Game Changer

Had one of those conversations with my parenting partner today that made me want to bang my head on frozen cement and stick and ice pick up my nose.  Ever had one of those?

There are a few hiccups in trying to have an “amicable” divorce.  The first is thinking that it’s always going to remain that way… like everything else in life worth having- you have to work at it. There are always “game changers” that come in to threaten the foundation of amicability every once in a while, and although usually worth an attempt at grace- other times I say:

“to hell with it- this is WHY most people can NOT stay amicable so why do I EVEN try????”

But then I come to my senses and think:

“this too will pass”

.. or not.

Here are a few game changers that stick out in my mind….( like the aforementioned ice pick)

1) The Divorce Attorney: regardless of any and all attempts to remain amicable and stay that way, the fact of the matter is that there are some negotiations, actions, adjustments and realities that need to get ironed out that NO ONE is left feeling completely awesome about.  There are lots of life changes and adjustments and lots of compromises that need to get made by all parties involved.   An Attorney by nature is set up to have the best interest of his/her client so when it comes time to put pen to paper and make everything legal is when usually the apple cart initially goes rogue.  This can be a game changer to the best laid plans to stay “friendly.”

2) Two homes = More places for homework to get lost or eaten by the dog.

3) Introduction of children to new partners, a *new girlfriend, or a few. or is it several? what’s the difference between those now?- I always get confused by “a few “or “several”  ok, never mind, which ever one is more.

4) A blogging X wife

5) A *new* girlfriend who reads said X wife’s blog and is not “happy” with what she reads  (???)

Now, I’m not at all implying that these are actual things that happen to all of us who have worked our asses off to think outside the box on this whole divorce thing….

just the lucky few.

 

If There Be Dragons Part 2

Rumi said that the origin of the wound is where the light gets in…..

Yet before it does, the darkness will always have it’s way with you.  To really know the difference means that each must have a waltz on your dance card. To dance with the devil was an experience I will never forget.

Initially the darkness came for me in the form of all things dangerous and destructive. Life suddenly felt better with wild and reckless company.  I  felt the sweet surrender as I let it have its way with me on it’s canyons edge taking me further and further from the terrain of hyper vigilance and overly capable.   It made me feel powerful to rebel against life’s constricting rules and unpredictable atmosphere and finally I stood in the face of all that I could not fix and jumped from it’s spring board as I took a full beautiful arching swan dive over it’s deep dark end.

It felt good to stop caring who I was hurting and how often I was doing it- it was a relief to plunge into the body of  indifference and finally escape the cloying, choking , trapped feeling that held me suspended between two worlds in which my opposing parents each stood, heels firmly dug pulling me in opposite directions like an under-dried wish bone .  The love I had for each of them had turned to a black unrelenting fear in the impossibility of not hurting one or the other and rather than face that end I turned inward until I could stand the agony no more.  My own fury and fear unleashed a path of chaos and destruction that blazed toward epic proportions as my inner inferno combusted from my own sense of helplessness and self loathing.

As I look back now I realize that I’d checked out long before my teenage years but had never had any wisdom or perspective to be able to understand that this is what I had done.  Even in elementary school I was always “distracted” and “If Monica would only apply herself..” but the truth is evident now as mother to my own girl child who holds an eerie resemblance to my former self in looks and in spirit.

At her age, I was simply too busy trying to put the pieces of my home and family life together to have the stamina for anything that seemed less important. The history of my own legacy seemed far more urgent in nature than something that happened in world history.  Textbooks seemed so factual and precise… and offered less stimulation than my heightened senses allowed for.  “Is everything all right at home ?” I remembered Miss Crysta asking when I was in the second grade as I sat frozen in place absorbed in some far away land as my classmates filed out for recess.  I had no idea at that time what was even wrong with me except that I was kind of thick apparently – my grades said so anyway.

After I joined Al-Anon later in my late thirties I learned about those roles that adult children of alcoholics play inside the home.  I sat in shock as I listened to the participants describe my life.  I’d felt like an alien on a strange planet who’d finally been reunited with it’s species. Kids in these situations will become the caretakers, the pack mules and the sentry for the events and situations that take place in an effort to survive and make sense of the pain and confusion. They will assume the roles of little adults who work overtime to keep the peace, distract, entertain. Tap dancing through the wreckage as the the tension continued to grow –  it’s equilibrium so delicate it teetered dangerously in this fragile pressure vortex that felt a lot like a balloon at overcapacity for more air intake….

