Category Archives: The D Word — Divorce

Six Days of Separation

Six Degrees of Separation

My husband had moved out.  It had been six days. Six days of separation.  (I had to make the picture relevant somehow. )

I was a wreck.  Truly.  I can’t  even describe it here. I’m not ready.

It was the weekend after he’d moved out and my husband stopped by the house to see the children and to tell me he’d be away for a few days. You see, the “other woman” who I’d just found out about a couple of weeks prior, see My Worst Superbowl, Remembered, lived in another city.  She planned to move to our town but that hadn’t happened yet.  So he was going to see her.   Ironically, she lived in a city where I had wanted to move, but my husband  had vetoed that, said absolutely not, he would never live there.  Now he was going there for a  long weekend– to see his girlfriend.  Huh. 

On our anniversary weekend . . .  Huh.

Regardless, the matter at hand was that:

My husband stopped by our  house on his way to catch a flight  to spend a few days with his girlfriend.

Let that sit for a minute.

My husband and I had been together since high school.

Let that sit for a minute.

We had been married for many, many years and  had five young children.

Let that sit for a minute.

But on this day,  six days after moving out, after breaking my heart, hell, after breaking me, and causing unspeakable pain to the children as well, he showed up at what used to be at our house . . . and knocked.   That was appropriate, given the situation, but it was like a kick in the kidneys.

It hit me:   He really doesn’t live here anymore . . .

Still, what sent me over the edge was . . . him . . . the sight of . . . him.

The brother looked good.

Terrence Howard

Now my husband has always been a very good-looking man, but he could be a bit of a slob sometimes.   He went too long between hair cuts and shaves.   He  had a good job, but not the kind of job that required that he be clean-shaven.  His facial hair came in spotty, he could never grow a full beard, so it wasn’t the sexy five-o’clock shadow.  It was more of a “I just don’t give a crap look.”  Still, he would  clean up semi-regularly and  when he needed to for an event.  And when he did?   He looked damn good.

On this day, six days after having moved out,  he had shaved and had a fresh hair cut.     And he was wearing, not the tee-shirt he usually sported on weekends, but a nice button down shirt and slacks.  He looked damn good — for her — for his girlfriend.

Let that sit for a minute.

I didn’t know what to do so I went to the store while he played with the kids.  Shortly after  I returned he looked  at his watch and  said he had to go.   I asked if he was going to her city (I didn’t use her name)  and he said yes, and then snapped,

Dangerous Liaisons

What am I gonna do here?” 

Ouch.  Yeah, perhaps I’m not ready to share so much, but I digress . . .

Then he left.   He left what would later be referred to as  “the marital home”  to catch his flight to get to his girlfriend’s house.

Huh

He had literally left me to go to her, and looked damn good while he did it.   I, on the other hand,  didn’t look so good — or feel so good.

He was gone and I lost it.

Dangerous Liaisons, The Breakup Was Beyond His Control

I guess it was a good-old fashioned panic attack, with an underlying dose of depression.  I hadn’t been eating or sleeping and had been crying off and on for a month.  I was already fragile.  So fragile.  And this, seeing my husband, my high school sweetheart, my first love,  looking like he was going on a date, six days after having moved out, well that was too much.  The thought of him, so coiffed and together and jetting off to stay with a woman and kiss her hello, maybe see her friends and family — like a couple — literally drove me mad.   I went  to my room.  The kids must have been watching TV or something.   I remember grabbing my address book (I didn’t have a smart phone at the time) and paging through it, trying to find someone to call, looking for someone to help me because I felt out of control.  I was shaking.   I was breathing too heavily.   But my parents didn’t even know he’d moved out, I have no siblings in the area  and my best friend who had helped me on moving day is not always available, being a physician.  My heart was racing, my breathing panicked, the tears were coming and I  had the kids to think about and take care of.

I found the name of a woman, an acquaintance, really.  I’ll call her Christina.  We’d met through our children and attended kids parties together, did the couples dinner thing at her house a couple of times (my husband and I rarely had people over, that’s another issue).  I always liked this woman —  but we hadn’t become good friends.  There were a lot of reasons, my husband and her’s had nothing in common, I had so many kids, not a lot of money, was insecure socially and my husband was a loner and I followed his lead, as I’d been conditioned to do.  Christina, a lawyer turned stay-at-home mom ,was also a professor’s wife with a manageable sized family.  They entertained, they traveled, and she spoke three languages.  This was not her home town.  I think I felt inadequate around her, though we were both lawyers, or maybe it was that I saw in her a life I’d missed out on. Huh.   But  I digress . . .

Even though we weren’t that close, I dialed Christina’s  number after my husband backed out of our driveway on his way to his girlfriend.  Christina had unwittingly won my dysfunctional lottery, got my call — and  answered.

I could barely speak yet I stammered something along the lines of:

He left.

He was here and he left.

He left to be with her.

I don’t know what to do.

I can’t handle this!

I know I’m supposed to be strong but I really can’t handle this.

I can’t.  I really can’t.

The tears were coming much harder now.   I was pacing, panting and alternately shaking and clenching  my free hand.

I was not handling this with grace and ease.  Not by a long shot.

I don’t remember what Christina said to me.  I can’t remember not because it was so long ago, but because I was really — ill.  I couldn’t have told anyone what she’d said even the very next day.

