Wild Fire

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When I left my house at 7:45 am I noticed a HUGE plume of smoke over the mountain. Checking the internet, I found that there was a wildfire burning about 25 miles from my house or 17 as the crow flies. Ten acres were involved.

An hour later the fire had grown to 100 acres. An hour after that it was at 1000 acres and about two hours later it was at 5000 acres. Now, five hours later this fire has grown to over 8000 acres and entire towns in the hills have been evacuated and there are over 100 homes that have already burnt to the ground.

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My son’s teacher told me that his good friend lost everything in a fire several years ago. Today, when his friend saw flames a long way off from his house, he quickly packed his car. Having survived one fire he knew just how treacherous they couldbe. By the time this man and his family made it to the highway both sides of the road were on fire with lines of cars trying to make it out of the area.

It doesn’t help that we are having 30 mph wind gusts that are suppose to be around for another 24 hours.  The winds are spreading the fire here and there with spot fires popping up constantly. I fear for the people and wildlife who may not make it out of this firery hell in time.

Later in the morning I called my father who said, “Pack your car and go rent a trailer.”

I chuckled. He is over reacting I thought.

Later my cousin who lives in the area issued the same warning. “Be prepared,” she said.

And so, I went home and I handed two of my kids who are sick of the sofa  each an empty box and told them to fill it with those things that had meaning for them. I did the same while also creating boxes for each member of our family trying to determine what things were most important to their hearts and to their heads.

It’s a strangle thing putting your entire life into a few boxes. What stays and what goes is not as easy to determine as you might think. Of course, I put the box of important papers (birth certificates, adoption records, passports) into the back of the car. I took one painting that we obtained from my a few of my kids birth country and a bunch of old video cassette tapes that I have yet to put on DVD. The old family Bible went in as did a few photo albums, a necklace from my GG Grandmother, my writings, one of my stamp collection albums, our wedding picture, my husband’s bagpipes, my kids Eagle Scout pins  and an ancient Chinese incense burner. My GGGG grandmothers sleeping cap which sits in a shadow box in the hallway was included, as was my GG grandmothers vase, my kids early drawings, some of my daughters diving medals and a few souvenirs from our many travels. Most of the photographs I left behind, except for some of the older pictures, thinking that so much was online, that I could easily make re-prints if need be.

And so my car sits in the driveway packed and ready to go should we need to. I doubt that it will happen but with such a fast moving fire and such high winds I decided that it was better to be prepared than not.

Please pray or send positive vibes for those in harms way of this very dangerous fire. The fire is still a long way from us but it is burning so many others out of their homes in the mountains.

(Picture from my house)

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Update- It is now 2 p.m. and the fire has exploded to 17,000 acres

Who Are You And What Do You Stand For?

I could write something profound and meaningful about the question of who are you and what do you stand for. Always an important question in my book but one I will leave for others to debate. Today, I want to ask you the questions in regards to art. Precisely, designing your own coat of arms.

Several weeks ago I wrote about how my therapist has been encouraging me to paint. I am not good at it but I am finding that it is getting those “after his affair/almost divorce” feelings exposed in a way that is finally helping me to examine them and let them go. Who knew?

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This week I decided to take on a new project. I am designing my own coat of arms. I was inspired to do so, believe it or not, because of Meghan Markel and her now husband, Prince Harry. Seems that when they married they needed to have a coat of arms designed for their household. A big task to say the least. It is said that Meghan took great pains to make sure that emblem represented who she is and where she came from. As such, California figured predominately. First, she incorporated the state’s flower, the California poppy. In addition, the blue background on the shield represents the Pacific Ocean and the yellow rays across it come from “The Sunshine State” logo.  She also acknowledged her own power of communication through the open beak of the song bird and the quill.

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In designing my own pennon, I have looked hard at myself. Who am I? What do I believe? What do I love? What represents my authentic self? And for the past week I have been designing my crest.  I am not ready to share yet but I will share with you some of the symbolism that I have incorporated.

  1. The first thing you would notice on my coat of arms is the Phoenix rising which signifies that I have arisen from the flames a winner having beaten life’s challenges and defeating the hard times. It is a concrete symbol of my rebirth as a person, female, wife and mother. Around the neck of the Phoenix is a heart with a number in the center which is meaningful to me.
  2. Instead of a traditional crest I have used an open book with symbols of what I believe contained within the pages. This works because I am an open book and share openly and freely. I also love to read and write.
  3. Within the pages of the book is the earth meaning I am a traveler and a person who sees all people as being in and on this planet together. There is also a musical note…self explanatory. The scale of justice sits high upon the crest because of my believe that we are the same and therefore the scales should be balanced for all equally. A pen representing my writing career also has its place. A symbol of Korea is also represented since the country has played such a major role in my life. And there is a very large ? showing that I am a seeker as well as a person who questions everything.

