This may be another one of my many solipsistic posts that follows the scenic-route detour around the larger issue. But my intentions are good. I’m fleshing out something that’s been following me around for weeks. I had been starting to put it into words in my own mind, and as I did I thought that this may be some sort of midlife crisis.
I’ve heard things in the last week that I’m having trouble processing. A small part of it was about the (past) home life of a very bright, but troubled student of mine. Every time I think of what I cannot un-know, it makes me wish I could melt down my brain and rebuild it from scrap.
And then my cousin, who was only a year older than me, got very sick and died. I want to be very clear that I’m a piece of shit family member who has never done a thing for him. I hadn’t seen him in years, hadn’t even tried to have a relationship with him past childhood. I am completely unentitled to have the amount of difficulty that I’m having with his death.
It’s guilt. It’s remembering him so clearly, his voice, his accent, his dry sense of humor, what a big part he was of the memories of my childhood that were happy….and realizing that it’s my loss that I didn’t keep him in my life.
It’s also wanting to un-know the things I’ve learned in the last week. I’m finding it a burden to not talk about it. I need to vomit it out somewhere, but I don’t want to be gross or betray anyone’s privacy.
I’m bouncing around ideas. So far, I’ve got “try to make a therapy appointment. If you can’t work that out, write it down and burn it. If that’s not enough, you’re going to have to talk to your family members who know the same things but wouldn’t be burdened by you unloading. If not that, find a friend who knows no one and talk in person or on the phone so you’re leaving no record.”
That’s the plan so far.
But, unless I do this in therapy, isn’t that just going to pass the burden onto someone else, who will then wish they’d never heard these things, my unanswerable questions?
For now, I will just write about what was on my mind before this.
As miserable and dark as I can be, I’m much happier than I was 10 and 20 years ago. If I never had to see myself in the mirror or pictures, I think I might even say that I love being middle-aged.
(Okay, I’m still very much struggling with this: I hate my appearance. I used to be able to take a couple hundred selfies and get a decent one. Now, I avoid pictures altogether. When I look in the mirror–to brush my teeth or pluck eyebrows–I don’t really look at myself. I focus on what I need to focus on, or I don’t really absorb that the reflection is me. I know that, 5 years from now, I’ll look even worse, and I’ll look back at this time and think that I looked younger and wished I could go back and just have that number of wrinkles, but right now, anything but avoidance leads to me feeling like garbage).
Still. Fifteen years ago, I wasn’t looking at myself, either. I was looking at the scale. Overall, I’m still happier. Or, at least, I can face unhappiness/unpleasant feelings without getting overwhelmed or self-destructive.
There is still an element of self-acceptance that is new for me. There’s also a feeling that I’m less of an alien among others. I’ve cut down on the “blurting” that might alienate me from others, and I’ve also lived enough to see that, by this age, WE ARE ALL DAMAGED GOODS. I’ve seen people that I respect and admire as being much more “together” than I am make terrible mistakes or falter when it comes to stopping mistakes. That’s not a judgment–they still have it together much better than I do.
In some cases, their “stuff” is just based on things I’ve inferred or intuited based on the glimpses they’ve shared of their pasts or home lives. I could be completely wrong about it.
But it’s still a comfort to be pretty sure that we are all fucked up.
I feel better about seeking a relationship–any kind of relationship, not necessarily romantic–as long as there’s the possibility that I’m not above-average in terms of my damage. I feel like there’s hope that some people will be able to tolerate me, maybe even accept and love me, as long as I don’t have to not be a fuck up.
For a while, I felt a little bit optimistic about romantic relationships (not for me necessarily, but it still made me feel warm to think this): we’re all messed up, and now that we’re past the age that 20-somethings consider us sexy, we can just do our thing and be totally open with our fellow middle-aged single people. I even started to mentally poo-poo the high rate of divorce for second marriages, at least among people who don’t rush into it.
