How Long Did You Ask Questions After Your Spouse’s Affair

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Today I was painting my woodwork when a thought about B and his mistress came into my head. The question was this: Why was he insisting that I get a job and said it would be “easier for me” (meaning him) if I did? I wondered, was it because he was supporting her and he needed the money or because he was planning to divorce me and if I had a job it would be better for him in court?

So I asked and although he answered the question he made it very apparent that he was not happy that once again I brought her up. Further talking revealed that he feels I talk about it several times a week. Sometimes he is right. As an example he said that earlier this week I brought her up when we pulled up into our driveway. And I had…there was a woman who looked like her standing on the street by our house and it just freaked me out and I said something about it.

So my question to you, dear reader, is how long did it take you to stop asking questions regarding your spouses affair. How long did it take for you not to think about it? A week, a month, a year? So far I am 14 weeks into knowing and sometimes as I am busy doing something (like painting, mopping the floor, etc.) something about the affair just hits me and so I ask the question that has come up in my mind. While I think this is part of the PISD, I would like to know that there is an end in sight at some point. After all, this  three- year affair of his has been exhausting and I would like to be over it…I am sure he would like that too but frankly it is my discomfort I am worried about…not his! Yet, I wonder with all these questions how do I ever grant grace and leave it alone so I leave behind the chaos? Any suggestions?

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Post Infidelity Stress Disorder

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It’s been a while. Quite a long while actually. I haven’t been able to do the things I normally do as I concentrate on ridding myself of the negative thoughts and images that have floated through my mind since I found out about B’s affair.  There has been a lot of canceling going on.

“He is a jerk”

“Cancel, cancel, cancel” (don’t say cancel out loud or the guys in the white coats might come for you) Just say “cancel” in your head and then look around and take in what you see:

“Oh the clouds look big a fluffy today”

“Look at that beautiful orange tomcat”

Anything that take your mind off the negativity and onto something different.

Anyway, last week I had an extreme reaction to something B said in the marriage counselors office which cause me to stand up and say that I needed to leave. NOW. We were discussing a possible move when B said, “I can move and get used to the job while you stay back at home with the kids!”

End of discussion on the part of B even though we have had this gone over this scenario before and I had said that this solution was unacceptable to me.

And so:

My heart started pounding.

My blood pressure and anxiety soared.

I felt like that walls were closing in on me and tried to flee the therapists office.

I flashed back to the time when B would not take me to China with him and I “knew” something was up when suddenly he was taking a side trip to Singapore (which I later found out was to rendezvous with our Vietnamese tour guide) I didn’t understand what was going on at that time but I knew that I felt intense confusion and pain about why B was so adamant that I could not go with him and why a discussion was not “forthcoming.”

I broke out in a sweat.

I began to itch.

The therapist looked at me as I kind of said something like:

“WHAT THE F***!!!! OH,HELL NO! YOU MADE THIS MESS AND YOU ARE NOT LEAVING ME TO CLEAN IT UP WHILE YOU GET TO TAKE IT EASY!”

I explained to both B and the therapist that this scenario was unacceptable to me. That I didn’t want to clean up B’s mess and have to deal with angry kids who would be afraid we were divorcing and couldn’t understand why we were not together as a family. I would not be alone with a child whose rage would be intense if he felt abandoned and I didn’t understand why someone who swears he wants to be with me would even consider that an option and if that was the way it was going to be then we might as well not be together.

I heard something about B thinking of the logistics in a “practical” manner while I was looking at them from the heart. And then I left.

The next week I was at my therapists office and I mentioned to her that I thought I might  have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and began to relate what happened to me at the marriage counselors office.

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“Of course, you have post traumatic stress disorder after what you have been through with B for the past three years. But in your case it is referred to as Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder (PISD) and there is a set of recognized symptoms that are brought on by the trauma of infidelity, ” she said.

WHO KNEW? A big sigh of relief escaped my lips…so I wasn’t going crazy after all.

