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.

 

So Be It …I Found Happiness

After all that has happened in my life I decided I needed to take a break from blogging. I needed to center myself and become really grounded so I could do the work that I needed to do.

The first thing I did (we did) was move. That said, the new house is in my name only and is not part of community property. I felt I needed to do this to protect myself and my children should B go off the rails again. It makes me feel secure and I am proud of myself for insisting on this safety measure.  I also put some other measures into place that has ensured that I am taking care of myself and kids.  All in all a good deal and I came out ahead of being divorced. A 30+ year marriage is not something I wanted to leave behind especially with the dynamics of our family. Besides I do still love the big lug and I know he loves me regardless of the past. Doesn’t mean that everything is hunky-dorie but it does mean we are both still trying and that is something!

Needless to say, moving involves a lot of change which all have managed fairly seamlessly and with a few tears. Change is hard but also it shows you what you are made of. It offers new possibilities and allows everyone to “reinvent” themselves to some extent. Honestly, reinventing your life reveals surprises that you never considered before and I welcome them with open arms. Come on world…show me what you’ve got!

I have been working hard with my therapist’s help to decide who I want to be and what I want from these coming “golden” years. Not there yet but getting close so it is time for me to plan. I feel stronger and more confident now and am able to go with the flow without anxiety. I am settling into myself and it feels wonderful like a warm sweater on a crisp fall day.

I am enjoying making this house my home and am happy that our old house just sold. Good riddance to the pain and sadness that I felt in that house.  I am infusing my life and likes into every corner of the soul of this place. I am putting in a garden again and even though the “dirt” is hardpan clay and rock upon rock, I find a wield a pickax with the best of them.

The wildlife is expansive. Deer take bread from our hands. Fox run amuck. Opposum waddle through. And the skunks reek havoc. The first week we were here, the dog, who was protecting our son, grabbed a skunk by its tail and shook it, twirled it around and around and then threw it against the stone wall. Needless to say the entire time he did this he was being sprayed. Then he was bitten by it after cornering it. We tried everything to get rid of the stench but even 5 weeks later there is a slight after-smell on our brave pooch.

I have been stringing up hummingbird feeders and I now have great friends who visit everyday. In the morning when I water, these mystical creatures stand behind the spray so now they are getting a daily shower. I never knew you could see joy on a hummingbird’s face but I swear you can!

Our relationship is much better. Sitting on the deck watching the sunrise over the mountains together drinking coffee helps. So does watching the boats ply the waters, laying in a two person hammock and taking time to explore this new land around us together. Less stress also has contributed to a greater sense of well-being.

One of the things that I have decided to do as an act of faith in my relationship is not blog about it anymore. I have so many more wonderful things to write about…so why beat and dead horse to death. I want more positive vibes in my life and in order to have them my mind has to be in a place that welcomes and honors them. Talking about my “almost divorce” only serves to fixate me on the past and does not allow for me to be open to a future full of promise. And at this point in my life I want to be open to everything that might come to me.

So I leave you with one of my feathered friends enjoying a shower. (Okay…I haven’t figured out how to do that yet! Some other time!)

Peace to all.

 

Stress Eating/Mental Health Nightmares

I started my diet to lose 20 pounds at 6:00 a.m. It is now 11:30 A.M. and I have downed two pieces of fudge, drank another cup of coffee that is mostly milk and devoured a bag of moon cheese. All within 30 minutes.

I had good intentions. Truly I did. And I was sincere too in the belief that this week would be the one I got off my kester and set to work reducing my waist but at this point my resolution appears to be a waste… for life got in the way.

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It all started yesterday. I drove home from Las Vegas after Gracie’s dive meet where she took a first in one event. So proud of that kid. Anyway, after driving 6 hours I was met at home by an angry teenager. Paul was fine while we were gone but seems he and Gracie got into it the moment she came through the door.  An hour later I was holding him while he melted down and cried. Damn you autism and mental health challenges!!!!