Needless to say, designing this coat of arms has been an interesting process. It has helped me clarify some things and made me look hard at what I value. Further, I have tried to approach this design as my 26th Grandfather must have approached his. Seven hundred years later his crest still stands embedded within the doorway outside of his castle reminding all that enter what his life stood for. I want my coat of arms to be the same… a testament to my great-grandchildren of just who I was and what I stood for.

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My 26th Great Grandfather’s Coat Of Arms At Craigmillar Castle

The Good That We Can Learn From The Bad

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Believe it or not sometimes I am beginning to see light shining on the path I have been forced down due to my husband’s infidelity. I am beginning to see a little clearer how I contributed to this debacle. NO, it does not mean that he was just in doing what he did. It just means that sometimes we unwittingly do things that help shift the tide of events to a road that was never meant to be traveled. For it is often NEVER just one persons fault when a relationship unravels. Let me explain.

Before B’s affair came to light I had not been enjoying my life for quite a long time. Sometimes autism took its toll. Sometimes my own negative thinking. Sometimes it was just situations involving me in things I shouldn’t have let myself get involved in in the first place. Other times is was a very low level depression and large amounts of stress that contributed to my thinking that life had somehow become a struggle. And while I recognized that life was never meant to be a struggle somehow it was turning into that very thing it was not meant to be. Often I felt I had lost control of my own life.

Recently, I have come to see that this pain of my husband’s betrayal  has brought good things to my life. When I came close to divorcing I was distraught and depressed. If I thought life had been a struggle before, now it felt like a 1000 pound weight had been added to the backpack that I carry on my life’s journey. All my self doubts rose like a tsunami and smashed my ego into smithereens like wooden boats thrown against giant breaker walls. I was a mess.

Yet, slowly I have come to see many positives that have come my way after this experience, one of which I would like to share with you. You see, in almost losing myself and my life as I knew it all of a sudden I realized what a good life I had. For the most part I have loved it and when taken as a whole it had made me happy and has brought me much more joy than sorrow. I had just forgotten the good parts and was concentrating on the bad. Trying to fix things that were not mine to fix or living for the future and not in the present which created suffering and unhappiness; discontent and anger.

And so, in almost losing everything, I have gained a new and positive perspective on my life…and when I got that back I realized that my remaining years are meant to savored, grabbed, and spent looking for the first buds on a tree. So now I stop and listen and look, recognizing and appreciating the pure joy I hear in the laughter around me, all the while enjoying brilliant sunsets that are best viewed when still and contemplative. For life was never meant to be a struggle and I am trying not to make it so.

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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.

 

Moving

 

So about a month and 1/2 ago I told B that I could not move with him or our children if he was still in love with HER. I told him I was tired of his ever-so-quiet pining for her and that I was done and leaving if that was the way it was going to be. I was tired of being silently compared and tired of

AND FOR HEAVEN SAKES NEVER SAY AGAIN THAT SHE WAS A GOOD WOMAN like he said when the affair was discovered. As I told him, “Good women don’t try to take another woman’s husband. Period. A good woman doesn’t try to remove a man from a family of children whose special needs are significant. A good woman doesn’t take $20,000 from a man who has a family.”

A good woman? Well, I could go on and on about what a good woman is and isn’t.

And so my words were like a slap. I told him that I thought he should go to Vietnam and see what in the hell he wanted. I also said I would most likely not be here when he returned.

“I don’t want to go.”

“I bought you a ticket. You leave on Friday.”

“I love you. Not her.”

Later that day, we took all this to the therapist who told B that this fantasy he has lived was only that…just a fantasy and that he was going to lose the things he loved most…me and his children if he continued to put HER on a pedestal and ignore the goodness that was right in front of him. I think it shook him to the core.

That evening, he cried and apologized for all the pain that he has caused. He admitted that he was being stubborn and wrong and that he loved me, not her, to which I said well you had better start showing it…and he has. It is like the blinders are off and he is seeing me for me and not who he needed to see me as so he could conduct his affair. For the past 6 weeks we have been so much closer and he acts like I am his one and only, is being honest in all those little ways that count, and is stepping up to the plate to really work on himself and our marriage.

