Wrapped up in a new lifestyle

I decided I had to end my marriage. That was a decision that took heartache, tears, and years to come to.

Prior posts on this blog share many of the reasons. Simply put, it boiled down to being married to an isolated alcoholic who had been emotionally neglectful and abusive. Our relationship had completely deteriorated. I emotionally detached, and I felt the need to make a better life for myself and my daughter.

She and I have been on our own for 16 months. What does our new lifestyle look like?

We have less stress and anxiety, which increases happiness. We have more chores to split, which is tiring. We have made new friends, ones that love us as we are. We have less contact with his family, which is sad. We have turned some good friends into “family.”

I have had the time to explore more of myself and my shortcomings and find ways to heal. Healing is good for the soul.

I’ve been able to start dating. It’s nice to be complimented….that was foreign. It’s nice to have stimulating conversation…that had disappeared. It’s refreshing to have someone put my needs ahead of his….wow. And it’s nice to hear “I’m sorry” if something goes wrong….another thing I’m not used to. It’s refreshing to date someone who inspires me.

I do less with some groups and clubs than I used to. I can’t really explain why, other than that I spent a lot of time doing things simply to be outside of the house when I was married. Now I enjoy being home. Also, I don’t want to be asked questions. It’s easier to avoid some of the curious, nosy, gossipy people.

The people who understand my decision and support me have been a blessing. They may not know it, but their hugs, smiles, or texts sometimes turn an awful day into a good one.

Some people don’t understand my decision. While I certainly don’t need approval, it hurts my core that some of my closest family members are unintentionally obvious about their lack of approval. One particular person recently said about me that “I am so wrapped up in my new lifestyle that I don’t have time for anything that isn’t a part of it.” I have no idea what that means, but it certainly sounds like it comes from anger, resent, or hurt. I don’t know why.

My new lifestyle allows me more freedom. I’m able to open my doors to friends and family to visit anytime they want, or even use my house as a retreat. I’m able to slow down my pace and appreciate my blessings. God’s artwork is appreciated and his presence in my life is invigorated. And, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to support other people who have been in similar circumstances.

I like my new “lifestyle.” Not sure what’s bad about it.

Material detachment came next for me

When I was married to an alcoholic, I did lots of things to avoid reality. I focused a lot on helping others. I stayed busy….really, really busy. And I was a bit of a control freak. I couldn’t control his drinking but I tried to perfect everything else. (I didn’t realize any of this until after divorce.)

Before I started educating myself on the disease, and before I had entered an al-anon room, I had detached emotionally. One of my first meetings, I remember a discussion meeting about detachment and thinking how different I was. In reality, I was wondering if I could find a way to “re-attach” if he stayed sober. Most others were trying to detach to care for themselves. I got it. I understood it. I had done it really well.

My ex did not stay sober, so I never had to test out whether I could re-attach my emotions. We are both better off apart.

When we were married, he got moments of happiness through purchasing things. I remember how giddy he was on “new bike days.” He even suggested that the days he got new motorcycles were some of the best days of his life. 😳. Umm…wedding day? Birth of our child? Hello?!?!?

Again, I wasn’t able to see it for what it was until removing myself from the situation. He really was so numb emotionally that it took “things” to excite him. And this still continues with him to this day. He trades in titled Motorsport vehicles when they still smell new just to get another happy high.

When we separated, I asked my daughter if she wanted to continue living in our same house, or if she wanted to simplify and make memories instead. I’m so relieved she chose the memories.

I bought a small house that was 1/3 the value of what we left behind. I sold my gas guzzling 7 passenger high class SUV and bought a used car. The list of simplification goes on and on.

When I lost my job unexpectedly, I felt so blessed to have simplified. I didn’t have any of the financial worry or burden that I would have had otherwise. I was SO grateful.

Then two weeks ago at church during the homily, the priest encouraged “material detachment” as a description for the situation Jesus praised a disciple for in a bible verse. I was so taken back by hearing detachment separately from alcoholism that I couldn’t help but engage. Then,to hear him describe finding happiness by removing focus from material “things” gave me complete reassurance that God had walked me through so many decisions over the last couple years.

First emotional detachment and then material detachment.

I am so blessed. I am grateful.

A year from hell or the best ever?

  • June 2017 – My father dies.
  • July 2017 – My husband goes into rehab.
  • January 2018 –  My husband is obviously drinking again.
  • January 2018 – I tell him I want a dissolution.
  • July 2018 – He moves out and we get dissolution.
  • August 2018 – I sell my house and buy a smaller one in different school district.
  • September 2018 -my daughter starts a new school her freshman year.
  • October 2018 – I lose my job.

