A New Year Deserves a New Post

Well, Happy New Year!!!  I haven’t written in almost five months, and I’m sorry.  I hope that some of you are still out there!

I wanted, so many times, to write a blog post about what was happening in our lives, but kept worrying that I was exposing too much, or putting our future at risk.  For example, if I were to write about all of the things that were going on in the divorce negotiations, would I anger LK, resulting in a court battle and losing assets that Jack would need.  Many of the things that happened were so ridiculous, that I jotted them down in case I’m ever asked to write a movie about how stupidly people behave during divorces.  So I sat back and kept my story to myself for a while.  And now, the settlement has been made, the papers signed and filed, and we will be divorced by the end of the month.  There was a lot of give and take, and in the end, as much as can be said, Jack won.  He gets all the time and assets both of his parents can afford, and a great shot at a cooperative co-parenting experience.

Overall, we have had a good five months.  Jack did suffer a febrile seizure which was terrifying and required a 911 call and an ER visit, but everything resolved well and he has had no repeat episodes.  He has been an absolute star at school (my words, not the teachers) and loves to get ready for “skuul” every morning to go see his friends.  Jack did bite another child, and when I was told at pick up, I was horrified, but sure that he had been framed.  Unfortunately, the teacher told me he was still clamped down on the other childs arm as she tried to separate them.  So, I’m sure Jack was provoked somehow, but we have been working on the “catch and release” technique anyway.  Since that day, he has had no “aggressive acts” at school, thank goodness!  He brings home lots of beautiful art work that I hang all over the house in “mini art galleries” that Jack seems really proud of.  He’s very talented!

As far as I am concerned, things are going very well.  I have a cordial relationship with LK and his girlfriend, although they both piss me off.  LK for obvious reasons, and Her for being so stupid.  I say that in the grand scheme of “don’t get involved with a married man who has abandoned his child, that you have to talk into having a relationship with his son, and think that he is actually the one who was meant for you, because he is actually a selfish egomaniac who will not change his character and marry and impregnate you in 5 years.”  But she’ll have to be my age to realize that, I guess.  Or maybe he will change and she will “fix” him, which would be best for Jack.  Either way, I don’t care.  LK is her problem now and I am in a surprisingly wonderful place.  However, I think that if all women on Earth would unite and agree not to “be with” men who are married, or have abandoned their children, there would be far fewer men who cheat or leave their families.  If they didn’t have other outlets, one would presume, they would have to behave like adults and actually work on relationships.  But that is my pipe dream for a better world, full of better people.

I am essentially underemployed right now.  I have no idea what I want to do for a job, and no prospects.  And I’m not really all that worried about it.  This is such new territory for me that had I not been through the massive life changes I have in the past three years, I would be worried that I was losing my mind.  The only reason that I am considering a full-time, “former life” type job with lots of hours and lots of money, is that those kinds of jobs also come with lots of really good health insurance, for Jack.  But I LK is providing the insurance now, and if he loses that insurance, we can use COBRA to buy the same coverage for a while.  And I have money saved for that.  So I  can wait for the perfect opportunity for Jack and I to come along.  And so I am.

At least, I’m trying.  I frequently slip back into my old mindset of “money equals security” and now there is a new one, “single mothers who are able to support their children well, should.”  But to provide Jack with more financial advantage than emotional advantage might result in a man who would value money over family, or his own child.  So I relent and stop berating myself.  And I get on the floor with Jack and read one more book, or pretend to eat the delicious dinner he has “cooked” in the fireplace.  And it is so much more fun and rewarding than any job I’ve ever had, or could ever get.

So that’s a quick catch up on our lives. Except for my newest project:  I am training for a half marathon!  My resolution last January was to run a 5k, and I did it before the weather even warmed up.  While enduring the divorce negotiations I began to create a “Bucket List” of things I want to do before I die.  Running a marathon was on it.  But I am starting with a half marathon, and while I was worried, I have come to love running.  I sleep better at night, I have fewer negative or depressing thoughts and I’m even working on the body that will soon re-enter the dating pool.  Well, not too soon.  More about that in a later post.  For now, the running is awesome, and just for me.  I’m a happier Mama, and that’s my goal right now.  I’ll post about the running progress soon, but in the meantime, I’d recommend a 5k resolution to everyone reading this.  It’s an easy distance, that can be walked, by most people, in under an hour.  Let me know if you try one this year!

