Driving a U-Haul Across Country

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So I made it home safe and sound in record time. If we count the near misses ( the car almost falling off the tow dolly and the freezing temps when I could not find a hotel and slept in the truck) well, I guess I can count my lucky stars that I am still in one piece racing across the country like Mario Andretti.

Driving across half the United States in a U-Haul by yourself gives you plenty of time for self reflection and a lot of time to release all the hurt and anger. Mile upon mile the conversation went something like this:

‘HE DOESN’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE! GET OVER IT!!!” (add loud screaming while this was being said out loud as I passed a million truck drivers looking at me like I was nuts)

“So this is your opportunity to craft a new life for yourself…how are you going to do that?”

THAT FUCKING PRICK!!!

I HOPE SHE GIVES HIM A DISEASE!!!!

“You have got to let go of this anger. it is only hurting you.”

“Maybe China would be a good start.”

THAT ASSHOLE! HOW DARE HE REPLACE ME!!! (He will marry her when our divorce is finalized)

When he realizes our kids are probably going to move to be with me at the end of the school year then it will hit him all that he has lost due to his thinking with his dick!

“Okay…cancel, cancel, cancel….Look at the pretty blue sky…anything to get your mind on something else!”

Gosh, I can’t believe that trucker wanted my phone number…ain’t happening dude!

“NHI YOU FUCKING CUNT. HOW DARE YOU DESTROY THIS FAMILY. I GET IT…YOU WERE SELLING CABBAGE RIGHT BEFORE YOU MET US. I GUESS THE BOOKS I SENT YOUR DAD AND THE MONEY I SENT YOU WASN’T ENOUGH AND YOU SAW THAT B WAS A MUCH BIGGER CATCH. BUT YOU HAVE TO LIVE WITH YOURSELF…ONLY YOU DO AND YOU HAVE NO CONSCIOUS.”

“Okay, you can’t blame her. She was just trying to lift herself out of poverty and it was B who broke his vows to you…not her!”

Let’t try this again…concentrate…what do you want to be when you grow up and reach 70 in 11 years? How are you going to achieve it? How do you want to be remembered? What is your legacy?

FUCK THIS LEGACY STUFF! I DID HAVE A LEGACY AND NOW IT HAS BEEN TURNED UPSIDE DOWN AND BACKASSWARDS!

HE DOESN’T LOVE YOU AND HASN’T FOR A LONG, LONG TIME. ANYONE WHO HAS CHEATED AND HURT YOU OVER AND OVER AGAIN DOESN’T LOVE YOU…GET THAT THROUGH YOUR FUCKING HARD HEAD!!!!

“Okay, he doesn’t love me. So what? I am still loveable even if he doesn’t!”

“I CAN DO THIS!!!”

FUCKTARD…FUCKTARD….FUCKTARD…(must have been said 10,000 times)

“Okay, you have a lot of offer the world. What do you mean what? Well…I am funny,  persistent, hard working, adventurous, fun loving…hold a decent conversation,,,and I look hot in thigh high black boots…I mean really how many almost 60 yo can pull that one off!!!”

“Maybe a tummy tuck?”

Nipple piercings?

“Maybe now you can finish your novel…hey….that thought for a new novel is brilliant!”

SLOW DOWN FOR GOODNESS SAKES…IF A COP PULLS YOU OVER YOU WILL START CRYING AND THEY WILL PROBABLY THROW YOU IN A CELL BECAUSE YOU ARE ACTING LIKE YOU ARE OVER THE EDGE….OKAY…THAT IS BESIDES THE POINT!

“I like it…maybe joining the Peace Corps isn’t a bad idea…and look at that…an assignment in Madagascar….now that would be exciting! If you are going to have to start working again at this age it has to be meaningful work!”

And so it went for almost 2000 miles. By the time I got to my home I was hoarse from all the shouting at myself, asshole and mistress. My eyes had a permanent bloodshot and glazed look about them after all the tears. But I also had released all five years of deception, lies and destroying myself as I tried to be someone that would make B happy but couldn’t because it really wasn’t about me at all. It was about him. A man who is a coward. A man who thinks fantasy is reality. A man who didn’t tell his therapist after two years of seeing her that he was having an affair. A man who couldn’t share his feelings and blamed me for it. A man who on the second day of meeting NHI said to her as I was taking their picture together on the steps of the palace “You are going to be my second wife!”

And me? I am sad. I am relieved. Not living with a liar is a gift.  I have a chance to become whatever and whomever I want to be. I can do some really great things for myself and others that will bring happiness and meaning to my life. I get to discover who I am at almost 60 without kids, spouse, and cats. I get to lead my own parade with clowns, floats and big brass bands.

Most importantly….I got another page in my book…. and I will use it well.

 

 

 

Funny The Things We “Think” When We Leave

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I arrived back in California early in the morning. I had nothing at my home. No beds, no chairs, no spoons…no nothing… except lots of memories and heartache. This is the house where I first separated from B and the place I would leave in order to “rekindle” my hopes and dreams about our marriage. And it hurts to know that soon I will return as single person after 32 years of togetherness tricked into believing in a carefully crafted mirage. But I digress…

The only thing that was open at 12:30 a.m.  was a Walmart in a town about an hour away from my house.  I stopped. If you have ever been to a Walmart at that time of the day it is depressing. The buzz of the automatic floor cleaners greeted me while nary a person could be found. Silence permeated a place that usually roars during the hours of 8 a.m.- 10 p.m. It reminded me of the hours that teens spend locked away in their rooms avoiding their parents.

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I wandered through the aisles in a daze…on a autopilot…aware…but not really…of what I was doing. It was as if I was looking through glass…seeing the light shining through but what was behind the glass was GONE. There was nothing to look back on and no future to look towards. Just a vast empty place…the place where my heart once beat rapidly whenever I saw B. A place of comfort and security. A place that no longer existed except inside my head.

