Heaven holds a sense of wonder….











Dear Universe,

Thank you. You provided Pickle with a reliable car for the night, and she made her goal of $150. I showed her your note for me, and she agreed to think big – she set her sights on the goal, and in spite of it being a slower night than expected, and in spite of a few rude customers (including one who didn’t tip and insisted that she go out of her way to bring something he didn’t ask for) she made her goal, because she believed in it. And that one rude customer who made her go out of her way? She came back (though she didn’t have to), handed him his cheese and told him exactly what she thought of his manners. His girlfriend apologized for his behavior and tipped her. Talk about maximizing opportunities! Who knew?

Universe, today, we’d like to keep the trend going. Actually, we’d like to keep the trend going all the way through Sunday night. We’ll keep our eyes on the prize. Will you help us? Will you make sure she has a vehicle she can trust? In return, we’ll both focus on each moment as it comes, whole-heartedly whole-mindedly. I can’t speak for her, but I can say she’s in the perfect place for that. Last night affirmed everything good for her, and she came home full of energy and life.

Thank you, Universe.

P.S. After I wrote you yesterday, and you responded the way you did, I saw a personalized license plate that said “DNTGVUP”. Don’t give up… that last little bit of encouragement opened up a dialogue between Pickle and myself about the different perspectives we can choose – maybe we’re not supposed to be fighting for our lives… maybe we’re just supposed to be thinking big and keeping our eyes on the prize, and trusting that everything will fall into place. Faith… it ain’t easy. Thanks for the reminder.

Was it you?!says the Universe. We have some new “help” here, and our incoming correspondence has been kind of garbled.

Someone was thinking big, I mean really big, and now the entire Universe has been thrown into action, aligning players, circumstances, and coincidences that will miraculously fall into just the right place at just the right time. It’s changed everything, absolutely everything. The world will never be the same.

Actually, this happens with your every thought. But if it was you, did you mean joy when you said toy?

Sounded like you wanted every toy? Either way, consider it done, just let us know.

Tallyho,
The Universe

P.s. One of your greatest challenges is realizing that the hurdles of time and space are simply reflections of imagined hurdles.

See no problems.



Dear Universe, we really need a car that works. We sank $400 into a really great car, and another almost $300, which we’re getting back (that’s the good news) because our mechanic was unable to fix the problem. He fixed a lot of other things, though, and that’s really great. But now, it’s looking like the transmission is in bad shape. Maybe there’s water in it, maybe it’s shot, we don’t know yet. He’s having a friend look at it and see what it needs. In the meantime, this is Pickle’s weekend to shine – she needs a good, reliable, fast car that she can make her deliveries in. With this car, she could bring in $200 a night. With the extra day she picked up this week, that means $800 – that would pay this month’s overdue rent AND most of next month’s rent, and the money we have currently could pay for our storage unit and insurance, and we’d be almost caught up on everything. More importantly her mental health (and mine, I’ll admit) would be so much better off. So dear Universe, won’t you please buy us a nice car? (Our friends all drive Porsches, ours doesn’t get us far, So Universe, won’t you please, buy us a good car?)

Just for fun, I flip to a random page in the book

    Notes From the Universe

      and this is what I get:

      A question from your friend the Universe:

      Just how much time do you spend thinking big? I mean really, really BIG?

      Good, very good! Because that’s exactly how much of “it” you’re going to get!

      What a coincidence!

      It’s corny, but it makes me smile.



Don’t get me wrong, roses are pretty no matter their state. We have scores of dried roses all over the house.

For the last couple of months though, we haven’t had any fresh roses. Neither one of us can afford to buy them for the other.

Oh, it’s so frustrating. I’ve got a new job, and the money’s going to help TREMENDOUSLY, but that first paycheck seems so far away. In the meantime, Pickle has missed a ton of work over the last month because her car has been in the shop – worn CV joints caused the shaft to go bad, and the clutch went out. Basically three major fixes all rolled into one.

I choose to look at the bright side – we didn’t know the clutch was going out. So when the shaft went bad, we got to fix the clutch too. Even if we didn’t have the money. And then, before he wasted his time putting the car back together completely and test driving it, we had our mechanic check the boots, and sure enough, the CV was so bad he commented, “I’ve never seen one that bad before. That’s probably what damaged the hell out of your shaft.”

