Monday, February 20, 2012

The road less traveled

I've been in a really dark place for the past few days.  The near loss of a lifelong friend rocked my world.  On the heels of what had already been a couple of months of a never ending roller coaster ride, especially following the past two weeks of tests, challenges, and soul searching, it was the proverbial straw to break the stressed out camel's back.

The thing is, I know how to find my way out.  I also know that it is OK to be in that dark place.  You can't appreciate the light if you don't understand the lack of it.   I don't recommend LIVING in that dark place, but it is definitely worth an occasional visit. Usually, the trip isn't planned, but somehow, it always happens at a time when our psyche needs it most. 

What is difficult though, is being judged or misunderstood when you are in that place.  So often, people have no idea of what you're struggling with or what led you to retreat into the depths of your own soul. They move to criticize, to dismiss, to minimize or even invalidate what you're experiencing, and sometimes that can make it a lot harder to find our way back.

I have learned a lot of life's lessons during those lonely, worrisome times.   I know when I need to say "ENOUGH."  I know when I need to let go and let someone out of my life.  I know when I need to stand up for what matters to me.  Most of all,  I know when I need to reach out, not needing a cure, but just a friend and a reminder that it is OK to hurt and cry and even to rage and wonder and worry.  As one of my favorite pieces of prose says, "I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it."  It is hard to do that - to just let someone you love hurt...but from the hurt comes healing, if only you can simply love them and listen.  Sometimes it isn't about fixing, but instead just co-existing.

I'm still not quite back to myself, but I am fully aware of the road that I am traveling right now.  It is going to twist and turn and take me over some bumps...but I'm hoping that I will find my way to some smoother paths soon.  Until then, I just need some understanding, acceptance, and love to light my way. 

Today, you've pissed me off...AGAIN!

Apparently, this is my day to rant.

Am I mistaken about what the definition of EX-spouse is?  Aren't my responsibilities to be a personal secretary and organizer OVER?  I'm pretty sure I'm tied up doing 100% of the parenting in his absence, so beyond the fact that a divorce decree means it is no longer my duty to take care of his inability to handle simple tasks and retain basic information, I'm pretty sure that I am also FAR too busy to care for him like a fourth child! 

Seriously, today is NOT the day for my ex-husband to screw with me.  How is it that any number of people in our children's lives are FULLY aware of the appointment for our two oldest to get braces tomorrow, but he is still asking stupid questions like he is completely unaware???  First his question last week was who does he make the check out to?  If you're not sure, make it out to me, or to cash.  Still not sure? REFER TO PHOTOCOPIES YOU RECEIVED 6 months ago AND your email dated 11/16/11. It contains the detailed amounts AND the name of the organization!!  STILL unsure?? THEN CALL THEM YOURSELF!  Oh wait, he finally did - only to say, "oh, I thought the appointment was THURSDAY!" 

For the love of everything.  I can manage to keep a calendar, and the schedules of 3 kids, 2 schools, and all of their activities straight.  HE can't manage to remember a conversation we had five minutes ago.  Doctors, dentists, immunizations, haircuts, play rehearsals, science projects, friends and their parents names and addresses, allergies, dates of serious injuries, medications...I REMEMBER ALL OF IT - AND I manage to be president of a major organization, pursue a college education, maintain a household, and oh, TRY to have a social life, but he interferes with that, too.  I make sure they have clothes, sports equipment, school supplies, and gifts when they go to friend's birthday parties.  I refill prescriptions, remember when library books are due, and do EVERYTHING ELSE THAT THEY NEED, even when it is "his" visitation time.  WHEN will it end?  HOW do I get him to be responsible???

I give this man everything and I TELL him everything, he just chooses to be completely passive when it comes to his children.  I PARENT - he visits.  Those things are completely not the same.  Sure, I'm not busy, let me stop and be your personal secretary!  Um - NO!  I'm your EX wife. I owe you NOTHING!  I paid my dues, and a fortune to get OUT of our horrible marriage!  Talk to your CURRENT WIFE or your MOMMY to hold your hand and do everything for you. 

I seriously wonder how a 38 year old man who has this much difficulty in managing simple information pertaining to his own offspring even manages to wipe his own ass or tie his own shoes every day.