****POP!!!*****

As I danced cheek to cheek with the darkness we shagged and tangoed with abandoned over ballon covered ballroom floor empty of eager party goers popping everything in our devastating wake.  BLAM!! BLAM !!BLAM!!! – I crashed his porsche, I smashed her things, I cursed and hurled and defied and howled.  I beat my sister, I stole from stores. I lied, I drank and I snorted. Even as I sat at the police station (again) waiting for my Dad to come and pick me up I steeled myself for his look of disappointment knowing that this fate was far better than the one that would have rendered our relationship extinct. I would rather die.

At the height of my performance as the anti-christ he was diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer.  Our house seemed to heave a great sigh of relief as each side on enemy lines put down their weapons of mass destruction and began the peace treaty that all of us would sign.  There was still time to rebuild the city and restore the burnt out buildings and they did their best to mend the catastrophic woundings that took place there over the past five years in the name of progress.    There would finally be an end to the madness,  but it happen only after months of steady downward prognosis , grimaces of pain on progressively brittle bones as the cancer spread, and ineffective medical procedures to contain it.

The compromise was cuddled at home in a hospice bed centered in his favorite room, surrounded by his all of his leather bound books and his classical music collection. My mother was never far and most often curled by his side as she swept his hair over his still handsome irish brow with her soft forgiving hands, while murmuring nothings to his neck as we gathered on surrounding couches and armchairs shifting with the discomfort of their newborn intimacy.  Adagio for Strings would play along with classical pieces that met my fathers mood as his graceful surgeons fingers composed his opus on octaves outside our range. He died at age Seventy,  September 28th.  I would be turning twenty one.

Life is a paradox… filled with opposites and contrasts and events that must be gathered to each of us in our own time. As mortal humans we gather their confusing  straggling pieces to our chest  like a burdensome laundry pile one struggles to contain as it’s carried up the narrow dark cellar stairs only to realize that each sock that once had its match is now somehow,  mysteriously and maddeningly missing.  By the time the next pile is dirtied enough for that new lightening and brightening formula it’s formerly unavailable partner shows up out of nowhere like a long lost lover for game. set. match. to help make some sense of it all.

As his vitality lessoned over those last three years so did my bend toward destruction. On the day of his funeral I was utterly wracked with the grief of losing him, yet not a pew behind was the surprising rush of relief that comes when any horrible alternative end so narrowly missed releases you safely into the extended arms of mercy.  I had been rescued from the bitter taste of betrayal and the irrational fear of losing him in my life to losing him instead to a seemingly expertly choreographed death.  There these two impossibly incongruent emotions held each other in a tight embrace as my life seemed to know some strange yet certain alignment with fate.

I’d been allowed to love him without having had to call him out on the dapper coat tails of his hideous disease . It’s lack of decorum. spontaneous whims, and unpredictable mood swings  had held us hostage like a wedding party of wildly wilting buttonholed boutonnieres for so very long , yet we would miss it’s familiar hold on us like those who’ve known the blind bait and switch of Stockholm Syndrome.  Who were we now without him?

Al-Anon would also teach me that alcoholism is a “family disease” and once you know that the family unit is truly infected by it’s intoxicating fumes you won’t be surprised when I tell you that we all continued to flirt with it’s company as each of us set out for our own black tie event to live, love, and marry into the fun house mirrors of our fractured selves.

To be Continued…..

(ok- so it keeps comin… I thank you for reading and those of you who know me also know I struggle with writers block and have not been writing for some time.  Somehow last night as I was sitting with the keyboard this is the story that was coming up … and it just seemed to flow out but please know that it’s only my “story” and not my TRUTH if that makes sense?  This is all the past and I am happy and healthy and thriving and I’m telling it from a place of peace… so please know that I so appreciate you reading and commenting AND… I’m really good! -I love my mom and Dad and I love my family to pieces!  I think somethings just unplugging or something so I’m gonna keep it coming as long as it’s flowing and please feel free to read, ask questions, laugh, or none of the above. XO)

A Poem to Set you Free

The Bird Nest by Linda Apple

This poem by Mary Oliver has been near and dear to my heart since I first came upon it in the book : Ten Poems to Set You Free.  Before I was finally able to find the courage to speak up about what I wanted in my life and assert my own needs I would go to the bookstore ( B&N) which is something I’ve been known to do all my life.  Somehow walking through the shelves of books, touching the bindings, or reading the back jacket made me feel safe and comforted.

