It seems everyone has a blog these days. Not that I'm giving in to the "norm." I just want to have a place that is mine. These are my thoughts, my opinions, my hopes, my dreams, my fears. I am a Daughter. I am a Wife. I am a Mother. But above all, I am a WOMAN.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

So Alone

I posted a blog earlier about "Betrayal" to which some of you really seem to relate.  But there is another consequence to Betrayal.  Solitude.  When betrayed badly enough, or often enough, I (and people like me) tend to retreat behind walls.

Walls.  That's really an understatement.  After 42 years on Earth, and I've long ago lost count, my walls more closely resemble the Great Wall of China -- just not as long.  Very tall, very thick, practically impenetrable unless I choose to let you in, or choose to come out.  I assure you, those are choices I don't make very often.

Because of my self-imposed exile, I am often very lonely.  Some of you would say that is my own fault, my own choice, and you have no sympathy for me.  You are the very people that make me retreat into the safety of my barriers.  With your lack of empathy, you make me realize once again that I can't risk showing you my scars, my pain, my soul with its black shadows.  I would only guarantee judgement against me again.  Condemnation.

I feel like no one else understand.  Logically, I realize that other people feel the same way that I do, but the odds of me finding those few in a world of people bred and trained to attack are slim, so I stay behind my walls.  Occasionally, I extend a hand in friendship and trust, but it's usually an offer of trust extended to THEM, not an offer of trust OF them.  Yes, now, I feel you must prove your trust in me for me to trust you.  If I know your secrets, you are less likely to reveal mine.  Not that I would, but you don't know that.  Paranoid?  Maybe, but just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean you won't broadcast my skeletons.

There is a part of me, hidden deeply inside my walls, surrounded by moats of alligators, behind thick stone tower walls that wishes for a friend.  Just one friend to whom I could tell everything,  Just one.  But it's not to be.  My husband tries, but I can't talk to him about some things -- not that he would judge or condemn (I know he wouldn't), but he just can't understand some things.  I have a childhood friend to whom I use to tell every secret, but we're grownups now, and I hesitate to shock her with parts of my past.  I have a few people in a chat room I visit that I think are friends, but they haven't proven themselves yet, and I've been attacked in their anonymously, so my trust is even more hesitant.

Distrust and Solitude.  Twin brothers of destruction and doom.  A self-fulfilling prophecy.  A self-continuing cycle.  Each feeding off of the other.  How do you break the cycle?

I sit in my bedroom, typing these questions to you, while my husband sleeps.  He's the closest thing I've had to a friend in decades.  Yet some things he just can't understand.  And I can't burden him with those sins that he can neither understand nor fix.  Bless him, he does try to heal my wounds.  But he is a carpenter, not a doctor of souls.  As much as I love him, as much as he is my soul-mate, I short-changed him.  I sold part of my soul a long time ago.  I will never get that piece back.

So I'm alone.  And distrustful.  And that makes me feel fearful and safe simultaneously.  Which just isolates me even more because I can't explain those two emotions living in accord together.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Stress

I know it's been a while since my last post.  In my defense, I have been very busy running here, there, and everywhere.  It's just that time of year.  Plus, I'm sure none of you reading this have been sitting on pins and needles anxiously awaiting my next blog as I'm sure you have been very busy yourselves (and that first part of the statement is probably truer than I really want to admit).  But I wanted to take a couple of minutes to talk about that very thing.

My family has had something every weekend since Thanksgiving.  Seriously.  We had Thanksgiving at my family's and at my in-laws.  The next weekend began the Christmas get-togethers.  We had one for my father-in-law's family the first weekend in December.  One for my mother-in-law's family the second weekend.  One for a branch further up the in-laws' tree this last weekend.  And, of course, this weekend is Christmas so I've been running and trying to finish up the shopping.  I've cooked (or thrown something edible together) for all of these gatherings.  And I've tried to work full-time in an accounting job where we are getting ready for the end of the year.  I don't feel like I've stopped for the last 5 weeks, and I have several more weeks to go.

See New Year's weekend is my baby son's 5th birthday so we have to have a party.  And take down the Christmas tree.  And clean for the party and after the party, and even during the party since we're talking about 5-year-olds.  I'm tired just thinking about it.  Then, very shortly after that, my oldest son will turn 8.  Another party.  Then Valentine's Day.  See?  My life is one chaotic sprint from one weekend to the next from Thanksgiving through the middle of February.  I look forward to church on Sunday just so I HAVE to sit down for 2 hours.  But, I must confess, even there I'm still thinking of all I have to do at home and at work.

It's hard to enjoy the holidays when you rush around that much.  Your details may be different, but I bet your holidays are just as hectic and stressful.  I think next year, I'm going to say, "No. I'm sorry, but this year I'm going to slow down and do more with my little family unit and cut back on the stress.  I want to ENJOY my kids while they're still little."

And when I think of other people, it makes me even more determined to do that.  Because as hectic and stressful and fast-paced and exhausting as everything is, I still have my family.  I have a friend going through a divorce right now.  Divorce is stressful enough, but during Christmas?  Wow!  She has two little girls.  I can only imagine how empty her new place is going to feel when they go to their dad's for the holiday.  How quiet it's going to be without their squeals of laughter (and bickering as sisters do).  How HUGE that little place is going to feel with just my friend at home.  It makes me want to hug her close and tell her, it WILL be alright.

And it makes me want to quit griping about everything I have to do.  As much as I want to hide in a corner away from my bickering, loud, whining boys, even more she is going to want to squeeze both of her little girls in her lap at once and not let go.

