Category: Addiction

Where Can I Find A Little Peace And Is There Room For It In The Budget

 

black-fridayOnly 17 days until Black Friday, the countdown has begun. There were years when my children were growing up that I had all the gifts purchased, wrapped, and hidden long before this enticing annual event. All it took was a trip to Toys “R” Us filling up back of the old Volvo wagon with the items on their lists, done.

Although it didn’t seem easy at the time, I had the time, energy and budget back then. Time only proved, that while the gifts got physically smaller, the price tags got much bigger. The boys got older, technology got newer, and gift-giving got harder.

vintage-christmasBut no matter our circumstances, my children have wanted for nothing really, despite my incessant frugality. To this very day I still prefer scoring the absolute best bargain on anything from clothing to food to holiday gifts. I’m far from extravagant but always provide a suitable stash for my kids.

This year though, we’re in a bit of a bind. We’ve had to shoulder some hefty unexpected expenses for the boys that required our hard-earned holiday stash. It’s no secret that our lives drastically changed after Mr. Ex revealed his gambling addiction, we ended up nearly homeless with empty bank accounts, retirement and college funds. That was 10 years ago, and he is happily recovered.

But unfortunately the boys and I have been unable to recover from his losses, even to this day. What they say about the lasting domino effect of someone’s addiction is completely true. So when things come up, like college tuition or emergency car repairs, we find ourselves hard-pressed. Sadly Mr. Ex says he can’t assist, so unless I find a way, my boys are on their own.

behaviorNot whining, I totally have their backs. Except, as the most wonderful (and most expensive) time of the year approaches, I am worried about how to manage. Like Charles Dickens writes in A Christmas Carol, it’s not about the gifts. But do kids really buy into that? Will they feel happy waking up on Christmas to a tree with no gifts underneath? Sure it’s about feeling the love – of family, of the season, of life. But how will it really feel this year when our small gift budget went to their emergency expenses instead? Let’s be real, they will be disappointed, and I will feel pretty bad.

Mr. Ex says he is at peace. That’s great, we all could use some peace.

Peace is an interesting concept. It’s easy to imagine, it’s highly desirable and naturally sought-after. We hear about it, read about it, sing about it, talk about it, and we’re even told it’s already there inside, so why, for some of us, is it so hard to really feel?

This is what I want to give my children this year – the feeling of peace – which could possibly be the best gift I could ever give them. First though, I have to believe it’s possible. In order to receive we have to believe, right? Just like in the beautiful story The Polar Express, believing is seeing…and feeling.

It is a special season, full of miracles and magic – and if we believe hard enough – even peace. Beginning of course on Black Friday.

tom-hanks

believe-gold

 

Don’t Take Everything Personally, It’s Not Always Ours To Take

I try with all my heart to be the best human I can be, but every time I turn around somebody’s nose is out of joint about something.

rise above itFor a while I thought it was me – a kindergartner in human interaction so beat up by my extended family’s personal issues, addictions, perceptions, entitlements, needs and self-gratifications – that basically I never moved myself out of a wounded child frame of mind, and therefore could never be me. The now grown up, knowledgeable, adept and internally powerful me.

A big part of the problem is that for years, maybe forever, I tried to meet other people’s needs, not hurt their psyches or try to fix whatever calamity was at my feet because of their own actions and subsequent reactions. That was a skill learned in childhood. But along the way I somehow also learned to take other people’s personal issues personally.

Why? Because for whatever reason, I inadvertently said or did something that caused people to feel triggered about whatever was going on inside of them – conscious or even unconscious, and they got bent out of shape. It took me a while to realize this, but it’s starting to finally make sense.

difficult people

For example, my ex-husband’s nose seems frequently out of joint when we don’t agree about money or support related to our kids. His former gambling addiction really gets in the way. This is about our personal inner landscapes – he only sees from his frame of reference. So whenever things come up around money, he gets quite upset. He denies it but the kids and I see it – from our frame of reference.

There are several in my orbit who make me feel like something is my fault when it’s totally not. Key words: make me feel. I internalize other people’s problems, and oftentimes just by default because we are personally connected.