It is EXHAUSTING.  I'm already dealing with my own stresses and trying to manage my own life, and I get the interruption of his phone calls, texts, and stupid questions. 

My friend told me I need to "let go of my past."  HOW can I do that when I am held accountable for 100% of what happens to my children AND to this moron?  He doesn't LEAVE ME ALONE!  The best thing that could ever happen would be for him to JUST GO AWAY.  He really adds no value to their lives.  He is still abusive toward me and completely takes me for granted, and puts all of his own interests ahead of his children's. 

I'm spent.  I'm frustrated.  And now, I'm completely annoyed and distracted from what I was doing prior to his phone call.  I did EVERYTHING RIGHT - I updated him verbally after each of two of our kids THREE orthodontic consults. I gave him copies of their ENTIRE treatment plan including costs.  I emailed him the cost of the treatment and his breakdown per the court order.  And still, less than 24 hours before the appointment - I'm getting a litany of questions and nothing but a hard time. 

I wish he'd get it, I wish he would listen when I say, "They are your KIDS.  They are your RESPONSIBILITY.  You aren't "paying" me, I'm not using "YOUR" money, and I give and do more for these kids in an hour than you do in a week.  Your selfishness is DISGUSTING and proof positive of WHY we are divorced and why I was awarded SOLE custody - because you aren't capable of handling the responsibility of raising these three kids."

Not only does he play stupid and not get anything straight regarding what our kids need or when, he right there to criticize me though the minute he doesn't understand something, or something beyond my control goes wrong!  He tells me constantly how terrible the kids are, that they're liars, they're lazy, and any other number of insults.  As far as I'm concerned he is wasting his breath, because they honestly are wonderful children.  Yes, they're kids.  They make mistakes, and at moments, they drive me insane...but they are amazing, beautiful, intelligent, respectful, and adored by so many people.

I can't keep having this argument.  I refuse to continue to be held hostage by his demands.  I can't believe it is THIS hard to just DO THE RIGHT THING for his own children.

Let's see how tomorrow goes, and if he comes through for them.  Oh yeah, I'll be the one there holding their hands and cheering them on as their smiles take on a whole new shine.  THAT is what I'm paid in, love, adoration, and a respect they have for me that they'll never have for him.  He can torment me all he wants, I've already gotten the best of him.

Why DON'T I walk in their shoes?

Today, I could really care less about any one or any thing else in this world.  I've had enough.  For today, I'm going to behave like everyone else out there.  I am going to be obnoxious, selfish, self absorbed, thoughtless, rude, unappreciative, and lazy.  I'm going to see what it feels like to walk in the shoes of those who are so ready to abuse, criticize, or take for granted people like me.

I have lived by the mantras that "if you want to change your life, you've got to change your life", "what you put out into the Universe comes back to you three fold", and "you can't change anyone but yourself" for most of my life - and have REALLY committed to those ideals for over five years now.  Particularly since my divorce, I've done everything possible to be the best person that *I* can be - I've gone to therapy, I've read motivational books, watched inspirational programming and DVD's, been to workshops, surrounded myself with what I thought were positive people, journaled, blogged, Feng Shui-ed, manifested, vision boarded, and generally tried to live my life as a person who gives of myself without thinking about what's in it for me.  I volunteer and advocate in areas of my life where I am passionate and believe I can make a difference.  I do it because I can, because I'm blessed to have certain skills and talents and I think they should be shared, and because I think there is value in a life of service.  I don't expect anyone to fall at my feet for those things, but I do expect that as I give to the world, the world will give back to me.  I thought that I'd been paying it forward and that it would somehow come back around.  Isn't that how it is supposed to work?  Isn't there some kind of reward for being good and generous and giving?

Well, my life hasn't changed, what has come back to me three fold are heaps of shit and mountains of stress, and still I'm told repeatedly that I'm not enough, I haven't "learned the lessons" yet, and that maybe I need more therapy.  I've been mocked, yelled at, and even blatantly laughed at for my beliefs and efforts.  At this point, I'd really just like to tell the world - and those people in particular who have cut me to the core, to go screw themselves.  What I'm getting lately is that the more you give, the more is expected of you, and the LESS you get. I feel like I have completely lost myself in trying to be that good and giving person - only to be told again, "well, you shouldn't have done so much!"  Seriously, HOW am I supposed to get it right?  Too much, not enough, either way it can't possibly be that I've been dealt a shitty hand or that maybe someone ELSE should step up for a change.  It always comes down to there being something "wrong" with me