New Year, New Me!
Maggie

When meeting your husbands girlfriend…

it is important to remember that, like wild animals, they are probably more afraid of you than you are of them. 

Since yesterdays phone call, when the “big meet and greet” was scheduled, I have tried to figure out what the hell I was feeling.  Not mad or jealous.  I no longer love LK.  Not anger or rage.  I can’t see any way in which that helps me to heal or be a good mother or person.  So, what was it?  Confusion?  Sure.  Anxiety?  A little.  Fortunately, today I had a previously scheduled appointment with my therapist.

I asked her if it was that I “didn’t care” and whether I was putting Jack’s safety at risk in order to allow LK access to Jack, which I think is such an important part of Jack’s life.  She reminded me that if the deal was that Jack could be with his father, but they would be riding motorcycles around I-285, then I would certainly not allow it.  This is a meeting with someone who may be a good influence on Jack, another person to love him, someone to help keep him safe.  And my goal in life is to raise Jack to be healthy and happy, make sure that every person available to love him is allowed to do so.  She reminded me that it was okay to let others do that, even if I was the best at it.

I was okay most of the day, and for the most part, the reactions from friends and family were that I was handling it well, being impartial until I had all the facts, and taking the high road in working towards a Jack-centered solution.  Unfortunately, a few people have to add things like “well, I knew it, he must have been seeing her before he even left you” and “no way would I allow them around Jack!  You have to put a stop to this!”  I don’t see how any of these things are helpful, but because I am such a beacon of calm and “high road taking awesomeness” I didn’t let it affect me.  I am finding that many people enjoy drama, and reality television, and want to see me angry because it is entertaining, not because it will accomplish anything.  I was going into this meeting hopeful that she would be a good person and that I wouldn’t have to prevent a relationship with Jack.  Optimism and hope are all that got me through the first few months when Jack was so sick and fragile.  How could that not be the best option here?

She was beautiful.  Dammit!  Ten years younger than me.  Dammit!!  And mature, thoughtful and extremely considerate of the situation and what I have been through in the past two years.  I utilized my corporate recruiting and negotiating skills in the most important discussion of my life and I left feeling good that, for this trip at least, I was comfortable with Jack being in their care.  I asked open ended questions; What do you know of our situation?  What is your understanding of Jack’s condition?  What experience do you have with children?  Are you willing to take CPR and first aid classes?  Are you clear on the early warning signs of heart failure?  What are your plans with LK?  Do you understand LK’s obligations, financially and personally, to Jack?  Are you okay with those?

She wasn’t clear on the early warning signs of heart failure, but was very interested to learn them and said she wanted to be taught as much as I thought was necessary to care for Jack.  She did know many of the signs of distress and knew an alarmingly large amount of the truth regarding how LK had left and how he had abandoned Jack in the beginning.  I was pleased to find that he hadn’t sugar coated (lied) the story.

They stayed for nearly two hours, and the three of us talked, but I also sent LK out so that she and I could talk alone.  Without divulging them here, I learned many, many things that gave me the information that I needed to feel okay about the situation.  She even said that the trip was for LK and Jack and that if I wasn’t on board, she was planning to fly home tomorrow.  Very admirable.  I don’t think that anyone every truly feels “okay” about meeting their husbands girlfriend, but again, I am approaching this as meeting a new team member on the “Love and Care for Jack” team.

So, in the end, I got a good first impression and told them that I thought it would be okay for them to travel with Jack this weekend.  But I made it clear that this would be an ongoing conversation and that if at any time my feelings changed, I would let them know and unless I was again satisfied that Jack’s best interests were at the forefront, that this arrangement would be halted. 

