Tag Archives: relationships

The Streak Is Over: A Text From My Ex

woman looking at sea while sitting on beach

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I was having a bad week anyway. My dad wasn’t doing well but refused to go to the hospital. My uncle, who was in decline, was in his last hours and I sat with him, his wife, and my mother on what proved to be his last night on this earth. All in all, the week sucked already. Big time.

But then it got worse. There it was, a text:

“Hello, Roxanne. How have you been? Can you call me?”

My stomach plummeted.

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It was a text from my ex, or maybe I’ll call him My Former Husband. It sounds classier, don’t you think? And maybe my “Ex” is too familiar and universal. I mean people use “Ex” to describe a relationship that lasted mere weeks. I put in decades with that man . . . But I digress . . .

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Anywho, this much must be understood. I had not laid eyes on spoken to My Former Husband in almost 13 months. Over a year. Nor had I even exchanged texts with him. It was a glorious streak.

And for those of you who may wonder about the children, know this: The children have seen and spoken to him. The children are big ass young women and one big ass young man – with a job and an apartment and a roommate. We’re not entirely sure what he does. Something with numbers and computers . . .  For folks who know Friends, he’s Chandler Bing.

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The younger ones are still very much dependent on me, but not in order to see him. They are on their own with that — with  my car.  The last time I saw my former husband was at a graduation. Before that, a funeral. You see, absent a major event, we have no contact. As I said, it was glorious.

But it was over.

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Seinfeld

There it was, the drive-by sniper text. The kids are home on break, living with me. I know they are okay. So, I was annoyed that I had to deal with him and break my very important streak. And as I said, I was dealing with health and death issues already. I was not in the mood for his shenanigans.

When I initially saw the text, after I offered some expletives to my screen, I did the mature thing and DM-ed my Twitter friend. Who, by the way, felt my pain. We go way back.

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We came up with what I thought was a brilliant response, “Is everything all right?” It forced  him to give me a hint as to the reason for his call without my being confrontational. Usually he prefers to keep me in the dark, catch me off guard, it’s  classic. Shout out to anybody who has someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) in their lives. It’s a bitch.

Turns out it was a kid issue that wasn’t really an issue. But I had to talk to him in order to confirm that. I had to endure his faux Father Of The Year concern. Some troubled families have Disney Dad’s, dudes that come around for a good time. My kids have a Disaster Dad, he shows up when he smells (or manufactures) trouble so that he can swoop in, play the devoted, attentive father and save the day. And let everybody know it. The daily grind, hustle and taking care of business? Then he’s Ghost Dad. Which I prefer, actually.

But it’s a new world. I know the drill, his behaviors, and I have strategies, coping mechanisms, if you will, that allow all (well, most of) his bullshit to roll off me.

First, I invoked the power stance I learned from a very popular Ted Talk. He couldn’t see me, but I was Wonder Woman.

Next, I allowed myself a Tina Fey eye roll.

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Third, I remained standing.

Fourth, I repeated the Tina Fey eye roll.

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Fifth, I summoned, nay, I transformed myself into a woman who gave a shit about what he was talking about and who was not repulsed by the sound of his voice and his new found corporate speak. It was a Meryl Streep level acting performance. I may have missed my calling, folks.

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On The Waterfront

And when it was over, I let it go. In years past it would have pissed  the hell out of me for days that he made a point of telling me anecdotes about the kids he thought I didn’t know, that this sudden urgent concern never seems to appear when the kids need financial assistance — amounts as small as gas or toll money, and certainly not tuition payments.  And I packed away my ire about his very recent and partially successful efforts at engineering the unavailability of the children to attend both my best friend’s family barbecue and my father’s bedside birthday celebration.

That guy . . .

But I listened. I danced with the devil on my Android phone. I engaged (or pretended to).  And though half the voices in my head were calling bullshit and the other half were sobbing, bemoaning the end of my 13 month ex-free streak, I remained calm.  I was an active  participant in his performance art.

By the way, his “concern” was triggered by seeing one of those “This Is Not A Bill” statements which revealed the facility visited by one of the kids.

Where, pray tell,  are all the privacy measures when an policy holder gets to see the type of treatment a covered adult receives?  Talking to you, HIPAA.

The urgent “problem” was something I already knew and nothing for him to be concerned about. And perhaps something she had not wanted him to know. (No, it was not female problems.)

His performance as caring dad was a worthy effort. To those not familiar he would have sounded sincere. But when I told him she needed help with the co-pays his fatherly concern evaporated like a vape cloud in a teenager’s bedroom.

Anyway, I promised to let him know if I sensed any problem.

And the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role goes to …

That’s right, goddammit, ME!

Although sadly, the talk and text streak was back to day one.

Still, the not seeing him up close live and in person streak remains uninterrupted and continues…

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How I Met Your Mother

I much prefer receiving the random text from my admirer, the last being:

Hot in the summer. Warm in the winter. Sounds a lot like you. No matter what the season is…..I’ll always think fondly of you. 🌹Have a great day.

And as I was writing this post I received this:

You are truly beautiful. Both inside and out. I just had to let you know so there could be no doubt.❤ Stay well my friend. I’m just a text away.

It’s going on 10 years that I have received texts like this from him.  Not that I keep track of such things . . .

Just Me With . . . texts

See:

I Have An Admirer

Another Text From My Admirer

To My Best Friend on Mother’s Day

I Don’t Love Him

How I Found Out That My Ex-Husband Was Getting Married

My Very Own Personal Olympic Games

 

 

 

 

 

 

THEY KNOW … What Have I Done? Part II

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Sooo when last we talked I suggested that my failure to acknowledge the fruit of my loins was going to be a problem. See, What Have I Done? The problem was that I had recently broken one of my rules — that is — I promised myself that I would never directly  deny that I had children. Well I kind of did that, and I did it in front of someone who knew better.

But I have to go back a year and a half to explain.

Although when I began this experiment and this job I was with a large group of lawyers, we were later broken up into small groups and sent to different places. I worked closely with the people in  my room, but rarely talked to people at other locations –until the holiday party.

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Remember Steve Martin in the classic “The Lonely Guy” ?

I went to the party alone because that’s what I do. Once there, the only people I recognized were a couple of women from my project who worked in different locations.