A mentor and one of my greatest teachers recently pointed this out to me. It was after a social media post she wrote about her own latest life lessons. Besides the fact it’s helpful to watch someone who is exceptionally wise successfully navigate through her own personal challenges, I somehow felt partially responsible for her struggle.

She assured me I’m not, and explained that internalizing means we take things on that aren’t even about us, and apply them to ourselves as if we participated, or are somehow part of that story. We inadvertently make it about us, even when it’s not. I must have learned to internalize somewhere along the way.

I’ll note that in some instances, it’s hard to not do that when we live surrounded by people who blame. That’s a whole other issue. Some people simply refuse – and I’ll go a step farther even to say don’t recognize – their own role and responsibility in relationships. So when they incessantly blame us it becomes easy to internalize unless we have developed the skill of discerning what’s their part and and what’s ours. I’m still learning.

But it doesn’t feel good to internalize or take responsibility for other people’s stuff, really they can have it. When their nose gets out of joint, I’m sorry, but my internal door is now closed. I’m finally taking care of me…that’s the best that I can be.

dysfunction bridge

 

Backing Off An Idle Fire Is The Best Choice For Moving Forward

You know you’re over the trauma and drama of your former marriage and life when you call your ex-husband to pick up your current husband who is stranded at a train station in another state and needs a ride home.

After a 15-hour day away and still two hours from home, Sir Husband called me from his comfy business-class seat on the commuter train to say the train had stopped. A brush fire too close to the tracks caused them to turn around and go back to a safer spot, which was fairly far from Sir Husband’s destination.

After nearly an hour of unknown resolution at a random station, I had to do some quick thinking to get my man back home. I was already in my pajamas after two hefty glasses of wine, so driving to get him was not particularly prudent. Mr. Ex was less than an hour away from where Sir Husband was, and was headed to our house the next morning at sunrise to pick up our son for plans they had that day. Seeing as how it was time for bed anyway, I asked Mr. Ex if he would pick up Sir Husband then crash on our couch, which would technically benefit everyone in the bigger picture.

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Mr. Ex didn’t bat an eye, jumped in the car, and headed to the station. Sir Husband sucked it up and agreed to the plan. I made the couch into a bed, prepped the coffee pot for breakfast, and turned on the front porch light. Tick tock…tick tock…they arrived no worse for the wear.

We all get along, although I get eye rolls from some close to my past who remember the train wreck of my life with Mr. Ex. Sir Husband in particular, still sees the man who hurt his wife, and works hard to look beyond. I get that, a lot of damage was done in my former marriage, and can sometimes feel irreparable.

I’m not sure people really “get over” the horrible pains from their past, but come to accept them, learn to live with them as part of their history, and move forward from them. Skeletons in the closet is a legitimate concept, and occasionally they may come out and whack us with their bones. But at this particular time, none of that mattered. We don’t have the energy or desire to focus on it anymore…or perhaps my trauma-based amnesia actually does some good.

Do people really change? Maybe, maybe not. But if they change enough so that interaction is tolerable or do-able, then so-be it. I have to say I have seen Mr. Ex come full circle. From his adolescent roots through years of nasty addiction, abusiveness, recovery, and now a complacent calm with his own new Mrs., she’s done wonders for the man I think, a much more compatible mate.

As I stood in the hallway before heading up to bed, I saw Mr. Ex out of my right eye in our living room, and Sir Husband out of my left eye in our dining room, and I was overcome with the strangest immense feeling of love for Sir Husband. After a soulful union late in the making, it was overwhelmingly clear that life was now as it should be.

If I had only listened to my then-best-friend-now-husband when we were 20…stopped my train and turned around. It only took three decades, but I made it through the fire.

 

rearranged

The Past Just Sometimes Hangs On

For a week we watched hearty men bundled up in winter work clothes take snow off of our neighbor’s roof and put a new roof on. Who does that in the winter, and amidst a few snow squalls.

The worst things seem to happen at the worst times, even when you know they’re coming. That roof has been disintegrating for two years. Every day more shingles fell off, exposing the 20-year-old worn structure underneath. If that were my roof I would be worried sick, and try to fix it fast.

