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Archive for the ‘divorce’ Category

On the Edge of 00:00:01

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I began this blog in the midst of radical turmoil. The things that occurred at the tail-end of spring, through the summer, into the autumn and followed by the winter of 2010, were things of the sort that either make you or break you. I’m not sure if it’s possible to pinpoint the exact moment when the foundation of a marriage begins to crumble. If it’s anything at all like the progressive deterioration of a building, it’s slow and clandestine, beneath the façade of what appears to be solid. Eight months of cataclysm underlined by venom and preceded by years of the slow crumbling of the foundations. To write what I am writing today seems impossible.

My struggle over our divorce has been especially acute over the past month. The process of thoroughly acknowledging my own faults began during that month. Consequently, I also had pneumonia. Being ill forced me to stay home. Staying home forced me to introspect. Being home without a child for 2 weeks of the month I was exiled began a process of introspection that has been one of the most psychologically painful and emotionally wrenching periods I have ever experienced.

Perspective sometimes helps; my current marriage is my second. My first marriage was one of those foreign affairs, the sort that begin in the romance of living abroad. Meeting an exciting man, traveling across the ocean multiple times for the heat of that relationship, I bet everything in my handbag of tricks for that wild sense of passion that is protracted by a hop-scotch of long distance then reuniting then leaving, over and over. He was Albanian, a man from a country of which I had never heard except in a Cheers episode. What I knew: he was beautiful, we were inseparable and I was truly madly deeply for him.

I brought him to the US, an assignment of pure will on my part. Immigration attorneys (Albania’s lack of economic relations with the US meant the need for legal assistance to acquire a visa), working multiple jobs to pay for the legal fees, dissecting my life (personal letters, phone bills, credit card statements – anything that could prove to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service that the relationship was authentic; they’re opposed to bringing an unsavory sort to The Land of Plenty).

He came, we married and through 4 years we discovered “real life” was very different than the romance novel we’d lived for 3 years in Florence, Italy. He fell into the seduction of Plenty and soon I had a fractured man whose mind was split by schizophrenic psychosis. My Italian romance was gone, replaced with a boogeyman who believed I was the Black Witch, sent to extract his secrets so I could bring his Albanian homeland into ruin. The day he beat me all over and across the kitchen floor, my legs bent back at strange angles, was the day I knew there was no such thing as “turning back.” It was also, strangely, the first day I began to have an inkling that there might be a God. When the steel-toed boot that was aimed at the soft spot at the side of my head was stilled by the singing of an unseen songbird outside, I wondered how that bird came to sit at that spot and sing at precisely that moment. Miraculous or coincidence, it doesn’t matter; the result is I was not killed or permanently damaged.

I can retell that story because it happened a long time ago. And I don’t tell it now to elicit anything other than a picture of comparison. That marriage and its ensuing drama do not hold a candle to what I have experienced in this period of what has seemed a certain divorce, a sundering of a decade of life together. There was no beating or infidelity or addiction this round. As I’ve said before, it has been very mundane. But the awful weight of failure on so many levels has been crushing.

To be given another chance, for the two of us to have recognized nearly simultaneously our faults and our responsibility in our marriage is, in a word, miraculous. I know of no other way to describe it. This place I am today is a place I could never have believed I would be standing 72 hours ago. My post from that day bears witness to this.

There will be a lot of stunned looks on people’s faces when they hear we are in the process of a serious reconciliation. There will also be many people I love who will feel the need to give a lot of unsolicited advice about what we need to do. There will be a lot of shaking of heads and conviction that I have lost my mind. He walked out on you! He left you holding the bag! My reply? He also asked for forgiveness. And I am as implicit as he is. I, too, asked for his forgiveness.

My species of selfishness is socially acceptable; it doesn’t appear to wear the cloak of the egoist. In the scheme of the world, a woman who works hard at her career while balancing her role as a wife and mother is considered worthy of esteem, in a sense. But I contend for some, like myself, it is a triumvirate of roles that attenuates one’s ability to keep all the balls in the air.

For a number of reasons that all seem worthy, I chose the role of business woman as primary over the role of wife. In doing so, I alienated my husband and cut the moorings out from beneath us in a way I didn’t understand until after it had already been done. And even then, I was so deep in the proverbial poo, I didn’t see a way out other than to keep hoping something would change. I blamed him for a lot, all of which he has acknowledged and accepted. But how does a man blame a woman for working too hard and being a great mom and talented in so many areas of her life…except in the area of being a wife? A man who does that is a man who ought to be quiet, suck it up and count his blessings. Never mind the complete emasculation of his role as husband, for when there is no wife present, how can a husband BE a husband? Husband necessitates the presence of wife, otherwise you are just him and her.