But it was a party. There was alcohol. Things happen. You understand.

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So I’m making small talk with virtual strangers. These were two younger child free women. They were nice. One was drunk. I’d had maybe a half a drink. My half a drink on meds is like three for a normal person.  So I felt suddenly close to these women. They were my new work party best friends.

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The Office, A Benihana Christmas

Twin talk began because one of the women, let’s call her Cheryl,  brought her twin brother. I was way too talkative and knowlegable about twin stuff. And apparently alcohol is Goddamn truth serum delivered by the morality police, and I felt sooo bad for not revealing the source of my expertise. I confessed.

“I feel like I’m lying to you guys. I have to tell you. I have kids, twins. Two sets plus a singleton.”

And then the whole story came out. I begged my new work party best friends not to tell anyone about my —  experiment. They promised.

This was the Christmas before last. Almost a year and a half ago. Fun fact: The drunk one has since had a baby of her own. But God love ’em they kept my secret – easy, though, because we didn’t work in the same room.

Then we were all relocated. I found myself sharing space with a new set of attorneys, including Cheryl, the twin. The one who knew.

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From Friends. Joey’s entrance after he got a new brain on Days of Our Lives

That was fifteen months ago. People have come and gone since then. Currently in this space it’s me, Cheryl, another woman I’ll call Sophie, and two guys. One of the guys  has never mentioned a wife, girlfriend or children. Let’s call him Bill. The other  is married and has one daughter who is, reportedly —  repeatedly reportedly — a certified genius. Yeah, he’s that guy. We’ll call him Ross.

Ross explained to the room that he feels comfortable bragging about his daughter at work because NO ONE ELSE HERE HAS CHILDREN. Consequently, he reasoned, we can’t get jealous or feel bad because our kids do not and can not possibly measure up. Then he stood and asked the room,

“Wait, no one here has kids, right?”

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Sophie is a talker. We know all about her life. No kids.

The other guy, Bill, said nothing.

I opened my mouth briefly and closed it.

In that moment my silence felt dangerously close to denying my kids — and Cheryl knew it. She murmured, “Well, not little kids.”

Guilt showed up and took a seat.

My punishment?

I must endure Ross  brag brag bragging about his academic superstar daughter to us childless folks. Side note, child free folks don’t want to hear that shit either, not all the time. Well, except Cheryl. She  encourages him. She’s in that holy trinity  love bubble of just got engaged, planning a destination wedding and can’t wait to have babies!

Bless her heart.

But I have condemned myself to silence while Ross talks as if  he is the only person to ever have had a child, a golden child.

Listening to Ross actually confirmed my decision. It is possible to talk about kids too much. Parents of high achieving teens are much worse than parents of adorable babies in my opinion. There are awards involved.

It is important (to me) to note that my original observation that started all this, that the guys do not talk about their kids as much as the women, still holds true. Ross doesn’t talk about her in meetings. And when he leaves early because of her he only says, “Well that’s it for me today,” as opposed to “Oh I’m on carpool duty this week because soccer started and I have to pick up the snack etc.” You know, Facebook detail. Ross shares no day to day kid stuff, he merely announces her many, many awards.

Plus, what’s the harm in my nondisclosure? It’s not like I’m dating any of these people.  I have been enjoying being me without reference to kids or my ex-husband. I won’t ask Cheryl to lie, though. I figured I’d just continue to opt out of kid talk. I’ll just play it cool boy, real cool …

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But Sophie . . . Sophie was NOT at the Christmas party.

Today, Sophie was talking about some estate law issues and asked me if I had  siblings with young children. Then she casually added,

“Well, you have kids.”

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“Wait! What? How do you know that? Who told you that? WHO TOLD YOU????? GODDAMMIT WOMAN, WHO TOLD YOU???!!”

But I didn’t say that.

“Um, kids?”

But I didn’t say that either.

I didn’t say anything. Sophie went on to discuss something else. The guys weren’t around.

I tweeted about it because I was like what the F— ??

I never ever told Sophie about my kids. It must have been Cheryl.

Then when Cheryl left for the day, she said, “Happy Mother’s Day” to me, albeit a little under her breath.

Happy MOTHER’S Day???????

I’m not entirely sure I formed any actual words in response.

Happy MOTHER’S Day?

Twice in one day. Two different people acknowledged my motherhood. Out loud.

Soooo there ya go. Cheryl must have told Sophie, the talker, and Sophie let it slip. I’m sure Cheryl was just being nice by wishing me Happy Mother’s Day. It’s just that Ross was there and it freaked me out. Thank God for earbuds. He missed it.

I don’t think either of the guys know. That’s all I have to hang on to. But Sophie, as I said, is a talker. My days are numbered.

Just Me With . . . children.

This is so silly, I know. But you must understand. First, the number of kids I have, coupled with the twin thing and my slender physique tends to be a big deal and dominate the discussion. And second, I married my high school sweetheart (and that, as you may have read, did not end well). I never got a chance to be single with no kids. Never. It’s certainly not the same now because I’m of a certain age (something else I never acknowledge) but it’s the closest I can get.

So when I leave my former hoarders house to go to work, I’m just a single girl on the train.

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Perhaps not the unemployed alcoholic depressive and obsessive Rachel from the book and movie, The Girl On The Train . . . though

See also:

Confessions of a Skinny Mom

The New Walk of Shame For The Single Woman — Going Out Alone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Breakup — The Musical Revival

The Kind and I

The sign is about to go up.  The sign for the this year’s high school musical.  This is significant to me, because, as I’ve written before — I remember things, so many things.  It’s a gift — and a curse.

The local high school here has a very well-respected music and theater department. Going to see a play at the high school isn’t something that only a parent of a performer would put oneself through. It isn’t a painful two hours required by some familial connection to some pimply faced kid. No, it’s kind of like going to a “real” show. It is actually enjoyable, yet since it is still just a school production, the tickets are cheap. When my kids were little, I would take them to these shows and to other local high schools if they had a decent theater department. It’s a night out, and a way to introduce live theater to children without having to take out a second mortgage.

My kids’ high school usually alternates between a classic musical or one of the lesser known newer ones and they “recycle” ones they’ve done before when enough time has passed.