According to her, often the offended partner has extreme reactions to circumstances because they are now operating from a hyper-vigilant state where nothing feels safe or real. And while it may not be as traumatizing as prolonged war or physical abuse, the experiences of the cheated on spouse often echoes the symptoms of PTSD. Symptoms of PISD include:

  1. Exposure to a perceived life-threatening event (end of marriage, constant lies, betrayal of trust, etc)
  2. Emotional numbing
  3. Inability to stop seeking more information about the affair or what your spouse is currently up to
  4. Increased anxiety
  5. Intense feelings of fear or helplessness
  6. Feelings of irritability and rage
  7. A re-experiencing of the event or events
  8. Avoiding things that remind us of the affair
  9. Repeated intrusive thoughts
  10. Anger or blaming of ones self (“If only”)

Obviously, I am no expert on the subject but since I have discovered that I have symptoms of PISD, I am learning what I can about it and how to heal from it. The one thing I do know is this it will take time.

For those of you interested in the subject you can find a good article that discusses PISD it here:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/rediscovering-love/201709/how-infidelity-causes-post-traumatic-stress-disorder

I have also started reading a book on the subject on the advice of my therapist. The title is Transcending Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder by Dennis Ortman, PhD which is available on Amazon. It has been extremely helpful so far.

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So I continue on this journey. It is a trip I didn’t ask for and one I didn’t plan. Sometimes it angers me that I have been forced down this rabbit hole by the person I trusted most in the world. A husband who selfishly who pushed me into this land of self-discovery. Yes, many of the things I have learned or done have been helpful but I still wish I had been the one to decide if and when I wanted to confront the issues that I have been working on. But for now I try not to dwell on the “what if’s” and instead I attempt to embrace this new post-affair life of mine. Some days I succeed and some days I don’t but if nothing else I am teaching my children that if life throws you curve balls you keep swinging that bat until you connect even if that connection is only with one’s self.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worse-Case Scenarios

In the past  two-weeks I have learned that our tour guide, my husband, and his sister all betrayed me; some in the most awful of ways. Could there be anything worse? Yes, there could be, as I have been so gently reminded from above.

As I have pondered things these past weeks I have catastrophized, neuroticised, fantasized, and hypothesized. I have cried a fifth of tears  imagesand singlehandedly kept the Kleenex company in business. download

Finally, I could do nothing else but pray. So I did. In between sobs, hiccups, and the sorrowful sniffing of snot back into my sinus cavities; I asked for some help. Now, I am not much of a religious person but I have had my share of miracles when I have asked. This time all it appeared was that I received was a big bunch of nothing.

No, “I’M THINKING ON IT” or “YOU’VE RUN OUT OF MIRACLES FOR THIS LIFE.”  The only thing I obtained was this fleeting phrase:

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“Fuck,” I thought. “Where is the compassion, dude?”

“Come on, I know you’ve got better than that! Heck, you have parted seas and rained hot coals down on the wicked. The least you could do is a repeat performance.”

But IT COULD BE WORSE was all that was sent down from on high to me.

And then it occurred to me those worst-case scenarios might just be what was needed to lead me to find a slight bit of gratitude and happiness in my off-the-rails-life. So I pondered a bit and these came to me:

  1. He could have knocked her up.
  2. He could have knocked her sister up.
  3. She could have lived down the street and I would have to see her smirking face everyday for the rest of my life.
  4. He could have sent her double the amount of money he did. I mean what he sent could have been a four-yeardegree at a prestigious college instead of the equivalent of several semesters worth of education that he sent.
  5. His sister could be my sister.
  6. I could have gone to Singapore only to have walked in on them. Now that would have been awkward.
  7. His sister could have been his lover instead of his ally in deceiving me
  8. I could have sent her Victoria’s Secret which she would have worn for my husband instead of the money I sent to her and her family.
  9. She could have splashed the internet full of naked pictures of her and my husband together in Singapore instead of them just making out at the butterfly farm.
  10. I could have picked up some disease from my cheating husband.
  11. My husband could have become a polygamist.
  12. He could have fucked our tour guide in Chile and that would have been bad because his name was Hector.

 

There. Indeed, it could have been worse. Way worse.

So for now, I am counting my blessings as I head into the third week of The Day My Life Went Straight To Hell a/k/a No More Tour Guides For Me.

 

Betrayal III- Liar, Liar-Your Dick Has Created A Quagmire (And It’s Still On Fire)

So this week we have been:

Him: His therapist once, marriage therapy marathon 2 hour session

Her: Her therapist for three hours, marriage therapy marathon 2 hour session

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He was instructed by his therapist that he had to tell me the truth and answer any question I might have even if it is six months from now.  And this is what I have learned.

