Heaven holds a sense of wonder….











Pickle and I have been in a tremendously rough spot lately.

She’s been my rock throughout the hardest part of the divorce – renegotiating the terms of my interactions with my ex, my kids’ father. She’s been so supportive through it all, and she’s watched the toxic games play out.

She’s done.

She’s had more than she can take. Now it’s time for me to put on my big girl panties and get ‘er done. I can do this – I can stop playing into his manipulation, I can think first of my children, my self, and my lover. I need to.

She’s felt for some time that I give him more love than I do her. I have allowed him to take up more of my energy than is appropriate. I’ve preoccupied myself with how to make him happy in order to win his cooperation with the objective of making the kids’ lives easier, better.

I don’t need to make him happy. I don’t live with him. He can have his feelings, and I can respect those feelings, but it’s not up to me to take responsibility for those feelings.

It’s not up to me to take responsibility for her feelings, either. Don’t get me wrong. But she is the one I live with, she is the one I love, and therefore, she is the one I have chosen to be deserving of my love and attention.

I should probably show her that, eh?

We have a little bit of a co-dependent streak going on. Wasn’t always like this. But somewhere along the line, our interdependency turned into something a little less healthy.

How to fix that?

I suggested a couple of days ago both of us sitting down and writing lists of our individual hopes, dreams, expectations, boundaries. She said, “Hell, no. I’ve told you, told you, I’m done telling you!”

“Sweetie, I’m not going to force this on you. If it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work for you, we can find a different way. But I need the visual. I need to put our two lists side by side – see where we match, where we don’t, where we can meet in the middle. I want to put it somewhere where, when we lose sight of our own objectives or the other’s, we – or least I – can refer to it for a reminder.”

Two days later, after some resistance and negotiating, we finally came to an agreement. She hates writing. So I will write her list for her – on my own. And she will check the list to correct what I’ve left out, misunderstood, what have you.

Could be treacherous territory we’re treading upon. But if it works, if nothing else, she’ll have PROOF that I’ve been listening, soaking in her words. And it’ll be a foundation for us to build upon, rebuilding our trust and faith in one another and our relationship.

We fell in love for a reason. As my brother says, we need to dig down and remember that reason. It’s not hard for me.

I fell in love with her free spirit. Her devil-may-care attitude. Her Peter Pan swagger. I fell in love with her smile, which runs the gamut from cat-who-swallowed-a-canary to little-kid-seeing-something-awesome-for-the-first-time-on-Christmas. No matter what the smile, it’s contagious. I fell in love with her breathtaking blue eyes – eyes older than the hills, yet full of wonder like she was born yesterday. Ice-colored eyes to go with my fire-eyes.

I fell in love with her brashness, her audacity, her romantic spark.

She fell in love with my confidence, my girl-who-rules-the-world bravado, my Tinkerbell flittering. She fell in love with my ass (honky tonk badonkadonk), my belly – it wasn’t long before she couldn’t sleep without my belly moving with every breath on her back.

We fell in love with parts of each other that have been buried under the stressful events of the last year and a half.

We used to get each other token gifts – silly little things, but things that meant something – on the third of every month. We started dating on May 3, 2009, so it was a cute way to commemorate the day.

I think it was when we stopped that that we began to lose our focus. And we just stopped because life got busy, we got broke. Priorities shifted.

It’s time for them to shift again.

Pat Benatar sums it all up. Pickle played this song for me yesterday.

“We Belong, We Belong to the light
Many times I’ve tried to tell you, many times I’ve cried alone
Always I’m surprised how well you cut my feelings to the bone

Don’t want to leave you really
I’ve invested too much time to give you up that easy
To the doubts that complicate your mind

CHORUS:
We Belong to the light
We Belong to the thunder
We Belong to the sound of the words we’ve both fallen under
Whatever we deny or embrace for worse or for better
We Belong, We Belong
We Belong together

Maybe it’s a sign of weakness when I don’t know what to say
Maybe I just wouldn’t know what to do with my strength anyway
Have we become a habit do we distort the facts
Now there’s no looking forward
Now there’s no turning back
When you say

CHORUS

Close your eyes and try to sleep now
Close your eyes and try to dream
Clear your mind and do your best
To try and wash the palette clean
We can’t begin to know it
How much we really care
I hear your voice inside me
I see your face everywhere
Still you say

CHORUS

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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?



