Between Life

As a human being, I still feel like a child some days. I can feel like the insecure teenager I was in high school, or the curious and slightly less insecure college student, or the pretending to be an adult “grown up.” As parent, I feel different and much more educated.

I can still remember my two best friends from HS coming to visit in the hospital after I had my son. Paraphrasing one friend, she said “[dude, can you believe you like, made a person!?]” I just smiled and laughed, but my head wasn’t wrapped around the reality of the situation yet either.

One of the most terrifying moments of my life was coming home from the hospital with that little “nugget,” as my friend would call him. I managed to get him in to the bassinet/rocker thing that he practically lived out of the first two months. My husband went out for something (probably a pack of smokes), and I passed out on the couch rocking the tiny human to sleep. I remember thinking I have no fuckng clue what I’m doing here, as I drifted off. He returned about 20 minutes later, and I don’t know why I remember this, but he said the one kind thing I can remember him saying for years before and  after that. He said, “[y]ou’re a good mom,” and he was sincere. I still didn’t have much experience in keeping that defenseless little thing alive, but I felt a whole lot better. I thought, as long as I do my best for him, everything will work out.

About a week later, I broke down in a sobbing lunacy, because I thought I was never going to sleep again. My son never slept well nor through the night until he was at least a year and a half old. It was during this sleep deprived nightmare that I found out I was an alcoholic, and with the turmoil at home (5 hour fight-a-thons), I’m not sure how I survived those first couple years. Yet here we are, and I feel all the wiser for it.  As a mom, I feel like my real age. In regards to anything else in life, this is usually not the case.

I can remember my heart beating over middle school crushes like it was yesterday. Not so long ago I snuck out every night to hang out with my friends. Only a handful of years ago I was thriving in academic glory in college. I’m certain I just got married recently, but somehow I have a 3 and a half year old and am over a year into divorce. When the hell did all this happen?

Now I’m in this weird in between space. I have a not so new partner, but we are evolving and recovering anew in sobriety. I have a young child who is dealing with grown up situations. I have a stable job that I am ready at any moment to leap from to a more enticing opportunity or more fulfilling career path. I have had a home for six and a half years, filled with both horrible and wonderful memories, that I will soon have to leave. My days with this last name are numbered, and I have so much uncertainty about the future that I’d be terrified if it weren’t for the amazing program known (or not) as AA. It is the one constant in my life that will always be there, and as long as I lean on it, I know I will be ok.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Married or Else…

I always thought that the ultimate goal in life was to get married. I was never the kind of person that wanted to be rich or famous. Yes, I wanted to travel and learn about different cultures and languages, but I thought there was always time for that. What if I miss my chance to get married!? Eternal love and happily ever after was out there if any Disney story I ever saw was real. How horrible it would be to wind up alone and miserable! All my friends and family kept getting married, and I felt enormous pressure to find The One and get it done. So I did.

First comes the ring, then the announcement, and then a date is picked; among a million other decisions now lining up to be made. Getting married was such a whirlwind of chaos and joy that I hardly knew what was really going on in my relationship. Denial is a powerful thing in my mind, and I assumed the constant fighting and misery was normal. Planning a wedding is stressful after all, especially when you are mostly doing it by yourself. It was to be expected, I thought.

The day comes, everything is finally out of your hands and you just have to roll with it. Every detail has been hand picked; the music, the venue, the guests, the officiate, the words, the time and place. And then, you’re married. Everyone cheers, pictures are taken, people say nice words, and then everyone parties. Everyone there is there for you. All of you family, from near and far, and your friends give up their time and attention to make this your day. You can even drink as much as you want, provided you have time to take a sip in between visiting with everyone. It is indeed quite a wonderful experience.

I loved seeing my family from up north, and my Father even made the trip back to a town he swore he’d never step foot in again. He gave me a poem, titled “Are You Sure.” It referenced the first night we spent in the tree house he built just for me out in Iowa. It was windy that night, and the wood kept creaking. I kept asking my Dad, “Are you sure it won’t fall?” I ignored the implied “Are you sure?” to getting married. Everyone knows the divorce rates, and everyone saying “I Do” is certain they will beat it. My father credits wanting to walk me down the isle for getting him off major painkillers for his back pain and back in to his life again. So… I guess it wasn’t all a waste.

Tilt-o-Whirl

Life is always such a carnival ride that I often find myself dizzied by the changes that happen weekly, daily, and sometimes hourly.

Almost two weeks ago, I found myself staring at the reality of going to trial to resolve this divorce. Although not much has changed on that front(the allocation agreement has finally been signed since starting this post), my lawyer has advised that there is a chance to avoid it. Neither I nor my soon to be ex-husband can afford the cost of a trial, and the lawyers are scrambling to get things resolved. Well, at least it seems that way.