 

  1. She has a much better wardrobe than me. My daughter noticed this phenomena when she said, ” Hey mom, look at her pictures when you met her. Her clothes were awful but the longer she was in this affair with Dad she got nicer clothes, better haircuts and fashion forward glasses. Yes, the mistress has matchy, matchy shoes, dress and purses to accessorize to the max when she is walking the red carpet. I have NEVER had matching anything except boobs that have slid downhill as I have aged. Anytime I would buy a $15.99 TJMAX shirt B would say, “When did you get that?”  Anyway, seems he sent over $7000 to her and her family in Vietnam. Of course, it was to provide baby vitamins for her sister’s child and for her to buy food for the children at the orphanages. It is just coincidental that her wardrobe could rival a rock stars because “she is not that type of woman. She never wanted anything from me.”

2. Yes, there were times that he was messaging her from our home and I would ask who he was talking with and he would accuse me of being paranoid and make me feel bad about the kind of “suspicious” person that I was.

3. He was the one who suggested that they meet in Singapore. When I asked why he was there for four days without doing business he said he needed some down time. I guess that means down flat on his back while he was ridden like a stallion. What I am most pissed off about is where is the THANK YOU card from her for teaching him how to please and pleasure a woman. All that work over the years, from minute man to rocket man, and I don’t even get kudos from the recipient of my vast sexual knowledge.

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4. He, as a rich middle-aged man white man, convinced her sister, a single impoverished very young woman in a third world country, to keep the baby she was going to abort. I suspect that one of the reasons she did not was that she was convinced he was going to marry her sister. Does he have any obligations to this child since he participated in a family decision to keep this baby boy? (and no it is not his)

5. This story is not unique in B’s family. His brother went looking for Russian brides spending all his money (and he had lots) on these women until he married one who would not sign a pre-nup and after their marriage would not move to the USA. B saw how his brother was soaked but “this is not the same. She is not that way.”

6. He looked into fiance visas.

7. Of course, he gave her up for me about two weeks ago after giving me a commitment ring on Christmas but continued to talk with her. BLAH!

8. With 10 minutes of knowing that I knew about them she put up pictures of her and B in Singapore along with a heart in which their hands are intertwined.

So as a wrap up. B has conducted this affair for almost three years while I was sending money to her (our tour guide in DaNang Vietnam) and books for her father. I ate lunch at her family’s home and met her parents and sister. He sent her thousands of dollars over the years and his sister was friends with his mistress on Facebook. She has at least four different Facebook pages with four different names. B told me he was going to Singapore on business, when in fact, it was slutty cum dumpster business. All of this while I was working hard in individual and marital counseling to improve our marriage while he was working on his relationship with her and making me feel like crap so that he could live with his guilt. Meanwhile, our children are falling apart, autism rearing its oh-so-destructive head and I have aged 10 years in two days. Oh, and the house we were selling…the guy backed out on the day he was suppose to sign.

And he LOVES (cough) me and wants to make it work.

 

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While we were working on our marriage he used to say “I am not sure I love you. I hope to get it back but it might take 6 months or a year or that love might not ever return. Are you willing to wait?”

To this I say…to be continued tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

Betrayal II-Liar, Liar Your Dicks On Fire

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So the saga of my thirty+ year marriage continues.

After being assured by my husband that he loves me and will do anything for his family I told him I needed to have completed access to his phone which he agreed to. I asked many questions including wether he had seen her or not. He assured me that he had not and that she would not have sex with him if he was with his wife…how noble of her!

Later my oldest daughter Nicole called me. She said, ” I am sending you a picture that you need to see. It is dad with her in Singapore. She put the picture up after you emailed her.” (In that email I told her she was a fool and told her that she was not the only one he was doing this with. Did she really think that she was the only one?)

B and I were taking a walk with me asking questions. I opened the photo and saw him with the Chickie. He spent four days in Singapore fucking her last January. I asked him again, “Did you see her in Singapore?”

“No”

“Really, so what is this?” I asked showing him the picture.