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?”



{April 11, 2010}   Pint-sized Pride

This entry was originally written for Oh Messy Life, a radical parenting blog I contribute to.

Oh, messy life, indeed.

Last week was Pride Week in my hometown. Put aside, for the time being, the fact that I’ve never understood the need to celebrate Pride in April, when it’s traditionally celebrated in June most other places. I know the college town atmosphere pervades everything, including common sense. This isn’t about that.

Put aside, too, that the whole thing is (sorry, friends, I love you dearly…) kind of a joke. A bunch of 21-23 year-old kids hollering and waving rainbows does not Pride make. And some of the chants sound like they might as well be yelling, “We must, we must, we must increase our bust!” (Actually, wouldn’t surprise me if a couple of my friends were actually saying that).

I don’t mean to harsh on it – I do love the Pride march, it has its own little place in a cobwebby corner of my heart, a corner that’s been neglected in these cynical, jaded times. This year, I’m a little bitter, and it has nothing to do with Pride itself. The week’s events just happened to be the unfortunate stage.

I am a lesbian. But first, and foremost, I’m a mom. I’m a lot of other things too, but for the intents and purposes of this brain-spew, we’ll stick mostly with those two labels. Normally, I keep labels for jars, but now and then, they help clarify matters a bit. So.

I am a lesbian, and I’m a mom. I have two beautiful kids, who are too young to have any sort of clue about sexuality or sexual identity whatsoever – As It Should Be. Three and five. Their world consists of dinosaurs and rainbows and beetles and ghost stories. I’d like to keep it that way as long as possible.

Now, being a mom who is also a lesbian, there are certain realities I have to face. One is that, no matter how normal a life I make for my children, they will one day realize that having two moms is something slightly out of the ordinary. Whether they realize it on their own or (goddess forbid) peers pick on them for it and bring it to their attention thusly, I want them to be ready. Many years ago, when B.R. was still less than a year old, I scored a freebie: a book titled How Would You Feel If Your Dad Was Gay? It’s a cute book, complete with bad ’90’s haircuts and all. It’s a story of a brother and sister whose dad is gay, and word gets out at school. The aftermath is chaotic, and affects a boy whose mom is a lesbian. It’s generally a book for older kids, but my kids like “big kid” books, and my daughter was the one to pick it out. Given the timing of her choice, and my inclination to squeeze the potential to answer their life questions out of every possible opportunity, it seemed like a good idea.

The kids were all ears. Asking tons of questions – and answering them too. I asked B.R. what he would do if someone gave him a hard time about having two moms. Without missing a beat, he quipped, “Tell them they’re a lunatic.” While he was at his dad’s a couple of days later, he called me, “Hey mom, what’s that thing when two people who love each other can’t get married? You know, the one we read about the other night?”

“You mean like when a man loves another man?” I asked.

“Yeah, but the woman version of that. What do you call that?”

“Oh, that’s a lesbian,” I answered. Next moment, I heard his sweet voice announce to a room full of adults, “My mom is a lesbian!” And then he said his thanks and goodbyes – my job was done.

To me, that’s what it means to celebrate Pride with kids. Emphasize the normalcy of it all. It’s just another way to love. They don’t need to know about the conflict and the hate and fear just yet. They’re little. Let them follow beetles around and chase rainbows. (Interesting that I keep coming back to rainbows)

The day after we read the book – which I had intended and expected to be their only real exposure to Pride for the week (though I apparently should have known better) – they went to their father’s house. They had a very busy week, apparently participating in a lot of Pride Week events on campus. I got to hear all about it from my friends. Stories moms don’t like to hear, about their baby wandering around looking for his parent, repeatedly, in a very grown-up setting. And I don’t want to think about how close they came to the Phelps family – I’m just glad B.R.’s reading is still limited.

