Monday, August 31, 2009

$7.00 Dinner

A day before payday and $7.00 left for dinner. Went to the grocery store and wandered up and down the aisles for inspiration. $7.00 is just not enough. Nothing was inspiring me. I went to my favorite section of the store (the discounted meat they put out in a small area) and the only thing they had that looked okay was a package of ground pork for $1.99. After wandering around some more, I hurried back for that package with a plan to incorporate it with items already in the pantry. I also picked up a loaf of garlic bread which was $2.99. I could have gotten a loaf for $2.50 but got the one my family prefers. Had $2.00 left and wanted to get some kind of cookies for the boys for dessert. Nothing for that amount in the cookie/cracker aisle. I checked out the slice and bake varieties and got one of those although it was $2.50. I actually had to dig on the bottom of my purse to come up with the change for the tax!

So, what did I end up making? A great homemade spaghetti sauce with two cans of Italian style tomatoes to which I added onion, garlic, pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, olive oil, Parmesan cheese and salt. Simmered for 30 minutes and served with some Italian green beans and the garlic toast. Now I'll make the chocolate chip cookies. Warm from the oven and with glasses of milk that will be a nice finish to the meal.

The boys were very approving of my sauce and went back for seconds. Although we had meals out on Thur. and Sun., the rest of the weekend we made do with turkey hot dogs and chicken patties. It feels good to be thrifty, resourceful, creative and a decent cook when I do cook.

Today I am grateful:

1. For the sound of crickets at night this time of year.
2. For the Recession-busting lower prices at the stores. The manager at the Chicago-area chain I was at today made an announcement over the intercom and said that they are trying to help with the lower prices because of the tougher times we're ALL facing. I liked that all-inclusive acknowledgment.
3. For being able to feed the boys another month.
4. For cool sheets and pillow cases but a warm comforter on top.
5. For kids who tell you they've finished their homework.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

50th Birthday

I turned 50 on Thursday and here is a rendition of that day because it turned out pretty well, considering. I don't normally pay a lot of attention to birthdays but felt that this day deserved some, especially because of all that has happened in the past years. The mere fact that I have gotten through some pretty trying life experiences deserves some recognition. I do want to add to this celebration by doing some activities for myself when time and money permit. I've been composing a list of 50 Things to Give Myself, which include activities like treating myself to a movie out (or even a video at home), going bowling, etc. I'll devote more time to that after the sale of the house and move.

Thursday -
Since I worked until closing at the store and didn't get home until 11:30 on Wednesday and then to bed at 2:00 in the morning, after getting the boys off to school I allowed myself to go back to bed and awakened at 10:00. Now sleeping in is such a rare treat that it felt very luxurious to do so! Then I showered and dressed in a nice outfit from my less financially strained days - an outfit from Talbot's of cotton madras casual blazer with denim walking shorts. I wanted to look nice on this day and dressing up a bit did that for me.

I hit our cute, quaint downtown to visit two shopkeepers I've befriended over the years. I haven't seen them all summer and had to catch up with them about selling the house, moving and all. It was also nice to browse at the Yarn Shop and Antiques Store. Another customer at the yarn shop (it was her 30th b-day) exclaimed that I do not look 50, which is true. I've held up pretty well physically - something I find amazing because there has been a lot of stress in the years since my husband's death. My oldest shared at his school lunch table that I was 50 and his friends said, "No way, she only looks 38!" At least I have that going for me!

I dropped off some bags at the local resale shop and also checked out their merchandise. Then I went for a browse at JoAnn's and Michael's. Didn't buy anything but got the free project sheets and an idea to make a blanket out of scarves. I then browsed at the Used Bookstore and did put out 50 cents for a back issue of Country Living Magazine, the big purchase of the day!

I did some grocery shopping to tide us over the weekend and included in the cart a variety of cupcakes. I hesitated on a cake. The cupcakes would be easier to share with my girlfriend and her family at dinner. Some of the cakes looked so tasty though. Maybe I will get one after we've moved and are settled a bit. That will be cause for another celebration.

My girlfriend picked the boys and I up at six and took us out for dinner along with her three kids. She was very insistent in wanting to treat all of us together since she and I frequently go out on our own. The kids all wanted to go to Chili's but it was very crowed as were all the restaurants around the mall area. We couldn't get over how jammed the parking lots were. But as I've noted before, in this town there just doesn't seem to be a recession or people hurting financially!

We ended up at a Mexican Restaurant, not my first choice but as my oldest consoled, "Mom, you'll get a drink so it'll be okay." And it was. Everyone had plenty to eat and we indulged in the chips and salsa asking for seconds. I was given a big desert on the house, which I shared around the table. My girlfriend gave me a lovely card and a gift certificate for $50.00 from Kohl's. She said she hoped I'd buy some clothing for myself. We laughed about both of us needing new bras. I've gone a year with really only one good one. She did the same the past year with two pretty old ones until her daughter saw them and insisted she get new ones at Victoria's Secret.

When I thanked my friend for her kindness and generosity, she reminded me of everything I've done over the past years for her and others. She said I am one of the most generous people she knows and I deserved her gift. It was nice to hear those words and to be reminded of things I've done in the past that have been forgotten.

After dinner, it was funny when the time came to pass around the cupcakes and I discoved that the kids had already eaten the cookie and cream ones while we paid the bill at the restaurant!

I am embarrassed to admit that throughout the day I harbored hopes that my ex-husband would send good wishes of some kind. He is the kind of guy who would have presented me with 50 roses in a bouquet. The last email correspondence I had from him was on July 23rd. There was no contact which was bittersweet for me. I know for me that it is personally agonizing to say goodbye to anything - be it a relationhip or possession. I have difficulty throwing newspapers out if I haven't yet read them! And my therapist and I have discussed how the issues of my second marriage and ex-husband tie in so closely with my family-of-origin background that I still struggle with. Wrapped up in all of this is the fact that my ex-husband and I never spoke until recently about the divorce. He filed for divorce without telling me (I had to find out by calling the court house in his county). He also never said goodbye to my sons. So on one hand he would have given me an extravagant 50th birthday gift, but is unable to communicate which is of course far better to have in a relationship than any object.

But I guess the point of my honest admission here is that despite my trying to make the best of the day, there were still some ghosts from the past haunting me. Yet, I was able to put them aside and fashion out a day that was significant and meaningful, plus fun on this milestone birthday. I should add that my brother called me and left a voice message on my cell phone when I was out and about. I did not hear it ring or would have spoken with him. My sister had sent me a birthday card the day before.

The memories of Thursday continue to glow in my heart so in the end no roses were necessary.