“I don’t know who that is”

“It is you with her in Singapore, you dick. Recognize it now?”

He went white.

“I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to lose you or my family.”

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Soon another text from my daughter. Worse still…seems my husband’s sister Jo is Friends with Chickkie on Facebook. I saved her daughter’s life and that is the thanks that I get. WOW! To me, for whatever reason, that is the biggest betrayal of them all. You love her so much you are already having your sister welcome her to the family!

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More texts from my daughter. The woman has four Facebook pages all with different names. My daughter then sends her a message that says “If you keep in touch with my Dad I will send your naked picture all over the internet including on your tour company site.” (Honey, I don’t think you should do that!)

The very unfortunate thing about all this is our children found out. I was packing to leave and told my son “Dad has hurt me deeply and I need a few days to clear my head. This has nothing to do with your you, your brother or sister. Sometimes adults disappoint each other and just like you need time away from your brother I need a little time away from your father, not you.”

He turned away from me angry and wouldn’t let me touch him.

“Honey, this is not my fault. This is due to a hurt that your Dad has done.”

B jumped in. “It is all my fault. Don’t blame your mother. I did something that hurt her very much and she didn’t deserve it. I am hoping she can forgive me (yeah thanks for putting that part in…making it my fault if I don’t forgive him…that is slick!)

Remember the telephone at the beginning of all of this…this is where it gets ugly.

Before I left I went and asked to see B’s phone. He said no.

“You promised,” I replied.

He handed it over nervously. I went to messenger and saw Chickie’s sister’s Face Time at the very top so I pressed the button. He went ballistic and tried to grab the phone. I tried to keep it away from  him. He grabbed me by the arm that just got out of the sling. One thing led to another and because he was hurting me…I bit him. Over thirty years of marriage and we have never had a physical altercation in our entire lives…until now. At this point our kids walked in the front door and her us yelling about HER (they have never heard us yelling like that at each other EVER). I got the phone and went into the bathroom. My hands were shaking so hard, well, that darn IPhone jumped out of my hand and into the toilet. Now neither of us could talk to her.

“I guess if she doesn’t matter to you like you have said, you wouldn’t have cared if I called her but obviously she means more to you than I do. Tell you what your fears have all come true. Everyone knows and you have imploded our family. Now go to her. You are free.”

My son went outside and lost it and started hyperventilating and saying he couldn’t feel his legs and it went down from there into a full collapse. I spent time trying to calm him…it was the worst thing I have ever felt in my heart, ever.  Gracie wouldn’t come out from under her covers. We have a totally traumatized family.

I am sleeping at a friends house. My life is a shambles. My kids are traumatized. My husband is without a job.

Life is good…and then it is not.

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Betrayed OR Liar Lair Pants On Fire

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So Thursday B walked in the door ashen and with tears in his eyes. After 14 years of being the president of his company he was sacked. I said and did all the right things, loved on him and told him everything would be okay. I was the perfect wife.

After several hours of being at home he decided to download all the family pictures from his phone onto my computer since he was afraid his company would turn off his phone. Since then my computer has been running slow because he added over 2,000 pictures to it so today I decided to delete some after moving them to The Cloud. As I was going through them…SURPRISE!!!! …..I found a naked picture of a woman. Long story short, it was our tour guide from Viet Nam. The woman I had been sending money to occasionally to help her family….guess she decided to go after a bigger fish…B!

B confessed that he has been communicating with her for 1 1/2 years.  That he has thought of going to see her….wonder if that is why he was so adamant that I could not go to China with him? I asked him if he has communicated with her since he gave me the commitment ring…he has…yep, that is commitment for you! I told him I wondered if that was one of the reasons he got fired because IT saw numerous naked pictures on his electronic devices.

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Frankly, I feel good. Glad to know that my suspicions were not unfounded. Glad to know that these past two years have really been about him and not me. Glad to find out that he is a sex addict according to him. Yes, I am glad to know all of it. Glad to know he gave me the commitment ring on Christmas and talked to her after. Glad to know that when he sent the text from Boy Scout Camp that he wasn’t sure he had the passion or love to sustain our relationship, that he had just received naked pictures from her. I am glad to know all of this because now I know that I need to believe and trust in myself and I know without a doubt that he had one foot out of the door and was not giving me his all. And now I know what I need to do.

