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

Advertisements


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 4, 2010}   In this season of growth…

Now that she’s working less and spending more time at home, I’m finding it harder and harder to keep up with the writing.

I’m totally smitten by her. Much to her chagrin, I’m sure, I’m like a lost little puppy dog at her heels. Which is probably why she felt for so long she never got any time to herself.

That used to be a good thing. But deceptively so. It’s a co-dependent thing. We lose our sense of self-identification when we don’t have time to ourselves.

She came to me in a time when many of my friends abandoned me, when I had to pack my things and move out of the home I’d lived in for three years – the only real home my kids had ever known. She came to me when my life was unsettled, and she settled me. She was security embodied.

We decided early on, for some reason unknown to both of us, that we were It. This relationship was going to work, no matter what.

I have never been in a relationship I’ve wanted to work so hard at, or had to work so hard at, as I have at times in this one. I have never cared so much about another individual’s well-being that I’ve pushed myself beyond my own comfort – beyond what I thought possible for me – to Grow.

Sadly, even my children, until relatively recently, didn’t push me as hard as she does. Children adapt to their environments. We adults should adapt to them – at least more so than I did for a long time.

We’ll be celebrating our first anniversary in one month. It’s bittersweet. We’ve made it this far, through a hellish year, and that’s something to celebrate. But I’m also still technically married to my ex. I’ve put off the divorce stuff – had a number of excuses.

We tried the DIY divorce, but I wasted months on trying to get him to agree with me on what the kids need. He disagrees. Finally, a couple of months ago, I realized that outside help was needed, and I just can’t do it on my own anymore. Then I went to the initial intake appointment with Legal Aid and they accepted my case and gave me paperwork. I filled it out immediately – and then lost it. Probably threw it out by accident. I’ve been meaning to call and have them send me new paperwork, but I’ve been working during office hours for the last three weeks.

Excuses.

I don’t know why I put it off. I don’t want to be married to him anymore. I don’t really want this hanging over my head. I know that I can’t even think about marrying her or raising babies with her until it’s all over with. She can’t even properly consider herself a step-parent to my kids because, until it’s all said and done, there’s still uncertainty as to where she stands.

I want it all to be done. I want it to fix itself. I want someone else to make it go away. I fix other people’s problems. I avoid my own like the plague.

She makes me face my own reality. It’s why we’ve made it this far, it’s why I’ve grown so much.

I wish I could give her something more than Pearl Jam tickets and a long-coveted book for our anniversary. Tomorrow being Monday, I will call the lawyer before I go to work, and get the new paperwork sent to me. First chance I get, I’ll get it notarized. With any luck, the ball will be rolling before the month is over, and maybe that’s something.

I’d originally set a goal to be divorced before the end of June. I’d still like to try to make that happen. A lot depends on him and how cooperative he is. But the delays on my end are done.

I want to give her some security, settle her like she did for me.



“You’re my ocean.” She said it so peacefully, so factually, and left it at that.

Sardonically, I thought, “What, ‘cuz I’m drowning you?” Instead, I waited a few beats and ask, “How’s that?”

She thought for a moment. Licked her lips in contemplation. “I don’t know. You just are. Your emotions are like the tides. You can be so destructive and rough, like the waters in a storm. Or you can be calm and beautiful. But either way, you always put me at peace.”

Those might be the most beautiful, honest words anyone’s ever spoken to me. I want them to be written into our wedding vows, whenever that day comes. She’s the only person who can take my voice away.

In re-reading the words she said to me, I realize that typing them out on a screen does them a harsh injustice. She’s not a words person. She’s a numbers person, logic and reason. Words, for her, are cut and dry. Use them to say exactly what you mean. Which often doesn’t lend itself to poetry, though today, it clearly did.

The other night, she told me, “When I marry you, I already have our rings picked out.”

What? When?? What happened to If?

