Thoughts on “Maybe” Divorce

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“As you become more attached to yourself you will become less attached to the outcome,” my therapist says with a smile.

Sometimes I wonder about this statement. Although it seems true enough as I continue this journey of the “maybe divorce” sometimes I wonder if this attaching to yourself, this honoring your self and your desires, really means at some point that you just dial back the caring…maybe you just begin to not care anymore because the fight for keeping your marriage has cost you too much personally. Your anxiety has increased to the point that everyday you wake up wondering “if this is the day.” And while once I believed that this thought might kill me, now, sometimes, I just wonder if it would be a relief for it is difficult to live with a man who no longer loves you the way he wants to and the sadness plays out like recessed shadows etched deep into his face.

I know when this began two years ago I felt like the world was coming to an end. It seemed as though my heart was being ripped out of my chest and I couldn’t sleep at night. After all this time my anxiety about divorce and what it would do to my children has decreased but is it because I am working really hard on integrating all aspects of myself and discovering more about who I am or is it because I am shutting down? Perhaps I see the train wreck in the distance, so I move away, because I don’t want to witness the carnage firsthand. I also don’t want to deal with the repercussions that it might have on two boys with autism and one with mental health issues much less the fact that four of my children are adopted and have already suffered so much loss in their young lives.

And so I continue to work on myself. To find corners of sunlight and to open the shutters wide to let the sunshine flood into my life. I work to make myself more aware of what I am doing and why I am reacting in the ways that I do. I am practicing ways of building up my resilience and incorporating peaceful ways of thinking as a habit that I can rely on to keep me centered. And I am trying to learn not to allow negative self-talk rule my head and my heart even though it still wants to.

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So if this work, if all this trying to find better ways of attaching to myself, is going to make me wiser, happier and more peaceful; I am all for it. For I am becoming a better me and I am finally doing all of this psychological work for greater self understanding of what makes me tick.  And if the “maybe” divorce comes to pass I think I will be in a much better position to retain my own dignity and grace during the process. And for me, that is what is important.

So be it.

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Leaving On A Jet Plane

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Today B left on a 5 day business trip. Now to most, this would sound mundane. Five days. Big deal. But for me that is exactly what it is…a big deal.

Almost two years ago B came home while the rest of us vacationed for an additional 10 days. A few days after I arrived home is when he said he was wanting a divorce. Fast forward marriage therapy, individual therapy, meditation, Marriage Encounter…you name it we tried it. It was a merry-go-round of great successes followed by some major failures.

This past January, after coming back from a business trip to China, once again B stated he wanted to separate. Then I went away and realized I did too. I was done with all this back and forth. Either you want to be together or you don’t. I wrote a five page note putting my feelings into words and the actions I wanted to take, out there, in plain site, for him to read…only now he didn’t want to separate. So we made a deal. No more talking about divorce for 6 months and things seem to be better.

Now three months later B is alone on another business trip and, frankly, it made me a little nervous. So as we were walking to the other night I decided to be honest and spill my guts. I said to him:

“You know you are leaving and the last two times you have gone away on your own you have come home wanting a divorce/separation. Obviously, I have some concerns because being alone seems to take you to a place of not wanting to be together. So I wanted you to know if you are even thinking this again don’t bother to come home because I don’t want to deal with it and your indecision. This is a scary thing for me to say this but I am dreading your time away because I don’t want to be hurt again.”

“It sounds like you are scared,” he says using a phrase that he has learned at the therapists office.

He keeps walking. I do too but immediately feel my stomach clench.

“Really! That is all you are going to say!” my brain almost exploding with these type of thoughts.

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And so I stopped walking.

“What is it? What’s wrong?” B says to me.

“Honey, this is the point where you are suppose to offer reassurance. I appreciate you recognizing my feelings but you need to go further. Just recognizing what I have said isn’t enough. Sometimes you have to react, reassure, or explore a little more. This is a pattern in our relationship. I express myself and you barely react to what I say. You could say more but you choose to withhold words that could be helpful, kind, or could bolster our relationship. You have gone away twice for periods of a week or more and both times have returned wanting to be single. I need honesty and reassurance from you that this isn’t going to happen again.”

B looks perplexed. He stares at me like I am a alien from Mars. But then he pulls me close and gives me a kiss.

