Before the End

Part of moving on after a failed relationship is doing a thorough evaluation of the facts; a relationship autopsy if you will. I had done this already to a certain extent. I have decided to go over my previous postmortem which was likely done while still angry and in denial.

I think I am ready too move on, I feel better equipped at this point to ask myself the hard questions.

One of the first questions I asked myself is whether or not I would have married the ex if I could go back and start over.

Even if I didn’t know how this would end, I wouldn’t. It was claret to me early on that there were issues that may be insurmountable.

I even wondered aloud to the pastor we saw for premarital counseling if we were only getting married because we were too afraid of being alone. I felt like he blew those fears off.

We were first supposed to get married in Sept 1999. The invitations had been ordered and were sitting in a box in my living room.

In May, my daughter and I were visiting him for her birthday. It was then that he told me he didn’t want anymore children.

We had long before had this discussion because I knew that was a deal breaker for me. I wanted more children and if he didn’t then he was not my soul mate. For him to spring this on me four months before our wedding date was difficult. We called off the wedding and ended the relationship.

As he and my daughter had a close bond, and he was the only dad she knew, I allowed him to stay in contact with her. They talked a couple times a week through the summer and she even went to stay with him for a couple weeks, she was four.

That August, I received notice from a college I had applied to that I was being offered a seat in a class I had originally been told had a two year waiting list. The catch? I had to be moved, 500 miles and find housing, daycare, etc within 13 days.

On our first night in the new apartment, he drove up to see us. Looking back now, I know the only reason I allowed him in the door that night was because I was alone, in a big city, and nervous as heck. That Christmas we announced to my family that we were, once again planning on getting married.

He vowed that yes, he did want more children, and if that was the only thing keeping us from happily ever after it was a non-issue. we decided to wait a couple years and get our feet under us as a married couple and a blended family.

Fast forward to just after our second anniversary and I was ready to start trying to have our first baby. It was at this time he decided to tell me that he had changed his mind and that no, he would NOT be having anymore children. Not with me, or anybody. He scheduled an appointment for a vasectomy consult and invited me to attend it with him. The doctor asked me if I wanted to hear the risk/benefits over female sterilization and I calmly, with tears in my eyes, told him no, I didn’t care for either option. The doc looked at him and asked if he was prepared for a divorce. He said, “Well, that’s where I see this going anyway.” The doctor told him to come back when it was final, and walked out of the room.

It was at this time that I knew divorce was inevitable. I wish I had gone through with it then, but I had a few more lessons to learn, apparently. I planned to have all our bills paid off so we could both walk away with a clean slate and knew it would take about a year.

I no longer was in love with my husband. I was no longer married in my eyes. I couldn’t stand to hardly look at him when he was home and thankfully he worked away from home most of that winter. I rarely answered his phone calls and went to work getting things paid off. When he would come home, I was cold, uncaring, and made it clear that this was HIS decision.

I had made it more than clear that I wanted more children, I was not giving that up for anybody. I had already moved 600 miles from my family, friends, and lifestyle to marry him, at least he could give me this one gift.

Then I became pregnant with Sam. Although he tried to be diligent about birth control methods, there were times he was not.

His first question to me when I told him I was pregnant was, “Is it even mine?” Now, I have two sisters and four brothers, played all kinds of sports growing up, drank and got rowdy in my ‘younger’ years…I don’t think I have ever slapped anybody as hard as I slapped him, right there in the parking lot of our workplace. Looking back, it’s the one time I wish I would have punched him…and probably would have knocked him out, and it would have been well worth it. I can’t deny I had a pretty violent streak in my younger days. I didn’t get in a lot of fights, and never anything that led to serious harm…but I did have a great swing…

I should have taken him at his word the first time he told me he didn’t want kids. I think he changed his mind only because he didn’t want to be single. I think he figured that once we were together, I would never just ‘fall in line. Apparently he didn’t understand the word deal breaker…

Well, now here I was pregnant and we now had no option but to make this thing work. We raced in to marriage counseling, had a plan in place, and were ready to tackle our issues head on. We got rid of the kids for the weekend and spent the entire time working through and discussing our issues. We came out of that weekend with a renewed commitment, a new start, a fresh love.