But now I’m sad about it. When I am in love with someone, I want to know everything about him. I remember with my ex–who was 15 when we met–“missing” him from before we met. I’d picture him as a little nerd getting bullied by lacrosse players, and I’d fantasize making it better.
I’ll probably never meet the great-grandmother, or childhood best friend, or childhood nemesis of that hypothetical “he.” These types of things are pretty integral to me being in love, and it’s probably too late.
My friend J had said about his ex-wife that he felt that she wanted to “consume his soul,” and I think that’s how I was. I just want to binge on that person, and know everything. I used to send him lists of questions to answer about himself, because I wanted to know everything.
Well, now I have four decades of life behind me, and I seem to draw in kind of dismissive men, so…I figure my options are:
(1) make peace with it
(2) find a narcissistic who is happy to talk about himself constantly to catch me up on the 40+ years I missed before we met, and be utterly miserable, or
(3) do whatever comes to me with relationships, and figure out a way to deal with that longing.
Yes, I’ve met myself. I know #1 isn’t an option unless I change radically.
I won’t even bother wishing that someone would feel the same way I do. One, it’s probably just a generically immature and naive style of loving, Two, I know I’m not compelling enough that even someone who is blinded by love would feel sad about not knowing me before we met.
It’s just so strange, the things that people are carrying around that we don’t even know. Big things, traumatic things, top moments….And the person you love may not even bother to discuss those things with you.
I know I’m obsessed with that which goes unsaid, but I’m not even talking about denial here. I’m talking about how bizarre it is to not share yourself, for whatever reason. And I don’t know what the reasons are, because I’m obviously overly porous.
I feel especially exposed after the big…thing? Fight? Whatever it was that M and I had a few months ago. I think I showed too much, and I’m embarrassed and afraid. There’s so much I don’t know about him, and he’s seen like 99% of my garbage.
I don’t understand why I kind of gradually stopped asking questions. Some of the times I’m quiet are times that I’d normally be asking random questions. I’m too daunted by how rejected I’d feel in reaction to a dodge.
But mostly, it’s weird for me to find myself not thinking to ask questions or learn more. That’s not like me, and it kind of makes me sad. It feels like a form of giving up.
I feel like I’ll never really *know* another person. There’s just too much of them that came before we met, and unless that person is an oversharer, I won’t catch up.
My old therapist–the one who also saw my ex, until a couple months before we left, and held onto the secrets of countless men–was shocked that my marriage ended, but she also told me this:
If there is one thing that I wish I could scream at anyone who came into my practice seeking help for their relationship, it would be this:
YOU. DON’T. FUCKING. KNOW THE OTHER PERSON.
At the time, I found it comforting. I felt less stupid.
Now, it makes me want to melt down my brain and rebuild it, because it’s a message from an expert that (1) any horror can happen, and (2) the time to binge on a wonderful person’s stories and thoughts is finite, and that window can close long before death.
I saw my nurse practitioner (the one who prescribes my psychotropic medication) about a month ago. I like her because, unlike most psychiatrists I’ve seen, she has a warm personality, and she takes the time to talk beyond symptoms. (Most psychiatrists are just drippy males who don’t really have much of a personality). She asks me about work, family, and my social life.
I’m not exactly sure when I started seeing her, but it was somewhere in between giving birth and separating. So, she’s seen me through the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through. At the end of this session, she told me that she is very impressed with how far I’ve come. She said I’m basically 180 degrees away from my worst behaviors. That felt great.
On the other hand…
I’ve only seen my therapist a couple times this summer, but I’m wondering if it’s worth taking up a spot and spending the money. For good stretch, I was plugging away at my “homework” assignments and making progress. Each session, I’d report back, we’d talk about whatever was at hand, and I’d get a new assignment.
The last 2-3 times, though, all I feel is that we’re talking, and then I’m getting a summary at the end of the session patting me on the back for where I am. That’s not what I want from a therapist who has known me for less than two years.
