Friday, September 30, 2011

Body of Evidence



This emotional/life upheaval stuff is not exactly a beauty treatment.

It is at this point in my life when it would be very nice to look in the mirror and really like what I see. I’d like to stand in front of the mirror and say “Yeah, baby! He’s a fool to leave such a fine lookin’ woman! You are HOT, you babe you!!”

Today, however, I bent down to pick something up and caught a glimpse of myself in a nearby mirror. My goodness, I thought. Who the heck is that and what is she doing out of bed? Shouldn’t someone call that woman’s nurse to escort her back to her room?

My entire body and face seem to have reacted to this news all on their own.

My natural genetic make-up/recipe includes the bony, angular contributions of my father’s side combined with the ample, sculptured look of my mother’s side of the family. Instead of these components blending together like a good smooth yogurt, the result was more like the fruit on the bottom variety, with my hips lending the weight and heft to the lighter top half.

I lost about nine pounds the first week after HOB left. Unfortunately I had no control where the weight dropped off. (Shouldn’t I have least been granted that favor?) Instead of leveling things out a bit, the weight loss seems to have only amplified the differences in upper, middle and lower body.

Indeed, I now look a bit like an odd Lego character whose head, torso and lower half are made up of parts from three different sets of characters.

My head is extremely small anyway, and my regular readers know my hair woes. Even my hair seems to be reacting to my emotional state these days by wanting to burrow in and sleep on my head. No amount of chemicals worked on, left on, or sprayed on will get it up and out, volumized and vivacious. No. It refuses. It gets all insecure. And it gets worse as the day goes on. By mid-afternoon, it is frantically clinging to my head as though in a continual Moro reflex.

Unfortunately, I have also lost weight in my face—a place where the there is not a lot of padding to begin with. (I am one of those rare people who actually looks better than normal just after dental surgery.) “Gaunt” is a word that comes to mind these days.

And yet, even as my face is shrinking inward, large bags have appeared under my eyes. Granted, it has been a long, stressful week at work and I have not been sleeping very well, so I should not expect to look like a beauty queen. However, I've never had these before. These suckers are huge. These are not carry-on sized bags. These are check-in-and-pay-extra kind of bags.

Even with all this weight loss, on my hips have remained the same. It is as though I have had plastic implants placed on the sides of my hipbones. These suckers don’t melt away. They remain firm.

Well, I think HOB may have left these hips behind, but in the olden days, some wagon train would have loaded up this pioneer woman and considered her a treasure—someone who would make it through the lean times on the trail and if that trail suddenly stopped and the wagon train party had to, oh, I don’t know, hold up for the winter and there was no food left…well, let’s just say she’d be considered quite a dish, if you know what I mean.


Don’t get me wrong. I generally love my body and am grateful to it for the work it does. I am trying my best to take care of it. I am feeding it more regularly now, and so some of the weight I lost has returned.

(However, the face weight seems to have taken off to Hawaii and won’t be returning any time too soon. Hope it’s having a good time. Aloha.)

Oh, and yesterday while looking at that face, I discovered I had an age spot AND a pimple within the same square inch on my face.

Life just continues to give me things to think about.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why A Highly Creative Person Should Never Shop For Fruit In Times of Great Distress




In normal times, I like the way my brain works.


I can be entertained for hours by my thoughts. They touch down on the floor on my brain in a unique square dance that often involves emotion joining in, normally keeping a steady beat.


Indeed, an excess of the creative gene, a lifelong reading habit, and the daily company of fellow English majors has created in me a unique triple-layer candy bar of thought that I normally enjoy very much.


However, over the past few weeks, as I have tried to absorb the blow dealt to me about a month ago by my husband, (divorce now, no trail separation, no chance of reconciliation) my brain seems to have a life of its own and my emotions have stopped keeping a steady beat.


Indeed, they are erratic and many times go joyriding in the unsafe vehicle that is now my cranium.



I am getting better, but I try to stay home as much as possible these days. Getting out into the world is sometimes a struggle it seems. I do go to work and when trusted friends go with me, I feel safe enough to go out other places. However, especially in the early days, I feared going out by myself because I did not trust my emotions to stay in one mode for even two minutes.


I find that my brain is still working overtime to try and understand what is happening and as a result, it makes dangerous connections with even the most mundane of objects.



Three examples:


Example #1)


I forced myself out on a walk one day, and there in the center of the street I saw it: one lone shoe. Its mate gone, it sat alone. It was somewhat worn, but still functional.


