Grocery Store Blues

Almost every morning I arise and recite some positive affirmations which I find brings positive thinking to the forefront and negative thinking into the further recesses of my mind. Unfortunately, I have neglected to do so for the past several days and it all caught up to me today in the grocery store.

Since I left my home and family I find that the hardest thing is for me to do is to go to the food store. Frankly, it is the loneliest place on the planet and I find this is where these life changes that I am facing knock me flat and kick the shit out of me.

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I used to like to go shopping. When you have a family as big as mine and cook just about every night; the grocery store is a place of endless ideas. It is a positive place that you can go to show your appreciation to your spouse and your love for everyone in the house by getting foods they enjoy and then cooking them and preparing them with love in your heart.

Since I have been single I have found the grocery store to be my own personal nightmare. Sure I get to pick what I ALONE WANT TO EAT but there is a true emptiness in doing so. I really have no desire to cook a fancy meal for me, myself, and I; so my shopping cart looks barren and desolate like the basket of someone getting over the flu.  Few things in it and none of them very exciting or wholesome. Lots of healthy frozen dinners, milk, yogurt, lettuce, carrots and that is about it.

Which is why I became shaken while walking the aisles today. I found that I had a very strong impulse to leave the cart sitting in the meat section and run out the doors. I have never had this happen to me before and it felt disconcerting. At took everything within me to stay and continue what I had come in for. It wasn’t a panic I was feeling. Just an all encompassing sadness. All I could think of as I cruised around was the laughter around the dinner table that I so desperately miss along with the appreciation I felt for a job well done. And all of this exists no more in this life that I am creating. It took everything I had in me not to break down in tears in aisle 13 (coffee) aisle 8 (school lunch snacks) and the produce aisle where golden apples once beckoned like the sun. My eyes were so thick with water that when I opened the freezer door I misjudged and slammed it hard into my forehead almost knocking myself out. WHAP!!!!! Just like something out of an I LOVE LUCY episode.

Some sweet teenage boy looked at me and said, “Hey, lady are you okay?”

“NO, NO IAM NOT.  I AM NOT OKAY. I AM NOT OKAY WITH HOW THIS ALL TURNED OUT. DAMN IT!!!

I am feeling:

Sad

Scared

Weary

Lonely

Vulnerable

Excited at times

And pretty much feeling worthless and unsure of myself…like walking the plank over an ocean full of thrashing sharks waiting to nibble at my bones.

I know it will get better. I know that someday I will be creating new memories of dinners with new friends and neighbors which will make perusing the aisles fun again. But for now the grocery store is the loneliest place on the planet and it is a place I just don’t want to visit anymore. It holds too many good memories and its shelves are stocked with expired items that are not mine to put into my cart. I can no longer taste the flavors of life at the dinner table anymore only the cardboard wrapping that protects what is inside.

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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.

 

Returning Home

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Tomorrow I head back home after seven days away and sometimes I wonder what I am going home for and who I am going home to. You tell me that you are all fine. That things are going along comfortably without me. It makes me wonder what is the purpose of my being there when it is so obvious that my being there is not what you want?

This morning when you told me that you asked the kids whether they missed me it made me wonder whether you had an ulterior motive. I mean, who asks their kids that? Kids always miss their mothers. Or were you hoping that they would say no so you wouldn’t feel guilty about what it is you appear to want to do?

But more importantly, the fact that you could not and would not give me what I needed…love words…speaks volumes about where our relationship is at. It crushed my soul that you feel such distaste for me that you could not say you missed me and you loved me. Whether you wouldn’t or your couldn’t…neither one is acceptable for is shows a lack of respect, caring and obviously the type of love that is needed for a marriage to flourish. Shutting down only allows you to keep yourself shut off and to reflect back any love that is directed to you which then allows you to convince yourself that I don’t love you. And it is all because you don’t want that love…at least from me. Or so it would appear.

Even more importantly, I wonder what parts of myself I should bring back and what parts I should leave behind that would help you to love me again. Which parts do I leave at the door because they are no longer desired or is it a matter of just not stepping over the threshold at all because there is nothing there that appeals to your sense of what a marriage should be. And it makes me resentful that I feel that I have to leave the best parts of me at the door to get your approval. That I have to drop off that introspective part, my inquisitive nature, and the part that believes you when you say “I love you” at the prompt.