P.S. And to all of you who have told me so…I am sorry I didn’t believe you or kinda didn’t believe you. I was a fool.

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Stress Eating/Mental Health Nightmares

I started my diet to lose 20 pounds at 6:00 a.m. It is now 11:30 A.M. and I have downed two pieces of fudge, drank another cup of coffee that is mostly milk and devoured a bag of moon cheese. All within 30 minutes.

I had good intentions. Truly I did. And I was sincere too in the belief that this week would be the one I got off my kester and set to work reducing my waist but at this point my resolution appears to be a waste… for life got in the way.

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It all started yesterday. I drove home from Las Vegas after Gracie’s dive meet where she took a first in one event. So proud of that kid. Anyway, after driving 6 hours I was met at home by an angry teenager. Paul was fine while we were gone but seems he and Gracie got into it the moment she came through the door.  An hour later I was holding him while he melted down and cried. Damn you autism and mental health challenges!!!!

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After those difficult and emotional moments it appeared things were better until I decided to spoil myself with a nice warm bubble bath.  And therein lies my first mistake…actually thinking that I could do something nice for myself without being interrupted.  For as I lay in the tub I suddenly heard very loud shouting and a slamming of a door that shook the entire house. As I jumped up and wrapped a robe around me I heard uncontrollable crying coming from Paul’s room. I walked into a mess caused by a kid who had dumped, in a rage, the contents of his desk all over the room and he was sobbing. I went over to him and he yelled at me to leave him alone. Now I don’t know about you but when I hear those words spoken with the tunderous roar of a fighter jet I know that I am needed more than ever. I also know I need to change into my Green Beret mentaility to succeed in turning things around despite the odds being against me.

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What ensued was not easy. I ended up on the floor while this child both raged, hyperventiled and talked scary stuff. I held onto him like his life and mine depended on it. This went on for almost an hour until at last he wore himself out. His words broke my heart. His pain broke my soul. And his anger touched a place in my brain that I never want to visit again.

Later, after going down to the kitchen I realized what the problem was. While I was gone he had not taken his medicine and B had not checked his box to make sure that he had. Two days without meds in Paul’s case is a disaster. He becomes a tsunami of emotions that threatens to wipe out anyone nearby and the result is anger that cannot be contained.

I worry about my son. I worry that one day he will rage at the wrong person. I worry that while “out of his head” he might get shot by police or hurt himself. I worry that in his anger he may seriously hurt his siblings instead of a kicking a hole in the door that is a reminder of when he got seriously mad. Sometimes I worry that his mental issues will engulf us all and carry us down the mountainside with him broken and  buried under tons of stone. I know my marriage has been effected by Paul’s issues and that we all suffer in different ways when he is off-balance and out of control.

This morning, I packed everyone’s lunches and drove each one to their school. I proceeded to the gym in order to kick my diet into high gear. As I was nearing my goal of three miles I received a phone call. Paul was having an anxiety attack at school and could I please come and get him?

He’s sleeping now. His face soft and relaxed. Quiet breaths making his chest rise and fall in a slow steady rhythm unlike yesterday when he sobbed so hard he chest was moving mountains. I look again and my heart fills with love for my son; this boy who feels others emotions so intensely and takes them on as his own. This boy whose face I first saw on an adoption site. Right now, he looks like an angel which is what I am afraid that he might someday be. For unless, we can find a way to teach him to control his emotions I am afraid he will be hurt and possibly killed. By a stranger, The Police. Or himself. Either way, our path is a hard one and we are scraping our knees as we once again escape the sharp edges of the precipice which is our lives.

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Death Of My Marriage

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Yesterday was the day that we decided to meet for lunch to exchange lists regarding how we would like to divide our property, arrange child custody issues, and the like. We have decided to try to forego lawyers and see if we can work this out between the two of us.

We slept the night before holding hands and when we woke up B tells me, “Maybe we should go back to the belief that divorce is not an option,” so when we went to the restaurant for lunch I half expected that he might give me a piece of paper that said I DO NOT WANT A DIVORCE but he came fully prepared. I guess there is a little part of me that is still floating down DE-NILE. A part that does not want to enter the raging, swirling currents of divorce that could at any time capsize my raft and suck me under the torrents of tears that seem originate at the mouth of this river.