That shoe had still had places to go, but it was stalled out there alone.


Naturally, I saw myself in that shoe.


I started to cry and went out in the street. I gently picked it up, moved it out of harm’s way. I patted its side in solidarity. Maybe, I thought, maybe someone would come back for it.


I walked further down the street for a block and something caught my eye behind the fence in the schoolyard. The other shoe! Tears in my eyes, I ran back to get the first shoe. I picked it up and ran back down the block. I stopped and threw it as close as I could to the one on the schoolyard.


Then, I sat down on the sidewalk and wept. I am now a lone shoe, I thought. My mate has made it clear he is not coming back for me. I thought we were a good match. I thought he had wanted to be with me forever. We were going places together in the future. Now, I was on the sidewalk, all alone, feeling very tattered and worn.


Example #2)


The classroom I teach in is right next to the ceramics studio. While giving a lecture to my English class one day, I looked out the window and saw students bringing in heavy blocks of unformed clay.


These blocks of clay were destined to be cups or vases, or wasted in bits and pieces as the untrained and inexperienced attempted to create something new. I had to stop for a second and grip the edge of the table as I thought, “That’s where I am right now. I have to try and form a new life as a single person. I have no idea how.”


I liked being married. I liked everything about it. I knew how to do it and, truth be told, I thought I was pretty good at it too. What if in this new life I don’t construct a firm enough foundation on my own?


What if I do form it and then can’t stand the heat of life’s kiln?


What if I crack completely and am of no use to anyone?


Oh and speaking of cracking up…


Example 3)


One day, early on, I made a risky trip to Target (risky because everyone in our town goes to this Target and didn’t want to see anyone I knew.)


The store has just added a food section and so on my way out, I went to the pile of bananas and, as I have done the last 20 years or so, I grabbed a big bunch of about ten bananas.


Now about a month and a half ago, I would have thought nothing of this. HOB and the boys all loved bananas and ten would have lasted the four of us about three days.


I suddenly remembered. I lived alone now. The boys were gone. HOB was gone.


I dropped the big bunch of bananas and had what I believe would be considered meltdown right then and there.


Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I started weeping hysterically over the banana display in Target.


Going bananas over bananas? Yes. Symbolic? Oh yes. I believe we could say so.


(I am sure there was probably some Target executive on the security camera watching me with concern and jotting down a note to bring up at a later meeting, “Are our prices on bananas perhaps too high?”)




I am happy to report all of these things happened fairly early on after HOB left and while I would not claim to be exactly mentally stable these days, I am getting better.


Evidence:


A. I can now buy fruit in small quantities without breaking down completely.


B. I no longer internally freak out too much when I see those blocks of clay being moved into the studios.


C. (Not evidence of progress, just informational) I haven’t seen another single shoe in the middle of the street, but I know I would probably still go rescue it, put it out of harm’s way and hope whoever lost it came back for it. And yes, I would probably still pat its little side.





Further evidence that I am getting slowly getting better:


Just recently, I got off a plane in Portland and stood waiting with the other passengers while our luggage was pulled out of the small plane and placed on a rack on the tarmac for us.


I joined in as we all got our own bags, pulled up the handles and wheeled them behind us moving in toward the airport.


As we fanned out across the dark pavement, like ships leaving a harbor, our colorful bags in our wake, a thought crossed my mind.


It was this: We all have our own baggage. Everyone does.


It is the way we put it behind us and continue on our journeys, heads held high, that makes all the difference in life.


Here's to Happy Sailing in the future.


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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Ripple Effect



As most of you know, about a month ago, my husband (HOB) told me he wanted a divorce. It was unexpected and I am still trying to deal with the aftermath of his decision. As I've written, it's going to be a long journey, but I have lots of support including my family.

Though I was hit hardest by this life tsunami, my sisters, brothers-in-law, and my nieces and nephews are also affected by HOB's decision. I come from a big family and I can honestly say that everyone in my family loved HOB and he loved them. We are all struggling to understand and deal with this loss.

One of my nieces, Alyssa, wrote this and I asked her if I could use it here on my blog. I think recognizing and honoring the effects that this kind of decision has on everyone, not just the spouses, will help start the healing that will hopefully, eventually, come to everyone.



Aunt Betty is weathering a brutal storm.

A tornado has swept through her life, leaving devastation in its path of destruction. Aunt Betty is bruised and hurting. Time will never fully heal the wounds. They may heal to a certain degree, but the scars will remain. They will be reminders of a life that will simply feel like a dream, lost somewhere in time.