“You don’t need to worry. I will be excited to come back to you.”

Okay, he’s not the best with words but it is a start.

This morning B left. When I went downstairs I found a note by my computer which read:

HONEY,

HAVE A GOOD WEEK AND EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE WHEN I RETURN. THANKS FOR GETTING THE KIDS AROUND WHILE I AM GONE. LOVE YOU, B

Maybe he is starting to “get it” after all.

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Understanding

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If you have read this blog before you know that I have been struggling with B’s decision to take a “business” trip to Asia without me. For the past several years we had gone together to try to build closeness in our fragile relationship. I appreciated those times together, the shared experiences and, of course, time away from the kids. So I was hurt when he said he was going alone. Then when I asked about something that seemed odd he admitted he was going somewhere else too. I fretted and wondered if he would have even told me about this new itinerary and I felt betrayed because it brought back past business travels in which odd things had happened. But it was more than that, this anxiety I was feeling, anxiety that felt all consuming and I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. Until one night I realized it was rooted in fear from the past. Fear because the last time we were apart for 10 days, when I arrived home he wanted a divorce and it brought me back to two years ago when I lost my rudder. I can only imagine this is what PTSD feels like. Bleak, scary and uncertain.  And while I knew that our relationship wasn’t in the same place it was back then my raw emotions couldn’t process that fact for emotions are funny things and whether accurate or not they pull at the soul and can stretch you out of shape.

So now he is away on “business”and not a “vacation” as I insist it is. And B didn’t bother to tell me that even though he would arrive in the wee hours of the morning on Saturday, he wouldn’t actually be engaging in any sort of business activity until Tuesday. I’m sorry, in my mind that is a vacation. Now I could be really upset about this. Not that he wasn’t really doing the business that he insisted he was but upset because once again the pattern of 1/2 truths has appeared to prevail. But this time I am working on really trying to see this in a different light…I hope I can succeed.

It has taken me a while to realize that not everyone loves us in the way we think we need or in the way we would like. Often, they just love us in the way that they are capable of loving us often to our disappointment or dismay. If life were ideal I would have complete and utter honesty but that is uncomfortable for B because he grew up not being allowed to express his feelings and he doesn’t feel he can express his feelings to me.This hurts though I have brought some of it on myself. B feels that to express his needs is shameful or selfish and as a result he hides them to himself and from others. So while I would have loved for him to be honest and say “I don’t have any meetings until Tuesday but I have decided that I need a few days to relax and have a few days of ME time,” he couldn’t allow himself to do that even though I asked him to just be honest and admit he wanted time alone.

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So instead of being upset about the fact that he was a little less than honest I am trying to see his actions as those of a man who cannot ask for what he needs. A man who does not believe he deserves time alone. A man who believes anything he wants that does not involve his family is selfish on his part. Sure, I wish he had just been 100% honest but if I look through into his soul I know he is incapable of focusing on himself. And so I am trying to let go of the fact that he cannot love me as I wish but instead loves me as he can. It is flawed and sometimes it hurts but at this point in life this is how he loves. So I can choose to be angry or I can choose to accept knowing he is doing the best he can at this point in time. Today I choose acceptance…I hope I will choose it tomorrow too! For I deserve it and so does he.

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B’s List Of What He Wants

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Yesterday I posted what I wanted/needed in my second half of life. Today I am posting B’s.

First of all, just so you know, I asked B if it was okay to post this. To my surprise he said yes. This is his list of what he wants in the second part of his life with me. It won’t come as a surprise to those who know us that his list is very different than mine. Much more compact. Remember, I’m the one with the words. Yet, what he wrote touched me deeply because I knew it was from his heart and soul. All of it.

The morning we were to go to breakfast to discuss our relationship; I got into the car and our wedding picture was there along with some flowers. B said that before we went to breakfast he wanted to read what he had written and so with tears in his eyes and a catch in his throat this is what he read:

Fences- A Positive Post

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Yesterday Paul needed to get some service hours in for Scouts. He elected to paint the fence at our church. It was hot and the fence sat square in the path of the intense rays of the scorching sun. Six hours spent working in the sun is difficult for anyone but even more so for a young autistic teenage boy with no previous painting experience. Fortunately, one of the older members of our congregation (R) was there to provide guidance and cheer him on.

