiting for him to change. I won't waste my breath trying to get him to try harder either. That ship has sailed. That's why I have this blog. Here, is where I can vent. During FaceTime itself, I smile and grit my teeth through every minute because that is just how much I love my son.     

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Learning My Truths, Episode 4: I am blessed

In just about two weeks it will be one whole year since the STBX and I separated and although I haven't been able to move on in a legal sense because of recent douchery and stall tactics dished out by the STBX, I have been able to move forward in so many other ways that I'm even amazed at my own progress on this journey.  I'm frustrated at times still and I truly wish the STBX would just let us get divorced already, but in spite of him I'm still at peace most of the time.

 

Is there a silver lining to divorce? If you asked me that question a year ago, I might have hesitated in answering. Today, I jump at the opportunity to tell you that the answer to that question is a big wonderful "YES!!!"

My divorce process thus far has taught me more than I think I can even describe.  It's been difficult and stressful and there have been many ups and downs in starting over.  I've made wrong turns, poor decisions and I've let myself and others down in the times that I've stumbled along unfamiliar paths.  However, more often than not, I've also found my way out the of darkness, made more positive and healthier choices than I ever have before in my life and I've learned how to encourage and support others even when I feel like I'm failing.

Some say marriage is a blessing (and I still believe it can be) but in my case these days, divorce brings with it many blessings no matter how high conflict and complicated.  Every lesson is a blessing in disguise.  Divorce has taught me to count those blessings.

In starting over I have been blessed to learn:

- what I really want out of life and how to go after it

- that it is okay to make mistakes and to fail sometimes

- how to truly be independent and self-reliant

- what it really means to love someone and to be committed to someone completely without losing your sense of self

- how strong, courageous and resilient I really am

- how to be more patient and understanding

- how to be a better mother 

- what empathy is and why some people don't have it

- when to emotionally detach from certain situations

- to trust myself

- that when you're discouraged the best thing you can do is to try and encourage others


Have you been through the divorce process? What did it teach you? Did you count those lessons as blessings?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

When bitterness tastes oh so sweet . . .

What was already ugly is about to get uglier.

Why?

The STBX isn't just a douche canoe and suspected narcissistic psycho. Nope. He's certifiably bitter to the point of insane hysteria.

In starting over wonderful, I would like to continue down roads that point towards sanity. Unfortunately, I may be pushed down a path of insanity against my will in a bitter divorce battle that is nonsensical, financially unsound for BOTH parties and completely asinine given the brevity of our marriage and circumstances surrounding its dissolution.

Anyway, last June our visitation orders for our son were made final.  The standard schedule states that the STBX has standard visitation from Friday at 8:00 AM through Sunday at 6:30 PM on the third weekend of each month. There are various provisions in the order as to how we are to deal with exchanges, transportation, holidays, special occasions and notice of cancellations or reschedules etc., but the bottom line is his standard schedule is once per month on the third weekend of the month.

Since the order was made final, I've allowed two swaps or exchanges for weekends other than the standard third weekends and on both of those occasions, I've also allowed visitation to run from Thursday at 8:00 AM through Sunday at 6:30 PM.  My thinking was that so long as I was more than cooperative with the STBX on the issues that I had control over, he would see the open door to mutual cooperativeness and start to treat me in the same manner on the issues he had control over.

I don't know what I was thinking.  I blame my break from blogging ... that consistent reminder that he is a douche canoe was clearly necessary in order for me to maintain a clear vision of who he really is.

This is a man that is so bitter he can't even look me in the eye during exchanges of our two year old son without visible feelings of contempt overwhelming his entire body.  Yes, I see your lip curled, Douche Canoe, and I notice the stiff hesitation to even let me hug and kiss our child good-bye before he's whisked away from me.

This is a man so bitter .... that every interaction is painstaking, complicated and fraught with manipulation tactics to push my buttons, anger me, frustrate me and upset me.

This is a man so bitter ... that despite my efforts to forgive, disconnect and disengage he still clings to me in an effort to maintain some sort of connection that is entirely poisonous and based on loathing and a disgusting need to somehow seek revenge on me for merely me leaving him.

This is a man so bitter ... that he can not keep his word regarding when he'll pay child support money owed to me or about going forward with an uncontested divorce despite all evidence pointing to the fact that moving forward in that manner makes the most sense and serves our child's best interests for us being able to adequately provide for him in both the short and long-term.

This is a man so bitter .... my words are consistently misconstrued or simply not heard. Trying to reason with him is as about effective as trying to raise the water level of the ocean by spitting in it.  Trying to work out a fair property settlement is impossible, because he is just so damn bitter he finds it impossible to treat me fairly.

This is a man so bitter ... I've never been happier to be away from him and to be in a position where I don't have to listen to him, deal with him or associate with him.

Earlier this month I came to my senses and told him that, per the advice of my attorney, I was reverting back to the standard visitation schedule indefinitely and no longer would be open to the idea of swaps or exchanges of weekends.  This way, there is no need for us to be in any sort of consistent communication and I can be free from his never ending tactics to try and embitter my life.

Needless to say, this has infuriated him and he's trying everything in his power to paint me as a horrible mother alienating him from his child. Contrarily, I've told him that he is more than welcome to follow the standard visitation order as it is written.  It is up to him whether or not he chooses to exercise his visitation when he is court ordered to do so.

I've been told that he's fired his attorney and is actively seeking a new one to "make me pay".

I've also been told that he doesn't have a shot in hell to get anything more from me other than a divorce decree.

He may be a bitter man and he may force me into a bitter divorce battle, despite every effort on my part to provide us with a quick, clean and easy settlement (hey, I even paid for it already!), but a bitter divorce, as bitter as it is, is still far sweeter than a bitter marriage.

His bitterness tastes sweet to me because I know my rights, I have ample support backing me up and I know I will be free soon enough.

His bitterness brings me peace in spite of him.
 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

When another person makes you suffer ...

Saw this quote in my Facebook news feed and suddenly a great wave of peace came over me. It was the reminder I needed this morning to feel better about the douchery the STBX deals out regularly now that I'm pushing for our divorce to be finalized ...


Monday, September 10, 2012

Financial and Legal Abuse is Emotional Battery

And I am a victim.

Photo Credit:  MintLife Blog

Recently, I divulged a bit into the never ending conflict cycle that I keep finding myself in with the STBX and as much as I keep trying my hardest to disengage and draw boundaries to limit my exposure to his insanity, I just can't seem to get myself completely untangled from his web.  I'm constantly battling his argumentative and disagreeable demeanor and his bitter manipulation and "get-back-at-me" stunts.  Every time I progress forward in starting over wonderful in my own life, I somehow find myself sucked back into his mess and every single time I'm pulled back into it, well it most always has to do with the financial and legal aspects of everything.

