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. See “Riding 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.
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’ll call her Erin. She was senior to me in the fancy law firm we worked in — seems like a lifetime ago. She was attractive, a model of good taste, not particularly well liked and frankly a little scary. Harsh, is what people said about her. She was playing with the big boys, and had watched the big boys make partner while they passed her over, year after year, despite her superior qualifications and track record. Picture a younger Miranda from The Devil Wears Prada, but a Miranda who has to work under all of the Mad Men.
On the personal side, Erin is single, never married. This made her an expert on dating. Over the years she had a long, too long relationship with an older man who would not commit. She spent the bulk of her last good child bearing years with this man, kind of like Mr. Big from Sex and The City, but not as cute. Following her ultimatum, he finally told her he would never marry. They continued to date and travel together but with no expectations for more. They kept separate apartments in the city.
When I was a junior attorney Erin scared the crap out of me. My work best friend and I vowed never to have a meal with her. But once I matured professionally (and personally) I found myself getting closer to her and we became friends.
By the time my marriage ended neither of us worked at that firm anymore. They never made her partner so she found another firm that did. She had ended her relationship with “Mr. Big Can’t Commit Guy” for good but had no serious relationships since.
I was struggling, this was during some pretty dark times, but I didn’t want her to know how hard things were for me — maybe she did still scare me a bit. Regardless, her intuitiveness and observation skills uncovered my pain. Still deeply wounded by my then soon-to-be-ex’s ability to so easily discard and replace me, I admitted that it had deeply injured my ego and confidence.
Erin had never been impressed with my Ex and she didn’t mince words. Ever.
Erin instructed me:
She further explained that I needed to be around men who will appreciate my good qualities, men who will appreciate my choosing to spend time with them. She elaborated that these dates should not end in sex, and that I should not be looking for a boyfriend or someone to love. These dates should simply be a means to an end, a way to break away from being the wife — the jilted and rejected wife. I needed, she said, to see myself the way others see me– not how my Ex treated me.
I wasn’t really convinced that I could or should take her advice, because I really did not want a man and was still too depressed and wounded (and physically ill) to seriously consider it. She sensed that, and added, in her usual strong, pointed manner,
“Roxanne, he has changed the playing field. You have a right to play on that field.”
I wasn’t ready to take her advice then and I didn’t. But looking back on it now, I see that she is a smart woman, a really scary, brilliant woman.
Just Me With . . . the good advice, that I just didn’t take.
Dating, well non-dating posts:
We do not have holidays spelled out in the Custody Order, rather, we are supposed to work it out, so this is a big deal. I’ve always had the kids at Christmas since our separation, he’s always had them at Thanksgiving. This is really an extension of what happened during our marriage. We spent Thanksgiving with his family, and Christmas with mine. That worked for us. In fact, when we were together I spent Easter and all of the barbecue holidays (Independence Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day) with his family. I traded all celebrations throughout the year just to get Christmas.
Last Christmas when I asked for the kids over Christmas break, he said fine but added that one of these years he’s going to want them at Christmas. That scared me. He meant it to scare me, I believe. But then he and his wife (then girlfriend) went on a beach vacation together over the holidays. He didn’t even spend it with his family, something the kids noticed and openly wondered about. “Why didn’t Daddy spend Christmas with his own family?” they asked. (No comment.) Last week I heard from the kids that my Ex-husband had already made Thanksgiving plans with the kids, his wife, and her extended family (again, not his family, something the kids are upset about, but again, no comment). I hoped that this meant that he would honor our tradition of “letting” me having the kids at Christmas. But one never knows. There’s a new wife in town now. Plus, my Ex can be mean. When I had to speak to my Ex about Summer vacation plans he yelled at me for almost an hour about various unrelated crap before eventually saying, “Go on take them for as long as you want. I don’t care, just let me know.” Haven’t been feeling up for a verbal beat down like that again.