Three fixes at once. $240 in parts. $180 in labor. $420 total.

I’m pretty sure my kids have sensors that enable them to tell when I’m trying to think or do things. They’ve been quietly entertaining themselves for an hour and as soon as I sit down to do this, they burst out of their room clamoring for attention.

Anyway, our mechanic is being very generous to us, not charging a whole lot, because with the heat and his work schedule, not to mention all the new discoveries, what would have been a one-week long adventure is taking a month.

I have to focus on the good things… that I have a new job and still have my old job. That our mechanic is awesome. That our landlord isn’t hounding us for money, but actually trusting us to get rent paid when we can.

If I don’t focus on those good things, then I start to slip and think about how when we finally do get rent paid, we’ll have to pay rent again. I have tuition for my daughter’s preschool that is three months late. I need new glasses and contacts, not to mention new hearing aids (that’s a long term goal). The kids need haircuts and won’t let me touch them.

Pickle needs to breathe and relax. She needs her medication that keeps her ulcer at bay.

When I start thinking about what our needs and wants are, the words of Shel Silverstein creep into mind: “Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”

I’m naturally a positive thinker. A hopeless optimist. What does a girl like me do when her positivity and optimism does little more than keep her head above water long enough to take a breath before she goes under again? And when her life partner is a cynic who wants to be an optimist but can’t quite figure out how?

Affirmations, man. I live by ’em. It’s corny, but Pickle likes them too. And if it comes from someone-not-Me, she’ll actually pay attention to them.

So right now… I need to affirm our ability to withstand anything, any blows that come our way. I need to affirm our ability to pull out of this financial hole we’re in. (We are $60 over budget. And we can’t cut anything.) I need to affirm the power of my friendships and support networks. I need to affirm my ability to take charge and get things done.

So I’m gonna dig real deep here, maybe get a little corny, show a little of my soft underbelly… and affirm.

I am a strong, capable, energetic woman. I have the power within me to make things happen. I set my sights on a goal, and press forward until it is realized. I close my eyes, visualize what I need to happen, and open my eyes to see results before me.

I am creative, resilient. When one “solution” does not work the way I anticipate, I find another. Negative words go in one ear and out the other – I know I have the power to make miracles, as long as I believe.

I am full of Love. In the end, Love does all the work for me. I am only the vessel through which She works. I experience Love fully, passionately, without inhibition or reservation. Regardless of any setbacks that make my journey more unexpected than I’ve planned, Love sees to it that my travels are well worthwhile.



{August 8, 2010}   La Langue d’Amour

Believe it or not, I have a hard time with words. I like to be able to say *exactly* what I mean, and oftentimes, words don’t come close. This is why I like American Sign Language, I think – you’re signing concepts, not words. You can illustrated those concepts using body language, facial expressions, repetition, exaggeration/minimalism, and so many other factors. You can make one sign mean a hundred different things with just a couple of subtle changes. It’s also why I like writing. Because I can type something out or put it on paper, and look it over and say to myself, “That sounds so trite… let’s make it more meaningful.”

But lately, I can’t find the right words. I sit here and stare at the screen and think about all the things I need to let out, and I feel a huge swell rising up within my deepest core, threatening to break the dam and wash out everything good I’ve ever done. I sit here, and everything I want to say has already been said before. I’ve been living in Groundhog Day. The same things keep happening…

Well, almost. There’ve been a few changes recently. I got another job, and my original job has moved me to a different position, so that I can stay, as a janitor. And I just got hired on as an assistant preschool teacher. I’ll be working, all told, about 38 hours a week – a big improvement from 18 hours. And it’s every week. Consistency – that’s different. But I haven’t started yet, and the PTB’s really seem to be wanting to test my faith in all that is good. I got the job, had one really good day, and then found out our “new” car’s previous owner drove the hell out of it and ruined the clutch and the shaft. So Pickle’s not been able to work because the mechanic (bless him) has been bustin his balls to figure the whole mess out so she can get to work… we’re late for rent and short by about $450. Everyday it seems like it’s something new to set us back.

