The Things I Never Had (and may never have again)

*Note: I wrote this post over 4th July holiday. I started several posts but just couldn't get around to finishing them! But I was able to finish this one as the kids and I go off on summer holiday. Long plane rides are good for

something, plus I got upgraded to First Class!

Forgive spelling and grammar since I'm

On the iPhone. I also intended to edit this in a more logical way but decided to leave it as written – stream of consciousness.

……………………………

I'm on the beach today with my kids. We take a little vacation every year to the same small beach town. I enjoy this time immensely as I rarely see them this relaxed and focused on nothing but family time.  It was always important to me to carve out these times during the year with my family. My x didn't see it the same way. He saw the cost of vacation rather than the memory making.

As I'm sitting under the umbrella watching my boys sleep on the blankets and listening to the sound of the waves crash and children playing around me, I can't help but think of Bennett.  

This post about Bennett is going to be boring to most but I wrote it for me. 

I know I have said it before: he is my perfect man. I think that's the killer for me. I had believed (at the time of my divorce) that maybe my x was right and I was never going to find someone who gave me everything I ever wanted.   Many readers (though interestingly enough, not local friends) say my standards are much too high and I should lower them. My x claimed that no man could ever keep up with the things I expected. But Bennett did, for a long time.  In fact, he probably raised my expectations.  

Yes, some things are so small they can go unnoticed – but that's not the person I am, nor is it the person he is.  I have said several times he was my reflection.  I never met a man who kept pace with my emotion in this way.  I had truly believed it had become improbable I ever would.   Then he came along.  Such surprise and delight at finally finding the man of my dreams.  The little girls Prince Charming and knight in shining armor. It's pretty tough to put these first fantasies away once you have what you have believed in your entire life.   Dreams don't always come true. But somehow, this one did in the most unexpected form.

Words are clearly my love language with actions a close second. Bennett knew how to speak to me in a way no one ever had before.  I know I'm going to cry as I write this but I have to get it out. All the big, small, silly and mundane things that endeared him to me forever.  

He was always worried about me. Constantly. He checked in with me all day every day to see what I was doing. He knew my routine like the back of his hand.  He knew my family, friends and coworkers name. Hell, he knew which seat I preferred on the bus.  

He would do research on things we spoke about. Brands, restaurants, places, ideas or movies.  Didn't matter. If either of us discussed something the other didn't  know about, he looked into it.  He didn't rely on me to "figure" something out. He helped me or did it with or for me.  

He checked the traffic and weather for me all the time when I was traveling.   Even when I was commuting. If my day-to-day was impacted, he knew.  

He knew the time zones I was in and my agenda for the day. He knew when I was nervous about a work presentation.  He knew that every Wednesday when I had to present the the CFO I was nervous. 

He knew when I me my new CEO and what we talked about. He gave me solid advice how to manage a social trip with him, alone. Something I have never had to do before.

He knew what I drank.  He never came to my house empty handed. If a liquor store had a brand of prosecco I hadn't tried he would buy them all.    He could tell if I was going to like a new cocktail before I read the menu.  

He would cut food for me and feed me. He served me.  He would eat anything I made for him and love it. He raved about my cooking.  He grilled perfectly.   He was a perfect drinking and dining companion.  He never ran out of stories.  Dining, drinking and laughing with him became an treasured event.  

He sang to me all the time. He recorded songs for me that meant something.  When he did a gig he would always tell me what he sang for me. Since we have broken up in January he had stopped singing my songs at a gig unless we were in a good place. It required him to make an entire new set list at one point.  He started to write a song for me but it wasn't finished as far as I know.  That makes me sad that he could never finish my song.   He said that no one had ever liked to listen to him sing.  He loved to sing to me and I loved to listen. At night he would take his guitar out and play and play and play for me.  

I could listen to his voice for hours. It was the perfect combination of calm confidence enough and sexiness.   I fell in love with the sound of his voice and his stories long before anything else.  He is entirely engaging. And he can make me laugh to the core of my belly.  Constantly.  

We could talk for hours and hours. Over nothing. Over everything. There was no lack of interesting conversation.  The fact that he thought about many things in a similar manner to me was fascinating to me.  

I could depend on him to communicate with me almost every hour. Usually not less than two, no matter where he was. He was also very clear about what he was doing and when.  I never felt disconnected from him, even when he was with his family.   That changed after May 4.  The entire pace of his communication dropped.  Some of the key notes of our communication cadence changed and I feel the immensity of their absence.

He would send so many photos. Of him, his kids, where he was, something he saw.  I loved it. I always felt like I was on his mind.  He would always check my IG and comment on my photos and commentary.  He knew who always liked my photos and would joke that Finnian still was checking me out.  

He is an amazing father. Exactly the type of man I would want to father my own children. The perfect blend of stern, serious, funny and dependable. His relationships to his parents as well as his children is admirable.  His children adore him and depend on him for good advice.  They have a decent amount of fear of his poor   opinion as well, which I believe is healthy. 