That’s a lot of “stuff” in a short period of time.

So many of my blog posts on this site reflect on incidents that occurred in and around that crazy year of my life.I had every excuse to feel sorry for myself and go into a hole. I didn’t, but that is no credit to me. God blessed me. Every negative incident gave me a new perspective and allowed me to relook at my priorities. I have reshaped and rebuilt. A former colleague respectfully suggested that it might be a mid life crisis. Lol. Easy to be seen as that by outside eyes.

By finding my weaknesses and admitting them, I have been able to help others more. Isn’t that what life on this planet is about anyway?

I like to help people. I think it’s my personal addiction. Most of the time, I find myself helping people problem solve or use their resources wisely. Offering knowledge and support to people who are willing to accept help has been fruitful. I particularly like to help people find happiness. Give me a grumpy person, and I’m pleased as punch to befriend them:-). As a matter of fact, a grumpy guy that had to have been sent my way by God, is a whole lot less grumpy and I’m pleased to be dating him. Thank goodness that helping others is one of the few things God calls on us to do.

In my life before “the crazy year,” my own house was REALLY far from being in order. From the outside, people probably could have perceived it as “perfect.” But they didn’t know reality.

Since the “crazy year” ended, I’ve been able to put most of my house in order (there is still room for improvement.). However, each step I get closer to real order, gives me more opportunity to do God’s work, helping others.

For that, I am TRULY BLESSED

I really hope that calling is tied to the emotional and/or spiritual needs of people, but I’m sure I’ll know it when I see it.

 

Music is the language of love….and pain, and anger, and joy, and memories

I was so unaware at the time of how blessed I would be when B started therapeutic riding with me.  I’ve given riding lessons for twenty years, but had really never dealt with the “handicapped” because I didn’t have equipment or training.  B’s mom didn’t care and asked that I work with her anyways about 6 years ago.  And so began a mutual relationship of learning, growth, emotions and MUSIC.  B is relatively non-verbal.  She has been diagnosed with various ailments including autism.  While I could write a book about our experience, my point now is to emphasize the power of music.  For years, I knew she loved music.  Early on, I realized that her amazing brain held the titles and tract numbers of hundreds of songs from multiple artists.  She rarely spoke, but frequently we would sing song verses together.  She can’t share feelings, but her body sometimes shows her emotions.  It was not until last year that I realized that she was using songs to communicate.  We all do really, but for her, it is one of the only ways she can.  When she is feeling a certain way, she goes through the vast jukebox in her mind to a song that represents how she is feeling.  If you are patient enough, she’ll find a way to tell you what that song is.  If you listen to it, you unlock her mind.

All of us have songs that stimulate feelings in us.  I think they fall into two categories.  Ones associated with memories, and ones associated with feelings.  I’m sure we have all experienced the memories music capture.  Like when you are shopping in a department store and there is music in the background and a song that you haven’t heard for years comes on and you are instantly: in a middle school cafeteria for a school dance, or on the beach at a Spring Break party, or praying in church with your grandparents.  Those memories pop up as the songs tied to times that were meaningful, and hopefully allow us to reflect on moments that built us.

The other category, songs associated with emotions, are generally found when the words of a song speak to a strong set of emotions that we are grappling with.  We typically listen to the song over and over again.  Sometimes we share it with people to help them understand our thoughts.

When my ex and I were still married but struggling, I know he shared a song with me that was deeper than I was able to process.  I’ve never been a great literary or lyrical analyst.  It made me sad that I couldn’t understand.  I remember I shared a song with him by Harry Styles, Two Ghosts.  The song still makes me sad.  “we’re not who we used to be, we’re just two ghosts standing in the place of you and me.”  There was not analysis needed.  It was very clear what the song meant.  It was my period of sadness that our marriage had come to that point.

But with divorce comes a full range of emotions, and sadness ended up being replaced by anger.  I was so angry that alcoholism had captured him and wouldn’t let go.  I was so angry that he couldn’t overcome it.  I was angry that the “life plan” completely changed.  And while the song has meaning for many people with various challenges, Fight Song by Rachel Platton became my outlet.  I can’t tell you how many times I put all the windows down in my car and took off driving with that song playing as loud as possible.