It’s not a mystery that people hold on to things until the last dying gasp. Sometimes it’s a tattered, old shirt, sometimes it’s an unhealthy relationship, sometimes even a roof. It’s for reasons beyond the known, that we tend to hang on to the death – letting go can be quite hard.

But what about when what we’re hanging onto isn’t tangible, and we can’t just throw it away. What if it’s microcosms of invisible history that’s settled in our cells, altering our chemistry and even DNA. We don’t really want to hang onto them, but short of not being alive, these imprints are always there.

Sir Husband and I were in a favorite lunch spot, where Euro-style bakery meets New England cafe. Happy as a clam, I was enjoying a lovely lobster sandwich on this rare opportunity outing for the two of us. We had just dropped off my boy with his father, so we were celebrating the beginning of an empty-nest few days.

Then I received a text from my child, telling me that his dad had just unrolled a thousand dollars cash at a store where they were shopping. Without words I held the phone up to show Sir Husband the text. Sure, it was the dollar sign that took me back, Mr. Ex secretly gambled the children’s and my former lives away and broke more than just our bank. Being on the receiving end of someone else’s torment doesn’t always leave us, no matter how hard we try to let go.

I excused myself from the table and went to the ladies room. A BeeGees song was piping in, one I didn’t recall but knew. The Bee Gees are a Mr. Ex favorite, it was if the music was cued. I tried to stop the rush of my cells just popping alive. Can I really help this upset I wondered, in spite of his refusal to pay us back, I have moved on. But the rush of painful happenings just sprung right back to life, triggered and unresolved. Time, health and money are mysterious things, and when they’re taken it’s hard to forget.

I looked in the mirror and watched the tears stream down my face. I don’t want to live with this imprint anymore but it’s part of who I am. We can’t just erase our life in the face of who we are because of it – or the people who helped form it.

So I pulled myself together and got on with my day. Some stuff simply hangs on and maybe can’t be fixed at this exact moment in time. When the shingles fall, sometimes there’s nothing we can do except notice, and trust that we are just fine.

cat roof

Beyond First Glance

Although I have zero experience reporting the kind of news that “real” print news reporters write, there are times when I will am afforded the opportunity to write magazine feature stories about real people doing the kind of work that goes deep and touches people way beyond the surface.

Just so happens I am working on a full-length centerpiece article about a woman who is retiring from her role as the director of a homeless shelter for the last 25 years in New York. These are the features I love to write – stories about overcoming challenges, about courage and heartbreak, perseverance and selflessness, nitty gritty dirty beautiful stories.

Perhaps I can relate, but I know when I feel it to my bones. This one especially matters to me because I have a strong pull toward homelessness, and I don’t mean being homeless. I have however, been close. But I grit my teeth and did what it took to keep myself and my three boys out of a shelter.  That’s what happens when you live with a white-collar addict, you see. The shinier version of abuse happens behind closed doors, but to the rest of the world you have it made. So when people found out what was really going on from the telltale signs, I lied. I told them I was fine, we were fine. Because I knew that if I didn’t, they would have taken my kids and me to a safe house. And I wasn’t going there. They tried, they even sent child protective services to the door to do an investigation around the father’s behavior, but I worked hard to protect my family. That is as close as I ever want to be to homeless again.

But that is not what draws me to the plight of homelessness. I don’t really know what it is, it’s just a pull, a calling, a deep-gut intuitive tap tap tap. As I explore it, I think the Universe is helping me along by sending me a story to write about a woman who runs a shelter. She was called too, and began by serving meals as a volunteer every week. She was a dental secretary by day, and a volunteer at the shelter by night. She asked if they had any job openings, and became their administrative assistant. Two years later she ran the house that sleeps and feeds the homeless in the area. Now, 25 years later, she’s written a book filled with the stories of the shelter’s guests through the years. She filled hundreds of notebooks, because she says, “When you walk down the street and see someone who’s homeless, you know that’s a life, they have a story.”

Here is a story she told me.