Last week I decided that I would move with him. I am happy with this decision. I was deeply in love with this man for almost 30 years until his affair started three years ago and he changed into someone unrecognizable. I am not going into this blind. I know that there is still a lot of work to do. I know that moving away does not solve all your problems. I know that moving with children is a major stressor and that our lives might implode.  I am aware of all of this and yet, I have made the decision to go with him because I do still love him. Always have.  Always will. But most of all, I love myself again. And…I also know this:

“Fool me once, shame on YOU. Fool me twice shame on me.”

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B’s affair was horrid. Awful and he destroyed a part of myself that still needs for me to build it back up into something so strong it can never be leveled again…YES, ME…because I allowed myself to let go of who I was in an attempt to please him. My therapist believes I will never do that again. I believe so too.

So, while the affair and its aftermath has been the most painful thing I have ever experienced I am looking at it in this way…it was the first and only affair he has had in over 30 +years. He deserves another chance. As I do. As does our marriage and our children. And so we are giving that chance to each other and our family.

Will he contact her again or have another affair? I truly believe not because of all the devastation that his affair has left behind. He lost just about everything because of it including his health. And if it ever happens again I will take action immediately and leave. My therapist believes this to be true because I have found myself again and plan on never letting go of who I am in an attempt to please him. Another affair will not be tolerated. Period.

So…he goes. I am jumping off the deep end but this time I am holding his hand as I do it. If he let’s go, I will survive, but if we continue to keep our fingers intertwined I think we will have something to hold on to for the next 30 years.

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Post Infidelity Stress Disorder

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It’s been a while. Quite a long while actually. I haven’t been able to do the things I normally do as I concentrate on ridding myself of the negative thoughts and images that have floated through my mind since I found out about B’s affair.  There has been a lot of canceling going on.

“He is a jerk”

“Cancel, cancel, cancel” (don’t say cancel out loud or the guys in the white coats might come for you) Just say “cancel” in your head and then look around and take in what you see:

“Oh the clouds look big a fluffy today”

“Look at that beautiful orange tomcat”

Anything that take your mind off the negativity and onto something different.

Anyway, last week I had an extreme reaction to something B said in the marriage counselors office which cause me to stand up and say that I needed to leave. NOW. We were discussing a possible move when B said, “I can move and get used to the job while you stay back at home with the kids!”

End of discussion on the part of B even though we have had this gone over this scenario before and I had said that this solution was unacceptable to me.

And so:

My heart started pounding.

My blood pressure and anxiety soared.

I felt like that walls were closing in on me and tried to flee the therapists office.

I flashed back to the time when B would not take me to China with him and I “knew” something was up when suddenly he was taking a side trip to Singapore (which I later found out was to rendezvous with our Vietnamese tour guide) I didn’t understand what was going on at that time but I knew that I felt intense confusion and pain about why B was so adamant that I could not go with him and why a discussion was not “forthcoming.”

I broke out in a sweat.

I began to itch.

The therapist looked at me as I kind of said something like:

“WHAT THE F***!!!! OH,HELL NO! YOU MADE THIS MESS AND YOU ARE NOT LEAVING ME TO CLEAN IT UP WHILE YOU GET TO TAKE IT EASY!”

I explained to both B and the therapist that this scenario was unacceptable to me. That I didn’t want to clean up B’s mess and have to deal with angry kids who would be afraid we were divorcing and couldn’t understand why we were not together as a family. I would not be alone with a child whose rage would be intense if he felt abandoned and I didn’t understand why someone who swears he wants to be with me would even consider that an option and if that was the way it was going to be then we might as well not be together.

I heard something about B thinking of the logistics in a “practical” manner while I was looking at them from the heart. And then I left.

The next week I was at my therapists office and I mentioned to her that I thought I might  have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and began to relate what happened to me at the marriage counselors office.

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“Of course, you have post traumatic stress disorder after what you have been through with B for the past three years. But in your case it is referred to as Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder (PISD) and there is a set of recognized symptoms that are brought on by the trauma of infidelity, ” she said.

WHO KNEW? A big sigh of relief escaped my lips…so I wasn’t going crazy after all.