I don’t like to complain (but there’s no raaa-iinn). I try to keep my head up high and focus on all the things I have to be thankful for. Count my blessings, as it were. I’m a positive person by nature, an optimist. Pickle’s the opposite. She’s cynical as they come. Most of the time, we meet in the middle – we can both be pretty pragmatic. But in the height of stressful times like these the optimist in my goes into overdrive and she tells me to “Quit spouting your hippie-dippie crap, I don’t want to hear it” (though if she hears it from someone else, she’ll listen). I try to stay even and together, and I can usually do it for a good chunk of time, but after a certain point, it takes every last bit of energy I have to get out of bed because I am in so much despair.

We’ve been doing this for the better part of a year. We’ve been together for over a year. It’s like it doesn’t matter what I do to make it better, it always falls short. I’m getting exhausted.

And don’t get me wrong – it’s not Pickle that makes me feel like I’m falling short. It’s seeing the situation in front of me, knowing what I’m capable of, and seeing it not happen. I’ve always been great at networking, at finding resources, at making things happen. This last year… I’ve failed at those things more than I have in my entire life. I used to be the kind of person that, when money was tight, I could close my eyes and visualize money coming my way, and the next day, find $50. Not so, these days. I’ve lost my touch.

I’m learning that I need to be more open with real people who actually care about me… anonymity is good sometimes, because I can express myself without reservations, but I need to practice doing that with my friends. I’ve just had to find out who my real friends are, which ones I can do that with.

Pickle has a hard time with this blog. She’s a private person. My talking about my life means talking about hers, too. That’s the big reason I’ve done this anonymously. It still bothers her when it gets put up though. Sometimes she’s ok with it, and sometimes… well, not so much.

Part of it is that she doesn’t understand my obsession with words. “Great,” she says sarcastically, “More pretty words.” What she doesn’t understand is that this blog, as much as I write about her, isn’t about her – or even us. It’s about me, trying to understand where I fit into all this, where I fit into my own life, coming to terms with a reality I tried for so long to escape from, to deny. This blog is a personal exploration, a spiritual journey, and as such, my words, however pretty they are, are merely symbols for larger concepts I’m trying to embrace and love. The more I manipulate my words, the more I come to understand the concepts, their light and shadow sides, their nuances.

I’d love to write her a letter or poem, but she’d just see “More pretty words,” and tuck it away… she’s afraid I’ll make promises I’ll break, I’ll build her up for a fall. And all I want to do is paint a picture of how beautiful she is to me, how extraordinary her influence has been, how much I just freaking LOVE her.

But we’ve moved beyond words, now. My words mean nothing to her…. she needs something real, she needs action, she needs something she can see. I guess I’ve been doing that, but I don’t understand it, I don’t have a frame of reference for it, I can’t see my own actions on paper and understand them and manipulate them to mean exactly what I want them to mean. I’m speaking a language entirely foreign to me, and when I try to express it in my words, all I hear is reasons, justifications, rationalizations, insecurity, confusion. I don’t hear the positive, optimistic things that I’m really feeling and trying to express. It doesn’t translate well.

But I’m willing to learn…. I’m nothing if not doggedly persistent. People have had to figure harder things out. I can learn to speak another language.



We lost our internet. Well, we destroyed our power cord, then lost our internet, replaced power cord, it destroyed itself, then we got internet back, and found a power cord in a closet that just happened to fit.

Whatever the case, I am BACK!

And after 4:30 this afternoon, I will be divorced.

Which opens up all kinds of wonderful possibilities, and it must be readable in our auras, because we’ve had people approach us, “If you guys ever want to get married……”

My mother, formerly of the school of “Gays? Meh, hate the sin, love the sinner,” expounds on the potential virtues of a same-sex marriage between Pickle and myself. And not just for us – think of the children!!

My own 3 yo daughter has told me, out of the blue, “As soon as you get married, I will call her Mom, too.”

*shrug*

It’ll happen when it does, but I’m pretty sure neither one of us gets much of a say in things. Those PTB’s already have it all mapped out!