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After those difficult and emotional moments it appeared things were better until I decided to spoil myself with a nice warm bubble bath.  And therein lies my first mistake…actually thinking that I could do something nice for myself without being interrupted.  For as I lay in the tub I suddenly heard very loud shouting and a slamming of a door that shook the entire house. As I jumped up and wrapped a robe around me I heard uncontrollable crying coming from Paul’s room. I walked into a mess caused by a kid who had dumped, in a rage, the contents of his desk all over the room and he was sobbing. I went over to him and he yelled at me to leave him alone. Now I don’t know about you but when I hear those words spoken with the tunderous roar of a fighter jet I know that I am needed more than ever. I also know I need to change into my Green Beret mentaility to succeed in turning things around despite the odds being against me.

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What ensued was not easy. I ended up on the floor while this child both raged, hyperventiled and talked scary stuff. I held onto him like his life and mine depended on it. This went on for almost an hour until at last he wore himself out. His words broke my heart. His pain broke my soul. And his anger touched a place in my brain that I never want to visit again.

Later, after going down to the kitchen I realized what the problem was. While I was gone he had not taken his medicine and B had not checked his box to make sure that he had. Two days without meds in Paul’s case is a disaster. He becomes a tsunami of emotions that threatens to wipe out anyone nearby and the result is anger that cannot be contained.

I worry about my son. I worry that one day he will rage at the wrong person. I worry that while “out of his head” he might get shot by police or hurt himself. I worry that in his anger he may seriously hurt his siblings instead of a kicking a hole in the door that is a reminder of when he got seriously mad. Sometimes I worry that his mental issues will engulf us all and carry us down the mountainside with him broken and  buried under tons of stone. I know my marriage has been effected by Paul’s issues and that we all suffer in different ways when he is off-balance and out of control.

This morning, I packed everyone’s lunches and drove each one to their school. I proceeded to the gym in order to kick my diet into high gear. As I was nearing my goal of three miles I received a phone call. Paul was having an anxiety attack at school and could I please come and get him?

He’s sleeping now. His face soft and relaxed. Quiet breaths making his chest rise and fall in a slow steady rhythm unlike yesterday when he sobbed so hard he chest was moving mountains. I look again and my heart fills with love for my son; this boy who feels others emotions so intensely and takes them on as his own. This boy whose face I first saw on an adoption site. Right now, he looks like an angel which is what I am afraid that he might someday be. For unless, we can find a way to teach him to control his emotions I am afraid he will be hurt and possibly killed. By a stranger, The Police. Or himself. Either way, our path is a hard one and we are scraping our knees as we once again escape the sharp edges of the precipice which is our lives.

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Saying YES To The Ring

I have been pondering for the past couple of days how to write this post. I have started it, deleted it and started it again many times. For at this point, what I am about to write is embarrassing, very confusing, and probably tiring to all who read my blog.  Frankly, I know that if this on-and-off again relationship was happening to a friend or my daughters I would say, “Get the fuck out! You deserve a man who wants all of you all of the time!”

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Yet, sometimes life is not that cut-and-dried no matter how hard we try to make it so. Over thirty years of marriage is a long time together. It is doubly hard when you have two boys with autism and who do not do well with change. Add to that three children who have already lost their original families and splitting up becomes fraught with minefields that just are not present in most families.

Now to tell you this particular story I have to take you back to October. It was then that B asked me what I wanted for Christmas. At that time I flippantly told him a commitment ring but frankly I thought that the possibility of receiving one was nil. Winning the lottery had better odds. And anyway, who doesn’t like a ring, right, so what was the harm in asking?

Fast forward to Christmas night. As we were winding down from the days festivities I told B I thought we should tell the kids tomorrow that we were separating. Tears came to B’s eyes and all of a sudden he called the kids down to do THE board. You see, every year on Christmas day and July 4th, we measure our kids to see how much they have grown (seems we will need a longer board for Andre next July.) Then, just as the kids were about to go upstairs B told them to wait and proceeded to say. “Hey, guys, there is one more present here and it is for your mom.”