He likes the same type of family things I do and wants to invest in these things. Vacations, dinners, sports, games, time alone.  Things that breed relationship.  He is always available for his family.  He never puts himself first.  

He is immensely patient and kind. He doesn't like adversity.  He has taught me to be more careful with my words and actions than even he knows.  I believe he would keep all my anxiety at bay if we were together because he is like a rock, he became my foundation.  

He can fix almost anything and was always looking to help me in my home. It would make him crazy if something broke and he wasn't there to fix it. Nothing went undone.  He would leave me sleeping in bed to go take care of something just to help me.  He would run to the store to get what I needed.  Nothing was ever a problem or complaint.  It was never too much to help.  

He held my hand so tightly I would have to remind him I wasn't a child. He would put himself in front of me if we crossed a street or if there were people barreling around me.  He navigated the way for me – I could have closed my eyes in a large city and trusted I would be safe holding his hand.  

He couldn't go a couple days without seeing me and made that abundantly clear to me.  He told me I was the air he breathed. That living without  my kisses is like living without oxygen.  He always asked when he would see me next.  He would come to work and just drop off flowers if I couldn't meet him.  He would hand write the cards on the flowers with a special lyric between us.  When we are together we do not part, we are always touching and constantly kissing.  We are definitely the couple you gag over or realize they are amazingly in love.  That feeling of new love desperation has disappeared for him, he doesn't demonstrate that urgent desire since May 4. That saddens me so deeply.

More than once someone (a waiter or a cab driver etc) has commented how clear it was that my man was deeply in love with me.  It was  overwhelmingly obvious.  

He always paid. Without question. He didn't care how much we spent or where we went. He liked BBQ wings and beer as much as a Michelin star restaurant.  He could dress up or down without hesitation.  He always got an uber.  He knew if I was wearing heels there wasn't going to be too much walking involved.  I never asked.  He loved my heels.  I loved to dress for him.  

When he got us a hotel room in the city he always made sure I had a large bottle of water next to the bed and a bottle of prosecco on ice.  

He looked at a menu and saw things I would like and asked me about them. We shared food often. 

He always opened my doors and car doors for me. Every, single time. I always walked first into a restaurant or to a table. He always deferred politely – unless he was walking with me in the city in which case he always took control!

He knew exactly how to please me in  bed and went to great lengths to ensure I was pleased, multiple times, every time. He asked me about it. He wanted to make sure I was happy and sated.  He liked to play with toys – on both of us.  He liked new positions.  He could have sex 10 times in a row and never grew tired or soft.  He held me closely while we slept. He often would just watch me fall to sleep first before he would allow himself to sleep.  He loved my body just the way it is and told me so every single time.  There was nothing he didn't love about our sex.  He had no issue going down on me after sex.  His body, while not perfect, was perfect for me.  I know I did the same for him, nothing is off limits for me in bed when I enjoy a partner.  I was constantly pleasing him and wanting him to feel like a man.   We loved how we fit together so well.  

When I told him how sexy I thought his muscles were after some time working out, he worked harder to make himself even more appealing to me. He loved how turned on I would get by the change in his upper body. His strength was a massive turn on. He had gotten so strong towards the end that he had no issue moving me around easily during sex. 

When I suggested he try a different type of clothing to suit his shape better, he did. He now wears a very different type of fit head to toe and knows how much better he looks.  Even his underwear is all new.  His coworkers comment constantly now. 

He always bought me my favorite cologne and lotion so I never ran low. 

He would help me with work issues. He is so smart and so professional that I could depend on his advice to be bang-on.  He is the best kind of boss at work – totally reliable and easy going, but knows how to get what he wants.  He is highly valued in his role.  He loves his job but still has ambition.  His work ethic is impressive.  And just as importantly, he told me I was good for him And he could talk to me about his work.  I knew his projects, his coworkers and bosses and his history.  I enjoyed hearing what he was doing each day.  I admired his dedication and tenacity. 

He called me every morning for coffee chat and nearly every night before bed.   Not a day went by without good mornings and good nights.  He would always ask what I ate for every meal or what I was wearing.  

He enjoys his life and doesn't let money stand in the way. He believes in supporting his kids education.  He isn't a huge spender on the same things I like and he teases me about my "bougie " side but he also embraces it all the same.  That's the perfect balance for me – I just need someone to appreciate that I do like finer things in life and it doesn't make me high-maintainence.  

He told me he loved me so often and in so many ways. The way he would Look at me when we made love and sometimes cry out in desperation how deeply he loved me touched me like nothing else ever has. 

He loves his family, his parents and his life. He has created a great life and worked hard to achieve it. People admire him.  He is surrounded by many friends.  I find all of that immensely attractive.  

