Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Poetry Tuesday: "One Day" by Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

One Day

Love Song for the Newly Divorced

One day, you will awake from your covering
and that heart of yours will be totally mended,
and there will be no more burning within.
The owl, calling in the setting of the sun
and the deer path, all erased.
And there will be no more need for love
or lovers or fears of losing lovers
and there will be no more burning timbers
with which to light a new fire,
and there will be no more husbands or people
related to husbands, and there will be no more
tears or reason to shed your tears.
You will be as mended as the bridge
the working crew has just reopened.
The thick air will be vanquished with the tide
and the river that was corrupted by lies
will be cleansed and totally free.
And the rooster will call in the setting sun
and the sun will beckon homeward,
hiding behind your one tree that was not felled.

--Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Morning Flowers

Good Monday Morning!

I had a great weekend!

How about you?

Here is your Flower Love for the week.

For happiness one needs security, but joy can spring like a flower even from the cliffs of despair.

--Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Thursday, January 26, 2012

FInding the Balance

Soon after HOB left, I figured out I needed some professional help to sort through the wreckage of my emotional life. I had never been in therapy before, but I was lucky enough to end up on the couch of a very fine woman who has helped me immeasurably.

Early in the process of recovery, I wailed to her, “I am so tired of this. I just want to be the old Betty again!”

She leaned toward me, locked her deep brown eyes on mine, and softly said the exact words I did not want to hear: “You will never be the old Betty again.”

I gasped and looked at her in dismay. She continued, “You will be a different person because of what has happened to you.” In a flash I decided I needed a new therapist, one who would tell me what I wanted to hear, damn it. She said, “You will never be the old you, but you will be a more empathetic person, a person who understands life and people’s pain in a whole new way.”

At the time, it didn’t seem to me that that was a good deal. I was in too much of my own pain to see how this chasm in my life could actually transform into a bridge to other people.

However, she was right. Before when people spoke to me of loss, of betrayal, of the pain of unwanted change, I smiled a sympathetic smile, and said the well-worn phrases that I had learned to say as a bystander of life’s misfortunes and calamities. Now that am a bit of a veteran, I know that just my eye contact, my facial expression, my hand over the hand of another, communicates more than any words could.

Indeed, when I think back to breaking the news to others, there was, in the eyes and the actions of those who had traveled down this road before me, recognition, a concern, an empathy that told me they really got it. They really understood. Also, in that exchange there was the unspoken strength and assurance that came through that I would indeed make a good, a better life for myself. So many of these kind souls added the words I did not believe at the time, “It will get better.”

I will never be glad my marriage fell apart. A part of me may always feel the ache of the exacting and absolute amputation performed on that late August night. I know what it’s like to be holding a rope, to depend on it, and have someone on the other end let go of his end and walk away.

You fall.

You fall hard.

It hurts.

It’s confusing as hell.

You struggle and struggle to get back on your feet, and you stand, bruised and shaken, not at all sure of your path. Then, slowly, just like everyone said it would, it gets better. You regain your balance. You find your dignity and strength restored--restored and even increased.

And that’s when it happens: you come across someone else is hurting and without even considering whether you are strong enough or ready enough, you reach out, pull that person up, dust him or her off and say those words that he or she won’t believe until later: “It will get better.”

And then, you aren't the old you and you aren't the new you.

You are just the person you were meant to be.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Poetry Tuesday: "Neutral Tones" by Thomas Hardy

Neutral Tones

We stood by a pond that winter day,
And the sun was white, as though chidden of God,
And a few leaves lay on the starving sod;
– They had fallen from an ash, and were gray.

Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove
Over tedious riddles of years ago;
And some words played between us to and fro
On which lost the more by our love.

The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing
Alive enough to have strength to die;
And a grin of bitterness swept thereby
Like an ominous bird a-wing….

Since then, keen lessons that love deceives,
And wrings with wrong, have shaped to me
Your face, and the God curst sun, and a tree,
And a pond edged with grayish leaves.

--Thomas Hardy

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Morning Flowers

Good Monday Morning, My Darlings!

Hope you all had good weekends and are ready to start the week.