I am feeling pretty good about myself.  I am forgiving, though it will take a very long time to forget, and I know that letting go of the anger is better for my heart, and certainly my soul.  What do you know, I found some of that “soul spackle” that I was looking for last week.

I will spend tomorrow planning my weekend of luxury and relaxation.  And I will be sure to schedule a few calls to Baby J.   Which she suggested and encouraged.  She even texted her number to me after they left just in case I have trouble reaching LK’s phone.  I think I like her more than LK.

Breathing deeply and keeping calm,

Maggie

Well, of course he did…

I have been working on a post that I had planned to publish tomorrow about my plans for the weekend.  Yesterday, LK called and asked if he could possibly have Jack for two days this weekend so that he could take him out of the state to visit his family.  In asking, he told me about the nearest hospital to his family’s home, the name of the pediatric cardiologist and the plan for Jack should anything happen.  I was stunned by his preparation and said I’d think about it but didn’t see any reason that I couldn’t trust him to protect Jack for two days.

This afternoon, LK called to discuss the settlement agreement and stunned me with a 90 minute conversation in which he was gracious, respectful and appreciative of all I have done to raise Jack alone.  He explained why his heart has changed and he has been so involved lately, when in the beginning he couldn’t be.  I have been wondering about many of the things he told me for a long time and was unable to trust his motivations without the information he shared.  He convinced me that his feelings towards Jack were real.

I had begun to plan a weekend getaway for myself and was trying to decide between a “staycation” or a four star spa visit.  I was preparing myself to miss Jack terribly but enjoy my time alone to relax and recuperate after two years of full-time mommying.  I was preparing to have some me time.

But tonight, LK informed me, after I refused to remove the “moral’s clause” in the papers (which prohibits overnight guests of the opposite sex) that he’d like to talk to me about something.  He’s “met someone” and he’d like to take her with him and Jack to visit his family this weekend.  She has met Jack once before but never stayed overnight and has been completely respectful of the situation and supported and encouraged LK to increase his commitment to Jack. 

There is a lot of other information that I could include here, but suffice it to say, he was incredibly sensitive to my feelings and understood that his allowing them to meet in the past was a mistake without having told me.  He wants to have an honest relationship moving forward so that we can best co-parent.

She’s a “great person who would be safe and helpful around Jack” and LK would like us to meet before this weekend.  He understands that allowing her around Jack without my consent is a bad idea and disrespectful.

I was going to publish a post tomorrow about my weekend plans and my growth in moving towards alone time.  Instead, I’m meeting her.  So I guess I’ll be growing a whole lot more than I thought.  I’m not feeling sad.  Not mad.  Not sure what I’m feeling.  I don’t have any anger towards her and only hope that she is a good person and good to Jack.  And I’m not mad at LK.  I want him to be happy.  And I want Jack to be happy.  And I want to be happy. 

Hmmm.  So this week I have a project that I didn’t plan on, but I think it could help me move towards happiness.  Or I will be in prison tomorrow night.  Do they let prisoners blog?  We’ll see…

Confused and hopeful,

Maggie

Jack already thinks I’m perfect…

Last week found me taking a small slide backwards from my quest for happiness, but overall was good.  Jack’s sitter had gone on vacation and I while I was able to find a sitter for a few hours, I spent much of my week in the house with Jack.  As a childless career woman, I remember thinking that women who were stay at home mothers were crazy, and that there was no way I could ever handle that much domesticity.  Then I had Jack, and my mind spun a post-partum tale of home bound bliss that said I wanted to be with him every second of every day.  And then the pregnancy hormones wore off and I needed some “Maggie time” so badly it felt like I couldn’t breathe.  I love being with Jack, but realized last week that I have spent every single day for the past 22 months as a mother, with no real break.  When Jack was born and went to the Children’t Hospital, there was a period when he was in ICU care that I couldn’t spend the nights with him, but I was there all day.  Then they put him in a step-down room and I spent 24 hours a day in the room with him.  Since returning home, the only three nights I have been away from him have been the nights LK has kept him.  This has left me no time to go on a trip or take any real time for myself to relax of regroup.