I keep watching those around me.  What they desire appears in their lives, and they don't seem to be doing anything that I'm not.  For that matter, I doubt that many of them are EVER consciously considering how to create what they desire in their lives.  It just HAPPENS!  I watch people who are just completely consumed by their own selfish desires completely take for granted what they have, complain constantly, treat others poorly, and STILL have what they want.  Oh wait, and then they continue to ask for MORE - not just ask - DEMAND - and often from me.  Sometimes I don't have anything left to give.  It's also ironic that those who are immersed in the best moments of their lives are the first to criticize.  Really, it's a bit of a slap in the face when someone truly can't see the depth of your pain because the worries aren't pounding on their door.

I continue to struggle.  And then, I ask myself, are my critics right?  What AM I doing wrong?  Why is THIS my path?  Some answer that we manifest, we choose our paths.  I can PROMISE YOU that I DID NOT manifest being alone in my life save for 3 children who absolutely consume my every moment.  THAT was NOT part of my plan.  It is not anything that has EVER been a conscious thought to me, yet, it is what I have.  I have no family around to speak of save for a heap of dysfunction that contacts me when they want something, and oh wait, and criticise, belittle, and take advantage of me whenever possible.   There are very very very few people that I know who have a situation that is remotely close to mine.  Yes, there are some who have family who drive them nuts or a husband or partner who doesn't "do their part" - but that does not make them ALONE OR a "SINGLE PARENT".

UGH!  THAT ONE pisses me off more than most. "Oh, my husband/wife doesn't do much, so I'm like a single parent."  SERIOUSLY!?!? Um, no, you're not.  Until there is absolutely no other adult to consult about decisions, bring home a paycheck, prepare a meal, check homework, fix something that is broken, or drive somewhere; until you truly don't have anyone to "divide and conquer" between multiple children, until that person DOES NOT reside in your home and participate in raising your child/children, you're NOT "like" a single parent.  Stop insulting those of us who are. Sorry, I digress, but really, that infuriates me and is the epitome of hurtful and inconsiderate to single parents.

If we manifest, then why is it that the things that have been CONSTANT WISHES AND DREAMS IN MY LIFE have never appeared?  True love, a big, happy family, a wonderful, fulfilling career, and a beautiful home to will with love and friends and laughter.  Those are the things that my dreams have been woven of my entire life.  And yet, they are absent.

I don't want to sound like a martyr.  I don't want to disrespect or disregard what I do have - my children are incredible blessings and I adore being a mother to them and feel privileged to be in their lives - but I DON'T appreciate being disrespected, or having to make every decision and provide for their every need by myself.  It is absolutely exhausting, to the point that on days like this I am nothing but bitter and angry at the thought of even pouring them a bowl of cereal.

I do have wonderful friends, but they have their own lives and they aren't here in my day to day -- and sometimes even when they are, there are a few who without a doubt take far more than they give. If I'm having a bad day they react with "What's Tanya's problem?", not, "I love you, can I help?"  For those that are there with love and support, I'm so thankful.

Lately, it is even more confusing because every message in my life is a complete contradiction.  I feel like just when I'm figuring things out or making the right choices or changes, they turn out to be ridiculous messes. I feel like insane situations keep presenting themselves, and I have no clue how to deal with them.  The last one, the one that really threw my emotions into overdrive...well I don't even have words for that one, but it has certainly caused me to take pause and ask a lot of questions about life.

I needed to write this.  I had to spew out all of the hate and anger and frustration.  No one has any problem dumping theirs on me, so here is mine.  And do you know something?  I don't want any answers.  I know that in a few days, I'll be back to my normal giving, optimistic self - at least I hope I will.

All I needed, all I craved was someone to say, "hey, I love you, and it will be OK" even if that is an utter lie.  I needed some time without everyone demanding of me.  I needed a break from "Tanya, Tanya, Mommy, Mommy, gimme, gimme."    I needed to not feel broken, or wrong, or like I still had some kind of work to do.  I just needed to feel loved and protected - like I had a soft place to land when the horrifying free fall stopped.  Instead, I had doors slammed, criticisms abound, and more demands piled on.