I am still processing all that has taken place the last couple of weeks.

I find it hard to believe that Uncle HOB is gone. He says he needs to be free. In my mind, I wonder why? Why would he want to leave his wife of 30 years? Why would he want to put his two sons through this?

While Uncle HOB’s actions have caused great heartache within his immediate family, it does not stop there.

The hurt flows beyond; it ripples into his extended family. We all stand here stunned, examining the aftermath, wondering how this could happen, what he could possibly be thinking. All of us, Uncle HOB’s mom, his brothers and their families, Aunt Betty’s sisters and their husbands, her nieces and nephews are left with the task of cleaning up the wreckage.

Uncle HOB and Aunt Betty are like second parents to me. I attended college near them, and I spent countless weekends at their home, experiencing their hospitality and generosity, and being filled with the kind of love that can only come from family. Uncle HOB was always there, and always a source of entertaining and interesting moments. (An incident with African Killer Bees and a certain Edgar Allen Crow come to mind).

Uncle HOB’s presence was constant and dependable. I recall how when he was driving, he would always place his hand on Aunt Betty’s leg. It was a sweet and reassuring gesture. He was also protective of and always willing to help one of Aunt Betty’s close friends after she lost her husband.

He was also chivalrous and always looking out for the well-being of his family. This is who Uncle HOB was at the core. And I believe that deep down, behind all the confusion and the need to be “free,” that the real Uncle HOB is still there.


Aunt Betty and Uncle HOB were able to come visit us this summer, when they were in town for my cousin’s wedding. It was the first time that they got to meet my son, who at the time was six months old. I am thankful for the time we got to spend together.

Like Aunt Betty, I was unaware of the plans that Uncle HOB had already meticulously formulated in his head to leave his family.

I didn’t realize that goodbye would be forever. I can honestly say I feel slightly betrayed by how normal he acted while he was here.

In addition to experiencing the direct pain of Uncle HOB’s decision to leave, we are also left with watching our dear Aunt Betty experience the loss of her marriage and of her dreams of growing old with Uncle HOB.

While Aunt Betty mourns this loss and adjusts to her new normal, we family feel helpless. How do you console somebody whose life is turned upside down? Who feels lost, abandoned, confused, frustrated, and hurt? To hear the pain in Aunt Betty’s voice on the phone is unbearable. To listen to her cry about all that has gone wrong in the past weeks is painful. And I feel helpless, at a loss for words. “Aunt Betty,” I said on the phone. “You are doing really well. If I was in your position, I would be a total wreck. You are only a partial wreck.”

Sometimes I wonder what Uncle HOB is thinking right now, as he settles into his new life and pursues freedom. Does he feel guilty? Does he have any remorse for what he is putting his family through? Or has he already shelved those emotions and moved on with his life?

There are so many unanswered questions.

The other night, my husband slipped into bed and engulfed me in an embrace with his strong arms. “Guess what?” he whispered into my ear. “What?” I replied. “You’re stuck with me. I will always be with you.”

His words warmly drifted around in my sleepy mind. And then suddenly, I felt a twinge of remorse and sadness when I thought of Aunt Betty, alone in her bed. She is dealing with life as the walls around her deteriorate, both figuratively and literally.

I said a little prayer of peace over my Aunt Betty. May God guard her heart and her mind as she navigates the winding road before her.

I love you, my dearest Aunt Betty.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Morning Flowers and Apples


Good Monday Morning, My People!

Hope you have a happy week ahead.

Here are your flowers to get you started off right.



And Bonus!

Our Fuji Apple tree is producing the yummiest apples.

It's the first year we've had a harvest.

They are delicous!

Now if only little cups of caramel dip grew beside the apples....

Somebody needs to get started on that project right away.



Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.
--Martin Luther

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Living Proof


When I heard this song at the end of the movie The Help, I started to cry. It was one of those moments when I so wanted a song to be true for me.

I went out, bought the soundtrack and now I play it in my car every day on my way to work.

I think it will be awhile before I can sing this and know I have truly reached this stage in my healing, but singing it now, thinking about that day has helped me so much.

Hope you enjoy and find your own strength in these lyrics.

(Sorry I couldn't embed the video here. Just click on the title and you'll be transported to it.)