With that, he walked over to his briefcase and pulled out a jewelry box and in it sat a woven silver and gold ring. Nothing elaborate (that is not who I am) and nothing too expensive (not me either). As I looked at the ring in shock he said something to me and the kids along the order of:

“The silver in this ring represents our Silver Anniversary (25th) while the gold represents striving toward our Gold Anniversary (50th). In this ring there are little breaks and holes that represent life and how during our lives we have to navigate through them, around them, and out of them; to get back on the path we have chosen. So I am giving your Mom this ring to show her that I am committed  and will continue to try working together to reach our Golden Anniversary.”

My first thought: Maybe he really does love me…and tears

My second thought: I am not sure I want this. Maybe it really is time to be out on my own.

My third thought: Why did he say this in front of the kids?

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Luckily, the next day was Tuesday, the day I see my therapist. She said:

“I’m confused.”

That made two of us.

So we talked about the conflicting feelings this brought up. About how for the last week every time we talked about leaving and splitting up our family we both cried. How our guts were both twisted in knots and how discussing dividing children, assets and animals was devastating. And that in this heartache we had gotten closer at least for the past few weeks but that it should be viewed as temporary.

In the end, I decided to accept the ring…for now. Instead of deluding myself into thinking this ring is a piece of jewelry that signifies B’s commitment to me for life; I have decided to view it as a day-to-day pledge until I decide otherwise.

Last night we went to our joint therapist and I asked for clarification regarding the ring, the commitment and why he said what he did in front of the kids.I will say that I received some very well thought through answers to my questions and that we both acknowledged that we have a long way to go to save this marriage if it is even possible.

At this point I have no real answers about life or the status of my marriage. What I do know is that every day we manage to make it is one more day our children have had a chance to grow older and more mature. It is one more day that we have successfully re-committed to working hard and to trying our best to listen to what is in the others heart and act accordingly. And it is one more day that we have attempted to let love win, move towards acceptance of both ourselves and the other, and its one more time that we have had the chance to try to find peace in a relationship that once had little.

Sometimes life is hard.

Sometimes life is isn’t.

And maybe, just maybe, given a little more time, the hard times will decrease and the good times will grow more frequent and blossom. And maybe someday I will realize good times and bad are just part of life and that is just the way it is and I won’t take it personally. And maybe, just maybe when the good times are abundant I will be able to rejoice in them knowing that I have done everything humanly possible to make them happen….with or without him.

 

 

 

Death Of My Marriage

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Yesterday was the day that we decided to meet for lunch to exchange lists regarding how we would like to divide our property, arrange child custody issues, and the like. We have decided to try to forego lawyers and see if we can work this out between the two of us.

We slept the night before holding hands and when we woke up B tells me, “Maybe we should go back to the belief that divorce is not an option,” so when we went to the restaurant for lunch I half expected that he might give me a piece of paper that said I DO NOT WANT A DIVORCE but he came fully prepared. I guess there is a little part of me that is still floating down DE-NILE. A part that does not want to enter the raging, swirling currents of divorce that could at any time capsize my raft and suck me under the torrents of tears that seem originate at the mouth of this river.

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These days I find tears are always threatening to leak out of my eyes at the most inopportune times. Paul came downstairs and found streaks from tears that I quickly wiped off my face but he saw them and asked what was wrong. Thank goodness I am still wearing this arm sling because it hides a multitude of emotional sins that are bubbling at my surface surprising me as the burst forth when least expected.

“I’m okay, sweetie. My shoulder is I just hurting me right now,” has become a great response when my sad and raw sentiments threaten to take me down to places in which I do not want my children to see or dwell.

After Christmas we will detonate their world by blowing up all they believed to be right and true to smithereens. They will never be the same and I am afraid that my two sons with autism will regress/rage as a way to handle the major changes that their lives will undergo. Change is something that is very hard for people with autism to endure.