According to her, often the offended partner has extreme reactions to circumstances because they are now operating from a hyper-vigilant state where nothing feels safe or real. And while it may not be as traumatizing as prolonged war or physical abuse, the experiences of the cheated on spouse often echoes the symptoms of PTSD. Symptoms of PISD include:

  1. Exposure to a perceived life-threatening event (end of marriage, constant lies, betrayal of trust, etc)
  2. Emotional numbing
  3. Inability to stop seeking more information about the affair or what your spouse is currently up to
  4. Increased anxiety
  5. Intense feelings of fear or helplessness
  6. Feelings of irritability and rage
  7. A re-experiencing of the event or events
  8. Avoiding things that remind us of the affair
  9. Repeated intrusive thoughts
  10. Anger or blaming of ones self (“If only”)

Obviously, I am no expert on the subject but since I have discovered that I have symptoms of PISD, I am learning what I can about it and how to heal from it. The one thing I do know is this it will take time.

For those of you interested in the subject you can find a good article that discusses PISD it here:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/rediscovering-love/201709/how-infidelity-causes-post-traumatic-stress-disorder

I have also started reading a book on the subject on the advice of my therapist. The title is Transcending Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder by Dennis Ortman, PhD which is available on Amazon. It has been extremely helpful so far.

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So I continue on this journey. It is a trip I didn’t ask for and one I didn’t plan. Sometimes it angers me that I have been forced down this rabbit hole by the person I trusted most in the world. A husband who selfishly who pushed me into this land of self-discovery. Yes, many of the things I have learned or done have been helpful but I still wish I had been the one to decide if and when I wanted to confront the issues that I have been working on. But for now I try not to dwell on the “what if’s” and instead I attempt to embrace this new post-affair life of mine. Some days I succeed and some days I don’t but if nothing else I am teaching my children that if life throws you curve balls you keep swinging that bat until you connect even if that connection is only with one’s self.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drama- 10 Minute Poem Challenge

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The fog is so dense today.

It blocks your vision as if you wearing a scarf over your eyes.

So that you are blindfolded to all that is around you

So that you stay unknowing/unaware your entire life

Often times I think that most people live their lives this way

Seeing…but not

Hearing..but not

Everything muddied and jumbled

Unsure of what is real

Or just an illusion

Is this me? I wonder

Am I blind too?

Unable to see what is directly in front of me?

Do I try to push aside the fog

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As if parting a heavy velvet curtain

Used to keep performers and audience

Away from one another

And which hides what is backstage…

Those things that are meant to be unseen

If I were to peer past your costume

If I were to see you as you really are

What would be there to greet me?

Would there be those things I am comfortable with

Or would there be things that would surprise me

Maybe even make me uncomfortable

Is yours a Magic Show?

Or the tale of Othello?

And what is my role?

Am I a major character in your drama

Or a bit player who has

But a walk on part in your life?

And more importantly

Does this story have a long run?

Or have the critics pronounced it

Dead.

 

 

 

Envision

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Tomorrow starts Gracie’s 5th competitive diving season. This afternoon, B took her to down to the city where it is being held. She competes at 8 a.m. which, if you ask me, is an ungodly hour to expect anyone to do anything well… especially a sport. Heck, I can’t even root her on before nine because the caffeine hasn’t kicked in yet.

This year Gracie moved up a level and she is getting to be at the top of her division. Only one level to go and she goes into elite. At 13 yo it is a heavy load to carry. She goes to school all day, the final bell rings at 3:15 p.m. and by 4 p.m. she is in the pool working until 8 p.m. five days per week.  But she loves it. Added bonus: I consider it good birth control….there are no boys around this little lady EVER.

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I rarely go to watch her workout anymore. The dives she is doing scare me and I’ve noticed that the kids who cry and get upset all the time are the ones whose mothers are always there watching.  I believe that she doesn’t need the added pressure of doing good for her mom. I want her to do good for herself. That is enough. And if she’s off… who cares… in a week we won’t even remember her scores. This is my part of her sport…trying to walk the line between letting her know that I care but that it is never the end of the world if you struggle or end up last. Sometimes you just do what you do for the fun of it and because YOU LOVE to do it. That has worth in of itself.

Tomorrow Gracie will compete doing a dive that has been giving her a lot of trouble lately. Before she left with her dad I reminded her to ENVISION herself doing the dive perfectly and to BELIEVE that she will do it. I will call her in the morning and play the song from ROCKY (Fly) which is a tradition in which she rolls her eyes and says “please, not again.” That is what I will miss seeing. And then whatever happens will happen. It is all good. Either way she gains confidence, learns to strive for what she wants and starts to trust herself which will carry over for the rest of her life.

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So…. GO, GRACIE, GO! Envision! Believe! And go for it! You have nothing to lose. In my book you are hard-working, dedicated young lady and I will always be proud of you no matter how you do!