One of these many afternoons I found myself in the poetry section and this little blue book with a nest on the cover seemed to beckon me to open it.  I opened it directly to this page.  I remember my heart beating more quickly as i finished it, and a flood of emotion welling from me and I read it again and again as I just sat there on the carpeted floor in the safe haven of this poem that said it all, and I wept for joy…. it really did help set me free – nothing else could have explained what I was facing so eloquently… my family had no hope of surviving if I continued to remain a ghost.  This poem gave me the courage to do what I needed to do, and I hope it speaks to someone else out there today.  XO

The Journey

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice —

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do —

determined to save

the only life you could save.

~ Mary Oliver ~

Five Alarm Taco Shell’s

Before.....

It’s not even 5:00 yet and there’s no wine in the house.  Is it age? or am I just getting blonder as my roots go darker?

I just calmed myself down from the upsetting incident that just happened in my kitchen.  No… this time it did not involve a knife or butter... but instead 2 seemingly very innocent taco shells.

Taco’s are my “easy ticket” meal.  I can whip em up in my sleep – but…if I should be wide awake and turn my back as they “bake” in the toaster oven… not so much.   One minute I was chatting with my daughter about one thing and the next minute I was screaming “RUN!” as I watched the taco shells burst into flame and once again I found myself doing what any blonde would do in such a situation….

1. Scream “Fire!”

2. Scream “Shit!” “Fire!”

3. Scream “Oh God!” “Shit” ” FIRE!”

4. Where are my Oven mits?  (“If I would only put them back where I found them… then they would always be here for emergencies such as these…) “oh shit. GOD. FIRE!”

5. Lurch, open toaster door ( fucking idiot… now the flames are coming OUT the door!!!)

6. OH SHIT! FIRE! OH GOD! OH SHIT!

7. Under the sink- there is a fire extinguisher! (I am brilliant that I remembered that’s its here!- I’ll save the house, the family)

8. WAIT! I don’t know how to use a fire extinguisher!

9. “OH GOD! SHIT SHIT SHIT FIRE!!!”

10. “WATER!!!” WATER!!!! “SINK SPRAYER!” “WATER!” ( Smoke Detector blares in the background and as the spraying water hits the fire the hissing and steam are deafening… I look around me for the first time and notice my daughter has not moved an inch but is sitting in apparent terror at the table waiting for her serving of tonight’s tasty dinner… )

11.  Electricity and water don’t mix… ooops… too late.

12. Fire is out. water everywhere. Steam. Hissing.

13. Giggling….she’s giggling…

14. Now- full blown hysteric’s – my heart is beating a million miles and hour and my daughter is on the floor killing herself laughing and says….

“I am so telling my class about this one”  and run’s into the other room to tell her brother: “Mom nearly just burnt the WHOLE HOUSE down!”

15. As if stuff like this happens all the time or something. Sheesh.

16. Mr. Goodbar just called to let me know he took out another rider on our insurance.

After....

One Woman’s Junk- Another’s Treasure.

I spent my night last night re-reading the many love letters my Father sent to my Mother while he was in Vietnam.  It’s so wonderfully bazaar to have access to those- and that time period in their lives.  I am so grateful my Dad wrote them… so grateful my Mom kept them, and so blessed to have been able to read them in order to learn more about who he was- being that I was only Twenty when he died … i just, never really got the chance- you know?

Coincidentally (no such thing),  I was at my old house yesterday with Mr. Goodbar and a friend for a few hours getting the third floor emptied. Although it sold in November the new owners are from “away” and won’t be here till summer so have allowed me to have this time to try to sell, move, give… all the “stuff” i’ve accumulated over the past ten years of my marriage and life.

The hardest part of moving (second of course to the sheer amount of SH*T you realize you’ve collected) is going through the “memorabilia” and deciding what to part with.  Children’s drawings and art projects, old cards and letters, books and journals…and then, well- what about the memories of our life together?  The cards between us, tokens from our wedding… the small clutch, the dress…. what do i do with those?

I ask, because here i am… an adult now, finally understanding through the tangibles of the past just who my father was, and how he and my mother built a life together.  I think about my children- will they appreciate some of these things? Will it help or hurt? There was more too of course… old yearbooks, awards, special tokens or letters from my past, from my own mother…

I think what I’ve decided to do is to keep a few sentimental things that help tell the story of my past a bit…. I think my daughter especially might enjoy seeing, touching, looking at things that represent an era, a life….  I have a trunk, and inside I’ll package these things for her to someday go through if she’d like… things she can choose to have, or leave behind.  It seems, after reading the letters from my Dad that he was not the only sentimental fool in our family….

it’s interesting the insights that these treasures from the past can bring.