Girl reads me well. “I mean If.” She smirked. “If I marry you. The company that made my vintage wave ring is still around. They do custom designs. What I want is gonna cost about $5,000 for the both of them. Waves with little diamonds.”

I looked down at the ring on my finger now. I wear it on my right ring finger, saving the left one for the Real Ring. Thought about how that ring ended up there… one week ago, I went out without her. She said, “I trust you,” and put her ring, one of her most treasured possessions, on my finger to keep me “out of trouble,” she said with a smile.

I told her she wasn’t getting it back. Got her a new wave ring from work.

Then the conversation about the rings, the custom rings that will cost us $5,000.

“We’re never getting married, are we?” I joked. “With the rings and the lavish Mardi Gras party and costume dress, it’s a wonder we’ll ever get the money!”

I thought the wave ring was a great idea because she used to surf, and her love for the waves has never gone away. She misses the Pacific Ocean. I love the ocean myself, and water is one of many things that binds us together.

It didn’t hit me until today just why wave rings would be so meaningful at our wedding. She’d never said words like that to me before. I’m her ocean….

I asked her, “If I’m your ocean, and you know how destructive I can be, then why the hell do you provoke me?!?”

She grinned, shrugged her shoulders.

And then it came to me. “Because you’re a surfer girl, and you like to ride the waves. You need that rush… and the calm that comes after.”



{February 22, 2010}   A connection…

She says she misses me so much she could cry. And when I’m around, she tells me I cling. I go out without her while she works, and she has a 15 minute break where she gets to stop at home, and I’m not there, and she feels robbed. And when she comes home after work and I bring her a beer and breakfast, she turns on her favorite shows and I don’t exist.

I get it. She wants me around, but I don’t have to be right there. I’m not good at giving space, co-dependency comes naturally to me. Without reconnection in the way I understand it, I feel panic set in. I’m uneasy in my skin. Is she angry? Did I do something wrong? I don’t need her undivided attention the whole time. I know when she comes home from work, she needs to unplug from the world and forget it exists. Her job takes so much out of her. She doesn’t get a lot of time to herself during the week, she says. Unless she’s asleep.

Yesterday I was up at 5:30 a.m. to let my brother in my house to crash. She felt cheated of her alone time. She says she only gets Sunday mornings while I’m asleep and she comes home early from work. The rest of the time, I’m clinging to her or the kids are demanding her, and she’s ok with that, she says, she’s ok with me clinging and the kids demanding, as long as she gets that one day. I tell her she needs more than that one day, if that’s really the way her life is, that’s not right…. and I’m thinking about it, and I realize, I work two or three days out of the week when the kids are gone, and she has two to four hours to herself, awake, without anyone else in the house… why doesn’t that alone time count?

I think she needs to have alone time without her favorite shows. I think she needs to find her hobbies and her passions again. She used to have a lot, and this job has sucked the life out of her, and transitioning from single-hood to step-parenthood has not been easy, and I think she’s losing herself.

It’s no wonder she’s sick all the time. It’s no wonder she’s depressed and angry.

A lot of her friends stopped talking to her when she and I started dating. My ex allowed people to believe that if it wasn’t for her, he and I would still be happily married. No one bothered to ask me. Only a few people asked her. Everyone else just assumed it was the truth. Between missing friends and missing funds, she doesn’t go out as much as she used to before we met. Neither do, I for that matter. Now, she sits at home and watches all her favorite shows on Hulu and plays a bunch of silly games, and I’ve fallen into that trap too.

When we spend time together, it revolves around the computer or the TV or the bar or the bed.

Not real conducive to finding things in life to be excited about.

We talk about getting out and doing fun things – going to the art museum, wandering around the cemetary, heading to the dog park. And when it comes time, plans seem to fall through – one of us is too tired, we forget.

Priorities.

