Postcards from places I've never been.

Category: Life after divorce (Page 3 of 3)

I know I’m not writing today, that’s for sure.

Today’s Write 31 Days Prompt: Five things I know for sure.

There isn’t much that I know for sure. There just isn’t. I don’t have immutable truths in my life. I don’t trust immutable truths.

So what do I know for sure? I know I’m not writing today, that’s for sure. Nope. Not going to write today. Nuh-uh.

Things that are a sure bet:

1. I know for sure I’m not going to write today, because the last time I stuck to a writing schedule was the Write 31 Days challenge… in 2012. SIX YEARS AGO. I’ve proven plenty of times that I don’t have the discipline to have enough stick-to-it-ness to stick to it.

2. I know for sure that it doesn’t matter whether or not I write today, because I’m just screaming into the void. I should save my breath for better things, like sighing with longing when I think about how it would have felt to complete this challenge.

3. I know for sure I shouldn’t be doing this glorious writing challenge, because that’s time I could spend looking for a second job, because the first job is only covering half my bills, and time is ticking. I have serious financial stress, y’all. Who can write under that kind of stress? Not me, that’s for sure.

4. I know for sure I’m not going to write today because all the other posts I’ve done so far this month were flukes. I’ll fail soon enough, just watch.

5. I know for sure I’m not going to write today because I am an utter space-kabob. There are so many other things I could be reading/writing/cleaning/watching/doing. Oooh, look! Shiny!

Those are the truths in my life, this morning. The five things I know for sure.

A mans feet sticking up out of a sunflower field.

Here is an example of how not to bury a body. You never know when this kind of information will be useful. Photo credit goes to Derek Thomson.

This blog has been taken over by the 2018 Write 31 Days challenge. Here’s the sweet, sweet index of all my posts of nope.

It’s my birthday, and I’m sad.

In 2012, I made a list of 37 birthday wishes, and the first one was this: I wish for a second lifetime with my Travis.

This is my first birthday post-divorce. I can’t say it’s the first one without him, or the first one I’ve spent alone, because if I didn’t plan something for my own birthday, then we wouldn’t do anything. I always made his day nice, with a surprise party with friends the year he went through cancer treatments.

My day tended to go by like any other day, without notice. This was a bitter thing, last year, because I’d looked forward to my 42nd birthday since I was 9 years old, and read The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for the first time. And we did nothing, even though I asked.

This imbalance of care was one of the many things that finally destabilized our marriage. I didn’t feel loved. He went out of his way to take care of any woman who wasn’t me. Turns out he took special care of one particular 23 year old. In fact, he made sure she had a couple of nice birthdays, while he was at it. Because of course he did.

But I digress. It’s my day, and I’m not going to spend it talking about them.

I’m not writing today because it’s my birthday, and I’m sad. I can’t possibly write while sad. I definitely can’t use writing to help me process it, right?

Writing is the best way for me to process anything. This is something I seem to have to relearn, over and over. Is it a safe bet to assume, since you’re also participating in this writing challenge, that your mind works the same way? The act of writing indexes my memories and makes them richer. I get to enjoy the experiences again when I think about them in detail while writing. Often I don’t know what I think or how I feel until I write my way through it. I think more deeply, and feel more easily with a pen in my hand. When I don’t write, I don’t process anything. It just kind of pings off me, instead.

This day is so hard. I’ve decided to let myself grieve the situation, but also look for a way to enjoy the day.

Here’s what I’m doing:
* Candles for warmth and comfort. (Saint Poe)
* Calling family and friends for connection.
* Pie and coffee, because pie. And coffee.
* Load ink into each fountain pen, and put it next to a new journal.
* Sponsoring a child in need. I want to make a difference in my one wild and precious life.
* A fuzzy blanket from a friend, wrapped around me. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Literally. (I texted her to tell her how special it is.)

I’m doing things to mark the day, instead of pretending it’s not happening. I’ve never minded aging. I don’t really think about it, honestly, the same way I’m not shocked when I get up and the world is still turning. I felt older and more tired in my 20s than I did in my 30s. I’m going to make my 40s into a good life.

Today I will try to soften into feeling what comes to me, instead of shutting it down.

And I’ll write, even though I’m sad.

In case you’re having a hard time today, too, here is a sad-funny. I think this snake and I would be buds. Such a sweet little danger noodle.

This blog has been taken over by the 2018 Write 31 Days challenge. Here’s the sweet, sweet index of all my posts of nope.

Can’t write. I’m too busy healing.

I had a Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA) meeting to go to, so I couldn’t possibly write for the 31 Day Challenge, today. Nope. Can’t write. I’m too busy healing and learning. Big job, healing.