These lessons, when not learned properly, become exponentially more difficult to address as time passes. I stood on the edge of a brink, about to not learn this lesson. It’s that moment in the movie when the sapper is diffusing the bomb, wire cutters in hand, sweat beading down his brow. It’s the moment when you are about to die unless you can freeze those numbers on the timer.

I stood at the brink, foot balanced on the edge.

And my timer stopped at 00:00:01.

 

8/357: PostADay

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Written by cr8df8

January 8, 2011 at 4:54 pm

The “P” Word Is the “S” Word & Vice Versa

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...magical things were always happening

WordPress asks today, Are You Stressed Out? My initial response was to throw my keyboard at the flat screen, which would have been an unambiguous response to the question. But I withheld the theatrics and was going to delete the email when the light bulb brightened ::TING:: (isn’t that a great sound-effect? TING). Because, WordPress, as a matter of fact, I am stressed. Like the whole flippin’ country. Well, most of it, anyway. And the thing about stress that can be scary is the way in which it bolts so easily into pain. And then you become the emo poster child, which is rather distressing.

I make light, much of the time, of my current situation. I am helpless, really. I don’t know how else to react. I joke and smile, holding up my head, trying to run a business and raise my 3 ½ year old LOVE and take care of myself and keep in touch with people who are concerned about me. But much of the time, I just want to sink into a blessed silence, where no emails or phone calls or face-to-face contacts can completely and utterly destroy me for the day or the week or perhaps even the month.

I am gutted by the helplessness. I can’t sleep, made worse by my daughter being gone for nearly 2 weeks with her father. Her presence, her smallness and need, keep me level-headed with no time for feeling sorry for myself. I’ve been holding it together for months. But the unraveling begins beneath the surface. Then the tell-tale signs appear on your exterior: black marks beneath your eyes, bad hair days, no make-up, weight loss. People, mostly your close friends and family, know what’s going on so when they see you, they want so badly to help you, to make you feel better. They read your face: Quick! Get out the Kleenex box!

I don’t like talking about what’s happening in my life with the people I see day to day. I don’t return phone calls, emails have a 50/50 chance. Marriage, business , finances – everything tubed down the chutes at the same time. Every bit of it, the Trifecta of Tragedy. I am, for the most part, a robot right now. How does one determine what is the “right thing to do” in the midst of so much upheaval? My husband walked out and asked for a divorce; should I have hired an attorney when there is no money? My business is tottering with the economic crunch; should I bail? My husband stopped paying bills and the mortgage; should I file bankruptcy? I don’t have any answers, though I have started praying an awful lot. Awkward and snotty, I don’t really feel like I know how to talk to God. But who else do I turn to when the answers I’ve given so far have earned me an “F” in the Pop Quiz of Life?

IT IS SO, SO PAINFUL. I hate it. I hate this uncontrollable emotion, the sobs and the strings of snot that get in my hair. I often wonder if it would be easier if there had been an affair or an addiction; I know it’s pointless to wonder. Our situation is so mundanely textbook as to seem ridiculous: baby, house, business – too much responsibility at the same instant, communication break-downs, long days & nights at the office trying to make it work, tight but manageable finances – everything hinged on balancing it perfectly. And failing utterly.

I would block the emails and the phone calls, but they are the only form of communication for talking about the needs of our daughter. I black out the attacks. I ask that we “not go there.” I want to stand on the higher ground. But in the middle of an abyss, the higher ground seems unattainable. I can usually ignore the parts in the emails that stand on the grassy knoll of my character assassination, but the sniper has more of a serial personality, and stalks me later in the day or week. After the 3rd attempt, I respond in these short, terse phrases that are interpreted as remorseless narcissism. And that pisses me off. Then all my promises to myself to hit “ignore” go unheeded. After running from the stalk all week, the pain and the stress make me shout, then cry.

That’s how I began my morning. Pained stress. Stressed Pain. One in the same.

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Written by cr8df8

January 5, 2011 at 4:37 pm

The Angle of Repose

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Angle of Repose: the maximum slope at which sand grains are stable

n. the maximum angle of slope at which sand, loose rock, etc. will remain in place without sliding, as on a hillside; the maximum angle at which a pile of unconsolidated material can remain stable.