If this relationship is a priority, if we are priorities to one another, we’ve got to work together to pull out of our respective funks…

So I can’t take it personally when she acts like I’m not there. Because I know she is comforted by my presence, I’m there if she needs me or wants me and that makes all the difference to her. I tell myself that when the panic begins to set in. And I tell myself I will do something nice for her that doesn’t encroach on her space.

Today, I cleaned out my closet. Still in the same room. Completely silent, undistracting, still there.

The question that’s been on my mind: “If True Love is giving of yourself unconditionally, expecting nothing in return, what can you give your Lover?”

Today, the answer is… something to smile about. I will reconnect with myself, help her find a way to reconnect with herself, so that we can remain connected with one another.

Take that, co-dependency!



{February 21, 2010}   Pictures of You {working title}

For my sweet Pickle:

Pictures of you, over again.
Pictures of you, pretty in blue.

Don’t know where I end, where to begin.
Another tired love song takes hold of my pen.
Pretty words I’ve got, meanings for which I’ve sought
Over hills and hours, while the tears I’ve wrought
Take hold near and far, branding with a scar
Bleeding and open, a reminder:
Who you were’s part of who you are.

And all I can see behind these eyelids,
All that’s real to me:
Pictures of you, over again.
Pictures of you, pretty in blue.
Oh, all I can see, pictures of you.

A lifetime’s only seconds, our sweet song beckons,
Calls me to hold each moment – put away the reckless
Harsh words of ice; to revel in your blue eyes,
To give what I take every moment left in our lives.
Days go ’round in a flash, we’ll flow and we’ll crash,
But the middle ground is always right there within our grasp.

And all I can see behind these eyelids,
All that’s real to me:
Pictures of you, over again.
Pictures of you, pretty in blue.
Pictures of you, again and again,
Oh all I can see, my sweet baby,
Pictures of you.



{February 21, 2010}   Push and Pull and Hold on Tight

I have done so much. And I can do so much more.

My words are pretty, and nothing I can put down on paper or type out on a computer will even begin to describe the way I feel about her. The words others have written barely scratch the surface.

Things haven’t gotten any easier since I last wrote in November. They’ve gotten better, but not easier. I’ve found my spine, I’ve found my limits. I’ve found the capacity to give myself unconditionally. I’ve found the silver lining in everything, from threats of eviction to clingy, insecure children, to the uncertainty of everyday challenges.

I’m making it one day at a time, one moment as it goes by. I’m liberated by my choices. Even when I feel powerless, I have choices. In making them, I reclaim my power – and in letting go of the choices I made in the past, I reclaim my power.

I push myself to grow because I want to be a better person. I find a reason to smile because it’s good for me. I do it for her, for the kids. I do it for Us. Because if I’m not good enough for myself, there can be no Us. I can’t be a good mother to my children if I’m not good to myself. I can’t be a partner to my love if I’m not fair to myself.

Today was a hard day for Us. My children came home from their Dad’s a mess. Tears and tantrums and crying out for boundaries they can trust. Pushing her boundaries, pushing my boundaries. She was tired, she couldn’t handle it. She blew up – at me, not them. She knows they’re young, they can’t help it. She blamed my past choices, mistakes I made, for the reason she couldn’t sleep, for the children’s cries for help. In a sense, she was right. She asked me to leave, to give her space. I intended to, on the condition she heard the one thing I had to say. She freaked, and I insisted on staying. “Just listen, please.” Angrier and angrier. “Nothing I could have done in the last 24 hours could have changed what is happening right now. Please consider how you’re helping or hurting this situation.” I needed her support. I needed her not to make it hard for me to be a good mother to my children. I needed her to take care of herself and bring herself down. I said those words and stood up to leave the room, give her the space she asked for.

She jumped out of bed. Kicked the door so it was jammed shut. Swung at me. Even if I hadn’t ducked, she wouldn’t have hit me. She’s a boxer, she would have hit me if she’d really wanted to, even if I do have excellent reflexes. I grabbed her by the shoulders and sat her down on the bed. “You need to relax. I’m going to go now. No more words.”