Long story short, as they say, she talked me down from my frenzy and kept me from spinning further  out of control.   I think she told me to breathe.  I needed to be told that.  I think she offered to take the kids or at least some or one of them.

I don’t know.  I don’t remember.

I do know that her answering the phone that day helped me more than she’ll ever know.  (Not to sound overly dramatic but the situation was pretty bad.  I was pretty bad.)

Christina and I  never became the kind of friends who hang out regularly.  She did take my son to play with hers a few times, but our kids were not in the same grade, and we lost touch.

Recently,  however, I ran into her at a school concert. I admit that since that whole ordeal I’ve felt a bit embarrassed by my actions, my condition and my persistent inability to bounce back.   I know she never judged me but I often feel like other women deal with this stuff so much better than I do — so I judge myself.   Still, I was glad to see her to exchange pleasantries.  Truthfully, I’ve always admired her.    But when I saw Christina  she had a bit of news.  She casually told me she’d moved out of her house and now lives alone in a nearby apartment.  I knew her oldest was away at  college,  but she told me that the other boy, a ninth grader, lives with his father in their marital home.   Huh.

I didn’t know what to say, so I said, “Um . . . what?”  ( I have such a way with words.)

She smiled, repeated herself and said,  “You never know what life brings”  and added, matter of factly,  that her husband was going to buy her out of the house and that she’d been on her own for about three months.

She seemed fine.  In fact, she seemed good, really.

Maybe we’re all Desperate Housewives . . .

We exchanged  cell phone numbers.    I don’t know if she needs help or someone to talk to . . . or whatever.   If I can help, I will.

Just Me With . . .  maybe a new (old)  friend?   

I’ll try really hard not to hyperventilate when I call her from now on.   

See Also:  “My Daddy Moved Out” — My daughters announcing the break up.

Riding With My Boss — wise words from a surprising source

When I Needed a Helping Hand  — A good friend’s assistance

The Adultery Diet

Anyone remember that scene from Sex and The City where Miranda, after the birth of little Brady, discovers that she can fit into her skinny jeans?

(And by the way, for you people who don’t know, the original “skinny jeans” do not refer to a particular cut of denim pants.  They refer to those old jeans that women keep in their closet in hopes that losing enough weight to be able to wear them again.)

Well,  Miranda shows up at the club looking great in her skinny jeans and Charlotte asks how she lost the weight:

Miranda: Well, I got pregnant, became a single mother, and stopped having any time to eat.
Samantha: Oh, that’s a diet I won’t be trying.

 

There’s also another weight loss regimen that women don’t rush to try.  I call it,

The Adultery Diet

Simply put, it is when a married woman suddenly drops the pounds, without the assistance of  a gym membership or  Jenny Craig.  No, it’s none of that pesky diet and exercise stuff.   Rather, a woman is on The Adultery Diet when her husband is having an affair and it is making her sick.

There’s just something about finding out or suspecting that your man is screwing somebody else that really kills the appetite.

This revelation may or may not end in separation or divorce, that’s not really relevant to this diet, it’s just a sick, sinking feeling that suddenly makes food intolerable, hence the weight loss.

I bet we’ve all seen the signs.

In walks a female friend you haven’t seen in a while.  Her clothes are literally falling off of her.  Unfortunately, her eyes are sunken, red, swollen and downcast, and she’s unnaturally quiet.  She’ll explain, perhaps, that she’s had a bit of a cold.   In her mind, however, she’s screaming, “Oh my God, this is not happening. What am I going to do?  How could he? ”  And then, she simply doesn’t eat, while continuing her daily responsibilities. She functions, but  just knowing that there are some very uncomfortable silences, discussions and possibly life changing decisions that will have to be made in the near future  — well, it just doesn’t make her want a sandwich. In fact, the mere thought of the situation makes her food taste bland and causes nausea.

Then there’s the time alone — while it is quite possible her mate is not spending time alone — well, it can make a girl literally sick to her stomach. Pounds melt away, baby weight — gone, along with muscle.  Suddenly skinny jeans fit and she needs to tighten her belts.

He has to work late. Again.  I fed the kids; they’re good. Everybody is fine. Everything is fine, except that it’s not.  So I’m just gonna sit here in the dark on the kitchen floor while my life falls apart.  I’m not hungry.  I really don’t feel well.

And the coolness of the kitchen floor is somehow so comforting . . . but I digress.

This Adultery Diet is usually available to married or cohabitating women — because there is something about living with someone who is sleeping with someone else that is particularly offensive to the palate.

So if you are surprised by a sudden weight loss of a friend, don’t just tell her how wonderful she looks and ask about her dress size, her diet,  or whether she’s working out.  Ask about her marriage.  Ask if she needs —   anything.

Don’t ask me how I know.

Just Me With . . .  a weight loss regimen no one wants to try.

Just found this pic of Demi Moore:

Demi Moore post-divorce from a cheating husband.

Message to Demi: Give me a call.  We should talk.

See also:  On Angelina Jolie —  At Least No One Will Say She “Got Fat”

and

Confessions of a Skinny Mom

My Wedding Album — Time to Reduce It, Perhaps by Fire

A while back I wrote a post entitled, “Wedding Leftovers” where I discussed what to do with the remnants of a failed marriage.  I concluded that I’d keep the wedding pictures.

