Friday, February 27, 2009

Getting outside my comfort zone

I have a good friend who has been giving me job hunting advice. His most recent was that I should ask to talk with the manager wherever I am applying, get their name and let them know I am widowed and looking for work. When he first recommended this I felt very resentful and a bit put off. This is not my style at all and I am having a hard enough time just walking into a McDonald's and getting an application in the first place! I talked to him a little about this (at least he listens and tried to understand) and he replied that I need to get out of my comfort zone. That was when I really felt upset. Everyday since my husband died I have lived outside my comfort zone and now I have to go above and beyond and continue stretching myself. I am already sick and tired of being out of my comfort zone!

In fairness to my friend, I realized his advice was sound and I made a promise to myself that I would try his tactic and see what happened. I went to four places today and found that mentioning I was a widow actually resulted in two managers (my age) seemingly expressing more interest than usual - one even asked my name and said she would watch for my application to come in next week. I also found that I got better and more comfortable with the process as I kept doing it. All that practice makes perfect stuff.

In any case, I guess the point I am making is that it is already hard enough being a widow and just trying to survive another day. But then we are forced to take on even more challenges and it is just all so tiring and difficult, each and every day. People out there really have no idea of what this is like. It is like belonging to an exclusive club (this might be a good title for a book - "The Widow's Club"). Only the benefits of the club aren't so great.

Today I am grateful:

1. That we made it through the month of February and didn't even use the Food Pantry (thank goodness).
2. That my oldest had his band tryouts this week and made the top/exclusive group which is an honor since he is only a Sophomore and the group is mainly composed of Seniors. But that makes it even more imperative that we stay in the same school district so I feel even more pressure on me. (So this one is kind of a double-edged sword - I'm grateful but also more worried as a result).
3. That both boys are popular and very socially adjusted. Because in the end, our relationships and friendships are what have the greatest meaning.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

No longer able to hide from reality

The dust has settled and the grim reality set in. Today I am working at clearing out the bags of items from my parent's house (that I brought home out of a large storage shed to save on the storage fee). My thoughts are centered on how much my little family has had to deal with the past five years. We have just been hit with disaster after disaster. When you're in the middle of fighting fires you don't fully recognize the devastation that remains. Now that I am no longer consumed with the divorce/mediation I see the full mess we have landed in. Financially, I do not know how we are going to recover from this. I have made a consultation appointment with a bankruptcy attorney because at this point I need to explore all my options. There is just not enough money to go around and I do not know how long I will remain unemployed.

I have been negligent in facing reality the past months but no more. Such time I wasted obsessing over an ex who fully was aware of the challenges we faced and didn't/doesn't care. Now that I can fully comprehend how unfeeling he is/has been I am more than ready to close that door of my life and start embracing this new one without him. Granted, it is very daunting and terribly scary to face right now but I refuse to obsess any more over what ifs and if onlys.

Filing for bankruptcy is really the least of my worries - there are so many other challenges on my plate right now. Just moving on, finding a job, helping the boys adjust, probably getting the house ready to list, sorting through my parent's crap. It is time to get down to business. I have to be strong.

Today I am grateful:

1. That I am facing the truth even though it is probably the scariest thing I have ever had to do on my own.
2. That I recognize that it is time to move on.
3. That I believe that life will improve.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Feeling down and sad

Today I am feeling sad all round - disappointed that no one is reading this blog. I had really hoped for a way of connecting with others in similar situations and garnering some support but I am green at doing this sort of thing (computers, blogging) and am pretty much winging it. Blogging has served as a means of journaling my experiences/feelings and that has been extremely helpful on its own. I was having trouble putting pen to paper and found it much easier to blog so in that way this has served a purpose. I have been reading some blogs and have found it very helpful to realize that others share my feelings around the world. It has made me feel less alone and connected to the collective spirit of the Universe.

Last night a dear, close friend invited me to attend a dinner he is going to be having with clients but I passed on it because I just cannot put aside all the fear, grief and anxiety I am currently feeling. I just want to hang out with people I feel comfortable with and know. It seems unfair to everyone to be putting on an act to be in a social mood and all. And I have the worry that I won't be able to pull it off and end up ruining dinner for everyone (another worry is that I might drink too much because I am feeling fear, grief and anxiety) and will end up embarrassing my friend and ruining dinner for everyone that way.

So I suppose the question of the day is how to continue moving forward and living while being consumed with all these negative emotions. I presume the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Being honest with oneself and others as to the state of my situation and how I feel about it while not being morbid and clinically depressed and moping around all the time. Easier said than done. I guess I'll have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and see how it goes. See what works and what doesn't.