Mary J. Blige – The Living Proof

It’s gonna be a long long journey
It’s gonna be an uphill climb
It’s gonna be a tough fight
It’s gonna be some lonely nights
But I’m ready to carry on

I’m so glad the worst is over
I can start living now
I feel like I can do anything
And finally I’m not afraid to breathe

Anything you say to me
And everything you do
You can’t deny the truth
Cause I’m the living proof
So many don't survive
They just don’t make it through
But look at me
I’m the living proof
Oh yes I am

Thinking about life been painful
Yes it was
Took a lot to learn how to smile
So now I’m gonna talk to my people
About the storm, about the storm
Oh.. so glad the worst is over
I can start flying now
My best days are right in front of me
And I’m almost there
Cause now I am free

Anything you say to me
And everything you do
You can’t deny the truth
Cause I’m the living proof
So many don't survive
They just don’t make it through
But look at me
I’m the living proof

I know where I’m going
Cause I know where I’ve been
I gotta few stars showing
Stay strong, keep growing
That’s the way that I win

Anything you say to me
And everything you do
You can’t deny the truth
Cause I’m the living proof
So many don't survive
They just don’t make it through
But look at me
I’m the living proof

Nothing about my life’s been easy
But nothing is gonna keep me down
Cause I know a lot more today
And I know yesterday
So I am ready to carry on
Oh Lord.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Let' s Eat Dinner in Bed at 4:00. I'll Bring the Peanut Butter Sandwiches.



As most of you know, I am now living alone for the first time in my life.

This change in lifestyle happened pretty suddenly, and pretty dramatically (to say the least), and I've had a little trouble adjusting to it.

I do have two cats, and though I consider myself a sparkling conversationalist, they tend to fall asleep in the middle of my exciting recounting of the day.

Their eyes start to droop before I get to the story about parking in my usual spot at school, and by the time I start to talk about what kind of sandwich I had for lunch, they are sound asleep.

(Unless, it was a tuna sandwich and then they tend to open at least one eye to see if I have any leftovers in my possession.)

I have many friends who live alone and like it just fine. Me? Well, I am just not used to it and find it pretty lonely at times.

However, I am attempting to find some good in it.

After some thought, I have come up with a list of three things that I like about living alone.

1. Loosely set dinner time.

Dinner at our house has always been at 6:00pm. I made this rule in 1981 and we stuck to it for thirty years. I had dinner on the table every night at six o'clock. HOB knew dinner would be ready and was home from work by that time. The kids knew to be home at 6:00 and even their friends knew if they wanted to be fed, 6:00 was the time to show up.

The other day I got hungry at 4:00 and thought, "Oh, two more hours until dinner." Then it struck me! I could eat at any time! What a concept! I fixed a meal for myself and (brace yourselves for evidence of my new, wacky lifestyle) ate it at 4:20! Yes!

Bonus! I can eat anywhere I want now too!


2. Large bed to myself.

At first this was tough for me.

I'd wake in the middle of the night and reach for HOB. I'd wake up and wonder where he was. Once I remembered, that side of the bed then seemed even larger and more empty. Then I discovered that I could place my I-Pod, my portable radio, my notebook, my DVD player, and my book on that side of the bed. I reach for these things in the middle of the night when I can't sleep and it's comforting to have them nearby. Voila! A handy entertainment center once wasted on a sleeping body!

Extra Bonus: No time to fold laundry? No problem! Dumped on that side of the bed, it waits patiently and provides a little clothing snowbank reminiscent of a bumper pad in a crib.


3. No Guilt Peanut Butter Knives

Every morning for breakfast I have peanut butter.

It is part of what keeps me so darn pretty and my skin so supple.

I use a knife to dig out the peanut butter and then place the unwashed knife in the sink. This drove HOB crazy. He wanted me to wipe it off immediately.

Washing a knife first thing in the morning before eating breakfast?

Touching a sponge before touching my food?

I don't think so.

In the last few months he was home, he made a very big deal out of the peanut butter knife.
When I left it in the sink, he used it as an opportunity to get offended. "You're sending me a message every time you leave a dirty knife in the sink, " he said, dramatically. "You expect me to clean your knives for you, don't you?"

So, I started washing darn knives first thing in the morning and hated everything about it.

NOW, I put them in the sink with peanut butter still on them and then dance a little jig around the kitchen. Sometimes I have four or five peanut butter knives in there before I get them washed. Whooooooo!!!!!

Wild!

So, my dear readers, if you live alone, tell me one thing you like about it.

If you live with others, tell me how your mate/loved one drives you crazy with small, annoying habits.

Gloat. Vent. You'll feel better; I'll feel better.