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These days I find tears are always threatening to leak out of my eyes at the most inopportune times. Paul came downstairs and found streaks from tears that I quickly wiped off my face but he saw them and asked what was wrong. Thank goodness I am still wearing this arm sling because it hides a multitude of emotional sins that are bubbling at my surface surprising me as the burst forth when least expected.

“I’m okay, sweetie. My shoulder is I just hurting me right now,” has become a great response when my sad and raw sentiments threaten to take me down to places in which I do not want my children to see or dwell.

After Christmas we will detonate their world by blowing up all they believed to be right and true to smithereens. They will never be the same and I am afraid that my two sons with autism will regress/rage as a way to handle the major changes that their lives will undergo. Change is something that is very hard for people with autism to endure.

I also feel terribly guilty. As adoptees my children have already lost the first parents, their first country, their culture and their language. We were suppose to be their Forever Family and we have let them down. Paul’s therapist tells us his biggest fear is ending up alone with no family and I am sure it will set off feelings of abandonment for him. This is one of the things I am finding it difficult to find peace about and find the compassion to offer forgivness towards my husband destroying our lives together.

Last night B and I got into bed. We held hands all night and we both cried on and off. It was a night in which sleep eluded us but sorrow did not as it swept us up in its tight grip and kept any sweet dreams at bay.

Today is a new day…I think I will go back to sleep.

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Veterans of War

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Last night I eyed the little old man sitting across from me in the Taco Bell. He was wearing a WWII veteran cap full of medals and although almost ancient he sat ramrod straight as if an officer might call him out for sloppy posture. In his hand was a Sudoku book and he was busy placing the numbers when he wasn’t looking around the place. Suddenly, he looked directly at me, his shiny blue eyes piercing my soul and gave me a smile that warmed my breaking heart. Then he went back to his game.

I had come to Taco Bell after sitting alone at a table in a restaurant waiting for my fellow book lovers to show up for our annual party and book exchange. As I waited tears would well up as I thought about the previous evening when B and I decided to divorce after I realized there was no hope that his feelings for me would ever change. I was devastated and contemplating life alone or, God forbid, someday dating.

Sitting there in a room full of strangers I felt more alone than I have in my entire life. Crazy thoughts of “my family would be better off without me than putting them through this ” circulated around in my brain, and although I knew I would never act upon them, tears leaked silently as I contemplated how my 30+ year marriage had reached such a gut-wrenching low. As I scanned the email to ensure I was at the right place I realized I was a week early and decided I needed to escape all the holiday merriment going on around me. That is how I ended up at the Taco Bell across the street.

I watched the old veteran for several minutes. He looked happy yet I felt a sense of loneliness cradling his well-worn soul. I decided to take a chance and invite myself to dinner. When I asked if I could join him he looked delighted. He introduced himself.

“Ken?” I asked, wishing that my soon-to-be hearing aids had arrived.

“No Kent,” came the reply. “Like Clark Kent, superhero, although I am afraid the red suit would look a little wrinkly at my age.”

We both chuckled.

Kent was 92. He had been married to Doris for 65 years and she had died four years ago. They used to come to Taco Bell and sit across from one another enjoying each other’s company while playing Sudoku. He missed her and the life they had built together.

“What is my purpose here?” he asked me soon after introductions were made. “I just want to know why I am still here and what am I supposed to do with the rest of my life. I have no clue.”

“Well, that is obvious,” I replied. “You are suppose to be sitting here eating dinner with a sad middle-aged woman and telling me the story of your life.”

And so he did. He spoke of being too young to join the war when the United States was attacked on December 7, 1941, and how two years later, on December 7, 1943, the principal of the school told all the young men that he would grant them their diplomas, a semester shy of graduation, if they would only go and serve their country. Being the good All-American boy that he was; Kent went and signed up that day.

When he went home to tell his father, a WWI veteran that he enlisted; his father told him that he would regret it, but he didn’t believe him until his first Christmas far away from home, with guns firing in the distance, with regrets that flew fast and furious like bullets around his head. On that wintry night narrowly escaping death he realized his old man was right after all. He just wanted to be home.