When is it going to end?  When will that part of this divorce be over with?  When will I finally be divorced? Never?

I feel as if I've thoroughly processed and moved on from every other aspect of this divorce process. I've worked through and survived both the physical separation and the emotional one. I've taken time to process my feelings and I've spent time looking back to identify what went wrong and why I got married to someone so utterly wrong for me in the first place. I've forgiven myself for the mistakes that I've made and I've forgiven him for the same.  I've simply moved on in every sense of moving on except for those aspects of the law and the legal intricacies of dissolving a marriage.

With the recent douchery on his part, I'm starting to feel as if it's never going to end because it's been made so abundantly clear to me that he just wants to cost me financial and legal difficulties.  I'm losing faith that I'll ever be legally and lawfully done with him.  He's like the worst friggin' hangover that I've ever had in my life and I just can't seem to get rid of him.  And the party wasn't even fun or worth getting drunk! (If that makes any sense ... )

I just want to be divorced!!

So far, that desire has cost me well over $20,000 with no reasonable end in sight.  For a two year marriage where we shared nothing but debt, I'm just so fed up with it all I don't even know what to do anymore.  I don't take comfort in knowing that it isn't unusual for non-amicable couples with child custody disputes to find themselves out $100,000 when all is said and done.

When I first left my marriage, I borrowed $12,000 from my 401K to move from Virginia to Massachusettes to resettle and start over near my family.  It cost me almost $7,000 just to move and gain custody of our son and the other $5,000 covered me while I went AWOL (absense-without-leave or pay) for almost a month in order to manage every thing that went with the move and finding my son a new daycare.

Visitation and child support disputes and the drafting of a proposed property settlement agreement cost me about $9,000 total in attorney fees over the past 11 months.  I still owe my attorney $5,000 of that and thankfully, she's agreed to let me pay a small portion of that each month for the time being.

Still, I'm drowning a little financially.

I seriously would be able to just eat the money I've spent so far and move on happily with my life if the STBX would cooperate, let us get divorced as previously agreed, and if the financial and legal abuse ended from here on out. Unfortunately, he's prepared to make me take him to court over every single issue that has to do with this process and with our son from now until he's all grown up and on his own.  He won't agree to help me pay for extracurricular activities without me taking him to court again, he's stonewalling me about transferring jurisdiction to where I live and adjusting child support accordingly and he even is fighting me about letting me take more money out of my retirement (which he's waiving rights to via our divorce) so that I can simply pay some bills this fall.

I'm starting to really grasp the concept that he is most definitely a narcissist and he's never going to let me go peacefully.  And it's going to cost me time, money and aggravation for years on end.

I have to be strong.

I have to keep my faith.

I need to figure out how to keep moving forward on this starting over wonderful journey and to not let his douchery emotionally devastate me if we have to keep going back to court time and time again over the years.

Blogging when I get the chance and my online support groups for other divorced women are helping me tremendously as I struggle through the financial and legal mess that just keeps growing.  And James Dean and our flourishing relationship most definitely helps keep me sane, grounded and happy.  But I think I need a plan bigger than that.

I need more advice from others who have been there and I need to do more research about divorcing a narcissist when there is a child involved.  I will reach wonderful someday and I refuse to go broke doing it ...

Do you have any advice to give?

Have you been through the wringer financially and through litigation abuse in your own divorce? How do you disengage from the stress it causes? How do you keep the faith to keep fighting back? Please share your stories below as I work to compile the ideas in a follow up post ...

Monday, August 27, 2012

If it takes two to tango ...

... then it only takes one narcissist and/or personality disordered person to push you down to the floor so they can then dance all over your face wearing heels or steel-toed boots depending on their gender.

Photo Credit: lemonadedivorce.com

What am I talking about? The tired old divorce advice for achieving an amicable divorce:

It takes two people to create and maintain a cycle of conflict and only one person to end it.  

For the past 6 or more months I've tried very hard to put this theory to the test with the STBX (or Douche Canoe, rather).  I've spent time focusing on the future for our son, working to let go of our hostile past, and in doing so we were finally able to negotiate our now court-ordered parenting plan and visitation schedule.  In addition to that, I've offered the STBX additional time with our son, not in the court-ordered minimum schedule, and I've regularly sent him pictures, videos and updates on a weekly basis.

In return, I've had him make threats to petition the court to enforce a provision prohibiting my co-habitation with any member of the opposite sex that I'm not married to (he gave up on that, thankfully), I've been insulted, my boyfriend has been insulted, child support has been threatened to be withheld on two occasions and both times he only paid it after I've e-mailed and/or texted inquiring about it much to his displeasure (he retorts that I'm harassing him, of course) and, in addition to all of that, more recently I've had him threaten to file for a contested divorce less than a week after agreeing to move forward with a property settlement agreement and just one day after paying my attorney $750 to draft it for us.

Clearly, I'm not getting back what I'm giving and the conflict isn't ending any time soon.

Lesson:  It takes two people to create and maintain a cycle of conflict and only one person to end it if and only if both of said people are sane and reasonable. 

A narcissistc, borderline and/or sociopathic person will never cease and desist. It doesn't matter how amicable and reasonable you try to be. It just doesn't.  These types of people will continually make unreasonable demands and they will fight you tooth and nail to get revenge no matter how nice and cooperative you try and be with them.

Sadly, I fear the STBX will never be able to move on and the "get back" at me attitude will go on forever and a day. What is appalling is that he and I both know the truth as to what led to the dissolution of our marriage and, although I made plenty of my own mistakes throughout our relationship, I am not the spouse that deserves to be sought after for revenge. He knows it and I know it. Our marriage counselor that we went to for four months knows it. His own parents know it and mine most certainly know it. If anything, I deserve to be let go in peace once and for all and our son deserves two parents who can both move on and be, not only amicable, but respectful and cooperative to serve his bests interests.

I've never been more glad to have court orders in place that protect my son and I from having to be subjected to his hostility any more than necessary.  During the last year or so, that was the best decision that I ever could of made.

If you are divorcing someone like my STBX, don't get your hopes up that it will end in an amicable settlement or that you might ever be able to be friends one day.  If you are divorcing someone with a personality disorder, or someone that is just a plain old douche canoe for that matter, neither will ever happen.  Douche canoe's thrive on conflict as a way to keep you immersed in it so that they can have power over you.  The best piece of advice I can give you is this:

Disengage and protect yourself and your children. Get detailed court orders immediately as a preventative tactic. Especially if there are children involved.