Today I am grateful:

1. That I keep getting up and facing another day.
2. For friends that have stood by my side through this difficult journey.
3. For the opportunities (like this one) to connect to others around the world - that is pretty amazing!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sleeping with all the lights on and other oddities

When my husband died, beginning that very first night, I started sleeping with all or most of the lights on in the house. This went on for months. Before his death, even though he had spent very long stretches in the hospital, I had felt safe because he was still alive. Once he died, I realized how vulnerable and truly alone I really was. I became afraid. Frightened of every small sound inside and out. Frightened of ghosts, intruders, animals (no doubt with rabies), storms and the dark. I was pretty much fine during the day, but when night and darkness descended I almost became another person.

During this time (those first months after he died) I would fall asleep with my clothes on having not brushed my teeth or washed my face. I would sleep fitfully and wake up in the middle of the night and then being unable to go back to sleep, I'd read for a few hours.

Now as I get through the first months of my divorce, I am repeating some of the same patterns. By 8:00 p.m. I am exhausted and lie down just for a moment to wake up to find that it is 1:00 a.m. and I am still fully clothed. I am sleeping fitfully and restlessly. Not good, solid sleep at all. I feel all those same fears returning but this time when I wake up I go downstairs and turn all the lights off. I think back to what the divorce mediator told me - that having already survived the death of a husband at a young age, any future hardship should be easier to get over. I know he meant well and was trying to be encouraging but I do not agree with his reasoning because grief is grief no matter how many times you have to feel it. But I understand that I do have some experience with what it takes to survive hurt and pain.

Maybe a little wiser, that's all. The anguish of being rejected so cruelly is especially painful. I think after my husband died that I thought I would receive some kind of future immunity from further pain or suffering. It would bypass me in the future because it had already reared its ugly head. Well, that theory has certainly been a total bust as evidenced by living through an exceptionally difficult five-year period.

So, many of those awful feelings we all so much want to avoid have returned as I face this new loss. The same symptoms, the same pain, the same weird sleeping habits. Only this time I am turning off the lights in the house because I know he isn't coming back. When I think of those first months following my husband's death five years ago, I am struck by the realization that perhaps my leaving the lights on had less to do with my fears but more from my mistaken hope that if only I left them on, he would find his way back home to me and the boys.

Today I am grateful:

1. For all that my husband's death has taught me (I could just have a post on that).
2. That I realize what is truly important in life - love, relationships, family, personal growth, integrity, honesty, kindness, compassion - certainly not fame and fortune (although of course we need money to survive).
3. That I didn't waste my personal "wake-up call" which came when my husband died. I have tried to live my life as a better person since his death and will continue to strive even more so in the wake of my divorce.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Facing the burned-out light bulbs

This morning after taking out the recycling/garbage which takes an hour or so, I changed the burned out light bulb by the garage. It had been out for some weeks. This symbolizes my new outlook and acceptance that I'm on my own again and just have to do it myself. Changing the light bulbs outside is such a pain it takes me time to get to them. (I don't think I have ever changed one the day it burned out.) I have to drag a chair from inside the house to stand on and the light fixture itself is hard to manipulate. Plus it is cold out there!

Part of me sometimes puts off doing chores like this as some kind of protest, I think. Part of me is angry that I got forced into this role of widow/divorcee and not completing a chore is my way of exerting some kind of control over this situation even though that doesn't really make any sense. I guess it is my way of saying it sucks to always be the one having to change all the light bulbs, much less buy all the light bulbs in the first place!

I had really hoped my remarriage was a new, fresh start for me and some freedom from the drudgery and tiredness that comes from having to do everything on your own all the time! If I could convey just one thing about the difficulties of being widowed, it would be on this topic. How hard and endlessly draining it becomes to have to do and have to think about everything! Even more so when there are still children at home. For me it is hard to relax or have downtime ever and over the course of years that is taking a toll. I find that even when I have an opportunity to relax that it is almost impossible to do so because I'll start worrying about some task or the boys. People just can't imagine or put their shoes into this situation. "How hard can it be?" is one response I have heard over the years. It is almost that I have become numb inside emotionally and outside physically from the constant worry, stress, stain and drain.

But I faced that light bulb squarely today and it got changed. And I'm going to try and face all the other burned out bulbs, clogged sinks, overflowing laundry baskets, flat tires, overdrawn checking accounts, bills that have to be paid, meals to be made, computers to fix, weeds to be pulled, garbage to be hauled to the curb with at least more courage and strength. I don't have to like doing all these tasks on my own but I can face them more timely and honestly. I have been hiding behind my grief over the end of my marriage and the death of my husband. There comes a time when you just can't hide behind the sorrow anymore and you have to face reality. That is where I am today - I don't like it one bit but I have to face it.