But . . .

Today I am consumed with the idea of destroying somejust some — of my wedding photos.   Is it a coincidence that this feeling comes on the eve of what would have been my wedding anniversary —  the first one since my Ex-husband has remarried?  I think not, but  there’s a slight possibility I’m fooling myself.  It just suddenly feels a bit icky to keep all this stuff in its original form.

I have children as a result of that  now defunct union.  I think that in later years they will enjoy seeing the pictures from their parents’ wedding.  Consequently,  I do not feel comfortable destroying — all of them.   Anyway, I looked good that day.    My  best friend looked good that day, too.  And, from a distance, my Ex-husband looked good, too.  So yes, I’ll keep some.

But  I do feel comfortable taking the pictures out of the leather-bound book and velvet cover.   I don’t need to preserve the formal display anymore.

I also feel comfortable destroying the picture of my father with my then husband’s sister, a picture that was  included in the album only because this sister was nowhere to be found when the rest of the family was posing for pictures so we kept this one shot so she would be in at least one photograph.  Anyway, there are other, better pictures of my father.    Plus, this is the sister who was not very respectful to me, my home, or my parents during “the invasion”  or the “War of the Roses” situation as I call it — Humph —  so her photo can go.

I am also content with reducing the number of pictures of the groomsmen, since the best man is the most un-photogenic person I’ve ever seen.  He was good-looking guy, but didn’t know how to smile naturally.   Embarrassingly bad pictures.   Anyway, I have not seen him or his wife or family since my Ex left me years ago.  I don’t need multiple pictures of him  in my house. See, “I am Here!

And, I do feel comfortable destroying the poorly touched up close-ups of my then husband, whose face broke out right before the wedding.  (Even his skin was trying to tell me something.)  He hated the pictures because he looked so bad and he wouldn’t “let” me show the album to anyone anyway.  Humph.

I’m even cool with limiting the bridal party pictures of the women.  My second best friend was suffering from a stomach disorder that was so bad that she had  to be  released from the hospital just to attend the wedding.  She’d been throwing up — a lot.   She didn’t look so good.   I would guess that she’d probably be quite happy if I made some of the pictures that include her . . .  disappear, especially since she’s a television personality now.

Also, I am completely cool with losing photographs of some of  my Ex-Husband’s friends and those wedding guests that now I’m not even sure why we invited– except for, of course,  that photo containing the likeness of one guest who is now somewhat famous (Nope, I’m not telling — heh, heh).  I’ll keep that one.

Yeah, I’m ready to reduce and downsize my wedding mementos and preserve them in a manner of my choosing and befitting their relative importance.   It’ll be like the olden days when there was only a portrait of the bride, maybe some pictures of the wedding party and the happy couple — but just not so many damn pictures.  I really don’t need all of them.  If my whole downsizing thing has taught me anything, it has taught me that  I don’t need to preserve everything.   Hell, my Ex-husband and his new wife don’t have this stuff taking up space in their home.  I don’t even want it taking up treasured space on my hard drive.

So yes, I am completely cool with reducing the number of photos, and placing them in a less shrine-like album.  And bonus, my taking control of  the manner of display may make it more bearable when the kids do want to look at them.

Sadly, it has started to rain.  So there will be no fires today.  Sigh.   But another day . . . burn, baby, burn . . .

Waiting To Exhale — Burn!!

Just Me With . . .  a need to reduce and control the physical manifestation of my wedding memories.   Yeah, I’m good with that now.  (And I promise not to take a Sharpie to his teeth.)

See also:  Always a Bridesmaid

My Worst Super Bowl, Remembered

Super Bowl Weekend

It was Super Bowl weekend and I was in the beginning of some of the most painful days, weeks, months, years of my life. It was about a week and a half after my husband of many years had informed me he was leaving. He had said, simply, “I have to go.” He denied that there was anyone else, stating merely that he was not happy and was never going to be happy.

And, like Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that.

He had decided to leave, but I had begged him to stay, regardless of his decision. I guess I was buying time. I was still in Stage One of trying to get him to change his mind, not accepting that the marriage was in Stage Four: non-operable, treatment resistant and terminal.

A few days before Super Bowl Sunday my husband went on a pre-planned, pre-paid SCUBA trip which had been booked about six weeks before he broke up with me — really that’s what it felt like — but I digress . . . The trip itself was not completely out of character because he belongs to a club and went on trips a couple of times a year. What was odd was that he had scheduled the trip during Super Bowl weekend. What was completely crazy was that he was still going on vacation after telling me he was leaving me and while I was a sobbing heap on the floor.

The Flu

What’s worse, my kids, who are unusually healthy, freakishly healthy — I mean I have five kids and I only remember dealing with two ear infections — ever — had come down with the flu, high fevers and all.

All five children had the flu. All five. Flu. They were too sick to even take to the store. I had to get my Dad to come over while I went grocery shopping.

I was housebound with five sick children. My husband had gone to the Bahamas.

Huh. Signs of things to come.

Although I was crying all the time (I told the kids I was sick, too) having him out of the house for a few days gave me random moments of clarity which tapped into my common sense.

Long story short: It was during Super Bowl weekend that I uncovered uncontroverted evidentiary support leading me to the conclusion that my husband was not in fact on a trip with his SCUBA Club. To the contrary, he was on a romantic island vacation with another woman.