He noticed everything I did for him. I am a natural born pleaser and like to make sure my partner is happy and comfortable. I always made him his favorite drink, had whatever treats he liked, left him a clean towel and a bottle of water next to the bed.  I could make his coffee perfectly.  He knew exactly what my long-ass coffee order at Starbucks was.  He knew it took me forever to finish my coffee as well.  He paid attention to everything. Every detail.  

He is hands down the best kisser in my life. I could kiss him for hours and never tire.  His kisses could ignite a passion within me like no other.  I was able to achieve multiple types of orgasm with him because I was so confident and comfortable and because he took the time to pay close attention to every minute move of my body.  Our physical connection is undeniable. I cannot believe this man ever had sexual dysfunction.  

No part of my body has gone unnoticed.  I didn't know how much I loved my toes being sucked.  

I could sleep in the crook of his arm all night and not even move. He claims he worries I don't breathe because I am so peaceful. 

When I see him I am immediately calm.  He has an effect on me that creates a peace deep within me.  

If I cry and he sings I can calm immediately.

I don't love facial hair but I love his. I can run my hands across his cheek for hours and never tire of how soft it feels to me.  

He is an amazing provider.  His family has nothing to want for or to worry about. He doesn't complain when his children ask for something.  His wife spends as she pleases.  He manages everything. The finances, college, the entire house.  He cooks and cleans and does laundry.   He is equally as responsible for his children as his wife.   Both parents are equally invested in raising good kids.  

Somehow he understand me. He understands complexities I can't seem to see.  There are things about him I can see right through and I can call him on it.  We get each other.  We inspire each other.  We give each other a reason to get through a day- because the one we love is at the end of it.  

Bennett hits every single requirement on my "list" plus some I didn't even know I had.  I still find that unusual. What are the chances?  

Maybe that's why they call it soulmates or twin flames.  

He wasn't afraid to cry with me or tell me his deepest fears.  Maybe he had trouble communicating when he was most angry, sad or distressed but I was always able to pull him from the turtle shell he hid in. 

He apologized when he was wrong. 

He was thoughtful.   Kind. Generous. Intelligent.  In his own way his handsomeness grew on me.  Especially when he smiles.  

He loved the smell of me.  He understood it's uniqueness.  

We discussed many, many times how we both never had this type of relationship.  That bit was something we always wanted, always dreamed of.  To be able to give yourself entirely to a partner and get it back in spades.  To have the type of reprocity most can only dream of.   Getting everything you ever wanted without even having to ask for it. 

I never doubted the depth of his love for me until May 4th.  Now I do…and now many of the words are gone even though some actions remained.   This makes be believe that Bennett is the type of person whose words carry equal weight – he doesn't use them now because he has realized they held too much promise and I built a delusional future on those words and inherent promises.  

I miss the words and the connection.   I miss that depth of longing.  Holy fuck I miss him from before May 4.  

I know I can see him and have sex with him should I choose to.  I know he does love me.  But what built the bond between us is gone now and that's the pain for me.   It's frightening to me to realize he can't be mine in any way.   I work hard to convince myself every moment that I don't want what he can give me.  It will only hurt me More to be missing what I once had.  

Many people believe words don't carry the same power as action.  Maybe. In his case there was a combination of both that pulled me in deeply.   

It's hard for me to understand how he would be able to stop saying those things.  I don't know how to turn off my emotion so I don't know how anyone does it.  But stop it had. I suppose it's what's drove me to my final breakdown.  But I realize it doesn't matter what I say or do – he needs to be able to feel those things in his heart to behave that way.  And he knows he can't continue.  

I am trying every day to tell myself I can't continue either and it's so hard for me. Every day I do a little more emotional purging

But I am far from successful. I still text with him most days. We don't see each other as much which also limits any sexual interaction.

He's been very depressed as of late with both his children leaving for college, his younger son in particular. I've never experienced a man cry so often and he admits it's unlike him.

I don't know what I feel to be honest. The mistaken phone call was a big riff between us as expected. I have chosen not to focus on what remains between us partly because I am very afraid I will lose control again and partly because I cannot afford any distraction from work. I'm not in a healthy place, I know it, and I'm not actively taking care of my emotional health by continuing with him.

I know we can never go back but there are glimpses of the times before May. I realize it often makes me more sad than happy after the fact (during I'm just fine).

Kids First?

*Note on the photo which I found interesting: it was impossible to find a 1950s family with just the mother and children in repose.  Our images of family from the 1950s are all represented by the nuclear American family which must include a father.

………………………….

Here’s a statement I have been mulling over in my mind: kids first.

I started this post in May when I met Mr. E, and he talked pretty consistently how he put his kids (and then his family) first.  Always.

Now I’ve met Bennett and he does the same thing.  He stays stagnant because his kids come first.

So, I sit and ponder……

Do your kids come first?

Always?

Forever?

Sometimes?

If it’s sometimes, when are the right times to put them first and the right times to put someone/something else first?