From Michael Welland’s blog, Through the Sandglass: Anywhere that granular materials are stored, whether it be in silos or in piles of aggregates, mining products, or cereals, the angle of repose – and its sensitivity to changing conditions – is something that needs to be carefully managed. Failure of the slope of a sand pile is a regular cause of tragedies on the beach and gold mining in placer deposits…

I finished reading Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose last week. Though this is a third read-through, I felt as stunned as I finished it as I have every time I have read it. It’s as though I erase the ending from my memory every time. I suppose, too, that each stage I have inhabited in my own life during each reading of that book has colored what I take from it. This time, 3/4 of the way through the novel, it was like reading my own life and the description of the demise of my own marriage.

“What bothers me most is to watch the slow corrosion of the affection and loyalty that held (them) together. I am ashamed that he hits the bottle when he gets low, I hate the picture of (her) sitting in the canyon house, a sulky, sullen dame, worrying half spitefully that he may fall off the bridge coming home, or show himself sodden and sottish before the children. And feeling, too, the profoundest, most hopeless pity, wanting to help and having no notion how. She knew that drink must be an almost irresistible temptation, even while she expected him, if he was a man, to resist it.

Less and less a companion, more and more a grind, she was bolted to her desk by her desperate sense that the family depended entirely on her; and the more she drove herself to work, the more she resented the separation that her work enforced between her and her children and husband. I can visualize her coming in the still early morning and looking down across the lonely desolation where she lived, and shuddering for what had happened to her; and if she caught sight of her own face in the water bucket’s dark pane, she was appalled…

…Miserable, both of them, everything hopeful in them run down, everything joyous smothered under poverty and failure.” (p. 431-432)

I was shaken reading those few paragraphs; I had to read the words, stop, reread and consider, and then read again to grasp the brilliance of how Stegner fashioned a history for the characters of this tale. Brilliant because the keen sense of loss I felt recognizing myself and my life in fictional characters was nearly overwhelming, especially when one considers that the history with these characters begins 150 years back from today. A lifetime and a half ago, there should be a generational gap that yawns, with no bridges, across a gorge of difference between then and now. Yet Stegner has captured, in 7 sentences, the very essence of the burdens that weighed down a marriage in 2010, and eventually ended it.

And what are we all but loose sand? Our slope remains stabilized only until…well, only until it’s not. An earthquake, a storm, a dynamite blast – a surge and suddenly the slippage of sand on sand avalanches until the slope re-establishes it’s angle of repose. The angle of repose, especially when man is involved, must be carefully managed, Michael Welland tells us (Welland is a professional geologist who knows his stuff. He’s made a practice of studying how piles of sand will react to changing conditions).

Conditions change. Sand shifts. And you mitigate your loss when the avalanche tumbles.

Written by cr8df8

December 28, 2010 at 2:41 am

Posted in book, divorce, emotions

Circumstance Is a Spendthrift

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Off with their heads!

I am counting down the days until I can officially say this year is over. 2010, be gone, git! 2011, come be a hit! That’s the extent of my poesy. It captures my current emotional state, that is to say, my bah-humbuggery. I posted elsewhere that I have these secret fantasies of running around like the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, turning crimson and screaming, “Off with their heads!” Or pretending I have Tourette syndrome, standing on street corners, waving my arms and shouting obscenities at cars as they pass by. And I have these outlandish hankerings to kick people in their ankles, for no apparent reason. Puzzling. I am agitated, but it’s all beneath the surface, bubbling like some cauldron of green goo.

Is this normal, you might well be asking? No, thankfully, it is most decidedly abnormal. I have always loved the holidays. Getting into the spirit of it all…baking and craftiness and eggnog and good cheer. Shop til you drop. Craft bazaars. Christmas carols. Full-on Martha Stewartitis. But this year; well, everything got toppled on its head and into the maze of Figuring It Out. Husband out the door, a 10 year relationship flushed down the pipes with nary a “Fare thee well.” Me standing in the doorway of 3500+ square feet of underwater real estate, holding the hand of the 3 1/2 year old heart of my heart, watching the retreating backside of the Beginning of the End. I suppose my unrequited desire to kick that rear view is manifesting itself now in my Queen of Hearts and ankle abuse fantasies.