I also feel terribly guilty. As adoptees my children have already lost the first parents, their first country, their culture and their language. We were suppose to be their Forever Family and we have let them down. Paul’s therapist tells us his biggest fear is ending up alone with no family and I am sure it will set off feelings of abandonment for him. This is one of the things I am finding it difficult to find peace about and find the compassion to offer forgivness towards my husband destroying our lives together.

Last night B and I got into bed. We held hands all night and we both cried on and off. It was a night in which sleep eluded us but sorrow did not as it swept us up in its tight grip and kept any sweet dreams at bay.

Today is a new day…I think I will go back to sleep.

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13 And Counting

I remember the first time I saw Gracie. She was sitting on her foster mother’s lap, so tiny and delicate, that she looked like a doll. She was a preemie so everything about her seemed fragile and small. I fell in love with her right then and there as I stared at the tiny 3×4 inch photo in my computer screen; engraving her sweet face on my heart forever. Truly, it was love at first sight and I was bound and determined that she would become our daughter. I thank my lucky stars that my dream came true because everyday with Gracie has been a delightful dream with a mixture of happiness, joy, and a pinch of awe thrown in for good measure. She truly is amazing!

Today Gracie turns thirteen. It is hard to believe that I will never again be raising a mere child. Instead, I am guiding young adults towards the time when they leave the nest…hopefully for good.

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Since Gracie is a now an official teenager, it means I have four teens living in my house. Maybe I should say co-existing, as war could erupt any minute when you are stepping through emotional teenage land mines which are scattered, undetected, here and there. Gracie assures me that she will not act like a teen but she is already rolling her eyes and using THAT tone of voice which indicates that somehow I have become the absolute dumbest person ever to live on this planet. Forget the 55+ years of experience, the college degrees and my affable personality…I am soon to be regulated to the status of something below pond scum.

While I am excited about someday becoming an empty nester (finger crossed) I do have to admit I miss those times when my children thought I could do no wrong, when they believed I was smarter than G*D, and when the little things I did brought them such pleasure. Those were simpler times though I didn’t recognize them as such. I often viewed them as chaotic with all the meltdowns that two children with autism could bring. But now… well, even the meltdowns don’t seem quite as bad as when I was in the midst of them and I can look back and be proud of how I handled some situations that would tax the patience of a saint. Not to say I handled them all well but I did GOOD ENOUGH and that is just fine with me at this point in the game.

Today is one of those momentous days. Time and perceptions will shift for both Gracie and I as the label of TEEN is applied like a gooey sticker to her soul. May we each grant the other grace and dignity in the coming years as she grows wiser and my brain cells shrink in number. May we create memories that sustain us and may we see the best in each other instead of the worst. For the teenage years are upon us…may we both survive them with patience and our sense of humor intact! And may Gracie happily survive the impact that autism has on a family and a sibling..she has done a remarkable job thus far.

Happy Birthday My Sweet, Talented, Gracious, Fun-Loving And Hard-Working Baby Girl! You are my Superhero!

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Dance

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Tonight I chaperoned a high school dance. The girls were glitzed and glammed, each out doing one another in the hair, makeup, and dress department.  The boys….well they were typical  teenage boys…nerdy, sweet, and 100 years behind the girls in just about every way imaginable. Most of them sat together and played video games while the girls stood around whispering to each other, laughing, and talking the talk. Meanwhile the boys who weren’t gaming, looked somewhat green around the gills, as if they were in intense pain trying to outdo one another to impress the girls with puffy-chest macho displays. Frankly, it’s a wonder that the two sexes ever come together at all.

After spending the first half of the evening checking the kids in (what do you mean you forgot your parental permission slip) I decided to head over to the dance floor in hopes picking up some new steps. Unfortunately, watching teenage boys move to the grove is like watching an elephant attempt to play the kazoo while dancing the lead in Swan Lake…there is NOTHING that can make it look pretty. Hips go one way while butts go another and I swear I saw a couple of heads do a 360 while sitting squarely on their shoulders. But the worst thing was the fact that not one of them could keep tempo to the music. It was like watching a little old man crossing the street using a walker…one speed only… with head bent and body stooped their bellies almost dragging on the ground. The ones still moving upright were sweating like Trump’s Communication Director when the President is in front of a microphone… never sure what ungodly thing might happen to destroy all their carefully laid plans.