Allie had AIDS. She also had a drug problem, and supported herself through prostitution. She lived a lifestyle and paid the consequences at a young age. She found her way to our house [shelter] and when her illness began taking over, she came by and wanted to talk. So we went sat on the steps, I always sit with people on the steps, it’s less intimidating. 

She said her last tests weren’t good, and told me, “I don’t want to die, I haven’t done anything. I wanted to get married, I wanted a fairy tale wedding.” She was in love with another resident, Brett, and he came over and sat with us on the stairs. And we planned a wedding.

We had it right at the house. All of the volunteers came together, we got her a dress at a second-hand store, we did her hair, we had a buffet reception for all of the residents, we even wrapped little candy kisses in netting for everyone. It was just wonderful.

Then two years later when the disease really kicked in, I arranged for her to go to a neighborhood hospice. I went to see her every day. One day her room was full of volunteers, and one by one everybody went out when they were done visiting, and it was just me, Allie, and the medical resident. Her whole aura changed. She sat up in bed, her eyes wide open, and she looked into the corner of the room. Then she laid down and died right then while holding my hand. It was my birthday. 

It was like a gift, I can’t describe it. It was the culmination of every moment I had spent with her. Death is a very holy moment, just like birth. They asked me if I wanted to stay while they prepared her body for the undertaker. It was beautiful. Gentle. Loving. I sat there and took it all in. It was one of the most meaningful experiences that I have had my entire life. It was a sacred time. And I honor her on my birthday every year. 

We are all so connected in this life that all you have to do is sit down and talk to somebody and you will find some connection. It could be small, it could be overwhelmingly big. We need to just look at people individually and know there’s a story behind everybody. When it’s told, it opens up a window to their life. 

So there you have it. There’s a story behind everybody. Nitty gritty dirty beautiful stories.

The Journey of the Glass

It took some motivation for me to share the eager enthusiasm Sir Husband had to load up our bikes, hop on the ferry, and ride around the island that sits just a few miles off of the coast. While most people would love to do that – and don’t get me wrong, I love to do that – I wasn’t up for the ordeal on this particular day.

Pack the backpacks, slather on the sunscreen, take the wheels off the bikes, secure everything on top of the Jeep…park in the lot several blocks from the ferry, get the bikes off the car, put on the wheels, gear up, ride to the ferry…undo gear, wait for the ferry, load bikes on the boat, unload from the boat, gear up… you get the idea.

For the first time in a long time Sir Husband had the whole weekend off, which is so rare that I was happy to do it, it just took some effort. It felt challenging, and I’m trying to take a break from challenges.

But of course I got a second wind of sorts while sitting on the ferry, nothing beats a boat ride on the ocean on a perfect day. When we got to the island we decided to ride to a quiet little beach where treasure is plentiful – deep blue shells, tiny opal-colored sparkling rocks, soft beige sand, and of course my favorite – sea glass.

We left our bicycles in the grass and strolled along the water’s edge for all of two minutes when my phone rang, it was my son at college. He rarely calls.

Hi mom. I’m on my break at work so I’m calling.

“What’s wrong?”  I could hear it in his voice.

I’m exhausted. I’m stressed. I’m not going to lie, working three jobs while trying to live at college is really hard and I’m only a few weeks in. 

Like many, my son has to work to pay for college. But he has to work a lot because the money that was saved to help with his education was unfortunately lost at a poker table when his father thought that was the best use of the money. And my son is on his own beyond the small amount I can contribute.

So the boy works extraordinarily hard.

We kept walking along the beach while I talked with my son, stopping every few steps to look closely for treasure. A tiny piece of deep green glass popped out of the sand as the tide brought in a calm ripple of water.

“I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to ever feel better about the ramifications from your father’s actions. It breaks my heart and all we can really do is try to get through one day at a time.”

I know, I just don’t know how long I can do it, keep up this pace Mom.

He didn’t call to ask me to fix it, he called because he needed me to listen to him. No one else could really understand the impact of the other parent’s addiction.

“I hear you and I want to fix this. But I don’t know how yet. I do however have a deep belief that you will have the money to pay for school. I don’t know where it will come from or how, but I strongly believe you will have some relief from all of this at some point.”