Love,

Your Number One Fan (who is already missing you!)

 

P.S. She earned a 1st place, a 2nd place and a 7th. She amazes me!

 

 

 

Down To The Wire

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Since my marriage is coming to an end it is odd how everything seems magnified. Often it feels like I am looking at life through a kaleidoscope no longer filled with vibrant and colorful pieces of glass but rather with carbon…cold, dark and black, which, under the right conditions could turn into diamonds but in reality are just lumps of coal.

Everything now seems to be on a time warp…minutes moving quicker towards the end of this relationship and my family as I know it. Because of this what I seem to be consumed with what will be seen as the LASTS. The movie we just took the kids too which will be our LAST seen together as a family. The dinner we went to last Friday the number of which that will take place in the future quickly dwindling down to nothing. The countdown to Christmas which will be the LAST holiday that we spend together as an intact unit.

Last night Gracie had her Christmas Concert at school. I had saved a seat for B who was running late but reluctantly gave it up to an old lady who there to watch her granddaughter play the cello. I thought that I might as well because soon B would not be sitting beside me sharing our lives together in these soft and lovely sorts of ways. I might just as well get used to it now I reckoned. And so I sat alone, my eyes squeezed tightly shut so that the tears could not dance down my face to strains of the Nutcracker led by a slightly off-key bass cello .

I took off my wedding ring the other day for it has become too painful to look at throughout the day. For instead of the brilliant glow it once cast out into the world now it seems as if only failure shimmers bright when the light hits the stone. It sits on my dresser in a dull brassy Chairman Mao box that I bought while in Jinan at a flea market. I wanted to buy it then, not because it was beautiful, but because it represented a time where individuality and beauty were eliminated and voices of those with “strong personalities” were buried in graves deep within the earth. Personalities like mine that were considered forceful and threatening by people like the “Great Leaders” and “My Husband” who did not want truth, authenticity and questioning authority to prevail.

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Perhaps someday I will take that ring and combine it with another to create something that is truly reflective of who I am today. Something tarnished and slightly jaded but also sassy, beautiful, and oh-so unique. A ring whose light shines true within a circle of knowledge about myself that is pure and unbroken and who has once again become a woman secure in the belief that her light should be celebrated not wasted on those who do not see her true value. For I know without a doubt that someday in the near future that a new creation will be sitting on the finger of this woman, who has survived all the pressure needed to create something and someone who is ever-lasting, strong and priceless out of something that once felt just a lump of coal. I look forward to that day.

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Thoughts on “Maybe” Divorce

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“As you become more attached to yourself you will become less attached to the outcome,” my therapist says with a smile.

Sometimes I wonder about this statement. Although it seems true enough as I continue this journey of the “maybe divorce” sometimes I wonder if this attaching to yourself, this honoring your self and your desires, really means at some point that you just dial back the caring…maybe you just begin to not care anymore because the fight for keeping your marriage has cost you too much personally. Your anxiety has increased to the point that everyday you wake up wondering “if this is the day.” And while once I believed that this thought might kill me, now, sometimes, I just wonder if it would be a relief for it is difficult to live with a man who no longer loves you the way he wants to and the sadness plays out like recessed shadows etched deep into his face.

I know when this began two years ago I felt like the world was coming to an end. It seemed as though my heart was being ripped out of my chest and I couldn’t sleep at night. After all this time my anxiety about divorce and what it would do to my children has decreased but is it because I am working really hard on integrating all aspects of myself and discovering more about who I am or is it because I am shutting down? Perhaps I see the train wreck in the distance, so I move away, because I don’t want to witness the carnage firsthand. I also don’t want to deal with the repercussions that it might have on two boys with autism and one with mental health issues much less the fact that four of my children are adopted and have already suffered so much loss in their young lives.

And so I continue to work on myself. To find corners of sunlight and to open the shutters wide to let the sunshine flood into my life. I work to make myself more aware of what I am doing and why I am reacting in the ways that I do. I am practicing ways of building up my resilience and incorporating peaceful ways of thinking as a habit that I can rely on to keep me centered. And I am trying to learn not to allow negative self-talk rule my head and my heart even though it still wants to.

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So if this work, if all this trying to find better ways of attaching to myself, is going to make me wiser, happier and more peaceful; I am all for it. For I am becoming a better me and I am finally doing all of this psychological work for greater self understanding of what makes me tick.  And if the “maybe” divorce comes to pass I think I will be in a much better position to retain my own dignity and grace during the process. And for me, that is what is important.

So be it.

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