So today, when he informed me he’d be traveling for work and would miss his visitations with the kids for the next couple of weeks, I finally got the nerve to ask him about the holidays. He was completely fine with it, not even a pause. My guess is he had already made plans with his wife anyway and/or assumed I’d take the kids regardless. He assumes and makes plans. I ask permission. (Yeah, I know, I see it, I’m working on it, acknowledging his rights does not mean being a doormat, but this is a lifelong pattern of accommodation I’m dealing with “My High School Self”. ) My Ex-Husband added that he had been planning to tell me that Christmas presents for the kids from him will be sparse this year, his wife isn’t working and he’s struggling. (No comment.) I’m just glad, hell, I’m freaking rejoicing in the fact that now I can openly discuss Christmas and that I didn’t first have to take a verbal beat down for the privilege.
Christmas with my family has a special meaning for me. It’s not even particularly religious, and we’re not wealthy so it’s not about the gifts. It is, however, usually the only time that my small but geographically fractured family gets together. My sisters went to college and moved hundreds of miles away from our home of origin and never moved back. They rarely made it home for Thanksgiving, don’t always make a Summer visit, but have always made it home for Christmas, even after they married and had children of their own. They, like me, often spent Thanksgiving, Easter and Spring Break with their in-laws or their own homes but reserved Christmas for us. It’s always been that way. Perhaps it is because so many of my family members are involved in academia. Teachers, people who work for universities, and students have off the week between Christmas and New Years Day and this is when they can travel and relax. Even now, my oldest sister’s grown children with professional careers make time and arrangements to travel cross-country to be with their grandparents and the rest of the family at Christmas. I know that one day someone won’t be able to make it; I know that one year we will have lost someone. But it is our family tradition to be together, and I look forward to it. My kids look forward to it. I’m just so thankful that today I know for sure I “have permission” to continue the tradition — to spend this Christmas with my kids, together with their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and that my divorce did not change that — this year. What a relief.
Just Me With . . . holiday plans. Woo Hoo!!!!!!!
Okay, it’s been years now since he moved out. It’s a different bed. Hell, it’s a different house. And he’s married now, for goodness sake.
So why am I still sleeping on my side of the bed?
It’s amazing how old movies take on such different meanings after that stuff happens to you!
Like the scene in When Harry Met Sally when they discuss their post break up sleeping habits. It went right over my head for years – when I was married. Until my unfortunate (or fortunate) events brought it to the forefront and made it exceedingly relevant.
Harry: Ok, fine. Do you still sleep on the same side of the bed?
Sally: I did for a while but now I’m pretty much using the whole bed.
Harry: God, that’s great. I feel weird when just my leg wanders over. I miss her.
I actually enjoy sleeping alone; I don’t miss sleeping with him. But unlike Sally, I don’t use the whole bed, either. What is it? There’s the practical considerations, namely that my phone and alarm clock are on one side. But really that would explain why I get up on that side not my entire sleeping geography.
My ambien is on that side too. Now I’m talking. Once ingested I tend to sleep in whatever position I was in when I took a sleep aid. I realized this fact when I woke up very sore two weeks ago, in the same position I lay my head down in.
But I don’t take a sleep aid every night.
So why stay on one side of the bed?
It’s like I’m saving a place for someone.
Am I waiting for Prince Charming?
Or am I still programmed to be part of a couple?
Or is it just a force of habit?
Like Harry, I was married a long time, longer than I’ve been separated or divorced. And though I’ve had visitors to my bed on occasion, I’ve never had anyone stay more than one night (and, honestly, those single nights were too damn long). Harry stayed on his side of the bed. Was it the marriage thing? Does my body still think it’s a marital bed?
Maybe being curled up on my side of the bed is just my way of snuggling — with myself.
I remember when just days after my then husband moved out one of my daughters asked me,
“Who’s going to sleep with you now?”
Damn, still waiting for an answer to that.
In the meantime, here is a product I accidentally found online. I swear I wasn’t looking for this.