Isn’t it romantic?

Ouch.

Like how I lawyered that up? It’s a defense mechanism of mine to deal with painful topics. But in straight talk, I found out that my husband, who had simply announced after double digits of marriage, “I have to go” was on a beach getaway with another woman, a jaunt he had booked a month before he informed me he was leaving me. He was frolicking in the sand and surf with someone new, while I was heartbroken and housebound with five children suffering from the flu. (Rhyme unintended but I kinda like it so I’m keeping it.)

Stupid Super Bowl weekend. That was a long weekend. A long game. And the daggone Super Bowl happens every year and I get a little reminder of some of my worst days.

Just Me With . . . ghosts from Super Bowl’s past.

This happened some time ago. It’s all back story, the abridged version. I have a memory too good for my own good, see The Twilight Zone — Again? Seriously?, when I reflected on the date my divorce became final and damn near wrecked the car. When I’ve gone through something difficult, especially something which coincides with a holiday or special event, it is hard to ignore, try as I might. See A Sad and Disturbing True Halloween Story.

I’m better now. I’m not crying about it, at least not about him leaving me. It took years and thousands of dollars, but my divorce is final and he has remarried. He did not marry the Bahamas woman, in case you were wondering, that relationship didn’t work out — and that’s all I have to say about that.

The pain has decreased over time, but that does not negate the fact that it was a super-duper crappy Super Bowl weekend back then, by anyone’s standards, and I still remember it — like women remember (but don’t feel) labor, like people acknowledge (but don’t celebrate) the anniversary of a death. It’s just there. And it’s okay to acknowledge it — so that I’m not so hard on myself for being where I am now, and also so that I can celebrate how far I have come. Plus, one day I might even write a book.

I know I’m better off without him. But it’s like having a huge life sucking tumor removed — in the end it’s all for the best, but would it have killed somebody to give me a little anesthesia? That mess hurt.

I’m just sayin’ . . .

A couple of weeks after that Super Bowl, one of the kids announced, My Daddy Moved Out.

See also:

A Snowy Night for a Breakup

Our Breakup — The Musical Revival

 

 

The Twilight Zone — Again? Seriously?

A funny thing  happened last night.   I was on my way home, driving late at night.  Admittedly, I was tired and was forcing myself to stay awake.  I  was thinking of my gig but was also wondering whether it would be too late to get one more tweet in about my latest blog post.    “What Have I Done Since My Divorce.”   It’s just some tongue-in-cheek musings about how my life has changed since my divorce became final.

All in all, the divorce date doesn’t really matter.  Still, I’ve had to pull out the final decree throughout the year for taxes, banking, other financial matters — you know, when I’ve  filled out forms that request documentation of change in marital status.  Having just gathered my tax materials I’ve had to gaze upon the piece of paper which legally ended my already dead marriage.  And I remember dates, always have — important dates, unimportant dates, dates of good memories — and bad.   I remember.  It’s a gift . . . and a curse.

It used to really bother my Ex-Husband that I remembered so many anniversaries of events.  (I guess that would be the gift part — ha ha).    The curse part is that I also recall the cluster of wintertime  “Ex Dates” like — our first kiss, when we became a couple, when he told me he was leaving me, when he moved out, and our wedding anniversary, to name a few.    So true to my tendency to hoard useless facts  today I remembered that this was the anniversary of the day the judge signed off on the divorce. . . and it was on my mind.

For whatever reason, my being tired, the broken side view mirror, a blind spot — I drifted to the right lane too slowly and didn’t see the quickly approaching car behind me.   Suddenly, a little black car sped up next to  me, too close,  forcing me to quickly swerve back over into my lane.

“Okay, now I’m awake.”  I said to myself,  startled, heart pounding.  The little black car was next to me for a few moments.   I was expecting  him or her hit the horn,  cuss me out through a closed window — at least throw an  angry look my way.  Drivers in my part of the world are not known to be gracious.  But the car simply weaved up ahead and I never got a look at the  driver.  It was dark, the windows were tinted. He or she never even flipped me the bird. I did see the back of the car, though.

Its license plate read:  DIVORCE

What???

This time I sped up to catch the little black car to see if I read that correctly.   Yes, it said “DIVORCE.”

Seriously?

I exited the highway before the “Divorce-Mobile”  did. Though I’ve been known to follow random cars (ask my kids), I was not going to follow that particular vehicle.  I’m done with all that divorce stuff, as of one year ago.

Bottom line as to the divorce or the divorce mobile:  I didn’t see it coming.  It could have killed me.  It didn’t.  Perhaps it saved me.  Regardless, it went on to freak out other people while I took the next exit.

Just Me With . . .  life on the highway on the anniversary of my divorce.

Seriously, does anyone else find this an odd coincidence especially given my post before last, “I Went For Coffee and Took A Turn Into . . . The Twilight Zone.” ????

That particular vanity license plate should be illegal.   I must call my congressperson.

A related post on my gift/curse of remembering dates:  Happy Birthday to My Ex-Husband’s Ex-Girlfriend

What Have I Done Since My Divorce?