Leave your comment here at Betty's sink.

I won't even try to clean it up and you can leave it right here for as long as you want.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Under Construction


Yesterday had already been a long day.

HOB had gone to Tennessee this past weekend to tell his mom that he was leaving our marriage. After he left her house, she called me and we had a good cry-fest on the phone. For thirty years I have been her daughter-in-law. She told me I always would be.

I went to school and paraded my first class to the computer lab for an intense lesson on research and documentation. Two minutes after they sat behind the computers, the electricity went out.

Somehow it felt personal.


The day went downhill from there.

As most of you know, just after HOB left, I discovered there was a slow, steady leak in our of the pipes behind the wall of the bathroom. It ruined the carpeting in one of the bedrooms. My friend and I ripped it up. A plumber came over and fixed the leak but said things were a mess in the attic.

I had been working with my insurance agency to get the water/mold guys over. There's too much detail to go into here, but there were several setbacks. Finally, the woman at the insurance agency said, "Just say 'Emergency Service' and they will get there."

I did. They came last night at 7:00pm.

Two twenty-something guys showed up. I led them to the attic crawl space where I thought they would just look, sprinkle some magic powder and then leave.

Wrong.

They stopped by the bathroom first and pointed to the ceiling. It was starting to sag from water and wet insulation in the attic. They inspected the rest of the bathroom and bedroom.

Then they gave me the news: The vanity is probably ruined and will have to be removed. The flooring in the hall will have to go. They may have to tear down the wall between the two rooms. There may be lead and asbestos in the wall so they have to test that first before ripping a hole in it The wallboard in the hallway is wet. There is water in the closet in the bedroom.

They were very nice guys and pointed these things out very professionally, running little hand-held sensors across the walls and floors, showing me how the light turned from green to red when it sensed moisture.

I stood, nodding, trying not to lose it, but finally, I couldn't stand it anymore. Tears welled up in my eyes, and like the crazy lady I am quickly becoming, I blurted out in a high voice, "About four weeks ago, my husband asked me for a divorce and he left and ever since then the house has just been falling apart!" I started sobbing (just a little).

These poor guys both stood stock still and silent, unsure of what to do. Handling hysterical middle-aged ladies is probably not in their training manuals. For just a minute I thought they were going to run the little moisture sensor across my eyes. It would have started beeping and flashing red immediately.

Now here's the really sad, pathetic part.

After I blurted this out, one of the guys said, "Well, we'll be here..."

He paused to look around the room and my mind latched on to those four words.

My mind raced ahead and I felt happy for a split second. Yes! These men will be here! These men won't need their "freedom" and won't just walk out when the going gets tough! They will stick around and work on things and clean up messes and they will take care of me and stay with me even as I fall apart.

Then he finished his sentence.

"...for at least five to seven days."

Oh.

"Yeah," he said, "It's a big job. It's going to take some time."


Tell me about it.


So now, I have about seven giant fans in the bathroom area and a huge dehumidifier in the hallway.

My house is facing major construction work.

My life is facing the same.

Maybe I can somehow get a Two-For-One Special.



Additional Note: At one point in the evening, in order to soothe the crazy lady, one of the guys tried to make small talk and asked about the adjoining bedrooms and if my children were home. I looked at him, my eyes welling up once again, and said, "No, both of my sons left for college last month." "Oh," he said, "Well, they'll be back before you know it." "One of them moved all the way to Virginia!" I blurted out. Suddenly he had a cell phone call he had to answer. (Funny, I didn't hear the ring....)

When they were leaving, I asked if they would be the ones coming back to finish the job. They both quickly said they weren't sure.

Something tells me they won't be.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Road Trip Report!

Hi everyone!

As many of you know, this past weekend, I flew up to meet my friend, Karen, who was dropping off her daughter, Hana, at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

Here are the two beauties, touring the campus.



Here is the newest Duck!


(Yes, the school mascot is the Duck!)



See? One day on campus and Hana is already leaving duck footprints behind her!



I have known this girl since she was three years old. She is like a daughter to me and and I know she will do great at her new school!


Karen and I drove her van back down through California and guess what we discovered? By taking about a two hour detour, we could go and visit another very special person who goes to college in northern California!





Yes! I got to spend a couple of hours with one of my favorite people on earth! My son Evan! I miss this boy so much. A visit with him was just the medicine this Mama needed.



Karen and I covered a lot of ground both outside the van and inside the van. We talked the whole way, cried some, and also laughed a lot. I am lucky to have a wonderful friend like her.