Today I am grateful:

1. That the boys seem to have settled back into school successfully.
2. That the appraisal and survey have been completed and all is on track for the house closing.
3. For the new front of cooler weather we're having - thank goodness this summer was a cooler one. (I prefer colder weather but NOT the SNOW).
4. For the rainy day on my birthday. The rain just has a beauty of its own.
5. For all that my friend did for me to celebrate a milestone birthday.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Feeling Sorry For Myself

I got to thinking about this topic after reading the post of a widow who has an advice type blog, which I read. She has a tough love, Dr. Phil kind of attitude in regard to widows feeling sorry for themselves. Although I try to get through my days in as positive frame as possible, there are moments that I do allow myself to feel tragically sorry for myself. And what of it? Why is it such a big deal for widows to have periods of being down about their situations?

I remember my second husband getting terribly annoyed with me for griping about the hardships of my life. Then, my therapist kindly pointed out that I was merely describing my day, which I had a right to do. It just so happened that my days were filled with a lot of hardship. Merely relating them to him was not actually griping, which he took it to be. But anyway, say I had been doing so - why is that looked upon so negatively by the general population? Why are widows supposed to be able to constantly rise above their situations and present themselves to the world as stalwart survivors?

Some days it would be nice to put aside the strength and smiles and show my true self to the world. I'd skip the shower, throw on rumpled clothing and present a grim and glum demeanor. That is sometimes how I feel inside even when there is a smile on my face.

I guess I just don't understand why the widowed can't be allowed the indulgence of some occasional self-pity. The world hasn't been lining up at my door offering much compassion or understanding. And it seems to me from the blogs I read here, that those widowed are doing their best to get through their days. Some days may be better than others but all are trying to live bravely on.

What is so bad about self-pity anyway? I haven't come across anyone whom seems mired in it. Why would people be against the widowed providing themselves a little empathy? "Poor me." I am poor right now in spirit and wealth. Why should I pretend otherwise? Yes, I am grateful for what I have but I also have a right to be despondent over what I don't.

I'm raising this topic because I have found on my widowhood journey that the world hasn't provided much sympathy and I have been criticized for "not getting over it sooner" and complaining too much about my life as a widow, etc. It is actually one of the reasons I wanted to start blogging - so I could have more contact with others in my situation.

It is interesting that the woman whose blog started my thoughts about this ended one of her posts by stating that so many of us widows seem to need outside validation for what we are feeling. I agree with her on this that I have felt that way. I have needed and wanted to connect with other widows to know that my feelings haven't been out in left field or that I've been unreasonable/crazy. But she makes the point that none of us should need this validation. Our feelings are what they are and we should not dismiss them or not hold them to be true unless someone else agrees with them.

So on that note, I am going to take her line of reasoning (whether it ends up being contradictory or not) and say to myself that self-pity is okay. It is where I am. I have a right to feel it. And to even wallow in it! When I compare what other women fret and moan about (chipped manicures, not being able to match up curtains exactly to the furniture slipcovers) I think I'm way entitled.

Today I am grateful:

1. For the rainy weather today. I love the rain as much as the sun. I think the rain slows us all down a bit and that is needed in our lives once in awhile.
2. For the cooler temperature.
3. For Brown-Eyed Susan flowers.
4. For the fall mums being planted at places of business and even at the high school. They brighten my day even in the rain.
5. For having enough gas in the tank to get to work and back today (I hope - payday isn't til tomorrow).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another Casualty

On Saturday at work, I ran into the male half of a married couple my husband and I knew. When I remarried, I invited them to my wedding, although they did not attend. Our kids were in the same classes and my husband coached youth athletics with the dad, while I volunteered at the holiday school parties with the mom. She stopped by my home just a few days before my husband died to offer her support. A few years later, we sat at the pool and I listened to her as she spoke about some marital disappointments. She shared the story of a college friend of hers who'd been widowed and then remarried and that gave me hope.

The dad is a successful and popular civic leader in our community. He knew about my foreclosure. So when we saw each other at the big box store where I work, I mentioned that I appreciated his kindness and tact in regard to that matter. I briefly explained about my divorce. He asked how the boys were doing. I inquired in kind and was taken aback when he told me that he and the wife had divorced in 2008. I experienced a range of reactions. Of course, some shock and sadness. But I was also a little suspect at his version of the story. I immediately wondered if his power and wealth contributed to the divorce. When I asked if he is dating, he admitted to seeing a woman who is the mom of one of his son's friends. Hmmm, I wondered...

The other reaction that I also felt immediately was "Finally, someone in our community who has also had to face a rough time in life!" My hardships have been difficult to face in part because of the insulated community in which I live. It is a charming, quaint town with little evident poverty. Mostly upper-middle class and above. Most women do not work outside the home even in today's day and age. When my second husband first came to visit me, he could not believe the number of luxury cars and SUVs being driven. A sale's clerk at the local Talbot's women's clothing store told me she has nicknamed our town "Mecca." Although I am sure I cannot be the only one facing financial problems that resulted in me having to sell my home, I have not known anyone personally in this position, except for my newly divorced friend. So along with my widowhood being very isolating, so too have been the other complications of my life - lack of family support, the divorce, etc.

The dad was buying three cartloads of household items and I wondered if he is redecorating because of a new level reached in his romantic relationship. I thought about all that this couple had faced together - they were teenage sweethearts and each supported the other throughout college. After school, they dealt with infertility, adoption, serious health problems and their share of aging parent issues. The mom is a few years older than I am. Dad got custody of the kids. My mind flashed to a scene from our kids' grade school days. The mom and I were picking up our children from school and I saw her oldest run into her waiting, open arms. They were smiling and laughing and I was so struck by the apparent love between them that that moment has remained etched in my mind all these years.

I know now that there is another mother out there hurting and in pain over a life she expected to have that didn't end up as planned. I cannot imagine her distress over not seeing and being with her children on a daily basis. My mind flashes to another image of her in the craft store as we shop for Halloween favors for our children's school parties. Her son is seated in the cart; another memory - the adoring look in her eyes as she brushed the hair off her other son's forehead in the bleachers at a little league baseball game.

I will have to call one of her closer friends to try and contact her, invite her to lunch. I will share my story of woe but offer to listen to hers and to try and comfort her in some small way.

I am almost ashamed to admit that this family's hardship has made me feel better. I know that I am not the only one in this land of Mecca that is experiencing tremendous loss and change. God help all of us middle-aged parents facing the tulmultuous changes brought on by death, divorce, financial hardship, illness and sandwich generation problems. Don't pass us by because we are living in a community where so many are fortunate and problems seem to be faced by so few.

Today I am grateful:

1. For seeing yellow school buses again.
2. For the way the shadows of the leaves were dancing across my comforter this morning.
3. For the lovely breeze ruffling the leaves on the trees outside in the warm sunlight.
4. For graham crackers with peanut butter.
5. For s'mores.

Monday, August 24, 2009


This week the boys start back to school; the dumpster is getting delivered tomorrow so we can start really clearing out the house/garage; and I turn 50! Is it ironic or perhaps not, that just as I turn 50, I am moving and really facing the start of a new life? Just interesting that the two coincide so closely.