The week was hard. I had to pay attention to my breath, and only my breath, to get through it. The closer Saturday came, the bigger the knot in my stomach grew.

Saturday was the day of the march. He had plans to march with the kids. I had a terrible feeling about this.

Before I go any further – for those of you who don’t know me, I calls it like I sees it. Sometimes I come across as rude and tactless, and those who are inclined to will call me a bitch. I don’t mind. I am what I am, and it is what it is.

So I had a terrible feeling. Why? Why wouldn’t I want my kids to go parading downtown with a bunch of fags and dykes, shouting, “Ten percent is not enough, RECRUIT, RECRUIT, RECRUIT!”? Because they’re three and five, and that world is not theirs. Yet. It may never even be. The choice should be left up to them.

Their dad… I don’t know how he identifies. And it wouldn’t be very radical of me to decide for him how he should identify. But this much I do know. For whatever reasons, it feels to me like he’s making a mockery of my way of life with the way he presents himself. He dresses the way he does because he wants to make a statement about patriarchy and oppression – not because he feels more himself in those clothes. He takes the kids to Pride events to “show our support”, not to revel in the sense of unity it’s supposed to promote.

I don’t want my kids to feel like MY way of life is being forced on them by myself or by anyone else. And I’m struggling, because there’s a part of me that wants to tell him, “This is MINE. Go find your own lifestyle.”

These feelings were only reinforced when B.R. told us he didn’t like the march because it was boring. And when he shared his feelings with his pop, he was told, “We’re here to show our support. We’re staying.”

I was always told, as an activist, that support is only effective if it’s not forced. If we respect our limitations, then we can make the most of what support we can offer.

I don’t even know who he thought he was trying to make the kids support. I hope to high hell he wasn’t trying to show his support of their lesbian mom – or that they would even infer that. I get enough support from them when they call me up to ask for a definition of a word they read just the other day, or when they tell me they love me, and even love my girlfriend, too.

They’re three and five. They can support me by scrounging for pine cones and jumping in puddles and chasing rainbows. They can support me by reminding me that we’re a family, just like any other.

They can be proud of me for being their mom. Nothing else about me matters to them.

They’re three and five.



Oh, co-dependency, you raging, monstrous bitch, you. I try and try to shake you off, and just when I think I’ve mustered the strength to resist you, you clutch my guts in your clammy claws and cling.

I tried to bite my tongue. I tried to wait until morning, to let the ooky feelings slowly ebb away, work themselves out in dreams. I really did try.

She came in at 3:30 this morning. No sense in stirring the pot then. No sense losing sleep when we both needed to be up at 8:30 to see the kids off to their Dad’s house. Let it go, I breathed to myself, a mantra meant to calm that panic welling up inside. Let it GO! I screamed in my head, a battle cry against the irrational.

I went to bed at midnight. She’d gone out with friends. A good thing, she needs to spend more time with them, she needs to spend more time without me. A good thing. I was ok with the concept.

When she’d left, though, I’d just finished putting the kids to bed. It’d been a difficult bedtime. The littlest was still popping up to tell me “just one more thing. I love you and I want to spend the whole day with you.” Sweet words, yes, and I hear them so often it’s begun to make me cringe.

And she left. After mentioning to me that she’d gotten to spend the day with everyone else but me. We got to hang out for a little bit earlier in the day, much earlier. But for hours, my brother and the kids had her all to themselves while I cleaned the house and puttered about. She had told my brother she’d go hang out with him downstairs for a bit. When I was done with the kids, she asked me to join her because she missed me, she wanted to cuddle.

I said no, I needed to stay upstairs because I didn’t think the kids were completely settled in. I’d rather put them back to bed already upstairs than have to run up and down stairs for an hour.

Half an hour later, she came up and got ready to go. Cuddled me for ten minutes, while I tried to be happy for her.

“This is going to be hard for you, tonight,” she observed.

I tried to play it off. “What are you talking about? I don’t know what you mean.”

She gave me a Look.