It was a bit hard coming home to the same lonely house, the same problems here, and a lot of school work to do on top of everything else, but I am so glad I took this trip.

I saw new sights and got a little perspective. It did my heart good to see Hana and Evan, both beginning their own new adventures. They remind me that it takes bravery to venture into a place you've never been before and that's a lesson I can use right now.

Here's to road trips, both long and short!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Morning Flowers

Hi everyone!

Tune in tomorrow for the Road Trip Report!

Your Monday Morning Flowers await.






Thank you so much for all your comments and support recently!

Happy Monday to you!



Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

--Mark Twain


Friday, September 16, 2011

Road Trip!



What kind of nut would allow this ping pong ball of emotion to accompany her on a two-day road trip?

One of my besties, Karen, that's who.

She is in Oregon dropping off her daughter at college. She mentioned she would have a long drive back to California alone, so I bought a plane ticket and will fly up today to help her drive back this weekend.

I love road trips in general and think it will be good for me to get out of this slippery mixing bowl of memories that is my house right now.

We'll hit the road early Saturday morning, and I plan to be in a candy coma by 9:00am. Skittles, Smarties, Mounds Bars, and Red Vines: the four food groups required for a fine traveling experience. I'll pair them with massive amounts of Diet Pepsi over pebbled ice in a plastic cup. Ahhhhh...now that's livin'.

Recent events have sent me backwards lately and progress on this journey of mine has been slow. Also, I've been looking in the rearview way too much.

Maybe feeling an actual road beneath me, feeling the air pass through my hair and making progress on a route I've never been on before will inspire me to do the same in my life.

And maybe, just maybe, I'll hum along to the music on the radio and it will remind that somewhere inside of me, however faint right now, is a new song just waiting to be sung.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Slow And Not So Steady


I can always tell when he has been here.

He comes when he knows I won't be home. He always texts ahead to make sure it is OK. He picks up his mail and the few remaining items of his in this house and then he leaves. Even if he didn't tell me he was going to come in, I would know he had been here. There is a certain waft in the air of his scent, a certain ribbon of his being that lingers after he goes.

He left me. He walked out of our marriage, and still I find the sensation of knowing he was here comforting. I don't want to be comforting. That hurts too much.

There was no shouting between us. There was no throwing of things. There were no accusations. There was only sadness, pain, and pleading on my part. There was only a pained certainty, absolute certainty and an unwavering sense of finality on his part.

Looking back, now I see the things I didn't see when they were happening. The change in him--the isolation, the pickiness, the shutting down of emotions. I thought they were just the natural ebb and flow of a long relationship of a couple facing an empty nest.

I took the counseling sessions he agreed to as signs of hope. Now I see it was his way of crossing the t's and dotting the i's, so he could say he had done it.

I interpreted the anniversary card he wrote to me in which he said he would always love me and always be grateful to me as a promise to stay with me forever.

Now, I look at that card and know he was writing his final goodbye to me.

By his choice, we do not see each other, nor do we talk. He wants as little contact as possible. I put a star on my calendar for each day I am able to go without contacting him. It is an effort on my part. I still have things I want to say. I still have questions I want answers to. However, I have read the books and the articles. They all say the same thing: give him his space. Seeing him and talking to him at this stage of the break-up will do no good.

The nights are the worst. A Unisom or a glass of wine grants me two or three hours of sleep. Then, I awaken, groan to look at the clock just reading 11:30 or midnight. My mind races and dips into the hollows of emotions. One night I reached for my cell phone and wrote a text to him. "Come Home. Please, Just Come Home." The small amount of pride I had residing in the smallest pocket of my mind stopped me from pushing Send. "Save in Drafts?" my phone asked when I pushed Cancel. No. Don't Save in Drafts.

When he was moving his things out of our house and into the U-Haul to take them back to his new apartment (he won't tell me where it is) I actually urged him to be sure and take some tomatoes from our garden. "They're really good and you need to have some fresh vegetables," I said. Who does that? I remember that scene and at first I am angry with myself. Get a backbone, woman! Throw the stinkin' tomatoes at him; don't wrap them up in a bag for him! For heaven's sake. What's wrong with you?

But then, I stop and forgive that poor, broken woman. For thirty years she took care of him and her family. She had tried to anticipate his needs. She was just falling back on what she knew how to do. She was trying to inject some normality into a bizarre and surreal scene that was rocking her to her foundation.

