Heaven holds a sense of wonder….











{April 25, 2010}   Yes, Even Polar Bears Need Hugs (pt. 2)

My last post came off as, well… defensive.

I didn’t really answer any questions.  I feel a need to justify my choices, even when there’s no one out there to justify it to.  Even when I know that I’ve made the right choices, or done the best I could, I have this desire to garner approval from unknown entities that may or may not actually exist outside of my head.

I guess I desire that approval from within, as well.

It’s been said by some wiser than myself that it is not important to understand the things one does, so much as it is to understand that one has done them.  In that vein, there’s no sense in dwelling on the past and trying to understand “mistakes” one’s made, if one knows that pattern has existed and it’s time to do something different.

Nowhere to go but forward, right?

I had actually meant to address and embrace the truth in all those hurtful things that were said.   Because in every lie, there is a kernel of truth.  The image of an oyster and a grain of sand comes to mind.  A tiny speck of sand somehow finds its way into an oyster’s shell, which I imagine, might be a bit uncomfortable to the oyster.  But the oyster remains passive, doesn’t struggle against it (because, really, what means has it to do so?), and over time, the oyster sheds enough of itself to coat the sand and grow a pearl.

When others say hurtful things, regardless of the truth in those things, I want to turn their words into pearls.  Over time, my inner goodness will overpower the discomfort and pain those words can cause.

All that aside, I have a task at hand.  I am to explore the question: “Why did I wait so long to actively work on the divorce?”

Having said that understanding why and how the past happened isn’t as important as understanding and accepting that the past did happen, it’s a valid question that she asked, and she deserves the best answer I can give her.

I’ve taken my time to think about it because I don’t want to give an incomplete answer.

Was it because I was still in love with him, or attached to our life together?  No, oh nononono no.  I was so relieved when we broke up, and even more so when he moved out.  I’d been living a lie for years, and hadn’t known it.  He had bored me since before our first year was up, there was no challenge there, and for some reason, I refused to see it for a long time.

Actually, I was chicken shit.

I saw it in the last few years.  But didn’t do anything about it.  Confrontation of any sort gives me the runs.  I get panicky, fight-or-flight sets in.

In this situation, I think I did my part to make the marriage as unbearable as possible so that I wouldn’t have to be the one to call it off – or if I was the one, it would only be the logical conclusion.

Then once it was over, and I’d said the words, “I want a divorce,” why didn’t it follow that I jumped on that paperwork and filed immediately, instead of stalling?

What happened?

I pointed to the kids, and said, “They need their father.”  I pointed to myself and said, “I don’t need a lawyer.”  I refused to believe he was still capable of manipulating me.

First, it was money.  “I can’t afford a divorce.”  Then she said, “If you really want this, you’ll find a way to make it happen, and fast.”  I couldn’t argue the truth in that.

At first, I thought we could do it ourselves.  I bought a packet for $35 at Office Depot complete with a CD-Rom and how-to manual.  Filled out everything pertaining to me in the first week of having it, and gave him his share.  We agreed to meet once every two weeks to discuss the parenting plan and get everything notarized and filed.  Once every two weeks because it was clear that agreeing on the parenting plan was a daunting task.

After a month and a half, I realized I really couldn’t do it without outside help.  He could “understand my point of view” regarding what I feel the children need, but he couldn’t do it because, in his words, if he didn’t have the kids at least half the time, he would have to pay child support and he couldn’t afford that, and if he had them more, he wouldn’t be able to work because he couldn’t afford child care.

I stalled again.  This time because I was so uncomfortable with the struggle at hand and tired of struggling and I just didn’t want to face it.

I’m like a turtle.  I move slowly, and when I feel endangered, I pull my head and limbs into my shell.

This time, though, my best friend was having trouble with her ex-husband and the way he was treating their children, and she got fed up with him.  I took inspiration from her, and decided to grow a backbone myself.  I’d made up my mind to tell him what the arrangements were going to be, because I know what’s best for my kids, and I can point out how this arrangement is hurting them.  And then Pickle and my mom, while both admiring my nerve, suggested that I go ahead and get a lawyer lined up first, before telling him, just to be safe.

I called Legal Aid and got accepted, and got the paperwork.  I filled out most of the paperwork in the first few days, and only had  a few financial details to fill in before notarizing.

Then tax time came, and I decided to wait until the tax return came before filing it.  And I cleaned the house and accidentally threw the paperwork away.

It was about 3 weeks before I called the lawyer for new paperwork, because I was working during his office hours.  Why I didn’t think to leave a message in his off-hours, I don’t know.  Pickle thinks that, subconsciously, I was stalling again.