So, I had my freak out moment when I was notified of the trial. Today I’m super sick, but calm. Thursday I’ll be on edge all day, because he gets to go into the condo for the first time in over a year and “survey” what he thinks is his. We already made a detailed list and told him it is all in the storage unit in the basement, but certainly I’m trying to take his clothes, figurines, and telescope for my own…

In his eyes, when we fought, everything was his. If he bought me a shirt at a concert, it was his. He wanted “his” ring back many times during fights which I would then offer, but he would quickly change his mind. He already took his bed and “his” couch that he got for free from his former boss. We traded it for a free couch that we got from my mom. Honestly, this whole thing is stupid.

I have clothes, a guitar (well…two), a computer, some jewelry, some books and pictures and that’s about it. I know what I own and what is his. I know what we acquired during our marriage, and I’m more than happy to give 50% or more of it to get rid of him. Take the black plates and red mugs. Take the old stained shower curtain and why not the curtain rod? Take the grill you never took the time to go buy a cover for or clean. Take the old coffee table, the lamps, the toaster, the dull knives and the table your son and I eat off of every day. Take it all. I just want this to be over with already.

I know my ex won’t be completely out of my life, but the day will come when I can change my name back to what it was and file for bankruptcy to get a fresh start. A second chance at life is waiting; one that looks like it will be full of happiness and learned lessons. I have grown up more in the past two years than I have in my entire lifetime. I have an amazing person in my life I can actually call my partner, an amazing son, and friends and family that care about me. As dark as things are right now, the future looks so bright. So lets get on with this already. I am more than ready to move on to the next chapter.

Cubicle Prison

Sometimes, I feel very disconnected from the world. I’m like an actor in a play who never got the script and has no clue what lines to say. Quick to smile and even quicker to walk away; I’m not one for prolonged contact with strangers. I have to wonder if I was always like this.

To an extent, I think I can say I’ve never been much of a people person, but that hasn’t exactly kept me down. I aced my honors speech course. I was a student aid for my professor in college helping freshman with literary analysis.  I’m not one to wait a stupidly long time for the waiter to come back to tell them something is messed up with my order. I don’t avoid interactions in which I need to do or say something, but other than that, I couldn’t care less about basic human interaction. Give me a book, a bottle, or scalding hot bath, and I am completely content to not deal with anyone.

What the hell does that say about me? It’s not that I implicitly don’t care about other people. I do deeply care about most people. But in my daily life; the boring monotonous drudgery that is working in a cubicle for 8 hours a day in a state where going outside in the winter months can literally hurt you… I could not care less about the people around me.

“Stay warm!” “The day is almost over.” “It sure is cold out today.” “Boy, he is getting so big! How old is he now?” “It’s almost the weekend!” “How are you?” “Fine.” “Good.” “Did you have a good weekend?” “How was your vacation?” “Oh my gosh you looks so good! How far along are you?” “Good morning!” “Good night.” “See you tomorrow.” “Drive Safe.” And my new personal favorite… “Happy Friday-Eve!” All of this, I am happy to live without. I smile, I nod, exchange pleasantries, pretend to care, but really, if I disappeared to Alaska tomorrow, I would feel no sorrow. I would not miss this congenial pergatory.

I do understand that there are many other jobs out there that are perhaps worse than mine. Physically demanding and/or dangerous jobs, far more monotonous, thankless jobs, or no job at all could all have any person worse off than I. I’m not asking for pity. I am simply stating that this kind of job, for me, slowly kills my soul day by day. If I do anything else right in my life, it will be to get the hell out of this industry and find a job I actually give a damn about.

From Fear

I realized a couple days ago that I am starting to move past the fear I used to live in daily. I accepted a friend request from an old friend without a second thought and then it dawned on me. I would have never done that a year and a half ago. It would have incited such a terrible fight it would have felt like the end of the world. Under his reign of terror, the smallest thing could light the fuse.

I make no excuses about the fact that I am imperfect and played a part in all this, but I did not twist my entire way of thinking into something so grotesque all by myself. I thought I had to get permission to go out with a friend. I was isolated and had very few people I could talk to. Even those people, like my mother and a handful of friends, he treated as enemies. If I ever went out, which was rare, I was under extreme anxiety the entire time wondering just how angry he would be once I got home. I cut plans short or cancelled all the time to avoid this. I even had to be careful what I posted on social media, because if it was negative in any way, he took it as a personal attack on him. Poor, poor him! He would ask how I could treat him like that. Didn’t I know that I should shut up and be grateful for all the long hours he worked? Didn’t I know this was a complete and sufficient contribution to our family? Screw that!

I vividly remember the anxiety I experienced any time I heard the outside door to our condo building open and shut. Was it him? Most of the time it wasn’t, but I still felt the same fearful stab in my gut well after the plenary order of protection went into effect.