I don’t know why I said that, it just came out of my mouth as if I knew something, although I don’t know what.

Oh my gosh! Turquoise blue! I crouched down and ever so carefully picked up the pea-sized piece of stunning broken glass, its edges as smooth as silk. Blue sea glass is special, rare, a gift.

“I’m proud of you, so proud of you. I know I say it a lot, but I am.”

Thanks Mom. My break is over. Love you.  

I love my son being communicative about his plight. But it’s hard to get a call like that, it’s hard to hear. In fact it made me feel a bit sick. I did everything I could throughout the boys’ lives to ensure that they would be financially secure and now none of us are.

We all have our challenges, whatever those are. And this is my son’s path, his challenge. Pressure, stress, money, his father’s gambling addiction is my son’s cross to bear.

We walked nearly a mile while talking to my son, and our little ziplock bag filled with seasoned broken glass, some pieces clear, some opaque, each unique in shape and size, color, even thickness. Each little piece has journeyed from somewhere, tumbled in the sea for years, maybe decades, to finally wash up on shore in its own perfect formation to be overlooked, or washed back out to sea, or collected and cherished.

As the sun moved quickly toward dusk, it was time to bike back to the ferry and head home. The boat ride was different this time, I wasn’t really up for the ordeal.

I got a text from my son later, it was a picture of the message in the fortune cookie from his Chinese food dinner.

An unexpected event will bring you riches.

Hope can be found everywhere, it’s the journey we must trust.

Poor Little Rich Girl

“Poor little rich girl!” my mother said to me the other day. It was in jest, we were talking about the gap between my princess-type personality and my income. I’m not going to lie, it’s difficult to grow up a certain way and be afforded certain privileges and not even realize it, and then not have that same type of bank account in adulthood.

That is just the thing. I never knew that my family was in the upper middle class. No, not the elite, not extreme wealth, but enough to have a nice home in the suburbs, a summer home in New England, a car on my 16th birthday, a pool and hot tub that were the envy of the neighborhood, a paid-for college education, and plenty more where that came from.

But I didn’t feel rich. I felt normal. I did not judge the way anyone else lived, whether in a bigger or smaller house, I did not even really pay attention to it. I did not judge what kind of cars people drove, or if they had a bigger boat. It didn’t matter. It just was.

Until it was lost. Skip ahead a couple of decades when I found out that that my six-figure income IT executive husband at the time had gambled away our entire life behind my back. It’s not an uncommon story, and shit happens. But for the first time in my life I realized that I had money. And lost it.

The reality of that sunk in when my now ex-husband – who swore on his life he would provide for me and our children forever if I just granted him a divorce – lied. Lying comes naturally for a gambler, and they don’t even realize they are doing it. They believe their own lies, whatever those are in the moment. But this isn’t about that. This is about how it feels to realize that you are on your own financially for the first time in your life, and you have gone from the haves to the have nots. It’s painful.

That actually sounds petty in a way because the old adage “money isn’t everything but it helps,” is true. Money really isn’t everything. I know that now after marrying the man I have been connected to forever, in ways beyond understanding. I know unconditional love now, and I love it. And with our bond and union, money doesn’t matter. That’s not to say there isn’t conflict outside of our magic bubble, there are dragons in our midst who try to rape us of our financial security, what little there is.

But it isn’t those dragons that get us. It’s the haunting of my own.

Sir Husband and I were sitting on our special little rocky beach where we disappear together and collect sea glass as often as we can. It’s a tiny inlet a couple of miles from us, almost private in its location, at the end of a winding dirt road through a forrest of tall trees. The giant rock formations make a great place to sit and watch the sea, and a long  dock extends out for dinghies to moor, or for a little jump into cold water on a hot day.

But this day the inlet had a small crowd. A few families with kids and dogs and beach chairs were scattered around the pebbles. The late afternoon sun was so bright that the glare off the water almost hurt my eyes. Sir Husband was busy looking for sea glass, but I stopped when I noticed what was going on. It was that time of day when big boats sailed up to the floating dock and parked, to pick up the families on the shore. It became clear to me after the third one rolled in and stopped long enough for beach goers to grab their things and walk out on the dock to their boats, get in, and sail or motor away.

