I Don’t Know…

Some days I feel like I’ve been played as a sucker. I did the whole “amazing unexpected gift” thing with the locally-made record cabinet you aren’t taking with you because it’s too big and heavy (fuck you) and the hammock (locally made!) and the replacement hammock. It was never worth surprising you with a trip because you never wanted to go anywhere. I got the Barnes & Noble kit for the person you don’t really know but have to buy a gift for. The gnome with the useless book. The gnome that was 6″ tall. I’m not sure what that said but it wasn’t good. In terms of “long term marriage viability”.

And when you nickel and dime me over monetary issues, all I want to do is punch you in the face. I’m the person who has tried to make the children’s interests come to life. I’m the one that’s shown them the small corner of the world I’ve been capable of. I’m the one willing to spend my “free time” figuring out this Girl Scout stuff. I’m the one.

I’m the fucking one.

You are the one who has done the absolute minimum and then falls asleep on the couch. Who actually thinks we want to watch the same Simpsons episode again so you can see what you missed while you were snoozing.

Surprise

I read this recently, nodding all through it.

http://womenscoachingcenter.com/surprise-i-want-a-divorce/

Particularly this paragraph:

They are not doing this lightly. They are not selfish. They aren’t heartless. Many, many go to a therapist to help them in their decision-making. They make lists of the positives and negatives. And then they make more lists and then some more. Just because we speak about being true to yourself, write tons of articles and hold workshops on this very subject, in reality ending a so-so marriage (which is very right for some people) isn’t often celebrated.

Never lightly. The selfish thing is interesting. After I turned 40, after a few years of having babies, nursing them, weaning them, struggling with what I’ve lately come to realize might have been mild post-partum depression, I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what was wrong. Something was. I began to read. I read books by Betty Freidan that, while dated, still rang true. I also read books that helped illuminate my childhood (verdict: narcissistic mother), thinking this was the problem. No, it was a problem but not the problem.

There was marriage counseling. Two years of it. I dragged him there. He never got it. Nothing ever changed. Well, I changed. I became angrier and then…he asked to stop going and the pins began to drop. The ways he pulled away became many. Farther and farther and farther away. I’d tried to express how I was feeling but finally realized: he wasn’t interested. Life was cushy for him, why should it change? Why should he make an effort when I was doing everything? Steering the ship? If I got tired of it, well then, why didn’t I just stop? Well, because, I thought this was life? This is how it works. You are a family, you do certain things. Together. Or….I guess not. You have children. They express interests. You encourage them. Right? Then why was I being berated for doing it?

I still cannot get my head around that mind set. I still don’t get how you can just studiously ignore someone’s pain, someone you supposedly love. You see it, don’t you? But don’t care? It’s all way too much effort to work to change it. Okay then.

Surprise!

So, I’ve done what I could to ease the departure, the break. Because my relationship with my mother was an unhealthy codependent one, so is my marriage. I married what I knew. I fell into a familiar relationship in which I work very very hard to DO in the hopes my efforts would pay off in love, affection, appreciation. I was wrong. I bent over backwards to ease other’s lives and it was taken for granted. There was an assumption that it would continue that way forever. Because it worked for him. I mean, if you never had to lift a finger, would you want change?

Surprise!

I’m reading Susan Cain’s Quiet and found an interesting tidbit that pertains to my current situation. She writes about Gandhi and what he calls satyagraha. He defines it as “focusing on an ultimate goal and refusing to divert energy to unnecessary skirmishes along the way.” That is what I am currently focused on. The ultimate goal. I still put up with a lot of passive-aggressive behavior. A lot of expectation that I will continue to DO until we are living apart. I am doing those things which smooth the road to my ultimate goal. I am no longer a door mat. I am allowing others to grow up and learn to do for themselves.

Our very rigid daily roles continue for a few more weeks and I’m doing what I can to alleviate the stress that this…pretending…creates. It’s hard to not put energy into anger and annoyance. Really hard. It’s hard to not lash out and ask why oh why can’t you not do this little thing you know drives me nuts? Why can’t you be a fucking grownup? Why am I the only one noticing we’re out of apples and actually buying more?

I am focusing on the future. On the projects I have in store. On the books I’m reading, the walks I’m taking (when it’s not raining), the therapy visits, the small daily things that bring me small moments of happiness: morning fog hugging the pastures, bees on the late fall zinnias that refuse to die, the perky cabbages under a barrier that keeps them safe from cabbage moths, the clouds drifting across a blue autumn sky, a skunk whose scent wafts into my bedroom window deep into the night, the cats gently sparring on the kitchen floor, a guinea pig who squeals for attention and is ignored by everyone but me, a hug from a child, a smile, a laugh, a “thank you” from a stranger.