“It is going to be hard for me. It’s good for us, though. I’m trying to keep positive. I keep thinking about how little time we got today, and how little time we’ll get in the next three days because of the hours I’m working–”

“Oh, baby, please don’t,” she interrupted. “I told you yesterday I was going out and you said it was ok!”

“It is ok, I want you to go out. I’m just being honest – it is going to be hard for me.”

She called me later on when she was out for linguistic advice. Her friend was writing something and needed a synonym for “irritation.” I came up with “annoyance,” “vexation,” and “pet peeve.” And that was the end of the phone call.

After hanging up, I felt strangely wounded and… well… vexed. It felt like a pity call, a call she made out of guilt for leaving me at home. Like she made up an excuse to call me and see if I was still pouting. I hadn’t been until then, but then those clingy, clammy claws commenced to clutching again. Ugh.

Then at midnight, we spoke again. I asked when she anticipated being home – not really needing to hear a specific time, but wanting to know when to expect her. She said an hour, hour and a half.

“Ok,” I replied.”

“Why do you sound so… ehhh… about that?”

“I’m not.” A bald-faced lie, but I didn’t have any reason to be “ehh,” so I kept my mouth shut on that front.

“You don’t sound happy…”

“Well, am I supposed to? Am I supposed to feel one way or the other?” I tried to laugh it off.

“Oh, you hurt my head.”

She reads me so well. It doesn’t matter what form of communication – in person, on the phone, text – she knows when I’m bubbling over with conflicting feelings. She doesn’t always realize that I’m struggling with myself and not with her, and often, she’ll give me what she thinks I want (which is what the codependent part of me often does want) just to avoid a fight. When then ends up leading to – guess? A fight!

Last night she didn’t do that. She stayed out. I’m glad she did. She needs to be with friends more.

And instead of coming home at 1:00, 1:30, like she’d said, she walked in at 3:30. Let it go, just be glad she’s home. My mantra. Go back to sleep, it’ll be better to talk about in the morning.

She sat on the bed. “You’d be proud of me tonight. I played hero. I jump-started a car not once or twice, but five times tonight.”

Let it go, it’s cool, it’s fine, I silently told myself as my mouth spontaneously opened to declare, “Once? A hero, yeah. Maybe twice. Five times? That’s just stupid.” Oh my god, you didn’t. Go back to sleep, Let It Go.

She didn’t seem to notice my bitchiness, and kept going on about the night, how the folks should have listened to her in the first place, how they ended up going to Wal-Mart to get a new battery, and then my cauldron bubbled over.

Wait till morning. Let this shit go! NOT NOW. “So that’s why you’re just coming home now?”

I half listened to her excuses – that’s my department – to be flaky and then justify and come up with excuses. I don’t remember any of them. I tried to make myself go back to sleep.

Then she said, “I sat in the parking lot for the last hour, eating cheeseburgers.”

I sat up. “Why the fuck did you do that?”

“I knew I’d be in trouble.”

You dumb bitch. “You do realize you just made everything much harder for yourself than it had to be?” Also my department. WTF is going on here? “I was prepared for you to come in at 2:00, or even 2:30. I know you. If you’d walked in at 2:30, I might have grumbled for a second or given you a little bit of a hard time, but I would have let it go!”

“I knew I’d be in trouble. I knew you’d be mad.” She sounded so small. “I knew you’d be mad, and I just couldn’t handle it then. I couldn’t deal with it.”

Ugh. “You know, I’m not mad because you’re a bad person who did a bad thing. I’m mad because I love you and I worry about you and … if I didn’t care, I wouldn’t get mad!”

Silence.

“Now you’re getting mad,” I sighed.

“No, I’m not,” she answered. “I’m really not.” Then she kissed me, surprisingly sweetly. “I love you. I think we should get some sleep.” She rolled over and wrapped my arm around her the way she does.

I was out pretty quickly. I thought it would be ok in the morning. But this morning, as I rushed around the house, getting the kids ready for their Dad’s house, and she slept so soundly, I felt resentment.

I’ve been trying to figure out what that resentment is. It’s why I write, to puzzle this shit out.