It knocked the wind out of my sails and I don’t know why. It reminded me of something deep inside, like desire and dreams, loss and reality. It reminded me of what I had and how easy it was to live comfortably, although I never even realized it. I live comfortably now, just differently. A trip to the homeless shelter recently reminded me of that. I have a home, closets, clothes, food, a car, and a husband who adores me, and whom I adore.

And I stand in my truth with I say this, I would never trade the love and life I have now for what I had. Because it isn’t about the money. It’s about having a marriage and and life with someone who you love from the depths of your soul, and who loves you back the exact same way. It’s about being treated like a princess regardless of the jewels on the crown. It’s about giving, giving back, giving love. It’s about having what matters, not not having what doesn’t.

Poor little rich girl is exactly right. And here’s the gift. This lucky little girl has it all, and finally realizes her riches. I’ve got the bigger boat.

Behind the Blog

You sound so happy in your blog…you are doing so well…so glad you are finally happy. 

Sure, ok. But I have not been completely forthright, and some days are better than others. A trusted mentor summed it up pretty well the other night when we chatted about our lives.

Everybody’s got shit on their altar, and in order to feel better, they need to take it down and stop worshiping it.

Well said, and so true. The varying degrees of victim-mode that we find ourselves in from time time, or all the time, depends on our ability to dismantle the debris from our lives.

I’ve been hiding the shit on my altar, trying to pretty it up in my blog, dousing it with fairy dust, hoping that will somehow quell the smell. But I’m denying my authenticity if I continue to believe that simply by finding the positive of my life and sharing it, it will magically disappear. Nope.

A few close to me know the reality of my day-to-day, trapped on several levels, held captive by my own life. Still a victim of my circumstances, it’s the physical reality of my life that has my hands tied, the basics like income and health, and car.

It goes something like this… 

Stay at home mother, three children, a big-salary household, I devoted myself and my life to my family. I didn’t have to work but I worked my ass off, and had the ability and energy to do what I loved – raising my boys with all my might. I had a social tribe, a thriving blog, a healthy yoga practice, and a car. I didn’t have to struggle with survival per se, that is until I learned who was supporting my life. A gambling addict.

In one fell swoop, every penny from 20 years saved, all gone in a day. When I confronted the culprit, Mr. Ex beat me up, because I caught him in his addiction that crumbled our lives, our futures. Torment, punishment, and financial devastation, I went from one reality to the harsh reality. I was never on my own two feet, and now I was on my own.

The sad part is, Mr. Ex missed the boat on the 12-step program he claims to practice, and lives only by the steps he chooses. The past is the past let it be. He has cleared his shit off his altar, but has put it right onto ours. He is paying back his creditors, but not those he stole from. The past may be the past, but the future is now, and it’s hard.

I got mighty sick from Mr. Ex’s transgressions, my body still weary from the strain. It impedes my ability to work and to thrive, my self-sufficiency left in the dust. When we are physically un-well, it impacts our abilities, our moods, it drains our life force and blocks our joy.

I hope I don’t sound like a victim, and instead I just sound human. Not everybody is happy every day, some of us have to work harder than others, especially when others held the cards for so long.

I don’t have a solution yet. Perhaps it’s simply the day-to-day reality of our struggle wearing me down – no car, tiny income, huge bills, and contentious players. The pile on the altar is heavy. I’m trying to remove it with what I’ve got. But at least I have stopped worshiping it, and that’s a good start.

Jerry Seinfeld is Living His Dream. Why Can’t I?

This may sound odd coming from a middle-age mom of three almost-adult boys, because by now I should be at least knee-deep in living my dream. I’ve had a lifetime to do it. But I’m not. And I didn’t. I’m not even sure I knew I could, or how.

I watched Jerry Seinfeld talk about living the dream, his dream, on the CBS Sunday Morning show recently, and it tore at my gut. It occurred to me that I have lived my life supporting other people’s dreams. I did not make the right decisions from the get-go, to create a world of joy for myself, or that would sustain me financially. Jerry is worth a cool $800 million, but more importantly loves what he does and does what he loves. And he is afforded that opportunity.