And, like, I’m not fixed. I have so many things I need to work on. I haven’t made a next appointment, but I figure that at some point I will, and I’ll talk about whether or not she thinks I need therapy. And if she thinks I should continue, I need to ask to be challenged more. Supportive therapy just ends up being enabling for me.
In the meantime, I’m trying to do things on my own. I started doing The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook this summer (with the approval of my therapist and nurse practitioner). I’m also devoting some of the space in my brain to a search for some kind of spirituality, and maybe some day I’ll even talk about what I find. I know there’s something; the view is just obscured. I can even see that in my brain. When I think about “God,” I see me reaching up, a big black space, and something blurry beyond that.
The Workbook, by coincidence, strongly recommends cultivating some sort of “religious” practice or belief. It’s always good to see an “expert” put into words something you’ve been feeling for a while. I need for something to be bigger than humans.
I’m also trying to objectively observe how I am in social situations. My social anxiety is…moderate, I guess? I let it go for such a long time. It’s much harder now to work on it when I don’t have a husband/live-in best friend to use as a buffer, but I’m also more motivated to work on it.
And I’ve made some progress. I used to be so weird about invites. I would be so afraid of going to something where I wasn’t necessarily wanted that I would skip things (or, worse, ask for reassurance that I was wanted there, but in a really annoying/passive-aggressive way) that might have been fun. I would also try so hard to talk to people that I’d end up blurting/oversharing/talking about myself.
Now, I usually take invites (even ones that were probably just polite) because I want to do things, and I’m grateful for it.
I’ve swung in the other direction when it comes to talking, though. I’ll sit there, perfectly content to be silent as conversation goes on around me, as long as I can convince myself that no one is thinking I’m weird for being there and not talking. It’s nice to listen, and it’s better to embarrass yourself by not talking than it is to do it by blabbing dumb shit about yourself to people who However, I need to find my way to a middle ground on this.
I had an eye-opening experience a couple days ago that may have nudged me in that direction: I was invited for the second year to the birthday party of my daughter’s stepbrother (this is her dad’s girlfriend’s son, and I’m a pretty big fan of his). My ex’s mom, sister, and his sister’s kids were there, and I got to catch up with them. My daughter had a jolly time, and there were some awkward but interesting/enlightening moments.
First, there was a moment when the birthday boy came up behind me and touched me on the back. I said, “Oh! hello!,” and then he mumbled something about meaning to get his mom. In other words, I look enough like her to be mistaken for her (from behind, at least), which is hilarious, even though there was never any doubt that my ex had a “type.”
Just for the sake of saying something to another human there, I said something to one of the friends there about how good the popcorn was. I wasn’t sure if she didn’t hear me (I mumble) or just didn’t react. I was like “Oops. Well, I tried.”
Then there was the father of the birthday boy. He lives on the other side of the country, but he was in town. I was too shy to introduce myself, but I kept looking at mom, dad, and son, because the son was so clearly made out of their genetic material. It really was marvelous to see it.
Anyway, eventually the he (the father) came over to me and said, “Hi, you’re [treeskeepgrowing]? I’m [__]. I wanted to introduce myself earlier, but I’m incredibly socially awkward.” I laughed, shook his hand, and mumbled “me too.” Then he said, “I’m the one who asked [your ex] to put on some music to drown out the sound of the theme to ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ in my head.” Maybe the best introduction I’ve ever had.
At some point, after my ex’s family left, all of the women (my ex’s partner and her friends) were all sitting in a circle on the ground. My daughter repeatedly tried to get me to go join them. Eventually, she just held my hand, walked me over there, and pointed to where she wanted me to sit. It was embarrassing and awkward, but I kind of had to do it: she clearly wanted to sit with the girls, and I tend to get over a lot of my own bullshit when I’m in front of her (inhibitions, eating carby foods, being a hermit) for the sake of modeling healthy behavior.
I didn’t bust into the conversation, but I talked with my daughter, and it wasn’t that weird.