This brings me to the personal significance of the sign going up.  Apparently, enough time has passed that the school has decided to  repeat its production of the musical they did when my marriage ended. Let’s say it was The King and I  — it wasn’t — but that’s the one I’m going with for purposes of this post.

Over the years I’ve only danced around the actual happenings surrounding my husband’s departure, dealing more with the fallout after he left than the painful process of his leaving. I tell myself I’m saving it for my memoir, but really — I’m extremely uncomfortable talking about it — still.  For me, I guess, not enough time has passed for a revival.

Sometimes, though,  you just have to raise the curtain — a little.

So here it is.  It was about three weeks after he’d told me, “I have to go.”  Those three weeks consisted largely of me begging him not to leave me,  until one Friday night I finally said to him — “I guess I can’t force you to stay.”

Boing

That’s all he needed to hear.

By  the next day, Saturday, he had booked a hotel room, and planned to sleep there that night. (Say what now?)  That joker wasted no time. The plan was to tell the children on Sunday (aka the worst day of my life).  After, he would officially move out.

So Saturday night?  Separation Eve?

We went to see a play.

Bizarre.

The King and I with children

Our family was too big to get seats in one row.  Musicals are a hot ticket in town.  So I sat behind my husband, we each were flanked with  kids. I remember thinking it was a mistake to sit behind him, because I’d have to see him, the back of his head,  if I looked up at the play. And I didn’t want to cry.  I remember  trying very hard not to cry during the show, though there was comfort when the lights went down that my tears wouldn’t be noticed.  Too bad it wasn’t really The King and I, I always cry at the end of The King and I.  No matter, I had tissues to cover any escaping signs of my emotional turmoil.  I always carried tissues with me from that time on. Trying not to cry or be seen crying in public became almost my vocation in the next year.

I remember during the play reaching out in front of me and caressing my husband’s shoulder.  I just needed to touch him.  I needed him to know I was there.  Still. There. Hurting. I remember him acknowledging my touch without looking at me, as if he were saying, “Oh bless her heart.”  I remember the awkward Intermission, when small talk with my soon to be ex-everything seemed so wrong and eye contact deemed so dangerous, as it might trigger the tears.   I talked with someone I knew in the pit orchestra instead, I recall.

And I remember the play, “The King and I.”  I remember thinking this would really be good, except for, you know, my life falling apart.

I was in a fog, a fog of shock, denial and accommodation. I’ve since had some clarity on the subject.  And I don’t love him anymore.  Haven’t for years. Still, I remember things.

The kids were oblivious.  They enjoyed the play, having no idea that their world was going to be completely turned upside down — in a matter of hours.

When the show was over,  we all went home and put the kids to bed.

Then my husband left our home to stay at a hotel.  I knew that when he returned the next day it would be so that we could tell the kids he’d be moving out and he would, indeed, move out.

But that was then . . .

Days of Our Lives

And enough time has passed (apparently) that it’s okay for the high school to put on the same musical.  My kids aren’t little anymore.  One is in college.  The rest now go to this same high school, which means that I will see that sign every day, multiple times a day, until the show is over.

I used to hope that my kids would get involved in theater at the high school.  None did. But, I think, this might be a blessing.

Because I don’t have to go to this show.  Because if I did go to this particular production, I couldn’t help but relive that night, the beginning of the hardest days of my life and the long journey since.

If I had a kid performing in the 2015 production of  The King and I ?

I don’t think I would handle that well.  I remember things.  It’s a gift and — oh hell — it’s a curse.

So, the sign will go up soon.  Enough time has passed for a revival.

But no one asked me.

It will take all the restraint I have left in my being not to run the damn sign over.

Just Me With  . . . a night at the theater.   Too bad it isn’t Chicago, about famous murderesses . . . and their men — who had it comin.’

Cell Block Tango from Chicago -- He had it comin'

Cell Block Tango from Chicago

And I’m glad it wasn’t really The King and I, because that is a beautiful show and I would hate for it to be ruined.

Postscript:   The damn sign is up now.

Related:

My Daddy Moved Out — What one kid said about it at school.

Happy Birthday to My Ex-Husband’s Ex-Girlfriend — Because I remember everything.

Worst Super Bowl, Remembered — Again, because I remember everything

My Cheating Husband was Packing Viagra — I helped him pack.

Six Days of Separation — I was a mess the next week.

I Don’t Love Him — self-explanatory.

When I Needed A Helping Hand —  To move his stuff.

 

I Went To A Dinner Party Alone

Carrie, without a date at a wedding in Sex and The City

Carrie, without a date at a wedding in Sex and The City

If you’ve read my previous post, “You Don’t Have To Bring a Date, Come Alone.  Come Alone.  COME ALONE!”   you know that I was alternatively stressed, concerned, pissed and kinda bummed by the repeated suggestion that I come alone to a dinner party.   Here is the update.

Yes, I went alone.   Yes,  and as I predicted, it was fine.

Let me set the scene.   It was at a private  home, more like an estate.  The night was beautiful so everything was set  outside –cocktails and  hors d’oeuvres for an hour, then a buffet dinner at tables around the pool.  It was a catered affair with gorgeous centerpieces and decorations all in pink and white, to celebrate Cheryl’s being cancer free.  Guests were also encouraged to wear pink,  and on behalf of those who did, Cheryl would donate money to Cancer research.  Everyone had on some sort of pink.    It was a really classy affair, with around fifty guests.

Okay enough with the back drop, this is how it played out.

  • I walked in alone.
  • I was greeted by Cheryl who immediately introduced me to, let’s call her, Regina, who was the ONLY OTHER SINGLE PERSON THERE!
  • Cheryl informed  the group I was standing with that Regina and I were seated at the same table –because we were THE ONLY SINGLES THERE!

Awkward? Yes.  Appreciated?  Yes.   It made sense, actually.

  • After Cheryl made the announcement that Regina and I would be dining partners, Regina joked, “But we’re not a couple!”

Of course I took that opening to add, “Well, the night’s young.”   Ha ha ha, the Tears of a Clown.

  • Then, someone noticed, not me, that one of the ladies standing in my group HAD ON EXACTLY THE SAME BLOUSE I DID!  The same pink,  jeweled halter top.

I swear, that has never happened to me before.    We laughed it off.  She said she’d picked hers up in the islands, Martinque, I think, while on vacation.