So in the coming weeks, I am going to try very hard to find a way to take a few nights to go to the beach, or even a hotel with a pool and a spa.  A friend with complete freedom to travel at any time pointed out that I sounded “trapped” in my last post, and although I don’t want to admit that, because then I sound like a bad mother, I have felt trapped.  I want to go to a beach resort, or a European city and just take care of me for a few days.  I have a lead on a great sitter for Jack and so now it’s just getting the timing and logistics hammered out.  I hope to be writing about my mini-vacation soon…

As for last week, I didn’t have a sitter for as many hours as ususal, so I didn’t get to work that much, and I was exhausted every night.  I did read a few things, although I didn’t get a whole book read.  One interesting thing that I read was a short story from the book “Kitchen Table Wisdom” by Rachel Naomi Remen.  She is a psychiatrist/therapist and in this essay called “Beyond Perfection” she describes her youth, and her struggle to gain approval from her father.  He was never impressed with her 98 on a test, and instead asked what happened to the other two points, crushing her spirit and ensuring that she would study relentlessly for every future test she ever had.  She points out that the term “unconditional love” is superfluous because love is, by definition, unconditional.  What we are looking for is love, but what we actually seek is approval, and since we do that with accomplishments or efforts outside of giving love, we compromise our happiness by seeking perfection.  She eventually marries a man who, after she spends an inordinate amount of time studying for a driving test on which she earns a perfect score, asks her why on earth she’d want to do that.  He asked why she traded the lunch in the park and the visit to the museum for a few more points on a test that she could have just “passed” and had the same result:  a license.  She realizes that by studying so much the past week, she missed out on living and enjoying life, and the approval for the perfect score didn’t come, and it didn’t reallly matter.

I wish it were easier to just stop trying to be perfect.  I’m not perfect, and I know no one is, but each time I fail to do something, I feel badly and unworthy.  And yet, no one else seems to care.  I know that my friends and family don’t care if I show up in a slightly wrinkled shirt, or if Jack is wearing a bib with a stain on it, but I really wish that everything were “perfect.”  I don’t know what perfect is, but I know that I’m not there yet.  Last week, I accepted every single invitation for a meal or meeting, even though I was tired, and would have rather slept, or do laundry or otherwise get something accomplished.  And as it turns out, I had a great time out with friends.  I have far better memories of laughing with “Grant’s Mama” talking about raising sons, and with my friend “T” talking about finding time to exercise and take care of ourselves, and on the phone with so many others.  And not one person asked me why my eyebrows hadn’t been tweezed lately, and no one asked if I had cleaned my toilets that week or ironed my shirts for tomorrow.  They just enjoyed me, and I them.

So, for this week, I have one project that I want to accomplish, and several goals for relaxation and enjoyment.  First of all, I am going to finish building out the closet in the guest room.  I will post pictures soon, but I am pulling out the wire shelf that the builder put in and building out a wooden closet organizer.  I have wanted to do this since we bought the house, but here I am 11 years later, and just getting it done.  But I’m done feeling bad about it.  I’ll get it done when I get it done, and hopefully that will be this week.  If not, then next week, or the next.  Also, I am going to find a painter to paint the library and living room, both of which were painted when we moved in.  I have hated the color since it dried, but since LK refused to repaint a freshly painted room, I have lived with it.  Actually, I have scowled at it every morning for 11 years wishing that it didn’t remind me of the past 11 years that I’ve had to look at it.  I know it may cost several hundred dollars, but the price will be well worth the boost in morale, especially if it frees me from that morning scowl.  And as an added bonus, if I can work it out, I am going to get a massage.  And maybe go to a movie.  Ok, now I’m getting a little crazy.  Too much me time.  Right?  No?  Ok, I’ll do it!!