She can go wherever she wants, do whatever she wants, and whenever she wants. She doesn’t have any obligation to me or the kids. And that’s the way it should be right now. I chose to settle down young and have my babies young. And, while it wasn’t necessarily the wrong choice or a bad choice, it was a choice that created more challenges for me.

As a result of that choice, I became a single mom of two kids. I parented on my own when I was still married, and nothing really changed after we separated. Now that I’m with her, I have to find this weird balance of knowing that I don’t have to do everything all by myself anymore, and not expecting too much from her because, let’s face it – they’re not her kids, and our relationship is still in diapers.

So… do I really resent myself for complicating my own life? I’m so very good at it. I’ve noticed all the things she did last night that set me on edge are mirrors of the things I do. I’m the one that makes things harder on myself, I’m the one who avoids, I’m the one who forgets to call or stays out too late, I’m the one who plays “hero” the same way five times when the third time should be different.

Last night, she was me, and it really upset me.

She was my reflection, and I didn’t like what I’d seen.



{March 7, 2010}   All that she wants…

Pardon me for being so blunt.

I am a raging hormone machine. It can’t be helped. I want sex, and lots of it. Try as I do to distract myself, to spend my time pursuing other activities, my mind keeps wandering to sexy thoughts of my Sweet Pickle and the way she makes me feel.

I’ve noticed a bit of baby lust, too.

Has my biological clock begun ticking again?

I often find myself daydreaming of nursing babes again, holding little squirming bundles of smooth skin and plump cheeks. Looking deeply into big blue eyes, feeling the grip of a tiny palm with tiny fingers wrapped around my own mama-sized digits.

I think it has.

I’m about to turn 29 this month. I’m not old. I have, easily, another ten years of baby-having in me. The caveat, however, is that if I am to get pregnant, the only way Pickle and I can agree on making it happen, is if I essentially carry her child. In a sense, surrogacy.

She’s a bit older than me. Scientifically speaking, her ovaries are on the blink. If this were to work, we’d have to freeze them now.

We don’t have the money for that. Adoption would be more practical.

And, though my uterus is hollerin’ at me, “Now, Mama, now!!!” I know that, in all practicality, for sanity’s sake, I will not have any more babies of my own for another two years at least.

It’s hard to resist the call of the female reproductive system. I succumbed four years when I conceived my daughter. If I had the maturity then, the foresight I have now, I would have waited longer.

No regrets, though. None whatsoever. I have two beautiful children. Had I done things differently, the way I possibly “should” have done them, they wouldn’t exist, at least, not as they are.

Then again, if the me that I am now had been calling the shots five years ago – even ten years ago, when I met my children’s father, she would have said, “You know, I like you. You’re a good guy. I don’t really see lifetime potential with you, being that you have a penis and penises kind of scare me and I’m more of a t’n’a kind of girl, but you’ve got good genetics. I’d like to have your genetic offspring. No need to feel obligated to be an active father.” I bet he would have gone for it, too. He never really wanted to be a dad. I sucked him into it with my grandiose vision of the life I wanted: settled down at 18 with six kids and a zoo’s worth of pets.

The me I am now knows I could have had that without him, and probably would be much closer to that vision without him. But I wouldn’t have learned as much about myself had I gone that route.

So the me I am now is content to wait two years for another round of babies. She just wishes the hormones would quit throwing their fit in the meantime.



Another hard day.

It was easier when our cycles were synced. They synced up immediately when we first started dating. But due to sickness and medications and stress, I finish bleeding when she starts. When our cycles matched exactly (right down to the hour), we knew when to give and take space. We knew when to be emotional with one another and when to let the stupid things we say go. We’d have a fight and let the storm crash over us and let soothing endorphins wash over us as the angry clouds receded. We were in tune.

In the last couple of months, though, it’s changed. We’re over-sensitive with one another. We push buttons without intending to. We’re careless, thoughtless. It’s more work.

Just another chance for us to grow as a couple. Things can’t always match perfectly. Sometimes the pieces need to be turned or, in extreme cases, their shape needs to change. Sometimes we have to create something entirely different out of what we have than what was our original intent.