Soon I came to the aisle loaded with dishes, cups, and silverware of every shape and color. I picked up one of each thing to put in my cart and then, just as quickly, put them back onto the shelf. I just couldn’t commit to anything permanent. The bowl in my left hand seemed too weighty, too purposeful. Even though this is what I needed…TO BE GONE…it didn’t seem real and I wasn’t even sure that I wanted it to be true yet. It felt like a commitment to being forever single and baking lots of bread that I cold never consume all by myself.

“Maybe living back in my fantasy of how it once was is better than how it is now,” I thought as I fought back tears.

So I headed over to the paper goods with a mission. It’s a place full of throwaways…things to dispose of…items not to be kept forever… just like my marriage. It felt comfortable but sad. Cheap plastic cutlery, paper plates, and red DiXIE SOLO cups stared me down. I picked them up, the weight of them almost bringing me to my knees. I went to the self-check out (a very lonely place at 1 a.m.) and scanned each item checking my cart for any items left behind. All I saw was my heart, lifeless and barely pulsating….  according to B it wasn’t worth much… so I left it there at checkout #8 quivering on the conveyor belt. After bagging my necessities, I headed out the door with my twin-sized blow up mattress. It sat high in my cart advertising my new single status like a Vegas neon sign to the homeless man and his dog sitting at the cart return.

Two days later I felt stronger and headed down the mountain to Goodwill. There I found some 1980’s juice glasses, a variety of mis-matched silverware, and a nice set of four matching bowls. This I could do. It made my departure a little more real but not so real as to overwhelm me. This GONE thing was becoming more doable. Yet, I am homesick…missing my children and feeling guilty for “Abandoning” them…when I really haven’t.

Three days later I was feeling even stronger and more sure of my decision then ever. I was contemplating buying a matching set of dishes at a store a step up from Goodwill. The fact that a complete set of dishes is now a thought although not yet a reality is encouraging. For picking out a set of dishes signifies permanence to me and I have not felt quite ready to admit defeat. But each day I am stepping out and dipping my big toe a little deeper into my new life. It is a re-birth and it takes time. And this time around I want to craft a life for myself that is purposeful and meaningful in all areas of my existence…emotional, physical and spiritual. And while Goodwill is a good place to start this adventure… I know I do not want to begin with the left-overs of others. This time I will choose exactly what I need and want to nurture myself and my new beginning. I deserve to give this time to myself and I will. For I am worth it.

 

GONE

If I had to name all the occasions that lead up to the moment of my leaving last week; it seems as though the list from the past five years might be endless.  A small part of it might look like this:

Maybe it was the fact that you told our tour guide (TG) the second day you met her that “you will be my second wife” contributed to the demise of our marriage. For you have worked very hard to make that statement come true by putting TG on a pedestal while you wiped your feet on me as you dusted and shined your Vietnamese FANTASY. You know, the fantasy whom you have spent five whole days with over the past five years. Maybe that led to my leaving.

Or maybe it was the fact that you sent her so much money that it was the equivalent of 20 years salary in Vietnam. With that much money she began living high on the hog…fancy dinners, beautiful clothes, fixing her father’s home… while I bought shirts at TJ Maxx for $14.99 to which you would comment, “When did you get that?” as if I had done something wrong.

Perhaps it was all the time and care you took into ensuring her needs were met and picking out gifts for her. Necklaces, perfume and oh yeah,,,that engagement ring that she wears on her wedding band finger.

Maybe it was all the lies…thinking that you had ended it so many times after your assurance that you did…only you didn’t. The phone call you had me witness and participate in telling her it was over. The letter you wrote to her saying the relationship could never be.

Although it might have been the daily “I love you’s”, the hugs, the great sex, and the kisses that were so faked (according to what TG told me) that you could have made Vivian Lee swoon.

Maybe it was making me feel “less than” while you struggled to choose who your heart would belong to….a competition that I could never win. Making me feel as though I could never do enough…and I couldn’t… because in your mind TG would always do more. Or the fact that you were hiding a quarter of your take home pay in a private account and couldn’t understand why I would wonder if you were sending money to TG and then getting upset when I mentioned her name.

Yet, another fact could be the day that I opened an envelope from J.P. Morgan stating that you changed your beneficiary of your investments with it going half to your sister instead of taking care of your kids. You said it was so she could divide it among your siblings because they had been left out of your father’s will 15 years ago but if that were true why not divide it with 33 1/3% going to each?  Instead I believe that she was instructed to give it to TG. Frankly, doing things like this without discussion with your partner seems kind of suspicious and slimy to me.

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But it really boils down to was a few days in which clarity arrived like a freight train as it plowed into my ears through my mind…its horn loud and piercing my heart until all the blood from my body seeped out of itself, spilling onto the tracks, along with all of the love that I once had for you. And like a bullet train, my love was here one minute and gone the next and I was left standing, suitcase in hand, on the platform of life deciding which direction I wanted to take. And now I am here ….alone….without my children….my heart breaking. Yet, I have been wise enough to put that suitcase down along side  those tracks and refuse to drag it along behind me for the rest of my life. For you and your lies are packed in that suitcase and it is has been a heavy load to carry around with me the past five years. Now, I never want to open that suitcase again.

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But really what drove me to leave were these few things that all happened within the past ten days. The first was the night that I told you how I had been working with my therapist to come up with what a needed to feel that we were working towards healing and that our new life together was on track. You know, that night I told you, “Honey, I need a new symbol of our commitment and would like for us to go on Sunday to pick out new rings and re-new our vows on our anniversary.” And you said something along the line of “I am not sure that I can do that because I don’t know that you can change to love, honor and OBEY me. ” That was definitely the beginning of the end because if you loved me you would have said, “Whatever you need to make you feel safe in this relationship. I will do whatever it takes.” Yet, you had never, once, throughout these two years of me knowing about the affair been willing to do whatever it takes. And you should have. I deserved no less.