She calmed down eventually. She’d never done anything like that before. But the threat was there, and it unnerved me. I sat down to write. Poured out a four-page letter. “I love you. This can’t happen again. Here’s what I will do to help, though it scares me.”

I struggle with giving space and walking away from a conflict unresolved. Panic rises up from deep within. It’s not natural to me to leave things broken. I’m a fixer, a mender. I focus on the task at hand until I’m done, to the neglect of everything around me. I’m a pusher. She’s a puller. She withdraws into herself until she can breathe again. When I touch her when she’s angry, she panics. When I can’t touch her, I panic.

A fundamental difference in the way we process the world. Two extremes, opposite sides. We must compromise, find a way to meet in the middle.

She didn’t like my letter. She called from work, and I could hear the wall being built in her “Hello.” Since the things that happened weren’t my fault, they must be her. I don’t blame her for the events of the day, I don’t even really blame her for losing control. It’s not my fault, and I don’t deserve it, and it’s not something that can happen again, but I understand what happened and how it happened. I trust her to make sure it doesn’t happen again, and I will help her figure out how to keep it from happening again. It’s not just about me giving her space when she asks for it – though that may help tremendously, it’s not on me to manage her emotions. She needs an outlet. A way to productively express herself.

I wrote her the letter because she once said she feels like an asshole when she’s angry at me. She hates herself for the things she says. I heard, “Please don’t let me treat you this way.” She holds me to a very high standard, she wants to spend the rest of her life with me, and she believes in me as a partner, a mother, a woman, an individual. If I didn’t return the same love and honor, if I kept my mouth shut and let it slide and just counted on it never happening again, I wouldn’t be holding her to the same standard she holds me to. I wouldn’t be showing the same dedication and love she shows to me, I wouldn’t be showing the same belief in and regard for Us as an entity.

I wrote her the letter because I trust her, I believe in her, I believe in us. She wanted to run away. She said, “I’ll just remove myself from the situation so I can’t hurt you anymore.” “I’m insulted,” I said. “That’s a cop-out. After all the work I’ve put into this, you can’t do the same?”

“I have BEEN working!” she exclaimed. “When do I get to stop?!”

“When I do. You want this to last the rest of our lives? We don’t get to stop working. That’s what a relationship is. A relationship means nothing without work. Don’t run away just because it got hard.”

She gets it.

I found a quote today. Wish I knew who to attribute it to. “Sometimes you have to run away, just to see who will chase after you.”

Every time, baby. Every single time. Because even though I’m a pusher, I’m a holder, too.



{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.



{November 13, 2009}  

It’s been kind of a melancholy day.
Pickle and I didn’t get to spend much time together on her days off. Meetings, meetings, more meetings. We did go out, against better judgment (really can’t afford it), but we needed to get out and forget about real life for a while. This afternoon, I met with the kids’ dad and let him know that I think it’s in the best interest of the kids to live with me primarily. I don’t want to cut him off from the kids; on the contrary, I think it’s better for his relationship with them to do it this way. That way, they can segue into building a relationship, rather than trying to force it overnight. It was a rough and emotional conversation. He was very defensive and angry, and accused me of not giving him a fair chance to make it work. I held my ground, and it was hard to do because I’m so used to giving in to him just to keep the peace, but if I give into him, he has no reason to make an effort to make changes that work for everyone. He’s done no research whatsoever into what’s best for the kids, how to decrease the impact of divorce on them, and when I’ve present him with tools and resources, his reaction has been, at best, lukewarm. This is a big part of why Pickle is so angry with him, and she’s right to be. Towards the end of our conversation this afternoon, he told me he was going to get a lawyer, and this has me worried.