Today I am grateful:

1. That I have the ability to walk the garbage to the curb - what if my leg was broken or something worse?
2. That there is plenty of food to last through the month.
3. That I am somehow getting through all this and facing/dealing with it as best I can.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sacrifices - Or, Love is the Answer

I have just finished reading a great little book titled, "Big City Eyes" by Delia Ephron. (Delia is such a pretty name.) I picked it up some months back from the $1.00 book table at my discount bookshop. I was attracted to it because it is a mystery built around the life of a divorced woman with a teenage son facing the guilt she has over her divorce. Topics I could well relate to. The main character, Lily (another lovely name) moves out of New York City to a small, rural town to provide a safer lifestyle for her son. She ends up falling in love and having an affair with a married man with three small children. In the end, she realizes that if she stays in the town she will continue the affair and it will end this man's marriage. She does not want his children affected by divorce as her son has been affected. It is one of the reasons she decideds to return to NYC.

I like the theme of sacrifice in this book and I can also relate to that. When my Mom was dying in July, 2007 I put off my move to join my husband out of state and this decision was the catalyst for the divorce. I also had a number of strong concerns about my boys moving out of state to a larger working-class, industrial city where there was a high crime rate and gang/drug issues. So in many ways I can relate to the sacrifices Lily made for her son and then her lover. She had the strength to make them because she knew it was the right thing to do.

Examining my divorce in this way is helpful to me and reduces some of the guilt and pain I feel. My husband believed that I chose my Mom over him and it should have been the other way around. But there was no way at the time that I could have moved under the circumstances and left my Mom alone in that hospital room. Nor could I do it today. About my boys, by the time I had come around to accepting the move and the implications it would have for them, the realtionship was already over. Should I have been worried about my boys' outcome? Absolutely! If I hadn't been concerned what kind of mother would I be?

So, I can look at some of the decisions I made that contriuted to my failed marriage as sacrifices I made for the betterment of others. And looking at it all in that way makes the end of the marriage somehow less of a mistake or a waste. I acted out of deep love, care and concern for the people closest to me that had been in my life prior to my marriage.

This book had an added bonus (what a treat!) that turned out to be very healing to me. As she drives out of the small coastal town, her lover Tom, who is a cop, stops her with his lights flashing. He wants to say goodbye. Lily had not had any contact with him after she made her decision to move. I just thought that this was such a sweet and appropriate ending. Even though their relationship was over, Tom wanted to say goodbye and give her a kiss. Of course, this is in direct contrast to my husband who refused my request for a face-to-face goodbye after our mediation and then ran out the door when it was over! In a way I got the ending I wanted with him by reading this book! It made me recognize that most normal people out there would have said goodbye.

It is just interesting to me that in my life I seem to find the books I need to read when I most need them (or they find me). And I am grateful for that.

Today, I am also grateful:

2. That I still believe in the power of love and that my divorce hasn't made me cynical and bitter.
3. That I have people to love and care for in my life.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Focusing on the Present

I had a migrane today when I woke up and I realized I had been dreaming about my soon-to-be ex-husband, which I have been doing with increased frequency. I remembered that what I had been dreaming about were the "what ifs" and lost chances, how much I was at fault, etc. That was all certainly a downer and depressing. Then it was snowing quite a bit and I got to worrying about what will happen next winter when I have a job. What if the weather is snowy and lousy and I am afraid to drive because if I get in an accident I will not be able to replace the van. I was caught frantically between the past and the future, ironically, neither of which exist! My emotions were heightened and I was becoming agitated with fear. But really over what since the dimensions of past and future aren't actual? The only time that is real is the present.

Back in November when I was struggling with all of this I purchased a bracelet from the Signals catalog bearing this inscription: "Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment - Buddha." I was finding that if I could remain focused on the day or time at hand I was much less likely to become freaked out and scared. I wanted to wear the bracelet to help me stay focused on this. I also began to wear inexensive affirmation jewelry such as bracelets with the peace sign and some rings with healing crystals. Anything that could help me stay focused on what I can control and not what is out of my complete jurisdiction because it doesn't exist!

Small Accomplishments

The sink in the upstairs bathroom became clogged some days back. I told the boys I would not be able to attend to it until after the mediation because we were out of Drain-o and I just didn't want to have to focus on it. I was having enough trouble just maintaining my sanity in the days leading up to the mediation. Plus, I will admit that I do not just jump up and immediately replace that burned out light bulb. I think in a way my not attending to these household tasks is a way that I protest the death of Husband #1. He always took care of the household and yard stuff, the repairs, painting, clogged toilets, etc. I actually feel resentful when I am forced to take care of them now!

Yesterday I submitted myself to the needed task, especially after having heard that my youngest had not brushed his teeth in two days because he could not be bothered to take his toothbrush downstairs. My efforts at trying to dislodge the backup were unsuccessful so I had to get Drain-o. I became worried that the clog was too impacted and I'd have to come up with the cost for a plumber. But the first application of Drain-o worked and I was relieved.