The Companion Pillow.
This is the pillow that holds you when your partner cannot. Shaped like a man’s torso, the pillow has a flexible arm that wraps around you as you lie on its burly, comforting chest. Made from fiber-fill, the pillow contours to your body and provides a soft sleeping surface that’s both physically and emotionally supportive. The pillow is dressed in a soft polyester button-down dress shirt, and unlike the real thing, the pillow won’t keep you awake with incessant snoring. Cover is removable and machine-washable. 24″ L x 17″ W x 7″ H. (2 lbs.)
Just Me With . . . no one on his side of the bed.
Update: The Companion Pillow is apparently no longer available at Hammacher. If you are interested, there are other retailers offering the same or similar products.
If you are interested. I, however, am not.
See posts about visitors to the other side of the bed:
Since my Ex-Husband sent the kids home to me on Mother’s Day expecting them to tell me that he was getting married, see My Ex Husband is Getting Married, I’ve compiled a list of announcements I should (but of course won’t) make to him on Father’s Day.
Top 5 Father’s Day Announcements To My Ex!!
5. Your only son (so far) is gay!
(Not that there’s anything wrong with that, a la Seinfeld, and no, he is not gay, but it would probably bother the Ex, so wouldn’t that be fun?)
4. I’m getting married, too — to a polygamist. So not only will the kids get a father figure, but I will have at least three other sister wives and their kids all helping to raise our children!!! Isn’t that great?
(Deciding to raise the children in an alternate lifestyle is always a nice surprise, right? And this news would certainly trump and dilute his plans to add just one wife to the kids’ lives. Anyway, I always wondered about what the fourth sister wife’s ex-husband thought about his three kids, who are school age, calling her new polygamist husband Daddy, having all these extra Moms and siblings and doing it all on television, but I digress . . . I digress a lot, and often)
3. I’m suing for additional child support.
2. I’ve decided to go to your wedding. I think it’s best for the kids, don’t you?
(I’ll attend with the vintage Alanis Morissette, “You Outta Know” attitude. Hell, I might even be convinced to offer a song.)
And the classic, almost clichéd announcement, but works every time:
1. You are NOT the father (a la Maury Povitch)
Just Me With . . . some Father’s Day Announcements.
I was at a school function. It was already obvious to me that although I was acquainted with most of the parents there, I had no real friends. People said hi but no one stayed to talk to me, I changed locations three times to try to either strike up a conversation or make it less obvious that I had no one to talk to. Then when I finally settled on a spot, I overheard a mother talking really loudly, stating,
“It is so much harder to be a married mother than a single mother. I don’t get three nights off a week. I have to run the kids around by myself every day! He’s never around!”
Two other women nodded in agreement, a little uncomfortably.
One kind mother who also overheard this statement and who obviously knows my marital status, turned to me and said quietly,
“Do you find it easier to be a single mom?”
Gotta love her for recognizing my discomfort among the Stepford Wives in my community. (I’m not suggesting that all married women are Stepford Wives, this is a description of the particular women who offended me ). The kind soul who recognized my discomfort is a psychiatrist and one of the moms in an interracial lesbian relationship. So she has probably felt like she doesn’t fit in either. But at least she had her partner with her. I was alone. It was so insensitive for that other mouthy mother (fucker) to be talking like that, that loudly. Didn’t she think that one of those supposedly breezy single mothers might be in her midst? She’s entitled to her opinion, but geesh. It hurt a little; it hurt a lot. It felt like hearing a religious or racial slur from a person you wouldn’t expect it from.
Let the record reflect that I was once married. And I was married with children for eight years. And I’d like to say that I’ve known this woman since our oldest kids were in kindergarten. She was married then and she’s still married now. I was married then, I am not married now. So out of the two of us, I am infinitely more qualified to make the comparison between married with kids and single with kids. I’m the one who has been on both sides.