Yet, with all the hormones on high alert things stayed sweaty but calm and everyone was having a good time, chaperones included. Something about the unchanging ways of nervous teens brings you back to your own school dance and you realize just how far you have come!

Of course, there is always some sort of drama. At our school dance this is the End Of The Night Song. It is the one and only slow dance that the deejay plays the entire night. Stomachs tense and butterflies alight and the girls begin to giggle as the time draws near. If the truth be told no one wants to dance the last dance and everyone is crushed if they don’t. As the first notes of Fade Into You began, I was surprised to feel a tap on my shoulder. When I turned around Paul was standing there.

“Would you like to dance, Mom?” he asked strong and sure in his choice.

“Me?” I asked.

“Sure. You’re the prettiest girl here.”

And as I stepped into his arms I knew without a doubt that all those years of hard work raising two children with autism had paid off.  I was obviously doing something right in this life and was finally reeping the rewards.

 

 

WE

 

We have built houses together

Planted a vineyard and gardens

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Raised six kids together

We have survived your mother

The death of parents

And your brother

We have moved

Numerous times for your career

Starting over again and again

Just knowing each other

In a city of a million faces

Finding comfort and love in that

And we have stuck together

Through so much adversity

Pain and sorrow

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We have traveled the world together

Had much happiness and joy

Done things as a couple

That brought us closer

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We have struggled

Raising two boys with autism

Put their needs ahead of our own

Done everything possible to give them

The best chance for a good life

So why it is now

After all the hard years

After all the time we have sweated and pushed

And fought the school system

After life and death

Hardships and pain

You want to abandon

Our future

And all the good times

We dreamed about

For so very long?

We’ve slogged through

The Rough Times

Taken so many wrong turns

But you don’t want to share

In the best that is to come…

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The walking along the beach

Holding hands

Visiting Grandchildren

Kayaking the rivers

And taking art classes

Working to save the river

And the seals

Old age sex

And wrinkles

And watching with a tender heart

Fingers intertwined

When one of us takes our last breath

Being there for the other

As one passes to the other side

To the unknown

The other left grieving and lonely

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We’ve been through the hard times

Why can’t we share the reward

Of all we worked for together?

When life is finally getting easier

Why should a future wife

Get all the benefits

Of our hard work?

I do not understand

I will never understand

And don’t expect me to…

Don’t ever expect me to!

 

 

Yesterday I had a private therapy session with our third and final marriage therapist. He was highly recommended by my therapist and she believes he can help because he does in depth therapy examining both partners pasts and seeing how they effect the dynamics of the relationship. He looks at attachment in childhood and how that influences attachment within the marriage.  I think he is a good fit but I was exhausted after our session. I felt like I had run a marathon and got run over by a truck at the end. Working on psychological/relationship issues is hard work if you are honest with yourself and others.

Recently I have been reading the book Hold Me Tight by Dr. Sue Johnson. The book jacket says ” Forget about learning how to argue better, making grand romantic gestures, or experimenting with new sexual positions. Instead, get to the emotional underpinnings of your relationship  be recognizing that you are emotionally attached to and dependent on your partner in much the same way that a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing and protection.” It is an interesting book and I see B and my relationship on so many pages and it saddens me. But we both keep trying.

 

 