Where did you get yours?”  she asked.

And me, being painfully truthful, admitted, “At a consignment shop.”

At a consignment shop.

Let’s review, shall we?  She got hers while on an exotic island vacation.  I got mine at a thrift shop.

There are two things wrong with this:

One:  I admitted I was wearing a used shirt.

Two:  I thought the beauty of buying at a consignment shop was that you were less likely to get something that someone else has!  I mean, seriously?   It was the only top like that in the store, of course.  Indeed it was the only top like that I’ve ever seen.   Oh snap, I guess it’s because I don’t vacation in the islands, or vacation at all.  Crap.

Wait, there’s a third thing wrong with this — WE WERE WEARING THE SAME SHIRT!

Eventually I made my way away from this group and my shirt twin to some familiar faces.  As Cheryl promised there were a couple of couples I knew because they had kids the same age of mine and who are in the same activities.    One was the same couple who, at the graduation party, had walked away from me.  But this time they  were very talkative and friendly.   The husband reminds me (and my kids) of McDreamy on Grey’s Anatomy.

McDreamy from Grey's Anatomy

McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy

And we did the suburban parent thing and talked about our kids, college applications, etc.    The other couple introduced themselves to me as if we’d just met, which was weird, since I’ve been running into and exchanging pleasantries with this couple since our senior kids were in the fourth grade.

  • In discussing their children’s college application process, the couples shared that their children blamed them for having not gone through any hardship about which they could write about on their essays,  “Oh yes, she’s mad because we’re successful and not divorced and she has had what she needs.  Can you believe that?  Yes, we’re sorry we’ve given you a good life.”    I couldn’t even summon up the Tears of a Clown to respond to this particular topic, as I stood between the two couples.   Though I did discover that one of the women had not gotten into the college I went to.  Score one for me.  Empty victory, because she was being nice, damn it.
  • Cheryl had hired a professional photographer  and also took pictures herself.   The couples were asked to pose together.   I was asked to pose by myself.   Regina was also asked to pose by herself.   Yup.
Carrie, being photographed without  a "Plus One" in Sex In The City

Carrie, being photographed without a “Plus One” in Sex In The City

When the party moved to the assigned poolside tables,   I sat between the McDreamys and the only other single person at the event, Regina.   I discovered that Regina was divorced with children and in the midst of downsizing so we talked about the whole downsizing, moving, process, etc.   and I chatted with her and the other couples about our kids, etc.     I think the people (and by people, I mean couples) on the other side of the table may have been interesting, but the centerpiece was too big to talk over.   They must have been listening to our conversation, however,  because in the buffet line a woman asked if I was a professional organizer because I seem to know so much about it.    Ha!

No, I’m not a pro.   But yeah, I do.  I know a lot about it.  I know a hell of a lot about moving and downsizing . . .  but I digress . . .  

My hero, Matt Paxton from Hoarders

My hero, Matt Paxton from Hoarders

And that was that, except that at some point someone said,  I think it was Regina, “I heard someone else here has on the same top, is that true?”  And I, of course, helpfully, pointed her out.  My shirt twin was at the next table, as it turns out.  I added  that, “Well, I had wondered if I’d be dressed appropriately.  Clearly,” gesturing to my shirt twin, “I am.”   Ha ha ha, Tears of a Clown.

The party wound down,  I left when everyone else did.   It was nice, fine, a lovely affair.  It was the kind of party I used to like to look at from a distance, “Oh look, rich people are having a party!”  And then I’d drive or walk by to try to catch a glimpse.   It was good to be more than a fly on the wall, or a nosy neighbor, or a creepy stalker.

But, as to the whole “Come Alone!”  thing — no, Cheryl did not have an ulterior motive and play matchmaker for me, unless, of course, you count Regina.      And yes, I was fine without a date.    As far as I could tell, and based on Cheryl’s comments, all the other couples were married.   It was not a casual date kind of party.    It still would have been okay to have brought a date, but it was okay without.

This does not mean, however, that I will forever go to these things alone.   Nope.

Just Me With . . . a shirt twin, a lady dinner date, and a new career as a professional organizer. 

P.S.  Cheryl actually did a great thing by having assigned tables, especially when there are only a couple of singles and  some guests who don’t know many other people.  I didn’t have to walk up to a table of couples and ask if I could join them or wait by myself for coupled up strangers to sit with me.  And at least I wasn’t seated with my shirt twin.

From "You Again"

Sigourney Weaver and Jamie Lee Curtis from “You Again”

You Don’t Have To Bring A Date, Come Alone! Come Alone! COME ALONE!

A Dinner Party Invitation

A Dinner Party Invitation

I’ve been invited to a dinner party. A fancy sit down dinner party with a cocktail hour preceding it.  It’s a happy occasion, celebrating the wife’s successful battle against cancer. I still remember her tearful message on my voice-mail, canceling her son’s lesson because she had found out she had cancer, “I  just want to see my boys grow up,” she’d said.

But after multiple surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy treatments,  she’s been cancer-free for ten years, hence the party. I’m not usually invited anywhere, let alone a society-like dinner party. And even though I often avoid social settings, I decided that  I would go.

The pink  invitation was addressed to me,  “and Guest.

Huh.

I immediately started to think of who I might bring, though no good choices came to mind. It was a bit of a stressor, still, I fantasized about what it would be like to bring a smart, well-spoken man who knows his way around a dining room table.  My old college friend (with seldom used benefits)?  No, too complicated.   As I was pondering my situation, I eventually checked my voice-mail.  Cheryl had called to make sure I’d gotten the invitation.  She was afraid I’d gone away on vacation and would miss it.   She added that  she didn’t know whether I was seeing someone or had someone I take to events like this but she wanted me to know that she’d be happy to see me come alone.   She said I should feel totally comfortable coming alone and that would be just  great.  They’d just be thrilled to see me, and I could come alone.

That was nice.

She wanted to make me feel comfortable about COMING ALOOOOONE.

Remember Steve Martin in the classic "The Lonely Guy" ?

Remember Steve Martin in the classic “The Lonely Guy” ?