For me, I waited a long time to put myself first. Some may even question if I waited long enough. I stayed married to a man I no longer wanted to be married to until my children were 12 and 15 respectively.  Was 12 or 15 years enough?  Should I have waited another 6 years until my youngest went off to college?  Would that have been enough?

In my opinion, it was enough. The children could grasp and understand the concept of  divorce and navigate the rocky waters. I have hope there is still time they see me with a man who treats me well and have a demonstration of a healthy adult relationship first hand instead of the dysfunctional one they had been  seeing between their unhappily married parents.

However, I listen to men like Bennett talk about how they brought these children into the world and are now fully responsible for caring for them, not matter the cost or sacrifice.  Somehow this makes me feel guilty.

Am I less of a parent because I don’t feel this way?

Does it make me inferior as a person, as a human, that I believe I can balance my self-identity as well as raise perfectly capable and responsible children?

Will my children be any better/worse for the fact that they had a working mother or a come from a divorced family?

I recall, before I made the decision to separate, spending hours and hours and days and weeks researching the impact of divorce on children.  I sought out one therapist after the other to talk to me about the odds of my children coming out the other end of divorce – what kind of people would they be?

And I found, like anything in this life, you can have your answer any way you like it.

Some kids come through divorce unscathed and have no relationship problems as adults.  They mature and having loving, normal, healthy adult  emotional interactions.  Other children get scarred for life.  How the hell are you supposed to know what you are going to do to your children?

Of course one of the thoughts in my head was that my children were living and breathing a dysfunctional relationship and as they grew older, this was their only model.  How could they learn what a healthy adult relationship looked like if they used their father and I as a model!

Was it more important I chose to be an example of a strong, single parent rather than a dysfunctional married couple?

Did I make the right choice for my children?  Did I put their needs before my own?

I could ramble on for days about how I debated with myself to arrive at my conclusion.  And I think I did it slowly, after all, it was 22 years of marriage, no short run.

Why should I feel guilty when Bennett talks about sacrificing his life for his children?  Why do I feel some deep-seated need to be that person who can do that for my children?

Alternatively, I think Bennett is a fool to stay in the situation he is in for the rationale he is giving.  One of his children is off to college and the other is a senior in high school.  Just my opinion.  Perhaps what I am responding to is the ability to stay miserable and blame circumstance.  I know I did it for a very long time, claiming that I “needed to stay for the kids.”  At least, until something irrevocably broke and I couldn’t stay anymore.

Those of us who have come from broken marriages and made the choice to move forward on our own look at the people who can’t do it in confusion, even though we may have all sat in that confused state for any given period of time.  Some stay longer than others.  But all people who exit a marriage by choice (at least, all that I speak to) almost scratch their heads in wonder thinking “why can’t they see how much better life will be when they are out of that emotional misery?’

I don’t regret my decision to divorce.  Not once, not ever,  It’s not a thought that crosses my mind.  I struggled long and hard with my decision and I will never doubt the conclusion arrived in my life at the right time.

But, somehow, I still struggle (as you can see from recent posts) with motherhood and how to be a good mother.  I often worry that I don’t invest enough of myself into my children the way a modern parent does.  I allow them room to breathe on their own, but oftentimes I worry I give them too much freedom.

How do you decide when to put your kids before yourself?

Full Time Mother?

While I may have had many daydreams throughout my life about being a full-time stay-at-home Mommy, I always knew this was not the role for me.

I do wish I had more time with my kids when they were little and I did get 18 months at home around the time my third child was born.  They were glorious days and I was fully focused on being a great Mommy.

I loved those days and certainly long for them as I watch my boys grow into men.

As the years passed I grew accustomed to the balancing act of full-time career and mother and did the best I could at home with the time I had.    I have my regrets over the time I’ve lost with my children, but my life choices were clear.

Now, with three teens and no employment, I find myself, for the first time in my life, challenged by this role.

Part of me is embracing this time because it is a gift.  It doesn’t matter if the boys are older, quiet time at home is still a gift.      I love having more than one dinner a week with them.  I love being able to watch TV or movies any time they feel like.  I’m here if the mood strikes them to have a conversation or play a game. These things couldn’t always happen after work because of a multitude of reasons.  You need the quiet space of days to just live in the moments.  When you’re so busy with life, these are the things we take for granted.

On the other hand, it’s also the first time in my life I have (almost) no help.  No husband. No au pair (though she still lives here until September).  No grandparents.  It’s all me.  All these domestic things: cooking, cleaning, laundry, errands, planting, shopping etc etc have been run under my guidance for years, but I didn’t actually do most of them on a full-time basis.   I paid good money for someone to do them for me. Now I don’t have that money and I have to do them myself.

I don’t really like it. It’s just not my thing.