I shared for the first time. A few others had shared on the topic of trying to be helpful, easing the path of others, and how it’s problematic. Earlier this week, I had my “but I’m just being helpful!” flipped back at me by an utter stranger.

I like second-hand puzzles. I like getting them from thrift stores and yard sales for $0.50. I like the risk of it. Will all the pieces be there? What will I find when I open the box? Sometimes the puzzle inside will be completely new, with the pieces still in a sealed bag. Once there was a dart game in the box, instead of a puzzle.

So I opened this particular box’o’puzzle, and… someone had left it neatly sorted into baggies. In fact, the border had been left assembled, to spare me the work. The previous puzzler was helpfully trying to do a kindness for the next person, and it robbed me of some of the fun of solving the puzzle. It wasn’t helpful. I wanted to solve my own puzzle. The act of solving it is the whole point.

And all week I’ve been puzzling over this puzzling puzzle predicament.

Picture of Crowley from Supernatural captioned, "No one in the history of torture's been tortured with torture like the torture you'll be tortured with."

Obligatory Crowley.

How many times have I tried to be “helpful” and make life easier for someone else, and actually robbed them of the joy and challenge of solving their own puzzle? My compulsive need to help, to be useful, kept them from finding out how capable they are of guiding their own needs, wants, and life. One of my biggest struggles has been stepping back and not meddling. Not trying to fix things. Even if someone else wants those things fixed, it might be something they really, really need the experience of solving themselves. Maybe they need someone to tell them they can, instead of doing it for them.

My mind keeps coming back to it, rolling it over like a stone in a river. The point of solving a problem is to solve it, not necessarily the solution itself. I need to stop trying to jump in to help, unasked.

And that was my CoDA share this week, and the first time I’ve shared. So I can’t write this post. I’m too busy being gobsmacked by my realizations.

This blog has been taken over by the 2018 Write 31 Days challenge. Here’s the sweet, sweet index of all my posts of nope.

Too tired to be inspired

I’m so tired, I’m shaking.

I want sleep so bad that I feel like crying. My arms and legs are heavy and slow. My eyes are slow and gritty. There’s not enough Visine in the world for this. Getting myself out of bed was like a physical pain. At least there’s no migraine, which this kind of thing can often trigger.

It’s been a long week with work, and it’s Tuesday, and there’s my elderkitty’s health, and there’s life, and there’s learning to live alone, and there’s learning to comfort myself instead of just taking care of other people, and I’m tired.

T-I-R-E-D.

And now my Maggie-cat has jumped onto my shoulder from behind me, from the bed. She’s old, and doesn’t feel good, and wants to be held. So I’m holding her soft fur, and her warm kitty body, and I’m listening to her comforting purr, and that makes me want sleep even more.

Also, it means typing one-handed.

Can I just crawl back into my nice beautiful warm bed? I could curl up with Maggie Mayhem purring in my arm, like we’ve done almost every night for 18 years, and we could both go back to sleep for another 10 minutes before I have to leave for work. Ten more minutes. When I have ten minutes left of my lunch break, it seems like nothing. This morning it seems like a sleepy lifetime.

I’m tired, so that’s why I’m not writing this blog entry, today.

At night I’ve been setting an alarm to encourage me to go to bed at a good time. Each night, all the chores I need to do take longer than I think that they will, or should. Suddenly single after fourteen years, with three cats, one dog, a full-time job… don’t I deserve a little extra sleep? It’s a lot of work maintaining everything. Is it really that important that it get up and post this? It’s not like anyone would know. It’s not a paid gig. I’m not changing the world with it.

I’m not changing the world. I’m changing myself. I’m changing my priorities, and teaching myself to see my own time as having value and use when I take it for myself. My time is not only useful when I use it to support other people. It is not only valuable when I’m trading it for money.

This month is about noticing my excuses, and walking through them. It’s about learning how to take care of myself, and about learning what new dreams I want to dream. It’s about waking up. It’s not about going back to sleep.

Are you still with me this morning, writing, fellow Write 31 Day-ers? Leave a comment, and I’ll drop by your blog to say hello. Let’s bolster each other, and limp across the finish line with our arms around each other’s shoulders.

May we all sleep well, tonight, when the day is done.

This blog has been taken over by the 2018 Write 31 Days challenge. Here’s the sweet, sweet index of all my posts of nope.

Tasty, tasty grief marinade.

Today’s Five Minute Freewrite prompt is: COMFORT.

Beginning last Friday, I’ve been marinating in grief. I’m grieving my husband, marriage, and previous future, and that’s opening me up right down the line to grieving the various dads who have left over the years.

