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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eventually Gone

My parent’s got divorced when I was eight years old, and I was glad they did. My dad was rarely home, and when he was, there was always fighting or tension so strong you could feel the weight in the air. My father had wanted a divorce for years. He told me once he stayed married 9 years longer than he should have. Ouch.

The final straw for my mother was one night of drunken chaos. They had been fighting for hours. My mother came up from the basement, where he had built his workshop, and she was crying and covered in sawdust. She didn’t say anything, but it was obvious he had pushed her down. She finally convinced him to leave the house and locked the door behind him. He must have changed his mind and came pounding on the door to be let back in. She called the cops, but they didn’t arrive until after he had charged shoulder first through the glass side panel next to the front door. I was standing on the stairs right in his path. I was frozen staring at this craziness. Thankfully breaking through glass isn’t exactly a smooth process like it’s portrayed in the movies. I didn’t know who that person charging at the window was, but I will never forget him. So, the divorce was welcomed relief for us all.

I wasn’t, however, happy when my Dad decided to move to Iowa. It felt like abandonment, and it was. He took me out a couple times before he left. We played mini golf or went bowling, but he always seems tense and distracted.  I didn’t know he was Bipolar at the time or that he was an alcoholic. My mother waited until I was older to tell me. At the time, all that I knew was she hated when he drank, and that he had left me to go start a life somewhere else.

My father did return to the Chicago suburbs briefly when I was ten-ish. Not for me, but for his good friend’s daughter. She was ten years younger than him, but that seemed to just be my father’s taste in women as my mom is nine years younger. He lived with her for about a year, not too far from where I lived with my mom.

During this time my dad got re-married, and so did his new wife’s brother; my ex-step-uncle. I had known him for a long time as my father’s friend while my parent’s were still married. He was the first person to put an electric guitar in my lap, but it was way to big and heavy for me to find any enjoyment in it. I got to video tape his wedding, and I remember very clearly sprinkling salt into my dad’s wine when he wasn’t looking so he would stop drinking it. It didn’t matter as it was an open bar, but I thought is was funny and might ease my mom’s worries, as she had been invited as well. Somehow my mother and I became my wasted father’s early ride home. I vividly remember how he opened the back door, swaying dangerously outside the car hollering “Aunt Clarice!” He then proceeded to pass out. Thankfully we were still in the parking lot, but my mother was visibly upset.

As far as his second wife goes, it was her 5th marriage, #2 for my Dad, and they seemed happy. At least they didn’t fight. Though, she never seemed at ease around me. I felt like an unwelcome invader at her house despite loving it there. They cooked and drank a lot, listened to good music, and I got to watch movies and play video games.

Then he convinced her to move back out to Iowa with him. My father is a very charismatic person at times, and could probably convince someone they didn’t really need both of their arms. They moved out to Perry, IA. Of course I was sad, and I don’t think they lasted 6 months out there.

He dropped of the face of the planet for months in a deep depression, until he found his girlfriend in Fort Dodge that summer. He would never get married again (false) he said, but brought me along to her house when he would visit. She had a daughter my age. We became instant best friends. We’d go see Titanic, too many times, or rent Romeo & Juliet so we could fawn of Leonardo DeCaprio. We went to the “mall” in Fort Dodge, ran around in lightening laden thunder storms, bought candy and Mountain Dew that we ate/drank until we got sick, and got quite the kick out of pretending to smoke our chocolate cigarettes in the bar in Perry when they would come down to visit.

It was a fun time; highly unsupervised. Our parents were always out somewhere and always came back in way too good of a mood. I didn’t know why nor did I care. I was having too much fun.

One particularly hot summer day up in Fort Dodge, I was playing the role of water girl; bringing my dad glasses of ice water as he dug up a giant pine tree out back. I was bored to tears, because my friend was spending time with her dad. I remember handing my Dad yet another glass of ice water and mustering up the courage to ask him if he still believed in God. I was in private school at the time, and the state of his soul concerned me. He thought about it briefly and simply replied “Yes.” That was enough to quell my worries of his afterlife. We went back to Perry later that day. Shortly after, I went home to Illinois to start public school for the first time. I’d never see my Fort Dodge best friend again.

I had another friend before that. She looked like my sister, blond hair, blue eyes and skinny as a stick. I would only get to see her on summers when her mom would ship her off to live with her dad, our neighbor. Her dad was a narcissistic, German, Kiss fan to the extreme who was ALWAYS sipping on a beer. He tanned and smoked too much and was a chronic bachelor. There wasn’t much supervision going on over there either. I only visited a handful of times. She would usually come to my house. But the one time I had been over there, her dad felt the need to let me know that some day I would like the taste of beer because I was 100% German like they were. I thought that was a ridiculous thought. I had tried a sip on my dad’s non-alcoholic beer and hated it. “I’ll never like beer,” I defiantly declared. He just rolled his eyes and said “[y]ou’ll see.” I shrugged him off. I wasn’t even going to have alcohol at my wedding (false). It was my wedding after all, and us Seventh-Day Adventists didn’t drink.

One of the last times I saw her was after the divorce and after we had moved to a more affordable condo. She showed up beyond freaked out, because her dad was drunk and fighting with his girlfriend. I think she got shipped back to live with her mom in Washington state. I never saw her again either.