On Tuesday morning Sam died.

We saw this as a sign that we really were in love and that the pregnancy and subsequent loss was just a note from God telling us to get our shit together. I wonder now if losing Sam was God’s way of telling me it was not too late to get out; that he was not the right man for me…

Battle Buddy

Fortunately (or unfortunately) I have a new battle buddy. Fortunately because we each have many similarities in our situations, unfortunately though because there are four more children who are now faced with an unbelievable situation. I met him about a year ago while he was doing some renovation work at the hotel where I worked. Just casual acquaintances at best. Friends enough to greet each other in public and remember each others names and talk about our kids, but not hang-out type friends.

There was always a friendly amount of flirting with him when he was at the job (which wasn’t often). He was safe to flirt with…he was married, had been with his wife for 20 years, had four children with her, I didn’t mind stroking his ego, he is one of those soft spoken guys who obviously had no clue just how much people liked him. He is a rare breed for sure; a man immersed in the lives of his children, always working to making his marriage as good as it could be, even in difficult times, and always professional.

While at church last weekend I saw him and greeted him. One of the women from the bible study group I attended came up behind me and asked, “And how do you know him?” I jokingly told her I had tried picking him up at a hotel one time until I found out he was married. “For another eight days” he mumbled. I apologized for putting my foot in my mouth and said I had no idea he was getting a divorce. Well, apparently he didn’t either until about six weeks ago. Turns out the bible study friend is his mother! lol Small world ain’t it??

At one point during the bible study discussion a few weeks ago as we talked of forgiveness and letting go and learning to be positive the mom had looked at me and said, “Hmmm, you should talk to my son.”

So then I said, “Is THIS the son I am supposed to talk with?” Sure enough…what are the odds? So he and I updated each other on our respective situations and it was easy to see the hurt and shock still in his eyes. At the end of the conversation we parted ways and I didn’t give it a second thought when his mother asked for my phone number (we are in bible study together, remember).

Later than day I told the Lunch Lady about the conversation (he and her also have two children the same age so they are in the same circles at school). His situation is heartbreaking. He realized the marriage had changed in late summer and took the initiative to get he and his wife in to counseling. On the third visit she announced to him that she wanted a divorce and that she was two months pregnant by another man with whom she’d been seeing for over a year. She then moved out of the family home, has rarely seen her children since moving out and the divorce will be final next week. Three months ago things were fine…now he is a single father with four children. Quite the blow. She gave him custody of the kids, the house, and just walked out on their life, their family.

Later on Sunday I received a text message, “Are you sleeping?” from a strange number. I asked who it was and it was him, he needed to talk and his mom had given my number…I am so naive! We talked for a while about his situation and dealing with feelings and children, and the roller coaster his brain and heart are riding. Being a few steps ahead of him as far as the emotional processing of every thing it was easy to give him honest feedback and a few insider things to be aware of with the kids and each of their developmental stages. He was receptive of the information and sounded grateful to have a battle buddy. I told him that I don’t know his wife, have never met her, and will never judge her (or him) for the choices they make. I would be a neutral party to bounce ideas off and if he needed to vent he now knew how to get a hold of me. I told him to also run it through his brain the ‘what if’ scenarios if she decides to try to reconcile. I don’t think anybody had approached that possibility with him, but I could tell he was thinking it. I said there is always hope for reconciliation until one of them is six feet under. Almost funny coming from me.

The next day his mom and I had a lunch date and we talked about my situation and how she hopes he will return to church on a more regular basis as he works through this situation. I said I can be his friend, and a sounding board and hopefully a support as far as church goes.