What tipped me over was something so simple, it’s embarrassing. I’m losing my therapist of the last year-and-a-half, because my f*cking insurance changed. So right when I really, really could use the self-harm and mental health safety net, I lose it. What a contradiction. I need support because I’m freaking out over losing support. Humans are weird monkeys.

So I’m concentrating on comfort.

Fuzzy blanket? Check.
Ratty quilt I made a few years ago? Check.
Lavendar and lemongrass candle? Check.
Healthy food in the fridge and freezer? Plentiful coffee beans? Check, check.

More importantly, am I taking 10-15 minutes every day to practice calming myself down? Am I regulating instead of letting emotions steamroll over me? Am I checking in with myself, instead of checking out from feeling entirely? Am I walking? Getting daylight? Talking to friends? Taking appropriate actions so I don’t transmute emotional pain into physical pain?

Those are harder tasks, and they’re also deeply effective. I was given some excellent tools by said therapist, and I can honestly say I’d be in some real trouble right now, without them. He changed my life for the better.

All I can say is, I’m mostly OK. I’m doing better than I would have been, two years ago. I put all my long-sleeved shirts in the car, so I can’t easily put them on in the morning. That helps, too. I’m also taking my own advice. There’s a reason I have this page on my blog, and some of that reason is to keep it handy for myself.

I’m practicing comfort, and I’m practicing softening enough to feel things. Turns out emotions hurt less when I just let them through. Did everyone know this except me? It’s like the difference between choking and drinking. Great mother of walnuts, that’s hard. I’m just so good at slapping emotions away like mosquitoes. It’s only recently that I’ve managed the trick of feeling better after crying, instead of feeling worse. I didn’t even know that was a thing.

Thanks for the tools and for caring enough to have patience with me, Mr. Therapist. You’re the best, and I’ll miss you.

***

In case you’re having a rough go, too, here’s something that made me literally bounce from happiness.

The “Good Omens” trailer is MAGNIFICENT.

I really really really really REALLY hope this is a print I’ll be able to pick up.

This blog has been taken over by the 2018 Write 31 Days challenge. Here’s the sweet, sweet index of all my posts of nope.

Five Minute Friday: Share

This week I’m participating in Five Minute Friday. FMF is pretty much what it sounds like – set a timer, write for five minutes on the prompt provided. It’s been a great tool for getting me up and writing, before work, on this, the most holy day of the workweek.

Today’s Five Minute Friday Freewrite prompt is: SHARE.

I’ve worked for myself for a lot of years. I took care of the hands and feet of marginalized and vulnerable people, like those in the trans community, and under-served people, like veterans, and people who were physically unable to do so for themselves, like those with cerebral palsy or dementia.

It was humble work, and it (mostly) paid the bills.

^^ It’s the “mostly” in that sentence that’s concerning.

When my (now ex-)husband quit yet another job without a word, because he didn’t get along with his manager, (“It’s like she’s not even trying to figure out how to make me happy!” Seriously. Those words were spoken.) I finally snapped. I knew I didn’t want to live like this for another 14 years. And that meant taking on traditional employment.

I had to leave my clients. That was so, so hard. I called so many people, trying to find anyone else in town who does what I did. I did my best, but most techs only serve out of spas, and few take on the extra training to become a medical nail tech. My heart was so broken to leave them. I’m still broken about that. Is this a taste of how therapists feel when they have to let a client go?

After six months or so of job hunting and contracting and temping, I finally got on at a great place. The work is meh, but the mission is amazing.

But… it’s an entirely different kind of work environment. There’s no hugging someone who looks like they need it, or prompting them to share more and to work things out talking with me. There’s no hand holding. It’s not a place where I can hold out a hand and “oooh” over someone’s sparkly nail polish. There’s no deep sharing of life stories, or unburdening while I give someone a foot massage.

It’s a Fairly Serious and Professional Place.

The sharing that takes place, physical, verbal, and emotional, is so different from what I’ve been doing that my instincts are all wrong. I have to constantly remind myself it’s not appropriate to touch someone on the shoulder, after years of working with people who were touch-deprived. It’s not appropriate to smile and call someone “sweetheart,” when they’re having a hard time and could use comfort.

I’m constantly monitoring myself to make sure I don’t share or ask for too much information. It’s strange and exhausting and kind of lonely. It’s been the hardest part of going back to office life, which I hadn’t been expecting at all.

I went from working in IT to taking care of people, and now am back to working in an office. Have you had to make an unexpected, major career transition? Because, dude. I could really use some tips on this.

In case you’re having a bad day, here’s something that made me smile.

This blog has been taken over by the Write 31 Days challenge. Here’s the sweet, sweet index of all my posts of nope.