I try to remember to be kind to strangers. You never know what kind of day they’re having. They might be walking in worse shoes than mine.

Tilt-A-Whirl

fair

Took the girls to the State Fair last weekend. They insisted on Saturday night. It was packed, as you’d imagine. But these days, I’ll put up with a crowd if it means doing something with both kids at the same time.

Even still, she brought a friend and I let them disappear, with a sheet of ride tickets, into the crowded midway. “Meet us back here at 9:30.” And Red and I went to catch the circus before getting on the Ferris wheel.

The night before, Dusty had joined a friend at the high school football game. They aren’t sports spectators but like to hang out with their friends. I get it. She’s spending tonight hanging out with a friend. I know how much more fun that is than being home with your parents.

I am once again, then, spending a Friday night with Red. Last Friday, we watched Annie. Tonight, I’ve rented Brave. She’s not a popcorn eater so if I remember, I’ll bring home a treat. She’s a treat girl. And still likes to hang out with her mom.

I read this article recently and nodded all through it: http://www.brainchildmag.com/2013/10/my-adolescent-life/

While, Dusty and I don’t fight, she’s a stranger to me most of the time. Not that she doesn’t let me into her life, not that we don’t have conversations about things, not that she doesn’t tell me jokes anymore, like this one:

Dusty: When does Daylight Savings end?

Me: In a month! Stupid Congress.

Dusty: You know how “pro” means good and “con” means bad?

Me: Yeah.

Dusty: CON-gress.

But I also know there’s a lot she doesn’t tell me. In the evening, she’ll walk off to bed and has to be prompted to mutter ‘good night’. I know she doesn’t mean anything by the omission, it’s just that her almost-thirteen year old brain is filled with all those other things of concern. Things that are not saying good night to your mom.

I get it.

I almost thought I wouldn’t have them both on Monday, a holiday for them. But Dusty’s plans changed and it looks like we’re on again. Unless something else more tantalizing comes up. I haven’t made elaborate plans or any plans at all. I’m learning that with a young teenager in the house, it’s best to just let things….evolve. To be the Last Resort.

That said, my early birthday present to her is a ticket to see To Kill A Mockingbird in the city on Sunday. I’m holding these moments close to my chest because I know that time is coming, the time when I have to let out the yoyo string that connects us to it’s maximum length. And hope she springs back again.

Thirteen might be, I hope, a lucky number. For all of us.

What I Notice

Getting close to the end. Or the beginning. Depending on how you want to look at it. Both, actually. The end of one life, the beginning of another. Such as life is.

What I notice about these days is how up and down they are. Today was no exception.

It began quietly. My boss sent me my budget, a thing I rarely get these days and have zero input in. Nor does she.

I opened the document and found a distressingly small number. Unsustainably small. Which was so depressing I began to job hunt again. I contacted an old colleague and have made a lunch date. She works for a place that gives money away, something that’s always intrigued me. It’s nice to raise money but, if I can’t be a philanthropist myself, working for a foundation would be the next best thing.

I even found a job I’ll apply for. It’s a bit outside my normal thing but really….I’ve got the skill set. What the hell.

Opportunities make themselves available and I do my best to jump on them.

I need chairs and…..chairs appear! I will lose my current kitchen chairs soon. But new and better ones are on the horizon.

It’s all good.

Then, I had coffee with a mom at the elementary school who is actually doing what I tried and failed at  last year: getting rid of the heinous, unethical fund raiser at the school. She is an alum of my employer, a local, but so cool with her piercings and tattoos and sci/fi fandom that it was hard not to hug her. She’s making it happen and I’m there 100% to make sure whatever needs to be done is done. Yes. It makes me happier than you can imagine and takes the edge of the feeling of how marginal I feel at work these days.

I wake up from dreams good and bad to banging in the kitchen. Noise. So much noise. Why does he need to put away the dishes at 6:30am? Why do things need to be washed – so loudly – at such an hour? Why? Why is the drawer with the Qtips always left partially open? Why? Why is the toilet never flushed? These things will all rectify themselves in a few short (long) weeks. But they grate.

And then, after my shower, if there’s not dishwashing noise, I’m expected to say good morning. How long have you known me, I want to ask? Have I ever struck you as a morning person? As a small talk person? I just want my coffee. I just want quiet. I want to make my sandwich, feed the guinea pig (something NO ONE ELSE does), get dressed, put on makeup, pee. Please for just this hour, can there not be quiet? Even the children are relatively quiet at 7:30. One’s brushing her teeth. The other’s drying her hair and putting on mascara. I do not want to talk. You’ve known me for 25 years. Have I ever wanted to have cocktail party conversations? Ever, much less in the dark kitchen of morning?

Go away. Please, go away. Leave me to my personal ups and downs. My bad office shit and my surprise new friends.

Get out of my house.