I don’t really like having to cook meals every day three times a day to feed hungry boys.  I don’t like the mountains of laundry and turning all the clothes right side out.  I don’t like food shopping twice a week because they eat too much and too fast now that it’s summer.  I don’t like running errands to the bank, post office or drug store.   No disrespect intended toward anyone but have been lucky in the respect that I haven’t had to do these mundane tasks myself and I’ve been spoiled because I earned enough to pay for the luxury of care.

Honestly, there is a large part of me that feels I need to stop apologizing for not liking these tasks or even feel the need to be good at them. No one is can do it all well, but beyond that, I don’t really like this role full time.  I preferred the career mom role and even my kids feel this is right for our family. I should stop apologizing that I earned enough money to have live-in help and chose this path. It was an intentional choice I should be proud of but somehow I find myself constantly apologizing to those who are in different situation (I know this comes from years with the X, unfortunately).  

Add in the fact that I have no husband to do the lawn mowing, home maintenance, or car maintenance.   I don’t know how to do these things nor do I care to ever learn. I came home the other day and the air conditioning seemed not to be working again. Ok, it’s simple, I didn’t change the filter.  So I had one the guy left for me and easily changed it. But now I need to go to Home Depot and buy more filters and put it in my calendar to remember to change the darn things.  I’m not saying it’s hard, I just don’t care about it at all.

I feel very disillusioned lately about so many things, motherhood among them.  With this role comes all these mundane tasks that I despise, yet I have the joy of time with my boys.  I notice they are calmer and my challenging middle guy is talking to me more often.  I make a point to compliment him and pay attention to him much more than I did before and I am seeing the payback.  I know this is a job like any other in the sense that I have to take the good with the bad, but I lose my patience much faster and I’m not organized about caring for my home. The reward is seeing small things I may have otherwise missed and performing tasks for the kids that just need a mothers touch.

Right now the elder boys have been punished for having a party in the house while I was in San Fran, but that house arrest is over in a few days and they will be demanding to be driven all over town to friends homes.  They also secured a job for the summer and start next week, so I am responsible to chauffeur them back and forth to the job as well.  I’m used to having my time under my control but now I am under theirs.

I’ve put my foot down with their father that he needs to arrange transportation on his days if I make plans to be elsewhere.  I can’t see the kids being happy about this but I have to maintain the ability to spend time in the city a couple of days a week to network or date.

I suppose, all in all, I am accepting this time as a gift and trying my best to enjoy it and not allow panic to set in when I have no income in 6 weeks.  There are no jobs in my industry and many businesses continue to lay off loads of people.

I know the posts over the next few days are going to continue to reflect my over-arching ambivalence to everything.  I feel that I am in a stage of my life where I am analyzing and evaluating everything.  The choices ahead don’t frighten me, but they might be different from ones I may have made in the past and that may upset what has been a balance in my life for….well, my lifetime.

Although I am not quite saying I don’t want to be a mom some days, I just don’t want to embrace this role full-time for much longer.  I don’t even feel it suits me.  I see lots of great things happening between my boys and I, but I am not at financial liberty to stay home and not work so part of me is fearful of suddenly having to go back to work and missing this (another way I could say that is – I am afraid my heart will break when this time has passed – and I fucking know how much a broken heart hurts).

Some days I love it here, being with my boys, being a full-time mom.  I’m lucky I can balance that through divorce and have enough down time for myself, but I still can’t quite get over the feeling of being selfish.  I like my own time, my time away from them.  Some times I feel guilty for not wanting to do everything for them (there’s a post coming on that) as some people are able to do – I am clearly not a selfless mother, I cannot give over my entire being to my kids.

Is that fair to them?  It’s a question I struggle with almost every day now. A question I had put to rest many years ago when I made the career choices and parenting sacrifices I did.  I made a decision and I chose to accept that decision.  Now I am in a state of flux again and I don’t really know what I want, what I should want, or what’s right for everyone.

I may just want to go chase a Pokemon.

 

Vindicated

I wrote this post some days ago, but didn’t post it because I knew I was struggling with telling the entire story.  It’s so hard to tell a c complete story in a decent length blog post and not bore all of you.

I’m going to try, but I am certainly missing much too much nuance regarding my x’s past behaviors….

As this story unfolded, I found myself in that weird sort of out-of-body place, watching and noting my emotional response as if it wasn’t happening to me but to someone else entirely.  I was fascinated by this feeling.  What would have sent me into a massive emotional tailspin that could last for God knows how long was simply noted with a pointed *hmmph* on my behalf.  I am pleased as punch with myself that I see and understand these triggers and how wonderful it feels not to have them controlling my life anymore.

On occasion, I wonder what my kids think of the failure of my 22 year marriage to their Dad.  They are not especially communicative boys and I don’t pry. I had a notion in my head that if I was patient and demonstrated tolerance and understanding with them (as it relates to their Dad) eventually they would want to understand my side of the story. I have no desire to come between my kids and their Dad despite the fact that he held me emotional hostage for 22 years while I loved him with a desperation that I can only recall because of its intensity.