In an attempt to minimize fighting, I would try and cook or bake him things to keep him happy. It never did for long. We couldn’t go to the store together, because it always turned into a fight. Yet he would criticize things I bought as wasting money, despite spending hours combing over coupons, ads, and comparing prices and sales.

If I asked him to do anything when he got home, he would tell me I was nagging him. It was like that even before we got married. If I asked for his opinion or for help planning the wedding, I was nagging. The few dancing lessons we didn’t even have to pay for were “unnecessary,” even though I didn’t know how to dance. He criticized me mid lesson for not doing what I was supposed to. Before our son was born, I asked him to come to the store with me to pick out a color for the nursery area in our room. It was one small wall. We fought at the store and all the way the way home. Only after I had been baffled, bawling my eyes out for an hour did he turn the car around to go back and get one measly bucket of paint together.

As a single mother working full time, I understand the tiredness one feels after a long day at work. I get it. But, that is hardly an excuse to be a miserable, angry human being, taking it out on the people around you. I cannot count how many times I was called a b*tch, a nag, a c*nt, etc. Screw that!

He always had to know where I was, and if I developed any kind of autonomy as a person, he reacted as though I was having an affair. “Who is there? Whose d*ck are you sucking?” It went on like this for years. The thing is, I never cheated on him. He was the one who wound up having an affair after our son was born, because he “needed to feel appreciated.” He lost his restaurant and a huge promotion over it. Worse, he swore up and down it was all a rumor. I was supportive of him until the day I saw the proof. After years of verbal abuse, he did the very thing he harassed me about. Screw that!

We never were able to effectively communicate. I would assume he understood rational thought processes. He assumed I knew what he expected all the time. To this day this is a barrier. Even with a plenary order of protection in place limiting our communication to our son, he is still able to reach his hand into my life and shake shit up. Granted, I have grown and the extent of the damage he can cause is minimal, but it is still baffling to me. Who is this person? How could I have thought he ever cared about me in any real capacity? I think he is fundamentally incapable of compassion. I think he is completely incapable of looking outside of his very narrow view of life in which he is the center. Screw that!

I used to live in fear. I didn’t know how to be alone. I only found meaning in being with another person. “They” made me whole. This was my fatal flaw, and it nearly killed me being married to a narcissistic sociopath. Getting away from him was and remains one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I had to rip myself out of a world I thought was real and plunge into a completely foreign world called reality. It’s a world I was not used to and very uncomfortable being in. Change and discomfort aside, I am living a new life today. I am trying to thrive. I will never return to that hell I called a life; married to my worst enemy. Screw that! 

In the Beginning

Once upon a delusion, I desperately chased the “American” dream: The nuclear household with the husband working, the mother home with the kids, in some dystopian illusion from 1950. I thought that my life would be perfect only after I got a husband, got the home, and had the kids. With complete dedication to that dream and in complete denial of anything that could tarnish it; I got pretty far.

My high school was a societal bubble of very different economic, athletic and academic classes. Rich, athletic, and/or rich academic types dominated the school. Low income misfits, stoners, and goths were very few and far between. I didn’t really fit in to any group, but most glaringly not with the rich, athletic, or academic types. In high school, I never did anything impressive. I spent my time day dreaming of the perfect relationship, listening to music to drown everything else out, self-destructing in defiance and rage, or looking for someone to solve all my problems. There was so much angst and pessimism running rampant inside my head; not like in college.

College was a strange new world of seemingly limitless possibility. I found my passion for research and writing, and I was published for the first time. Finally, after relying on myself to pay for college, I graduated Manga Cum Loude with other academic honors. My future seemed bright, but it felt uncertain and terrifying.

I moved out from my childhood home, got engaged after an annoyingly long three year relationship, planned a decent wedding on a tiny budget, got married to the high school “sweet” heart I never knew I had, worked two jobs, managed to buy a small condo in a nice neighborhood, and bought the shiny new car. None of it got me to that happy dystopia I was chasing. In fact, I was completely miserable.

The relationship with my husband began to strain even before getting married. I ignored every warning sign. We fought a lot, and I hated it. After a few years of marriage, I was ready to leave. I was over the idea of having kids to fix everything, but I realize it too late. I wound up pregnant two weeks after making a firm plan to leave. I had even restarted taking my birth control. So, I stayed. Why? Because of a sworn upon promise, “the relationship [would] change. He [would] change.” He did not.

I should have left long ago. I was too busy enjoying being pregnant and learning how to care for a tiny human being. In a daze from lack of sleep, I was too drained to notice the miserable dynamics of our relationship were recurring with new gusto. We had a beautiful son. I could tune out the rest… for a while.