Neither he nor I actually have the money to hire a lawyer and go to court, which I think is a terrible idea anyway. It’s going to hurt the level of communication we’ve worked so hard to achieve, create animosity that doesn’t exist, and cause more stress for everyone, especially the kids. They’re smart and perceptive, and they’re going to know something’s going on, and not have a frame to put it in perspective. But if he were to lawyer up and take the whole thing to court, I don’t know what to expect. At this point, when the kids are with me, they have their own room and bunk bed, and they have a play area of their own. We have a car, and we have the means to save for the future and provide for emergency situations. When they’re with their dad, however, he is working part time so as to spend more time with them and not worry about childcare, and doesn’t make a lot of money. He’s living roommates to afford the rent in a three-bedroom house where he and the kids share a room, and they have no personal space of their own. On the surface, it looks like the courts would favor me, especially when considering the reason for my wanting them to be with me full-time is that they haven’t had a solid relationship with their dad up to this point, and sending them to live with him would be more like sending them to live with an uncle. The catch is this: the income that we have is primarily Pickle’s. I work part time, and actually make less than the kids’ dad. From what I’ve read so far, Pickle’s income doesn’t count as my income because in the eyes of the state of Kansas, we are nothing more than roommates; even if Kansas did allow gay marriage, and we were married, her income wouldn’t count towards considerations for child support, but it might help to build a stronger case based on my own income, because it would be *our* income then, legally. As it is right now, she has no legal obligation towards me or the kids, so it wouldn’t really help in court, from what I understand. Now, in our community, same-sex couples can register and be recognized by the city as a couple, and be given certain privileges that hetero couples share. We could do this for a mere $75 (which we don’t have right now anyway), but I don’t know how much that would help in a family court, in which the rules of the state still apply. Besides, it’s the wrong reason for us to put ourselves on a registry.

I’ve been having dreams lately where I’ve had to leave my kids with their dad because it was safer for them, or better for them somehow, and I’m terrified that it’s going to come down to that. My babies need me, and it would just about kill me not to have them in my life. I birthed them. I nursed them. I raised them. For five years, I’ve been the parent to them. I am scared to death that I will lose them. I don’t know what I would do.

Pickle’s been so good to me. When I came home this afternoon, she said, “Let’s just go upstairs and hold each other.” She’s been so worried about me, and where it’s usually me to wear the optimist face in the darkest times, she’s been assuring me all day long, “Everything will work out just fine.” She’s such a cynic herself, but it really does help to hear those words. In my life, I try to have faith that if I examine my motives, and follow the course of right action, and stand firm when I believe I’m doing the right thing, everything will work out in my favor. It usually does work out that way. Everything has a reason, and the PTB’s have a design of their own. I have to trust that it will work out. If not, I lose myself in worry and anxiety, and I lose my direction and myself.

So I’ll repeat to myself time and time again, “Everything has its reason. Whatever will be, will be, and right now, it is what it is. I can learn and grow from this, and I will.”



{November 8, 2009}   She’s like fingers and toes

I’m currently reading Mom’s House/Dad’s House by Isolina Ricci.  Within its pages is a quiz one can take to assess their personal resources for coping with the high stress associated with a divorce.  A score of 95 or above indicates adequate resources and successful coping.  I scored a 96.  I am just barely over the threshold.  I looked over my answers to see how I got the result, and realized that if it wasn’t for Pickle, I wouldn’t have even made it to the threshold.  She’s the one keeping me together .  She says I do the same for her, that I keep her sane, though I find that ironic because if she weren’t with me, she’d have a whole lot less stress in her life.  Most of her stress lies in dealing with my interactions with the kids’ father and being the primary money-maker in a family she really never expected to have, much less overnight. 