Peacefully yours,

Maggie

A Measure of Success…

I do not fail.  Failure is for the weak and the stupid, and I am neither.  If I fail at something, it is because I didn’t try hard enough, or I gave up too soon.  No, failure is not an option.  Of course, I’ve had set backs in my life, but I kept at it until my goal was achieved, even if I had long ago decided the goal was no longer appealing to me.  It’s the principle of the thing.  So, where exactly does the fact that I have been part of a failed marriage fit into my life plan?  If I get a divorce, it’s official.  I failed at marriage and didn’t plan well enough, didn’t try hard enough, wasn’t good enough…

This is where I have been for the past three weeks.  Trying to reconcile in my mind the fact that I had failed, and yet I had no opportunity to fix it.  I don’t want to be a failure.  I know that he left me and there was nothing I could have done to make him face the issues and stay.  What did I do wrong?  How could I have prevented it?  Why didn’t I make him talk to me about it?  Who knows.  But once someone abandons you in such a cruel way, it’s hard to see yourself as worthy, attractive or desirable.  I never questioned my intellect or value to Jack, but for some reason the physical and emotional shortcomings continue to plague me. 

So to “challenge this belief” and move forward, I wondered if I hadn’t retained a lawyer because I hoped he’d return to me.  No, that’s not it.  Moving forward, I won’t date any man who abandoned his child, I sure as hell won’t date the man who abandoned mine.  Did I still love him?  No, that’s not it.  Many disgusting things had ensured that love would never again be an option.  It was because if I visited a lawyer it would happen.  The divorce.  The legal, public, official and damning confirmation of my failure.  So as my Project 3, I did retain a lawyer.  An awesome, capable, bitch-on-wheels (in case we go to court) lawyer who assured me that of all the cases she’s heard, this one for sure indicated that I was not the failure in the marriage.  So I gave her a big check and we have been working on the details since then.

Project 4 was initiating the negotiations, which meant that I would actually have to talk to “him” and hammer out the checklist of items from the lawyer.  The negotiations with my soon-to-be-ex are going well.  One thing I do not fail at is managing money and caring for Jack.  Doing this out of court will ensure that Jack will receive the most money, and not the lawyers.  And certainly more importantly, he will receive the gift of two parents who are able to talk calmly to one another and behave civilly together where he is invovled.  As you might imagine, inside I am raging with anger and contempt for the asshole who is now interested in Jack, even though he couldn’t be bothered while his chest was open and his heart stopped beating.  But on the outside, I am a calm, cool customer.  I’m impressed with my restraint, quite frankly.  But that anger will fade, I’m sure, as those awful memories are replaced by newer, better memories of him actually showing up for Jack in the future.  At least, I really hope that happens.

In order to address some of my physical self-consciousness, Project 5 involved returning to a regular exercise regime.  In the past, I did Tae Kwon Do, and since the “goal” is black belt, I achieved that.  But now I’m doing a Zumba class, and Yoga, and they are both allowing me to explore a more feminine side of myself, while still working out my aggressions.  Is it as effective at getting the anger out as kicking the crap out of someone who is trying to do the same to me?  Hell, no.  But am I enjoying it and learning how to be graceful and shake my hips a little?  Surprisingly, yes.  One day last week, a man at the gym approached me and started in with the small talk.  I froze up and made what I’m sure were several barely coherent attempts at returning dialog.  I am WAAAY out of practice, but hey, I got approached, so that’s a good sign for the future!

So that’s where I’ve been.  Challenging beliefs about failure, and self-worth and taking charge of my future by finally moving forward on the divorce.  I become physically ill thinking about my coming status as a “divorcee” and all that that word conjures, but I do now realize that the “goal” had long ago become unappealing.  I deserve a marriage with two interested and participating partners, and I really don’t want to spend the rest of my life in one that is anything less.  So I am moving forward, and with any luck (oh how it pains me to seem blase about it, I’m really not) I’ll be single before Fall.  At which time, all the single, musical, artistic, handy, outdoorsy, sophisticated, physically active, financially stable, emotionally mature, family oriented, considerate, willing to take dance lessons, animal lover, Baby Jack fan, interesting, funny, independent but loving men better look out!  Maybe one of my coming projects should be “lowering my expectations”?  I’ll keep you posted…

Empowered and hopefully yours,

Maggie