The first day of our beach vacation, which is a family tradition for as many years as I can remember, we settled into the hotel and took a walk into town. The first two years here without their Dad wasn’t easy, but now it’s familiar and they settled in to enjoy their vacations. This year there was no discussion around their Dad and they had their entire itinerary mapped out before we arrived.  The boys settled quickly and chose their favorite lunch spot. Somehow, during lunch, the discussion of a friend of their Dads came up and my radar went on high alert.  I wish I could recall how it started, but I don’t.  I make a point of almost never asking questions but some spidey-sense of mine needed more info.

The long and short of this story is that their Dad is still “seeing” a woman he has known for many years, meeting her in an old job more years ago than I can count.

To provide a brief history:  around the middle  of 2013, before I had an affair and before I chose divorce, this woman’s name was suddenly cropping up randomly.  I saw some of her paperwork in my home and I saw her name on my x’s phone. I became curious. Several weeks after I saw these things I snooped on his unlocked iPad and found porn with white men and black women (the woman is black, my x is white).  I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what was going on as my x had expressed, multiple times over the course of the marriage, his distaste in biracial coupling.

His racism was a point of contention in our marriage. This was an interesting turn of events.

I confronted him, loudly (as I didn’t know any better back then how to communicate), and he denied it. By then I knew I was starting to let go of the marriage, I simply wanted to make him squirm and realize that I knew what he was up to. He had cheated on me early in our marriage and always maintained nothing ever came of it. However, even if he didn’t have sex with the woman then, he told me he fell in love with her so it was a strong emotional attachment.  By this point my head was so far out of my marriage that I truly didn’t care, but it gave me the freedom I needed to finally go out and find myself.  This was the last straw.

So, to hear her name randomly at the lunch table with my kids definitely set off my radar detector.  After several slow starts the kids finally told me several things that had me chuckling to myself at how in-tune and aware your own children can be. Utterly fascinating.

Their Dad says he isn’t dating her but they keep telling him to come clean already. He keeps saying they are just friends.

He has brought her to family events as “just a friend”

He told my au pair that she is his only friend. Separately he told the au pair that the first woman he slept with was black and in her 30s, exactly where this woman is, but neglected to say it was the same woman (maybe it wasn’t, I will never know).  Perhaps they dated and called it off because he can’t give her what she wants and now they are more FWB.  I don’t know. But I do know she’s been around a long time.

I questioned the kids. My divorce agreement states we both must discuss with the other parent if any “relationships” are introduced to the kids.  They haven’t met her but there have been several instances where he has offered for them to meet her. He has never discussed this with me.

During the questioning is when I found this out-of-body experience happen. My middle son claims he heard the argument in which I told my x he was a cheater.  Since my x has the favor of my middle son, the kid figured he better check it out to see which one of us was right or wrong. He claims that I always say his Dad is lying (I do because it’s true) and his Dad always tells him I make stuff up (he does to protect himself and appear like the poor hurt man).

So my middle guy takes it upon himself to snoop.  He spends a little time looking for clues to see if his Dad is lying. Sure enough he begins to uncover similar things that I found, this woman’s sudden presence in his Dad’s life.  Then he comes across an unlocked phone and reads text messages.  Not only does he read hem but he takes photos!  This whole story unravels at lunch and I can only sit there and listen to how the boys knew all this time their Dad was lying to me and it’s why they never blamed me for the divorce!

He showed me the photos of the text and my x is saying he loves this woman and that he can’t wait to be back in her bed.  Definitive proof he was cheating.  Utterly definitive.

I asked son #2 what he did with this info. He said he would never tell his father because he expected his father would just lie more to cover it up.  This is when my jaw hit the floor.

As much as these boys love their Dad they are finally old enough to see his flaws.  And they don’t admire them.

When my son originally tried to talk to his dad about it his father threw back that “someone” saw his mom out with another man before they were even divorced (how crappy is that to protect himself and divert attention).  My son got confused by his fathers fast talk and was upset about the divorce so he didn’t pursue further conversation.

I had my first opportunity ever to explain myself.

I slowly and clearly explained the timeline of the divorce.  I explained how those text he found were before we separated (he knew that) and that I asked his father for a separation about 6-8 months later in April/May 2014.   I also explained I told his father that after the day I said I wanted a divorce I planned to date someone but the marriage was over.

We didn’t tell the children until July.

My x used that little nugget (the fact he knew in April, but the kids didn’t know til July) to lie to my kids that I was cheating on him!

But I explained, again, that their Dad and I had the discussion in April and I started dating someone openly in May.  When they got the timeline and realized this had nothing to do with the divorce, their eyes lit up. They said “we knew he was lying!”

Their Dad had confused them that he never cheated (they couldn’t reconcile the text) and I was the reason for the divorce, because I had a boyfriend.

Fucking asshat.

They claim that although he tried to do that they still knew, once this woman stayed around, he was really lying.

What’s the point of all my rambling?