I used to think that I was the source of conflict because whenever it came to me and the STBX, there was always conflict.  Always.  Through the past year and a half, since long before I left him even, I've learned that he is the source of conflict no matter how I behave.  Knowing that gives me back any power he may think he has over me with his behaviors and it makes my life a hell of a lot easier.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

When she disappears without a word ...

Hellooooo!

I know, I know. I've been kind of a blogging slacker lately. I've had a lot going on!  I hope you'll forgive me and I hope I haven't lost half of my readership by not posting all summer long.

C-Man and Mommy enjoying summer
Frankly, I'm kind of a hermit in the winter and I spend a lot of those dark, cold hours hiding out behind my computer screen. Once it gets warm though, and the days start getting longer, ... you're hard pressed to find me staring at my laptop screen past regular working hours.  That's just how I am and this is as close to an apology as you're gonna get from me. This is my blog of course, and I do babble here for me first and foremost. A concept I think I may have lost sight of a few months back ...

Anyway ...

I've also been taking some time off from actively processing my divorce and all that went into that, so that's another reason why I sort of went on blog-strike without any warning or notice. In case you're out of the loop, back in April I started dating someone (known as James Dean here) and what we have together has progressed into something so amazingly wonderful that I have just wanted to focus on the "here and now" with him without having my divorce baggage dragging around behind me and weighing me down.  Blogging regularly was forcing me to keep my divorce and the STBX on the surface of my emotions on a regular basis and in order to truly move on from that, I just had to take a break for awhile.  Looking back over the last few months I am 150% positive that deciding to pause the blog for awhile was one of the best decisions that I've made to date on this starting over wonderful journey.

I love my James Dean so much I could just bust, I swear.  I won't though, because that would literally be horrific and gruesome. Ew!

But I do love him more than I ever thought I could love anyone after what I've been through over the last few years.  I can't even begin to explain what it is like to finally be in a relationship where there is mutual respect, compassion and empathy for one another.  We've been head over heals for months now (read: practically inseparable) and it just keeps on getting better and better.

<3 Phenom and James Dean <3

What's most amazing to me is that we've never even once had an argument or fight.  For me, relationship-wise, that is just remarkable. I think after years and years of bad relationships, I've learned to associate the adrenaline rush that comes from fighting with romantic passion.  Now I know how confused and misguided my thought process was and how that sort of thinking may have been part of why I married the wrong person in the first place.  I mistakenly thought the constant arguing with the STBX meant we were passionately in love.  Or at least passionate.  Wrong!  Fighting with someone and never being able to see eye-to-eye does not mean you have a passionate love. What it means is that your relationship is defunct. End of story. Lesson learned.

I have some great ideas for this blog as I try and get back into the swing of things with summer winding down. I still have an awesome book review and giveaway coming up and I have a whole series that I would like to share with you surrounding parenting plans, visitation schedules and interference with the same from an ex-spouse and I also want to talk about separation agreements. A whole other reason as to why I've been away from blogging regularly has to do with all of those issues because they have each come up with both the STBX and James Dean's now ex-wife over the last four months. There is a LOT to talk about ... so, stay tuned!! (Please? Don't make me beg ...)

Damn, does it feel good to be back or what!!??!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

An open letter to my absent father ...

Phenom as a tot, circa the 80's
Dear Dad,

Let me start that again ...

Dear Biological Father, a.k.a. the sperm donor that makes my existence possible,

Using the word "Dad" brings up painful memories of lonely nights and years spent questioning why I wasn't enough for you, so I won't use it to address you or to describe you. While I am working to forgive you (forgiving my STBX, the manipulative, porn-loving douche canoe I made the mistake of marrying was a hell of a lot easier, I must say), the question remains: How on earth could you abandon me?

I needed you to be there, even if it wasn't all the time. Sometimes would have been better than not one time. In all of my thirty years, I don't have a single memory of you being there for me when I needed you ... in fact, I don't have any memories of you at all.

When I went through that awkward tom-boy phase, I needed you to tell me how pretty I was and later, I needed you to be the first man to tell me that I am beautiful.

When my life was dominated by females, I needed you there to help balance out all that estrogen. I needed you to be there to talk to me about boys so that I wouldn't have had to suffer through so many bad relationships and empty voids.

When I was in high school, I needed you. Thank God for me, I had my step-father, the man I am proud to call Dad on occasion when I am feeling mushy towards him, and I also had my Grandfather. Don't think that my more-than-enough replacements made up for the fact that you were never there. They did the best they could, but I still needed you. I needed to know you and I needed you to help me to know myself before anyone had the opportunity to label me.

I was supposed to be your "little girl".

I needed you and you didn’t care. How does one sleep at night not knowing if their own flesh and blood is breathing, eating, safe and secure? I’m not sure if your lack of presence was a blessing or a curse. My pain runs deep and as much as I've tried to deny it, your absence brought dysfunction into my life on more than one occasion.

You were the first man to break my heart and I’m struggling to not hate you.

A man that puts himself last does not abandon a living, breathing soul of his own flesh and blood. What would you have lost by being in my life? I was not a troubled child. I ate my veggies, was inducted into the National Honor's society and even put myself through college with the help of a full tuition scholarship.

Your non-existent contribution is an insult to who you could have been to me.

I’m sorry that you missed out on something and someone so great, but I guarantee that I won’t let your actions break me. I never have before and I certainly will not now. Instead, I pray daily that the STBX turns out to be the father to my C-man that I never had, despite our divorce. I find peace inside knowing that C will know the comfort of his father’s arms, his voice, his love, his care ... even if it isn't every day, all the time. Sometimes is better than never.

One day I’ll walk down the aisle again, and like the first time, I'll do it without you by my side. But then again, I’m used to it by now and I'm actually thankful for your absence somehow. I thank you, even if I don't have any other emotion for you presently ... I thank you for the pain of needing someone who was never there because without that pain I wouldn’t know healing, I wouldn’t know love and I would not know God.

- Phenom

Friday, May 18, 2012

Choice is to Destiny as Chance is to Fate

I truly believe that loving requires taking a chance. There are always risks involved and, as we grow older and suffer through enough heartbreak and disappointment, we hopefully tend to get better at measuring those risks in a way that still leaves our hearts open to the experience of love itself.  To both give it freely and unconditionally, but to also receive it from another.

A little over a month ago, I took a chance on a friend I had met through mutual friends of ours towards the end of last year (he's known as James Dean here, for all of you that don't already know that).  By "chance", I mean that I made the choice to let him take me out on a date.  We've been inseparable ever since and I don't think I could have helped falling in love with him, even if I had tried with all of my might and will.

Choice is to destiny as chance is to fate, right? Maybe, what I'm actually trying to share here is my belief that we have to make a choice to take a chance when it comes to love; because otherwise, what the hell is the point anyway?


"Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could." 

~ Louise Erdrich, (The Painted Drum LP)


There is an aspect of loving someone in which you've got to take a chance. I have encountered many out there on this journey towards starting over wonderful, some divorced and some not (some just bitter, jealous and/or overly judgmental, let's face it) and I receive alternative messages regarding love. Some believe it is necessary to guard your heart completely.  To not let anyone in, until you are absolutely positive and you've measured every risk imaginable.  Especially if you've been burned before by a love gone wrong. Some advise not to let yourself get so completely close to anyone until you've taken complete stock. That it's always best to spare your emotions completely for anyone else, especially post break-up or divorce, and that you should just focus on loving yourself.

In my opinion, that's advice for living with your heart closed to receiving love from anyone unless you're allowed to give it back conditionally and only after you've spent considerable time loving yourself in solitude. It's a concept this serial monogamist can't seem to wrap her head around.

How are you going to love unless you open your heart? How are you going to love without becoming emotionally attached to someone? How can you be positive about your measurement of the risks without also letting someone get to know you and how you actually love yourself, both when you've been in solitude and when you're in a relationship? How can you adequately measure the risks if you only know how to love yourself when you're in solitude; if you never have the chance at practicing self-love in an actual relationship?

I really don't think any of that is possible. At least, for me it isn't. I don't think you can fully love someone without becoming attached, somehow ... somewhere. How can you know if you love someone if you don't let them come close, somehow? How can someone love you if you don't let them come close, somehow?



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Single Phenom Mom, Episode 2: Secret Guilt

If you have even one child you are sure to feel guilty about something.

Guilt over things you've either failed been unable to do for your child(ren), decisions made over this and that, or things you've done to or around them. Then, there's that guilt that stems from comparing your child to another child of similar age, gender, aptitude ... whatever (we all do it, so stop pretending otherwise).  Of course, the worst guilt is the kind that happens when, against your better judgement and will-power, you compare yourself as a parent to another parent or, even worse still, you compare your parenting to another parent's parenting.

That last form of guilt there is a sure-fire way to bring the shame-train barreling into your life and there's usually no amount of reason that can stop it once it is en route.

Thanks to Time magazine's recent outrageous spectacle and the resulting fury that ensued in the media and online, we've all been reminded of that last form of guilt and the havoc it can wreck haven't we?  Oh thank you, Time for adding fuel to the blazing "Mommy Wars" that just never seem to burn out.  Ever.

Seriously, though?  Time's marketing department must be just stacked with an absolute genius brood (imagine me slapping my knee here for some sarcastic emphasis).  Exploiting the oh-so-obvious fact that moms, more so than dads, often carry this parenthood-induced guilt around with them wherever they go?  And, spreading misinformation as infuriating sensationalism right on time for Mother's Day?  That was pure mastermind and super considerate too.

Um, no.  

Phenom's interpretation of the "Mom Enough?" cover for the mag:  "Happy Guilt-Ridden Mother's Day, Bitches!"  Love always, Time Magazine. 

So yeah, guilt is pretty much guaranteed emotional territory for any parent, at some point or another.  Any parent that tries to convince anyone else that they are living a guilt-free existence when it comes to how well or not-so-well they're raising their kids is a cocky son-of-a-bitch.  Not to mention, a liar.

I liken my own "Mommy Guilt" to a bad hangover I can't seem to shake.  Or maybe the hazy memory of a bad one-night stand ... Yes, I have had a few of those over the course of my thirty years (I know, I'm such a slut! *snicker*) and said incidents were usually maybe sometimes followed by a mild hangover.  Ahhh, memories. 

Anyway, what am I guilty about exactly?  Certainly not any of the hyped-up crapola any judgmental pot-stirrers like to bicker about on the interwebs regarding the millions of parenting choices all of us parents have to make in the struggle to try and raise kids that grow up to not be douche canoes.  And nope, I'm definately NOT guilty over any of the hullabaloo that everyone seems to be blogging and debating about in response to Time's insanely outrageous cover.

Not. Even. Close.

Instead, my guilt has been a semi-secret form of guilt for quite some time now and I've often been ashamed to admit it. Even to myself.  I prefer to stuff it way down deep in the back of my existence; blur it out of my mind's focus as much as possible.  Thanks to the Time cover however, and it being blasted all over almost every blog I follow, the "Mom Enough?" caption has brought this semi-secret guilt of mine right back up to the surface for me. Thanks again, Time. No, really ... thanks a heap.

As a divorcing single mother with a full-time job and a million things to do every damn day, I needed to have my shame bubble back up to the surface almost as much as I need for J-dog to break out with a flea infestation right now (note to self, order more Frontline as early as yesterday!).

Every mother out there's life. Times ten if you're a a single mother.
Frankly, I'm kind of surprised at myself for being willing to share what I'm guilty about here; even if I have been known to share my raw emotions with all of you before on this journey towards starting over wonderful.

This one's deep. And it is quite shameful.

Here goes nothing ...

I suspected that my marriage might be doomed for divorce after I miscarried a month in.  Knew it deep down inside myself but irrationally rationalized my feelings away for a multitude of reasons I won't get into for this post.  I could even go so far as to say that I contemplated cancelling our wedding months before ever walking down the aisle at all.  I didn't because, back then, I was too concerned with what everyone would think to listen to my instincts and run ... a wonderful lesson learned the hard way, wouldn't you say?

Despite this "knowing" if you will, because let's face it -- hindsight is 20/20, I put getting pregnant again after losing a baby first and foremost over anything else.  I was terrified that something might be wrong with me since I miscarried the first baby I had ever carried.  Instead of facing the fact that our marriage was broken and never meant-to-be in the first place, I reasoned that my desperation to become a mother (something I have always, always wanted to be) was stemmed from needing to fully throw myself into our marriage through bearing a child.

I mean, the only way to make a relationship work is to throw yourself into it 100%, and in the moment, having a child is basically a way of saying that you're in it for the long haul, right? Yeah, that is the kind of rationalizing that went on in my head as I demanded the STBX "fertilize me" even if we were in the middle of arguing because damn-it-all, I was ovulating.

I just wanted to be a mom that bad.

I wanted C so much that I couldn't see past my fears of "What if I have a fertility issue?"  I had done everything "right" in preparation for my lifelong goals of being a mom someday. I went to college first. I established a decent career first. I got married. We owned our house. I did all of what you are supposed to do first.

I always wanted to be a mom and after losing a baby, that desire trumped everything else.  I was desperate to fill the hole left in my heart from losing one child with all the joy and happiness having another would bring.

Did I ignorantly believe that having a baby might magically "fix" our relationship?  Not for a second.  Yet I forged forward with trying to conceive anyway.