This occurrence has meaning because for me it symbolizes that despite the end of my marriage and all this hardship that we are facing that at least the bathroom sink became unclogged. A small victory representing success even in the face of failure - a paradox so to speak. But this small victory to me represents a belief that the other clogs and hardships in our life will be eventually also fixed. And right now I need to have something to hold on to with that belief and if it can come from unclogging a bathroom sink I'm going to take it!

Identity Crisis - So Who Am I Now?

One of the reasons I have been dreading the finalization of this divorce is that now I will be forced to add the label of "Divorcee" to my already complicated persona. I liked the label of "Widow." If there is any perk at all to being a widow it is that label. Say it and it immediately garners a certain level of respect from others. It is also a relatively simple label to describe. "I am a widow." Response - "Oh, really. You are so young. How and when did he die?" This is far less complicated than what I imagine the exchange now to be. "I was a widow but then remarried and now I am a what? A widdiv? And the marriage didn't work because it was very messy and complicated because my husband had never been married and it was hard for him to accept my teenaged boys and my mom was dying when we were supposed to move to his home out-of-state, and then he got mad that we didn't move, and then I got mad because he wasn't supportive of my mom dying, and we were both stubborn middle-aged people (probably a little selfish), and it was hard for us to move from our community, and we probably got married too soon, and I didn't know he was so controlling and inflexible, and he also had a sexual disorder (but that really didn't bother me), and he refused to communicate with me or work on the marriage" and on and on and on. When you are widowed it is cut and dry. You could have had a terrible marriage but it doesn't matter. The widow title disguises that. But as someone who is now almost divorced I feel a sense of failure in addition to loss and that there is a need to explain/justify why the marriage failed.

I never really gave up my identity as a widow, even when I remarried in 2006. Because I was still living on my own the majority of my time since we had a long-distance marriage it always felt like I was still widowed. My husband commuted to our home on weekends and we spent all vacations and school holidays with him. But I never felt married and we never really cohabited together as a man and wife.

So what am I? I am not ashamed that I fell in love and remarried. I still believe in the great power of love and am proud that I took a chance on love. I would not go back and do it any other way. I remarried because I had hope and faith in the future. If I washed away my remarriage I would be getting rid of those heartfelt beliefs that I still cherish.

So I am a woman who was widowed at age 44, remarried at age 47 and divorced at 49. A widdiv. I will google the question of what you call a widowed divorcee and see if I come up with any more clever responses. But I think that I primarily view myself as a middle-aged-widow and I started calling myself Widow-in-the-Middle right after Husband #1 died.


It is like the floodgates have opened and I am being immersed in a sea of insight and understanding. I have for so long agonized over the concept of forgiveness and feeling quite certain that I would never be able to grant that to Husband #2. I read a couple of books on the topic including "Forgive and Forget - Healing the Hurts We Don't Deserve" by Lewis B. Smedes but just could not grasp the concepts involved. I reexamined this topic reading "Storms Can't Hurt the Sky - A Buddhist Path Through Divorce" by Gabriel Cohen and again could not see how it is possible to view a person's intentionally hurtful acts separately from who they are as a human being. I was unable to observe the two on their own and could only see them as connected. But having completed divorce mediation on Thursday I have since had a change of perspective. The fact that my husband lacked the courage or decency to say goodbye in person and then literally ran from the law office when the mediation was completed allows me to see him as a pretty damaged and tormented soul. My compassion for him has come out. And I can see that what he did stemmed from his inability to be able to successfully engage in relationships. It is a horible weakness but one that I would bet has its roots in very early childhood. I don't think Husband #2 has a clue what he is running from or even why - just that he has to run from the pain because he cannot face it. Gabriel Cohen talked a lot about the concept of seeing people (especially the ones who hurt us) as being just like us in that we are all just trying to escape pain and find happiness.

So finally I am understanding how it is possible to view a person's behavior as separate from who they really are - a fellow person trying to avoid pain and suffering. It is helpful for me to use metaphors when working out issues and in this case I view forgiveness as the butter you spread on a piece of bread. The more you can slather on the better! That additional butter will spread and spread and spread - to you, the person you are forgiving and ultimately others.

Out of the fog to face reality

I am not sure I even understand this but I am going to try and put it down to make some sense of it. Today, when I got up from bed it was like being released from a bad dream. That some of the fog has lifted. I do not really know where I have been the last seven months! I know I have been functioning - cooking, shopping, attending high school football games, showering, eating, sleeping, grieving, filling the van with gas, shoveling snow. But it is almost that I have been maintaining an illusion of functioning or going through the motions. The past seven months since the divorce was filed seem like some place of unreality. I think I was functioning but that only part of me was actually present in that functioning. Maybe to describe it as though I became two different parts of myself and one went into hiding and the other came out and did all the stuff that needed to be done. Looking back on the past seven months I see myself as just existing in survival mode and somehow managing to get through the days and then not remembering much of the specifics of the days or how I actually lived them. Does this even make any sense? To be half living? Maybe that was what I was doing, only letting myself experience half of what was really happening because I would not have been able to truly feel or deal with the all of it.