So this is the anniversary of when my divorce became final.  Well, well, well.    The divorce process, from filing to finality was almost three years to the day.    It was  litigious and expensive.   I still have outstanding legal bills and there is retirement money yet  to be transferred.   Regardless of the loose ends,  the divorce itself has been final for a year.  Happy freaking anniversary to me.  See, Don’t Congratulate Me On My Divorce . . . Not Today.

It was my husband who was the litigious one, though I’m the lawyer.  But suddenly, after his multiple filings, hearings, and mediation and him threatening to prolong the process, as in, “I don’t care how long it takes.   This can go on forever.  I’d rather pay my lawyer than you,” when he got this last girlfriend, he couldn’t get divorced fast enough.  Huh.  Even after the settlement was agreed upon and we were waiting for signatures, he filed yet another costly petition because it was taking too damn long.

Huh.

Let me be clear:  we aren’t wealthy people, so unlike Kobe  Bryant and his wife, we weren’t dividing mansions and millions.   Not even close.  No, my Ex-husband had another “M” word in mind.

In the year since  our  bonds of matrimony were broken,  My Ex-husband has  remarried.

Now they are expecting.   Huh.  Guess he  had plans.  Plans which necessitated a divorce.    Because the ability to remarry —  that is the true power and magic of divorce.   That, and being able to sign up for eHarmony.com . . . but I digress.

Poof!

Well, that particular magic hasn’t happened to me.  (And that’s okay, really.)

I haven’t walked down that aisle again and I’ll never have any more children.  What’s more, I don’t wanna!!    I’m not looking for a husband and I don’t feel incomplete without one.   Marriage is not my goal or plan and I do not equate it with a sign of success.
That said,  let me take this moment in time to celebrate

What I Have Done Since My Divorce  . . .

1.   I got Netflix;

2.   Having never watched it  before — ever,  I started from episode one and got caught up on Grey’s Anatomy right up  to the current  episode;

3.  I bought  an iPhone;

4.  I got on Twitter, and

5.  I started this blog.

That’s right.  Apparently  I had plans, too,  damn it.    So maybe I haven’t traveled the world since I became legally single.   Maybe I haven’t  found someone to whom to publicly declare my love  “until death do us part” (yeah,  no comment)  and  started a brand new family  . . .

but Dude,

I’m texting and tweeting like a champ, #hashtags and all.

Just Me With . . .  Meredith and  McDreamy, my Tweeps, my Apps, and my Readers.

She’s Gonna Make It After All

Thank you!    See also: The Twilight Zone — Again, Seriously?

I Went For Coffee and Took A Turn Into “The Twilight Zone”

Narrator:   There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone. 

— The Twilight Zone, 1959, Season One

My narrator:  Meet Roxanne, a divorced mother of five who sometimes forgets to eat,  or chooses to save  a simple breakfast bar for her children rather than “waste” it on herself.   It’s an ordinary day for  Roxanne, who had left home for her only true indulgence —  getting her morning coffee.  She didn’t know that when she returned into her neighborhood, she would cross into . . .    The Twilight Zone.

Over the weekend we had some icy snow in my part of the world.   I was out running errands (in other words:  getting coffee).   On the way home I was wondering whether I could get my children to shovel  the sidewalks for me, doubted that they would before going to visit their father and  worried about whether doing it myself would throw my back out again.   My Aching Back    A neighbor offered to pay my daughter to do hers.   I wished that daughter or any of the children would do ours also, without back talk, threats or rewards  — and before they had to go.   It probably wouldn’t happen.   I got my coffee, and while there I  picked up my daughter’s  favorite breakfast sandwich as a treat,  plus I wanted her to get something warm in her belly before going out  to shovel the neighbor’s walkway.    As is often the case, I didn’t get a sandwich for myself,  saving a couple of bucks, not wanting to spend the money on — me.  As I turned  into my neighborhood, I had my daily thoughts of  “I really hate this neighborhood, I don’t like  living here.”   Followed by, “I wonder if I can figure out a way to move again but keep the kids in the same schools.”  And rounding out the trilogy, “Don’t be ridiculous, there’s no reason to move except that you don’t like it here and that’s just not a good enough reason.”

Given all these thoughts rushing through my head it was rather amazing that I happened to spot a woman on the side of the road.    She had plastic grocery store bags spread in front of her in the snow, was shaking and clenching her hands and seemed to be trying to figure out a way to  pick them up again.   Clearly she was struggling to carry her groceries home in the snow.

I stopped, backed up, asked if she wanted a ride.   She only gave pause for a moment and eyed me to make sure I didn’t look like a crazy.  (Sometimes I can appear quite normal . . . but I digress).  It was bitter cold outside.   She accepted the ride, put her bags in the back seat and sat up front next to me, thanking me.   She explained that she rushed out so quickly to get some things from the store that she had forgotten her gloves.   It wasn’t that the bags were heavy, she said, it was that her hands were frozen and she couldn’t hold them anymore.  “My hands hurt so bad,” she said.

It  didn’t really matter to me why she was in her predicament, I just wanted to get her home.  It was too damn cold and icy to walk, especially with groceries, no cart and no gloves.  She went on to  explain that her brother couldn’t shovel the car out because of his eye.   His eye Huh.  I pondered this.  Why would  his eye keep him from shoveling . . .   maybe he’d had surgery?  I drifted off  to  my own little world, thoughts racing for first place in my head.