I read a post today by another middle-aged widow, the topic being that you cannot rush the grieving process. It is individualized and also dictated by so many other circumstances. I can totally agree with her observation. But at the same time, here are these milestones glaring in my face telling me that the world is moving on and it is time for me too to make those steps.

I continue to be filled with regret that I was unable to move to my second husband's home at the time we had originally planned. Both of my parents were in the hospital during that summer and at one point we thought both were going to die, although my father recovered. I had workmen in the house fixing it up, was trying to parent two active early-adolescent boys on my own and had my new husband on my back for not being able to get it all together fast enough.

With some perspective and time behind me now, I realize that I just could not add the emotional and physical stress and stain of moving out-of-state to my already over brimming plate. I tried to explain that to my husband and begged him for his patience and understanding as I grappled with clearing out my parent's home after my Mom's death. He couldn't get it and filed for the divorce that January. But here I am now, at a different place with so many of those emotional hurdles gone. If only he had hung in there with me and realized that eventually I'd reach the point I'm at. I could not rush, bypass or fast forward the process from two summers ago to now.

It is all such a balancing act - remaining true to who you are and strong in the face of others who want you to move the heck on according to their time table. For me it wasn't that I didn't want to start a new life then - I would have given anything to have taken the easier way out to a less stressful life. But I just couldn't tie up all the pieces. Some of it no doubt was my reluctance to start a new life in a totally new community away from everything I'd known with my husband. I do know that if my parents hadn't been so ill, my ability to make the move would have been so much easier. There was just too much burying me under from the past - all the childhood stuff and my husband's death on top of the serious health issues of my parents.

So here I am today, emotionally in a far better place to make the move from my home of 18 years, although the circumstances are so drastically worse. Go figure! The twists and turns of life. Although the world goes on, until you're at a place where you can jump in, it is just kind of a period of treading water or moving along with the flow of the current. And that is an okay place to be, although so many out there don't get this, including my ex-husband.

Today I am grateful:

1. For the friends who have stood beside me on this journey.
2. For the gorgeous late summer weather.
3. For the opportunity to have an apricot flavored ice cream cone from a place that has 24 odd flavors of soft serve ice cream.
4. For that brief period of back-to-school excitement before the grueling academic year sets in.
5. For the new slate the new school year seems to inspire.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Emptying Closets

Somewhat of a rough day spent clearing out some closets and transporting the contents to the storage shed. Yesterday, I took eight bags of children's books to the resale shop. As I went through the playroom closet, I did feel some relief that at least my boys were not deprived of books or toys when they were little! I came across the random note written by my first husband and the preschool homework he had helped our oldest with. The assignment was to find items beginning with the letter "U" and glue them onto a piece of paper. Knowing that he had worked with my son on this hard letter (they used umbrella and a flag for USA) touched me all these years later. Of course I set these memories aside and will put them with my scrapbooks.

My mood throughout the day was sad and melechony. I decided to do the closets and to delay the real packing as long as I can so as not to make the house look like a disaster zone. I wish I were a stronger person who could say that moving into an apartment doesn't upset me and that a home is what you make it and all of that. But the fact is, I do feel as though I have lost a social status symbol and that I have become less of a person because I will be living in an apartment. Maybe I need to look at it from another perspective that I wasn't a better person for being able to live in a house all these years, just more fortunate than some others.

I hired a moving company and also found a short-term Certified Nursing Asst. program in the area starting for five weeks on 10/26 at an affordable cost of $600.00. I need to make a decision to register soon as this program will also fill up quickly. The thought of taking the months of Sept. and Oct. to clear out the storage sheds, organize our new home and have a period of self-reflection sounds very good to me right now. And to know that by the start of the new year I can be in a better position to find full-time employment also is a soothing thought.

The boys start school next week and it is a challenge to deal with all of the emotional stuff in moving and to keep it fairly together for them. Somedays that is what I tell myself to make it through - that I have to focus on them because if I don't, no one else will. For me, it is this aspect of widowhood that has been the most difficult - the "only" parenting. If I accomplish one thing with this blog, I hope it is to inform the general population that being an only parent is unbelievably tough. The day-in and day-out of being the only one worrying about the kids and doing the hands-on parenting. At least divorced parents share the parenting responsibilities to some extent and there is time off when the other parent has visitation. I think most people don't realize how draining being an only parent is because there is never a break and the longer you've been an only parent, the more exhausted you are (physically and emotionally!). I will get off my soapbox for now. I just know that for me dealing with this move and the sale of my home would be so much more tolerable if I were facing it with a partner/husband.

Today I am grateful:

1. For the fall-like cool weather.
2. For the tinge of red I noticed starting in the leaves of some of my bushes.
3. For the hardy mums being sold at the grocery store - I'll get a big one for the balcony of my apartment when we move.
4. For the rain today which cleared the air and made it feel so refreshing.
5. For umbrellas and our country's beautiful flag.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Eroded Foundation

I am working on packing up the house and keep reflecting on how the beliefs I once held so strongly were just illusions.

- I believed that when you marry and take the wedding vows, that it does mean forever. I stood by my husband's side during his three-year battle with cancer. Never would I have even considered for a moment leaving him because of "hard times." Yet that is exactly what my second husband did. And he made the decision to divorce me without even discussing it or saying goodbye to either me or the boys. So much for that speech he gave during our wedding about being a real "Father" to "Our" sons, as he referred to them.

- I believed that family stands by you (emotionally) through thick and thin. That if you are ever in need of a warm embrace, place to stay, forgiveness, support or hot meal that your family will not turn its back and pretend/ignore that your life is not falling apart.

- I believed that if you are a good, kind, caring, decent person then good things will come your way, not "excessive" hardship and challenge. All of us have to face difficulties, but it just seems that it gets worse and worse for me. My husband dying was enough. I don't want to bear any more grief and loss.

- I believed that a strong, college education could always be relied on to support oneself - there would always be decent jobs if you have a master's degree. But try looking for a job when you haven't done so for 10 years, you can't seem to get the hang of applying for jobs online, you have been a full-time "only" parent the past five years, you've lost touch with your professional contacts, you're not up to speed in your field professionally and THERE IS A RECESSION GOING ON so the only jobs you've been offered are for part-time hours without benefits.

- I believed that in middle-age, I would be financially stable and secure not on the brink of bankruptcy and contemplating taking a certificate program of some sort to obtain relevant job skills in today's economy/market.

- I believed that having grown up in a middle-class childhood home that I would never face foreclosure or having to live in an apartment at the age of 50.

- I believed that I would not have to start over from the bottom, 25 years after graduating from college, in worse shape financially, emotionally and physically.

20 years ago, I would never have believed that my first husband would die leaving me a middle-aged widow with two school-aged sons to raise on my own. Nor when I remarried three years ago, would I ever have believed the tragic and agonizing outcome of this marriage. This whole period of my life seems surreal, like a nightmare. I almost feel like I am being sucked down a whiling drain in a bathroom sink. I can almost feel the physical sensations of going down that drain opening. Or I can also picture it as being eaten alive by a prehistoric monster of some sort. Or being sucked into the undertow of the ocean. Or how about the analogy of waking up one day to a world that you're unfamiliar with. All of what you've believed and held to be true no longer exists. The foundation of your soul is shaken. You don't know what to expect anymore. The rules changed without your knowledge. Suddenly you've lost your footing, fallen and you honestly don't know how to get sense of security and safety back.

