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…

Bridges

This was written October 24, 2011. I have edited it, but the message is the same.

I work very hard at forgiving others for their actions against me. A complete forgiveness should absolve them of their negative actions, right? I start to wonder about how to move forward. If they are forgiven completely, doesn’t that mean that it is erased as if it never happened? Or does it mean that the lesson is learned and you move forward based on that life lesson?

I don’t hold grudges; they are a waste of time and energy and a thief of serenity. I am also not willing to put myself in harms way. I forgive the person who took my virginity in an agonizing act of rape…but I sure as hell never saw him again. I forgave my big brother for knocking three of my teeth loose in the seventh grade…and I learned to never make him say ‘please’ again when he asked for his stuff back.

Maybe it is just that these are lessons that shape us and our path in life. Maybe once the bridge is burned, it is possible to rebuild the bridge, but it takes a lot of hard work, and time. Once a bridge is burned you can’t immediately return to the site of the fire because of the lingering smoke and potential for flare ups. You can purchase materials for the rebuild and leave them in a safe place.

If the person on the other side does not allow you to rebuild the bridge, at least you have done everything in your power to allow for the rebuild. The other person cannot complain that he no longer has a bridge if you offered to rebuild, and bought the materials. You then can have a clear conscious moving forward. It is your job at that point to move on. If you have honestly and completely come to an understanding of why and how you burned the bridge in the first place, your job is to admit the mistake and take steps to put the bridge back where it was.

I’ve been that person on the other side and there are times when there is no way in hell that the bridge burner is stepping foot on my land. Leave the damn materials on the side of the road, if I choose to use them, I will. If not, I can’t bitch that my bridge is gone forever if the material rots on the side of the road. Whatever you do, do NOT even think about trying to build that bridge without my permission…you will be shot on site.

As the bridge burner you must also be aware that I very well may use those materials to build a wall to keep you off my property forever. That is a chance you will have to take, and a very good probability that this is exactly what I will use the materials for.

As the person whose bridge was burnt, I also need to be mindful that once the materials rot there may never be the chance to rebuild that bridge…the burner may also choose to move on.

Personally, I do my best at allowing the bridges to be rebuilt. It is not uncommon though for me to post the rules for crossing the bridge at the entrance, and this helps prevent a reoccurrence.

 

It’s Not Easy

The tough thing with any mental illness is that you (as the patient) have to make lifestyle changes much like a diabetic patient must make dietary changes. Bug needs to learn to respect her diagnosis if she is ever going to learn to respect herself. A couple very important things she needs to consider, are sleep patterns and nutritional status.

Living with depression, I have learned that no matter how much I may want to stay up all night and visit with friends and family; I need to go to bed at a decent time. I also need to make sure that I eat a well balanced diet. I’m nearly forty and don’t always do great with that one. What I do know is that when I am undernourished or malnourished I am much more vulnerable and more likely to make poor, irrational decisions.

As an alcoholic, I have learned to respect the fact that I am as little as one drink away from disaster and need to be mindful of the situations I put myself in.

Imagine if you will: I’m tired from not getting any sleep, I skip breakfast because I over slept, I am crabby because not only am I now hungry, but still tired; my heart is hurting because I think I am not strong enough to complete the task at hand, I am lonely because I miss my boys…and along comes a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Talk about a perfect storm.

People who have not been in this situation have no idea how difficult it is to be mindful and vigilant of how extremely vulnerable I am. They have no idea how difficult it is to fight the urge to give in to the wolf…(even though every fiber of my being knows better).

Nothing is worse than having to look yourself in the eye and admit that you are so vulnerable that you are not sure if you can trust yourself. I don’t look myself in the mirror anymore…I don’t like that look I give myself…I just know. I have not done anything in almost two years to give myself a reason to think I can’t trust myself…I just know I can’t take that risk.

I have guests who have become friends over the last year and a half at work. They spend more nights at my hotel than they do at home. It is only Tuesday and already I have been invited for supper twice. An electrical company (who sent me flowers last summer because they were so impressed with my customer service) and a communications company have both asked how they can repay the great service I provide their employees. I try to explain that it is merely part of my job to remember that one of the rooms prefers poolside, one prefers the back hallway downstairs, one needs to be by an outside entrance because they are a smoker, one wants to be upstairs facing the parking lot, one prefers a king sized bed, two prefer to have two beds in case their family comes to visit…little things.

Being recognized for the awesome job I do is humbling…and difficult. These people really think I have it all together; if they only knew. This is why for now, I need to keep my distance. I am fragile, I am vulnerable. Although I do not even for one second believe these supervisors and foremen are wolves, I know I can’t take that risk.

I had a group that stayed at the hotel last fall check in last night after I left for the day. Last fall they worked in the area for about 6 weeks. Of the nine person crew they had at that time, only two of the same workers are on this seven person crew.

Today, while on their break they came to the hotel just to say hi. They asked what time I wanted my Blizzard from Dairy Queen. It was an ongoing joke last year that the only way to get off my shit list if they pissed me off was to bribe me with a Turtle Blizzard…almost a year later and they remembered. I told them it was only day TWO for them…if they were already worried about Blizzards they’d best just save up their pennies and buy me diamonds (they are staying for about three months this time).