How do you stop loving someone? How do you turn off this emotion? How do you stop wanting what you can no longer have? I wish it were like flipping a switch. Am I mad at him? Yes. Do I think he did the wrong thing? Yes. Do I still love him? Yes. Would I take him back if he came to the door tonight and wanted to come back? Yes. I would. God help me, I would. When will I reach the point at which I say no? I want to get to that point.

I have angry moments, and I have hopeful moments when I truly believe that I can get to the place I want to be in the future--happy, healthy, independent, full of life again. However, those moments do not last and the longing for what was and what could have been returns. In a flash flood of emotions, I feel the ache, the sorrow, wash over me so powerfully it bruises me further.

I have always been a person who likes to do things quickly. Ask my friends and they will tell you that I walk fast, talk fast, clean fast, read fast and even think fast.

What I am learning is there is nothing quick or fast about this.

I want to get over it, but I am finding I have to go through it and that it is a slow, sticky, painful, confusing path--a mire through which I must slog, a deep mire that exhausts me and sometimes drains me all of my strength.

I will be glad when I have some distance from this. I know life is precious and not to be wasted, but if someone told me I could skip ahead to six months from now, I would.

I want distance, some perspective.

I want some strong, tough scar tissue to cover this wound.


Most of all, I want to stop wanting the life I used to have.



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

And Now a Word From SOB: (Not that one) Sister of Betty!

See that protective arm around me?
I've felt it my whole life and feel it especially now.

My four older sisters are my champions. When I started my long process of recovery after HOB left, my sister Kathleen wrote this to all my blogger buddies. She told me I didn't need to post it, but I wanted to, to let you know how much you are all appreciated.



Yes, Betty is going through a hard and confusing time.

As she was trying hard to deal with it all, she felt the foundation under her feet give-literally. A pipe, in the house which had only hours before become her responsibility, had broken. She called friends who came and helped her move heavy furniture. The next day a friend came back to help rip up the soggy ruined carpet.

As they ripped, more damage was exposed. The water was still flowing. They turned off the water and consulted another friend who advised a professional be called.

The plumber stopped the flow, but much remains uncertain. So much damage, water doesn't flow through electrical outlets, ceilings and floors without leaving them weak and vulnerable.

Stability once taken for granted is threatened, just as in Betty's life.

What is not threatened and never questioned in Betty's life is the support of her friends and family.

Her family is scattered in various states far away; we feel so helpless. Betty tells us our e-mails, texts and phone calls help, and when we read the comments from her fellow bloggers, we can believe in the power of that form of communication.

After Betty's courageous and honest post, I watched as the comments began arriving.

What wonderful thoughtful expressions of support and wisdom from people who, for the most part, have never met.

I will leave it to the social scientists to expound on the deeper meaning, I'm just thankful such a forum exists.

So, as Betty assesses the damage, considers calling for professional help, and tries to piece together her ripped apart life, I want to thank her friends, those who are physically there doing the heavy lifting, and the bloggers who help her far away family know support can be given in many ways.

Just as I feel Betty's pain as only a sister can, I also feel every virtual hug sent to her.

If Betty were writing this, she would close with one of her profound closings that we all think about for days. I am not Betty and do not have her gift of writing. I can only thank you all and hope Betty can someday write the closing to this hard, hard chapter of her life and come back to us stronger than ever.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Housing Pain



Can a house detect and reflect the emotions of the person living in it?

Hummmm....

I am now living alone in this very large house.

The fact is, it's only been been two and a half weeks since HOB left, but....

Well, the truth is I have never lived alone this long before.

Never.

A month and a half ago this place was bustling with life. We stopped locking the door since there were so many people in and out at all times of the day.

Now, I am in a crash course on living alone.

I gotta say, I don't like it at all.


The first weekend after HOB moved out and into his shiny new apartment, I walked into one of the bedrooms and found the rug was soaked.

I went into the bathroom that shares a wall with this room and found that there was water seeping out of the crack between the vanity and the wall. It was leaking out of the bottom of the floor and into the next room. There was (just add blood and you'd have a horror movie) water leaking out of the light fixtures.

Oh my gosh.

Now?

Really?

I called friends who helped me move the bookcase off the wet rug.

I called another friend who said, "Get a plumber. Get a plumber right now."

I called another friend who came over and called a plumber while I sat, head thrown down on the dining room table in despair.