I say this because I know a married woman’s desire, the fantasy of a having her husband say, “I’m taking the kids for the weekend.” You do whatever you want, or “you go –I got this.” And I recognize that most married women never get a weekend for themselves, unless it is some preplanned girls’ weekend that only happens very infrequently and she has to “pay back” her husband for the privilege somehow. So I get it. My husband never took the kids, I was never completely “off duty.” I completely understand when I hear still married women envy single moms and their traditional every other weekend off. (Which, I might add is not a law, it doesn’t come with the divorce.) I get it. And I get that when my kids are on their (half weekend) visitations, I have absolutely no responsibility for them. I can go out, I can entertain at home. I can sleep in, I can walk around naked and listen to inappropriate music and watch R rated movies or porn —- in the family room! I get it. In its purist simplest sense visitation time is guaranteed time away from the kids that married women do not get. And I get that married women have parental responsibilities that are not necessarily shared with their husband and plus, they are maintaining a relationship. I get it. So I don’t take anything away from married women with children. Did I say that I get it? Because I do. I’ve been there.
However, for many single women with children, the myth of the carefree weekends off is just that — a myth.
First of all, single mothers do not always have one whole weekend off every other week. In my case it is not a whole weekend. It is one night every two weeks. (And I’m not complaining about that, it’s just what it is.) Second, my kids do not “summer” with anyone but me. (And I’m not complaining about that either). Some fathers don’t take their kids at all. Some take them out of spite or to reduce child support payments. Some parents have the best intentions but the children are carted back and forth according to an elaborate schedule based on percentages and someone else’s norm — an attempt to literally “split the baby.” Nothing breezy about it.
Second, and more, importantly, the time that the children are away is by court order. So this is not time for me, on a day good for me and/or that fits my friends’ schedules or the schedules of my favorite hobby. It is not a time where someone who loves me says that he will take care of everything that needs to be done in order for me to have some fun or relaxation in appreciation for all that I do. No, it is a time I am required to present my children to someone who, in my case, has shown complete disrespect for me. It is HIS time with the kids during which he can do whatever he wants with whomever he wants. It doesn’t matter whether I’d rather have the kids at home or whether I wanted to do something with them, I’m not allowed to have my kids home on designated days. For me, the guaranteed time away from my children is not a good feeling. For me, it often involves tears, Xanax, excessive cleaning, excessive sleep or hardly any sleep at all.
I once explained it this way.
Imagine your child having a minor medical procedure which required a hospital stay. It is something that needs to be done, but you’ve put off. It is something that is not life-threatening and you know your child will not intentionally be harmed but he or she will experience some discomfort. You spent all week preparing your child for this but really, you wish he/she didn’t have to go. You are not permitted to stay in the hospital with your child, you are not permitted to call. But in the long run, it has to be done. Plus, you have no choice.
Now, under this scenario you have a guaranteed free evening, right? Child-free!! Woo-Hoo! Feel much like going out? Would you arrange for a girls night out or a date with someone you met online for the very night you knew your kid was going to be in the hospital, simply because you knew it was one night where you wouldn’t have to get a sitter? Really?
My point is, not every child-free night is a blessing . . . or fun.
Here’s another example:
I remember after giving birth to my first. They kept him in the hospital one day longer than me because they needed to monitor his heart as a precaution (he’d had a pre-natal heart murmur). They told me to go home and get sleep and come back in the morning. I went home. I was up and standing by the bed fully dressed at 6am, still dripping and stitched from giving birth. My husband was fast asleep. (I think it scared him a little when he awoke and I was standing over him. bwahahaha. ) I don’t know how he could sleep. I hadn’t even known this kid for more than two days. I was physically more exhausted than I’d ever been in my life, but the idea of using my baby’s hospital stay to catch up on sleep was completely ridiculous.
Fast forward. Post divorce.