Then my passenger said,  “I’m Roxanne.”

Skid marks on the brain.  Thoughts stopped on a dime.

Get OUT!!!”   I responded, perhaps a little too energetically, reminiscent of  Elaine from Seinfeld.

What?” she responded, looking concerned.  It was an unfortunate choice of words for my exclamation —  I mean, saying “Get Out!” to a passenger in my car!  Smooth, Roxanne.

MY name is Roxanne,” I quickly explained.

Really?’

Yes.  Really.  Wow, that’s wild.”   It’s  a fairly uncommon name.  It was surreal.

Roxanne said that I could drop her at a nearby intersection but I told her, no, I would take her all the way home. During the ride  I  discovered that  we had gone to the same high school, and though I had assumed she was older than me, it turned out but she was too young for me even to have known her from school.  She appeared worn beyond her years. I didn’t recall ever having seen her in the neighborhood or around town.  It was odd.

So what of my surprise passenger, Roxanne?    A woman who shared my name, who was walking alone in the snow-covered street,  who failed to  think of her own needs while rushing to meet the needs of others.   The consequences of her neglect of self was  finding herself standing  in the snow with frozen fingers, groceries at her feet  and  blocks from home.  For whatever reason– her family was not there to help her  and she had to accept a ride from a stranger.

It gave me pause.

I’m that Roxanne, too, coming home with a sandwich for a child so that she could shovel  another family’s walk but bringing no food for myself.

I almost said to the other Roxanne, “How could you leave home without gloves?  You’ve got to take care of yourself.  You’re no good to anybody if you get sick or frostbite.”   But what stopped me, other than that being creepy coming from a stranger, is that other people have been saying that to me lately.  My therapeutic goals are largely based upon meeting my basic self-care needs without guilt.

Roxanne,  have you been eating and sleeping?   You can’t take care of your family if you don’t take care yourself.”  I’ve heard often.  Too often.

Did the universe send me that other Roxanne to  remind me that  I need to help myself?  I mean, I know that when I get sick, the whole system fails.  I know this, yet  I still need reminders that protecting myself from the elements, eating, sleeping and yes even doing something just for my sheer enjoyment of it  is as  important as, well — anything.    Somehow, that reminder got in my car that day, and her name was Roxanne.

I  dropped Roxanne off feeling good about having helped her,  since it was so very cold outside, but I knew that both of us need to take care of ourselves.   I need to take care of me.

Maybe  picking up a reflection of  myself —  what I could become, what I have been  . . .  was meant to be that day.

My Narrator:   Roxanne, a functioning, yet melancholy divorced mother who often puts her basic needs well behind those in her care, stops in the snow to assist an eerily familiar woman in distress, a woman who perhaps shares more than just her name  in . . . The Twilight Zone.

Just Me With . . .  an over-active imagination?

P.S.   I told my therapist about it.  She queried whether the woman was real.

I’m not even going there.

See the Sequel:  The Twilight Zone —  Again?  Seriously?

If Shirley Partridge Had Been Divorced

The Partridge Family Band

Thanks to  “Lipstick &  Playdates”  for –A Tribute To Shirley Partridge: The Coolest Single Mom Of All Time  — for the great post. I started a comment, got a notification on my iPhone and couldn’t find it again.  So I wrote a little post.

Mrs. Partridge

I completely agree, Shirley Partridge was the coolest single mom.   But, had Shirley Partridge been a  current day divorced single mom rather than a widow it would have been completely different.

There’s simply no way she could fit rehearsals and gigs in around the kids’ school work and visitations with Daddy.   No way.

You want us for a great gig next month?  Oh sorry, no, the kids have to visit their father that day, any other dates?  I can see if I can switch.   Can I get back to you?   No? “

Mr. Partridge would have the final say-so.  If he won’t switch dates, no gig.   Gotta work around “the schedule.”

And what about that cool bus?   Painting that bus would surely have been used as evidence against Shirley, calling into question her sanity and her parenting ability.

I can see it now:

Lawyer:   Mrs. Partridge, how do you and the children expect to travel to these, what do you call  them? 

Mrs. Partridge:  Gigs.

Lawyer:  Gigs?   Ah, yes, gigs.  And again, how do you suppose to arrive at the destination of these gigs.

Mrs. Partridge:   By bus.  

Lawyer:   (Holds up picture of bus)  Is this the bus? 

Mrs. Partridge:   Yes. 

Lawyer:  How did it come to look like this? 

Mrs. Partridge:  The kids  painted it. 

Lawyer:  The children painted an old  bus.    No further questions . . .  except . . .   Tell me, does Danny play football?

Mrs. Partridge:   What?  No. Have you seen Danny?  No.  He has no interest.   Plus, the other kids would probably kill him or he’d convince them to kill each other.

Lawyer’s Summation:  

Mrs. Partridge’s  family time consists of children either spending countless hours in the garage playing rock music or riding for  hours on a psychedelic bus going who knows where to be put on display . . . 

And consider this young boy, Danny — instead of playing football or soccer as young boys should, he’s  painting buses and playing bass in a “family” rock band.  It seems that a lack of male influence is having an unfortunate effect on this boy.    

Then there is a “Manager” —  music business executive — a man — seen coming and going from the house at all hours, and spending time alone with the children, including a teenaged girl. 