“This is my fight song

Take back my life song

Prove I’m alright song”

That song helped me stay focused on a very rough and challenging course of action.  Thanks Rachel.  And it didn’t take me long to realize that the album with Fight Song  actually had several other songs that related to things happening in my life, including Stand By Me and Better Place.

What are your memory songs?  What are your emotion songs?  The blessing for me is that I’ve passed thought the cycle of emotions with divorce, so my current emotion songs are generally happy.  Happy music, and peaceful music promotes serenity.  If you haven’t already tried that, give it a go.

My riding student B, who nearly always listens to country music, introduced me to a new world recently.  We had just finished a GREAT lesson together, and she started saying Bear and Blue House.  I don’t have any young kids these days, so it took me time and patience to realize that she was talking about a kids show called “Bear in the Big Blue House.”  After I figured that out, she said “Goodbye” and “Song”….well here it is…here are her thoughts, captured in the jukebox in her mind:

Hey this was really fun

Hope you liked it too

Seems like we’ve just begun when suddenly we’re through

Goodbye, goodbye, good friends, goodbye

Cause now its time to go

But hey, I say, well that’s ok

Cause we will see you very soon I know

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Am I healed?

When I first started this blog, it seemed as though I had an infinite supply of topics, happenings, stories, etc., related to my marriage and divorce with an alcoholic.

Topics would pop into my head, and I would sit down and quickly produce a decent post.  Those urges come to me much less frequently now..  At first I blamed it on my mood.  Then I blamed it on the weather…then on being too busy.  Then I read a morning reflection, like I do every morning, and God spoke through it to me.  “You’re healed.”

Could it be that my words came easily through the pain?  Could it be that the lessons I learned needed to be shared while I was still learning them?  Did I help anybody else, or did I just help myself?  Perhaps this blog was just what I needed to do to heal me, and now…… I’m good:-).  Should I stop writing?

I know my one post (about parking in the garage) had weighed heavily on my mind for several weeks before I wrote it.  Once I did, a burden lifted.

I definitely needed to get stuff off of my chest (in a confidential way).  In my mind, I figured there would be other people out there in the “reading universe” that could benefit from my experiences, even if it was just to know that they weren’t the only ones going through something similar.  But I wasn’t sure.

Then, I posted a quote on my Instagram that made a difference.  It simply said:

When she brings it up once, you say she’s complaining.  When she brings it up twice, you say she is nagging.  When she cries about it, you say she is being too sensitive.   My good friend, let me ask you this:  when she leaves you, what will she be then?

It got 10 times more likes than what my IG posts usually get.  So, apparently, I hit the magic button of something that appealed to others.  So maybe there is a reason to write.

A reflection I read this morning suggested to readers that we can’t look for results in good deeds that we do.  Instead, we should just keep doing good deeds knowing that it’s the right thing to do.

For now, I will write when the mood strikes, not for myself, since I’m “healed” LOL, but for potentially one person who may catch a moment of peace, love, or support from my words.  And, I’m certain I will continue to heal:-)

He says she’s his highest priority but he’s not walking the talk

My former spouse and I had one child, a very beautiful, smart, witty and caring young lady.  We are so blessed to have her.  She is currently a freshman in high school.

When I first started speaking to my ex about dissolution, he just felt like it would crush her.  His own parent’s divorce took a toll on him, so he felt adamant that she would struggle similarly.  I have not found that to be the case.  She seems to have blossomed with a sense of freedom and relief.

Unfortunately, she does not look forward to time with her dad.  While she loves him, she is in a typical 14 year old mind set and he is still drinking.  As a result, he is still self-centered and isolated.  In addition, he is holding steady at the maturity level he was when he first started drinking…..and so she often thinks she is more mature than him.

Early after our divorce, he just spent money.  Likely, he felt possessions would make him happy.  She watched that and just shook her head.  Perhaps if he would have bought something for her, he would have simmered her down a little, but he didn’t give much thought to that.

Just three months after our dissolution, he starts dating a lady he met online.  After just a few short weeks,  he wants to introduce her to our daughter.  I talk him out of it, thank goodness.   After seeing her pictures on Facebook, I knew my daughter would not be pleased.  She and I both are somewhat conservative, and the new girlfriend looked like she had quite a wild side.  I remember telling my ex that he should suggest to the new girlfriend that she make her profile private instead of public, and he didn’t see anything wrong with her page.