My parents have given me something new to think about. They’re moving to the Missouri-Arkansas border. This weekend, they went down to scope the place out and fell in love with a house. Thirty acres of land, three ponds, a three-bedroom house in which the smallest bedroom is larger than my living room. They fell in love with the town. Met a local shop owner who sent them off with more than $100 worth of merchandise, hopped from Farmer’s Market to Farmer’s Market.

Mom called me up yesterday to rave about the place. Dad’s been texting me pictures left and right.

They want us to move down there with them.

Not with them, with them – not in the same house or anything. But they want me and my family close by. Pickle and I have talked so many times about picking up and moving away, starting over with a clean slate. We’ve dreamed of farm life, growing food and raising cattle and goats, living sustainably. We dream of a house out in the country – or close, so we can still be close enough to have access to the things and people we love.

If we moved to this place, we could have that.

We’d be leaving behind the drama with my kids’ dad and everything tangential to it. But we’d also be leaving behind old friends and connections that took years of effort to build. And we’d be letting some people down.

I’ve committed to my kids’ school as a board member for another year. It would be hard to find someone to replace me. Not impossible, but hard all the same. Pickle and I both have relatively new jobs – I’ll have been at mine for a year in August, if I stay that long. Pickle started hers in March. Both of our jobs were the result of friends pulling for us, and we both are close with the people we work with. Pickle’s best friend is wanting to open a restaurant with her in a year’s time. They’re trying to work out a business plan. If we leave, her friend will be crushed.

And we have a plan for where we are now. Pickle makes enough money at her job to only work one or two days a week. She wants to stay at home with the kids. The kids are thinking they want to be home schooled, and we’re both supportive of that. She’s looking forward to it. On the other hand, if they do choose to go to public school, we’re supportive of that as well. And once both kids are in kindergarten, or once Pickle feels comfortable enough in the role that she’s carving out for herself (or we’re all carving out together), I want to go back to school. I’m guessing that will be in roughly two years. I want to get a degree in small business management and accounting. Partially because I want to help with the restaurant – no one wants to do numbers – and partially because I’ve always wanted to open up my own boutique/café.

Pickle’s always wanted to open a drive-in movie theater and a family fun center, as well as her culinary endeavors.

The town that my parents are moving to don’t have anything like that. They have a building that locals want to turn into a movie theater, but no one has the time to do it. They’d love someone to come and do it for them. Kids in that town have to drive half an hour to the nearest larger community to find fun things to do. There’s a lot of tourism in that area, but not so much in that particular town.

Mom was also quick to share with me that I could be a substitute teacher in Arkansas with only my high school diploma. Nice. But that would open the door to questions about me going back to school to be a teacher. There was a time when I wanted to be a teacher, very badly. I’ve since learned a few things about myself. I love teaching kids, but not in the current system. I don’t like rigidity. And I don’t like being limited in the ways I can help.

My passion isn’t so much teaching, but making a difference. And I have so many ways I’m able to do that. I’m drawn to community organizing for that reason. I’m a resource-finder, a leader-finder. An organizer. I see what needs to be done and I find a way to work on a solution with the people affected.

I can’t help but think this might be a good arena for all these dreams. I’d have to put my organizing on hold somewhat, until I got to know the area and its history fairly well. And we couldn’t make every dream happen all at once; it would be a lot of hard work and planning. We’d have to re-evaluate finances (cost of living is way cheaper down there) and how we’d spend our efforts.

But are we ready to leave home? What keeps us here? We have so many friends whom we’re very close to, and our friendships have survived much worse than distance. We’ve also lost a lot of friends over the last year, people we realized probably weren’t worth calling friends in the first place, painful as that awareness was.

The kids have a life here – they’ve never known anywhere else. They have friends here they’ve known since infancy. If we move them now, it’ll be easier for them to adjust; if we wait until they’re older, those ties will be even stronger and the move would be even more heartbreaking.

Granted, we may be in Kansas, but there’s some semblance of culture here where we are. And we’re an hour away from Kansas City, where we can have a mini-escape when we need to. This town my folks are moving to is three hours from Springfield, five from St. Louis. That’s a long way to go for civilization. Pickle and I are both city girls, to a degree. We can’t live in the heart of the city because we need fresh air and green grass, but we need access to the excitement.