 

Finding the love letters between the two of you and the naked pictures of your time in Singapore didn’t help the situation especially as I ran through my head the number of times you told me that you had nothing left from the affair.

But really it was the butt-dialed conversation I heard between you and your sister that drove me away. Hearing the distain you have for me in your voice just about did me in. Hearing the two of you laughing at and about me was one of the most painful things I have ever heard. You know that conversation:

“…I asked her what she was seeing her therapist for and she said PTSD.”

“…from my affair?”

“and she said yes.” (chuckle, chuckle, laugh. laugh)

“…oh that is the new diagnosis. Everyone has it. But if anyone should have PTSD it should be YOU from living with her!” (chuckle, chuckle, laugh, laugh)

Or maybe it was hearing her say you were lucky to be living in Texas now… for the divorce and hearing your answer. Your words made me finally realize that there was a strong possibility that you had brought me to Texas with you in order to get the kids with you (since they were with me in CA) so you wouldn’t have to pay child support nor spousal support. If that was your plan it was so deliberate and cunning that it sacred me and shook me to my very core. It was that moment that I also realized just why you didn’t want me to come to CA to work on my house until after the 30th. Texas law required that you be a resident six months to file and in just a few more weeks you could file against me for divorce and try to get the jurisdiction of our pending CA divorce changed to the  State of Texas; a more favorable state for you. My heart started bleeding with that realization because my intensions to start over and be with you and our family were true while yours were not.

Hearing how you made yourself out to be the victim of the housecleaning wars was also interesting as was when you asked your sister how the TG was doing and it became obvious that your sister was in contact with her for you.

But it is conceivable that what really sealed the deal was how, when the next day arrived and I asked you if you had talked to your sister you said, “No, I haven’t talked to her in at least a week” while looking directly into my eyes.

“Really, you haven’t talked to her?”

“No, not at all.”

“Stop lying to me I know you talked to her yesterday.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“You butt-dialed me (or did he…maybe it was intensional?). I heard every word!”

“No, I didn’t.”

How…how can you stare into my eyes and continue lying? And at the moment I realized the price I was paying was too high and I didn’t want to pay it anymore. That my sanity was worth more than I could ever lose remaining with you.

So I have left your fantasy land. Mine too. Our “trial” reunification in Texas is done.  I have been stripped of everything I thought was true about you, about me, and about our life together. I no longer know what was true the past five years and what you made up to appease me and to protect your guilty self. In fact, upon reflection, I don’t know what was true EVER. And that makes me angry. I am angry that I was so stupid and trusting. I am angry that you set me up. I am angry that you and your girlfriend fucked up our lives and that now I am left alone…our kids living with you because I loved them enough not to just take them with me.

Why?

Well, Paul is in his senior year of high school. He will graduate in four months and is finally doing well in school. His high school has worked hard to help him succeed and feel good about himself despite all the challenges his disabilities present. No…I could not pull him away from that because of my own needs. And Gracie? Well, she has two more years of high school and loves her new coach. Finally, she is getting great coaching which is paramount for a kid wanting to go to college on an athletic scholarship. No, I couldn’t do that to her either.  And Andre…well autism serves him well. He doesn’t care if we divorce or who he lives with as long as he gets to remain in his room.

I am back in my house in CA. It had not sold while I was in Texas. Unfortunately, about six weeks ago it also flooded due to a sump pump failure which insurance would not cover. So I am spending close to $50,000 to repair this house and living in at at the same time. This week I am going to try my hand at tiling a bathroom floor as well as get back to studying my textbooks so I can have a “career” again after I divorce at 59 years old. (I mean who starts a career at almost 60…let’s be real…it won’t be a career like you have had rather it will just be a job). And with it my lifestyle will go from vacations and having to worry much about money to cutting coupons and shopping at Good Will while you wine and dine your fantasy.

We haven’t talked since I left except for 40 seconds about a crisis occurring at the rental house.  Thirty-two years of marriage and we have sent less than a half dozen texts. And while I hurt like I have never hurt before it is also incredibly freeing not to be living with a narcissistic liar anymore. Knowing that what I see and what I hear everyday is the truth is calming my brain and helping me to experience a sense of peace that I have not known in many years.

My friends are concerned. They are afraid that I will go back. But this time I won’t for it is done. I am done. Forever. Just hearing his laughter and distain did more to drive me away than the past five years that he deliberately tried to get me to leave. And because of his warped thinking he can now tell himself the story that he is innocent….that I left him…that I am the bad one….in order to feel good about himself. Yes, B, you’ve won but so have I in a way that I never imagined…I am acting with a sense of purpose and Dignity and Grave. I am treating myself well.

In fact, the other day I bought myself something very nurturing for my re-birth. It makes be feel very safe and cocooned-like. It also brings relief to my set on “high alert”  sensory system has been under attack for the past many years. This gift to myself is contributing to my sense of feeling grateful, peaceful, and calm.

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So friends….don’t worry about me… I am cocooned…I am safe… And B can no longer touch me or my heart. I am GONE. And one day I will feel safe and happy again. It can only get better…and it will….one day at a time. Wish me luck.

 

 

 

 

 

You Must Obey

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Something has not been sitting well for a long time. For the past year and one-half or so B has mentioned that he needs me to obey.  This conversation has come up more than I care to count. It goes something like this:

“What does this mean to you to have me obey?” I ask.

“That I am the man of the house.”

“You are.”

“That you listen to what I have to say.”

“I do.”

“That you respect me.”