I delayed in responding.  I’d recently attended her son’s graduation party alone and though it was nice, I was a bit uncomfortable and felt very conspicuous.   See I Almost Crossed One Off of My Bucket List of Men to Do.

As I continued pondering, a possible potential date came to mind — a man I’d met through group therapy. He’d recently quit group so it was completely appropriate (if freaking weird) to see him outside of the therapeutic context.   I was going over in my mind how I’d introduce him.   “We used to work together,” sounded plausible.   (Yes, we worked out our tortured psyches, but no one need know that part.)   It would be weird, maybe too weird,  since he knows much more about me than a casual friendly date would need to know.   But he’s a smart guy who, I have no doubt, would be able to talk to the people at this dinner.   I tweeted a random query about it to my friends who live in my phone about whether that would just be too weird.  I received a response that  I should just go alone because being single is awesome.

There it was again, “Go alone.

Suddenly I felt that it was some sign of weakness that I even considered bringing a companion.

In the end,  I left a message for Cheryl saying that yes, I would love to attend, but that, “As it looks now, I’ll be coming alone.”   I guess I just wanted to leave the door open, even just in my mind.

Shortly after, I happened to be outside when Cheryl drove by my house (in her very nice Jaguar convertible).  She stopped and exclaimed how thrilled she and her husband were that I would be coming.  Then she elaborated.  She said she thinks it’s  just great for me to come alone, that she was single for a long time and she became so tired of bringing someone she’d have to entertain.   She started going places alone, she explained.  “I can’t tell you how many weddings I went to alone.  I’m just like you.  It’s better not to bring just anybody.  If it was somebody special, sure, but there’s no need to have to entertain somebody else.  Plus, there will be plenty of people you know. Some of the folks from the graduation and The Martin’s and . . .”  She proceeded to name  couples.

The one couple I did, in fact, know, but  I’ve ever had any meaningful conversations with them.  At the graduation party they extended a warm hello and then walked around the pool hand in hand.  I can’t fault them for that, I  mean, it’s not their job to entertain me.

Then Cheryl said —  again,  “I’m just thrilled you’re coming and I think it’s great that you’re coming alone.

Crap.

I know she meant well.  I do not fault her at all.   But it had an effect on me.  I abandoned any thought of bringing an escort.

But why wasn’t I encouraged to bring a date?   This is a dinner party!   It’s not a wedding, Baptism or Bar/Bat-Mitvah.  For family religious ceremonies it doesn’t really make sense to bring a rent-a-date. Those occasions are sacred and there will be pictures that the family will look at forever — and I don’t want them looking at a picture of my random date and think — “Who the hell was that?”

But a dinner party?    Why not bring a companion, even if he’s not someone special?

I know why.  It’s the new black.  It’s the new black for women to go alone.

Well,  it’s not so new for me.   I’ve done it for years, both before and after my divorce.  See, ” The Night I Became Cinderella” and “The New Walk of Shame for the Single Woman, Going Out Alone.”  My ex-husband hated going anywhere. I could get him to go to my work formal once a year and that was about it for those kind of events.    Other times I went solo and told people my husband had to work.  After we had children, I would just say my husband was home with the kids.    So for me,  I’ve done the new black.  For me,  it would be the new free to go somewhere with a man.

I’m sure it’ll be fine.  I’ll talk to people.  I’ll be my own designated driver and won’t drink.  See,  “My Kids Think I’m an Alcoholic.”   I’ll be prepared to be seated with all couples.   But truthfully, sometimes that’s just not festive.   See, “I Went To A Wedding Alone.”  Yes, as Cheryl pointed out, I would have had  to entertain a date, but he’d also have to entertain me.   If the couples are uncomfortable or just not gregarious I’d know I’d have someone to sit with.   Let’s face it, this isn’t a get together with old college chums or a girls night out.   It’s a sit down dinner party in the wealthy suburbs, and all that that implies.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but being single  means I can have a date if I want, right?  Isn’t that the bonus of being single?  Choices?  Options? — Even if the options put me outside of my comfort zone?  But according to Cheryl, my only logical and fiercely independent option seems to be to go, bravely, alone, yet again.

Damn it.   I’ve been out of the game for so long now I’m not even allowed to have a partner — for anything!

Humph.

In the end, even  though the invitation originally said I could bring a date, the multiple congratulatory comments persuaded me to RSVP for one.   ( I chickened out.)

I needed Cheryl to say, or for me to say to myself,  “You can go alone, but it’s fine if you want to bring a date, or companion, or whoever.”    Oh the sweet freedom — to bring  a male friend, or gay male friend, or hell,  a paid male friend (not that I could afford that — heh heh heh).

But because of the new black, it has been made abundantly clear to me (in my warped mind) that I should  go alone.  So I will.

Humph.

Screw the new black.   Next time I want someone to walk in and out with,  and know who I’ll be sitting with ahead of time.  Yeah, yeah, I can go alone, but I don’t have to, damn it.

Oh well. Maybe I’ll get lucky.  Or maybe Cheryl is planning to fix me up with one of the older men of means who is similarly unattached.

Just Me With . . . no date, boldly going where no man has gone before . . .  or with . . .  at least, not as my date, anyway. 

Star Trek

Star Trek

Happy Birthday to My Ex-Husband’s Ex-Girlfriend

Monk, the Obsessive Compulsive detective

Monk, the Obsessive Compulsive Detective

I remember dates. It’s a gift, and a curse. It used to drive my ex-husband crazy. This, from a dude who forgot my birthday — twice — when we were still together. But me? I remember numbers for some reason, always have. I can rattle off his land line phone number from high school. I know the birthdays of people I haven’t had any contact with in years.

Recently, it was my best friend’s birthday. I’d never forget that, of course. But it also reminded me of the Other Woman (well, the original other woman was his teenaged lover before her, . . . but I digress . . .). Let’s call this Other Woman . . . Penelope Homewrecker, shall we?   (I don’t really blame Penelope for wrecking my home, though.  Though she certainly made choices I would not, my ex-husband did not have to honor her — requests?)   Anyway, Penelope’s birthday is two days after my best friend’s. I know this because years ago, when I first discovered their affair, I did my fair share of research, as did my work colleagues at the time. I was working in a law office — enough said. Before long I had her full name, her address, her real estate records, current and prior addresses, etc. , and — her birthday.