If we moved out there, at some point, I know I’d find myself blogging less than I currently do – because I’d be busy with my hand in every pot.

So much to think about. Cold comfort for change? Do we dare?



I’m on a kick.

I tend to obsess over things until they bore me. Sometimes, this can take weeks or months. Most of the time, it annoys the hell out of the people who love me. I just have to understand hows and whys and whats-its, I guess.

This time, it’s a dual-layered obsession. Layer one – how the hell did I not know I was a lesbian earlier in life? Looking back it’s just so painfully clear to see, and it’s no wonder that the most common reaction when I came out to everyone, friends and family alike, was, “I know. So?” and “I can’t say I’m surprised.” My own mother said, “Why didn’t you just tell me ages ago? I’ve been asking you for years if you were gay!”

I have no idea. Not that it matters for anything, it’s just a source of intrigue for me. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by lesbians. We’re talking early age. And I think I was maybe 6 when I had my first “real” crush (as real as it can be that young) on a high-school basketball player named Lani, who was my inspiration for piercing my tongue more than ten years later in 1999. In college, I surrounded myself with dykes – we took over a corner of the floor in my dorm and named it “Dyke’s Corner”, even though I identified as bi and dated mostly guys. And every single guy I ever dated was kind of effeminate. Ok – my ex-husband and I were often mistaken for a lesbian couple, and now he prefers to dress in women’s clothing and wear makeup. And I was in that relationship for ten years.

The other layer, layer two – the whole butch-femme dynamic. In my last post, I said, “The whole butch-femme thing is kind of silly,” and then I went and discovered a blog post complete with a youtube video featuring a tribute to all those rockin’ femmes out there, embedded here for your viewing pleasure:

As I watched that, I couldn’t help but feel like Ivan was talking to me – or, well, people like me, anyway. And it’s true that ever since I’ve been with Pickle, I’ve actually felt like a girl, more than I have other times in my life. And it’s something that I struggle with. I used to fight wearing dresses and makeup. I now find myself fighting that little part of myself that kind of still wants to fight, but not really. That little part of myself that says, “Hey, wait a minute, you never liked this before, what are you doing??”

Pickle says I do it for her, because I like to get all sexied up for her. In a sense she’s right, I do love the way she looks at me when I’m all purty. But I do it for me too. It’s like I’m reclaiming a sense of my identity that I lost touch with long, long ago.

My daughter’s a girly girl. Purses, shoes, make up, dresses, the whole nine. I never knew where she got it from. My mom has told me over and over again, “You were like that too. I don’t know what happened!” I disturbed my mother with my desire to wear frilly party dresses, just like J.J. disturbs me with that same desire. And that child taught me to start carrying a purse. Which I still do only on rare and reluctant occasions.

So maybe femininity is more hard-wired into me than I thought. And maybe that explains why certain “types” of women have always caught my eye, and it’s not the soft, sparkly, made-up type.

Maybe the whole butch-femme thing isn’t so silly. Maybe Pickle’s right. Maybe I was still thinking like a straight person, trying to draw lines that weren’t really there. I thought it was silly because I couldn’t understand why lesbians stereotypes had to fit a heteronormative standard. I couldn’t understand why there had to be an equivalent to a dude and a chick in a partnership involving two women.

I’m pretty sure I was overthinking it. I’m pretty sure it’s not like that at all.

I love women. So what if the woman I love, and the women I’ve liked before her, tend to be a bit boyish? It doesn’t mean I’m trying to replace men with women… I just think there’s something sexy about my girl in a baseball cap or fedora and tie. But she’s still a woman – she’s got all the parts, she’s got the chemistry, and she’s soft, so soft, and she smells so good.

And I don’t have to limit myself to only wearing girly clothes just because I’m with a girl who dresses like a boy – I’m happy wearing my cargo shorts and t-shirts around the house. But I don’t have to limit myself based on a preconceived and poorly understood notion of gender roles, either. And I don’t have to care about reinforcing stereotypes held by the straight world. And I don’t have to limit myself by identifying as femme – calling myself femme is just one more way to describe myself among myriad others.

She thinks I’m hot in a skirt and heels. I feel hot in a skirt and heels. Who cares what the rest of the world has to say about it?