“I do”

“That you respect the authority that comes with being the head of the household.”

“That I have the last and final word about everything.”

And then out comes the bible verse that he starts quoting:

Ephesians 5:22-24

22 Wives, obey your husbands as you obey the Lord.

23 The husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church people. The church is his body and he saved it.

24 Wives should obey their husbands in everything, just as the church people obey Christ.

And that is where is all goes to shit.

I am an almost 60 yo woman. Children obey. Dogs obey. Not women who are my age. They explode with vitality and life. They laugh. They explore. They are adventurous. They drink wine. They don’t obey.

Frankly, this discussion has gotten old. It has been going on so long that I can’t believe it continues. It is now November and it’s not the cold weather that is getting the inside of our home a little frosty. It’s this point of contention.

“If you want someone to obey you then I am the wrong woman for you!!!”

And, frankly, I am. The wrong woman. I suspect, Nhi, the Vietnam tour guide has assured him that she would be his submissive and obedient wife. That she would ask his permission. Iron his underwear. And agree with everything he says.

And you know what? There is no way that I can compete with this fantasy that he tells himself about her and their “perfect relationship.”

I have tried.

“Okay,” I suggest.”I will obey Monday, Wednesday and Friday. You obey Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays and Sundays we will take the day off.”

My suggestion does not go over well.

These days I often ask myself where did this OBEY thing come from? Why the sudden need to control me, your equal partner of 30 years, and your loving wife? What does it say about you that you think you need this and what does it say about me that I even listen to this crap?

Sometimes I go through a list of things that could be causing this OBEY thing to resonate so deeply in his head. What is it that can change a man into someone that is not even remotely recognizable? The only thing I can come up with is a brain tumor. Yet, there are no other signs and symptoms to suggest such a thing.

So here goes:

Sorry, but if you don’t feel like the man of the house I cannot give you permission to be the man of this house for that permission is granted to you from within your own head. You have to believe it and nothing I can say or do will convince you of it unless you decide to see you as I see you. Your insecurity about your manhood has nothing to do with me.

And so we are at a stalemate but what we are really at is the end. If you need me to submit to your will and to hold yourself above me then your mental health issues are getting much too serious for me to contend with. I am feeling mentally unsafe with you.

Yet, if I am honest with myself part of me understands this whole obey kick. I have done everything you have asked of me and hung in there when I should have left long ago. The only thing that I could never agree to, and you know it, is to obey. And so you use it against me to force me out because I have too much integrity to lie and agree to something I could never do.

You, sir, are behaving not like a mature adult man but instead you are behaving like a coward. Grow up and finally be the man you want to be…just be that man with the woman you really “love” and not me.

I wrote this in November. In the next few days I will let you know the changes that have occurred in my life since this piece was written. You won’t believe it…because I still don’t!

 

 

 

Ying/Yang… Life Flows

Good and bad. Joy and sorrow. It often seems as if one goes with the other. One minute you are at the pinnacle looking down into life’s pleasant valley and the next minute you find yourself on a frantic ride down the slopes of hell into the snowy abyss.

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That sums up my life this past week.

The joys: A new grandson was born this week. I was suppose to be there but he made his debut a little early so I am here now, in the south, getting my grandma fill. You forget how little but mighty newborns are. All it takes is one little squeak and the world comes running to their beck and call. Oh, the power they wield is immense. Of course,  when you are that small there are the people who are content to just hold you all day long as they stare into your soft innocent face and say silent prayers for your safety as you begin your life journey. So my, Grandson, as I have held you today, these are the thoughts that have been running through my mind as I contemplate all that I hope for you.

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May your life be not too easy that you never know the satisfaction of a job well done but never too hard that you are weary. May you be honest with others but mostly with yourself because it causes the least amount of pain in life when you can do your life’s work from a place of clarity about who you are and what you want. I hope that you explore and find great adventures in the little things. Yet, I hope that you are not afraid to take those big chances in life that bring the vast emotional rewards that promote faith in yourself  coupling themselves with an “I CAN DO IT”  attitude. Further, I hope you realize that even if everything doesn’t turn out the way you planned that you quickly come to the conclusion that it is not the end of the world.

My Dear One: please go outside and spend time admiring the handiwork of Mother Nature instead of sitting indoors playing with electronics. The beauty you see will still your soul. Try your best. Be a good friend, Promote good. Look for opportunities to help others which, in the end, will only end up helping your self. Take time out everyday for giving thanks and expressing gratitude. Don’t yell. Take time to meditate or pray…whichever trips your trigger. Be gentle with yourself and others. Cut yourself some slack when need be but don’t give yourself so much rope that you hang yourself with it. Try your best. Smile, then, smile some more.  Belly laugh often and so hard that you almost wet your pants…but not quite. (now that is a fine line to walk) Treat women well and with respect…opening the door for them is a lost art but practice it anyway. Listen instead of talking and then think before you speak…if you can manage to do these two things you will go far indeed. Finally, know that your parents and your grandparents are there for you and that we will always be your biggest fans. And if you are ever in trouble…don’t be afraid to call. For our love for you is steady and can weather whatever storms come your way. We are your rocks and your mooring as you sail down your chosen path. We will always be there for you.

On sorrow: Last week I told B that I was concerned that we were backsliding on the promises we made about spending quality time together and honoring our relationship by going out on date nights together.  I suggested that if he truly felt our relationship was important he would do something about it because it was time he stepped up and showed me that…. ME or that WE as a couple…. are of the utmost importance to him and I was tired of doing all of the care taking of this union.  And so, on Thursday, he informed me that he had made dinner reservations to be followed by tickets to the ballet and asked if I would like to go on a date with him. My heart leaped with joy…he had listened but more importantly he had acted.