I have to admit, the similarities of our situations makes our conversations easy. Today after I took the boys to school we talked about when I found out I had to move out of the house and the blow that was to my heart and ego. I rarely hurt when I talk of it, but talking to him about it, it was no longer as matter of fact as I make it sound. For him to openly acknowledge the hurt and agony I felt without attempting to sugar coat, side step, or justify the situation was agonizing and comforting at the same time. We are Battle Buddies, fighting the same war in our hearts and brains. With time I am hoping that sharing our individual grief journeys will strengthen us for ourselves, our children, and our partners.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to hope that even one person would find out they are not alone in their journey. I never expected somebody to return the favor. Always the helper, never the helpee…it’s how I try to portray myself. Never allowing my weakness to be revealed anywhere other than maybe here where I can pretend nobody reads it and confident that even if they do they will be much too uncomfortable to bring it up in person…people tend to not enjoy tough talks.

Welcome to my Battle Buddy…and thank you for the gift you have given me, the gift of friendship.

Can You Feel It?

My boys are the most compassionate children I have ever met. They are eager to serve others and to show people love.

This last weekend the boys were talking about a trip they are going on with their dad’s family. Bubba still hasn’t figured out why or how I am ‘kicked out of the family’ if I still have the same last name. He sees no reason why I shouldn’t be going on this trip with them because I am still his and Bum’s family and it’s been sold to them as a family trip. I explained that their family is different now than it did before.

Now, it’s like he is blessed with two families. Sometimes he will do something with Dad’s side of the family that won’t include Mom, and other times he will do things with my side of the family that won’t include Dad.

Earlier in the weekend Bum was telling me about the trip and he said, “Mom, did you know the babies are coming with us too?” I asked what he meant and he told me, “You know, all our angels, they are coming with us too.” Apparently he had asked his dad if they were going to be going with them and was told that yes, the babies are always with us wherever we go and they will be on their trip as well.

When I was in class with Bubba I was introduced to the little girl beside him. She is new to his school and I asked where she came from. She told me and then said, “But something bad happened.” The look of devastation in her eyes was striking.

A little while later she asked Bubba where he lived (she lives in the country). He told her, I live in town and I live at my mom’s house when it’s her turn. I explained, “Bubba’s mom and dad are getting a divorce…”

Her eyes got big and she whispered, “That’s exactly the same thing that happened…” I said well, then you and Bubba have somebody you each can talk to about it. Bubba turned to her and told her that they could talk in class or that they could go sit somewhere at recess and just talk privately and that if she ever needed to talk she could come to him.

The love, the compassion, the desire to help and serve…that’s my boys. I am honored that God choose me to be their mom.

Lord, continue to give my children the compassion and strength to reach out to others even while their hearts are aching.

 

What I Need

When people find out I am getting divorced I get the normal sympathies. When they find out my boys are living with their dad, they often are overcome with shock and wonder. I get everything from ‘how did that happen’ which my brain translates into “what kind of mother looses her kids” to “OMG, how are you doing?”

I’m fine…I’m one of the lucky ones. Yes, I’m very lucky. I know my boys are only 20 miles away. I know my boys are healthy, I know my boys love their dad, I know that their dad loves them, I know that the boys and I love each other.

I spent enough time beating myself up when the judge granted him temporary custody in March. I don’t have a need to continue that. I don’t need to be depressed because my boys are at their other home.

In some ways…and I mean this as no offence to parents who have lost a child, I am only trying to put a face on it for others who may not understand. In some ways it is like the first time you laugh after the death of a loved one…you catch yourself, you beat yourself up. How dare you move on, how dare my body betray me by allowing me to feel joy and happiness. I am supposed to be drowning in depression. I did that. My first weeks without the boys were absolute hell. I missed them, my heart ached, my body screamed for them in my arms.

Then I took a breath. I knew that if I was going to be able to enjoy what limited time we do have together I was going to have to learn to enjoy life without them as well. When you live in misery, you cannot just turn it off at 6pm every other Friday…it follows you, it embraces you, it drowns you.

I couldn’t focus on the look on Bubba’s face when he realized I couldn’t tell him when I would see him again the day I moved out. I couldn’t focus on Bum calling me two days later telling me he wanted things “back in order.”