My brother calls her his brother.

My mother is still trying to figure out which one of us is the “man” in the relationship. Surely, it can’t be me, because I’ll actually wear a dress and look like a girl once in a while. But then again, it can’t be her, because she thinks and argues like a woman.

She calls me a “lipstick tomboy,” a badge I wear with pride because it does sum me up pretty nicely. I love to get dressed up – if I’m Dressed Up. And even in my formal, I won’t hesitate to get down in the mud and play ball.

This whole butch-femme thing is kind of silly. The idea that one of us has to be girly in order make the balance work.

I’m not dating a man. I really have no desire to. So when my brother calls her his brother… something about that feels disrespectful. Even if she is ok with it, even if she does behave like a ten-year-old boy sometimes. Ok, a lot of the time.

But she has girl parts. She has a woman’s physiology. These are things I like. They are not her in her entirety, but neither is her ten-year-old boy persona.

All that said, I have to say, she does look good in her fedora and she rocks that vintage tie of hers that matches, and my heart flips a couple of times in my throat every single time she puts them on. I love going out with her, dressed to the nines, me uber-femme’d out and her all butchy.

I spent a very slow day at work yesterday trying not to think of her. Unfortunately, where I work is very queer-friendly and located in a high-traffic area, so we get lots of good-looking dykes walking in throughout the course of any day. And yesterday, there seemed to be more than usual. And every time a hot dyke would walk in, my mind immediately drifted over to Pickle. And wouldn’t leave.

I had visions of her in full drag (something I’ve heard stories about but not yet seen for myself), and private scenarios played themselves out in my mind, causing me to grin foolishly in a store full of customers, repeatedly waking from my reverie blushing and stammering apologetically to those looking on, trying to puzzle out what the hell was wrong with me. Couldn’t stop.

But honestly, six days out of seven (and probably more than that), those who know me expect to see me in cargo shorts and a ribbed tank top, maybe with a button-down work shirt thrown over it. Or jeans and a big hoodie. My hair is almost always pulled back out of my face, and if I’m wearing shoes, they’re likely to be her DC’s or my canvas Airwalks. I hate pink, and all my “girly” clothes (except for the really nice stuff) look like they’ve been worn by a girl who likes to play in the mud. And her uniform consists mostly of t-shirts or polos and jeans.

We both walk the line somewhere in the middle. She’s not a boy, and neither am I. I find her sexy regardless of what form she takes – as long as she’s comfortable and true to herself.

I’ve also been known to entertain visions of her slightly more femme-y (and even then, she’s still wearing jeans and a tank top), but I’ve seen pictures of her in a dress, and it’s not her. She looked pretty, but she didn’t look like Pickle, and it didn’t do a damn thing for me.

She might not be the girliest girl out there. Well, hell, neither am I. But there’s no man in this relationship, and my brother’s brother lives far away, and he sure as hell doesn’t share a bed with me.



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.



I’m not sleeping so well these days.

I go between lumbering about in zombie-mode and shutting down completely, trying to keep all my pieces together.

It seems I only write when things are not so well. When things are good, I don’t have anything to puzzle out, so writing is the farthest thing from my mind. I want to milk the good times for all they’re worth.

I don’t even know where to begin this time. It started on Monday, when she had a bad dream that involved me cuddling naked with my ex on a couch, right in front of her, and looking at her like, “So, what’s the big deal?”

Neither of us takes our dreams lightly. We believe our dreams carry messages from our subconscious, answers to our deepest questions in a sort of code form.

She feels like she’s been taking a backseat to him all this time. She feels, at times, like our whole relationship has been built on a lie. She wants to know what I haven’t told her about the nature of my relationship with him, why he felt the need to hang on for so long. She wants to know why, if in my mind, the door is shut and bolted, have I been dragging my feet on getting the divorce done.

She’s asking so many hard questions, questions I don’t have ready answers to. I need to think, and I’m a thinker-out-louder, and I don’t have anyone to think out loud with besides her, and oh, that is a recipe for disaster. I do have the answers, but they’re buried under a bunch of garbage and baggage and things that don’t matter, and I have to uncover them.