Once I called though, the paperwork arrived that week, and I had it all filled out, notarized, and turned in less than a week later.  Now, I’m waiting on the lawyer to file with the courts.  It’s in motion.

From the first DIY divorce packet in December to now, it’s been five months.  Pickle and I had been together for six months in December.  Her question, “If you were legitimately broken up with him before I came along, if that relationship was really over, why did it take you six months to start the whole process, and why has it taken you five months since that point to actually file the paperwork?” gives me pause.

I understand the first six months.  I was in a spirally, twisty place with no perspective.  Completely ungrounded, unbalanced.  I had no business being in a new relationship, and I knew it.  However, things happened as they did, and I didn’t have the strength or confidence to change it.  In retrospect, it may have been better or easier for Pickle if I had said, “Whoa, I’ve got baggage I need to sort through.  Let’s wait until my divorce is final, let’s just be friends for now, love each other from a distance.”  Heaven knows it would have afforded me the space (and motivation) to work on my shit.

Shoulda coulda woulda.  I don’t believe in regrets.  If anyone were to find themselves in the position I found myself, I now know what kind of advice I’d give, if asked.  But I don’t believe in regrets, and I do believe that things happen as they’re meant to, even if there are multiple paths one can take.

She and I had a lot of hurdles to jump.  We have a stronger relationship now for it.

But the last part of the question – why did it take me five months to get established at Point A?  Life happens and I’m a scatterbrain and blahdeblah… none of that helps me to be accountable for myself.

Filing wasn’t hard at all.  Once I got it done, I was amazed at how easy it was.  I’m known to make things harder for myself, a form of sabotage – when things are good, I have to go and complicate them.

I’ve known from a very early age that when life is going well, and everything is as it should be, I get very uncomfortable.  It’s like… something is going to go wrong eventually, so, subconsciously, why not just make something go wrong so that, at least, I know when it’s going to happen and how, and I’m the one in control.  I fear being out of control.  It’s probably my biggest fear, next to creatures with stingers.  But that one, I’m learning to conquer – and it’s related.  Bees and wasps, to me, are extremely unpredictable creatures, but I’m learning to watch them, to be able to predict their next move – and to be ok with it when I’m wrong and they land on me.

I want to be ok with it when life is good and things happen and it’s not my doing.

Even when it’s not my doing, I somehow find a way to make it my fault.  I know how to be sorry.  I know how to fix things that I’ve broken.  I don’t quite get plugging away through adverse conditions that I didn’t create.   If I don’t have myself to blame, I don’t know what to do.  I don’t know how to hold someone else accountable (well, on paper, I do, but practically speaking is a whole different matter).

Self-sabotage.  I think that’s what it is.  How much does she love me?  Do I even deserve her love?  Putting her emotions and psychological health through the wringer because, somehow, I don’t think I’m worthy.  And then… if she leaves me… it’s because I did something wrong.  And because I don’t deserve her, I knew it was coming all along.

Oh I know it’s horse crap.

I know she’s perfect for me, and we belong together.  I know this, my logical brain is very smart, and it tells that broken little girl inside me just how silly she’s being on a regular basis.

But even still, she’s still there, and she deserves her recognition, too.  That broken little girl.  And the more I’m aware that she’s working on me, the more I see how her patterns are affecting me and the choices I make, the more I can find ways to hold her and calm her and show her she’s worthy of love – from within and out

The other day, I had a dream.  I was riding an escalator up and passed an advertisement that I’d seen a few times already, earlier in the dream.  The ad featured a polar bear exhibit at the local zoo, and had the tagline, “Do Polar Bears Need Hugs?”

I woke in the morning with the strong feeling that my subconscious was trying to sell me on something.  I googled the question and got wonderful pictures of polar bears playing with each other and with other animals, hugging.  Heartwarming stuff.

I asked friends, what do you think?

The answers I got varied and really the concept that resonated with me most was this: No matter how strong one is, everyone needs a hug sometimes.  That is what keeps us strong.  One of my tasks right now may be simply to acknowledge a challenge, acknowledge that the source of that challenge may need some love, and move forward.  It may not be for me to give that love, but the simple task of recognizing the need for compassion or affection may be all it takes for me to go on.

That broken little girl in me needs a hug.  She tries so hard to be strong, and feels so bad when she’s not.

My Pickle needs all the hugs she can get.  I’ve put her through hell and back just to prove she loves me, and not even been aware.

This divorce needs compassion and love.  I may not be the one to give it, but I won’t stand in the way of it.  It’s a process of growth and change, and it’s fraught with challenges.

I’m on the escalator and moving up.

Life is good. Pickle loves me, I love me, our kids are amazing, and we’re all growing so fast.

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