What I could focus on were the positive things. The fact that this is a huge learning experience for all of us. Bubba and Bum are great kids. They needed the mom who had been lost for a long time in a miserable marriage. They needed the awesome mom that Bug and my step kids experienced when they were younger. The fun mom, the playful mom, the mom who runs through the sprinkler with them, plays Frisbee, teaches them to cook, digs for worms, and plants flowers. The mom who isn’t afraid to shout, “WE DON’T SHOOT UNARMED PEOPLE IN OUR FAMILY” out the front door not caring what the neighbors think (a rule with water guns and Nerf guns…it’s only fair).

Over the last couple of months, I’ve found that mom. I wish we had a sprinkler at our apartment but we make due. We enjoy (almost) every minute we have together…c’mon, they are real live boys they still get in trouble some times.

There are still times when I am overcome with a loneliness I cannot explain, the physical ache of my empty arms…but for the most part I am okay.

What I don’t need is people trying to tell me ‘dirt’ on their father. I don’t need people to try and tell me how the kids act or look when they see them with their other parent. That is his time. I know we don’t always look like the Cleaver family either, nor would I want to.

I need people to understand that the boys’ father’s personal life is just that…HIS personal life. It is no longer mine. Just as I don’t wish for people to ‘report to him’ on my comings and goings, I really have no desire to hear about his.

Yes we are still in the middle of an extremely nasty, dirty, mean divorce…why try to add fuel to the fire. It is the hands of the courts at this time. If you want to help, pray for the judge who is charged with determining the lives of two very unique children he has never met.

If you see my kids and they are with their other parent, please PLEASE treat them the same as you would if they were with me. Acknowledge them, hug them, talk to them…if you joke around with them when they are with me, continue that. You don’t have to like their father to love my kids, you don’t even have to like me. Nothing hurts more than your child wondering why they are invisible all of a sudden to certain people.

As the divorce is not yet final, we are still finding our new normal…we don’t even know what that might look like at this time. We are loving each other, we are loving other people, we are loving ourselves.

The Story of Sam

Friday, August 1, 2003 I found out I was pregnant. First person to know was my shrink…I was crying; maybe it wasn’t true, maybe the test was a false-positive…I couldn’t be pregnant. I had spent the last 8 months planning my divorce! I ‘knew’ that as soon as our bills were paid off, I was leaving. There was no way my marriage was going to work.

There it was though, in my hand, a positive pregnancy test.

EH and I both knew the marriage was over. He had significantly changed the ‘rules’ without any care about what it would do to our marriage and the three children we brought into our marriage (his two from his first marriage, and my Bug).

Well, over the course of the weekend we knew we had no choice but to make this work. We now had a baby coming.

Monday night I couldn’t sleep. I don’t know why. All my babies had nicknames while they were in-utero and I knew I would not sleep until I came up with a name for our new baby. We talked about nursery themes, plans for telling the kids, dreams, fixing our broken marriage.

Baby Looney Toons was chosen for a nursery room theme. We then decided that Yosemite Sam was going to be who we named our baby after until it was born. This was about 4:00 in the morning when we both finally fell asleep. I was at peace, my baby had a name; welcome Sam.

At work the next morning, I was there less than an hour and noticed some spotting. I called EH (we worked at the same place) and we went to the ER. My doctor was just coming in for the day so he saw me in the ER. I was given a speculum exam and was told that it was minimal spotting, the cervical os was still closed, and spotting in early pregnancy is common. He told me to go home and rest for the day and resume my normal activities the next day. I went home and crawled into bed…woo hoo…nap time!!

A lifetime later, Sam’s lifetime…I woke up from my nap. In a pool of blood and my baby. I called the doctor, told the nurse what happened and was told to bring in what I passed. I did as I was told…my child, my baby…in a Rubbermaid food storage container.

The lab report came back a few weeks later…products of conception…I hate that label, spontaneous abortion; I hate that one too. No cause, no reason…no answers.

I’m sorry Sam. If love could have saved you…I’m so sorry.

An Open Letter to My Daughter

I don’t even know how to explain this one…not here, in words; not to my heart. It’s just not an option.

Oh hell my heart…

Dear Miss Bug,

If I didn’t believe in my heart of hearts that you are going to be okay, eventually…this would kill me. You are young. You can get through this…you WILL get through this.

PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder; they are mere labels placed upon you to enable the medical community to care best for you. They do NOT define you. YOU are a smart young woman.

Please allow those around you to support your good decisions and to question your questionable ones. That’s our job. Do not push away those who care. The negative ones who cause or feed drama just to watch the aftermath; ignore them. They are not worth your time, your energy, your sanity, your inner peace.

Understand that the rules in place now that I am enforcing are MUCH harder to enforce than I make it look. While I tell you that you cannot stay with me, it is with a heavy heart. My heart aches to watch you walk the path you are on.

I know how you feel kid…twenty years ago, I was you. I was in almost the exact same shoes. The difference is, I allowed myself to make decisions out of desperation and fear.

You deserve better. Do not allow fear to prevent you from doing what you know is right. Being alone sucks, being with somebody who leaves you lonely…even worse.

Stand up to your fears…what is the WORST case scenario…seriously. Figure those things out. Figure them out on your terms.

I love you more than Nutella, Skittles, playoff hockey, and Little Debbie Swiss Rolls combined…seriously.

As I told you in the message I sent you last night, “I do love you Miss B and that will never change. I’ve been where you are. SLOW DOWN. I know, easier said than done when you are hurting and lonely and only want somebody to love you…that is not love though. You need to love God first and then yourself. You need to turn your will and your life over to the care and control of God and trust that He knows what He is doing.”

Spend your time in prayer little girl. Study the Bible, allow it to bring you peace. If you need guidance finding scriptures that fit your situation call Pastor Jeff. Call your photographer (she’s awesome at this kind of thing). Pray for peace, courage, and wisdom.

TAKE NOTES. When you find a piece of scripture that speaks to your heart, write it down. Carry it with you, in your phone, your iPod, your damn pocket on a napkin of Bubba and Bum’s snot if you have to.

Spend time in thoughtful prayer. Pray for yourself, for your family, for your friends, for your enemies. Your brothers both love it when people encourage their faith; pray with them. Teach them how to talk to God, how to walk with God.

FORGIVE those who have hurt you. Holding on to the pain is not hurting them, it is only holding you back, weighing you down. Remember, when you choose to forgive you are not granting them freedom, you are reclaiming yours.

Never forget that you are worth the effort people put in to helping you to live a happy and full life. You are young. If people are willing to put the effort out, ALLOW THEM. Do not push away those are trying to and can help. Although the easy path is filled with people who are more than willing to lead you astray, don’t take the short cut. Trust me, it’s not worth it.

You’ve seen the hard work that goes in to walking the high road…guess what, the scenery over here is amazing. The sites, the sounds, the experiences; you cannot get this on Easy Street.

Lean on me, my girl. That’s what my shoulders are here for. I’m a big girl, I can take it. I can also hold you accountable…and will continue to do so; and will do it out of love.

Take Care Miss Bug, I’m right here.

Love,

Mom

…Shattered…

…and just like that my heart hurts…

This one isn’t about my boys though. I think I hurt Sparky’s feelings. I dunno for sure though because after a long shift at work he was going to bed.

I got a letter from my lawyer today with a settlement ‘offer’ from EH. He’s ‘offering’ him to have custody with me having every other weekend and him to have custody during the school year and me to have them all summer with him having them every other weekend at that point. He sees this as a ‘concession’ because he was granted temporary custody without a set visitation schedule.

After reading it…and without even having time to think about it, I told Sparky that if he gets full custody of the boys I saw that as the end to our future. His response was “I didn’t think the drive was that big of a deal but apparently it is.” ugh

I just said that I cannot live that far away from my boys and there is no way every other weekend seeing each other is enough…”well, I guess you already decided then, I’m going to bed, good night.”

click

fuck.me.

I think I hurt his feelings, and now I feel like shit.

Sorry Sparky…I am just so damned scared of losing my boys. I just can’t even fathom life without them. I know you understand that. I also know you do everything in your power to reassure me that everything is going to work out okay. I’m not half as confident as you when it comes to this, I’m the only shot these boys have…and I’m scared.