So, this is where my "Mom Guilt" comes from.  Not from feeding my son crap food sometimes, not from my struggles with breastfeeding and not even because I'm a working single parent going through divorce from my son's father.

I feel guilty because I brought my sweet, innocent little C-Man into this world with some sort of inkling that it probably wasn't going to work out with his father in the long run.  I feel like that was selfish of me; to want to be a mom that bad. To want to give my love as a mother that much despite what may happen between his father and myself.

Hopefully, my unwavering love and devotion as C's mother is enough to make up for all of the rest that comes with having divorced parents.  The fruits of my labor so far these days show me that just might be the case.

In my opinion, a mother's love is always enough.  Not to mention wonderful.

C having fun with Mommy on the swings at the park last week

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thoughts on Thursday, Episode 2: A mother's love as inspiration


Today's post is a little different, as I haven't been feeling well most of today and actually took a sick day for once. I'm curled up on the couch about to head to bed early for a change.

Earlier, I stumbled upon this video/slideshow I made back at the beginning of my separation from the STBX.  I put it together to remind myself that my son, C, is my inspiration and the reason why I decided to leave my horrible marriage in the first place. I'm finally at a place in my head, and in my heart, where I feel comfortable sharing it here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

When you're blinded by a gaslighter ....

Dear STBX, a.k.a., the biggest douche canoe I have ever known:  It has finally hit me! I can see so clearly now, as I am no longer blinded by your gaslighting. Months of living free from your crazy-making has been enlightening, to say the very least.  I now know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am not crazy or deranged; you are just a manipulative douche canoe and that's all there is to it ... 


Photo Credit:  eak-easycomeeasygo.blogspot.com

Throughout my relationship with the STBX, he masterfully crafted a slow, insidious, break down of my self-esteem that was a subtle, yet meticulous.  Calm manipulation.  Gaslighting at its finest.  The best description I've read as to what exactly gaslighting is can be found over at the "Easy Come, Easy Go" blog:  when a douche canoe, like the STBX, "dismisses what you're feeling or thinking as a dysfunction of your personality ... in order to control the situation and, ultimately, you", that's gaslighting. Crazy-making at its finest.

Ironic that the STBX, being the douche canoe that he is, paints me as the controlling one.  I may be a type-A personality, but I am no douche canoe dear. 

It took me years to recognize what exactly it was that he was doing to me.  In short, he was trying to make me think that I was a crazy, miserable person.  A "miserable bitch", I do believe was the phrase spat at me whenever I caught him red-handed in one lie or another ... that, and a few other choice phrases ...

"You are so full of anger", he'd say and I would think, "It must be true", because his behaviors and choices anger me, yet he's able to stay so calm.

"You are paranoid", he'd say and I would think, "It must be true", because my gut instincts were constantly telling me that something was wrong, yet it was often hard for me to discern why things didn't make sense or didn't match up logically.

"You are messed up and broken", he'd say and I would think, "It must be true", because I couldn't see my true self anymore. What I mean is, I had lost sight of what I wanted from life, from love and from sharing my life with another person because it got to the point where I didn't trust my own feelings anymore. I didn't trust my own emotions as being valid, justified or even "right" half the time.

Having someone completely void of empathy constantly invalidate your feelings day in and day out can do that.  By the time we were married, he had turned my world upside-down and inside-out, to where I could hardly remember or recognize the woman that I used to be, before he came along.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The advice paradox for married parents versus single parents.

Photo Credit: smconner-acreativelife.blogspot.com
When you're married, after you have children it can seem as if everyone is always telling you to carve out time for romance so that you don't lose your relationship intimacy and the happiness that brought you together in the first place.  It took love and romance (or maybe, just sex? -- I really don't know your story, now do I?) to actually make said kids exist, did it not?  What partnered-up parents aren't being constantly reminded to avoid letting romance die when the kids are born?

As you trudge though the perils of trying to morph munchkin rug-rats into productive members of society as a parenting couple, there always seems to be that constant reminder coming from just about everywhere (your mother-in-law, Dr. Phil, newsstand magazines at the grocery checkout) that one mustn't forget that you are still a romantic couple just as much as you are parents. How many parenting websites and books are out there sporting articles directed at actively fostering a strong and fulfilling romantic relationship despite while also being parents? A zillion, maybe?

If I'm not mistaking the above climate of what may be considered as healthy "advice" for married folks with children, then why is it that for us single parents, it seems as if we're constantly bombarded with the absurd advice that it is somehow best if we forgo our own personal happiness and chances at finding a fulfilling romantic relationship for the sake of raising our kids?

Believe it or not, there's even the utterly ass backwards notion floating around in some parts that single parents shouldn't date or even dare to seek out a romantic relationship until their children are "older". By "older", I'm assuming most of these ignorant asshats mean until said children have reached adulthood.  Since my son, C, is only just over one and a half years old, that idea makes my chest tighten with panic wondering what on Earth it would cost me in batteries and vibrators over the next 18 years or so.  I have a hard time fathoming how I would make it through such a death-sentence of abstinence.

Anyway, the conflicting concepts between romance advice for married parents versus those that are single is perplexing to say the very least.

What gives?

I think I may have stumbled upon an extremely contradictory societal stigma here and I'm wondering if any other like-minded folks out there have every pondered the same paradox that surely does exist ... it can't be just my own somewhat biased perspective.  Can it?  To further add to the presumed absurdity, ponder this one:  if fostering romance is encouraged as a way to prevent divorce when married with children, then why isn't the same encouraged for the single parent as a way to provide stability and happiness in their lives since they too have children?

Monday, April 30, 2012

When she makes money ...

In my marriage, I was the breadwinner three-fold over the STBX.

Photo Credit: slate.com
For what it's worth (pun intended), it never really mattered to me that I made more money (at least it didn't initially, but more on that in a moment), because I have never been the type to weigh one's income when falling in love.

It just isn't my style.

While being showered with gifts from a man can be flattering, and even though being financially supported by a man toys with the overly romanticized idea of "chivalry", it all feeds into that old-fashioned and materialistic assumption of a man having to provide for his woman that just rubs the independent feminist inside of me in all the wrong ways.  Male "masters of the universe" that flaunt their wealth in an effort to impress me have always pissed me off more than they've ever turned me on.

I'm too much of an, "I can provide for myself" type-of-woman to hold any sort of value in a man's ability to financially provide for and support me.  Instead, I've always treasured a man's generosity of his time, affection, spontaneity and caring so much more.  I find being both adored and respected as both a companion and lover a hell of a lot more attractive than being doted on with the giving of material things.