After this rather dramatic and unappealing ending here I have to go now into my list of what I'm grateful for. Today I hardly feel like compiling my list. And it seems so abrupt to go from negative to positive but I've been making an effort to keep this list up so won't stop now.

Today I am grateful:

1. For the drops of rain I saw shimmering on the bushes in front of my picture window this morning.
2. For the cooler autumn like weather we are having again.
3. For my hanging baskets of flowers in the front lawn. They are full, lush and colorful.
4. For the fact that I have possessions to move into a new residence - some people lose everything in natural disasters.
5. For knitting, which provides me with such a creative and comforting outlet.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Game Face

As we gear toward selling the house and moving, I am doing my best to put on and wear my game face. I suppose it is a good thing that I have had to go to my retail job over the summer. Granted, it is not a job in my field but it has forced me to interact with the world, manage my time and learn new skills. I can look at it as a training period for my next job which will hopefully be full time and in my field. It may also be possible that working has helped elevate my mood and forced me to keep on going when it would have been so much easier to mope, brood and cry around the house.

The timing of my husband's death prevented much self-pity or even sufficient grieving. The boys were only nine and ten and required too much of my time and attention. All of the whirlwind events that followed, also prevented any real opportunity for self-reflection or healing. I spent what little free time there was caring for others. In a sense I do feel like I was cheated out of a mourning period. And that has caused its own issues because when my second husband filed for divorce, I think the full extent of my grief over everything from the past hit me far harder than it would have, had I had a chance to deal with the older losses when they'd occurred.

As it stands now, there is a huge pit in my stomach and I hurt and I am scared. I am still dealing with the utter sadness and betrayal I feel from the situation with my second husband. I just can't dismiss these feelings - I am still in pain. The agony of my failed second marriage is tied in with all of the anguish I feel about my husband's death, the hardship of being an only parent, my parent's aging issues, my Mom's death, the estrangement from my siblings and the financial issues. All in all, when I review the past seven years, it is all such a dark, gloomy, trying and utterly bleak period of suffering. For me, there has been a huge struggle in having had to deal with so many tragedies. It was not just my husband's death - it morphed into multiple losses and heartache. I am also understanding that my second marriage symbolized a new beginning and hope for me - when it crumbled, my faith and hope in the future seemed to also vanish.

So as the clock clicks down to our closing date on September 8, I am doing my best to face the world and this new loss. But while the game face I am presenting may hide to the world my inner turmoil, it is churning and churning deep inside me.

Today I am grateful:

1. For shelter from the elements and food in the pantry.
2. For my education - no one can ever take that away from me.
3. For baked beans - there is not a more tasty, cheap filling food out there in a can.
4. For the power of music to lift the spirit.
5. That my boys have many friends and are socially adjusted.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Strangers Sent to Lead Me

Every day at work I seem to be interacting with people who are meant to come to my cashiering station. Last week I met and spoke at length with two women my age. One had sold her home in California and moved to my town. She and her husband are both out of work as a writer and art director/event planner, respectively. The proceeds from the sale of their home are depleting rapidly and they fear there will not be enough for a down payment on a home when they become reemployed. This woman came to my register and explained that the curtains she was purchasing were because she had to do something to spruce up the rental home they are now living in. She was apologetic for living in a rental. As we talked and I shared my circumstances, she acknowledged that there is no need for her to even mention that she lives in a rental home. Who cares, anyway?

The second woman I met last week is in foreclosure and has decided to "walk" away from her situation and just hand over the keys. She is boldly moving to North Carolina where she knows no one. Her youngest of four children is going to be a Junior in college and she feels as though she held on as best she could. She is also out of real work and doing some sort of work for a woman (house sitting I think). The income she is getting is being hidden so it could be that she may be considering bankruptcy as well.

Today, I spoke with a woman my age moving into an apartment with her two kids (she has 3 ages 20, 15 and 12) after a divorce.

All of these women inspired me to face my situation with grace and dignity. I am not the only one facing change due to loss and hardship. Others are out there and adapting as best they can. As will I. The circumstances I am in can seem very isolating. Working again and interacting with many different people has brought others into my line of vision I never would have encountered. I feel as though these are not chance encounters but meetings meant to occur to help show me the way.

I also ran up a woman my age who is a certified nursing assistant and attended our community college. It was good to talk to her and I asked her a host of questions. My desire would be to work in a nursing home/long term care facility. She verified that it would only take me two months to complete the program and obtain a job at a pay rate of $13.00 hourly. I have decided to seriously consider this program in January if I am unable to secure a satisfactory counseling or social services job.

Lastly, my final customer was a nice middle-aged guy who spent extra time talking with me and I saw him look at my name tag to read my name. It was flattering to have his attention and know that he had made a point to see my name.

Today I am grateful:

1. For having a job, such as it is to go to.
2. For the feelings of productivity I gain from my job, such as it is.
3. For the experience this job has given me.
4. For how this job has gotten me back into the world, after a few years of being out of it when I was only taking care of my folks and not working.
5. For all of the people who touch my life, even briefly when they share their stories and experiences with me as I am waiting on them at work.

I have:

1. Tons of books (too many).
2. A running, reliable vehicle (although I do seem to get a lot of flat tires).
3. A soft bed to sleep on.
4. Enough food in my stomach.
5. A house full of things I can donate to others who can use them and even downsizing, I'll have more than enough "stuff."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Trying to Keep Out of It

My guyfriend started the new visitation schedule with his son today. Here it is: Since the ex-wife now lives six hours away in another state, every other weekend, both she and my guyfriend will drive three hours to a meeting point halfway, which is the Wisconsin Dells. Once there, the 11-year-old will then go with his dad for his weekend visit. The drive home to the Chicago area will be three hours. The ex-wife will turn around and then drive the three-hour ride back to her new home, life and husband. This is supposed to happen Friday evenings but could occur on Saturday mornings. Either way, come Sunday afternoon, my guyfriend will drive the three hours to take his son to the Dells to meet his mom. They'll do the exchange and then he'll drive the three hours home with an empty car while she'll take the boy back to his custodial residence.

That is 12 hours of driving within two days for the parents as well as this child! So far, none of the people I've mentioned this arrangement to have found it favorable. One of my friends asked, "How did the Judge ever approve of this?" Another responded with, "That's not going to last!" Still another, said my friend should be the one driving to the new town his son is living in, rent a motel and visit him there. The weather in the Dells during winter can be very snowy and icy so some of the weekends when it is cold might not pan out if storms are in the forecast.

