Pauses in Between

I never know how to feel on the calm days amid the chaos right now. I’m always waiting for the next problem. I enjoy my “good” days. The good ones are days when I get to do things and spend time how and with whom I want to. On an uneventful, cloudy Monday afternoon, however, I don’t know how I feel. The highlight of my day with be getting to curl up in bed with my partner to go to sleep.

Nothing is wrong, and I am grateful for the peace. I’m grateful for many things right now, but today I’m just off. Though there is a definite benefit to having moments where you can just be and enjoy the moment, boredom and inactivity are states I’m both uncomfortable being in and have concluded are dangerous for my personality type.

If I’m not busy putting out fires,  eventually I’ll start one. I don’t know if I do it consciously or not, but I do know that I do it just to have something to fill the void. I’ll start focusing on something that I declare “wrong” in my life or find something that needs fixing and focus on it obsessively. If I don’t go that route, I start imagining problems that aren’t even real. I start worrying over potential future situations that are not even a reality and focus on that. I grab on to anything that I can keep my mind busy. It’s an exhausting way to live.

The chaos doesn’t relent for long these days. I just got an e-mail from my lawyer, and the allocation agreement is finally signed and to be submitted to the judge this Wednesday. My soon to be ex-husband will have unsupervised “parenting” time with my son for the first time in a year and a half. The order of protection will be altered for pick ups and drop offs, and my son will no longer be listed on it. So, I’ve got something new to worry over now.

My son’s father loves him, I’m sure, in his own way. The thing that scares me about him having time alone with our son is that his concept of love is very skewed and never prevented any of the emotional abuse I endured. I fear for my son, who is completely defenseless against the psychological and emotional manipulation that my husband is skilled in. I never had any intention of keeping them apart forever, but I’m lying if I say I’m anything but terrified he can take him on his own now.

After everything that has happened, he has done nothing to get help or grow as a person. I was fighting in the beginning to get him to go to counseling as a condition of having unsupervised time with our son, but he completely refused. There would have been no harm in it. It’s only a beneficial thing for everyone involved. I had to cave, though, in order to get things moving in this divorce. Now I’m scared I made the wrong decision.

Did I give in just to make my life easier? Have I subjected my son to an emotionally dangerous position just, because I couldn’t financially afford to keep fighting for him? I hate all of this.

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.

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.

Running on Empty

On days like today, I have no idea how I keep going. I was up at 4am,  because my little one had an accident and wet the bed. Fell back asleep for an hour, woke up, made coffee, made lunch, got the little one up, fed, dressed, then myself, ran out the door (late again), dropped him off at daycare, sped to work, 9 hours working in subarctic temperatures (something is broke in the heating system,) ran to the grocery store for TP and cat food on my lunch break in the rain, took 10 minutes to check out because “self” checkout is more like wait while attendants bounce around to all the machines until they finally help you (by this point I imagine flames blazing in my eyes), back to work through the hail, late, back to the arctic for four more hours… Then I will pick up my little guy, go to the gym (because it is the one “selfish” thing I get to do for myself), find a quick dinner, go to a meeting, go home, put little one to bed, which is a marathon effort of bath time, brushing teeth, getting him to go potty, reading a story, and making sure he has everything he needs to go to sleep. Then I will go wash the dishes, take a quick & quiet shower, and collapse in to bed. Tomorrow, repeat.

Just writing that out makes me feel even more exhausted. I’m sitting here, drinking expired Kombucha, because it was $1.50 off (quality and freshness guaranteed!) I’m worn the hell out and broke. I don’t want to vent/complain to my partner. He is going through some heavy stuff and I’m being as supportive as possible. Still, I feel like I’m going to snap at any moment and just lose my shit. I have no idea what the hell keeps me going.