A friend of mine was hosting a school of rock type performance at her house. Kids playing real instruments in a band. I would have loved to have taken my kids. But, it wasn’t my day. The event was at 4:00pm, I had presented the kids for visitation at 2:00pm. I went anyway in support of other people’s kids. I had to fight back tears. My friend noticed my sadness. She has four kids of her own, is married and a stay at home mom. Probably never gets a real break.
She said, “It must be weird not to have your kids here.”
“Yeah, it is. ” I quickly added, “I don’t like it.” She nodded in silence.
Back to the school function and the mouthy lady.
I didn’t say anything to the lady. I’m sick of my circumstance and marital status and don’t feel like defending, explaining or even addressing it. I just wanted to see my kids’ event and possibly enjoy it with other parents. Well, at least I saw my kids. I enjoyed it alone, albeit a bit uncomfortably. Regardless of her right to her opinion, that woman’s behavior was rude, and without regard for the feelings of others.
For the record, I sometimes get sick of the single mom hype, too. I tire of the label. I don’t want to be put on a pedestal. I hate that. I don’t want pity. I hate that, too. But envy? Envy for a situation you know nothing about? I hate that most of all.
The myth of the weekends off — well, it’s not what it’s cracked up to be, it’s not the same as a married woman’s weekend off– if she ever gets one, it’s not the same for every single mother. My personal experience has been horrendous, despite my court-ordered night “off” and often because of it.
And that mouthy woman? I doubt we’ll ever be friends.
Just Me With . . . my children . . . at home tonight. Thank God.
Picture two women talking:
Friend 1: “It must be hard, because I’m sure in some small way, some part of you will always love him.”
Friend 2: “Of course, he’s a part of me, and part of me will always love him.”
Friend 1: “It must be hard, because I’m sure in some small way, some part of you will always love him.”
Friend 2: “No, I don’t love him anymore.” She pauses, thinking, considering, furrowing the brow, squinting her eyes and rolling eyes upward — to the left, to the right — for answers possibly hidden there, and then, with renewed authority states, “Yup, I’m sure. I don’t love him at all, not one little bit. But I would LOVE another cup of coffee, though.”
Can this be true? This is so NOT Lifetime Movie, women’s magazines, or romance novels. We’re supposed to look into his eyes, brush back his hair and softly declare, “I will always love you.” And then walk away, carrying that love with us, forever.
I once got into this debate with my Stalker about whether once you love someone, you always will. No surprise where he came out on the subject. He could never let go of anything, including my phone number . . . but I digress . . . The Stalker truly believed that once you love, you love for life. Kinda like herpes. Sure the love may change or diminish and you can fall in love with someone else but the original love remains, according to The Stalker. He was adamant about this. He told me I will always love my Ex-husband.
I didn’t slap him, but I wanted to.
Sure, I believe that the love stays for some people in some instances. There are some loves that people carry with them for life, long after the relationship is over. But I do not believe that it is a hard and fast rule — or a “Love Sentence” — if you will. heh heh heh
“I will always love him.” We didn’t work out, we won’t work out, we can’t even be friends, but . . . “I will always love him.”
Sounds like when a random person dies and people automatically say, whether they knew the dude or not, “He’s in a better place.” Depending on your beliefs, he may be in “a better place.” But, if you believe in the better place there have to be some jokers who simply don’t make the cut and go to — the other place. Assuming and stating that random dude is in “a better place” might take the edge off the finality of death, but it ain’t always true. Similarly, saying you’ll always love someone might take the edge off of the death of a relationship, a failed romance, but it ain’t always true.
Then there’s the — Once you’ve had a child with someone you’ll always love him/her. Again, no. Not all the time. You had sex which created a life, not necessary a life-long love for each other. People may love and cherish the memories, the good times, and have lingering, hell even deep, respect for the person you made babies with — but required life-long love? Uh, no. Not in my case. Not for many. And you know what? It’s okay. People we love are not like cars or apartments or pets. I can say I really loved my first dog and I always will. But romantic love for people is far more complex, and fluid.