I remember sharing the information with my best friend. She responded with one of those completely irrational comments only a true friend would say. She almost growled, “How dare she have a birthday near mine.”  My friend was right, by the way:

How dare Penelope have a birthday close to my very best friend’s special day?

How dare Penelope have a birthday?

How dare Penelope even exist?

It reminds me of a scene from Sex And The City when Carrie realizes that her on and off boyfriend Big has chosen a woman named Natasha over her — and he is actually happy. Carrie tells her friends she’s ready to accept it. For a beat the women were silent, but then they gave, an irrational, nonsensical, yet incredibly supportive response.

Natasha. What a bullshit name.

Totally.

Stupid.

Complete bullshit.

Sex and The City

Sex and The City

I just love that — showing support in such an subtly obvious way, via a frivolous statement.

So thanks to my best friend for expressing outrage that my husband’s mistress dared to have birthday near hers.

How dare she? Indeed.

When Carrie found out about Big's new girlfriend, Miranda offered support.

When Carrie found out about Big’s new girlfriend, Miranda offered support.

By the way, Penelope and my Ex didn’t last. (Long story, well not so long, but it’s a good one.  I may blog about it at some point, maybe.)

Much later, after Penelope and the Ex broke up,  my Ex announced he had a new serious girlfriend.   I did the required Facebook check on her, and I noticed that Penelope and the Ex’s new girlfriend were Facebook friends. When I checked again a little later, the two women were no longer Facebook friends.

Huh.

There was some kind of unfriending situation between Penelope and the new girlfriend.

Huh.

Perhaps Penelope Homewrecker didn’t want to see posts by her replacement.

Huh.

Heh heh heh

I wonder if later, Penelope, who had likely thought she’d become the coveted Mrs. Ex, was treated to posts about my Ex’s wedding and subsequent procreation?  I’m guessing that Penelope and the new girlfriend must have had some mutual friends. Yes?

Please, yes?

Heh heh heh

My investigation days are over. They’ve been over for a long time. Years. I never look at my Ex’s or his wife’s Facebook pages or his family’s pages. I really have no interest now. But those damn numbers stay in my head. As I said, it’s a gift, and a curse.

So, Happy Birthday Penelope Homewrecker!  I literally can’t help but remember the date.

Of course, Evil Me wants to ask: What’s your Relationship Status now?

Though, Regular Me acknowledges that Penelope Homewrecker dodged a bullet and may indeed be the luckiest woman in the world.

Celebrity Analysis

For those who follow celebrity gossip, think of it like this:  My Ex-Husband’s mistress  pulled a Penelope Cruz.  Let me explain.  For a long time (by Hollywood standards) Tom Cruise and his wife Nicole Kidman were a golden couple.

The Golden Couple

The Golden Couple

It didn’t last.    It was rumored that Tom  left Nicole Kidman because of his affair with another actress, Penelope Cruz.

 

When Tom and Nicole divorced, Tom and Penelope went public with their relationship.

 

Tom Cruise and one-time girlfriend, Penelope Cruz.

Tom Cruise and one-time girlfriend, Penelope Cruz.

 

But then they broke up.

Penelope  escaped becoming the  wife of  Tom Cruise, known to control and overshadow his wives.   And at some point, Tom Cruise went a little crazy.

Crazy Tom Cruise during his infamous Oprah appearance.

Crazy Tom Cruise during his infamous Oprah appearance.

Crazy Tom Cruise went on to marry once perky, but later suffering Katie Holmes, while Penelope Cruz ran free!  (Katie Holmes is now Ex Mrs. Tom Cruise, by the way, but they had a child together so she still has to deal with him.  She’ll never be completely free.).

 

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes when they were still together. She doesn’t look happy, does she?

 

And Penelope Cruz?  I picture her frolicking in a field somewhere.

Of course, in this scenario this would make me Tom’s jilted wife, Nicole Kidman, mother of the first kids.   And I’m okay with that.

Tom Cruise's Ex-Wife, Nicole Kidman

Tom Cruise’s Ex-Wife, Nicole Kidman

And I’d be okay with this, too:

Nicole Kidman and her current husband, Keith Urban

Nicole Kidman and her current husband, Country Music Star Keith Urban. She upgraded. By all reports, Keith Urban is supposed to be a nice guy, and Nicole’s career has soared once she was free of Cruise.

Just Me With . . . numbers in my head.    And a song in my heart, a country song, “Little Bit of Everything

See: Facebook Mutual Friend with the The Ex’s Girlfriend — Part One

and

To My Best Friend on Mother’s Day

My Cheating Husband Was Packing Viagra

The Viagra Bathtubs on the Beach

The Viagra Bathtubs on the Beach

Although my husband and I were regularly engaging in “the physical act of love” (channeling Ross from Friends), whenever he wanted, and I mean, I really mean — whenever he wanted, see Sex On Demand,  let’s  just say that such activities did not require a huge time commitment.

I had suggested that my husband talk to his doctor about it, but he declined.  No, he would not.  No.

Fast forward to after my husband “broke up with me”  and moved out, taking surprisingly few possessions, saying he’d come back for the rest.   As I discussed in  When I Needed A Helping Hand,  I didn’t want him to keep coming back to get his stuff so I decided I’d pack it up for him–not to help him, but to help me.  Like mothers often say to children — “in or out,”  he had chosen “out,” despite my begging, and I mean, I really mean — begging him to reconsider.  So, I thought I’d help the process along if for no other reason than to keep him from prolonging it.

One night, after the kids were in bed, behind my closed bedroom door, my sister, a friend, and I packed up his shit.   At one point I pulled out one of his suitcases he’d used for his last trip, an island vacation which I’d recently discovered he’d taken with a lady friend.  See My Worst Super Bowl, Remembered.   I intended to use the suitcase to pack some of his things.

The suitcase, I noticed,  still sported the airport  tags.

Lovely.

It also contained some papers,  which I read.

The papers turned out to be  receipts for my husband’s prescription for Viagra,  well actually Levitra, a “sister” (or should I say bro)  erectile dysfunction drug .  The prescription had been filled  in the week prior to my husband’s  romantic island vacation with his sweetie.

What the  . . . hell? 

I read it, showed it to my sister and friend.   They both said, if I recall correctly, “Ew.