I went out in my neighborhood yesterday and picked these flowers just for you.

Here's wishing for a happy week ahead!

If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.

--Chinese Proverb

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Three Men and a Betty

As you can imagine, going through a divorce and finding out various things about your beloved mate of thirty years that are less than appealing, less than honest, can alter a girl's view on the entire species of men.

I started down that road, beginning to view all men through a skewed lens when the universe set down three men in my path to stop me from making that mistake.

They have all appeared, or reappeared in my life recently to teach me certain things, to make me understand that there are good, solid, decent men out there. They are my three wise men, bearing their own gifts and appearing just when I needed them to.

The first is rough around the edges, but with a heart of gold. He drives a big pickup truck and a Harley. He looks out for me, but never takes away my independence. He grounds me when I need it, and makes me smile with his bluntness and his honesty. He's been through similar circumstances and so, knowing the holidays would be hard, called on a regular basis to check up on how I was doing. He takes me for rides in his pickup to get veggie burgers, always makes sure I have a Diet Pepsi when I need it, and encourages me in the art of swearing when it feels good. He and I are unlikely friends, but we are indeed, friends.

The second is a man I have known for years and years. He now lives on the east coast. When he heard of my divorce he wrote me, sent me a box of healing presents, and a paper hug (his arms, traced out on paper, taped together). He is survivor of divorce and understands the pain of the process. He is also a survivor of cancer, of numerous surgeries, of many of life's trials. Through it all, however, he still maintains a sense of generosity and empathy. He may not know it, but he inspires me with his incredible courage. I recently spent time with him and sitting across from him, eating pizza and laughing, I was reminded how uncomplicated a good friendship can be.

A third man has recently entered/re-entered my life as evidence that smart, kind, patient men exist. Slogged down with all of the emotional garbage of divorce, and the emerging details that threaten my own sense of self-worth, I was beginning to believe some of the negative voices in my head. It was then this friend appeared to remind me that I am indeed a woman of substance, style, value and worth. He lives an hour away, and so I do not see him often, but when we do get together, we take long walks together and talk about everything under the sun. He encourages me on those days when I can't look at one more legal document. He writes me letters that make me smile. He is soft-spoken, and I am not, but we share the same sense of humor. He has brought back my smile, and optimism about men in general. He actually makes me think that maybe, someday, I might be able to trust someone with my battered heart again.

The world is filled with good people, and I am so lucky to be surrounded by them. In my family, and at my work, I have so many examples of good, sincere men of principle. However, I can't help but think that some force brought these three into my life to help me along this path at this time.

Each came, and in his own way helped me to learn a lesson I needed: not to take life so seriously, to face challenges with courage, and to trust in the future and all the incredible possibilities that await there.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My New Year's Trip

We have some catching up to do, apparently.

For New Year's I flew out to see Sonny Boy and his girlfriend in Virginia. It was the first time I had seen them since they moved. I loved seeing them and their new home.

Since Sonny Boy and Girlfriend do not allow their pictures on this blog, I had to stand in.
Too much Betty in one post?

Oh yes.

I got to visit VT, home of the Hokies!

My friend Steve lives in West Virginia, but came down to see me.
We met in college about 34 years ago and have kept in touch over the years.
He is a sweetie indeed.

Betty and field at VT. It is a beautiful campus!

OH! OH! OH! We got to go to Mt. Airy, North Carolina, home of Andy Griffith and the town Mayberry of the "Andy Griffith Show" was based on.

I am sort of a freak about the show, owning every episode and knowing far too much about each and every one. I had SO much fun going to the museum and the town!

Sonny Boy and his girlfriend were very patient as I took in all the sights and participated in racy activities like the one above.

I couldn't think of a better place to start this exciting new year.

Seeing my beloveds in their new home, exploring this part of the US, and visiting Mt. Airy?

It all made Betty greet the new year with a smile.