I love it when old and young connect. There is something almost magical that happens when wisdom meets youth. Learning occurs in an unstructured setting and life’s lessons are conveyed easily. More importantly, both parties share those things that are important to them and greater understanding of the world and each other is obtained by both.

When he arrived home Paul was stoked and could hardly wait to tell me about his afternoon. But it wasn’t the fence he talked about. It was the connection that he made that mattered the most to him.

“Did you know that R served in the Korean War?” my sweet Korean boy asked.

“I had no idea,” I replied.

And so Paul sat with me and excitedly told me all that R had shared with him. Things about the war, what the country of Paul’s birth looked like back then, and how his life had changed because of his service. They also talked about what boys did growing up in the 40’s, how times have become more complicated and R’s ideas about the important things in life. But most of all Paul gained a friend. A man who could teach and discuss without being parental. A person with whom Paul could relate his troubles regarding peers in school and his concerns for the world as he navigates becoming a young adult.

It’s funny how sometimes in doing things for others you gain something special and totally unexpected for yourself.  This weekend Paul learned from R the value of a friendship with someone older and wiser than himself. He learned to share problems and issues and listen to good advice in return. And more than just learning about how to paint fences he was also taught how to mend a few too.

 

 

 

 

A Grand Slam

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Marriage is like baseball. If you are lucky you get to play in a few extra innings, you make it to home plate more than you strike out and you have many winning seasons. I was reminded of this tonight when a guy showed up at our door to take out our daughter Jackie. He was wearing a baseball cap; his ears sticking out from the sides. He looked nervous, kind of like the rookie on the team, who is up to bat for the first time. And as I watched him look at my daughter I knew without a doubt that he is not “the one.” He’s a pitch hitter until she find the one who hits the grand slam. I suspect that just by looking at her face I will know “the one” when I see him.

I can only hope that our daughter picks well. That she finds a man somewhat like her dad. A kind, caring and compassionate man who puts those he loves in the forefront of his life. A husband who tries hard each and every day. A partner that is smart, funny and shares his feelings. A man that she find as hot 20 years into their marriage as the day that she met him. The kind off mate with whom “the rest of your life” truly means just that, and who, when he envisions the future sees her in every play-by-play, and in every scene. I hope she chooses a husband who dares to dream big dreams and has the tenacity to make them come true. And one that doesn’t spit. Yes, definitely one who doesn’t spit.

I hope  as the game plays out that they both understand that it isn’t the World Series events that pull you apart but the thousands of annoying pitches that you have to take day in and day out and that if you don’t have a loving and positive attitude during practice that eventually you’ll get hit by a foul ball. Anyone can survive playing in the majors but it is really how you handle the everyday minors that count. And I hope that when it is time for them to create their own team that they understand that it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it is how you play the game. For it is only with an abundance of kindness and giving more than you take that you get to walk in this life together around the bases instead of striking out early on it the game.

Copyright 2/9/16

Being A Mother Sucks…Part 2

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She didn’t like the art museum. Okay, I kind of “get” that seeing pictures of old men with shrunken penises and heads being lopped off may not be your cup of tea but what about the woolly sheep standing in a brilliant green field or the pretty cuddly kitten chasing after a butterfly. Surely out of the thousands of paintings on display you could find ONE you liked. Just ONE. NOPE.

She didn’t like our dinner. She ordered pizza…what’s not to like? It’s a dish she requests time and time again but today it was as if the waiter brought her a plate of liver and onions.

She didn’t eat much of the blueberry pancakes she ordered. What the heck…we have blueberry pancakes all the time! But with hotel prices at $12 a plate for blueberries and batter she couldn’t stand them. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!

She didn’t like the Field Museum…one of the greatest museums in the world. You mean to tell me Ancient China isn’t amazing? NO. Or the gemstones the size of small hills? NO. How about SUE the most complete T-Rex in the world? NO. Really? You didn’t like her either? BORING.IMG_4388

Maybe the Ancient Egyptians with their mummies…thank you… NO!IMG_4429

Or maybe the animals mounted and stuffed in all their glory? GROSS. There was nothing in the entire building that caught her fancy.