Later on–and this is the last bit–there was a girl there who gave me a little bit of an epiphany. She’s a friend of my ex’s girlfriend, and she’s in the same industry as them. And she was SO nice. It’s been a long time since I’d come across someone like her, because this type of person doesn’t really exist where I live. She’s just so accepting and enthusiastically validating of everything you say that comes across as if she’s kind of high. I don’t know how to explain it; she had this positive, laid back vibe (kind of like how rich people tend to be, because things are easy for them, but she wasn’t rich). Conversation with her was so easy. that if I had “blurted,” she’d have rolled with it, and I wouldn’t have had to beat myself up about it later. She talked with the kids and the adults (even me!) with such ease.
I had observed my own stretches of silence at the party and tried to look at myself from the outside. It’s very possible that no one notices my lack of socialization, but it’s also possible that I come across (because of my body language and default facial expression) as standoffish, miserable, or even stuck up.
I emailed my ex the next day to say I had a great time, and to say that I really liked that girl. I said that I don’t know how I come across in social situations (possibly unpleasant or stuck up), but that the way that girl is is how I feel on the inside and want to show on the outside. I told him that I don’t know how it looked, but I was pleased as punch to be there and thankful that I was invited. So at least he knows. And I guess honestly and succinctly communicating that is a start to breaking through this giant wall I have built around me for fear of putting others off.
I don’t think my social anxiety is so bad that it would keep me from social situations, but I don’t really know what is the next step. Because the goal is basically “to be a decent and friendly person to have in a social situation without putting people off.” The Workbook addresses the fears, but I need some sort of plan to get me out of my shell without going back to “oversharing with anyone to seems like they might stick around and listen.”
It would be very good to have a therapy session shortly before I do something social to set a goal/get a homework assignment, but then again, maybe exactly what I need is to be a big girl and make my own assignment. Maybe the only way for me to change is not to have a guide holding my hand and then praising me for accomplishing something that just barely inches me away from “dysfunctional” and toward “functional.”
My ob/gyn is my ideal dad. He had held my hand as I got knocked out for a D&C after my first of three miscarriages, he’d met with me weekly to just talk while I was doing weight restoration, he’d met with me and my husband on Sunday mornings, and he brought in sunshine every day during my three hospitalizations with pregnancy complications. I had to call him crying the night my ex left, to cancel the surgery I had scheduled for the next day (my ex was my ride/chaperone, and I didn’t want to throw this on a friend).
He knew quite a bit about me, my marriage, and, eventually, my divorce.
I think it was a few months later, he asked “what happened??” I answered as best I could (still missing piece of the puzzle: the affair), and he said, “Well, if he doesn’t love you and doesn’t want to be with you, there’s really nothing to be done about it but to move forward without him.” This is the most helpful thing anyone has ever said to me regarding a breakup, and it has come back to me over the last week.
I went into this “not relationship” with M lost and mildly traumatized from my attempts at negotiating dating in the 2010s. I had been naive. I lacked the boundaries that would have prevented the emotional, physical, and sexual mistreatment I’d encountered. I saw red flags, but I didn’t act on them. Part of me was just dumb and couldn’t believe that people would be so terrible and dishonest; part of me was letting other people do the work of punishing me. I consciously thought “this is what I deserve.”
I don’t think the word “deserve” really means anything, so I’ve simply asked myself what I wish to avoid (even if it means being alone) and what I need in a relationship.
I do not want ambivalence (on either side)–reciprocity is the ideal. I do not want the rules of non-relationships. I do not want to be confined by the limitations of loveless sex.
The common theme is an aversion to having to hold back. If I’m anxious that I’ll say something nice and ruin it, or I feel pressure not to show myself (beyond the early stages of getting to know each other), that’s a sign that it won’t work.
I do want a relationship with someone who (1) is honest, (2) doesn’t find a label to be a burden, and (3) reciprocates my feelings.