It's funny how everyone but those involved can see the reality of the situation. My friend justifies the arrangement by saying he'll have his son on Mondays when there are holidays or school institute days. He was laid off from his job and cannot afford the expense of a motel at this time.

It is hard for me to keep my mouth shut on this matter but I am trying to refrain from being negative because I know my guyfriend is very upset over the loss of his daily contact with his boy. I cannot help but feel irritated at the ex-wife who assured my friend in March that she had no intention of remarrying soon and disrupting her son's life until he was through Junior High.

I know how hard it is to try and navigate the waters after a divorce. Onc of the positive reasons my second husband cited for being involved with a widow was that there is no ex-spouse in the picture!

More Living, Less Grieving

I started blogging as a way to process my grief and to comment on my life as a middle-aged widow who'd gotten remarried but was getting divorced and as such was going back to her widowed status. Because of a number of difficult and tragic circumstances after my first husband's death, I did not have much of an opportunity to mourn his passing when I should have, five-six years ago. This blog let me accomplish some of that delayed grieving and has also let me spout on issues I think the general public needs to be aware of (such as the fact that you don't get over grief; how tough it is to be an "only" parent; the loneliness and isolation of widowhood, etc.).

When I started blogging on Jan. 1, I hoped to connect with other widows and I figured if my efforts ended up helping even one other widow or widower in some small way, it would be worth it. I think that some people out there have gained from my words and I know that I have found much comfort in the comments, wisdom, support and advice of others. Today I read a post from a widow still new in her grief at just the year anniversary mark. But what she wrote and reflected upon had an immense impact on me. That is the beauty of this community. To be supported and gain new perspective.

What she wrote about was finding some peace in her progress at this point to not dwell so much on the pain of her loss but to focus more on the living from this point forward. She so eloquently said that she can now focus more on her husband being a part of her life and an ongoing presence rather than not being present. I was so touched and blown away by this fresh insight. I mulled it over and began to see the connections to my own life. I am still so grieving the end of my marriage to my second husband. But like death, he isn't part of my life anymore. He is gone. My continual focus and grief over this loss prevents me from focusing on the people here in my life right now - those who have not abandoned me and are interactive with me in my day-to-day affairs. That would include my boys and the small circle of friends I have cultivated.

Reading this lovely and perceptive post today gave me much to reflect on. I need to start transferring some of my grief into the present and I can do that by concentrating my thoughts and actions toward the people in my life now. It is probably time to do this. A year has passed since that fateful day last July 7 when my husband told me he had refiled the divorce and then hung up on me, not to talk with me until I next saw him in court on Oct. 30.

The other direction this took me to was that I need to concentrate more on what I have in my life and not what is lacking in it. So that will become a new focus of mine starting today.

When we compose and send a post we have no idea of the impact it may have on those it reaches.

Today I am grateful:

1. For all of those who have read and responded to my blog.
2. For the wisdom I have gained from the posts of others.
3. For sticking with this blog because it has served me in ways I never could have first believed.
4. For the widow/widower blogging community which has made me feel less isolated and crazy.
5. For the continued beautiful summer weather.

Today I Have:

1. Two wonderful, beautiful young men as my children.
2. A roof over our heads.
3. Enough food and clothing (not to mention makeup, purses, trinkets and other frivolities).
4. A computer.
5. Supportive friends either a phone call away or down the street from me.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Being Carried

This morning I had to deal with another flat tire - the third this year! I am so glad I broke down and got the insurance the tire store recommended because I did not have to pay a thing when they replaced it - the culprit was some sort of long, thin nail. My world was a bit off kilter as I had to drop plans to attend to the tire situation. It is lucky I am off from work today.

This situation just brought to mind my utter tiredness of always having to "fix" problems on my own. I know that I glorify marriage in my posts and so deeply want another opportunity to be married. I'll be upfront in admitting that I'd love to have a live-in handyman around. I'm not looking for wealth or good looks. A kind, decent guy with a little pudge around his middle would be great - one whom can communicate effectively, say he is sorry and be willing to work together when the going gets tough, instead of run away are my essentials. I miss sharing the day-to-day details of life with an adult partner and sleeping next to someone. A regular, consistent sex life would be nice too but I'll leave that subject alone for now.

Marriage provides an opportunity for personal growth as well as growing together as a couple. When married, the partners share minor set backs such as an unexpected flat tire as well as bind together during challenges. I like to look at marriage at being the best of two worlds. You get an opportunity to love and be there for someone and at the same time have someone look out and care for you.

There are times in life when we need to be carried or to lean on someone. When you are sick, it is nice to have a person in your life there for you to bring you tea and soda crackers. When you are running late from work, it is a relief to be able to call and ask your partner to start dinner or pick up the milk from the store. When you are grieving and in pain, it is a treasure to be able to have your partner lift you up in their arms and assure you that this too will pass and in the meantime you can count on their undying love, support and strength.

As I travel through the past few years which have involved so much hardship and struggle, I am at a point where I want to ask:

What happens to those of us without a support system to rely and depend on? When you are the only one lifting yourself up off the floor time and time again? Will there come a point when one just can't muster up the strength to have another go at it? Or is it human nature to keep on struggling and hopefully the calluses and bruises you've earned along the way serve as a buffer against the pain?

The early days and months of widowhood are tragic and trying. But so too is the middle of widowhood where I am. It is almost six years since my husband's death. And I am tired, weary, sad, lonely and desperately wanting someone to carry me for a little while. Just so I can catch my breath, get a good night's sleep and restore my soul a bit. In the end, it'll be up to me to accomplish that - and it is not that I'm protesting having to take responsibility and all. It just would be nice to have someone pamper me and extend some care toward me for a change. That's all - to feel as though I matter enough that someone wants to do that for me. Like what you'd hopefully come to rely on in a healthy, mutually supportive marriage.

Today I am grateful:

1. That the tire got fixed pretty quickly and effortlessly.
2. That I wasn't somewhere far from home when I noticed the flat.
3. That I paid the extra cost for the tire insurance.
4. That I have some peace of mind in the event this happens again.
5. That I once had a marriage where I felt the ways that are so lacking in my life now. It makes me know what to strive for the next time around.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lost in the Forest

I am in a brooding, frantic, fearful mood - feeling desperate and alone. I feel as though I have lost my bearings and am sinking without a life raft in sight. I spent the last few days considering educational possibilities at the local Community College. Certificate programs that could offer some full-time job potential, stability and growth. So far I am striking out on my considerations. I am looking for a program that will provide me with as much bang for the buck as possible. Both the Medical Coding/Billing and Library Technology Programs take about a year to complete. The 5-week Certified Nursing Assistant Program is full - I'd need to wait until January to enroll.

When I got my Master's in Psychology in 1997 it was never with the intention that I'd be working full-time to support a family on my own. I got it for personal development reasons and the plan was I'd work part-time while continuing to be a very hands on mom, as well as doing my volunteer work in the community. Once I got my Master's I only worked part-time jobs.