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The big night arrived and I got all dressed up. Frankly, this almost 60 yo body was rockin’ it.  As we were driving downtown, I received all call from my real estate agent. When I saw her number I was giddy.

“Finally,” I thought, “I had an offer.”

My excitement was short-lived. Instead, she was calling to inform me that the inside of my house had been flooded when the sump pump failed. All of the carpet would need to be removed, along with the cabinets and built-in bookcases. And god only knows what else would be needed to be done. As difficult as it was to digest this news I decided to try to put on a happy face for our date. After all, the damage was already done and there was nothing I could do from 1,800 miles away.

At this point I am unsure if my insurance will cover the damage which may cost upward of $50,000 to fix. Needless to say, this has been difficult to contemplate as I look at having to sink my retirement money into fixing a home that I had no plans of keeping.  And then of course, I begin to doubt my decisions…”If I hadn’t gone to Texas I would have been there and none of this would have happened.”

You know, the kind of thoughts that get you no where really fast and are totally counterproductive.

Yet, through all this disappointment and despair, a sense of unexpected healing has occurred. It happened the day after I received the bad news. If you have been reading this blog you know that this house is mine as a result of the ALMOST DIVORCE and as I result I, alone, am responsible for its upkeep and expenses. Frankly, the possible enormity of the costs of repair could wipe me out. And yet…as I sat quietly with my thoughts churning, my husband.. the former.cheater B… reached out to me and said, “if you need money to fix the house you can use the money in in rental account or I can give you mine. After all, its only money.”

And with those words, I finally felt my heart shift and move towards his. Finally, it felt as if he had my back. Finally, it felt as if he was in it for the long haul and as if he wanted to do what he could to make things right.

Tears filled my eyes as I told him, “No, it is my responsibility but your offer means the world to me.”

And it does. Because the offer he made was more than economic. It was from the heart. A heart that he had closed off from mine when he started the affair and kept it closed for five long years in order to justify it. And now, it felt as if he was finally opening it up again to me. It felt like finding that one small perfect present under the Christmas tree that you didn’t know was there…. and even better….it has your name on it. And inside you find a promise ring wrapped up in all the hopes and dreams that you share for the future. A symbol of the all possibility of good to come. Perhaps, even the start of true forgiveness which as seemed so elusive this time around.

Yes, this year Christmas has come early for me. It may not be a perfect one but it is damn close. Because, in all honesty, it isn’t the tons of tinsel and glitter that make the holidays bright. It is really all about your attitude and how you CHOOSE to perceive things. And this holiday season I choose to be grateful for the abundance that I have been blessed with and not to worry about those things over which I have no control. For a sense of peace has descended upon me and it feels damn good.

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A Toast…To ME…And The “Quest”

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So, here I am 59 years old and back in school…who would have thought! Certainly not I, that is for damn sure. As a stay-at-home mom with two special needs kids; B and I let my professional license lapse as we never thought I would go back to my career. Then during his affair he kept trying to push me to go back to work because a divorce would be easier if there was no spousal support to pay and probably because he was supporting/compensating “affair woman” too. Let’s face it,  all he had done became too much for him to handle, and as he saw it, my working would reduce his burden in so many ways. Of course, I didn’t go get a job because with the boys autism issues, school interventions and all the doctor visits there was just no way to do so… but still he kept trying to push me back into the workforce even though financially it made no sense… at least until you calculated in the cost of the expensive mistress…at which point it made perfect sense.

Needless to say, this “about face” on B’s part had left me feeling vulnerable, scared and rather pissed in the face of a “maybe” divorce. No career, no livelihood … no nothing to depend on except a husband with whom we had made joint decisions for the “good” our family… decisions that he now wanted to abandon or amend. Yep, I could count on him looking out for his “affair needs” but not mine and at my age I found it to be a very nerve wracking thing to have staring me in the face. It was definitely a wrinkle I had not counted on and one which Botox could not cure.

Now that things are better between us I decided that I need to secure “my or our” future… whatever that turns out to be… and so last week I started online schooling. This program will allow me to work from home in the medical field and earn $50,000+ per year. While it is not what I am used to living on it will allow me to take care of my family should the need arise. It will allow me to help pay for college for our kids, would allow B to retire early if that is what WE choose and it will allow me to provide a decent living for myself should I find myself alone.

Starting to plan on a new career is a scary thing and goes against what the lawyers have told me. But I am feeling that I need to step out and take a risk for my own sake and safety. While I would like to believe that B and I are healing our marriage with a two steps forward one step back approach; I also know that the time has come for me to trust in myself again and to find a way to be able to be less fearful no matter what comes my way. If we stay together that would be great but if we don’t I am taking my first scary steps to my own financial independence and to relying on myself alone. And while I am still pissed that I have been put into this position in the first place, at this point in time I find I am grateful to have the opportunity to shape my own destiny even though I do not know what the future holds. This truly is my first step to letting go of fear and trusting in myself, my “maybe” marriage, and what is to come.

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So, here’s to me and the two A’s I have received on my first two tests. I’ve got this and I finally have my own back too. And with the holidays upon us I am proud to say I have given myself the greatest gift of all…leaving limbo by reclaiming my own strength. While I may have been betrayed by others, I will try never to betray myself again and instead will face the world standing in quiet confidence.

So starts a new journey and quest. This tough old broad is ready. Bring it on.

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Living In Fear II

I tried to protect myself and my children, but what if I fucked up and am cornered in a daring game of chess that I didn’t even realize that I was playing? Or what if I am safe but don’t even recognize what safety feels like after years of betrayal?

Okay, I just re-read what I wrote and its all bullshit because, let’s get real…I am still living with fear in so many areas of my life.

Fear erupted in me the other day because something that B did was really crappy and it makes me feel fearful and unsafe all over again. Not only that, I find that I am pissed and fearful…a very bad combination.