Accordingly, the STBX's dismal earning potential as it compared to mine never played a significant part in the factors of why I got hitched when I should have ditched.  The dynamic that played out, however, over the course of our engagement and marriage due to the uneven financial contributions to our lives did play a part in the ultimate demise of our marriage.

Why?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Breakup 101, Episode 4: Dance in the Rain

The end of a relationship is often wrought with emotional pain and heartache. If said end is defined by divorce, the process has the potential to be one of the most difficult and harrowing life experiences and it ranks right up there with coping with the death of a loved one.

Some even argue that divorce is like death, or worse.

There are others though, like me for example, who see the potential for starting over wonderful when faced with the end of what was once thought to be forever.  Instead of paying penance for my failed marriage, both self-imposed and inflicted by others' well-meaning "advice", I'm running forward in a celebration that is nothing short of a liberating declaration of monumental growth, positive change, rewarding self-reflection and personal re-invention.

I do not have to wait for my divorce process to be finally over before I get on with living my life. I am living my life because life does not wait for anything.


Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. Instead, it is about learning to dance in the rain. 

And I am dancing. Every.Single.Day.

Not because I seek distraction from the difficulties in my life brought on by going through a divorce, but because I am resilient and I have learned the hard way that only I can cultivate my own happiness.  I've also learned that life is too short to put my happiness on hold whenever a shit storm is brewing.  There is always a shit storm brewing. Divorce or no divorce. Married or not. Employed or not. Rich or poor.

Do you get where I am going with this?

Life isn't going to wait for you to live it only when things are as pleasant as a bright sunny day.  How you navigate a breakup, a disappointment, a bump in the road ... or a divorce ... well, in my opinion, you can either live and learn from the experience in a way that further defines how you chose to live your life or you can let the experience define you in a way that prevents you from living your life to the fullest.

Once you've dealt with the God-awful and immediate pain and grief of mourning (because, for the record, dealing with that part is indeed necessary), how do you avoid wallowing in that experience, stuck-in-the-mud as they say, to instead find yourself not just moving on, but dancing in the streets of your new journey?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Divorce is messy. Literally.

I'm going through one hell of a divorce.

There, I admitted it.

I may be emotionally over the failure that was my marriage, and I may have sufficiently grieved the loss of "the dream" and all those hopes and plans laid up with the wrong person, but the divorce part in itself sucks balls. Big, sweaty, hairy balls that smell like rotten cheese.  The headaches of trying to short sale the house I willingly walked away from, the legalities of having to wait one long-ass year of an official separation before we can move forward with severing the marital bond between us on paper and the painstaking particulars of co-parenting long distance with a douche canoe ...

< insert one long, exasperated sigh here >

If I was a drinker, I would be drunk right now.

Instead, my fridge still sits aptly stocked full with half a liquor store's shelf supply in leftovers from my divorce party held last weekend (more on that soon, I promise!). If I have even one drink tonight, I won't make it to bed without washing my face and brushing my teeth ... I'll just pass out in a heap at the bottom of my bed with all my clothes on. J-dog will effectively steal my pillows at the top of the bed and I'll wake up in the middle of the night with sock-in-the-mouth breath, moaning about the misery that is my life because I can't get her to move.

Don't worry. My life isn't miserable. Far from it actually. For a divorcing single mother with a thousand and one obligations and responsibilities, I'm surprisingly happy most of the time. Ecstatic even. Divorce is freeing; it was in my marriage that I was miserable, let's not forget.

I think I'm just feeling a little burned out.

Fried.

Cooked.

Overwhelmed.

My house is so messy and disorganized lately that an exhaustion-induced voice in my head keeps telling me to just throw things away instead of figuring out where to put put them. Trashing the mess seems like an easier solution than finding the time and energy to deal with it. Instead, I just shove things into areas of the house that I don't use very often. Like my guest bedroom. Or my downstairs closet. Then there is the basement ...

I just don't have time to deal with most of it.  Changing between winter and summer clothes, paperwork, mail and more paperwork, baby stuff that needs to be sold or donated, crap, crap and more crap. It never ends.

There's also a possibility that I may have to move in less than a year, so really -- why should I bother doing anything at the moment?

Sure, I clean up our kitchen regularly. And I vacuum the house many times a week.  I also do the bathrooms pretty often and our laundry is usually done (although, hardly ever put away).  But the rest of this place? Oh.My.God. My married\-self would have cringed, cried and then cracked if she had to live in such a state of chaos.  Don't even get me started on my car. That beast hasn't had a bath since before the STBX and I separated!

Having ADHD doesn't help either. It instead has the opposite effect. My piles of crap are accumulating their own piles of paper and my piles of paper are buried under crap.

Crap.

It is time for some spring cleaning big-time, but all I really want to do is hibernate like a bear and catch up on my sleep. And my photography. And this blog. Oh, yeah and maybe throw myself into my real job too so that I don't lose it any time soon.

I knew divorce would be messy when I decided to take that route, but I had no idea how literal the concept was.  I need a maid but instead, I pay a lawyer.

Maybe I should have a drink tonight ... just one. Then bed. I can't see the mess with my eyes closed. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Dumb Marriage vs. Smart Marriage

Was my marriage stupid or was it just unsuccessful? Or was it unsuccessful mostly because it was dumb? 


All marriages will go through good and bad times. Isn't that not only expected going in to the deal, but also made pretty clear during the recitation of most couple's vows on their wedding day? 

(Although in my case, the STBX messed up that part and instead of promising to love me when it was both "easy" and when it "was an effort", he stammered that he would instead love me when it was both "easy" and when it was "effortless" -- and he was reading from a card! Red flag? Um yeah, you could say that!)

What isn't made clear, for almost half of those out there getting married in this country as evidenced by the current divorce rate, is the differences between what makes a dumb marriage versus what makes a smart one.  From what I've gathered, a dumb marriage is doomed to fail when faced with problems while a smart marriage is likely to succeed even when faced with the same damn problems.

Huh? Hold the phone ...

Why is that? 

According to themarriagecounselingblog.com,  

A smart marriage is defined by the fact that a couple will react to situations and problems in a smart, resolving way in order to not let it affect the marriage adversely. 

So, while most couples fight about the same basic things -- sex and intimacy, money, children, in-laws, time management and work-life balance etc. -- in a smart marriage, couples most often have already learned what to expect surrounding most of these issues before saying, "I do", and in their commitment to one another and their relationship, these couples actively work together to each acquire the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed to handle disagreements and challenges in a way that strengthens their relationship. 

My marriage was not smart.