Perhaps it is unbridled rage at my soon to be ex-husband, who doesn’t have a single responsibility in the world besides going to work. The abusive man-child who still gets kicks making my life a living hell has dragged out this divorce for a year now. The judge has ordered a trial since it is taking so long. He spends part of one day every other week or so with his son, and then pretends like I’m keeping him away from our son. Ask any time Mother F^cker!! I always say yes. Stop playing the victim and take some responsibility for your own life…

Anyway… I’m done venting. I can’t spend anymore energy dwelling in my misery and anger. Time for a chill pill;

…zombie shuffle until bed.

P.S. I do realize that there billions of people in the world living far harder lives than I am. This is just my reaction to my circumstances given the society I was raised in and still struggle to reside.

Drunken Society

I can remember watching an episode of South Park where they were making fun of Stan’s Dad’s alcoholism. They were mocking people that called it a disease, and at the time a laughed along with it. Just have a little self control right? I no longer find that sentiment funny, as I have since come to find out I am an alcoholic.

Finding this out was the scariest moment in my life. Denial is strong amongst alcoholics. We like to think we have control of our drinking far, far past the point where we have lost control. I figured it out when I woke up one day, feeling like a piece of rotten meat inside a discarded trash can. I looked myself in the eyes in the mirror. In my head I said no more drinking. Immediately after saying that, as I had every day for weeks, I realized that wasn’t gong to happen. I literally couldn’t stop. Terrified, I looked into my eyes, and no longer recognized who I was looking at. The person in the mirror had dead eyes and a dead soul; slave to her master; alcohol.

That day, after a few more beers to quell my anxiety and the shakes, I decided to quit cold turkey. I lay awake all night, sweating, shaky, and completely unable to think. I could only count to ten over and over and over again. The night seemed like it would never end. I was screaming for relief in my head, and then I found myself praying to anyone/anything out there that could possible relieve me of the agony. That night, I found no relief. It was the worst night of my life.

The next day, I took 1.5 hours to get out of bed, get dressed, and go a block to grab a 6 pack. I couldn’t take it anymore. I drank half a beer that I REALLY did not want to drink, laid back down, and called my husband to take me to the ER. Detox was slow and painful, but it was in that hospital that I found AA and my first sponsor.

I have faltered since then. It’s a slow process of forgetting the pain and assuming you’re doing ok on your own. I stop going to meetings and then BAM! I’m right back in that miserable place. I know I cannot drink. I know I cannot control it. Usually when I decide to take that first drink, I have every intention of self destructing, because I have carried too much stress and bullshit for too long. I stop caring about myself. I take one drink, and it is never just one. Eventually, I go past the point of no return and have to snap out of the denial once more. It is never done without help and medical intervention.

  •  According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 15.1 million adult Americans are alcoholics, and approximately 623,000 adolescents (age 12-17) are alcoholics as well.
  • About 88,000 people die in the U.S. from alcohol-related causes annually. This makes it the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the America; only behind tobacco and poor diet/inactivity.
  • Globally, alcohol is the 5th leading risk factor for premature death, however; among the age group of 15 to 49 years old, it is the number one risk factor. In 2012, 3.3 million deaths were attributable to alcohol consumption world-wide.

From what I know of the pain and struggle with alcoholism, there are a whole lot of people in our world suffering horribly and dying from this disease. Yet it really isn’t talked about much. There are two dominant perceptions of alcoholics that I regularly see in society.

One of these is disdain. There is always some accident report on the news about a drunk driver, the reporter concluding with finality police report the driver was drunk, intoxicated, over the legal limit. Period. Horrible tragedy, or close call, all because the person was so careless. There is NO excuse for driving drunk, but there is also no discussion why it happens. It is accepted with certainty that irresponsibility with alcohol was to blame, and then we move one.

No one asks why. No one thinks to address the fact alcohol is sold almost everywhere these days. Liquor stores, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, vending machines, movie theaters, and the list goes on. I find it harder to find a store that doesn’t sell booze than it is to find one that does. What does that say about us as a society?