The other day a rather large envelop came in the mail. Inside, I found a beneficiary form from Chase Bank. Imagine my surprise when I found that I was named 50% beneficiary while B’s co-conspirator of a sister was named as the other half of the equation for B’s rather large sum of money that we split a 1 1/2 ago. This happened with no prior discussion between B and I. He said that he has felt guilty about inheriting all of his father’s estate 14 years ago and that he felt that he owed some of it to his sibs who had NO relationship with his father. Only B, myself, and our children had anything to do with his dad and why I do understand the guilt I have to ask…why now?

At the time of his father’s death B gave each of his sibs $20,000 along with various amounts of money to his father’s stepchildren and all the grandchildren. He was more than generous so when I saw this turn of events I was pissed. Really? You didn’t think you should discuss this with me? You didn’t think we should discuss the fact that we have two special needs boys and that they might never be able to work? I told B that I had to wonder if he was giving the money to his sister because she had a relationship with his five year affair and I wondered if she would see to it that the affair got the money. I mean, if you really wanted your sibs to have the money why wouldn’t you have created equal shares of 33 1/3%?

His response…”It is my money not yours and I don’t care what you think…I will do what I want.”

And while it is true that it is technically his money; I am also well aware that this does not sound like a loving response from someone who is trying to heal their shattered relationship due to their affair. I also got this same “it’s my money I will do what I want and don’t care what you think” response for another money issue that I found out about the week prior to that too. Seems to me that instead of creating distance B should be doing everything in his power to be creating closeness and trust…which he obviously is not.

I am also in fear because in three weeks I am no longer considered to be a resident of the State of CA and frankly divorce laws are less than favorable for me here in Texas. But here is the catch… I moved my children here and in good conscious could not move them back to CA…just wouldn’t be fair to put them through that all because of our fucked up relationship. Paul is a senior it high school and is finally doing well in his last year of school despite his recent schizo-affective disorder diagnosis, while the youngest is once again on a dive team and beginning to make friends. So if I go back to CA…I go alone. Can I really abandon my kids? They didn’t create the situation…I did by trying to glue our family back together again when, perhaps, that was not the thing to try and do.

Funny, I wasn’t fearful until this NEW dictator side of B has come out and the feelings he has that I must OBEY him. Those feelings that have been festering inside him that somehow life would just be okay if I would only obey.

I have to say that I am wondering the validity of a statement as my sister-in-law uttered to me yesterday,”Oh my God, I wonder if he out maneuvered you even with all you did to protect yourself?” And that has re-awakened all of my sleeping fears about this relationship all over again. My peace is shattered and once again I wonder if he is in contact with affair woman because this pissiness, self righteous behavior, and distancing is exactly what I experienced during the affair.

So, yes, since I wrote the last piece, I am now feeling fearful again and I don’t like it.  Living in fear is no way to live. It feels like a lion shredding your throat with its sharp claws and you see no where to go to get relief or to protect yourself. All you can feel is the pain that may be possibly coming your way.

And yet…great times spent together since the move. Tons of fun family outings and cuddling on the couch between me and B so with this turn of events I feel unbalanced with this tightrope walking once again. I feel uneasy and I feel once again that have put myself in a corner that i don’t want to be backed into and yet, today, I feel that I am. Because, really, how can your trust that you are not being cornered when you have been betrayed for so long?

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No Longer Living In Fear

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I have had many of you write and ask what is going on in my life. Thank you for that.

I have not written about what has been going on with me and B because…I have been afraid…afraid that I look weak…that I appear small…worried that I appear to be less of a feminist than I once believed myself to be and didn’t want to be a bad example for my daughters. I have had my doubts…afraid that what I have done was not the right thing, the smart thing, or the best thing. Afraid that I am a poor role model. But now that I have gotten my bearings and some time has passed; I know how I feel about the choices I have made for myself and my family. For many women it would not be the right decision, and I get that…but for me, at this time in my life, my choices have been the right thing for me to do as I enter my sixties.

A RECAP

After separating and filing for divorce for four months, an unexpected job offer came B’s way which entailed moving to Texas. He walked the Pacific Coast Trail trying to decide what he wanted in life…his family or HER. Of course, I had no idea that was what he was doing. Therefore, I found it interesting, that when he returned from the great walk, he appeared to be a changed man. He sat me down, apologized over and over again, admitted his mistakes, came clean, and told me that he wanted to make me and our family the foremost thing in his life once more. After proclaiming all of this, he immediately called HER with me sitting beside him and he told her together that we were staying together as a couple while explaining her that the five year affair was over. Well, her stripes came out for him to see in full glory. This woman, who had told him numerous times that she wanted to see us together, began sending me conversations that they had had in which he was not overly kind in his assessment of me and our relationship. It was painful to say the least but also very eye opening for both me and B to read these texts and  it gave me some insight that I so desperately needed.

And so it was in the month of August when I literally found myself with the shoe on the other foot after all this time and I was the one choosing whether B and I would be together again. Being together is what I thought I wanted for the past year-and one-half,  yet, faced with this unexpected change of his heart, I found I was unsure what I really wanted for myself. Did I want to start a new journey on an entirely different path or did I want to try again with a man who broke me into little pieces but also knew where the glue went to help put them back in place? Would I be making a decision out of fear or would it be because whatever decision was truly the best for me?

Confession time: Soon after separating, I joined a dating service…not so much because I was ready to date (I knew I was not) but because I felt that it would help me find me again and what I wanted or did not want in my life. And after much discussion with my therapist, we found that for me, it was the right thing to do. Frankly, I was surprised at the number of men who found me funny, sexy, beautiful and more importantly just plain interesting. And it felt good to have my worth acknowledged even though we all know the person who had to acknowledge that worth was really only me. I also rapidly found that I knew after a few emails that certain qualities in a man no longer interested me. In truth, I only met one of these men in person but I have never laughed so much in my life. He helped me to view myself in a way that was more realistic with who I actually am and it felt lovely. No, he was not who I would want in my life on a permanent basis but he was a lovely and wise diversion and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to give that up for B.