The plumber came over, (on a Sunday) said there was a hole in the pipe that ran up the wall. He took 20 minutes to fix it and charged me $400.00. He warned me about mold. He told me the attic had standing water. He said the entire plumbing system needed to be re-strapped soon or this would start to happen all over the house.

He left. I shut the door, fell to the floor and cried. "I can't do this. I can't do this."


The next morning at 3:00am, the sprinkler system in the yard went bananas. I heard the booming sound from the pipes vibrating all over the house.

Loud.

Insistent.

Like a giant heart going into cardiac arrest.

In the past, I reached over in bed and nudged HOB and he fixed it.

HOB was gone. Gone for good, apparently.


I groped for the flashlight HOB kept on his night stand and flipped the switch. It is a complicated flashlight with a red flashing light for emergency situations. I flipped the wrong button and the red strobe came on. I fumbled, but couldn't get it off. Let's face it: it was appropriate. I held it over my head as I struggled out to the garage and turned off one switch. Then, I had to go out in the front yard and turn off the main switch for the sprinklers.

This involved crawling around my hands and knees under a small bush to find the knob.

I made my way to the bed, dropped the still flashing flashlight on the floor, got beneath the covers, curled into a fetal position and cried. Over and over again, I cried, "I can't do this. I can't do this."

The good news is it's been a full week since I said, "I can't do this. I can't do this."

(About household repairs anyway.)

The bad news is the molding around patio doorway is starting to fall off.

The good news is I know how to use Super Glue.

The bad news is, it doesn't work on hearts.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Morning Flowers


Oh My People.

Thank you so much for your responses to my last blog entry.

Trying to remember to breathe here.

Still putting one foot in front of the other.

I am stumbling along the way though.

Luckily, I have people to catch me if I fall.

My friend, Julie, gave me these beautiful roses which I share with you today.






After all that has happened, my self-esteem is pretty bruised and beaten. However, some friends suggested I go to church with them and there in the bulletin I read the words to a song that gave me strength:

How could anyone ever tell you,
you were anything less than beautiful?
How could anyone ever tell you, you were less than whole?
How could anyone fail to notice that your loving is a miracle?
How deeply you're connected to my soul.
--The Bridge of Love



Hope you all have good Mondays.

Thanks again for all the notes of encouragement and support.

I am grateful for them (and for you) all.





Friday, September 9, 2011

Betty's Back. Just Barely and Pretty Battered and Bruised.


Hope you are all still there.

I am.

But just barely.

Here are the facts:


Three weeks after our oldest son moved across the country...

Twelve days after a lovely anniversary dinner, complete with affection-filled card...

One week after we dropped off our youngest son at college...

One day after our fourth trip to a marriage counselor...

A few minutes after a normal Friday night that included dinner, a walk, and a movie...

My husband of thirty years sat on the couch next to me and told me he wanted a divorce.

Not a separation.

A divorce.

He already had his things packed up in the car ready to go.

He wanted to be free.

Just like that. He had decided.


He took off his wedding ring the next day. He moved into an apartment in a nearby town but will not tell me the location.

Apparently, he had been thinking about this for a long time, so he is in a very different emotional place than I am.

Me? I feel like I've been kicked in the stomach. My emotions are like a Super Ball set loose in a closet.

Being married, being with HOB, was such a big part of my identity.

When I thought about my future, it was with him.

Now, I have to deal with the death of that blueprint of the future I had.


Just about a month ago, this house was filled with Sonny Boy and his girlfriend, with Evan and his friends, with HOB. It was filled with life.

And now it is just me.


I don't want to be divorced.

I don't want to be alone.

I don't want any of this.


I want to be sensitive to the emotions of my sons and I want them to have a good relationship with their dad, so I will never bash HOB or bad-mouth him. He did what he had to do, I suppose.

HOB is not a bad man.

He is not an evil man.

He is a confused man who is right smack-dab in the middle of a Midlife Crisis.

However, I do need to speak my truth and right now I am hurting in ways I didn't know I could hurt.


So, my blogging buddies, I am taking a deep breath here and trying to get back into blogging amidst the swirling remnants of my former life. I have had some very dark days, but I also have wonderful friends who are helping me out along the way.

I want my blog to be a place where I can practice being normal again.

I ask your indulgence as I try to find my way back into life. I may just post a picture some days. I may have a heavy post one day and then a goofy one the next day. Please understand. I am just looking for some pieces of my old life that I can still recognize--that I can pick up and salvage.

I know I can't have my old life back, but I need to know that I haven't totally lost myself along the way.

I am just trying to find my way out of this storm.