I continued with the job I had in my field for one year after my husband died. I was holding on to that suggestion that you make no major changes in your life for a year after a spouse's death. I'd been there five years and loved it! But as with most social service jobs it required that I work evenings and weekends. After a year of juggling babysitters, I quit the job (after tremendous consideration and anguish). In reality, the boys needed me and the job was more of a disruption and hindrance than what it provided back in gain. They were just too young to be on their own and had gone through too much. My plan was to take 6-9 months off cleaning up the estate and financial matters. I also wanted to spend some time on personal healing which had been neglected up to that point. Then, I'd start looking for another job with daytime hours.

But as the story goes, just a few weeks after I left my job, my youngest collapsed unconscious in a movie theater and we were thrust back into the medical world of diagnostic tests and hospitalizations as we figured out his diagnosis. He came out healthy and fine (thank God) but by that time, eight months of my "personal leave" had been taken, although I hadn't accomplished any of the goals I'd set out for myself. I became worried about money and took a part-time job in my field that had daytime hours that fit with the boys' school schedule. That was a blessing but then all the crazy care taking stuff started to come down with my parents. And after eight months I left the new job to devote more time to my folks (as well as being an only parent). Even with not working a job at that time, there were not enough hours in my day to get everything done!

So fast forward to now. I have been out of the working loop for some time. I don't even know how to use or those other job search sites. I was blown away when I found out that today you need to have pretty good computer skills to job search - the last time I really was out there looking was over 10 years ago! I feel old, washed up and in the dark. My age group (mid-life) is currently at the highest level of unemployment in the country right now. But because of my situation it is imperative that I work full-time, hopefully during the day and receive benefits. I have two boys to get through college in a few years and the responsibility of doing that completely on my own is so daunting I'm about ready to collapse.

The part-time hours at my retail job are not consistent and I work evenings and weekends. Now that school is starting I am worried about not being around to provide assistance with homework and studying to the boys. But if I didn't have this job we very well might be on the street. I had so hoped to find some light at the end of this tunnel - a short certificate program I could quickly complete so I can start full-time hours as soon as possible. Working part-time in the evening and on weekends was never a problem when my husband was alive because there was still a parent around for the boys. Now all of us seem to be so shortchanged. And the stress and strain is really taking a toll on me.

If there is anyone out there who has some suggestions they'd like to offer I am all ears. I am still debating taking an online course in the Medical Billing/Coding Program since that wouldn't interfere with working. Then I suppose my only option is to really get out there and start looking for work in my field. I found that there were not that many opportunities when I looked over the winter, which is why I took the retail job. Maybe the situation has improved?

This is just such a burden to bear on one's own. The pressure and worry that just sits with me. No one to offer hope/encouragement. Any suggestions on how to deal with this aspect of my life would also be appreciated. Right now, my only ideas are to drink more and take more Xanax - I'm only kidding (kind of).

I am connected with two job assistance agencies so I can go there after the move from our home for training on the computer. But the real reason I had hoped for a quick fix with a short certificate program was that I don't feel I'm in the position right now to be a good counselor to anyone because the amount of grief/loss on my own plate right now. I just don't feel stable enough emotionally to be able to provide support to others when I have so little to give myself and my boys.

Today I am grateful:

1. That I have a job; menial, boring and depressing as it is (I only get yelled at by the managers - that gets old pretty fast). At least it is something.
2. That it was a beautiful day and I took a short drive on my own just to get out a bit and give myself a break before work tonight. The temperature, although hot is not humid and it is so pretty this time of year with all the blooms in their full glory. I felt much better after my little drive observing nature.
3. That we have made it through all this time and I want to believe that we'll continue to make it (with food, shelter, clothing, etc.).
4. For rye bread.
5. For Vienna Sandwich cream cookies.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Pencils, Bookmarks and Moving

I recently mentioned that one of my girlfriends had gone to Pennsylvania to start cleaning out her parent's home. She spent a week there and didn't make much progress. One of her comments was that her father had all kinds of collections of things, particularly pencils. I laughed when she told me this because my father also had some hoarding issues going on. His "collections" included pencils as well. When I was clearing out his home two years ago, I came upon a bag filled with paper bookmarks. There had to be well over 500 of them! I just laughed and laughed at the discovery in that damp, dim basement. I ended up taking the bag, first of all because I found the collection hysterical. But also because I am always in need of bookmarks and now I have a lifelong supply at the ready. There are designs for every season and every holiday so I can coordinate my bookmarks to the type of book I'm reading or the weather!

I was reminded of all of this when I attended my father's care plan meeting at his assisted living facility last week. The staff leading the meeting remarked that my father seems to have an obsession about pencils and has a rapidly growing collection in his room. Apparently, whenever anyone needs a pencil they go to my father because he is sure to have one. This all made me think that who we are deep within is always there, despite where we live. I suppose this observation has given me a small measure of comfort in that even though we are soon leaving our home, our personalities, values and our funny little quirks are going with us. We won't be losing ourselves just because our address is changing. The really important aspects of our lives will be safe and sound.

Today I am grateful:

1. For the opportunity to talk to some fellow cashiers at work to get to know them better and share similar feelings/experiences.
2. That my job affords me the luxury of being able to purchase a take out meal on the weekends for the boys to enjoy when there isn't a lot of time for me to cook.
3. For the chicken wing dinner I was able to get for us (a huge change of pace for us - we seldom have wings/fries/coleslaw).
4. That the house has remained cool despite the heat wave outside.
5. That the music track at work is playing a lot of 70s and Disco favorites of mine.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Life and Solitaire

I have been playing the computer game solitaire recently, as a brief diversion when I need to take a break. As I play (with usually very terrible cards) the thought has repeatedly struck me how similar life can be to this game. Sometimes there is nothing you can do with the hand you were dealt - no amount of rearranging or manipulating the cards is going to get the hand to win. The cards dealt to you were chance, you did nothing wrong in selecting certain ones. Neither did you give up too easily. Rather, you spent some time studying the patterns and did your best to come up with new strategies to no avail.

My therapist once told me that there are times when we need to accept that it is not our fault. That we need to give up on the situation because there is absolutely nothing we can do to come out on top. The ship is sinking and to survive you need to bail. Her words were a novel concept to me. I of course, always think it is my fault and if only I can do or change one thing the situation will be restored.

But as I play this game I am reminded of her words. Sometimes no amount of rearranging the financial figures is going to make you come out ahead and the best option is to sell your home and downsize. Sometimes all of your love and devotion is going to be rejected if the person you're involved with doesn't want to be in an intimate relationship and doesn't have the skills or experience to work with you on saving it. Sometimes it honestly isn't your fault and the hardest aspect of that is to accept there is nothing you can do anymore but end the game and start a new one, which you do with hope and expectancy.