I certainly knew without any doubt that this marriage was completely over on July 7th but I wonder if some part of me kept that actual acknowledgment at bay until the settlement mediation on February 19th. I can only now describe this reaction as finding yourself coming to after being in a car accident for example, and looking around and surveying the damage and saying, "Now what?" I'm not sure I was capable of even acknowledging the wreckage remaining from the end of this marriage until now. It is like the dream state I have existed in (which might better be termed as not facing reality) served as some kind of protection. And without that protective shield I would not be able to now have the strength to face the damage and start picking up the pieces.

Today I am grateful:

1. That whatever state I was in the past seven months helped get me through an incredibly painful part of my life.
2. That I am doing my best to face this trying period of my life with honesty and not by running away (literally) as my husband did. Nor am I covering up my pain with drugs, alcohol or excessive intake of empty calories, although I did eat some extra French bread with lots of butter the night before mediation. And we'll just not mention that big bag of peanut M & M's that I seemed to be the only one eating around Valentine's Day - "Oh look, the bag is amazingly empty!"
3. That I am just alive! And still feeling and still living even though it hurts like hell!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Not Even A Goodbye

The mediation is over and sadly my husband refused to even say goodbye, which I requested to have an opportunity to do. So we parted without any personal contact. I was awarded (after a long, hard battle on my part) a small monetary settlement which can be put toward the past due mortgage and my upcoming tax liability. Following are some of the comments from my attorney (female) and the mediator (male). They are related here in an effort to reflect on the event and provide some much needed closure. A very close girlfriend drove me the five hour journey and sat with me during some of the non-confidential process and I'll put her comments in too.

Both my attorney and the mediator said that in the 20 years they have been practicing, they have never encountered a spouse who refused to say goodbye! My attorney said my husband refusing to do so and also for failing to communicate with me at all the past seven months was "absurd." The mediator stated my request to have an opportunity to talk to my husband, who refused because he said he would "break down" and he did not want to do so. My husband told the mediator he is still "madly in love" with me. The mediator replied that if he still had such feelings, exploring counseling should be considered. He also felt that the reason my husband gave for not seeing/talking to me was not valid. But my husband said there was "too much water under the bridge" at this point. My husband told my attorney and the mediator that he really had wanted to be married to me and be a father to the boys. My attorney later said that I am "beautiful, intelligent, well educated and have two beautiful boys." She further said that yes, I have suffered great heartache but that actually has made me more valuable of a person. She said that my husband was given the "real deal" and threw his "beautiful, ready-made family" away. She wanted to ask my husband where his manners were and what had his mother taught him? At that point she was no longer in the room with him and was not able to do so.

The mediator assured me that my husband's behavior was not a reflection of me but his issues. He said that it takes two to communicate/work on a marriage, etc. and my husband clearly didn't want to make that effort. He assured me that after surviving even greater pain (death of husband, death of mom, son being diagnosed with heart condition only one year of husband dying) that I would survive this too. My attorney praised my sense of humor and said that would help. She told me that there is a reason he got to age 50 without marrying. That as much as he craved the family life and being married, he could not get out of his narrow zone to experience that. She actually said that she felt I had been "conned" by my husband.

My friend admitted that she has no patience for the behavior of my husband and considers him damaged goods and forever broken. She wonders if his mother neglected him as a baby. She wants me to focus on cutting my losses, moving on and healing. (What a good, dear friend!)

My attorney reported that after the mediation ended, she saw my husband put on his coat and actually run from the office!

The mediator and my attorney were very sympathetic toward me and treated me with much compassion and often in a very therapeutic manner. Both agreed that this was a highly unusual case and that my husband's behavior was not typical. For example, the mediator noted that my husband was not personally engaged in the mediation process and deferred all of his responses to his attorney. That was frustrating to him because the purpose of mediation is to give power and a voice to the divorcing couple instead of the attorneys.

My thoughts:

1. Running away at the end of the mediation is such a good metaphor! He has been running from intimacy and connection the entire marriage. And this along with his failure to say goodbye is a fitting ending. It also makes sense that he was not actively involved in the mediation process and was having his attorney make the decisions because he had not been emotionally involved in the marriage.

2. He was totally unable to get outside of himself for even the five minutes it would have taken to say goodbye. He had to avoid that pain and couldn't even bear it because it was the right thing to do. I think back to all the hurt and pain I have endured on behalf of others. Five minutes is a drop in the bucket compared to nursing a husband with cancer for three years! This guy couldn't even give me that!

3. It is obvious that my husband's claims that he "madly" loves me are false. I think he thinks he loves me but his love is a false love (on the level of high school students or some cockeyed Hollywood view). Even my 16 year old son knows the decent thing to do is to break up with his girlfriend of the month in person. Truly loving someone means that sometimes we do not do what we want for ourselves, but what our partners need/want. In my opinion if he truly loved me he would have said goodbye as a final act of love toward me.