XO

M

A Love So Powerful

Shaw Age 2

There are those days as I wait for the kids to return from a weekend away with dad, when I physically ache for them.  The best part of any divorce is that you get a break.

The worst part of divorce is that you get a break.

I had this really unbelievably morbid thought today as I sat here aching: It’s that I can’t even imagine the pain of what it must be to lose a child, or have your child be physically hurt.  I know what you must be thinking… why would you even go here…?

I think because lately I’ve been watching TV again and I am privy to all the things that go on in the world that I was blissfully ignorant of before and when I hear about these things it makes me lose a piece of my heart and soul every time.  Just even the fact that it’s a part of the news along with every other happening and… then the weather… like, the fact that the world does not actually just stop rotating on it’s axis in response to a child’s pain or suffering just confounds me…

How would that be possible?

On a lighter note (oh thank God, you must be saying…)   both kids got home from school safe and sound.  I’ve not seen them since Friday morning when I dropped them off at school , and I felt like a puppy at the window- acting a bit like one too,  practically slurping their faces off with happiness… home again, home again, oh boy… wag wag.

During our after school snack my daughter informed me that her class is performing a play , at school. She said that’s three hours long and so I should start practicing sitting still starting, like now ( no comment) and then she said…

“and I need to warn you mom, it’s a little violent”

really? I asked… “In what way?”

“Well, there is a hanging- because, see it’s -old fashioned… back in the olden days when they killed people”

and then I thought to myself… “wow, right… she does not really have a concept of what the real world is like”… she does not have a concept because I have shielded her from the media, news and violent and devastating things since the day she was born, but one day, she’ll find out… and when ever that someday comes – it will be a someday way too soon.

I wish she never had to know… that she would continue thinking that “hangings” are the worst of it, and that this form of barbaric behavior is a past tense but I know i can not shield my baby forever…

It makes me realize though, how critical our role: as mothers-   It’s OUR LOVE for our children that is the only thing powerful enough to stand firm against the wrong that is done… mothers united with mothers who are united with mothers, all over the world.  Deep thoughts I know, but damn if motherhood does not make it so.

Why do I blog?

Sometimes people challenge me about why I blog…
i kind of put some distance between this post and the event but today something similar came up so I went back to the draft on this post and I’ve decided to publish it.  I publish it for a number of reasons…

1) It makes me laugh

2) It makes me laugh

3) Some people are ignorant and… that makes me laugh.

Question: “Why do you blog?”

Answer : I don’t know- why does anyone?

Then they asked: “Don’t you feel kind of vulnerable when you expose your personal life?

My response : “yes.”

“Then why do you do it?”

“Because blogging makes me feel alive, and happy, and challenged to get better at expressing myself as a writer, and besides- I love the interaction with my readers”

Them: “I could never do that”

Me: “Why not? ”

Them: “Because I don’t want “them” to know my business…”

Me: “Ok… then don’t do it, and …. who’s “them?”

Them: “Well doesn’t it bother you that other people know your business? (lets blatantly ignore answering the other question)

Me: “no.” and then:

“it does not bother me”-

“what sometimes bothers me is when people read my blog try to use it against me, or twist the words to fit their own needs… that kind of bugs me- but for the most part that’s only ever really happened as it relates to my Divorce…like sometimes my Wasband tells me that people will go out of there way to tell him that they’ve read about him on my blog – I call those people “shit stirrers”… but I don’t really think that’s about me or about him- I think that’s about them”

Them: “oh.”

Then…. “Well… perhaps you should not write about your personal life…”

Me: “Does it bother you?” ( oh, NOW we’re getting to the heart of the matter)

Them… “well- I just get “concerned” for you” (uh huh- )

Me: “Well how bout you don’t read it?  and then you won’t feel the need to be concerned….

Them: “Well… I just feel like someone should warn you….”

Me: “OK- I’ll consider myself “warned…”

So… now I’ll ask you (readers…) what do you think? Why do you read blogs? Why do you like them? What’s important to you about the blogs you read?

Divorce and Columbus

Sunlight by Christian Bothner

It’s a beautiful day. I wonder when winter will arrive in New England but I am not going to complain.

The winter used to scare me – a few years ago I was so overwhelmed and depressed and in denial I was unable to get out of my own way (bed).  Those days are not easy to forget, and yet… I tried every day to “feel better” – the irony is that I only started to really feel any better when I just allowed what was – to “be.”

Getting a divorce is like being in terrible storm at sea.  You think you are going out on that fishing trip of a lifetime and what you get is a hurricane of epic proportions – that was never on the weather indicator.