Today I am grateful:

1. For a world that is beyond what we can humanly imagine/comprehend.
2. For the belief in something bigger than ourselves, a creator/life force.
3. For the power of synchronization (fate/magic/luck) in our lives.
4. For the extreme little things we take for granted such as being able to email and play solitaire on the computer in the first place!
5. That there is always hope even after defeat.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Asking for Help

Grieving people should not be expected to ask for help - it is an unreasonable and unfair demand. I remember in the first weeks of my widowhood reading in a couple of grief manuals to ask specifically for what I wanted/needed. My thought was "Now I have to do this too?" Another job to add to the already large pile of tasks I still have to get through - completing insurance/medical paperwork, figuring out the finances, arranging the funeral/memorial services, dealing with my grief, parenting young sons also grieving... At that time having to ask for help felt like an intrusion and almost a slap to my face. But I went ahead and did it anyway. The results were far from what the grief books predicted. Instead of people saying sure they'd do this or that for me, I experienced the complete opposite with the people I asked refusing to do what I'd requested!

Here is an example (one of many and I'll only relate this one). My husband died on Oct. 25th. We live on a heavily wooded, double lot. Come fall, there is a lot of leaf raking to get through. A mom at the boy's school called me about a week after the death to bring a group of parents and kids over to do the raking. I didn't want it done for a number of reasons. For one, it was very early in the grief process for me and even the thought of a bunch of people in my yard raking was something I could not handle - I needed solitude and privacy. I kept thinking that people would need to come in to use the bathrooms and would I need to provide drinks/hot chocolate for the kids? I just couldn't handle the intrusion and at the same time wanted to do all of the raking myself. It had been a job my husband and I had shared for 11 years together and I wanted to do it with him "by my side" one last time. The thought of the physical strain/exercise in the cold autumn air appealed to me greatly.

Even though I owed this woman absolutely no explanation, I tried to explain all of these thoughts after a number of days fretting about it. She didn't seem to understand my reasoning - in fact, she was taken aback. I remember offering her some other options of how she might assist me but it seemed as though all that she wanted to do was the raking. She was so pleased with herself for making the offer. So, after a number of times being similarly shot down, I just stopped asking and did what needed to be done by myself.

Suggestions for offering assistance to the grieving:

1. Go ahead and bake that casserole but remember to bake another at the six-month, year and year and a half anniversary marks too. Support pretty much seems to dry up after the first three months and I found that I needed it the most long after the early grief period. None of us had an appetite until after the first three months anyway. You don't know how much I longed for those casseroles a year later when we were eating again and I was working and struggling to juggle being an only parent!
2. Ask what you can specifically do and offer your assistance. Many of us have great difficulty requesting help. Don't wait for the griever to ask - offer it and be on the ready to say "yes" even though it is not what you might have expected doing.
3. If the griever has children, offer to take the kids to an event, activity or even to babysit a night or too. Another school mom ended up doing the nicest thing for us when she called at Christmas and offered to take my two boys with hers to the new Disney movie out. It was a rare escape from our painful reality for all of us.
4. Gift cards to local restaurants were very much appreciated because I could use them later on. It was also nice for all of us to have a night out because it forced us to do so.
5. Although we got a ton of sympathy cards in the beginning, it would have been so nice to have received a message of support later on in the mail.
6. Wine is always good to give if the griever does not have an objection.
7. JUST LISTEN - refrain from offering advice.
8. Gifts such as a certificate for a massage or pedicure would be unexpected but a nice change of pace from the casseroles.
9. I also would have loved anything homemade involving chocolate! Candy would have been a close second.
10. One day I came home to find the gift of a hand-knitted prayer/comfort shawl on my doorstep - that was a lovely surprise!

My guy friend is currently estranged from his only living close relative (his older sister) whom failed to contact him in any way during the painful period of his divorce. He finds her behavior unforgivable at this point.

11. All she needed to do was send him an email or call him with the message of "I'm thinking of you and am so sorry for what you are going through."

Today I am grateful:

1. That it is raining because it forces everyone to slow down a little.
2. That I have the day off from work.
3. For a day to catch up on laundry, knit a little and just be.
4. That we have had enough food to eat.
5. That we have health insurance (although it is costing a pretty penny).

The Walking Wounded

It was not my intent to rage, rant, vent or snipe when I wrote yesterday's post. Rather, it was an almost desperate measure to try and cope with overwhelming grief brought on by the prospect of leaving the house I have resided in for the past 19 years; having sold it for only $500.00 more than what it was appraised at 20 years ago; and being flung into the unknown future with the reality of not having a familial safety net to rely on or fall onto. That the past six years since my husband's death have been chaotic and unpredictable has no doubt strengthened the feelings of loss I have surrounding my home. These four physical walls have represented the only stability the boys and I have really had since my husband's death and now even that is being torn from us.

I know everyone has their own problems and demons. A married couple I am friends with is in the process of foreclosure also. But they have one another to lean on for comfort and support. Another friend is losing the day-to-day contact with his 11-year-old son, as his ex-wife has remarried and moved to a town out-of-state, six hours away. I sympathize with my friend at his loss but at the same time consider him fortunate that he and his ex-wife jointly share parenting responsibilities to some extent. Try waking up every morning being the sole worrier about your children's health, grades, socialization, safety and on top of that being frantic about the need to house, feed and clothe them.

For me personally, part of life's challenge has been the struggle to move forward despite having to confront so much pain in a brief period of time - multiple grief losses and secondary grief losses is how I refer to them. Every loss brings up new pain and reactivates the hurt of the old ones. My divorce contributed to the financial nightmare I am currently experiencing, as well as bringing up feelings of abandonment, rejection, instability and insecurity that no doubt have their roots in my long ago past. I am so weary...

If only my husband hadn't died - I wouldn't be in this position nor would I even be writing this post. And probably all of those miserable feelings of childhood pain and loss would still be deeply buried.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ravaged Heart and Soul


I have been struggling with the following topic and have debated whether to post on it at all. But after much soul searching I am going to release it from my heart and out to the Universe, where I hope it will somehow come back to me in the form of wisdom and relief. The issue that follows has wounded my heart far more than the death of my husband and the divorce of the second. After all the grief work I have done on my own and with my counselor, what I have finally come to is that I never even had to have these grief experiences to feel the worst pain I could feel - it was already there, buried under all the grief of the past years - waiting to be finally uncovered.

I speak about my family of origin issues. Suffice it to say, my three siblings and I grew up in an abusive, neglectful home and today I am sure we would most likely have been removed and raised by the state. Soon after my husband's death, my parent's health greatly declined (mental and physical) and my local sister, brother and I became involved with their caregiving. I had always been extremely close to my mother and concentrated my care on her. My sister and brother concentrated on my father's needs. When my mom died in August, 2007, the fragile family bonds we had maintained over the years fell apart. I also did not want to pretend anymore that we were close siblings, when we were not.