After we talked this afternoon you said that the letter I sent you made you feel that you always disappointed me but to me telling your lover what it is you need is giving them the opportunity to create a better relationship. And me too. Yet, if the truth be told I think you USE that fact that you feel like you disappoint me as an excuse to be bitter and to prove to yourself that you are right. That nothing you do will make me happy. But I should be able to state my thoughts without being made to feel like if I do that you will think that you disappoint me. Often I believe that if I just smiled and never told you how I felt about anything that would make you happy and comfortable because you would never have to look at things that you didn’t want to. You could live in la-la land being happy while I became more and more miserable being something I am not. I mean if I can’t say in the kindess way I know how what I need from a relationship then I think that a life size blow up doll is your next option. Probably a skinny brunette.

As it is I wish you would ask yourself why you could not and would not assure me of your love? Why would you not say you missed me? Are you withholding because you no longer love me? If so, I can tell you that it feels cruel and inhumane. It feels life taking not life giving.

Yes, I know that yesterday I discussed that fact that holding onto our hurts only increases our own suffering and it does. I know this to be true because yesterday, I did let them go and they left leaving behind the lessons to unpack and contemplate. Yet, here they are back again and this feels like a major disappointment to me because it feels like I have failed myself as I pull out this hurt once again. But I hope in writing all of this, that by seeing my words in front of me, I can let it go and start concentrating on the lessons that are presenting themselves so I can grow.

Maybe it is all baloney. Maybe I can never be that type of person. Maybe I am just kidding and deluding myself but I  would like to think not. I believe that I can and will be able to re-train my brain into seeing things in a new light. And that if I can start to apply what I have learn from these lessons that I find myself intertwined in at this moment;  that someday in the not so distant future that I will finally not allow myself to give you such power over my own emotions. That I will learn to let go of things I cannot control and accept those things that I cannot.

Acceptance isn’t instantaneous. Learning how to allow acceptance to float throughout your life takes practice. Learning that you will not get everything you want from your relationship and you might have to find other ways to fill the void is something I am beginning to seriously consider and am searching for ways in which I can have my needs meet through my own actions rather than yours. It will take a while more. I am still learning. How long it will take I cannot say. But I know that when I come to accept you and myself that things will improve dramatically.

Until then I know that I am doing the best I can working with what I have got at this moment in time. If it is not enough for you then I am truly sorry. If it is, then I hope you have the courage to give me the time that I need to complete this journey that I am on, on my own terms and at my own pace. If you cannot, then you will lose out on something wonderul in the future. I may not know much but this much I know to be true.

 

 

The Princess Returns…301 Days To Fix This

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Last week was poignant.  The baby of our brood headed off to Science Camp for five days. It is a rite of passage in this neck of the woods and she didn’t want to go. She has never been able to spend the night at friends houses because she would get “homesick” and end up back at home at 3 a.m. Obviously, this was a big deal.

Sometimes it is interesting what people are afraid of. Gracie is a champion diver. She falls from dizzying heights and lands in water that can be sharp and chill you to the bone. She has the courage of Spider Man and flies higher than a squirrel; yet nothing was scarier for her than leaving her Mommy and Daddy behind.

We tried many things to convince her that she would have a wonderful time up in the woods and that she wouldn’t miss us one iota. We bought  tons of “girly girl” hair accessories  so she could perform magic on her cabin mates hair. We bought a disposable camera for her to take pictures of all the fun she would be having. I stuck “love notes” in her suitcase that she could open one day at a time.

And finally the big day arrived. In the morning she sniffled a bit in protest but by the time she arrived at school she was talking with her friends like she had everything under control. A few minutes later she rode away on that big yellow school bus, hand out the window, waving goodbye with a big smile on her face. The last thing I saw of her was the back of her head while she giggled away with a friend. Then she was gone for five long days.

Yesterday, the big yellow school bus returned and with it a more confident and secure young woman. We hugged (Oh Mom, do we HAVE to!)and Gracie related a few choice camp facts. Then she went off to claim her luggage while I called B.

“We’re screwed,” I told him.

“Why’s that?” B replied.

“Because she now knows she can make it without us. We are no longer the people who keep her safe and secure in her mind. We are now officially relegated to accessory mode. ”

It was then I heard Gracie’s sweet voice.

“Come on mom, I need your help carrying my suitcase.”

And it was then that I realized that although I may be regulated to accessory status, my little girl still needs me a little bit even if it is just to carry a portion of her load.