Fast forward a couple months and the girlfriend gets “crazy,” so they split ways.  Ironically, my daughter shared “well she had self divulged that she was crazy, I guess it took him a while to figure it out.”   After the fact, the ex admits that he must have been blinded by the need for physical activity.  She was an alcoholic too, not surprising.  I’m sure they had great fun.  Too bad there were nights when he cancelled out on his time with our daughter because of the girlfriend.  It’s a shame that my daughter realized it….and then over time became grateful for the cancellations.

After girlfriend #1, it doesn’t take long for girlfriend #2.  They had been dating about a month, and our daughter was getting ready for her first Homecoming Dance.  The ex asks me if his new girlfriend can be there for pictures.  I suggested that he ask our daughter.  Our daughter thinks that there is no sensible woman in the world that is gonna meet her for the first time with the ex-wife and ex in-laws present, so she tells her dad “I don’t care.”  Even I think there is no way that she would want to be there even if he doesn’t realize its a stupid idea.   Guess what?  She’s there at pictures.  It should have been a great occasion for my daughter.  It was her night.  It should have been about her…… yet he continues to say that our daughter is his highest priority.

Recently, when he comes to pick her up for one of his days, he tells me that our daughter isn’t real excited to spend the day with him and his girlfriend.  I take the opportunity to tell him:  “she isn’t real comfortable with us dating yet.”  And he says……..wanna guess?……it’s certainly not empathetic…..he says “well I am.”

I recognize that parents should not let their kids make decisions for them.  It’s a fine line I walk in sensitive times.  Here is what I don’t understand:  If his time with our daughter is limited, why can’t he just spend time with her alone?  Or if it is just the two of them, why doesn’t he plan an activity instead of napping or watching something on TV that he wants to watch?

And then I answer myself…he’s an alcoholic.  I can’t change him.  He can’t get out of his own head the “how and where” the next drink will get taken.  He remains on a mission for his own happiness and without the ability to put himself in anyone else’s shoes.  No lie!  One time I asked him what it would feel like to be in her shoes and he honestly couldn’t figure it out or understand what I meant.

So, he knows that single dads should make their kids a high priority.  He knows that’s the right thing to say.  He probably even wants to do that, but he has no idea what it means or how to think of anyone other than himself first.  To those that try to give him honest feedback or suggestions, he finds resentment.  It’s very sad.  I still pray for his recovery so that she can have a relationship someday with her dad that feels “normal.”

 

When you need to complain, who do you complain to?

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 100 times…….”only vent up.”  In the business world, I taught many leadership courses and mentored developing managers.  This is one of the rules for professionalism that I learned early and did my best to follow personally, as well as to teach it to others.  After all, nobody likes to overhear those water cooler bitching sessions about new policies, other employees, or even management.  If you do like to hear them or get involved in them, reassess your situation.  You might be a negative ninja.

This week, I started to think about “venting” in the personal environment and if similar rules apply.

When I was married to the isolated alcoholic, his venting came only to me, and most of mine (if it was personal) went to him.  Wow….does that help or hurt a relationship?  I can certainly understand that the last thing anyone wants to hear is a bunch of bitching all the time.  My alcoholic didn’t share frequently, but I know I certainly pointed out his negativity to him on more than one occasion.  Should I have?  Or did he need to get it out, and I was the only person who could hear it?

Without realizing, it seems that I have transferred my “vents” to my mother.  I wonder if instinctually, I’m following that rule about venting up?  Is a parent in a personal life like a boss in a professional life?  I’m not sure I have an answer, but I have come to understand that nobody, whether it be your boss or your mom, wants to hear it.  The exception in my mind is that already negative/bitter people may enjoy someone commiserating with them.  Hmmm….  Either way, it really doesn’t do any good.  Rather, just a waste of time and negative energy.

Honestly, I thought I was doing well at being positive despite the craziness of my life the last 12 months.  I have vowed not to ever speak poorly about my ex husband to my daughter, or even in a place where she can hear it.  So far, I think I’ve achieved that goal, which is really important to me.  As a child of divorced parents, it hurt me deeply if I heard anything like this (even if warranted),  I don’t want to inflict that on my child.

What I have witnessed in Al-Anon, is that the majority of members are willing to hear the vents of other members without judgement and also while trying to support them.  The organization and it’s members are important in the healing process for anyone who loves or loved an alcoholic.  The twelve steps, if coached and followed, should help a person to find their own shortcomings and also have less to vent about.  Luckily, Al-Anon meetings are inclusive of people who need to vent as well as others who can listen and help redirect.

If there is somebody negative in your life, do you tend to be more negative when you are around them? Do they bring you down or do you challenge them to find positive alternative solutions?  I think it’s possible to do both, depending on the person or situation.