Not only was it entered into for the wrong reasons, and not only did we lack common values, but we just were dumb and dumber still when it came to what is expected of actually being married.  So, from my own experience, in a dumb marriage there is a general lack of understanding when it comes to what may be expected.  Furthermore, instead of learning skills necessary for effectively managing differences and challenges (that should have been predictable for the most part, mind you), we actively acquired behaviors that destroyed us and tore us to pieces.  

Our disagreements were horrendous. Conflict-resolution was practically non-existent. 

Even if our love was a true love for all of the right reasons (it wasn't), we still wouldn't have survived.  The utter stupidity of how we barely managed our marriage would have killed even the purest love and devotion for one another, and we probably would have ended up divorced by middle-age.  Because our love was fickle, not true and based on bullshit more often than not ... the failure came quickly (dare I say, thankfully?).  I first wanted out when I was just five months pregnant with our son; it took almost another year and half for the failure to become so apparent that it could no longer be ignored, but that was still just a few weeks after our second anniversary.  

What was the most stupid about our marriage was that more often than not, neither of us could let go of our own individuality even if doing so would have been beneficial for our relationship.  Also, because we failed to establish open and honest communication early on, resentment and hostility swooped in fast and furious. 

Compromise didn't stand a chance.  

We each continued to live as we might have if we had never gotten married in the first place. What I mean is, we were both too stubborn to adapt to being two individuals in a successful partnership.  As the same problems arose without resolution over and over, we each became more and more unyielding in our own way of dealing.  We lived together as individuals completely unsuccessfully because we never learned how to actually be together

It's no wonder we are getting divorced, really.

Marriage counseling couldn't even save us.  Four months of going to therapy as a couple fueled my desire to leave because it merely served to reveal how broken we really were; how dire the situation really was.  How can you "rebuild" something that never really was in the first place? 

I'm hoping that through examining this dumb marriage vs. smart marriage idea, I am more apt to make better decisions surrounding any serious relationship of my future.  Not only do I want a true love that is real with someone that I share common values with, but I also want to be able to stand on a solid foundation with someone that still somehow makes my heart soar higher than it ever has before ...  

I'm taking the failures from my dumb marriage and using the lessons learned therein to increase my chances for success when there is a next time.  That's not only wonderful, but smart too.  Wise even.  

(Wise doesn't mean old; I will punch you in the throat!)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thoughts on Thursday, Episode 1: There are only lessons

New series for my blog! A wonderful way for me to share some of my photography with a little bit of a twist, Phenom style. 

Photo Credit: ME!
Taken with my Rebel; Bay Beach - Eastham, MA
























This is how I've been approaching almost every single aspect of my life for quite some time now.  It started when my marriage started to fall apart just as soon as it had started.  It became even more so when I became a mother. I would get it tattooed across my forehead if I thought for a minute that I would forget it now ... ok, maybe not; but you get the idea. 

It is a way of thinking that is helping to guide this starting over wonderful journey I'm always talking about.  Through managing various aspects of the divorce process, being a single mother, making choices in my career path, learning how to co-parent and in dating while separated ... this mantra is always on my mind. 

The undercurrent is that the more I learn to love myself, the more I learn to have compassion for myself for mistakes made and the more accepting I am of the consequences of those mistakes.  

Self-compassion helps fuel self-esteem.  With these things I find trust in me.   

If you make a mistake, learn from it. Change what you can, move on from what can't be changed and stop casting blame on yourself for anything outside of your control.  Through practicing this, I'm finding that you can learn to trust yourself more and more as time goes on and with trust in yourself comes confidence in yourself. With confidence it becomes easier to let go of negativity most often fueled by lingering pain and hurt, allowing yourself to instead embrace optimism.

With optimism, everything and anything that you want out of this life is possible.  And that is wonderful. 

I'm getting there. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Confronting the Stigma of the Serial Monogamist

Most of the dating advice I've read or heard these days encourages "playing the field" and this idea is commonly passed off and believed to be better than practicing anything resembling anything close to what may be known as serial monogamy.  Is there really only one way to go about dating?

I don't think so. 

"Playing the field" is just not my style.  Maybe it's the hopeless romantic inside of me that will always draw hearts in the sand ...



Photo Credit: capturejerseyshore.com


Throughout my life, my dating experience has typically followed a pattern.

I find myself single and looking. I meet one or more interesting prospects. Some flirting ensues; a few dates. Eventually, the candidates with the least potential are weeded out and I find myself continuing to date someone I click with.  I don't like to juggle when it comes to dating and I've always openly embraced exclusivity over casually playing the field.  If it doesn't work out, there's a break-up (some worse than others) and then soon enough I find myself single and looking again.

That's my pattern.

The lengths of time where I've remained single vary from a just couple of months to just over a year. The lengths of the various relationships that I've been in vary just as much, with only four qualifying as serious.  There was the high school boyfriend that I thought I loved, the college boyfriend that I truly loved, the divorced guy that I pretended to love and then there's the STBX.

The longest I've ever been out of an exclusive relationship since I started dating in the first place was the year or so I spent mostly solo before getting serious with the STBX and, interestingly, that relationship turned out to be the longest I've ever had, not to mention the most serious, complicated and life-changing.  Six years total; soon to end in divorce.

Since the breakdown of what was thought to be forever, I've been in one brief "relationship" that abruptly ended in absolute insanity when I found out that my new beau's idea of "exclusive" meant me on the side occasionally, while he regularly went home to a wife that I didn't know about.  I'm left wondering if that mishap really even counts, hence the quotations around the label.

Regardless, I find myself single and looking for the second time since leaving my marriage.  I also find myself confronted with the social stigma of the serial monogamist.

Single Phenom Mom, Episode 1: Shower in Peace?

After kids, long, relaxing hot showers and taking your time getting gussied up will become a luxury your life will hardly afford you anymore. I promise. Married or not. One kid or five. It doesn't matter.

Photo Credit: ModestNeeds.org

After kids, you'll also sit on the toilet with the door open as your child(ren) talk to you and/or try to touch you or climb on you; lest you want to suffer the consequences of closing the door in order to do your business.  As a parent, single or not, there just won't be many times that you'll be able to use the bathroom alone to do anything.  It is a fact of parenthood. At least until your kids are old enough to be left unattended in a room of your house for longer than 30 seconds.

If you are childless and you are reading this, savor the solo shitting time that you have now. Seriously; relish it. From this moment forward, remember what you've read here and take an extra few minutes every time you use a bathroom to do anything solo (shit, shower, shave etc.) and just really try and appreciate the peace you have to be alone in there.


No one's hanging on your leg demanding your attention with an incessant, "Up!" as you brush your teeth. 

You don't have to deal with smudged, crooked eyeliner because a thrown ball/toy has ricocheted off the vanity into your arm (or face) mid-application. 

Your legs, when you so choose to shave them at your leisure, don't look like you walked through a thorn bush with shorts on.