Everyone, it seemed, left eventually, and my earliest memories of alcohol affecting me and people around me were primarily negative. I lost my best friend in high school for a while, because she had started drinking. I was appalled. Then life happened, and I found myself in her basement sipping on my first drinks. We are still friends today, but we rarely see each other.

So what’s the point of all this? I don’t know. It’s just funny the things I remember at different times and realize how they impacted me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Dark

There are many times in my life when I have felt like I would be swallowed whole by my emotions; fear, rage, loneliness, sadness, etc. Any single one can consume me completely. It’s when they all come at me full force that I become weirdly numb. I can feel the impending self-destruction creeping up my spine. A cloud of black oblivion settles into my mind; an old friend. I know not to struggle. Quietly I tip toe through my day pretending not to notice it; knowing any spark will set it all on fire.

My soon to be ex-husband can now see our son unsupervised, and he is putting on the nice guy act. It pisses me off that he can still affect me. He got my hopes up that just maybe he will be a decent person and help shoulder the work of raising our son. I know it won’t last. I know him. But, fuck if I’m not conflicted that he appears to genuinely want to be a larger part of our son’s life. All I know him as is my former abuser and the shit stain in my life. He was a monster to me. Can monster’s love something/someone besides themselves? I don’t know. It sounds like the shitty plot to a Disney movie.

My Dad is in the hospital, I found out yesterday, and possibly having surgery today. I cannot, however, get ahold of him and am not listed as a contact they can release information to at the hospital. I’m worried he’s pissed at me for giving his cell phone number to his long time friend who he had a falling out with. To say he is one to hold a grudge would be a massive understatement. Just ask 90% of his family who he doesn’t speak to.

So, he could be in surgery as I type, or I’m just blacklisted. According to my Grandma, who just returned home from the hospital for the 4th time this month with congestive heart failure, he’s out with my uncle who he doesn’t talk to buying her new chairs… She’s in her mid nineties, but she has always been strong and sharp. Hearing her say over and over “I’m just so helpless,” and that she “not going to get better,” was hard to hear. She lives 8 hours away in the middle of nowhere Minnesota. I haven’t seen her since my son was one.

My partner is completely unavailable to me right now, and all I want to do is go home and curl up in bed. Instead, I get to go to my FAVORITE Dr. Office after work for a not so painless procedure. I’ll get home late and not have any time to go to a meeting…

…and so I tiptoe around these feelings, moving very cautiously through the black fog, because I know one wrong step means disaster.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unwelcome

Today my soon to be ex-husband and former abuser gets to “survey” the condo to compile a list of what he believes to be his. My stomach is in knots, and all I can feel at this point is anxiety. I will not be there when he is, but just knowing he will be in my home leaves me feeling violated. There’s no other way of putting it. He is an unwelcome stranger in the place I, for now, call home.

It’s hard to wrap my head around how I used to live with his person. It was misery every single day. I feel like an idiot for being in such deep denial for so long. I don’t even know who that person was anymore. I value myself, my life, and the people I love today. That other person, the person I used to be, lived in fear and constant anxiety. I lived under the control of an abusive narcissist. Isolated by a sociopath, I was too afraid to leave and too miserable to stay. Every second around that person had me tearing myself apart inside. I hated it.

I fought harder than I ever had to get free of that. My home is now my haven. My place of safety and love. A place I share with my partner and my son. A place where we learn and love and cook and laugh. It is not a place for him to be.

Yet here we are. The day has come, and I suspect many more uncomfortable days will follow. I will have to focus on taking care of myself and the people I love. I will try my best not to let this intrusion bother me. He may be able to briefly step into my home, but he may no longer step into my heart. He was banned from there many years ago. Now, it is a fortified place, where only genuine love can dwell.

Honestly, as I am thinking about this, my condo is just a place. My home is elsewhere. I really shouldn’t worry about it, and so I think I won’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Unconventional Family

I never saw myself as the motherly type. Kids always annoyed me, and they just seemed disgusting in every single way. Boogers, poop, runny noses, blood curdling crying; that’s all I thought of when I thought of kids. Never mind the fact that both my family and my husband’s family is riddled with mental health and addition issues. I had absolutely no intention of bringing another life in to this messed up world, and I never thought I would have to do it all by myself.

It is true; however, that everything changes when it is your child. I have had every bodily fluid a child can produce on me and my clothes. Not that I enjoyed being crapped on, but it’s more like it doesn’t matter when it’s your child. They are your flesh and blood, and you do anything to take care of them the best you can. Well, at least that was the effect it had on me. My husband, did not have the same transformation. He may have changed 8 diapers in my son’s entire life. He never got up in the middle of the night to help take care of him, and my son never slept through the night until he was almost 2.

Today, I have a partner who feels/felt much the same as I did before I had my son. Despite that, he has been more involved and helpful in my son’s life that his father ever was. He puts him to bed, helps enforce rules and time out, and today he took care of him all day long, and even came along to the pediatrician as my son has a fever. All just so I can go to work. He has NO obligation to this child, and yet he is a better parent than his own father. It blows my mind and makes me unbelievable grateful to have him in our lives.

Neither of us are perfect, and we both have our bad days. Hell, we each have had REALLY bad days, but we never lose each other. Love is always there in our hearts, and my son’s life is so much better for it.

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!