Okay, BOLD MOVES by the Joffrey Ballet. This one I was a little worried about. I have really never loved ballet but figure I am giving her some “culture” and if nothing else ideas for her routine. images-6 Of course, she developed a nosebleed in the first part of the performance but I’d be damned if we were leaving. Here is a kleenex. Stuff it up your nose. And so we sat through the three performances and I wept like a crazy old cat lady during the final one. Never have I seen something so beautiful and moving in my entire life. Never could I relate so well. Today I learned to LOVE ballet…my  tween daughter…not so much.

As a mom sometimes it feels like nothing you do is right.EVER. But then you finally catch on and realize it isn’t about you at all. It’s the hormones and your daughter is turning into a bitchy, selfish soon-to-be menstruating maniac and you remember back to a days when your mother could do nothing right. You didn’t like the dress she bought for you…it was too old fashioned just like her. You didn’t do the dishes and she did them for you because it was easier than dealing with the likes of you. You wouldn’t eat her pot roast and sulked like a two-year-old because there was only vanilla ice cream and not chocolate. You refused to SING ALONG WITH MITCH and instead turned up the volume on Led Zeppelin. And that is when it really hits you…horror of horrors… you realize that she has returned as you when you were a horrid cruel totally-into-yourself-snotty-14 year-old. Suddenly you have become your mom… old, boring and certainly not cool. Then, like the principle dancer who hastened her demise and threw herself upon a sword, you briefly consider doing the same, just so you can experience a quick and easy death rather than deal with a reincarnation of a teenage you in the house. That’s when you fall to your knees and wish for just one more hour with your mother so you could apologize, beg her forgiveness and tell her how great a mom she was and that you remember how hard she tried to create moments so special that you would remember them for the rest of your life but not appreciate them until your own daughter’s hormones went awry. And then you cry yet again because suddenly teenagehood is upon you and YOU aren’t ready to give up that sweet little girl that once hung on your every word, freely cuddled with you and loved you back without restraint. Yep, the teen years are upon us…God help us all!

Lhasa, Tibet-Meeting Compassion Face-On

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There are places we travel to in our mind wishing with all our might that we might one day arrive at this “in-our-dream” destination. There are spots we travel to and remember every sight, sound, smell and voice that we heard. There are places we visit that forever remain stuck in our soul try as we might to pry them out. Tibet is that place for me.

It was a hard journey. Two airplane flights totaling 18 hours and altitude sickness that brought the youngest members of our small group of seven to their knees. Luckily, being a tough old broad, I adjusted quickly except for the times I would wake up in the middle of the night feeling like there was an elephant sitting on my chest. Shivering in our freezing cold hotel room, I would quell my panic by counting sheep and meditating to slow my breathing as I tried to gulp the thin air like a person who suddenly comprehends that they are drowning at sea.

I could see my breath in my hotel room between the hours of 8 p.m.-9 a.m. which is when it finally warmed enough to remove all traces of “morning breath” haze exiting my mouth. All my past medical training threatened to overwhelm me with anxiety as I checked everyone’s nail beds for signs of cyanosis. The constant dull headaches, sinus “pops” and lack of energy taking its toll on some in the group. That is what 11,975 ft/3650 meters does to you. It makes you temporarily miserable and somewhat nuts while time slows down to a crawl as you wait for your body to acclimate. But then I visited Jokhang Temple and suddenly everything slipped into its proper perspective.

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Imagine rounding a corner and being swept away into the mass of religious pilgrims forever circling clockwise around the large outdoor square surrounding the temple. Colorful prayer wheels whirling, canes of the ancients clacking on the stone, babies crying and old men chanting as you are pulled into something deeper than yourself and what you momentarily comprehend as a “life force” which sweeps you all together for a greater purpose. Imagine the pungent smell of incense catering to believers and non-believers seeping like coal dust into your pores and pouring into your soul. And imagine in all your disbelief and mesmerization almost tripping over a pilgrim who is two years into his journey and only 1,000 ft away from his goal of achieving a better future for himself and his family; this accomplished by devoting himself and his life for those years to the Buddha. You watch as his scraped and dirty hands first clasp together at his head (to think of the teachings of the Buddha) then at his mouth (to listen to the teachings of the Buddha) then his hands moving to his heart (to feel the love and compassion of the Buddha). And then, I watch with morbid fascination as the man soars like a bound eagle just a few meager feet forward until he crashes prostrate on the ground. The only thing moving now are his charcoal black bare feet which twitch in anticipation of rising once more so that he may move ahead only as far as his body length to start the entire process over…day after day, week after week and year after year. Truly, if he can show this sort of dedication I can surely see that my slight “suffering” is nothing compared to his. Suddenly this cold ache I have been feeling since I arrived never felt quite so alive and warm.