I loved — intensely. I married, I procreated. A lot of stuff happened, and now I can say, resolutely, “I don’t love him anymore.” And he had better not have any loving feelings for me. That would cheapen the meaning of love. I had what could be described as an epic romance just by the sheer length of it, but now? It’s over. If I didn’t share children with him I would happily never see him again. If he died suddenly I would grieve for the children having to deal with the death of their father — or as I would for anyone taken seemingly too soon, but that’s not love.
Because I don’t love him. And that’s okay. In fact that’s better.
I’m sure many of you have had someone in your life whom you feel you will always love a little bit — or even a lot. I happen not to feel that way about my ex-husband. It didn’t happen immediately. But it happened.
Still, the years spent together, the children born, the tears cried, the laughter shared, the good memories made — are all unaffected by the declaration that —
“I don’t love him, not even one little bit.”
Is there anyone else out there who is not afraid to step up to the Altar of Ended Relationships and confess:
I don’t love him/her anymore!
Just Me With . . . a call NOT to love.
I am the most bitter of bitter, clinically depressed and all around down in the dumps – – most of the time. But something strange happened, something occurred to me that made me . . . . smile. I think I just heard a collective gasp from my readers, it’s shocking I know, really shocking. But I smiled . . . I smiled . . . regarding the impending nuptials of my ex-husband, a man I had been with since the tender age of 16, a man with whom I share the only children I’ll ever have, a man who, after many years of marriage, suddenly told me, simply, “I have to go,” on one snowy night after we had put our children to bed.
Now, a mere four months after our prolonged and contentious divorce became final, he has announced plans to remarry (well, he left me a voice mail). Though I do think it sets a better example for our tween and teen children, I have many concerns, many scowls and curses about the whole idea of it and the manner in which it has unfolded. All fodder for another post for another day . . . maybe, . . . or maybe not.
But the story today is not so vile
The story today is about my Grinch-like smile,
which started out small and then started to grow . . .
it started, of course, when I realized and thought . . .
I thought and I realized that them tying the knot
means a knot will be tied and . . . he’s all knotted up!
In other words, minus the bad Seuss inspired prose.
He’ll be married while I– am– free!
My ex-everything will be on lock down, committed, his relationship and his ownership of property will be governed by our state’s laws, he will be bound in matrimony. His dating and new relationship days are over. Even now, he’s running around getting stuff for the wedding and speaking in the royal “we” while I am, in a word — free.
This is all new for me. I was married young and for many years. For most of my life, I was someone’s girlfriend, someone’s wife; hell, I was his girlfriend, his wife. Now, I’m not. Did you hear it? Did you feel it? There has been a small shift somewhere in the universe and everything has changed . Next month, he’ll be somebody’s husband and I’ll be NOBODY’S wife. (smile) In a strange way, this has set me free in a way that separation and divorce and even other men did not. This is a statement to the world that our epic romance, and crippling break-up — is — over. And the fact that I’m okay with that part of it, even though I was royally dumped, will be so much more obvious when he makes his vows to another woman and . . .
I . . .DON’T . . . LAY . . . DOWN . . . AND . . . DIE.
Oh, I’m still pissed about a lot of things, don’t get me wrong. Sure there will be more announcements, more crap to deal with; it’s another chapter in a book I didn’t want to read. And I’m not even addressing here my larger concerns about difficulty dealing with them both where the kids are concerned, his lingering hostility toward, pity and disrespect of me, the fact that I never got a chance to be single while younger and without children, the opportunities I may have missed because I married young, and that he is getting a do-over in a way, as a woman and mother, I cannot. But . . . still . . . I’m free.
Soon, we will no longer just be living separately. He’ll be living married and I’ll be living single. If you’ve read my other posts, you know I haven’t jumped into the dating waters with both feet. I stick my toes in, maybe up to my knees, then get out where it’s warm, apply my sun (man) screen and enjoy the fresh air. However, whenever I do get in — whether I jump, inch in slowly, get pushed or perhaps pulled in, it’ll be my thing. I’ll make stories to tell, stories that for once, don’t include him.