I can’t say I am offering solutions in this blog, but I hope through my own reflection sharing,  I have encouraged any of you to reflect on the same.  For myself, I’ve decided I might need to give more to God instead of others in my life.  I’ll be more cautious about what I vocalize.  God is willing to listen and take it all.  Our family members, who are close to us, don’t deserve the worst of us.

 

 

Who gets to park in the garage? The answer should have been my wake up call years ago.

It came down to this:

Me:  “I am pulling in the garage when I get home.”

Him:  “Bikes are there.”

Me: “Move please.”

Him:  “Fuck you.”

It was the evening of July 3rd.  My daughter and I were watching fireworks in our local town.  He had been moving out for a week or two and was nearly finished.  I had refinanced the house and given him his share of the equity.

I won’t share the rest of the text conversation, but I can tell you that it was the first night that I told my daughter that I didn’t feel comfortable staying in the same house as her dad.  Not only was he drunk and angry, but he slept with a loaded gun right beside his bed.  I didn’t share the details with my daughter, but she was emotionally distraught.  She knew there must be a good reason for my decision, but she also feared for her father’s own safety if we didn’t go home.  Without it being discussed over the last few months, she seemed to know his emotions brought him down to suicidal possibilities.

For the most part, I’ve been able to put the ugly times out of my memory, but I can’t seem to shake the events of that evening.  I was so torn on who and what to protect, and whether or not the police should be involved.  If I took that step, our bubbled life would have been completely exposed.  I don’t know if I made the right decision, but we all got lucky.  Nobody got hurt that night and the bubble didn’t break.

Because I can’t shake it, that damn garage argument has become symbolic of much of my marriage.

When we first got married, we lived in a house with a one car garage.  Guess who parked in the garage?  (wasn’t me).  Guess who had to clean snow off their car before going to work many mornings ? (yep, me.)  At the time, I chalked it up to his quirkiness about having really clean vehicles.  It was not a battle I cared to fight.  Looking back, I bet many people, including my father, thought “he’s an asshole making his wife park outside.”  I never saw it from that perspective at the time.

In our second home, I got a place to park inside, and we lived there twenty years, so the garage dilemma was irrelevant, but it was under the surface….just waiting.

In our last home, we had a two car attached garage AND a two car detached garage.  Lots of space.  No worries, right?  Hmmm…..

I got one space.  It was in the detached garage. When it was raining, I got wet going to my car.  When it was snowing and icy, I tried not to land on my butt getting to my car.

The attached garage was almost like a room in the home.  It was a showplace for his motorcycles.

Over the next three years, the last three of our marriage, it definitely became a sore spot.  My father had passed, and there wasn’t “room” for his 4-wheeler at our place.  The true self centered nature of alcoholism was raging in our garage space.

So, on July 3rd, when we had already been to court and he had 90% of his stuff out of the house, I said I was parking where I wanted to, and all hell broke out.  Crazy.  And sad.  Sad that physical “space” and physical “stuff” were his primary concern for most of our marriage.  So many things I can look back on and be more aware of now.

Guess what?  My daughter and I decided to leave that last house behind us.  We bought a new place.  It DIDN’T EVEN HAVE A GARAGE!  Lol.  But we had one built with a nice little enclosed breezeway, so that we can walk safely to our vehicles each morning.

 

 

 

 

Don’t stay for the kids, from the kid

My daughter and I were both in her room one day, doing nothing in particular.  We were chatting about her friends at school.  One particular friend, Dee, had parents who had gotten divorced in the prior six months.

My daughter , “didn’t you say that Dee’s mom only stayed as long as she did for the kids?”

I responded, “yes, she told me that.”

My daughter, “I would never want you and daddy to stay together just because of me.”

Words from a twelve year old that certainly caught me by surprise.  Prior to this, it had never been mentioned as a possibility in our house.  Her dad and I never fought, and I don’t think she knew I had begun to wonder if it was the only answer.

She seemed so wise, and then two minutes later, went ahead and expressed a typical twelve year old reason…….”I mean…..I would get two sets of birthday presents and two sets of Christmas presents….,”  as she smirked.

In hindsight, I still think she was very wise, and she may have seen me start spinning in my mind.  Her emotional intelligence is quite high.  She probably wanted to pull me back off of the road my mind started down.

No kids wants to hear their parents are getting a divorce, but at least mine was able to discuss it in a way that gave me peace.