“FOR YOUR OWN GOOD” List

I don’t know about you, but there seems to be an exclusive list that it handed to each woman during the heat of labor which is promptly and conveniently ignored until the first child heads off to school. It is then, during Kindergarten Round Up, that you realize that every parent in the building decides what kind of person you are after watching your child interact for exactly 4.2 seconds and he is doomed to be a social pariah for the rest of his educational career. It is then, at that exact minute of total mom failure, that THE LIST suddenly re-emerges only to hang over our heads for eternity, flapping in that empty space that our brains used to occupy.
Every mother knows about THE LIST. It consists of all the things our kids must do at least once so that we can check the box that verifies to the world that we ARE A GOOD MOM.
Trying new food. The latest…brocollini….images-1
Yearly pictures at Sears…oops missed that one…but now that I am aware of that fact so by next Tuesday it will be done…semi-check.
Playing the piano and while he may not ready for Carnegie Hall, he does know where middle C is located…images-1
Now B is the sports minded one in our family but because two of our three children get crazed if something as small as an ant touches them, trying to knock out athletic activities…well… it’s a challenge. If I had my druthers I would just scratch that whole section off THE LIST because several family members consider high quality endurance sports akin to laying on the couch and dipping ruffled potato chips into a savory dip. (the endurance part comes when you have to turn the chip around and dip again being careful not to double-dip)
But I have to admit that I do have a fear that scratch outs might just not get you into heaven so I persist in introducing my kids to new sports, knowing in my heart of hearts, that is what all GOOD moms do. That feel-good, doing-the-right-thing, going for Mother Of The Year, attempt is what lead us to the Broken Leg Ice Skating Rink yesterday afternoon where the kids tried ice skating for the very first time.
 I will admit that sometimes it seems as though it takes a while for my kids to get comfortable with new activities. First, we have to check out each and every toilet in the entire facility. If the seat is comfortable then my kids might give it a try. If not, we are OUTTA there thanks to Andre’s unrelenting complaints about the lack of high-quality plastic engineering.
Next comes the vending machines. Anything that has hidden ingredients that make one of my kids break out in hives is considered an immediate success and suddenly every one wants a buck to insert into the machine as they rapidly make their way towards anaphylactic shock.
Finally, throw in a 16-year-old cashier who is making minimum wage but will answer every one of the 20,000 questions thrown at them about the history of said sport…the equipment used and the rules of the sport, then participation is a definite maybe because all bets are on that they can continue with the questions until the place closes for the evening. Better yet, if the cashier can quote numerous safety statistics; then its a go-home because no sport is even safe enough for my boys. Yes, even contemplating sports can be an exhausting endeavor.
So after spending one half- hour tying and re-tying the skates, using the bathroom…for the third time… and learning to walk on blades; the time had come for the kids to make their way onto the ice. If, as the old adage goes, you can smell fear; then the fumes around our family was like the pungent odor that follows us around for three hours after eating grandma’s chili. We just couldn’t shake it. As we left the bench, feet started going every which way but forward and the sound of our bottoms slapping the ice…HARD… reverberated throughout the arena. To top it off, I pulled my back out trying to hold up one child while falling down with another. Mom was done and judging from the little faces surrounding me, the vending machine owner was about to become a very rich man. AGAIN.
Yet, we persisted. Paul put his game face on and after one trip around the rink fell and got a bloody nose that spurted ten feet.  Gracie whined until her daddy escorted her like the princess she is around the rink. But I knew all was lost in regards to Andre when he spent ten minutes making it half-way around the rink with his toes turned in towards the wood paneling the entire time. Never have a seen a child so happy as when he took his blades off of the ice. His face actually beamed so brightly he was in danger of melting the ice.
Later, after exiting the rink, Andre looked up at me and said, “Well, those were absolutely the worst minutes I have ever spent in my entire life!” And needless to say, his assessment didn’t get any better despite being bribed with hot chocolate by B.
On the way home, Andre talked about the experience. His take?
“Well, I am glad that is over. I did it once, it’s a no-go and thank goodness I will never have to do that again. Now, mom, what else can we cross of your list of things I have to do?”
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“What list?””You know, the one that you have that makes me try everything for my own good even though we both know I am going to hate it. But still you try. Again and again. Pushing me to be a better kid so you can feel better about yourself as a mom. So really, if you think about it, this list is really about you and your feelings of inadequacy. Frankly, I think a therapist for you would cost a whole lot less than this “contrived family time.” I think that is something you need to seriously contemplate before one of us dies during these little mini-olympics of yours.”

And with that he was done.
But I’m not.
I want to know… how he knew about… THE LIST?
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