This is me, this is what I deal with. This is hard work. The Friend, her husband, and the Photographer have all said I am the best person for the job…at this time I will choose to trust them.

Bug will be home from work soon. I have made some decisions and I have no idea how she will handle them.

The first is to implement consequences of some sort. I am looking for her to have input as this will be an opportunity for me to not only gauge her willingness, but also her abilities.

The second one is that she will come home one minute early for every minute she was late last night. So her 11:00 pm curfew just became a 9:21pm curfew the next evening she chooses to go out. This will also gauge her level of commitment to this process. I do not want to make this an ongoing consequence as she needs to learn to respect the fact that I need my sleep at night. Waiting up until well past midnight for her to return home is unacceptable.

Wish me luck…I enjoy fireworks as much as the next person…just not in my living room!

Step One

This is not going to happen over night.

The first thing Miss Bug gets to do tonight after work is to come clean with all the relevant information regarding her latest boyfriend. She has told several stories to several people and I have made it clear that I don’t care what stories she tells to anybody, she needs to be honest with me.

We are also going to be going through her Facebook tonight. I made it clear that when she makes her entire life a public target people are going to take aim. Those are not the people she needs involved with her life.

I am not going so far to say she needs a complete Facebook lockdown, only that she needs to scale back the information that is available to her 711 ‘friends.’ While I would like to do a complete Facebook lock down, that is a little much at this stage. I understand that.

I am not trying to set her up to fail, I am only interested in setting her up for complete success. I received a message this morning from somebody who knows the job I have in front of me and I was told that I am the best person for the job. I love to get that pat on the back.

The Pastor from our church is doing some searching in helping to find her a mentor. I’m looking for somebody along the lines as an AA type sponsor…a Faith Mentor if you will. The more I work through the figuring out what she needs, I find it to be very much like a twelve step program at this time.

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over our problems and behaviors and that our lives had become unmanageable.

For me…the keyword in the above sentence is WERE. We WERE powerless. That still allows us to have hope that we ARE able to gain power and control. This is where I need to start with Bug. Until she understands that she WAS powerless and that it is her job to take the power back, I am fighting a losing battle.

Admitting is hard. Especially as an egotistical, narcissistic teenager. Admitting is also where the fight becomes a journey.

Last night we worked on a spending plan, a meal plan, and some house rules. These are easy on the surface, not so easy when it changes your life style.

She can do this. I know she can. I know the strength and will that lives deep within this child of mine. As I often tell people, “She is so much like her mother that it hurts.” She is also her own person. I think that will be my biggest challenge, allowing her to retain that individuality while taming the beast.

Wish me luck, pray for strength. I’m gonna need it.

Baby Jordan

Seventeen years ago today I lost my second pregnancy. Bug was 14 months old. I had been away from her extremely abusive father for a month already…I didn’t even know I was three and a half months pregnant.

I named the baby Jordan Kelly because I wanted a unisex name. Over the years Jordan has taken on a female gender. I would guess this has mostly to do with the fact that EH’s daughter’s name is Jordan. My Jordan became “Baby Jordan.”

I remember even then, although insanely sad that I had lost the baby, I was thankful that I would not have to explain to two children why their father wasn’t in their lives. I believed, even then at the very beginning when I realized I was going to give birth, that God knew what he was doing. My baby had lived exactly as long as she was meant to live…14 weeks…

The story of her birth I am not ready to share here, and very few know it…I will say it was one of the most traumatic things I’ve ever dealt with.

Tonight, I will release a balloon for her birthday…maybe I can go pick up the boys and take them to the cemetery. The other day Bubba and Bum were talking about our Angel’s birthdays and Bum said he wanted to write on a piece of paper and tie it to a balloon to send to the babies. We do that a few times a year…we write little notes, roll it up like a scroll, tie it to the ribbon of the balloon and send them to heaven. I told him Baby Jordan’s birthday was today and that we could do something together. Maybe I’ll even buy cupcakes to take out there…we can have a picnic. It’s a beautiful spot and today the weather is perfect.

I love you baby girl.

An Open Letter to My Heart

Dear Heart,

I see you struggling with so much lately. Thankfully I am able to calm you down most of the time; don’t think I don’t notice when you are overcome with grief and fear. When you are feeling alone and wondering when things will settle down, I’m right here.

I know you feel as though I’ve abandoned you when you are in those dark places. The truth is, I allow you to feel that way so you can recognize all the great things in your life. I’ve let you feel lost so that you can know when you are found.

Think about it. How else were you ever going to discover how truly amazing you are? How else were the boys going to learn the true meaning of love? Some of these things can only be learned through adversity.

You took that adversity, and you owned it. You never let it own you. You stayed strong even when you wanted to give in. You kept beating. You knew the best was yet to come. You still know that.

Just know that I’ve got your six…we’ll get through this together. Between the two of us we’ll get through this. One challenge at a time, one triumph at a time, one set back at a time.

With love,

Brain