Sometimes you fly

This week I’m participating in Five Minute Friday. FMF is pretty much what it sounds like – set a timer, write for five minutes on the prompt provided. It’s been a great warm-up before throwing myself headlong into the writing train that is Write 31 Days.

This week’s Five Minute Friday writing prompt is: POTENTIAL.

When I move something that’s in danger of falling, like a glass too close to the edge of the counter, I generally think of it as removing some of it’s potential. It’s just an old snippet of high-school surfacing, when that was a running joke between my friends and I, picked up from an introductory physics class. We weren’t moving something, we were “removing its energetic potential.” We’re removing some of the risk that it’s going to fall, and reducing it’s energy.

And my mind moves to one of my favorite quotes, and strikes a spark against the first thought, from potential to falling to flying.

“Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.”

― Neil Gaiman, Fables & Reflections, Sandman

This leads me to thinking about how, when I oh-so-carefully curate my life, I reduce my risk of falling, and I reduce my risk of flying, and I reduce the potential of my day, and rob my life of its energy, both useful and damaging.

And I think about how I’m like an abused cat I fostered years ago, that had to be taught to play. Gentle reader, I do not recreate well. At all. Work is fun, because that’s how I was raised, and how I’ve been shaped to live my adult life. No time for unproductive fun. I’m the first to offer a hand when someone is painting or remodeling or moving, but if they invite me to a housewarming party, I’ll usually find a reason not to go. I don’t gravitate towards fun. Here, in my 40s, I’m trying to learn how. I don’t even know what I like to do. I have to concentrate to notice what enjoyment is.

This is SO not the life I want.

Which brings me to an episode of Doctor Who I watched recently:

Bill: You know what I mean. Every choice I make in this moment, here and now, could change the whole future.

The Doctor: Exactly like every other day of your life. The only thing to do is to stop worrying about it.

― Doctor Who, Thin Ice

It’s only in fiction about time travelers that we worry about how our every action affects the future, but that’s every day, right here, right now. Today. Everything we do today affects our future. Every. Little. Butterfly. Flap. Spending a little time on a class instead of Twitter could entirely lift a life from one set of tracks to another. It raises potential and risk and the chances of falling and/or flying. Because there’s no separating them from each other. Time to start guiding that pesky little chaos butterfly, instead of just letting it get blown around.

I think about a ceramics class half a lifetime ago, where the instructor laughed at my worry as I shaped clay, and said, “You have to allow for the possibility that it might turn out well.”

I suppose that’s my takeaway, today. I have to allow that today/tomorrow might turn out well. There’s the potential of flying just as much as there’s the potential of falling. They can’t be separated. There’s no flying without some element of falling.

***

In case you’re having a bad day, here’s a photo of a man local to Eugene, who flys kites every single day. On the day in the photo, October 12, 2017, he was celebrating his 1,000th day in of a row of kite flying. I love when I run across him on walks.

And that’s all she wrote.

This week I’m participating in Five Minute Friday. Writing with a timer has been beautifully freeing. Who knew?

This week’s Five Minute Friday writing prompt is: COMPLETE.

My divorce papers were finally signed by the judge Wednesday afternoon, all of two days ago, after a 90-day stall. I spent a lot of those days wondering what was wrong with me, on many levels. Things to the tune of, “Parents didn’t want me, husband didn’t want me, employers don’t want me…. Hell, I don’t really want me right now, either.”

Gentle readers, even the dog likes my ex-husband better, and I’m the one who feeds and cares for him. This takes a toll on a person.

I had thought that, in those 90 intervening days, I’d grieved and Felt All The Things, and that the final paperwork would be a relief.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA *cough*.

Ahem. No. No, it was not. Reading that paperwork was the real heartbreak, and that shocked me. There was, in fact, no feeling of relief. Where is the sensation of a heavy weight lifting? I was promised the sensation of a heavy weight lifting!

Even though I’m leaving an abusive situation, even though I’m cutting myself away from someone who literally dropped thousands of dollars at a strip club, no less, who picked up a spanky new substance abuse issue, and buried us in secret debt, I have no relief about this. I’m sad about our marriage. I’m sad that our friendship was burned up like that, for no better reason than his wanting attention from twenty-somethings1.

I’m sad that I waited so long, and abandoned my wild and precious self. I spent so many years trying to fix things. So many. I did everything. I’ll say that again. I did everything. I was the only party in a two-party system who thought there was a problem, and the only one trying to save our marriage. I’m sad that I tried so hard to be less than I am. Smaller. Quieter. Not noticed. Helpful. My marriage was turning into my childhood all over again.

With the judge’s signature, my marriage and divorce are simultaneously complete. Life. Death. Life. As with any birth, there’s going to be some pain and helpless crying.

***

In case you’re having a hard day, too, here is a chicken in pants.

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