There are people who wear their hearts on their sleeves. That doesn’t mean they’ll like me or I like them, but they do exist. That’s something, right?
I’m not going to find all of those with M. There is so much I don’t know about him 2 years in, and this is probably as close to him as I’ll ever be. We are only “friends without benefits.” and this is as strongly as he’s going to feel about me. I’ve been saying this for a long time, but I’m very slow to let go of false hopes.
I’m what’s left of when we
Swam under the moon
Now the rest of my days are just
Waiting for when
You come down and tell me
I was meant for you, baby
Being with you
Makes the flame burn good
I told him a few days ago that I need to just be friends, need to try it to get rid of the overwhelming feeling of “THIS ISN’T RIGHT.”
I guess I had bought enough into the culture of non-relationships (this one is what the kids call a “situationship”) to think that I could remove myself from the romantic aspects of it without it feeling like a break up. I told myself “I’m just setting a boundary” when I say I need to just be friends.
But, no. It feels like a breakup. I feel the sadness, the rejection, the desire for things to go back to the way they were.
But then something “clicked” for me last night: all of my wishes are crucial, but if #3 is an issue, there’s no point in even discussing the other stuff.
I had suggested to M as a possible explanation for my “this isn’t right” feeling that we might simply experience romantic feelings differently. I get very attached/enthusiastic, and maybe he just isn’t someone who falls in love. (“Insecure-anxious” and “insecure-dismissive” people can attract each other).
Last night, fueled by Ambien, I asked M if he’d ever been in love. The answer was affirmative and without qualifiers.
So, he falls in love. Just not with me. Okay. That’s a “no turning back” truth.
It’s not my way to use other people to build myself back up, I don’t trust myself to enforce boundaries that are for my own good, and I’m a little bit afraid of men in the context of dating. I hope that I will eventually put myself back out there, but not until I’m more sure of my ability to filter out people or situations that are sure to hurt me.
It’s a little bit empowering that I am okay not searching for that great love–romantic love was my #1 priority before I had a child. But it’s also depressing that the reason I’m “doing me” is because I have minimal faith that there’s anything out there but fake relationships and infidelity. I feel a little pressure, though: my parenting schedule now works for dating, but that may change when Boo is older. I’m fine with having a boyfriend in her life, but I’m not okay with leaving my kid with a sitter to go out on multiple first dates.
That’s my anxiety saying that, though. I have more than a next-post full of material on that.
Right now, there’s really nothing to be done but to move forward.
I haven’t journaled since November–most any time I had something to say, I felt like it was shallow to talk about anything other than the state of our country. Problem is that others are much more eloquent than me–I really don’t have anything to say about it that someone else can’t, and hasn’t, said better.
But I think that writing is good for me, so I’m writing today as a structure, CBT-style therapeutic exercise in (1) acknowledging things that I’ve accomplished or done since I last wrote that are an improvement from old behaviors and (2) naming some of the things that I’d like to change or do differently. I went to the beach today with a pad of paper and pen, and I sketched this out. I’m dividing the “realms” of my life into categories: work, family, social life (friendships/dating), and health (physical/mental/spiritual). Okay, here goes:
Things I have accomplished or improved upon:
- I definitely accomplished my 2016-2017 goals of having better relationships with parents through higher-quality communication. I’m a little phone-phobic, and I’m not good on the spot, so I mainly communicate via email. I did a decent job of giving myself time if needed before responding to unhappy parents, I tried to breathe through any feelings of defensiveness or taking it personally, and I made sure to overtly express empathy and positive regard for the student.
- This wasn’t a goal, but as the year went on, I kept a closer watch on how students were doing throughout the quarter. I reminded students much more than I usually do what they needed to do in order to get a good grade (“Suzy, you have 1 lesson to make up. Here’s a pass for Self Help tomorrow–that’ll catch you up”), and I tried to look at the big picture and even negotiate with students (if they missed a lesson when we were doing a lot of work to prepare for a particular test, and they got 100 on the test, then I’d just exempt them from making it up). It sounds like a big “duh,” but in past years I’ve just had way too many students to keep on top of that so individually.