In spite of that, all of that YERGH I have simmering beneath my skin, I am today nearly 30 lbs. lighter than I was this time last year. The boxes of cookies and chocolates my clients and vendors bring to my office are eaten by my skinny staff. Meanwhile the will-power that was so difficult for me to come by last year is rooted firmly in that place, wherever it is, that keeps the eye of newt, and toe of frog, wool of bat, and tongue of dog from overwhelming me. Though I am thrashed on so many levels (…emotional, financial, physical, spiritual, psychological and any other word ending in -al you can think of…), I am more in control of this one aspect of my life than I have been in a very, VERY long time. I track daily. I consider what goes in my mouth. I look in the mirror. I weigh myself. I notice the difference.

It has given me pause. A great deal of pause. Shambles all around yet driving, relentlessly, to keep this part of myself in check. Why? I have no desire for a relationship right now. There’s no hidden agenda of needing to “fix” myself for some fantasy in the wings. As the bits of my world have been summarily pulled apart by that spendthrift Circumstance, I have gone into this spot where the intention of eating a certain way equates a specific result. I find it fascinating. Circumstance may yank my mooring from me, but this one thing, NOTHING except for me controls it. Circumstance may throw a hardball. I may have a black & blue eye and a goose egg on my noggin. But that hardball cannot affect a change to necessarily make me act differently. I am my own science experiment.

And because I am still not safe to be let out in mixed company for fear of the emergence of the Queen, Tourette’s or ankle punting, I am avoiding many holiday obligations I would normally have participated in. The few I have gone to (on my best behavior, mind), have not created an appetite for indulgences.

As wise old Abe said in 1859, “‘And this too shall pass away.’ How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! — how consoling in the depths of affliction! ‘And this, too, shall pass away.'”

Written by cr8df8

December 18, 2010 at 6:46 pm

forward?

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I didn’t think this would be so hard.  Caring so much is part of the reason why I find myself here at all. It is both my grace and my fall from it. I have always cared more about what he thought than about my own well-being. This is historical. I have done this for as long as I have sheltered love in my heart, for as long as I have yearned to share the deepest, innermost bits & pieces of my soul.  Such a cliché. I am textbook, making myself into the codified image of another’s desire. I never quite understood how doing that would leave no room for me.

I talked to a lawyer. I told him and his paralegal how things had become over the past few years – the oddities and the way our marriage had veered so far from what I had imagined for myself back when I actually still thought about how my marriage might be. Those dreams and wishes and longings didn’t include stock-piling food in the garage nor guns hidden beneath the house nor silver buried in the backyard. My hopes didn’t include the unilateral cancellation of Christmas, like some peevish Sheriff of Nottingham, followed by Easter then Halloween, with an eye on birthdays in the foreseeable future.

My dreams have always been colored in a palette rich with the hues of family traditions. My hopes are awash in the smells of my memories – wood smoke winters and mustard field springs, blackberry thicket summers and damp leaf autumns. My fancies overlap my childhood with my daughter’s, always centered in the warmth of a kitchen – Valentine’s Day cupcakes, St. Patrick’s Day Corned Beef, Easter eggs, Mother’s Day brunch, Father’s Day barbecues, Fourth of July blackberry pie, Halloween candy making, Thanksgiving pies,  Christmas cookies. How does one make a home? How does one make a family? Do you have these hopes and then just let go of them, one by one? We didn’t start out 10 years ago with dreams of stock-piling supplies in case of Armageddon. But somehow that’s where we arrived.

The lawyer and his paralegal glanced at one another. They stared at me, then shook their heads. “You’ve become desensitized, you know,” he told me. His assistant nodded her head. “You said you never talked about any of this to anyone. And now you’ve become desensitized. Do you know how NOT normal it is to bury silver in your backyard?”

I look back at him. I shrug. “The only way I knew how to cope was not to talk about it.” Talking, now, is a relief. I think of the 600 pounds of grain and flour and beans, labeled in 5 gallon buckets, slowly souring in the late summer heat of the garage. He left with the silver and the guns; I remain with the rancid wheat berries and cans of tuna in oil.

That it must come to an end isn’t a question. My difficulty lies more in the fear that I will somehow harm this man. And I am reminded of how I have done this in the past. Cared more about someone else than they cared for me. Overcoming this fear is crucial. The courage required seems like it should be a no-brainer. It shouldn’t be so HARD. I think of what the lawyer has suggested I ask as part of the divorce and I know it will set him off. I know he will riot in ways I can’t begin to comprehend.

Moving forward, I am stepping into the complete unknown.

Written by cr8df8

September 19, 2010 at 8:55 am

Posted in divorce, emotions