“When staring death in the eye, men act in three different ways. There are those who want to flee, those who cry, and those who pray. I was one of the later but if I am honest there were times I experienced all three as I fought in the Pacific,” he explained.

Kent still marveled at his first airplane ride and laughed as he re-counted his complete and utter embarrassment at getting air sick and throwing up in a hat in front of the pilot. He talked about endless days at sea and wondering if their big boat would be someone’s prize target. And he narrated the story of a fellow veteran who was in the Merchant Marine, whose ship was stopped by the Japanese, after delivering supplies to the troops. For an entire hour the enemy shined a light on the American boat until turning off the light and slipping into the night.

“Why didn’t they kill us?” his friend asked the commander.

“We were high in the water so they knew we didn’t have any supplies and they didn’t want to waste their ammo on us. They just wanted to give us a bit of a scare,” came the reply.

Eventually, Kent ended up in Saipan surrounded by water and the Japanese. He recalled how the enemy would slip into camp and night with a wire garrote and strangle an unsuspecting solider and how they learned to walk with their back to the huts so no one could attack them from behind. But by far the saddest day of the war for Kent was the day a plane load of soldiers were flying home soon after the war had ended. As the plane took off over the base personnel could hear the sputtering of the plane and watched as soldiers tried to parachute to safety only to hit the roofs of the buildings because there was not enough time for their chutes to open.  The ones who didn’t jump drown as the plane went down.

“A whole plane load of boys who had survived the war and were jubilant to be going home only to die as they were taking off. It never made sense to me,” Kent said with a far-away look in his eyes.

We spent two hours talking about the mundane: weather, walnuts (he was a farmer) and dogs and important topics like war and marriage.

When asked how he stayed married for 65  years he offered this advice:

“You wake up every morning, look in the mirror and tell yourself that come hell or high water, and am going to love this person no matter what. When you get to be my age you realize you just don’t remember those bad days but you do remember the good and the good far outnumber the bad anyway. Why hang onto bad feelings when you don’t have to?”

I told him my story. Married 30+ years, six kids, travel, building houses together and multiple moves to a man I had adored until he no longer adored me and did everything in his power to try to get me to leave. The night before, I had read him what he had written a year ago about how he loved to feel my touch and how much it meant to him. When I asked if he still felt that way he said, “No I don’t…. I’m just being honest”  which is his newest mantra. It was then I knew that it was time to end, what had been for the most part, the happiest years of my life with the person I adored most in the world. This veteran of marriage was being discharged.

“That husband of yours must be crazy,” Kent said quietly as he leaned forward and looked into my eyes. “Too bad he doesn’t realize that he’s got a good woman if she comes up and invites an old man to dinner. My wife used to do that too. Believe me when you are my age you are lonely and you appreciate someone taking the time to show you a little love and concern. But don’t worry, a nice good-looking gal like you will find love again. Just don’t waste your love on someone who doesn’t appreciate it.”

Sometimes it is amazing how God puts someone who we need right in our path when we need them which implants a beautiful facet of multi-colored lights within our soul.Yet, I have found that most of the time it is up to us to seek out for ourselves what it is that we need whether it be companionship, a safe haven or the quite assurance of a hug. For it is in the seeking that we find out what we truly need, that we become confident and brave, and it’s how we realize that we are never alone in this world even though it often feels that way.

Thank you Kent for being my guiding star last night. Your light helped to lead me out of the darkness into a world that is open to possibilities for this old broad. Your purpose in life seems fairly obvious to me…you are a beacon of hope offering your light to those that will take the time to listen.  I can hardly wait to see you next week when we meet for dinner again.  You truly are a great first “date” and you have given hope for the future.

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Trying To See The Light Through The Flames

I have to admit I am still searching for the light that is missing in this box into which I have crawled. Sadness seems to be the one emotion that I still feel. I am weary of being with a man who no longer loves me. The weariness lives in the marrow of my bones sucking them dry the richness of life squeezed out of them.

This weekend I was suppose to have a girls get together at my house on the coast. Everyone bailed. There was one reason or another and with this; I realized that there was not one person I could depend on. Not my husband, not my kids, not my friends…and I vagely thought about how I had better start depending on myself alone. So I headed up to the house. Me, myself and I.