But all of this greatly breaks my heart because somewhere, somehow while growing up, I developed the strong ideal that a family always watches out, cares for, and defends its own. What my reality was, however, is that is not the case within my family unit. For years I harbored strong grudges against both of my brothers for failing to send a card or flowers when my husband died. I felt it was the very least they could do, having known him for 13 years. After his death, there were no casseroles, offers of help with the house maintenance or playdate suggestions for my two young sons, ages 9 and 10. It would have been nice to have had them over for a weekend to interact with their cousins and give their poor, overwrought mom a break/rest.

As the drama of my divorce and subsequent foreclosure took root, there were again no offers of support. And I guess all I really ever wanted was some measure of emotional caring/compassion. But my brother and sister seemed to side with my ex-husband and defend his position ("He thought he did enough" from my sister, while my brother went on about how difficult it must have been for my ex to take on a readymade family made up of two teen boys).

What has hurt the most is the lack of any minimal emotional support since both sibs have known of the foreclosure. I have never asked for financial help nor do I expect it. But what I do crave is a small amount of emotional kindness and acknowledgment. The last time I saw either of my sibs (the third lives in Hawaii) was at Easter and we discussed the foreclosure. My brother has had no contact with me and my sister briefly talked to me after I initiated her advice before accepting my retail job (and that conversation was stilted and uncomfortable).

About a week ago, I received the following phone message from my brother:

"Hi, Widow in the Middle, it's B. Just giving you a call that dad has another care meeting scheduled for August fourth at 2:30, so it looks like it's a week from tomorrow, 2:30 at [his assisted living facility]. So give me a call if you want me to try to schedule that or something or let them know. The person is _______ at #____________. Thank you. Bye."

No real hello how are you doing. No concern about me or the boys. Just a businesslike message informing me of my duty to attend my father's care plan meeting. I think that what especially bothers me is the lack of care or concern toward my sons. I know if the situations were reversed, I would have made a substantial effort to have remain connected with my nieces/nephews and would have exhibited a strong amount of concern toward their well being after the death of one of their parents.

I have been haunted by this message since it occurred and was unable to talk directly to my brother so emailed him a short, impersonal reply. I am still trying to come to terms with my familial relationships (or more descriptively, the lack of any kind of real relationships). It is especially hard now as I gear down for the house selling and our move into an apartment. My heart is breaking and I feel I do not have the support of anyone (save a handful of friends and my therapist) to rely on. This is where family is supposed to step in and be there as an emotional rock. To have to face the demons in my soul as I clear up my house, lose my status as a homeowner and move to a less desirable area of town to keep my boys at the same school is devastating. I need and want someone to rely on during this stressful crisis (and I can't say I'm even finished grieving my divorce yet either).

The single worst aspect of widowhood for me has been the lack of a partner standing by my side to face the worst that life has had to offer me (the diagnosis of my youngest with a potentially fatal medical condition; the death of my Mom and now this financial nightmare, foreclosure and loss of my home). To go this all alone while parenting and working is a feat deserving of a gold medal in stamina, endurance and strength.

And the most painful aspect of my life thus far has not been the passing of my first husband or the end of my second marriage, but the death of my beliefs and illusions in what I had always hoped to count on when the shit really hit the fan. I am supposing that these current feelings go back to my very young childhood and the painful reality of not being accepted, of being abandoned and neglected. I know it is part of the reason that marriage is such a strong desire of mine - I have a huge need to feel secure and protected.

My heart now seems less burdened having related these feelings. My recovery work is not yet completed. My girlfriend has suggested that I put my family issues on hold and concentrate on my move. That is the plan - I don't think the conflict existing between my sibs is going to go anywhere, anytime soon.

Today I am grateful:

For the good aspects of my current home that I have enjoyed over the years -

1. The way that I can always see the moon from my bedroom windows.
2. That I can hear the church bells from town chime all day.
3. That we lived in a very safe neighborhood.
4. That the boys attended excellent schools.
5. That we had a large, private double lot with lots of trees that was also a curse when it came to mowing and weeding.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Very Rare Play Day

Having worked every weekend (sometimes all three days) for more than the past three months, I finally had a Saturday off, yesterday, although I did work Friday and then again today. I am so unused to this I almost didn't know what to do with myself! I went grocery shopping and then spent a few hours at an antiques show. I went last year and did not buy any of the glassware I collect because I was so worried about the finances. I remember telling myself a year ago that things would be better in the future, and that I would be able to afford some purchases when I returned this year.

I did get some items (after cutting a very good discount with one of the dealers). I would have liked to have been able to have gotten some of the larger and more rare pieces but again I told myself that next year it'll be better and hopefully I'll be able to get one then (something sure to look forward to).

Collecting my glassware gives me tremendous pleasure and I enjoyed talking to the antique dealers. I met a woman who has a large amount of my glassware which she sells in an antique mall as well as out of her home. It is good to have somewhat of a local source that I can go to in the future.

Despite our still perilous financial situation I allowed myself these purchases as a birthday gift - I turn 50 at the end of August and believe that surviving half a century deserves some award/recognition. I have also bought no clothing items in a year or much of anything for myself so felt a little less guilty for spending some money at the show. I've been able to pick up some pieces throughout the year when I come across them - my rule is that I'll get them if they are under $20.00 and most have only been about $10.00.

Anyway, it felt wonderful to browse at the show even though I was by myself. Last year that really upset me - I didn't even think about much it this year since I was having so much fun.

In the evening, despite great complaining by my oldest who wanted the car, I went out to dinner with my guy friend and his son. That was also very nice - just to be treated and waited on for a change. It was a casual place but the food (turkey melt, fries and side salad) were pretty darn tasty, especially after a fancy drink cocktail that was the evening's special. My guy friend indulged me in listening to me talk about the glassware I collect and looking at the pieces I purchased. I think I caught him yawning but I'll give him a break for that!

It was such a rare day to spend completely on myself (they are so few and far between with work and caring for the boys). As hard as it is, I have to start carving out more time for myself. My guy friend noticed my mood was much lighter and he also noted how much happiness I get from my little glassware collection. Just looking at it makes me smile! The rainbow of bright, cheery colors! My ex-husband got the collection we established together per our divorce agreement (over 100 pieces) but I now have 18 of my own! Part of the fun of going to antique shops, garage sales, etc. is in the hunt for a new piece. And there are plenty of the lower cost pieces out there to find - I don't need to spend $100.00. I kind of get a high from the searching and then bargaining process. It is also how I feel about knitting, my other passion. So I will really, really try to make an effort to incorporate both of those interests more frequently in my life.

Today at work I got through the eight hours much more easily (it was still hard) no doubt to having had a rare day of play.

Today I am grateful:

1. For the pretty much perfect summer day weather on Friday and again today.
2. For Queen Anne's Lace flowers by the side of the road.
3. For the folks who live in town and plant Sunflowers in their front yards!
4. For how the flowers and trees have that settled/mature summer look right now (at their peak).
5. That the three pound of ground turkey I made up into sloppy Joe's and tacos lasted all weekend and even through tonight. It is such a blessing to come home after working on my feet eight hours and not having to cook except to heat something up.