4. In the end, I drew my trump card which was our 100+ piece vintage glassware collection that we had amassed over the course of our marriage. I knew my husband coveted this collection and did not want to lose it. It worked in my favor but makes me totally sad that he values a collection of glassware more than the love he had for me. Another metaphor - what he wants is a beautiful collection to gaze at and admire. That collection will never talk back to him or interact with him in any way. And that is what he wants more than an actual honest-to-goodness relationship.

Today I am grateful:

1. For the kindness of others in the face of heartache (close friends, mediators and attorneys trying to make a difficult situation less painful).
2 For finally reaching a resolution to a long, drawn out situation that should never have gone on as long as it did in the first place. (The settlement I received is what I requested back in September!).
3. For knowing that what is most important is the love we cultivate through our relationships with others and that possessions can never replace that. I covet the relationships, heartache and all.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Divorce Mediation and Love

Tomorrow morning is the big day - the long awaited and dreaded divorce mediation meeting. My mood is more matter-of-fact than anything else. Having lost a spouse to death, I know only too well the importance of love, commitment and marriage. I am tremendously sad that my husband did not want to make any effort at working this relationship out. What a waste of so much! But at the same time I realize that to fight for something the other person does not want is fruitless. At this point, if he truly wants a divorce I want him to have what he wants. I hope it brings him peace. I hope for myself closure. I wish for both of us future happiness. It is my sincere intent to only bring loving-kindness into the mediation arena; to be honest, fair and understanding. I have a feeling Husband #2 will not be in the same mind frame. But no matter. I hope also to carry myself with dignity and strength. And to somehow generate love toward myself and even my husband. I am wishing myself luck!

Today I am grateful:

1. For love which is stronger than everything and will prevail even in the darkest of moments.
2. For the long journey I have survived the past seven months.
3. For all the growth and insight this situation has bestowed on me.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Juggling too many things!

I was thinking about how this blog deals with so many things - death, grief, loss, divorce, poverty, single parenting, unemployment! The list looks too daunting but it is what is going on. Sometimes I wonder if I should just post on one topic but the fact is that they are all happening simultaneously and that is my life now so separating one out wouldn't be fair to my situation. But the fact that I am juggling all these aspects of life is causing me to function in a bit of a daze. I am getting through the days but don't remember much about them. The raw grief I experienced at the end of last month and start of this one has subsided considerably. It has been replaced by great anxiety over my upcoming divorce mediation this coming Thursday. I did my best to work out a settlement outside of mediation but in the end my attorney nixed the idea and did not present my proposal to Husband #2's attorney. The job search is not going too well because I find I am not able to focus on the task being so worried about the settlement. The house situation appears to be more optimistic. My real estate attorney has been in quite a bit of contact with the lender and feels strongly that they will renegotiate my loan so I can end up staying in the home. I think once I have a definite answer about both the mortgage and divorce settlement situations that I will be able to better focus on the job search. I have a friend who told me that I would probably be handling the divorce better if my financial condition wasn't so dire. It will be just a relief to have some answers and be able to move on. When husband #1 died I knew it was over and it provided some finality. This divorce dragging on has not been good for resolving my grief - it needs to be over so I can restart my life as hard as it will be! I am reading "Storms Can't Hurt the Sky" by Gabriel Cohen which describes the Buddhist perspective through divorce or any loss/change for that matter. I want to complete it by Thur. so I can be in a less angry/vindictive tone when mediating. I was going to do a post on how hard it is to get through Valentine's Day when you are alone, but since that day has already passed I will let it be. There was too much going on in my life for me to pay much attention to that day anyway. I did watch the Adam Sandler movie "Reign Over Me" about a grief stricken widower who lost his wife, three daughters and dog in the 9/11 Tragedy. There need to be more movies that deal with severe grief/loss issues in a compassionate and real manner.

Today I am grateful:

1. That human beings have the capacity to endure and survive great loss.
2. That there are writers and movie producers willing to take risks and address the unpopular/scary subjects of grief and loss.
3. That I have more sense and maturity than Husband #2 and my action in reading "Storms Can't Hurt the Sky" will somehow positively affect the mediation.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Feeling the Pain

Over the past two weeks I have gone from feeling gut retching pain and sobbing numerous times daily to what I feel now, which is a dull constant ache that is always just under the surface. I think the deep seeded pain had a lot to do with grief over the loss of husband #1. Hard to believe that even five years later there would still be significant pain - for all those folks who think you get over the grief with time I just want to say that is not how it works. Now I believe that the pain I am experiencing has much to do with the anxiety of not knowing what is going on with the divorce/mediation/settlement as well as the loss and sadness accompanying the divorce.