“Oh the places [I’ll] go . . .”
And you know what? I don’t have to settle for the random landscaper dude. I can do better. I deserve better.
Just Me With . . . a smile. heh heh heh
Related Posts: How Do I Feel About My Ex-Husband Getting Married?
I’ve gone to group therapy before to deal with my depression. You know, in a room of complete strangers baring my soul and my business. I’m not sure why it works, but it can be effective. I’ve never had any problem with drugs or alcohol but after having been to group I now understand why recovering addicts continue to go to meetings well after they are off the bottle, pipe or pill. Non-addiction related group therapy works kind of the same, Hello I’m [fill in the blank] and I’m here for [ depression, OCD, anxiety, etc].
In group, sometimes strangers can be so supportive in a way that friends and family cannot. These similarly flawed people served as a mirror to my own self and offered help to find a solution to my blues. The last time I went to group, there was a theme for how to deal with my major episodic clinical depression, a chronic condition triggered by the end of my marriage.
The guys said:
“Just say yes.”
It was a common theme. The guys said I need to go out — with men. In other words, I need to date. Quite antithetical to my historically feminist sensibilities.
“I don’t need a man to help me get over my problems,” replied the feminist voice inside me.
The process of separating myself from my ex-husband had been difficult enough and I certainly wasn’t looking for a replacement.
“I’m fine alone, thank you,” said my strong, invincible, feminist self.
But the group therapy guys, insisted: “You need to go out.”
Dude, is it that obvious?
It’s not like I haven’t had male companionship since my marriage fell apart, but aside from the Transitional Man, the other men were guys I’d already known from throughout the years. You know, kind of comfortable guys. What I hadn’t done is open myself up for new men, random men, being approached by men and actually being approachable — just dating.
During the time I was going to group, I was perfectly content with not seeing anyone. Not because I was afraid of being hurt again. I believed, and still do, that no one could hurt me as much as my Ex had, just given the sheer number of years I’d put in with him. (Kind of like having cramps after having experienced labor, what once would have crippled me in pain turns into a mere annoyance). And, no, I don’t hate men, either. I just didn’t really see the need, other than enjoying the occasional physical release they can provide. My fear, if I cop to one, is really that I might actually find a man. I was and am sure that another marriage is not the goal, nor do I have room in my little house — let alone my life — for another person. Plus, with so many kids, well, there are the practical considerations of finding the time, etc . . . I could go on and on BUT . . .
Apparently none of that mattered — to the guys.
The guys suggested, strongly suggested, that I go out on dates and “Let somebody treat you right,” they said. They weren’t saying I should go on the hunt for husband number two or even a boyfriend, or that I needed to get laid, just that I casually date. “You need to let somebody spoil you,” they said. “Guys would eat you up.” (double entendre accidental — I think) . Really?
They were so sweet that way. Some of these guys were in for anger issues, had been victims of and/or committed abuse — these were tough dudes. The fact that these guys were suggesting flowers and dinner was a real eye opener. In fact, they were telling me to open up.
It was food for thought. “No, I don’t need to find a man,” I told my feminist self, but could I benefit from seeing my value reflected in a man’s eyes over a meal or coffee? Perhaps. And, wouldn’t it be nice knowing I have the option of walking away if I’m not having fun? Absolutely. No lawyers, no visitations, not even any mutual friends — just “Buh Bye”?
Yes. Can I get an Amen?
So should I say yes? Should I let a man “woo” me even though I have no desire to be “won.”
Seems so simple. But it’s the one thing I haven’t truly embraced in my not-so-new state of singlehood.
Notably, the women in group were supportive, too. They talked about being thankful for the kids, and that what I’m doing for them now will pay off later.
But the guys? They weren’t talking about mothering.
Out of the mouths of babes . . . oops, I mean . . . the mouths of guys . . .
Just Me With . . . thoughts of just saying yes.