This is no kind of family life to model for these impressionable minds.  Clearly, Mr. Partridge is within his rights to  prohibit his children from performing in this “band” and disallow any changes in the visitation schedule to accomodate such a pursuit.   Such rehearsals and performances should not interfere with the time the children are scheduled to spend with Mr. Partridge and his second wife and growing family. 

Mr. Partridge is making a family.  Mrs. Partridge is making a band.

Ouch.

No, no, no.   Had Shirley been going through a divorce she would have been forced into the traditional suburban housewife role.  Ironic, isn’t it?   She’d probably have to take a low paying but steady, boring job,  pay other people to give the children  music lessons and present them, like clockwork and with a smile,  to the court devised visits with their father.  There would simply be no time for a band.  Time can be divided upon divorce, but not created.  And interests that may have been supported within a marriage, can become a battleground after.   Yup, Mrs. Partridge would  pretty much have to walk the straight and narrow and live by schedules forced upon her by somebody else’s system — somebody who has never even thought about playing in a band.

Yeah, I’m guessing divorced Shirley girl would always have open bottle of Xanax or Vodka nearby.   That’s much more acceptable to most:   misery and medication — over music.

Just Me With . . .  no band, no bus, and a drum kit collecting dust in my basement.  

Bitter in Suburbia.

The Annual Holiday Party — At Least I Wasn’t Insulted This Year

Over the weekend I went to an annual holiday party given by  friends from my old neighborhood.  It was nice, uneventful and   “Met Expectations”   which is very significant, at least compared to last year.

I expected to be the only uncoupled, hell, the only unmarried person there.  Yup.  These were many of the same people  I saw when “I  Went To A Wedding Alone” and was seated with four other couples.   The party was hosted by  the very cool woman who had been there for me “When I Needed a Helping Hand,”  and her husband, my former “Go-To Guy.”  Good people.

As expected, I got the same inquiries about the kids, the new house (though I’ve been there for two years now),  how the “new” neighborhood is, work, career, how I spend my time, etc.  No questions about whether I’m seeing anyone.   I hardly ever get that question.  What’s up with that?    But I digress.   That is a topic for another post.

What was different this year was that I was ready for the whole scene.  I expected the questions and the topics of conversations that really did not apply to me and to which I could not relate.  I had my stock responses. I came to the realization that this is how it will be with these folks as a group, people  from a past life.

It was a step up from last year.

At this same party last year, I found myself chatting with two very different women.  One  is a true, down-to-earth angel who has been such a  huge help and selfless friend in my time of need and thereafter.  She was the mother of the bride when “I Went To A Wedding Alone.”   The other  woman is the wife of my old boss.  SeeRiding With My Boss.”  This woman, who I’ll call Ellen BlueBlood,  has been a long-time acquaintance, but never a good friend, we never really clicked.   She always seemed a bit snobbish to me.  Ellen BlueBlood was going on and on about her University graduated daughter who was doing all of these wonderful things, being offered all of these fabulous opportunities, she was becoming such of special woman of substance, blah, blah, blah.    It was ridiculous, really.  Then the topic turned to  the daughter’s boyfriend.   This was infinitely more interesting to me, it had to be better than hearing the enhanced overview of her resume.

Ellen BlueBlood, however, was not impressed with her daughter’s boyfriend.   She slowed her speech, shook her head, sighed.   I don’t know if she clucked her tongue but she might as well have.

As if this universally summed up the reasons for her distaste of this young man, she said,

“His parents are divorced.   We don’t like that.”

It just hung there. It just hung there like a fart.

My angel friend, intimately aware of the  toll that the  end of my marriage  took on my family,  knew that this was just a stupid thing  for Ellen to say — in front of anyone,   let alone me.   I don’t  remember exactly what my angel friend said,  but she tried to correct and diffuse the  sheer stupidity and insensitivity of  Ellen BlueBlood’s remark.   It didn’t work.   Mrs. BlueBlood didn’t get it.  It went right over her head.   She went on to discuss the boyfriend and made truly legitimate complaints about him — i.e. he tried to break up with her daughter at a funeral.   Yeah, she should have led with that.  Now that’s a good reason to dislike the boy.

I said nothing.  At the time,   Ellen BlueBlood’s stupid comment hit hard.  I was already feeling so vulnerable, being single at a party for couples, and  embarrassed that everyone in the room knew of my troubles, etc.  But then, having to hear such hurtful stupidity,  and suddenly realizing she might not be the only person in the world who feels that way, . . .  wondering whether some idiot  will unfairly judge my children because of my failed marriage —  well,  her comment, as I said, hit me hard — last year.

But this year,  when the same woman went on and on about her daughter’s international travels and appointments, blah, blah, blah.  I was just  bored.

Okay, maybe part of me hopes her daughter shacks up with a truck driving, gun rack mounted, sleeve tattooed, home-made cigarette smoking, tooth challenged, GED failing and criminal record having, good old boy named Bubba, — that is, until Bubba kicks her out  of the trailer and she ends up with an unemployed, black as night rebound guy, who is a  multiple baby mama having, “Up and Coming” Rapper chasing a record deal,  whose grandmother  raised him (of course),  yet she is ten years younger than Ellen BlueBlood and cleans her office at night.  Maybe part of me would enjoy that. I mean, really, if  Ellen BlueBlood is scared of a stereotype, let’s give her a boatload of the really offensive ones, right?   Yeah,  I’m human— and perhaps a little evil.  heh heh heh.  