There it was, in my hand, evidence that my husband had pursued the best that  modern western medicine had to offer in order to  enhance  his sexual relationship with another woman, the woman he was not leaving me for, or so he said,  though they had secured an apartment together and that’s where all his things were no doubt going.

Lucky girl . . .   she got his stuff, and his stuff on steroids . . .

Looking back, I  remembered I’d previously discovered (and suppressed) facts in support of this information — facts that suddenly made sense.

His doctor had called the house to confirm an appointment.

I had wondered:  Why?  Why? When we were going through this god-awful thing, was my husband making doctor’s appointments?   I was the one who was sick, wasn’t eating or wasn’t sleeping and was constantly crying — why was he going to the doctor?

The pharmacy had called to tell him his prescription was ready.

I had wondered:  What is he taking?  He’s not sick!  He’s a mean son-of-a-bitch, certainly —  but he’s not sick!

Later, after his stuff was packed and gone, at some point in my post-separation cleaning frenzy –I’m the polar opposite of a hoarder, when I’m upset I throw everything out — I’d  found a letter from the insurance company, dated right after the romantic trip time, stating that yes, based on his doctor’s recommendation, the  unnamed medication in question would indeed be covered by insurance.

I had wondered: What?   Had he paid the full price for the Viagra in order to get it before the trip because insurance hadn’t kicked in yet?   

According to the dates and bank receipts which showed a $200 plus expenditure at the pharmacy on the eve of the island trip, yes, yes, he had.

Ouch.  But it all made sense now.

 

I wanted to scream, “Did he tell his doctor that he needed this medication for use with his girlfriend and NOT his wife?  DID THE DOCTOR KNOW THAT LITTLE FACT?????” 

Not that it mattered.

I tried not to think of his chemically enhanced love-making to this woman.  She brought him newness and adoration, he brought  . . .  drugs.

Inserting this again because my husband and his sweetie literally had  Viagra on the Beach.

Inserting this again because my husband and his sweetie literally had Viagra on the Beach.

I packed his crap a little faster after this  discovery, as I recall.   Just a little bit faster.

And I think I washed my hands.

Just Me With . . . a medical discovery.   

After everything was packed I called a friend  When I Needed A Helping Hand.

See also:

A Snowy Night for a Breakup

Our Breakup — The Musical Revival

My Worst Super Bowl, Remembered

“I Am Here! I Am Here! I Am Here!” said the Nanny

Wall Street

Wall Street

A couple of weeks ago, I was in receipt of what I now refer to as “Nanny Texts” — when my ex-husband gives me instructions on the preparation of the kids for an event he’s taking them to.

— Have the kids wear clothes, shoes.

— Make sure they shower.

— No t-shirts or shorts.

— Have them ready by 3pm, this should give you plenty of time.

By the by, all of the kids are teens, and pick-up time is technically at 10am, though often the kids have activities that prohibit early pick up. On this day, however, they did not and the Ex had been informed of this.

As to the directive, “Have the kids wear clothes,” obviously  he’d forgotten the word “nice”  — he wanted them to wear “nice” clothes.   But still it was funny.   Sometimes I just read or show or forward the Nanny Texts to the kids to minimize my work as  the middle man, so there is no mistake as to what he  is requiring, and that it’s coming from him, not me.   This time I simply showed the text to the kids, missing word and all.

One girl quipped,  “Well, I always manage to wear clothes.”

Another girl said, “Yeah, I was planning to go naked.”

Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld

My Ex-husband was taking them to a graduation party of his oldest friend, let’s call him Jerry.  Jerry  is much older than we are and was actually my ex’s teacher in Middle School at one point.  They became friends later as adults.   Jerry had been a man approaching middle-age, single, and impossibly neat.  People who did not know him well  thought he was gay — “not that there’s anything wrong with that” —   but folks in the inner circle knew that Jerry was very much like the Jerry Seinfeld character  — not quite marriage material, string of women, classic commitment issues.

Jerry had been the Best Man at our wedding  and years later when Jerry, a long-time bachelor,  suddenly married a woman he’d met on a blind date, my then husband gave the toast.    My husband was even (temporarily) named as Godfather to their first-born, and we both visited and held the hours-old baby in the hospital.  Jerry’s second child is only seven weeks younger than our first and we have the cutest pictures of the two baby boys together.   We were always at all of Jerry’s big family gatherings– kid’s birthdays, baptisms, Super Bowl parties, and when my husband and I started having kids and birthday parties and such, Jerry and his wife and kids were always in attendance.  Jerry only came around  on special occasions, though, my husband didn’t want him at our house to just hang out because he didn’t think our house was nice enough.

Back when my husband announced his plans to leave me, I suggested that he talk to Jerry about it because maybe he needed to talk to someone other than the two women who had his ear:   me and his girlfriend.   I thought that the opposing dueling arguments from the two women who have a huge stake in the matter were just canceling  each other out.

Well, actually, no, the girlfriend clearly won those rounds, but I digress . . . .   My husband refused to confide in Jerry, though,  saying that he knew Jerry  would just try to talk him out of it and tell him it was wrong.

Alrighty then.  Anyhoo . . . 

Apart from his club activities, my husband had few friends,  Jerry was the only one, really.   So it was expected and appropriate that when the marriage ended Jerry and his family would remain friends with him, and not me.   I’ve not seen or heard from Jerry or his wife since my husband moved out many years ago.

I actually don’t know whether they socialize regularly now.  My Ex-Husband has reinvented himself in many ways.

However, my now Ex-husband was going to attend the Jerry’ s first-born’s graduation party.   He  would attend with his new wife, their children  and our children, who had been directed to wear . . . clothes.

After the teen drama at home about finding the proper clothes, the  complaints about why they had to go to this thing, that they don’t really know these people, blah blah blah . . . they managed to get themselves (with my prompting) ready only slightly after the 3pm deadline.  But  no matter,  the Ex didn’t show up until 4:15pm.  While they waited, one girl said,  “I hate it when he does this,” and her twin, who didn’t even start to get ready until 2:50pm, said, “I told you I’d have plenty of time.”  In true Ninja Ex fashion I escaped before he arrived, going to a different graduation party alone.  See I Almost Crossed One Of “My Bucket List of Men To Do” 

And off they went.