- My other goal for this year was to just kind of stay under the radar, not sass, and minimize being called into the principal’s office. I think I did a pretty good job of this.
Things I want to improve upon/goals for next year:
- While my communication was better in terms of quality (and somewhat better in terms of quantity), I can definitely be more proactive. My principal is still very much in the “make a phone call” camp, and I know that he would prefer that I communicate that way once it’s clear that a parent is upset, and this is a fairly concrete challenge, so…that’s a goal for 2017-2018.
- I can also update my damn website, put more info up there, and annoy parents with Remind messages. Compared to the above, that’s no big deal
- I want to get students more involved in reflection and assessment. I haven’t really had internal leaders for a long time, and there has to be something I can do to foster that. I see less and less evidence that students view themselves as stakeholders, and I’d like to find ways (un-artificial as possible) to encourage them to evaluate themselves and the group. I’d gotten complacent about this because I didn’t feel that students were invested in the group, and that didn’t work, so let’s attempt to get them more invested. I’m not nuts about exit tickets, but maybe once in a while. Or maybe a rubric to assess where we are on pieces (that’s the most artificial, but I handle things well in writing and always genuinely enjoy reading through any kind of student feedback). I’ll definitely bring back the old “okay, altos, tell me your strongest and weakest 8 measures of the piece,” or have the sopranos evaluate the altos, etc., etc.
Things I have accomplished or improved upon:
- I’m just going to skip over my daughter altogether in this post. I’m skittish about writing about her–combination of “not wanting to put stuff about my daughter out on the internet” and “I have moments of really thinking I’m fucking up, and I’m afraid of being judged negatively.” I do want to write about her, though, without a name or picture, and everything about her and my relationship with her is overwhelming positively, so it’s solidly in the “good” column.
- My coparenting relationship with my daughter’s dad continues to be exemplary and I truly feel that he is a friend. He’s trusted me with some of his inner world/vulnerabilities, and I think I’ve communicated my support. Our daughter is very well adjusted to living in two houses, and she sees us chatting and getting along great.
- I’ve had some nice moments with my ex’s family, and that feels very nice.
- While I wouldn’t say I have a friendship with my daughter’s stepmom, I have to say that she was a huge help and support for my daughter’s birthday, and I worked up the courage to tell her that.
Things I need to improve upon:
- I need to talk to my own family of origin more. It’s not complicated at all. Call mom every Sunday. Text or email my brother to see how his job hunt is going. Text or email my sister to ask how she and the kids are. Instead of feeling bad because I only responded mentally to communication, actually respond.
- I’m still very uptight with my parents. I have this weird defensiveness, and a kneejerk reaction to invalidate what they say (sometimes with a grumpy tone)-especially my mom. I need to listen more and be less of a know-it-all. That’s not measurable or concrete, but I challenge myself to ask more questions or simply say “Oh, I really don’t know about this for sure” instead of just assuming they’re wrong. If I managed to breathe through my defensiveness with parents of students, I can do it with my own parents, right? Right?
Things I have accomplished or improved upon:
- I kind of got over my obsessive need to make sure I’m wanted somewhere (that probably makes me less wanted) and accepted some “pity invites” (aka, things I was invited to because I was in the room when it was discussed).
- I actually organized and ran a party in the form of My Little Pony-themed “girls night” (girls-only just because there were too many kids in my daughter’s class to fit in my house).
- I made some strides in becoming friends with moms of my daughter’s classmates, even went over to one of their houses for a NYE party. There’s another one who I really want to be friends with (she stayed for the MLP party, and she’s AWESOME), but I’m shy, and our kids aren’t particularly close. She’s having a kids’ party at the end of the month, so I look forward to talking more with her.