So I debated and wrestled with myself. I worried and fretted. I witnessed the pain the upcoming divorce was having on my kids and one of my teens was given a diagnosis of schizophrenia which brought me to this truth: I knew I did not want to traverse that diagnosis alone.  So I went to my lawyer and tried to protect myself to the best of my ability…and we moved as a family.

Of course, moving has not released me of all the distrust and pain I have felt over the past five years, but then again, I knew that it would not when I made the decision to try and rebuild our relationship and our lives again. At times, it has been a deep and dark struggle but I also know that it would be an skirmish if I was with ANYBODY because betrayal is a difficult thing to overcome. I think the worst thing about being betrayed is that you stop trusting your own perceptions and have to re-learn how to trust yourself  again which takes guts, time, and determination.  In addition, I knew that when I made this choice that trust would not come easily…and it hasn’t because…. TRUST=consistency/time …. and I have not had enough of either to let go of the hyper-vigilance that the affair has instilled in me.  And yet…happiness and joy has arrived again. My ruminating about the affair has decreased. The trust still has to be earned but with each act of love, each moment that we carve our for our relationship, and each time we have a deep conversation, I little smidge of it arrives to take the place of doubt.

So we have been here for over two months and so far it has been pretty darn good.  We have done a lot of traveling to local sites as a family and B and I have had many date nights…some good and some not so good…but we are trying hard to listen to one another again. Yes, it is early and with the chaos of a move comes a time where real life and true feelings are suspended and now comes the hard part…day to day living without the excitement of a move impinging on our daily lives.  But for the most part, I am happy with the decision that I made and if I made the wrong one I guess I will have to live with the painful consequences. But if I made the right one…I see a better life together before us that will sustain us in our old age. Don’t get me wrong an affair is a horrible thing… but maybe… just maybe… it has been the catalyst for changes that needed to be made in order for our relationship to survive and flourish over the next 30+ years. We shall see… but in the meantime I am determined to become my true and best self, let go of the anger and disappointment and if B doesn’t like it, frankly, he doesn’t have to live with it. For I am no longer living in fear and never will again.

Congratulations Winner!

It’s funny. I have been thinking a lot about the last and only conversation I had with you (the five year mistress) since finding out about the affair. You know the one… during which my husband told you it was finally over while I listened and Skyped with the two of you… you being fully aware of my intrusive presence and witness to your heartbreak. During this conversation, with all the contempt you could muster, you said to me “Congratulations, Winner!” and over the last few months I have thought about this often.  This is because far from being “The Winner” I believe I have been the biggest loser of them all in this sick love triangle, except perhaps for my children who have lost their sense that the world is a safe place now and forevermore. And for that and that alone, I will never forgive you, try as I might and as a result, I end up hurting myself each and every day. For this sorrow, as we both know, only hurts me and doesn’t begin to touch you because you are not a part of their lives and you don’t have to bare witness to their pain.

Yes indeed, I may have my husband back but there are so many things I have lost forever or have yet to regain. I have lost my innocence regarding the 30+ year relationship I have had with my husband.  I lost the notion of true love and happily ever afters. And unfortunately, I have learned that the man I once trusted with my life is capable of deceitfulness and lies so deep that the Grand Canyon is not big enough to hold it all.

Sadly, I have lost all belief in myself: the idea that I can discern truth from fiction, that my perceptions are to be believed without question and that my feminist stance is a in-dwelling part of me which I honor no matter what. I have even been stripped of parts of my dignity. For those who know of the affair and the fact that I went back to a cheater, judge, I have somehow given up on my own sense of self, and my self- worth….and they pity me for it, thankful that they aren’t a spineless me. Yes, now I  have whole pieces of myself that have disappeared as I tried to preserve my children’s lives and my own no matter the cost to my own sanity and ego.

Further, where once I believed that my husband was incapable of  certain behaviors; I find he is capable of so much more than I could even conceive that it makes me feel emotionally unsafe. I may have him but I often feel alone as I wonder if he is still thinking of you when he closes his eyes while we are making love. I have lost my sense of joy and gratitude that I am alive because I no longer feel fully alive in this shell of myself which I now inhabit. A shell that my oldest son no longer talks to because he is angry at me as he feels I have turned my back on everything I have always professed that I am and he says I am no longer a role model for his daughter, a fact that may indeed be true. Now, the ground that once held the foundation of my marriage strong and steady is soiled and has turned to quicksand and what is left of the foundation is so unstable there are days that I don’t know if anything can be built on it to last no matter how hard we try.

But mostly what the two of you have taken from me is a sense of peace and all I am left with is an anger which rides a broomstick like a witch on Halloween. Here one minute, gone the next, casting spells and leaving behind ghosts which haunt me and rise suddenly out of nowhere their shadows throwing themselves throughout my life in the most unexpected places and ways. It’s the peace I miss the most. That sense of security which dwells inside your soul… quiet, restful, content contributing to a persistent belief in yourself and all you can accomplish. That stolen part of me hurts the most and at my age I worry that I will never find it again… keeping me in death tied to this thing I lost in life…forever searching and becoming a ghost myself. Oh, I do all the right things. I read the self-help books, I meditate daily, and  I try to practice forgiveness, but sadly, this sense of peace I once had is now elusive and I equate it to trying to find a lost diamond in the forest after you have walked a thousand miles. Although you re-trace your steps it is nowhere to be found. It’s the same with peace.