The Nanny Texts piss me off, but I’m used to it now and I know how ridiculous they sound.  But later I realized something that did feel weird, though —  that my ex-husband and our kids  were attending this party with his new family, among  people who knew us when our kids were babies and when I was visually present.

Now I certainly didn’t want to go to the party.  God no, I didn’t want to go.   Nor did I expect to be invited, of course.   It just felt a little strange that my (appropriately dressed) children were going to be there  (paraded)  with the Ex-husband and his new family celebrating with people with whom my ex-husband and I  had shared many major life events.    It was hard to believe that that hours old baby I had held (and I think it was the first time I’d ever held an “hours old” baby) was graduating high school.

I don’t know, it felt kind of like I’d been photo-shopped out and new people photo-shopped in and that no one would or could acknowledge it, despite all that we shared in the early years.

Just kind of weird.

When the kids returned, though, one of them said,

“Mom, some lady told me to tell you hello.”

I’m not sure who it was. It didn’t matter.  It made me smile.

At least someone remembered that I am here . . . or was here  . . . or had, at one time, been there . . . or . . . whatever.

"Horton Hears A Who" by Dr. Seuss

“Horton Hears A Who” by Dr. Seuss

Just Me With . . .  The Nanny Texts

If anyone is wondering why I did not simply curse my Ex out for the Nanny Texts, my failure to engage with him can be explained in blogs like:

I Won’t Take It

Divorcing a Narcissist,

and Perils of Divorced Pauline.

The short answer  is that it wouldn’t help. I pick and choose my battles.

See also, I Was The Nanny When My Ex-Husband Got Married  and My Very Own Personal Olympic Games

I Almost Crossed One Off Of “My Bucket List Of Men To Do”

The Village People.  There are all types of men out there.

The Village People. There are all types of men out there.

A while back I wrote a Bucket List of Men to Do.  On it, I included an Too Old For Me Rich Guy saying, “At this point in life this is my only route if I want to be photographed as the pretty young thing on someone’s arm.

Dick Van Dyke and his bride

Dick Van Dyke and his bride

This past weekend, I thought about checking that one off my list.

I had been invited to a graduation party of a former student.  The student’s family is wealthy.   Not surprisingly,  it appeared that their friends are similarly well off.    As per usual I attended alone.  As per usual, it appeared as though I was the only woman attending alone, except, of course, for the widowed grandmothers.  As per usual, I was the only woman of color, and as per usual I knew hardly anyone there.    The point is, I kind of stuck out like a sore thumb.   Well, maybe not sore, more like a bare thumb, among French manicured pinkies.  But these are really good people, we go back a long way, and I was happy to have been invited.   Sometimes I just tire of going solo — all the time — but I digress . . .

I got my food and took an empty seat among strangers, though the host did eventually join us.  He  introduced me, explaining that I was his son’s music teacher.

Thurston Howell, III from Gilligan's Island.   My would-be suitor was older than Mr. Howell, but  he'll do.

Thurston Howell, III from Gilligan’s Island. My would-be suitor was older than Mr. Howell, but he’ll do.

Well, an older gentlemen seated across from me was simply fascinated, almost smitten.  Now I don’t discuss the specifics of age but considering my wealth of life experience, a man significantly older than me has got to be  pretty darn — experienced.   Nay, old.  But this man, by his dress, demeanor and comfort level led me to assume that he had means.   I seriously doubt that this dude needed to check his balance before going grocery shopping.

I didn’t catch his name.  But let’s call him Jack.  Jack was quite complimentary, noting that he  certainly would  have stuck with his music lessons if he had a teacher who looked like me. “Wow,” he said, and inquired as to whether I had any openings . . . heh heh heh.  “I don’t know how the boy could learn anything with you as his teacher.”

I tell you, I almost giggled.  This flirtation from an older gentlemen of means made me —  me, a grown-ass woman of feminist sensibilities —  positively girlish!  I’m not sure, but I think I may have flipped my hair.

I took the comments in kind and did not pursue the matter, but . . .

Damn.

Let the record reflect that I object to the way younger women romantically involved with  older rich men are maligned, called gold diggers and such.  It’s offensive.

But hey, Gold Diggers, I get it now.  (Shhhhhhh)

(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Just Me With . . .  giggles.    I really wanted him to buy me something shiny.    I’m just saying . . . 

Another Kind Heart

Desperate Housewives, Bree and Gabby

Desperate Housewives,
Bree and Gabby

Last week I had another surprise interaction that touched me, deeply.

I was leaving my daughter’s basketball game and was stopped by another mother who I’ve been acquainted with for at least ten years, meaning before the separation and divorce.  Our oldest boys went to pre-school together and are in the same activities now.  Our daughters play the same sport.  We’ve never  socialized outside of school events, though.  She’s married, well-to-do (understatement), attractive and always stylish, and I suppose I always thought we didn’t have much in common on a personal level.  But unlike some of the downright snobby parents I’ve met, though,  she’s always been friendly, genuine, and approachable.

Desperate Housewives,Bree

Desperate Housewives,
Bree

That day, she approached me, and we chatted about some upcoming events.  Then she got personal.  She asked about my ex-husband’s new family.   Apparently he’d brought them all to a game recently.  I wasn’t there.  She must have been.  Seeing them must have made an impact.  She asked if I spent time with him, and I answered honestly, “No, we do things separately.”

She paused a moment, took a deep breath, then shared that her father had suddenly left her mother when she was a child, and that it had deeply affected her mother and the whole family and does to this day.  She spoke of eventual healing but said that according to her mother, who had no choice but to accept the situation, it just “wasn’t what she signed up for.”   She offered her support, saying that women should help each other more, but often we’re left feeling alone, just holding the bag.

She looked me square in the eyes and said,

“This must be hard for you.  And I want you to know that I know that.” 

And, standing there in the high school gym,  I felt like it was okay to admit that, yes, it is hard for me.   It felt good not to pretend otherwise, for just a moment.

Desperate Housewives,Bree and Gabby

Desperate Housewives,
Bree and Gabby

Just Me With . . . support, from an unlikely source, who knew just what to say.  I was deeply touched.

Other kind words:

Riding With My Boss

When I Needed A Helping Hand