Growing up I wasn’t taught to listen to my gut or follow my instincts. For years I listened to what others told me I should do, instead of listening to myself. I built a life doing what I thought I was supposed to do, all the while not doing what I was really supposed to do. My lack of realization, or of courage, to move forward in my life and follow my own dreams, my own purpose, and self-sufficiently build a life to do that, has now left me with a hollow ache, filled with sadness, and even resentment.

But hey! I have successfully achieved helping others realize their own dreams. That’s something! It’s just that mine were somehow lost, or forgotten along the way.

So now given the circumstances, the reality of managing the life I have built for others to have success, has left me with limited options. The financial stability I created through two decades with Mr. Ex, he gambled away, leaving the children and me penniless, and in dire straights even today. Absolved of any responsibility for his actions yet still making a large income that he keeps for himself and his new family, I cannot make up his losses.

“I’m happier than I have ever been,” he told me last week. He has his dream, but at whose expense. Sir Husband and I are left trying to pick up the most of the financial pieces. As well as the lost dreams.

I admit, I gave myself away, to my life at the time, to my children, to the world around me. But I did not know I was doing it. And now I am caught in the gap between being their backbone and finding my own. I just don’t know how or when it will be. Passion and purpose notwithstanding, it takes money and opportunity to ignite your dreams when you’ve hit mid-life. So I’m not exactly sure where to begin.

The remnants of abuse and the consequences of Mr. Ex’s addictions linger. Life force and drive revive in their own time. And it’s hard to let go of it when the daily implications are still real, both financially and physically. The hope of my own dreams realized flicker in my heart, warm embers waiting to ignite. I’m trying.

“I know a little bit of life,” Jerry Seinfeld said. “I don’t want to be spared the grime. The griminess is what I like.”

I have plenty of that, I think I’ll start there.

A Stormy Wake

In the dead of winter when the sun rises cautiously and sets eagerly, when the temperatures are bone chilling, and the snow stands tall, we can count on the predictability of the season like following a good roadmap.

But today was a dark, stormy Monday filled with torrential rains, hurricane force winds, humid warmth, and a foggy mist enveloping everything. The familiar was foreign, much like my life. Mr. Ex does not live here anymore and when I opened my eyes on this first Monday morning I heard the storms outside, and in the discomfort of my warm bed, was smacked with the reality of life as I now know it.

Still trying to see through my tired eyes in the darkness of this morning, when I turned on my computer I noticed a comment on yesterday’s post (The First Day…Again,) from a fellow blogger who said “Congratulations!” At first I was not sure what to make of that sentiment, after all I’m still raw and disoriented. I go from moments of regular routine to ultimate surreal living as I try to maneuver through all the emotions and logistics of this situation. “Congratulations.” Interesting.

Before I realized that the comment was from a very articulate, veteran divorcee with a wonderful blog, I immediately thought one recently removed husband, Mr. Ex, wrote the comment. He has been fairly unpleasant to me in the past, so I unfairly accused him of sending me a sarcastic and nasty remark.

I try not to get lost in the evil events of our marriage, but sometimes it’s hard to forget what has left our family with unhealed battle wounds. The scars of addiction, betrayal, distrust, and emotional torture exist right at the surface of our daily lives. A wake of destruction.

The recent job loss brings up a chain of emotional reaction starting with the anger that if there was no gambling addiction we would not be left here drowning in debt and now unsure of any financial stability, let alone security. Our lives, our children’s lives, our family was destroyed in years of wasted misery. I hate thinking about it, talking about it, living it, but it exists. Even now, with the dissolution of our marriage, it exists.

Today’s angry weather exemplifies my life. The flooding, the power outages, the traffic accidents, the crowded emergency rooms, all byproducts of the elements…the shredding, the tears, and the pain, all byproducts of a marriage filled with many recent storms and devoid of true love.

As I move from the illusion of a happy marriage into the reality of the death of an unhappy one, I will learn to embrace the congratulations I received on this bleak morning of painful unfamiliarity. What we can really only count on is the weather changing. Feelings changing. People changing. And life changing.

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