There is such a feeling of loss and rejection surrounding the breakup of my second marriage. It is like I am stuck and cannot get past the fact that the boys and I were treated so cruelly. Husband #2 whom I would like to refer to as the schmuck, the scoundrel or the cad (or some combination of all three) in July had just spent five days with me (making love, buying me gifts, sitting through a pedicure for me, attending a Fourth of July party with friends) when less than 24 hours later he informed me over the phone that he had filed for divorce and hung up on me. To better put this in perspective, this is two weeks before the boys and I are planning to move out of state to join him. After that point we had virtually no contact until our first divorce hearing which was on October 30. The cad knew I had no money and no job. He left us financially destitute and I later learned (on Oct. 30) that he had spent his summer months going on two vacations and checking out car dealerships so he could replace his Lexus and get a Toyota Highlander SUV.

The fact that there was no communication from him in saying goodbye to me or the boys hurts beyond imagination. That the scoundrel did not care enough about the institution of marriage or me to act in a respectful and mature manner in which he could tell me his feelings/intentions face-to-face rather than the cop out way he took over the phone and long distance.

I did not contact him after being told about the divorce because this was not the first time he had acted in this way. He originally filed for divorce in January, 2008 and also cut off all communication with me, etc. In fact, at that time he did not even tell me he had filed - I eventually found out by calling the courthouse. During the three week period that January before we reconciled, the schmuck refused to answer my calls, did not respond to my letter, hung up on me when I did get him on the phone and failed to call me as he had said he would so we could discuss the situation. He was controlling in telling me that he would only give me five minutes to talk (that was one time). And I hate to admit it but this same thing also happened in July, 07 when my mom was on her death bed. We were actually supposed to have moved July, 07 but my mom was hospitalized with colon cancer from June 15 until she died on August 15. She and I were extremely close and the move out of state got put on hold as I attended to her final days and then the memorial arrangements.

That time, the fing schmuck, scoundrel, cad just failed to show up over the Fourth of July weekend after we had made plans to do so. Then after not showing nor telling me that he was not coming, he refused to talk to me so I had no idea what was going on. He hung up on me or did not answer the phone. I was a basket case at this time - I knew my mom was dying and that situation was hard enough - but to top it off with a husband acting like an immature, selfish ass really took the cake! I needed him with me at that time for support, encouragement and love. Eventually, in desperation I had a girlfriend of mine who had become close to him call and after a two hour conversation he ended up coming for the weekend a day late. I suppose I dismissed his behavior because I was so caught up with the situation involving my mom. But only two months later in Sept. he did it again when I had to clean out/clear out my parent's home with only two weeks advance notice. I'll spare you the details of how stressful that was and to top it off asshole scoundrel, schmuck, cad made it far more painful by griping about not being able to go out to dinner, or that I was not paying enough attention to him. I patiently explained that the last weekend of clearing out the large four bedroom home was only that, a weekend and begged for his sympathy/support. In the end, he could not provide that and sat at the dining room table reading a news magazine with a scowl on his brow as I packed boxes and loaded the car.

So you can see with a history of similar behavior that in July, 08 I said enough is enough and would not put myself in a position to be controlled and put down by the fing asshole, scoundrel, schmuck. cad. Basically, as I feel it, this guy used and abused all three of us and in the end flushed us down the commode as a used piece of bath tissue. That is really how I feel. And describing yourself as a used piece of bath tissue wiped by someone's filthy asshole is not a good thing. To feel that way about yourself is pretty much the lowest of low feelings. That is where I am right now praying that the divorce will become finalized so I can stop having to think about the fing asshole, schmuck, scoundrel, cad ("FASSC")!

Per the advice of my attorney I submitted a mediation settlement proposal in the hopes we could finalize things without mediation and the additional strain, cost, stress. I have not heard back from my attorney as to the outcome of that (it has been well over a week and I have already left two messages with the paralegal). The settlement would have to be finalized 10 days before mediation on 2/19 so I think at this point it is too late to expect not having to mediate. I do hope to hear some kind of status today because I am getting to the point where I cannot concentrate on everyday matters and I have not been eating healthy.

So today I am going to make more of an effort to focus on staying strong and away from the junk food because the FASSC is so not worth my even gaining a pound or a pimple! At least writing this all down has given me some clarification as to what an non-supportive, selfish, immature, demanding, controlling, non-communicative, narcissistic man I married. Oh, did I mention that he also suffers from Retarded Ejaculation but with him it was a pretty severe case as he had never had an orgasm with a woman ever - not through manual, oral, anal or vaginal stimulation. It was very difficult for him to orgasm even on his own and he typically had to view porn to be able to do so. And I might add that he could only come standing up which I always found interesting because when I come I become weak in the knees so I can't imagine only being able to stand. He just couldn't come with a woman present. We did have a sexual relationship together including intercourse - everything but his ability to orgasm. Which did make me sad at times because it didn't seem complete and I so wanted him to experience what he is supposed to in the way that is natural.