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Dinner is yak. Yak milk tea (yuck!), yak cheese soup (double yuck!) and hot right-out-of-the-oven pastry stuffed with yak (mighty tasty). I think of the faithful outside of the temple wondering if they will have anything warm to fill their bellies tonight as they circle the temple three times to complete their journey. And I finally comprehend the importance of alms in this era of “ME, MONEY and MORE” as I think back upon the times I could have showed greater compassion. Because in the end (according to the Buddha) in order to alleviate suffering (both our own and the immense suffering within the world) compassion must be practiced. And for compassion to develop we must be willing to open our eyes.

So here I am Tibet…my eyes are open…show me what I need to see, teach me what I need to know, and let me experience those things that will shake me to the core. Thuk-je zig.

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Give Thanks

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GIVE THANKS

For my sons

And for my daughters

For my man who is

My  best lover

And for my friends

Who have taught me about myself

Even those parts I delude myself into thinking

Are good for my soul

GIVE ME APPRECIATION FOR ALL I HAVE

 

GIVE THANKS

For all the people in the world

Trying to do their best

Suceeding with what they have been given

Never giving up

Never giving in

Putting one foot in front of the other

On a journey which is so different than my own

GIVE ME UNDERSTANDING AND EMPATHY

 

GIVE THANKS

For all I have been blessed by and with

And all I have had the opportunity to discover

May I never forget

Fatima’s mother and her daily struggle, her smile

Etched in my memory

GIVE HER MUCH NEEDED BLESSINGS

 

GIVE THANKS

I have a warm belly

No bombs dropping and  causing chaos and destruction

A life free from true suffering

That so many must led

Through no fault of their own

Lives shattered by policies

Not of their making

GIVE MUCH NEEDED WISDOM TO THOSE IN CHARGE

 

GIVE THANKS

For life-giving trees

For abundant fresh water

For those remaining polar bears fast disappearing

Due to man’s negligence

A earth that supports so many

In peril and under stress

Because of wants not needs

And our throw away culture

GIVE ALL HER CITIZENS INSIGHT TO DO BETTER BY HER

 

 

 

 

 

 

Understand Rather Than Judge

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Aim To Understand Rather Than Judge…perhaps some of the most important words ever written. Unfortunately, I do not do it well.  I often leap to a conclusion rather than trying to comprehend what the actions of others really mean and in doing so, I neglect to value the humanity of the person that is standing before me.

I understand the benefits of increased comprehension. Taking the time to understand another human being’s perspective requires practicing empathy and developing an understanding of another person’s place/experiences in life. And in actively practicing understanding it forces us slow down and to face our own bias and to recognize our thinking is often fraught with flaws. But the benefits of understanding rather than judging not only benefits “the other”, it ultimately is a blessing to us too. Practicing active understanding often allows us to make better decisions for ourselves and others because we are able to look at the whole picture from a different perspective that is often disparate from our original inclinations. It forces us to slow down and consider the numerous other possibilities that may be impacting ourselves, others and our decision making processes.

Judging is easy. Most of us do it on a daily basis without much thought to how we are feeling about what we are judging and why. But understanding….that is a tough one. For to understand it means we have to stop and really listen and absorb what is being said. We have to pay attention to the subtle nuances, the body language, facial expressions, tone of voice to really get a clear picture of what someone is sharing with us.

I judge. I judge a lot. No, not about the issues that seem to take up so much of our political discussion these days. I welcome everyone to my table. But I do judge myself and my family often way too harshly. Sometimes I leap to the worst instead of believing in the best and it hurts everyone involved.

So this week, I will be conducting an experiment. I will time to make sure my interactions are long enough to ensure I have taken the time necessary to permit true understanding and I will listen without judgement. This might take me some time but…I’ve got 321 Days To Fix This…and I will.