The shape of things doesn’t need to change. We very much fit together, compliment one another. But a little inner revolution is happening. We’re both growing, in different ways.

She’s floundering. All of this is happening to her. She’s in quicksand, trying to relax. Every time she does, she feels like she’s being sucked back in, and she panics and it all starts over again. The bills keep piling up, her job demands more and more, the kids come home from their dad’s house a bigger mess than when they left. She can’t let go of these things. They’re vital to our existence. She can’t find Zen. If she releases her attachment to these things, the kids end up homeless.

She needs to refocus. Maybe she can’t let go of the bills and the kids and her job, but she can let go of the emotions.

Easier said than done.

And I can’t tell this to her. She has to find it on her own. These words will have no meaning if they come from me, from outside. She has to be open to them. And she’s floundering, and the more she flails, the harder she falls.

It’s the old lifeguard trick. When rescuing a drowning person, chances are they will fight you – not because they’re scared of you, but because they’re in survival mode, because the reptilian brain has taken over and all they can do is struggle for their life. It is impossible to relax. So you, their rescuer, relax for them. Let them pull you down deeper as they fall. And when the fight’s gone out of them, then you swim for air, bringing them with you.

She can’t relax. But I can. I can choose not to fight back, I can choose to focus on the long-term goals of safety and well-being. She can pull me down with her, as long as I know that I’m not really in danger, I can bring us back.

I gotta keep it together for the both of us.

This, too, shall pass.



{November 28, 2009}  

Not been the best at keeping up with this blog. So much happening on a day-to-day basis, trying to find the energy to write has been challenging.

Yesterday was amazing. Pickle and I have been fighting a lot lately – the stress for both of us has been ridiculous, and for her especially. I can’t really imagine how it must feel to be her, found the woman of her dreams, but in a weird place in her life and with kids already in the mix, very recently out of a long-term relationship…. it’s a messy situation. I keep thinking about the choices I’ve made and how they’ve led me to where I am right now, and I can’t look at them as mistakes or regrets, because where I am right now is the first place I’ve felt right in my adult life. And I know that I never would have ended up here without those choices. But sometimes I can’t help it, I think if I had done things differently in the beginning, it would be different now. If I had slowed us down, neither of us would feel pressured to keep the relationship going for the kids (and most of the time we don’t, but when it gets really hard, it’s thinking about the kids that makes us work through it when we can’t find any other common ground to agree on). Of course, I’m a pusher and she’s a runner, so having something to anchor us both is probably part of the Universe’s Plan.

And of course, that just reminds me even further how much of a pawn I feel. Or better, a marionette puppet. Everyone’s got their hands on a string, and everyone’s pulling to their heart’s desire, and I’m just doing a weird little dance and I don’t feel like I’m getting much done at all. The PTB’s like to remind me once in a while that I am not the one in control, and I hate this out-of-control feeling. I don’t know what to do with it. I try to let go, and the more I let go, the more crap happens and the harder it gets yet.

But yesterday was an amazing day. We had an impromptu tofurkey feast and friends came over and it was OUR Thanksgiving. Our first Thanksgiving, and we can’t wait to do it again. Only thing that was missing was a card game (poker? spades? doesn’t matter) and the kiddos. They were with their dad’s family. But it was good. We had a fire going, people in food comas in the living room, watched a terribly awesome Thanksgiving-themed B horror flick (campy as all get out) called “Thankskilling”, went out for nightcaps and came home and had amazing sex. I’m trying to hold onto that for all it’s worth, something that we can look forward to when all this other crap is done.

Pickle texted me this afternoon when I was out of the house with the kids: “Remember I love you and they (the kids) love you and we’re gonna have a great life together one (day) soon…. sooner than you think baby, i know it.” For her to be so optimistic and positive….. it’s what I need. I’m usually the optimist, and lately, I’ve just been in the dark twisty place and I’m trying so hard to keep my head in this moment and be grateful for everything I have, whether it seems at first glance I should be grateful for it or not.



et cetera