- There have been times in the last school year that I have caught myself mentally complimenting someone, and I challenged myself to work up the courage to actually say it, so I’m chuffed about that. I don’t think I can change my “neutral” facial expression (which is anywhere from “something’s wrong” to “I’m miserable), but I can let people know what I appreciate about them.
- I’ve been seeing M for two years now. All the positives and things I liked about him are constant. Nothing about that has changed.
Things I need to improve upon:
- I don’t do a good job of letting friends know I’m thinking of them. I think of them, worry about them, but don’t communicate it either because I’m complacent, or …this is embarrassing, but it’s the truth: because I texted last and don’t want to be a pain.
- I still don’t go out much
- I’ve been seeing M for two years now.Nothing about that has changed.
Things I have accomplished or improved upon:
- Physically, I have very little to complain about. I have been back to the gym since late February. I’ve had a couple weeks of very low energy (and maybe only 2 workouts), but I’m in the habit, I’m back.
- My voice made it through the school year with no major issues! That is wonderful! I don’t know that I own credit to that, but I’ll give it anyway.
- Mentally, I had a bit of a breakthrough this week that is hard to explain, but the gist is that I talked myself through what was almost a panic attack. It started at the gym, the first workout after my trip out west. I wasn’t out of breath necessarily, but as I breathed, I felt like I wasn’t getting enough oxygen. So when I started to panic, I reminded myself that a panic attack is often the brain interpreting a different bodily sensation as “threatening,” and I got through it. I was feeling very anxious, restless, and hopeless for a few days, and I talked myself through it. I told myself that it’s the transition from “working” to “summer,” and a little bit of cabin fever from being with a kid who gets emotional and agoraphobic during this transition. It turns out it was also a bad case of PMS–I usually get PMS with no actual period, but my body REALLY wanted to have a period this month.
Things I need to improve upon:
- Physically: I need to work much harder at the gym. I need to be more engaged (I’ve caught my knees doing this sort of “wobble” thing during squats, and I’m sure I need to correct that) and add more weight, period.
- Mentally: I haven’t seen my therapist in a while…maybe 6 weeks? I should get the fuck back to therapy. I can bring this for goal-setting.
- Spiritually: I need to find SOMETHING. Anything. I’m not saying join a church, but I need to believe in something, even if it’s simply my love of the moon. (Seriously, I find comfort in the moon. I can track the cycles of the moon, meditate on goals in the first half of the cycle and letting go in the second half). Chakras, I dunno, whatever. Just: I need to cultivate a belief that there is something bigger than humans.
There, I did it. I did my own mid-year evaluation. My teacher evaluation may say “highly effective” (or just “effective”–won’t find that out until September), but my life rating is “developing,” and this is a plan for (some) improvement.
I found out this week that my divorce was finalized. I forwarded the email and information from ecourts to my ex with the message “You and __ can get married now ❤ ”
His response included the sentence, “I know you wanted this over with too so I’m glad.”
When I was in group therapy for an eating disorder, if I or anyone else wandered too deeply into intellectualizing, we were encouraged to share how we felt even if it didn’t make sense. Acknowledging that feelings didn’t always make sense, that they could even be contradictory to the objective facts of a situation, was an important step in learning to tolerate our feelings.
The “rational” me knows that all he meant by “this” was “this last phase of the process.” He’s been having a rough time lately, so a response from me would be petty at best and a manipulation at worst. The rational me says “so what if he thinks I’m doing just fine, getting what I want, and my life is hunky-dory?.” I act on what rational me says; I don’t bother to correct him.
I keep thinking about this, though. I don’t understand how what I wanted figured into this whole situation. I mean, yes, my daughter sleeps at my house five nights a week, and I got the cats. But most everything is what I “want” only in the sense that once I found out that he was cheating, I operated in reality and accepted that my best option was to actively pursue something resembling “a very close second.”