I feel vindicated. Nothing more. It doesn’t affect me one way or the other except that I watched my children gain a much better and more clear picture of their mom and the fact that I am genuine and honest with them.

I told them they can ask me anything and I will tell the truth.  They said they will some day confront their day, when they are like 30, but expect him to lie anyway. It’s so sad to me that this man can’t see the forest for the trees.  He will always lie to everyone around him.

I explained to the kids to always be very careful  with questions they ask and any snooping they may do. Once things are seen or heard they cannot be unseen or unheard.  The funny ending to that? My eldest says “yea mom, I saw a story you wrote once that you left open on the computer and I wanted to kill myself…!”

Uh oh.

Family Demons

I know I try to avoid certain conversations digging into my past with my therapist.

I’m just going to cry anyway and sometimes I don’t want to cry anymore, you know.  Old demons are just that – old demons.  Mostly I believe the past should stay in the past.

But in the wake of heartbreak and trying to really get to the bottom of what my drivers are for being so tied to that relationship last summer, we needed to start exploring some of those old demons.

I’m not sure I’m truly believer in Freudian therapy.  Going backwards to solve today’s problems seems counter-intuitive to me.  I prefer Cognitive Therapy where you are working on acknowledging what is going on with you today.  I can see where both therapies have their place, but I believe that CBT suits my personality much better.  I don’t like to explore my past.  I can clearly articulate what I see as roadblocks from my upbringing.  I just need to know how to best to liberate the elements of my unconscious and bring this material into my conscious mind so I can start confronting these distortions and create a more accurate self-image and establish good behaviors.

With that said, I suppose sometimes you have to look backwards to remind yourself why you don’t want to go down those paths again.  In my case, it was a recent situation that hit me over the head like a ton of bricks.

My father owns a property that is willed to my brother.  My father has decided that he no longer wants to maintain this property and wants to sell it.  I took the kids down to the property a few weeks and noticed several things that needed repair.   When I called my father to speak to him about it, he got mad at me and told me I don’t know what I am talking about and basically hung up the phone on me.

This has happened multiple times in my life.  The men in my life continually tell me “I don’t understand” or “I don’t know what I’m talking about.”  My father did it to me, my brother does it to me and so does my x.  When I tell you those words make me see red faster than almost anything else, I am not exaggerating.

Compound this by my sister-in-law telling me “we will handle it, we will see what really needs fixing when we get down there.”

I try to take this with a grain of salt.  Their behaviors come from the belief that I’m too smart for my own good and they don’t like it so they need to take me down a notch.  In addition, they all believe I am reckless with money so I would needlessly spend where it really doesn’t have to be spent (oh, like replacing the air conditioners that are 25 years old, maybe that’s a waste of money in a hot weather state).  I  already know this is what they think of me because I have lived with it for 40+ years.  I don’t need years of therapy to realize this.

Therapy can’t fix what they think of me, but it can help me repair some of my behaviors and reactions each time they treat me like this.

When my father and brother did it to me this time, I really had a good cry about it.  Writing this days later, I find myself crying again.

Imagine being a type A personality in a family of B’s and C’s.  Imagine trying to impress those people your entire life – through education, career, family or any form of success you may have achieved.  Imagine those people patting you on the back with each success and then spending the rest of their lives trying to tear that success out from under you.  I tried to impress with success because I really wanted their attention, love and admiration but was continually told I wasn’t “good enough” at something or other.

This is the life I have lived.  This is the life I am still living.

Even at work my boss has said I am a know-it-all and I just shouldn’t let people know how much information I have because it makes them feel like they are on the back foot.  I should graciously play dumb.  Play dumb?  Play dumb in my career?  What kind of advice is that?

It’s the same advice my father, brother and x all gave to me.  Stop demonstrating what you are good at.  Be more humble.  Be more gracious.  Don’t let people know how far you have come.

 

If you ask my friends, they will tell you I am one of the most humble people they know.  I don’t flaunt anything.  I don’t judge anyone.  I try my best to keep the world at peace around me.  I am honest, direct and try my utmost to be considerate.

Yet my own family, the ones I am closest to, tell me to dim my lights.  I shine too brightly.

My therapist and I have spoken about this after I explained what happened with my father and selling the property.  She said this was good to understand how this will affect my future relationships with men.  Of course, this brought us around to my heartbreak, and why it’s so significant.

She identified that I have lived with consistent rejection my entire life.  I hadn’t really thought about it this way, but my she feels this is a key driver for many of my behaviors.  I want people to like me.  I want people to need me.  I want to feel valuable and desired.

For once in my life someone admired my achievements, listened to my everyday challenges and offered guidance and advice.  A man was actually impressed with how I balanced my life and career and the challenges I have overcome.  He wasn’t threatened by me in any way, shape or form.  In fact, my courage gave him motivation.  How great was that?

So great it was addictive.  Intoxicating.