I hope I can weed through this. I hope that the tears and the pain stop and that some answers come.  I don't need more therapy or to write in my gratitude journal or any other band-aid.  I just need to be in my pain, to have my worries accepted and validated, and to maybe to have someone to lean on or hold my hand while I'm finding my way.  I don't want anyone elses shoes...I just want mine to not hurt so much.

Monday, February 13, 2012

There is no Un-Do button in Life

"We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come."
- Joseph Campbell

They say that if you change one thing about your life, you change everything, therefore you shouldn't regret the choices you have made because they have in fact, made you who you are.

Most of the time, I am a true believer of that philosophy, but I can't deny that if I had a Do-Over, there are a few things that I would do:

I would control my temper and my tongue.  It is not too late to make changes where this is concerned, but there are moments and words I truly wish I could take back, and that overall my demeanor was somewhat more calm and patient.

I would be more economically minded, and I would have saved, budgeted, and made better financial decisions.  Again, going forward I can make wiser choices, but I can't get back what is gone, nor avoid the consequences of my choices up 'til now.

I would have gotten better grades in high school - even though I was an honors student I think sometimes my focus wasn't what it could have been.  And then, I would have completed my Bachelors Degree right out of high school.  This, too, is something that I can't change, 20 years have passed.  But I can try again, and I'm wrapping up my first semester toward this goal as we speak.  Still, I'm sure it would be easier if I didn't have to try to balance all of this school work with adult responsibilities!  I most certainly would take advantage of dorm life and hours upon hours of available study time.  (I also miss my 18 year old stamina where that is concerned!)

I would be more health conscious.  I came from a meat and potatoes and Coca Cola and chocolate cake household.  I wish there were more exercise and fruit and veggies, and that I didn't have to struggle so hard to create better habits now.  But, I've discovered Zumba and CSA's and know that filling my stomach doesn't equal filling my soul.

I would have loved myself more, and known that THAT kind of love would have led to more fulfilling external relationships.  I kept looking for someone else to fill me up, when all that did was drain me - beyond empty.  Now, I'm still hoping to have someone by my side to share my life, that is a DEFINITE wish on my Do-Over list - but the responsibility of my happiness belongs to me, not anyone else.  Now it is about finding a partner and companion, when then it was about having someone to "make me happy."  I'm glad that I understand that now, but wish I hadn't had to go through so much pain to figure it out.

Anyone sensing a theme here?  All of these things can be changed...but I wish I knew then what I know now.  There is no Do-Over, but there is always starting over - as long as we're willing to try! It's a good thing then that "You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream."
- C. S. Lewis

Upsetting the apple cart

I've been hooked on cliches lately.  This probably stems from the college classes that I am taking - they make you think very literally, and only then can you see how some phrases have truly become a part of the vernacular.  One in particular that my Gram used to say was, "don't upset the apple cart" when I'd become frustrated.  She wanted me to be rational and thoughtful, and for so many years of my life, I tended to be anything but.  I am strong willed, strong minded, and didn't always understand how to harness those traits and make them work to my advantage. 

I wish there had been a little more guidance on making right choices. I wish I understood that phrase then.  With little to base my decisions on other than a fire in my gut and a notion that I wanted to change the world, I forged on.   What I didn't realize was that somehow, I was filling my cart with wormy, rotten apples, and now it seems I've dumped the whole damn thing down a hill, losing the apples and smashing the cart to bits. 

Generally, it is quotes rather than cliches that I seek and find inspiration.  As of late though, no matter what words of wisdom or truth I read, write, or recite, I still find myself buried in worry, fear, and at some points, self - loathing.  I tend to be a positive person, but I am struggling to see the bright side of anything these days.  The worst part of it is that while I understand how I got where I am, and what responsibility I have in the choices that I have made, I am having trouble understanding that despite having a good heart and the best intentions, that I still feel so horrible.

How many mistakes do we have to make?  How bad do things have to get before they turn around? And for all the good I do and love I share and time I give, when does it finally come back?  How do I stop feeling absolutely stuck? How do I build myself a new cart, and where do I find a tree with delicious, healthy apples to start refilling the cart of my life again?

The quote I read today really struck me, as paralyzed is exactly how I am feeling.  I feel like an accident victim, staring at the damaged cart and the smashed apples and the giant mess that appears to be my life and I just can't imagine how to clean it all up.