Perspective.  It's all about perspective.

So next year, I'm going to say, "NO."  We're going to do less running and more playing.  Less dread and more anticipation.  Less exasperation and more laughter.  We're going to sing carols and drink hot chocolate and decorate the tree.  We may even skip Christmas cards all together.  Who would really even notice that we didn't send one?  Do you go down your friends list and check off the people that sent you one?  I don't.  I'm going to embrace the Good points of not being noticed and take full advantage of it.  I going to listen to my husband tell my boys The Real Christmas story and help him answer hard questions about how that baby boy of Mary's managed to sleep with that prickly hay poking him in the backside.  I'm going to make up stories about flying reindeer (I certainly don't understand how they do it, do you?) and bluff my way through teleportation explanations of how Santa manages to be everywhere at once (after all, Santa is not God and so he has to travel).

I'm going to hug my boys more and try to remember how much I love them when they are whining about "He hit me!" and "He won't give me my toy!" and resist the urge to write Santa and tell him just how naughty my two have been for the last 51 weeks!

I'm going to embrace the Love that is supposed to be present in this Season and try to keep it from being buried under all of the hustle and bustle and commercialism we all get sucked into.

Or maybe I won't wait.  Maybe I'll quit answering the phone and just stay home all weekend with my husband and two boys and think about what Christmas Really Means.

Merry Christmas to all of you.  I hope you have a Really Good Holiday.  Think of those less fortunate than you -- not just the underprivileged and homeless, but the ones like my friend who are spending this weekend (or part of the weekend) alone for the first time whether from divorce or maybe a loss.  If nothing else, try to remember to say a prayer for them.  They need it.  I love you all.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

On Divorce

I have a friend who is going through a divorce right now.  I won't say who because I think she deserves her privacy and it is her business to tell, not mine.  But I have few thoughts on what she is going through.

The first time I experienced divorce it was my parents.  Things had not been good for years.  Long years.  We all pretended things were okay, but we knew they weren't.  Cold silences.  Tense atmospheres.  Folded blankets and a pillow on the couch.  Broken doorknobs.  Evidence that things really were not "okay."  The divorce hurt us kids.  Dad was gone.  We moved from the home we had known for all our lives.  We changed school districts and lost all of our old friends.  New ones were hard to make.  And every other weekend with dad didn't always go well either.  Everything changed, and it was all painful.

Those last few of their marriage and the first few after the divorce -- until I could go to college and escape -- were HARD.  I coped by burying everything deep, deep inside and becoming an angry, sarcastic, "tough" kid.  I didn't need anyone.  It didn't help that my new schoolmates made it very apparent that I didn't belong and never would.  That just made the isolation and anger worse.

Fortunately, I had a teacher that got through to me.  Oh, he didn't turn me around and make me a loving, caring, wonderful altruistic member of society (I doubt anyone could have done that!), but he had a HUGE stabilizing effect on me.  I may not know which roads I would have chosen without him, but I know they would have been a lot bumpier than the ones I did choose.  Because of him, I didn't make as many bad choices as I know I would have without his guidance.  In a lot of ways, Danny Alexander saved me from myself.  I eventually turned out okay, but I know in my heart that could not and would not have happened without him in my life during those two and a half years in high school when I could have let my parents' divorce and my new culture change destroy all the good in me.

The second time I experienced divorce it was my own.  I knew the day after I married that I had made a mistake.  I've often wondered how different I would be, if I had never filed the marriage license and just walked away.  But I didn't.  I stayed and I tried.  I really tried.  I loved.  I begged.  I pleaded.  I talked rationally.  I yelled irrationally.  I cried.  I gave up.  I endured.  And then HE asked for the divorce.  I cried again.  Then I was relieved.  I should probably divulge the details of my marriage for you to understand just how bad it was for me, but I won't.  All I will say is that I did everything I could to save my marriage, and I failed.  However, I don't believe that I could have saved it.  I believe that it was doomed from the start.

But even after escaping what I have described as "Four Years of Hell," I had my weak moments.  I remember a week after I left.  I was sitting on my bed, tying my shoes, getting ready for work, when all of a sudden, I thought, "Holy Shit!  I've left my husband.  What have I done?  Am I going to make it?"  Then I looked around at my apartment.  It was clean.  The bed was made.  The dishes were washed.  There were no oily footprints on the carpet.  And I could not see daylight between the walls and the floor.  My next thought was, "You Idiot!  Of course you're going to be okay!"

What I mean by that is that no matter how bad a marriage is, it still hurts when it ends.  You still doubt you're self-worth.  You still wonder if you could have done "more" to save it.  You still feel as if part of you has been amputated.

Eventually, most of that goes away.  But, if I'm going to be honest, the scars still remain.  My husband now is a wonderful man and a fantastic father.  He has his moments when he irks me, and other moments he just plain infuriates me, but I would not change him at all.  I have something unbelievably good with him and I do not want to lose it under any circumstances.  However, when we have a . . . disagreement, shall we say, those old scars start to hurt a little.  Those self-doubts come back.  Echoes of the past bounce around in my memory.  Just because that first marriage is dead doesn't mean it's ghost doesn't still walk around.

Life does get better, but the past never goes away.  We have to reconcile ourselves with our past -- something with which I still struggle.  We have to make peace with it.

Divorce hurts.  But like any physical amputation, the pain does dissipate -- sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly -- but it DOES dissipate.  Just as the marriage ended, so will the pain.

So have hope, my friend.  And remember, some of us understand.  We will listen to you vent.  We will hold you when you cry.  We will rejoice when you smile again.