Life Goes On

It’s a ride, this life of mine. I am only thirty-two, but I feel as if I have lived through a lifetime of events. College, jobs, marriage, alcoholism, recovery, relapse, home ownership, car ownership, parenthood, divorce, selling real estate, bankruptcy, and now I’m moving back home with my mother. I’m finally in a healthy relationship with a real partner that I truly love, and although finances have hit the fan, the future looks bright; building from a clean slate with many lessons learned.

Last Sunday my realtor and her family came over for dinner. We all know each other and by the end of dinner, the kiddos had ripped every pillow off the bed and engaged in one epic pillow fight. This week was stressful and physically demanding due to necessary last minute home repairs and cleaning, but somehow we managed to pull it off. The condo is officially listed today, and we already have four viewings scheduled. I’m so grateful for such a wonderful realtor and new friend, as well as a super supportive partner without whom I could not have done this.

My ex is still who he was, but I’m learning to handle his behavior in a healthier way. It is nice to not constantly be at war. I would have never thought we could sort everything out like this. To be real, I am doing everything, with much help from wonderful people, and he is just not resisting and going along with it for the most part. That is the best I could have hoped for, and I’ll be satisfied with it. With the help of my sponsor, another amazing person in my life who deals with an alcoholic ex-husband, I am learning to set healthy boundaries. I’m learning how to not be surprised by his behavior, because he has always been like that. What should I expect? I am grateful for the ability to get less rattled and be far less sensitive to his provocations. Sometimes, still, I fail myself by reacting poorly, but I am doing a hell of a lot better than I used to.

Getting back into AA was awkward at first. It didn’t come with the pink cloud it did for me like the first time. I felt like I was returning the disappointment of a potential success story. I hate feeling that way. Perhaps it is a completely self inflicted perception. I wouldn’t put it past myself to dream it up, but that’s how I feel among my old friends. So, I’ll make new friends, and keep in touch with old ones. I don’t regret coming back into the program for a second. I’m just trying to find my groove in this place again. I supposed all expectations must be left at the door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work in Progress

So, on Monday I started writing a post about how overwhelmed I was with everything going on in my life. I was focusing on all the negative stuff. I got about three paragraphs in, wiping away tears, and decided writing about things wasn’t helping. Who wants to listen to me complain about my problems anyways? A novel idea hit me. Why don’t I just tell my partner I’m overwhelmed, directly, instead of indirectly pour out my feelings in a blog post?

From an analytical standpoint, reaching out and saying I need help seems like a common sense thing to do when I’m overwhelmed. That is not; however, how my mind works. For many years, be it from my mother or ex-husband, when I have reached out for help it was under the assumption of me “owing” or being indebted to that person. The scales of power shifted against my favor, and I thus tried to avoid it at all costs.

Prior to these past few years, I tried to make everything happen on my own. When things went wrong, I blamed someone else. When things went right, I thought, “see! I can do this all.” I prided myself on saying I put myself through college, and I did for two years at community college. But when scholarships and a student job didn’t cover rent and tuition at WIU, I relied on my father and my boyfriend at the time to help me pay for things.

I have always been a bit of an impatient opportunist. Once I graduated, I grabbed what I could from my apartment in Macomb, IL and never went back. I jumped from one unhealthy relationship into another; seeking greener grass and a brighter future. I pushed to get married, to buy a condo, to get a new car, and all of these things manifested. But I was not happy. I sought escape, comfort, and oblivion every day in a bottle, can or glass. Nothing made me happy, and I never asked for help.

So what is the point in saying all of this? Today, I am divorced, filing for bankruptcy, and moving back in with my mother, but I am happier than I have ever been. How is this possible? Well, I have an amazing partner working the program with me. I have learned to ask for help and not try to force everything to be how I want it. I don’t blame other people for EVERYTHING (most of the time,) and try to accept things as they are. Despite all the pain and misery of the last ten years of my life, I have the three most important things I care about; my sobriety, my partner, and my son. I have everything if I have these things. I don’t care about my car. Having to sell my condo is stressful, but doesn’t destroy my inner peace (for long.) Filing for bankruptcy I see as a new start.

The future is limitless, and I get to share it with the people I care about most. I may be broke as a joke right now, but I don’t feel poor. I am truly happy. It’s something I was never able to find on my own but am so very grateful to have today.

 

 

 

 

 

MSA

I don’t know how to feel right now. I have to be in court in two and a half hours to submit a marital settlement agreement (MSA) to hopefully avoid a full on trial. All I can really say for sure is that I feel tired. All of this legal crap has been very draining, and I’m ready for it to be over. However, even after the divorce is finalized, my legal journey is not over. I must then file for bankruptcy to wipe the slate clean and try for a new beginning.

I have learned from my mistakes, and I know I am a different, stronger person today. I have the support of a loving partner, my mother, my sponsor, etc. Still I feel alone in this at times like these. I am the one who has to walk the path, and there is no denying that it is scary. I worry that I am doing the right thing filing for bankruptcy. I am scared not knowing where I will be living soon. I am sad for my soon to be ex-husband and troubled by the effect it may have on our son. I do not doubt my decision to get divorce in any way. I remember the hell we used to live in, and divorced parents is a million times better than that. Still, he will be different from his friends growing up. He may harbor resentment, hide his sadness, bottle up anger or who knows?