But the words were this:  "Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they're supposed to help you discover who you are." -Bernice Johnson Reagon

Well, I HAVE discovered who I am.  At this point in my life I truly know EXACTLY what I want, I just have NO idea how to get there, and I feel like I have no choices.  How do I start picking new apples when I can't afford a cart or know where there are any blossoming apple trees?  In this dead of winter of my life, how do I start over?

I didn't just upset the apple cart, I may as well have set off a bomb inside of it.  I self destructed my own life, and while I accept responsibility for that, I now have to figure out how to start over.  I'm trying to set my life back into motion, but when you are paralyzed by fear and worry and remorse, how do you right the cart and get back to harvesting the fruits of a joyful life?


Sunday, January 29, 2012


I may be way out of line, but this has been bothering me SO much recently!! 

I feel that pack a day smokers have no business complaining how "broke" they are.  Even the cheapest cigarettes are $5 - for a pack a day smoker that's $150 a month!  For the name brands, it is TWICE that! $300??? That is a CAR PAYMENT! 

And how many of those people are standing out in front of the Social Service office taking a "smoke break."?   I am out of work, and our Department of Labor is in the same building as the Social Services office.  You have to FIGHT your way through the people and stench to get down the sidewalk to the DOL entrance.  You can SMOKE but you can't buy groceries?!?!?  Are you applying for health insurance??? I use that service, but why are tax dollars paying for YOUR ILLNESSES and your family's that are caused by smoking??

How about just like you have to indicate marital status or race when you apply for services, you also indicate SMOKER OR NON!?!  Then we can reduce your food benefits by what you're paying for cigs - so you spend your money appropriately?   Or how about you pay something toward your health insurance since you're likely going to need it far more just because you CHOOSE to engage in self destructive behavior?  It makes ME sick just thinking about it!!

I'm against smoking primarily because I lost my dad to lung cancer, and I am asthmatic and being around smoke and smokers throws my lungs into a frezny - but that aside?  The "poor me" behavior only irritates me more. Boo hoo - you don't have any money?  QUIT!  And think about it when you have that $5 or $10 to spend every day but can't pay your bills! :(

Rant ended - it is probably none of my business anyway - but I can't think of many other things that are an obvious CHOICE that people make that has this kind of an impact. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Time, time, time

Time.  7 long years. 20% of my life. 

If you had asked me then, I never would have fathomed that I would still be alone 7 years after my divorce.  I envisioned a couple of years of adjustment and soul searching, but then I imagined someone wonderful would come into my life and be my partner on this crazy roller coaster ride.  I thought someone would be by my side helping me make the hard decisions, and celebrating life's little victories.

Instead, here I am, 7 years later...still single.  Everyone had their opinions and advice.  At first it was - "it's too soon, you haven't been alone that long."  Truth be told, I was alone for most of my marriage.  15 long years together - at the breaking point - half my life.  We existed.  We never really lived, and we truly probably didn't love much at all.  So that few years seemed like an eternity.

Later, it was "put yourself out there!"  I did.  I had some horrific first dates.  I posted that computer classified that garnered little response.  I did have a few relationships, but nothing that lasted...and nothing that ever brought that feeling that I so desperately desire.

Over time, I have watched so many of my friends meet people, fall in love, and find their bliss.  I  wonder then, why this one thing continues to elude me?  And it is never fun to be the 5th wheel.

So here I am...still waiting.  The online route is not an option. Whenever I try that, it just never feels right.  Besides, isn't it the ads that say 1 in 5 new relationships begin online? What about the other 4?  I find it hard to believe that in all of my experiences, and in all of the things that I do and places that I go, that someone hasn't come into my life.

I feel like I've tried everything.  I've written.  I've Feng Shui'd.  I've prayed.  I've tried to manifest. I've immersed myself in self improvement and creating a good life for myself...but time, it marches on.

I have a lot of blessings - beautiful children, amazing friends, exciting and rewarding experiences - but the one thing I desire most, someone to share all of it with, still escapes me.  Time is what I wish for.  Someone to savor life's moments  with me - to lie down beside me at night and wake with me in the morning. To dream with me, to grow old with me. 

I'm growing older, but still...I wait.  And time, it keeps on ticking...