Hope your New Year was just as good.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Party of Two

As most of you know, I was determined to get through Christmas this year (the first one after the sudden departure of my husband, and the first one my son had to miss) mostly by ignoring the holiday. I didn't unpack the tree, nor the ornaments. I made plans to go to my sister's house in another state for the actual day. I avoided heavily decorated streets. I shunned Christmas music whenever possible. I thought I had done a pretty good job of protecting myself from any onslaught of excess emotion brought on by my first Christmas alone.

So, when a retirement party for one of my colleagues came around, I thought it would pretty much be just a department meeting on steroids. No problem. I dressed up appropriately and went to the house of another colleague, ready to have a pleasant time. It didn't even cross my mind that I would have any trouble.

I was wrong. Christmas decorations were all over. Pictures of a happy, intact family lined the walls. My colleagues brought their significant others. The rooms of the house were alive with laughter and conversation. Rich foods flowed out of the kitchen. Everyone was kind and considerate, giving me hugs and smiles from across the room. This kindness and compassion nearly put me under, because, as pure as it may have been, I saw it tinged in pity. I looked at the Christmas tree, covered with hundreds of busy ornaments, mirroring my own cluttered emotions. I was overwhelmed, but I held it together fairly well, even when my beloved retiring colleague sat next to his long-time wife and thanked her for all her support.

Then, I gathered my things, smiled and laughed as I walked out the door, thanking my hosts and exclaiming about what a good time I had. I walked to my car.

Then, I lost it completely. Yes. A complete meltdown. I had not cried like that for months. Emotions rushed over me, swept me away and I as suddenly just as sad and confused as the day HOB left me.

So much for progress.

I had planned on going to a friend's birthday party the next day. I went home, and quickly sent my apologies. No more parties for me.

The next day, a friend I had not seen in years came over for lunch out and a walk afterwards. What I had expected to be a short walk and talk, turned into a long walk, a long talk. We meandered the streets of the town, and the talk flowed freely. Walking in the warm air of a California December, I felt a peacefulness I had not felt for a long time. It was getting near dark and we must have already walked at least five miles, but I suddenly knew what I wanted to do. For some reason, I felt safe to do it.

I, the girl who was avoiding Christmas at all costs, guided my friend toward the street in our town that is known as Candy Cane Lane. The houses there go all out, decorate to the hilt, Christmas music blares from some of the front yards. The street is always full of people in a holiday mood, out for fun. We walked side by side down the street and I wasn't overwhelmed, or melancholy, or aching. I was just simply happy. The complications of my life fell away for a few minutes and I strolled down the street with my friend and enjoyed the lights and the sounds.

I thought about big parties and how we flock to them, prepared to have a good time and most of the time we do. But on this night, I understood that there are some times in life when the best party of all is a party of two. It was simple. It was uncomplicated. There was no pretense or need be anything but authentic.

So, yesterday was my birthday. I had a great day until I had to go to two divorce-related meetings. I came out of them upset, confused, and generally distraught. I had planned on getting together with a group of people, but I called one of my best friends and asked her if we could go out to dinner, just the two of us. She urged me to call more people. She insisted she could gather more friends, but I remembered that day in December and how the best parties are sometimes made up of just two good friends.

We dined, we laughed, we talked, I cried (a little) and we welcomed in this new year of my life.

It was just what I wanted.

It as just what I needed.

It was a great birthday party, indeed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's Betty's Birthday And You're My Present! (Apply Bow Now. Wear for at Least 24 Hours.)

Hello, My People!

Guess who is jumping back into the blogpool?

I have missed you all so very much.

Things here are still a bit rocky at times, but getting better every day. I am eager to start blogging again and catch up with all of you. I can't promise I'll post on a regular basis, and I can't promise my posts will be coherent, but has that ever stopped me before?

So, today is my birthday and my present to myself is the freedom begin to blog again. I want to thank you all for your kind thoughts and voices of support and concern, especially, those wonderful, pesky people who e-mailed me and urged me to come back to Blogland. I will never forget your support and friendship through this time. Truly, I am humbled and blessed beyond belief.

So, put on that shiny bow and wear it proudly. If anybody asks about it just tell them that you are a present to Betty and a gift to the universe.

Because you are.

Sometimes you hear a voice through the door calling you.... This turning toward what you deeply love saves you.