While you're sitting on the throne, no one is trying to wedge themselves in-between your legs or, even worse, make their way up into your lap.  


Solo bathroom time just may be the number one thing I miss from the days before I became a parent. Even more so now that I am a single parent.  In my marriage, there were at least rare occasions where I could have the STBX take care of our child so I could take care of myself and my bathroom needs alone and without feeling a need to rush. Now that I'm alone and always rushing around as a single mom going through a divorce, I sometimes wish I could hire someone to come over on occasion just to have that occasional luxury back.      

I miss solo bathroom time so much that most days, I get up a whole hour earlier than necessary just so I can shit, shower and shave alone, and in peace, well before the time frame that C-Man typically wakes up hollering for me to get him his "deeenk" (that's drink).  I also make it a point to sleep in a bit sometimes, before bringing C-Man to daycare in my sweats, just so I can return home and still have the luxury of at least showering and shaving by my lonesome without having to sacrifice precious sleep to do so. Those days, I end up making up the work time sacrificed for the solo shower after he goes to bed at night. That's the catch-22 of working from home: you can shower while your kid is at daycare and you are "working" but you'll have to make up that time you were "working" while also showering and/or shaving in peace.

As a single parent, if you borrow time from one area you have to make it up some where else. And it usually means giving up something like sleep or time to yourself. Or eating.  As a single parent that works from home, this time juggle gets even more complicated. Throw some ADHD in there and it just gets crazy at times. (Or maybe I'm just going crazy?)

Most weekends, and then other times when my normal routines fall to the wayside for various reasons (again, see the above paragraph), I end up showering with C-Man in the bathroom with me. Sometimes on weekends, if we don't have any plans for example, I can wait until his early afternoon nap to do my thing; but most of the time I can't because of an obligation we need to show up at or take care of where sweats are just not appropriate and having some personal hygiene is.

So, he ends up there in the bathroom with me while I do my business.

Oh joy. 

I don't care how "baby-proofed" any room appears to be; I just don't feel comfortable leaving C unattended while I shower. Toddlers have this uncanny ability of proving your baby-proofing skills defunct even when you're standing right there with your eyes glued to them unblinking; forget leaving a toddler alone for more than a minute or two! 

And I can't leave him in his crib awake while I do what I need to because he's at that age where attempts to escape the crib could happen at any time.  I have these horrific visions of him breaking his arm while trying to leap out of his crib akin to Buzz Light Year discovering he can't fly.  You know that scene in the original Toy Story when Buzz is all deranged after discovering that he is in fact, just a toy, and in trying to fly out the window of Sid's house, he plummets to the staircase floor and loses an arm? (Okay, yeah, the responsibilities and pressures of single parenthood can make you a tad irrational and overprotective.)

I've learned that having my baby in the bathroom with me while I do my business usually works out pretty well, so long as I am prepared anyway. I've also learned the hard way how imperative it is that he's fed and freshly changed before slathering my legs in shaving cream.

How do I keep him occupied while I'm doing my thing and he's shut in there with me? Or rather, how do I keep him from driving me batty and/or destroying my bathroom before I've even finished rinsing my hair?

With a bucket of fun (mega-blocks and some other toys I rotate out from week to week) and some baby-proofing, of course. And music!

Scattering the blocks all over is always better than building with them

It works for now, as I believe it is age appropriate for him. I've used other various tricks in the past and if you've come here for some advice on what else you could do for entertaining babies and toddlers of various ages and stages, oh fellow pee-in-peace-deprived parent, please read on below. I've taken the time to compile a list of handy tricks to somehow help you bring back your pre-child days of using a bathroom alone. Sort of.  Please feel free to add any more ideas that you've tried, or that you may have heard of, below this post in the comment section.  I would love to hear from you!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Wonderful Writing, Episode 1: Flashback Poetry

Photo Credit: baldheadqueen.com
Years ago, as in all of high school and then through my first few years of college, I loved poetry.  Both soaking up the lyrical genius of published poets and trying my hand at writing some of my own.

In a recent conversation with a friend about his poetry, it occurred to me that I haven't written a poem of my own in just about five years.  Not only that, but it has hit me like a brick to the head that I stopped all things poetry related just around the time when things got serious with the STBX.  I wonder if the timing correlation holds any meaningful significance?

Regardless, I'm going to get back into creative writing by starting a "Wonderful Writing" series here on my blog. I'm a wee rusty with the whimsical wording, so some of these episodes may seriously suck and you are free to comment whenever you see fit with a message of something similar to, "Um, pull the plug on this idea, Phenom, before you embarrass yourself any further." Or, you can just give me a big thumbs down and throw a viral version of a tomato at me.

Whatever.

For my first episode of this series, I've pulled up a poem that I wrote in May of 2004. That's right; almost eight years ago. I was 22 and my college apartment had recently been robbed and ransacked.  My roommate was also studying abroad at the time, so I was home alone every night. I was also single and had been for well over a year; and I was still heart broken all that time out from a break-up with the man who had been my first real, adult love and my longest relationship.

I was really alone.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Signs Your Single Guy is Not So Single

Everyone lies. That's a truth that I wish everyone could openly admit. Most of us tell little lies. Harmless lies. Lies that "save face".


The dog ate my homework. 

Yes, I was stuck in a traffic jam in the middle of the country at two o'clock in the afternoon and that's why I am late -- there MUST have been an accident somewhere. 

No, those jeans don't make your butt look big. 


Everyone doesn't, however, tell great big GIANT lies that are hurtful, disruptive, manipulative and/or sociopathicly disturbing and conniving.

I ain't never been married before, baby. 

I'm just a hard-working single dad who's previously gotten the shit end of the stick when it comes to women and relationships.

I'm available and yours for the taking. 

I can't be with you this weekend because my dad had a heart-attack. 

I can't be with you (again) the following weekend because my dad will have another heart attack. 


Turns out, the joke was on me -- courtesy of a Mr. Handsome turned Mr. Lying-Cheating-Bastard.

http://eureferendum.blogspot.com

Since I found out that the fool is married and oh-so-NOT-available as originally advertised, I've not only reached out to his wife, but I've also discovered that she is in fact his SECOND wife, that he wouldn't know squat about being a single parent if the realities of that undertaking smacked him upside the head like a two-by-four and that no, his father never had a heart attack, never mind two of them. That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the man's disgusting lies, but I digress ...

If hindsight is 20/20, looking back on our "relationship" were there signs that I missed that might have led me to the truth sooner? Where were the red flags? Did he hide them so well that I just couldn't see the warnings lurking beneath the murky waters of a new relationship; a new love? Maybe.

Let's dissect this together, shall we?

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