I would think as a child of divorce myself that I would have the tools already equipped to handle this with my son. The situation; however, is very different. My father never put up any fight for custody, and I was glad when my parents got divorced. I was nine and I hated being around the fighting. They were clearly miserable, and the divorce was a necessary relief to everyone. My son is only three and a half. He has two parents who love him and want to be involved in his life. He probably won’t remember the fighting, hopefully, and may not have perspective on why his parents split up. His father will never say it was his decision; therefore, I will be to blame when my son gets upset about it. What do I say to that little boy? I’m not going to say that his father was abusive and we were both miserable and treated each other poorly. The generic “sometimes mommies and daddies want different things” explanation seems like an insult to his intelligence even at his current age…

But this is all worries about the future, and I know I cannot predict or control it. I know I have to stay in this day, but today sucks. I am scared and sad. All I can do is pray, and hope it goes well and is over with quickly.

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.

Bottle of Worry

I wonder how much I could have accomplished in my life if I took all that time wasted, worrying, stressed, self medicating, and actually applied myself to doing something positive. I am pretty sure my life would look pretty different. As much as that might sound appealing, I do have an amazing son, I have learned a lot of life lessons, and I have some pretty special people in my life that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Where did all the wasted time and worry come from? I learned from an early age how to worry. My grandmother and my mother were chronic worries and they showed it. This is not to say they aren’t wonderful people. My grandmother practically raised me and I miss her every day. My mother and I haven’t always gotten along, but she is definitely a good person and always there for me when I need her. With that said, there was always a tone of worry in their voices. I used to hate it. I felt like if I ever hinted that something was wrong, I would get a full inquisition. This lead to me be the kind of person who keeps things to myself. I can bottle stress up like a pro, but I also eventually explode in a blaze of mind boggling self destruction. Not healthy…haha.

It is hard now, being in a loving and supportive relationship where I can be open with my partner. I am not used to it, and sometimes I fall back on my old habits of bottling things up. I’m trying to relearn how to live happily and love without fear. It is both extremely freeing and utterly terrifying all at once.

With my ex, the abuser, nothing was discussed on any deep level. We were both very closed off, and something as small as deciding what to eat for dinner usually turned into an all out brawl.  I lived in fear of those fights, so I almost never attempted to talk to him. I learned from the few times I did try, that anything I had to say was taken immediately as a personal attack on him; even if it had NOTHING to do with him.

So, I bottled up my emotions and had many disastrous self destruction events. This did not help the dynamic of our “relationship.” I would have my melt down and then he would forever have more ammo to throw in my face at any given time. He has a file folder in his mind of every little thing I had ever done wrong. It could have happened 6 years ago, but if we fought, it was today’s mud to sling.

It was ugly. Everything about being with that person was ugly. I ignored so many red flags. I blindly trudged down the path I thought I was supposed to follow. Engagement, buying a home, marriage, having a child, etc. I lost friends, I was isolated and miserable, but worst of all, I thought I was completely trapped in this ugly world. I thought I had no choice but to remain in it.

I have a wonderful, caring, insightful counselor these days, but the marriage counselors I saw with my ex seemed to be hell bent on “fixing” the marriage no matter what. As a very skilled sociopath, my ex always seemed to have the sympathies of our counselors. I was just open and honest and came off as “harsh” according to them. Of course I was harsh! I was like a trapped animal doing anything to stay alive. They didn’t see him for what he was. No one did. The only other person to recognize just how dangerous he was is his ex-girlfriend. She contacted me after it was over (for real) and apologized for the part she played in my misery and flat out said he was a master manipulator and hurt a lot of people.

No relationship is perfect, but I am very grateful to have a truly caring, loving, amazing person to share my life with right now. It’s easy to forget how good you’ve got it when you get caught up worrying about all the stressful things going on in your life. Life isn’t ugly, and with the right person, it can be beyond beautiful.

Gloves Off

I don’t know what I expected. Nothing was ever easy when it came to dealing with my husband. I was hoping he wouldn’t be a complete a$$hole when it came to getting through this divorce. That was a stupid assumption.

The judge has appointed a GAL for our son, which is not inherently a bad thing, but I have literally no money to pay for this third lawyer. $5000 retainer off the bat. I have to come up with half of that, and I cannot even pay my own lawyer. I’m not sure where the judge expects me to get this money. You could turn me upside down and shake me to see if any change fell out of my pockets, but it would be a waste of your time.

As I have said, my credit cards are maxed and closed out. I make just enough to pay for the mortgage, association fees, car payment, car insurance, and my son’s daycare. I buy clothes at Good Will. I shop for super clearance items as Big Lots and Jewel. I spend very little on anything besides the bills I absolutely have to pay. I am constantly searching for a second job, and I’m just flabbergasted at this point. My husband lawyer proposed he only has to pay $98 in child support a month… Um what?! I take care of our son 99% of the time. How did his lawyer pull that calculation out of her backside? My lawyer estimated $610. Something is severely off about both his lawyer and this judge.

I have been trying my very best to compromise, against my wishes. I do not want to drag this out, but you can only push a person so far. The gloves are off. Let’s go to trial. I will be in debt for the rest of my life, but I’ll be damned if I am going to let him/his lawyer go about this like he’s some poor, mistaken father that everyone should feel sorry for. He is an abuser. He is a master manipulator. He thinks the world is out to get him and he has never done anyting wrong in his entire life.

No. Just No! I’m not going to just take it for the sake of getting the divorce over with. I have way to much self respect these days to let that happen. I don’t know how exactly I’m going to fight this, but I will find a way.