I’ve been accused by more than a few people of inconsistency in answers of an emotional/psychological nature. It’s not because I’m throwing out answers until I get the one that seems to be what they want to hear, as some people have charged me with doing. It’s because it takes awhile for me to get at the root, to sort through the pile of dog crap and dead leaves that covers the root. I protect my heart by being excessively open – if I tell everyone everything, no one can hurt me – about everything in my life except emotions. I play them off. Depending on how safe I feel, I express myself passionately and vivaciously, or I play my feelings down, avoid burdening those close to me. When I do that, I cover my injured spirit with a bandage of sorts, a little piece of scrap cloth or rubbish. And then I leave it alone, until I can’t ignore it anymore.

And then there’s just so much piled on top of it, that thinking in my head is incoherent and confusing, and writing isn’t a whole lot better, except that once I lance that festering wound, I can examine the contents of what was inside visually, and try to sort it out from there.

My close friends number two. I used to have a lot more. I’m the kind of person who has a hard time making close friends, but once I do, it’s for life. But a lot of my friends turned away from me when I separated from my ex. For the most part, I’ve made my peace with that and am moving forward, making new friendships. I’ve been given a new perspective on what really matters, and I enjoy that. One part of growing up that makes so much sense: experience leads to wisdom, and I don’t have to make the same choices I made in the past because those lessons have been learned.

A week ago, I would have said I had three close friends. Two days ago, the one who has been the most supportive of me throughout the relationship with my ex and the separation from him, had a little too much to drink and vomited words all over my partner that ended up angering her and bringing me to my knees in pain and frustration.

I think I have a handle on things, I’m ready for the next challenge to come my way, I’m going to be the calm in the storm, I’m going to be ok… and another one bites the dust.

Let’s call her Cupcake. This friend of mine. Cupcake helped nurture my children when they were very, very small. She was the only one, aside from me, who could soothe my daughter to sleep – even her father couldn’t. She was the one who came over, and when she saw the pigsty of house we lived in, helped get the kids down for a nap so we could clean together, or would take them out on day trips so I could work on tidying up all day, with no interruptions. She never judged me, never made me feel inferior for not being able to keep up. I can’t count the number of times she sat me down, though, for a heart-to-heart, to tell me she thought I deserved more than my ex was giving me. He could be a more involved dad, she’d say, he could help around the house. How can I help you? she’d ask. How can we work together to give you what you deserve?

When that relationship was over, she was my silent sounding board, only saying what needed to be said, only asking the questions that helped to give me focus. She vowed not to take sides between the two of us; the only side she’d take was that of the children’s.

Sometimes she would complain that she had offered childcare for him so that he could go and do other things, but he wouldn’t return her calls. He never liked her – because she told it like it was and didn’t sugar-coat things for him. And, while she knew that, she still wanted an active part in the lives of the children, and tried to reach out to him to facilitate that, and he ignored her attempts. At first, anyway.

Now, suddenly, she’s drunk and has my girl pent up in a corner, and feels the need to tell her all about how happy he is to have the chance to stay home with the kids full-time when he has them, how I robbed him of that chance because I had to stay home and care for them. She said he was working 50-60 hours a week so that I could sit around on my ass and do nothing. She told her that, when he and I still lived together, I was going out so often and getting drunk so often I couldn’t deal with the kids. That he didn’t want kids but he had to make me stop blowing lines, so he agreed to talk about having a baby if I would stop. She said so many things that were the opposite of everything she’d ever said to me in the past, she said so many things that angered my girl, and my girl came home and said horrible things to me and called me a liar, and I broke.

I can’t be the calm in the storm when the waves are crashing down on me. I can’t be the lifeboat when I’m coming apart at the seams.

Pickle was angry because Cupcake had told her things I never had.

“I never told you those things because they didn’t happen!”

Pickle was angry because she was trapped in a corner having to listen to things she had no desire to hear, on the same day she had a dream that reinforced her fear that I’m going to hurt her and I’ll never get closure from him.

She was angry because everything Cupcake told her had a little ring of truth to it, and with all the emotional upset, she couldn’t narrow it down for herself, and it was all too much.

He never did want kids – that’s true. But he also didn’t know about the coke until after B.R. was over a year old. We got pregnant by accident. Plain and simple. I didn’t manipulate him, and he didn’t make any promises contingent on me being a good girl.