As I got closer to San Francisco the air became thicker, filled with the smoke of the fires burning in Napa, Sonoma, and Santa Rosa. Some of my favorite places in the world up in flames. You could smell charred houses, burnt grapes and the bodies of those who were unaccounted for. Lives once vibrant and hopeful now trying to figure out what they will do without their homes,without their jobs and all their earthly possessions gone. Ninety six thousand displaced people all living in survival mode.

I took the back way on Hwy 1 instead of my usual route through Santa Rosa knowing that the I did not want to witness all the devastation. Nor did I want to get trapped on a highway that could become an inferno. So I drove along the blue waters of the coast, skipping all the unpleasantness except those kinds of thoughts rattling around in my head.

I arrived here in time to watch the sun set on the ocean with bats dancing to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake in the nighttime sky and the waves of the ocean beating like drums as they broke against the rocky shore. I grabbed a bottle of vodka and drank to 30 years of marriage that is in the same predicament as  Thelma and Louise hitting the gas and driving off a cliff into uncertainty.

The next morning was beautiful and as I walked the cliffs I started to feel like myself again as the mist in the air washed over me, cleansing my soul. As I ambled on, the winds began to pick up and I thought about all those firefighters 50 miles away who would soon be battling them along with the intense heat of the ash as it rained down from the sky.

Soon an old lady came into view. I judged her to be about 80 and she was carrying a jet-black cane over her head. We passed one another with a smile and a nod; each continuing our own way with our own thoughts. A mile later we met again as we retraced or steps but this time I asked her “Why are you carrying your cane over your head?”

“To remind me how strong I am,” was the answer.

“Why do you need reminding of that?” I asked “you look strong enough to me that I wouldn’t want to take you on in a back alley somewhere.”

She chuckled as she began to explain that she was a fire evacuee staying with a friend. On Sunday, in the dead of night, she was awakened by the fire fighters from the station two doors down who were banging on her door.

“You have got to get out. You have got to leave now,” they ordered.

She wrapped a house coat around herself, grabbed a pair of pants, a shirt and her shoes,  went into the bathroom and grabbed her toothbrush. Then she picked up her purse, called the dog and left her house.

“It’s all gone now,” she tells me with not an ounce of pity in her voice.

“Why did I get my toothbrush?” she looks at me and asks the question as if I might provide an answer that would satisfy her.

“I needed my medicines but left those behind. Yet, I took time to get my toothbrush. A $1.50 toothbrush,” she says with a shake of her head and a laugh. “Crazy isn’t it!”

She tells me that her Grandmother’s china is gone along with her deceased husband’s favorite books, her wedding dress, and everything else she owned in the world. Pictures of her children on their first day of school, her collection of salt and pepper shakers, all her clothes and her piano at which she sang to start every morning.

“But I will sing again,” she assures me with a smile. “For I am strong and I am happy and I am ALIVE!!!!” she says with a great belief in herself  and sense of joy that literally takes my breath away.

“I will begin again and who knows what I will become? Opportunity is banging at my door just like those firemen did,” she says with determination and grace as she heads off down the trail.

“It’s never too late to re-create yourself,” she yells back at me with a smile.

Later that day I offer my house up to any family who might need it. I talk on the telephone to a man who skirted the police blockades just to return to his house and sift through the ashes that now contain the contents of his entire life.

“I found my son’s bronzed baby shoes,” he informs me along with a few other trinkets of a life that felt meaningful and alive to him.

“We will just have to start over,” he tells me a sob stiffelled in his throat.

And although he cannot see me I find myself nodding my head at his words. For many times in our lives we are forced to start over, not of our own choosing, but because of forces that intrude unexpectantly. We can choose to see sorrow as an opportunity or we can wallow in our own misery until the end of time ultimately robbing ourselves of our accomplishments and the ability to morph into something we might not have expected… Someone better. Someone Kinder. Someone Wiser. And Someone who depends on themselves for their own happiness and to create a satisfying life no matter what is thrown in our way.

Today I met so many amazing people…. survivors and volunteers alike. And in these meetings I came away blessed. I hope they will be too.

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P.S. Thank you to all the fire fighters, healthcare workers, inmates, sheriff departments and all the volunteers who have saved lives while risking theirs.