Part of my anger or should I say rage over this divorce was that I made a huge sacrifice in marrying him but did so because I did love and accept him despite the sexual dysfunction. I was willing to live with it but of course hoped that once we were actually living together that it would improve or that we could seek sex therapy together. Anyway, the meanness of his personality is far more detrimental to me than the lack of his sexual response. I do not believe that he is gay but I do know that he does not feel a need to be in a relationship evidenced by going five years between relationships and sex and having had very few relationships even in high school and college. I have since found some research describing men with this condition as also suffering from Attachment Disorder and it would appear that there is a correlation between the two with the FASSC - his inability to be empathic and supportive; his lack of communication skills and abilities; and the sexual issues.

I should be grateful that we didn't move and the relationship ended when it did. But this still all hurts and I feel as though part of me has died inside. It is not the kind of thing you can discuss with anyone other than close friends - "Oh yeah, one of the reasons my marriage failed is that my husband suffered from Retarded Ejaculation and Attachment Disorder." The other crummy thing about all this is that the FASSC in an effort to save face has made me into a monster to divert the attention and responsibility away from him and I don't like to be thought of as someone I'm not by his friends, family and coworkers - and I think even himself. In order to disengage from the marriage he needed to make me this way - what a fing asshole, schmuck, scoundrel, cad!

I hope that since this has all been put down in this way that I can feel some release and freedom from the intense pain that has been gripping me the past months. That in the next few weeks I can experience greater hope and optimism.

Today I am grateful:

1. That we had a weather warmup and most of the snow is gone!
2. That the milk carton has an expiration of 2/21 which is two days after the scheduled mediation - so that is evidence that there will be some kind of resolution in the near future.
3. That I would never conduct myself in the manner the FASSC has and that I have raised my boys to be more loving and kind than the FASSC ever will be.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Get a Grip!

I read a lot (or I try to) and I would list reading as one of my hobbies when I can squeeze in a moment of free time. The entire first year following my husband's death, I chose to only read novels that contained in them a character's death. It did not need to be the main character or the subject of the book but there had to be some mention of death within the pages. I grew tired of only reading depressing stories after about a year and was able to move on to other topics. But even now, I would say that I tend to read more novels focused on death than the average person. I have just devoured a fantastic read by Sue Miller who also wrote "Missing Mom," which I read as a tribute to my mother last May (in honor of Mother's Day). This last book, "Lost in the Forest" sat on one of my book shelves for a couple of years. It is about a middle-aged/divorced mom who loses her second husband after he is killed in a horrific fluke accident when a car hits him. I find it interesting that the book spoke about the grief involved with divorce and death so it was a totally appropriate read for me. The descriptions of grief and loss are so accurate, unlike other novels where the writer seems not to have had any actual experience with such emotions.

What really struck me was a passage that I am going to put down here.
Eva is the mom and Daisy is her teenaged daughter. Their exchange is on p. 178 of my paperback copy.

[As they turned onto Kearney Street and approached their house, Eva said abruptly, "Sometimes I can't stand it."
Daisy, who had been thinking about happiness, about Duncan, about sex, was startled. "Can't stand what?"
Eva was quiet for a moment. "Can't stand how hard it seems, how complicated it is - life - without John." Then, passionately, "I hate coming home, sometimes. I hate it."
"God, Mom." Daisy felt that she was being blamed somehow, accused. That Eva wouldn't be saying this to her unless she was still angry. That her mother's sorrow was connected to her, to all that she didn't do, couldn't be, for her. And what this produced in Daisy was the impulse to turn away. She simply couldn't add her mother's sorrow or confusion or anger to her own. She didn't have the strength to carry any more than she felt she was carrying.
"Get a grip," she said, and went ahead of her mother up the walk to the lighted house.]

There is something that strikes me to the core in this beautifully written exchange between mother and daughter. I think it has such an impact on me because over the past week I too have been saying, "I just can't stand how hard it is anymore" in reference to the pain, heartache, stress and confusion I too feel. The "Get a grip" response is one that is so like a teenager and as I have two, I could also identify with it. But really what I have personally found is that the "Get a grip" reply is how most of the world has looked on my situation. As if my friends and family, like Daisy, cannot add to their own personal burdens and it is almost easier to blame the grieving person for not being able to handle it than offer a comforting gesture.

My big problem with all of this is that I just don't know how to "Get a grip." I am overwhelmed and down and feeling tremendous pain. It would be good if all those who tell me to "Get a grip" would follow it with some advice on how I'm supposed to do that. I guess in the end it is just putting one foot in front of the other, or tackling one project at a time. For me this phrase conjures up an image of me trying to get a grip on a big, fat rope but that my hands just keep slipping down. We're supposed to be getting a grip but no one is there holding the rope for us.