Even more bewildering than all this is that there are days that I still obsess about you, and while these obsessions are less frequent, they still interrupt me and my life at the most inconvient times. Like when I am finally finding peace in my husband’s arms, or while I am in the check out line at the grocery store, or while gassing up the car. Sadder still, I believe I think of you more than my husband thinks of you and it makes me scratch my head in wonder that you take up any single part of my day when you don’t deserve being thought of again for one measly nano second. And yet I do.  I resent that you now rent a room in my head when I never gave you permission to move in. I also find that when I think of you I find myself trying to I hate you, just so I can live with him. For the truth is that if I spent the amount of time thinking about what he did to me…to us…to our family,; then there are times I think that I could probably never live with him again. And so the blame lies solely at your feet.

Frankly, it would have been so much easier if you had been a six month affair. Easier still if you had lived down the block but being around the world made you that much more desirable because you were never put to the test, never had to live day in and out with this man or the chaos of our very complicated family. You never had to have a fight because he had to come home to his family or because he put us first. You never had to see us, husband and wife, laughing and joking together while walking down the street disturbing your sense of righteousness at saving B from the “awful” woman that he made you think I was. No, you never had to pick up my boys underwear, smell my husband’s farts in bed, iron his shirts or clean up after him. You got the fantasy relationship that I now dream of. That one that is free of complications because reality never actually touched it. Both of you were each others perfect fantasies because your relationship was just that…a fantastic dream. And therefore, the forbidden kisses you gave one another over the phone were sexier and more exciting than any I gave him. Nothing I did could bring satisfaction because you were mightier in his mind than I. And that mightiness overshadowed his “disappointing “real life with me which was all created in his own head to justify what he was doing and it was egged on by you. And as a result, during your “perfect” five years of Skyping, B got the perfect untested woman who would tell him whatever it was he wanted to hear, would listen and cluck with sympathy, all the while telling him all YOU would do for him once you took my place and how much you would appreciate him. Yes, you made him a King and he found wearing your crown was  quite addictive.

Sadly, it was not so much him you wanted but merely to take my life so that you could have my status, my home, my American passport and my “THINGS.”   I suppose the $50,000 he paid you for that three day fuck cemented that interest in obtaining my place in his life too. I am sure it gave you hope that you would be lifted out of a life of poverty and uncertainty because of “your” savior and our resources. And I have to say that I “get it.”  I understand why you betrayed me, the woman you had over for dinner with your family. You had hopes of permanently securing what you could only get in small very lucrative doses… freedom, security, citizenship, and “love.”

So, while you think I am the winner in this game I can assure you that I am not. No one wins in the game of adultery. Not one single soul. Our children lost big-time. They were hurt in so many ways and now wonder if their father is someone they can truly rely on to be there for them for the rest of their lives. You were hurt and I was hurt… both of us stripped of our dignity, left naked, exposed, and very much alone in an wasteland of empty emotions. I did nothing noble in fighting for B. If the truth be told, I was just a wife and mother who was trying to hold onto our family and our dream of what our life would look and be like all those years ago when we married. I was stubborn and petty and just angry enough not to let you “win.”

No, if there is a winner in all of this it would be B, the man who strung along two women, gave and with held his love as it suited him and who ate both from the plate of the secure and that of the fantasy. He got to feel undeserved admiration from the two of us, and your family, along with the rush that comes from being the prize. And he wasn’t left feeling “less than nothing” whereas the two women involved were.

So sleep well tonight knowing that you were not the “loser” and I the “winner.” This game of deceit and sacrifice did nothing for any of us except to line your pockets and to line B’s head with ideas of who and what he is not. And if adultery is the game for losers as I suspect it is, then the game becomes less about winning and more about just surviving. And all of us are now left just trying to survive the selfishness of two people who thought they had it all but in reality had nothing.

 

Manipulations and Lies

Every time I move forward on the divorce front B begs that we stay together. On Thursday he came home and said he was going to sell his new house so that there would be no temptations to run there when things are not “perfect” because you know after a betrayal of four years everything has to be “perfect” so we get along. He will sell the house and wants to be with us.

On Saturday during conversation he states that he is keeping his house. The reason; He is looking a a new job in Texas. After looking at divorce laws and in particular  alimony laws in Texas;

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I told him that if he wanted to all move down there to keep our family together in the same area I would either:

A. Want to get divorced in CA first in order to protect me and the kids

B. Have a contract written up which would grant us the same alimony/divisions that would occur in CA

Needless to say, this is now the reason he is keeping his house. “You don’t trust me. You never have our entire 30+ years.” And “You threw me out of our house. I will never be homeless again.”

Geez…. I wonder if your behavior for the past four years has anything to do with it. I wonder if finding out you were still communicating with girl friend was a direct contributor to that? Take responsibility man.

In addition, several times a week he says that he wants me to put his name on my house so we can “be together.”  I keep saying no. Not interested. He keeps saying he wants the relationship to work but it cannot as long as his name is not on the house. He doesn’t feel comfortable.

I wonder how couples who have been betrayed in such a way ever return to a loving relationship. It is obvious that we cannot. Probably not even be friends. How do they do it, I wonder?

This is so hard. I am so tired.I keep moving slowly towards November 20th the day our divorce is set.

Today I made him an offer. You leave and go to Vietnam to be with your “true love” IHN and you get 25% of our assets and I get the rest to raise our children on and I will be totally responsible for any of their expenses. He could live like a king with all that money over there for the rest of his life. He could quit his job and all the stress would be gone. He would like to do it except for the children. Fine we will put together a travel fund so they can visit when they want. Yes…this is the man who swears he wants to be with me and our family but is seriously contemplating  my proposal.

One foot in front of the other. That is all I have the strength for at this point. One step at a time.