I have so much compassion now for those who are trying to raise sails on turbulent and treacherous oceans -and like the Rime of the Ancient Mariner  

“water water everywhere… and not a drop to drink”

Thirsting for resolution, peace, understanding, a map… solid ground.

My unanswerable question: “Is there ever going to be a time when I am happy again?” , “Will my family survive this passage to new lands?”

and then one day… after many many days of darkness, the sun finally sent it’s light to find us again… and the shore seemed less of a mirage and more of a possible destination than it ever had before.

I’d cast my net’s to fish for “a better way” of dissolving the life I knew… surely there were more productive places for that elusive catch- deeper pools where answers and possibilities swam like schools of an undiscovered species.  Could we navigate toward those? Pull up the nets filled with more humanity than the ones that come up -the “norm” –  pulling everything, including the demise of it’s natural habitat with it.  Was there a more sustainable way?

You can go out there alone I’m sure, but thank god my fishing partner was willing too, and helped me with the wild tangle on our decks to hurl and cast for deeper territories.

Thank you my friend.  Thank you my Co- Parent, Thank you my Wasband for trusting – despite the days we starved on that cold cold sea and wondered if we would ever reach the shore, and battened our hatches against the gales that threatened to destroy us all… thank you for believing that the two of us – even though we failed at the navigation … succeeded in the destination.

I will always love you.

M

Light, Love, Divorce and Family.

I am loving our new home/family dynamic since the move.  It’s always good to plan for the worst and hope for the best and frankly I was not sure how we would all fare living together for the first time.

Throughout the last couple of years the Goodbar and I had never put our need’s or desire’s over the kids.  Our old house was their house after all and so we’d wanted to be conscious and respectful as they got used to the idea that we were eventually going to go the blended family route.  He officially “spent the night” only a handful of times and to the kids it was kind of like a friend having a sleepover (it was kind of like that for mommy too). In the meantime – we did a lot of “discussing” with them what our new “family”  configuration might be like when it was time and I think it really helped them to get an idea and a visual in mind.  In addition I think it prepared them because they were able to ask questions and get answers.

I don’t think either of my kids really have much of a memory in terms of the “missing” of their Dad and it’s  Because our lives were so very different and our schedules completely opposite- they only ever remember being with one of us really, at any given time. Unfortunately or fortunately (depending how you look at it) we never really had a “family” dynamic.  We were existing, surviving, and avoiding- the kids were used to the tension, the excuses, and the hastily made and cleaned up and all to “rare” family meals… sad but true. In hind-sight I can feel a genuine sadness for all of us-  we just did not know how to “be” together any other way.   In hindsight I see that our break up was eminent… but we delayed, and tried, and strained…. “for the sake of the family”.

I appreciate and honor my wasband.  I always will- because I learned so much, and because I believe we were called to be together to bring our children into the world and be married for a period of time.   We had many many good times together and I believe that our “spiritual contract” was up long before we had the strength or awareness that it was time to officially pull the plug. I find myself amazed each day now as I experience such a different reality. One of happiness, peace, and unity- a true sense of “family.”  Both of us see now how deeply unhappy we were together when we were married, so now- we can simply enjoy each other for who the other is- instead of driving each other crazy that we are not the person we needed the other to be. He too is part of this new hybrid family, as he will always be my parenting partner. This new version is one we can all truly appreciate and that works- finally.

In the meantime I have a deep appreciation, respect, and compassion for those going through divorce. It’s heart breaking and painful- almost every step of the way.  It was one of the most lonely and terrifying experiences of my life and it was only through the support of a few select people that I made it through at all. When you decide to end a marriage a funny thing happens – everyone starts having their opinions, and judgements, and projecting their own thoughts and beliefs instead of just listening and being supportive.  Divorce can wreck havoc on close groups of friends who’ve all known and loved each other over the years.  It’s never easy to know what to do when a loved couple decides to split- it seems to threaten the very dynamic of the group- and we all have a deep need to stay in our comfort zone. So- in addition to the grief and pain the actual divorcing couple experiences, there’s so much more to it that creates all kinds of additional chaos for all involved.

Had I not gone through the experiences that have helped to shape me, I would not have grown so much, or been able to appreciate the difference of what I am experiencing now- and it’s with deep gratitude that I can now have perspective on those dark times &  truly appreciate and know the light when it shines itself into my world as it is now.

Thank you God.

New New New

New New New

Christmas was magical and my favorite quote of the season was by my daughter ( 9 years)  who upon Christmas morning as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes staring at the visual feast before her said: “Geez, I better … Continue reading