And oh snap, Ellen BlueBlood also has a son– a less accomplished  son attending a second-tier  (oh, the horror) college.     Hmmm.   Maybe I should hit that.  Ha!    But I digress.

In the end, this year’s party was uneventful.  I deserve that.   My realistic  expectations were met, nod to my fellow Tweeter   @blogginglily who described it as such.  Unlike last year, no one insulted me (to my face) and I was– if not entirely comfortable–  at least accepting of being with this group of couples.  Bonus, since it was a white elephant Christmas gift exchange party, I got  a present:

We  all thought it was a candle holder, but a smart Tweeter @TX_Lisa pointed out that the side candles would drip and suggested instead  that it might be  a vase.   So yeah, the party  “met expectations”  and I got a scary, hideous, slightly pornographic vase.     Not too shabby.

Just Me With . . . the ugliest vase ever . . . and  expectations met.    

Hmmmm, I wonder when  Ellen BlueBlood’s boy gets home from college for the holidays . . .

(And here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson)

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?   Ha!

Other holiday related posts:

Blowing Off the Holidays — Just say no.

Time Management,  Procrastination, Holiday Shopping and Moving — Some things will take exactly as much time as you allot to them.

All I Want for Christmas is My Kids — Splitting the babies after divorce.

A Good Neighbor, An Accidental Friend, and a Christmas Surprise —  You never know the impact people have on each other.

Keeping It Simple At Christmas — Bells and whistles are not always required.

My First Grown Up Thanksgiving — Kind of  — Thanksgiving in my house, without my kids

Craigslist Angels — One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure  — Giving Away Christmas Decorations Can Be A Very Good Thing.

I’ve Declared Myself Undateable — Online and in General

I’ve made a conscious decision not to attempt online dating right now, or any kind of dating.  It’s not that I’m afraid of getting hurt or afraid of the crazies.    It’s just that, well, I hate all the boxes I have to check that define me.  It becomes an exercise in self-examination (humiliation) that is just no fun.  As in “How did this happen to me!!!!!

I’m not so good on paper online.  I have been married before; it ended in divorce.  Of course, that’s not uncommon, but  I have a  whole bunch of children (five, yes, five children) from that marriage, who live with me.   My career and net worth are, at least at present,  not what  they had the potential to be, for many reasons,  some  of which are related to the fact that I was married, had a lot of  children in a very short period of time, got dumped and  flipped out.

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be so good in person, either.  I’ve got nothing to talk about.  The course of my life and accomplishments have in no small part been  influenced by my  prior relationship, which, I know,  is not appropriate casual dating conversation.   For the last few years I have been dealing with the end of that relationship, recovery from  that relationship, and depression.  Again, not topics of  casual coffee talk with a stranger.   And talking about kids  is also a dating no-no.  Plus, I don’t have a list of  exciting hobbies and activities I’d like to discuss and share with a potential mate, except for the music stuff which I don’t feel the need to bring a man into.  And no, I don’t go to the gym, unless, of course,  you count the physical therapy I’m still attending to recover from the injuries I received from the dangerous and stupid combination of starting an exercise regimen and fighting with my daughter (she won, by the way).  My Aching Back.    So I’m not a lot of fun in person, I fear.  Don’t get me wrong,  I have a lot to offer, but I don’t have the energy or inclination or time to  peddle my potential to a stranger.

I realize how  negative I sound.    I’m depressed.  I should be dating Eeyore.  Now Eeyore and I, yeah, we  could hang out . . .  but I digress.

Eeyore

Regardless of all the reasons not to do it, I could put myself out there anyway and pretend to be a good date.   But here’s part two of the problem.    What (oh I’m sorry) Who would I get in response to my online profiles?   I’d get guys  who are  attracted to what I appear to be on paper online.   Well, that’s just scary.  I’m a little scary.   I know that.  Damn, I wouldn’t even respond to my own profile.    Still, when I create these profiles (and never pay), I do get poked or pinged or prodded or winked at or whatever  from men  –men who apparently  can tolerate the boxes that  I’ve  checked (oh the boxes, I check too many and too few).   When I see these connections,  I just want to scratch my head and say, “Dude, really, you’re into this?”  I mean, I can barely tolerate the boxes I check.  And if he checks the same boxes?  Oh what a motley crew we would make.

My checked boxes may accurately describe my situation,  but they don’t define me.  Really, they don’t.

Wait, do they? 

Do they?  !!!!!  (Singing:  “Excuse me, while I start to cry . . . ” Playing air guitar.)

Hendrix

Perhaps it comes down to the fact that I don’t want someone to share this current on paper online profile life with, I’d like some company in a very different life that I have yet to create, or failed to create in the past (Shut up, Eeyore).  So, no, I’m not ready online or otherwise to force a dating life.   I need to take care of me, manage or overcome this depression, work to get out of this financial hole my divorce  left me in.  Yada yada yada . . .

That  is the reasoned, socially correct conclusion.

That’s not me, either.

To be continued . . .

Just Me With  . . .  a decision not to force a dating situation.

See, Undateable, Part II.