It’s very clear to me that my next relationship needs to emulate this behavior.  I need someone to support my achievements and stand beside me.  Not someone who will chip away at my foundations – I have enough of those people more than willing to do that in my life already.  I have said before that he was good at holding my pedestal and cheering for me.  That’s the man I want in my life.  The one who will give me the strength I need to be more courageous than I have been, to be more fearless, to be the best me I can be.

To be a superstar without fear that someone may not like me for achieving something they have not, or having something they don’t.

I do not have good role models for male relationships in my life.  This is certainly one of the reasons I so desperately want to attract male attention.

Of course we talked a bit about self-love and the ability to take pride in myself.

It’s moments like this that I want to forsake them all.  Walk away from my family entirely.   I find this so disheartening.

I hear my mother’s voice at times like this.  “Your father is only trying to do his best, it’s the only behavior he knows.”  It always brings me back to this one story that has stuck in my head for a lifetime: my father washed my new jeans and t-shirt together and not only shrunk them, but dyed the t-shirt pink (they were red jeans – I was so proud of them)!  When I cried in complaint, my mother’s answer to me was “be happy your father did your laundry, he was only trying to help.”  That’s the double edge sword right there, isn’t it?  Since when would I expect my father would do my laundry when my mother always did it and why should I be thankful that he just ruined something I bought with my meager paycheck and had worn only once and could never wear again?  It was her answer for everything with him.  She had realized long ago what an ogre my father was and her only mode of interaction with him was defeat and submission.  I can almost never do this and it causes a problem every time.  My brother on the other hand is a master at submission.

I oscillate between wanting to maintain ties with my family and wanting to just run away from them for good.  I feel the obligatory pull of responsibility but not truly sure how much love I genuinely feel for the family I was raised with.  When people don’t understand you or appreciate you, it’s really hard to find grace and forgiveness.  I try to practice this every day, but find myself in flux lately as I try to figure out the next steps in my own life.

Should we surround ourselves with people who don’t understand us just because they are our family?  Or can we create new families built on friendship and mutual admiration, love and respect?  Perhaps I have granted my family this much grace because I didn’t have the energy to create the right family to surround myself with.  It takes a lot of effort and energy to keep good relationships intact.

And I am just starting to wonder why I am expending all that energy and effort on the bad relationships in my life just because I feel a familial obligation.

Does anyone else experience this vast fracture with their families?

Fortunately, one of my life long questions is answered – I am not genetically attached to this family of mine – so the answers are obvious in terms of nature vs nurture.  But could I deal with the guilt of walking away from the family that raised me?  Have I displaced my sense of childhood deprivation by trying too hard to build relationships that shore up my fragile self-esteem?  But have those relationships, in fact, done more harm than good?

My family implanted mutually conflicting totems in my superego and then I married a man who fed the beast.  I have lived a life of “we are proud of you, but not really because…..”

I can’t do this to myself anymore.

I am proud of me.  I want my children to be proud of me.  Someday, I want the man in my life to be proud of me.

I think I need to expend my energy on healthier relationships.  I worked up the courage to remove my x from my life and I believe I have to think about the best way to manage my father.  Guilt is a tough emotion to navigate here, but I can no longer manage these negative feelings consuming me.

California Dreamin’

 

So, its time to start thinking about Summer Vacation.

For many years my kids only wanted to go to one place: Disney World.  Even though it was expensive, I was secretly thrilled.  I am a closet Disney World addict.  I totally buy into the Pixie Dust.  I believe it’s the Happiest Place on Earth and I find myself thrilled every single time I have gone.  It’s magical.

We went on a cruise a few times and the kids didn’t have enough fun and my x and I fought too often over keeping them busy.  Talk about spoiled kids.  This is how we always ended up in Disney – they liked it, they were familiar and it eventually became a no-brainer.

When I began the separation process, I wanted to start exposing them to new things but figured starting with typical “resort-type” vacations would be best.  We tried Atlantis for a short week last year and that went over well.

This year I want to try something a little bit less resort-y and more interesting.  But, I can’t stand having complaining teens so I need to keep the balance in order not to ruin my vacation.  I’m all for trying any travel, especially to Europe, but I don’t think my kids would actually enjoy the experience.  It seems we have agreed on one potential location: California.

Now, we have a back-up plan – Turks and Caicos – for that real typical resort vacation…but I think I might be willing to give some California Sunshine a shot.  My guys said they really don’t want another beach vacation.

I know lots of you have traveled and even live on the opposite coast…so what are your suggestions for older teens?

My kids are more gamers than adventure/outdoor kids, so I can’t get too adventurous with them, but I know I would love to visit San Francisco to see the bridge and Alcatraz.  Maybe even take a drive through Vegas to the Grand Canyon.  I have about 10 days to kill and 2 driving permit drivers who could use the long distance practice.

Any and all suggestions welcome.  Or, if not California, do you have a place that your teens loved to travel that you would recommend?