Rational me knows that the end justifies the means, because I have a good life and we are kickass coparents. Rational me can’t even picture how today would look if he’d never left or if we had reconciled, maybe because I stopped fantasizing about the latter once I found the missing piece (his fiancee). Rational me knows that I shouldn’t be any less sad that, for example, the summer of 2012 (maybe the happiest period of my life) is over than I would be if we were still together, because divorcing doesn’t change the past.
Irrational me screams HOW THE FUCK HAVE YOU MANAGED TO CONVINCE YOURSELF THAT YOU’RE GLAD FOR ANY OTHER REASONS THAN (1) YOU’RE GETTING WHAT YOU WANTED–TO MARRY THE WOMAN WITH WHOM YOU CHEATED ON ME AND (2) THIS MEANS YOU HAVE LESS THINGS THAT YOU HAVE TO DO IN ORDER TO DEAL WITH THE REALITY YOU CREATED BY RUNNING TO SONEONE ELSE INSTEAD OF WORKING ON YOUR MARRIAGE?
I just have to tolerate/integrate this and keep moving forward, whatever that means.
I can’t even remember what it was that I said to my daughter this week referencing having been married to her daddy in the past, but she had such a non-reaction to it that it made me pause. I had this moment of realization: not only does she not remember us being married, the fact that we were married is absolutely meaningless to her.
I kept my engagement ring, because it’s pretty, it has diamonds, and I want her to have it when she’s older. I’ve gone back and forth about my wedding dress–keep in case she wants to play in it, or donate it to somewhere like Angel Gowns?
I still have my engagement ring, our wedding album, and all of our letters. I’m not ashamed to admit that that’s for me–my daughter will probably never ask to see the pictures. But that’s okay, it doesn’t mean I’m not “over” him. It’s just better for me to acknowledge that it was a huge part of my life than it is for me to avoid seeing the evidence. It’s in a container in my attic–I can look or not look. I do want to donate my dress (although what would really be helpful would be if I were a skilled seamstress to make a gown, because that’s a lot harder to find).
I wanted some sort of “mourning” ritual, though, and I’m enough of a witch to need to do it when the moon is waning. Last night, I went into the attic and threw out some things from our past that I don’t need to keep because I’ll never use them again. Then, I put on my wedding band one last time and drove to the beach.
Driving on the narrow bridges that lead to the barrier island reminded me of a funeral procession, but I was the only one on the road. I listened to “The Bride” by Bat for Lashes and cried. It took a while to figure out how to get close to the beach…all of the fields were barricaded off. Eventually, I found a broken barricade and made my way to the beach. It was so dark that I couldn’t see where the ground went from concrete to sand, but the lights that were on in the building that housed bathrooms were this horrible, lurid yellow.
When I saw the video for “In God’s House,” the lights inside the car reminded me of something from a morgue, but I never matched it with an exact scene.
Maybe time is flexible, because the lights in the bath house matched exactly with the scene from the video.
The walk was so silent that it was frightening.
I tried to take a picture of the water, or at least the stars in above me where the clouds had opened up, but the only useful picture I got was behind me.
I stopped futzing around, walked a little bit into the water, and tossed my wedding ring. I didn’t feel it leave my fingertips.
I turned around and walked away.
As I was making my way back onto the road, I saw a stag, and I stopped. I’d never been so close to a deer before. He was right next to my car, eating. After a few seconds, he got shy and backed up, and I moved on.
I know that deer live down there, but I had never seen one, so the egocentric part of me that wants to believe in something magical or spiritual thinks there is a meaning to it. I saw three last night (the other two were on the side of the highway). Do you know how some people interpret seeing the number 11 as a sign from above? My number is three. Three is a number of completion, but that’s too tidy for me. If throwing my wedding ring into the ocean meant I’d stop feeling sad because of my lonely heart and failed marriage, I’d have tossed it years ago.
Then again, thinking that there is meaning in seeing a deer up close to pretty tidy, but I find comfort in magic until I’m positive it doesn’t exist.