I have a certain amount of guilt that I need to let go of.  She chose to be with me, knowing that it wasn’t going to be easy, knowing that she was committing to my kids.  I didn’t twist her arm.  We have such a solid connection with one another and we balance each other out so perfectly.  She knows exactly how to push me, to motivate me to be the best mother, girlfriend, partner, person that I am.  It’s not just about potential waiting to be released, it’s about what’s already there that I am using and need to acknowledge and maximize.  She’s smart and she sees things so clearly the first time, and me, it takes a few opportunities for slow observation before I get it.  I really have to study things.  Both approaches have their advantages, and it’s why we work so well together.  It really showed earlier this week when we undertook a major house-cleaning project.  It takes me forever to clean the house because I’m extremely detail-oriented.  I can’t see the big picture until I’ve put all the details together.  So I tend to focus on one specific area to the detriment of the whole.  She, however, sees everything right out, and tackles all the obvious things first to create the sense of harmony she needs, and the details get worked out in the process.  Together we make a great team and, may I just say, the house looks and feels fantastic!  But when the balance is lost and the responsibility falls on only one of our shoulders, the other becomes resentful, and the house falls apart – physically and energetically.  The same is said for the way we communicate with one another and the way we support one another.  As long as we are about each other’s boundaries and practicing true give-and-take, we maintain harmony.  I’d say effortlessly, but it does take some effort.  It’s just much easier with her for me than with anyone else I’ve ever been with.  It’s quite refreshing.

In the case of my separation and my kids, she’s had to repeat herself a thousand times over, to the point where she’s exhausted herself trying to point out what she feels is the obvious: their dad took advantage of me, was less-than-adequate as a father when we were together, people who haven’t changed in the past aren’t going to change in the future, I need to do what’s best for the kids and quit sparing his feelings.  She’s right, on every single count.  And I’ve known it, but I really have to marinate in it, to understand the whys and hows of every angle, and that takes time.  And she’d like me to Fix It Now.  Obviously, it would be much easier on everyone if I could wave my magic wand and do just that, but this is the real world, and I must be practical.  So it takes a balance of her pushing and me stalling to get things done at the right pace.

I can’t even describe how amazing and inspirational she is to me.  How much I love her.  I haven’t lost myself in her, I’ve found myself.  I need her, but not in a survival sense – I know that if she were not in my life, I would be fine and I would pull through and be a good mother to my kids, and I would survive.  I need her in the sense that I need my fingers and toes.  They are part of me, they are useful to me, and if they were to be taken from me, I would be in a lot of pain for a very long time, and, though I would learn to adapt, I would be limited in my ability to do the things I used to do with those particular digits.  She’s not my backbone, she’s the one that pulls my shoulders up and reminds me that I already *have* a backbone.  She’s not my knight on a white horse, she’s the compatriot that finds me scavenging in the woods and guides me in how to take advantage of the resources available to me, and by the way, I know where you can find a horse if you need one.  She’s not just a lover, and the word “girlfriend” is so inadequate.  She is my life partner, in every sense of the word, and she just boggles my mind.  How did she come into my life when she did?  The timing couldn’t have been worse, and at the same time, it couldn’t have been better.  I guess that means it was perfect.

She was supposed to be off work at 5am tonight.  As soon as she went in, her boss cornered her with the “choice” of either running to the airport and coming back at 6 am, or staying on until 6 am.  At first, I was just livid because she stayed on late last night as a favor to a coworker; besides, if this were a daytime job, the expectation that she would be able to stay on an hour late wouldn’t even be there.  People have lives.  But really, it was more than just about her being taken advantage of by a boss who claims to be her friend.  It was also about me needing her comfort tonight.  I need to hold her in my arms.  I am so very sad today.  I’ve been in a state of slow realization just how little support I have to go through this divorce, and how little experience I can call upon from my circle of friends and acquaintances.  The support I do have is awesome, and I’m lucky to have that much – there are people out there who have less – but it’s unfair to Pickle, who needs support as much as I do.  She is my main source of support now.  Almost exclusively.  I have others I can call on once or twice a week/every few weeks, but they’ve got their own stuff to deal with.  And I have no idea where to go for help.  None.  I feel very lost and alone.  Except when Pickle’s around… she makes it all go away.  What an unfair burden to put on her, right?  Except, I guess, I do the same for her.



et cetera