The other societal perception of alcoholics I frequently see is amusement and/or entertainment. “Oh that’s just Uncle Larry,” the sexy misunderstood hero of a movie with the tragic past, the drunken anti-hero you just can’t help winding up rooting for, reality TV of drunk people making a complete fool of them selves and often time getting hurt: These alcoholics are taken lightly, gawked at, or even admired in a strange way.

Bad Santa was and still is one of my favorite “Christmas” movies. Showcasing a vulgar old drunk who cons malls as a Santa each year, Billy Bob Thorton plays a character who swears, stinks, is creepy, and he is constantly drinking. I still can watch it as it does a decent job of showcasing the misery of being a chronic alcoholic; albeit with a comical twist. Billy Bob’s character wakes up to take a swig out of a half drank bottle of beer with a cigarette butt in it. We chuckle, because it’s ridiculous. However, I guarantee many alcoholics have done the same thing. “Parking” at his new mall gig and a waterfall of beer cans and empty liquor bottles pour out the door as he emerges; and again, we laugh. How ridiculous?! Again, it has happened in real life, and there’s nothing funny about it.

  • According to the Substance Abuse and Mental health Administration (SAMHSA), heavy alcohol use is defined as binge drinking 5 or more days in the past month (it does not state days in a row).
  • Binge drinking is defined by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as drinking until your blood alcohol volume (BAV) is past the legal limit (0.08) in any 2 hour timeframe.

I laughed at these definitions. I certainly don’t need two whole hours to get tipsy, and I’ve gone weeks, maybe even a couple months doing it every single day… all day. But what do those statistics mean for everyone else? What does it mean to the party animal frat boy or the sports fan that likes to “celebrate” victories and “sooth” the wounds of defeat? What about the micro beer aficionados ordering beer flights or the wine coinsure at a wine “tasting.” You know you aren’t spitting it out ever time. Beer and yoga, painting and wine, happy hour; how much are you indulging?

Heavy alcohol use doesn’t automatically mean you are an alcoholic, and that is certainly not the point I am trying to make. The concerning issue for me is how pervasive alcohol consumption is in out society and across the world. Sporting events, concerts, weddings, or just because it’s Tuesday and your favorite restaurant has a special on your favorite drink; excessive alcohol consumption is not only everywhere, I feel it is encouraged and/or expected. This leads those prone to alcoholism straight down that path under a mistaken haze of normalcy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Rise

Before every court date in this divorce, I am completely taken over by some level or stress, rage, fear, depression, anxiety, etc. I imagine it as this giant shadowy arm and hand, reaching up from the ground. Slowly wrapping long, dark fingers around my throat. I’m not so much completely choked as I am lifted off the ground slightly, struggling to find a footing.

I have no control over the situation. Our lovely legal system proceeds without me even being present, and anything can happen. Often times, someone doesn’t show up and nothing happens. Other times, the course of the divorce is drastically effected. I’ve been through it enough times (it has been almost a year now) to know not to struggle too hard. It does no good. My feet will still be dangling just above the ground, and I am unable to find relief.

I have stopped asking why. I do my best to not get angry about it. I am literally just holding on for dear life, hoping it will all be over somewhat soon. I’m so tired of this. Just fucking end this! I no longer want to be married, have made every single concession I can regarding our son, and I’m not fighting for anything except for my own safety. If I can help it, I will NEVER be in the same room as you again for the rest of my life.

The demon that holds my throat is nothing in comparison to the agony I have endured by you. No, I am not faultless. I have caused damage. But I have learned, grown, and accepted responsibility for my part. This is something you are fundamentally incapable of doing. You are dangerous to everyone around you. I fear for our son when he is around you. I pity those that enter your arena unknowingly. I see you for what you really are, and the image is truly ugly and terrifying.

Legally, none of that matters. Legally, there is only black and white, and you don’t show your darkness enough to be seen for what you really are.

So I dangle. All rise…