I originally never wanted to be a stay-at-home parent. When my son was a baby, I went back to work when he was two months old. I was nursing him, and he was an avid nurser. He nursed for comfort as much as sustenance, and for whatever reason, he needed a lot of it. So I had to work in the early hours of morning, while he still slept. I usually got home about an hour after he woke up. Sometimes he would take a bottle of expressed milk from his dad, but usually, he was waiting for me. Anytime B.R. cried, his dad would hand him to me and say, “He’s hungry, feed him.” He didn’t try any other tactics until B.R. was considerably older and easier to distract. He worked 35-40 hours a week. Housekeeping and cooking were still my responsibilities. Like many new moms, I was lucky to get a shower to myself for 5 minutes. I would hop in the shower, B.R. would cry, and less than 5 minutes later – regardless of the fact that I had just nursed the baby – his dad would come in and tell me he was sure he needed to nurse again.

With that exhaustion, and finding out that the woman I worked for was forging my time card and shorting my hours, it just seemed like a better idea to stay home for a while.

I did start looking for work again, when he was a little over a year old. And then I found out I was pregnant again. I wrestled with the idea of going back to work. I wanted to, and at the same time, my second pregnancy took a lot out of me from the start. We were also moving, and once I started showing, I worried no one would hire me because I was pregnant. Silly things, and yes, truth be told, the idea of going to work and not being with my little guy saddened me. His dad offered to change his work schedule so that we wouldn’t need childcare and one of us would always be home, and honestly, though I never told him, I was nervous about the prospect of leaving B.R. in his care that long.

I’ll admit it. I have control issues. And part of the reason that my kids don’t have a solid foundation with their father is my fault. I could have made it easier for him to be active in their lives from the start. That said, I did make it easier after my daughter was born. I gave him opportunities to be home with the kids more, one-on-one time with them.

He called himself a babysitter.

He never worked 50-60 hours a week. He was lucky if he worked 40. And I never sat around on my ass and did nothing. We didn’t have a T.V. to entertain the kids – I was their entertainment. I spent my days doing messy projects with them, taking them places, working in the garden with them. When they went to the neighbor’s house to play, sometimes I would read, but more often than not, I spent the time cleaning house. And he’d come home, snooze on the couch til dinner was ready, serve himself first. He’d help pick up dirty dishes, and then at bedtime, read to the kids. Then I’d go in and snuggle them, and he’d go watch T.V., and usually be asleep before 9pm.

I had my own room. The silence of the house was oppressive, and I’ve only recently begun to learn how to entertain myself when the kids aren’t up or nearby. I felt lonely, empty, and restless. Many nights, yes, I did go out. But I didn’t often drink – certainly not to excess – and I usually managed to come home in time to get enough sleep to be a good mother to my babies. I was, however, deeply depressed. The only thing that could get me out of bed was the children, because they were the only part of my life at the time that felt right. I was miserable, and it showed – but I was never in a place where I “couldn’t handle the kids”. If anything, I was in a place where I couldn’t handle the charade we were living in which I was essentially a single mom with outside income – we were living the 1950’s nuclear family nightmare, and I couldn’t keep up appearances anymore.

So the relationship ended. I was a mess. That relationship had been a facade for years, and I couldn’t figure out what I was fronting for, what had been underneath that imagery I’d put up for so long. I felt terrible for hurting him and lying to him, but I was thrilled not to be beholden to him anymore. Even though I still was.

I made him step up and be a dad when he didn’t care and the kids didn’t want him. I made him share custody with me. And now I’m kicking myself because he now has an investment in it that isn’t about the kids, but about keeping up appearances. He has a statement to make about how guys can be good parents, about how gender roles don’t have limit one’s ability to be a good parent. It’s not about being there for the kids, it’s about showing them and the world that it’s possible. It’s a tough distinction to make… but it’s like the difference between Edison inventing the lightbulb and drawing a diagram that shows it can be done, and even going so far as to build it – but never turning on the switch.

Later, I’ll continue my musings in part 2 to attempt to answer the question, “Why did I wait so long to work on the divorce?”



et cetera