Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

The last few days have been pretty good. Today, not so much. When I woke up I don't think I was really ready to get up but had too much to do not to, you know? I realize I have expectations of people. I don't know how to live my life without putting expectations on those people that I associate with on a daily basis. I don't see them as unreasonable expectations, but maybe any expectation is unreasonable. I don't know.

Christmas is so commericalized it's about to drive me to not celebrate the holiday ever again. It's all about the "season of giving" yet everyone talks about what they want. I work with a lot of people. I have four kids and three parents to buy for. Who all am I expected to buy for? If someone gives me an unexpected gift am I expected to give one back or is a thank you card enough? These are the questions I am trying to answer. I just don't know anymore. I have been dating a guy for over three months. I haven't been sure that we would even be dating at Christmas so was I supposed to buy him something or not? If I did get him something, what is a reasonable price range? What is too much vs. what is too little? I did get him a very thoughtful gift and I think it was at about the right price range, but who really knows? I think it's all about personal opinion.

Today wasn't a good day for me. I had to get out and get a few things and guess what? It was raining. Last year it was snowing like crazy. This year...rain. I don't even know why I bothered to try to fix my hair. It just curles up ugly so why bother? But I did twice. I went to the grocery store and told myself that if there wasn't a parking spot two or three from the door I wasn't going inside. There was. I did. Then I had to get the groceries in the house, refix my hair and leave with the kids to go to my dad's for Christmas. All the while I am in a horrible mood. I feel disrespected and taken advantage of, probably for no good reason. I spent too much time in the bathroom crying. I hate days like today.Then the kids and I go to the candlelight service at church and things got a little better. Now as I sit here typing this my stomach problem has reared it's ugly head and I feel horrible. Physically ill. This is most likely the reason for my mood all day. I want a do over on today.

This is a picture of my kids with my dad, stepmom and sweet Aunt Mary, who has small cell cancer and wasn't supposed to live past June and is still going strong. She fell a few weeks ago and now lives with my dad. Her rotater cup is torn in her right arm and she is supposed to have surgery on it in February. Say a pray for her every night. She needs it.

The picture at the top is the Christmas tree at the Adolfus Hotel in Dallas. It was pretty. I hope tomorrow is a better day.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

On Being Divorced

(On a side note: I wrote this a few days ago. To some it may seem raw. To me it is just who I am and how I feel. It isn't meant to offend anyone. It's meant to help anyone who is contemplating divorce. In the last seven years and really, in the last few weeks, I have encountered so, so many people who are either thinking about divorce or going through it. This is just my experience and my thoughts. It's all from my heart. Please be gentle with it.)

Monday will mark the seventh "anniversary" of the finality of my marriage. It's hard to fathom it's really been that long. Some days it seems like it was just yesterday and some days it seems like the marriage never even happened. It's nice to be where I am today, emotionally void of all that anger and bitterness. I am just at a sort of "void of emotion" spot where the past life is barely a memory and the present is a new day every day I wake up.

I take situations much more laid back than I did in the past. Now, it still really pisses me off when I feel like my kids get the short end of the stick and aren't as important as the party that is planned on a weekend that is supposed to be set aside for kids. It's really not hard to figure out how to plan your social schedule. It's like just knowing for a very long time that these are the two (and sometimes three) weekends that you have your kids. You only see them twice a month. Plan something to do with them, not with your friends - idiot. So I digress. Divorce is what it is. Smelly, stinky, ugly and disgusting. There is nothing pretty about it - except that maybe one (and on occasion both) parent(s) emerge happier and healthier than they would have been had they stayed together.

To those of you who have questioned and never been brave enough to ask, I have not one day of regret in divorcing the man I spent 20 years of my life with. My only regret is that I didn't learn the relationship skills that I have now way back then and maybe, JUST maybe, our marriage would have survived. But then again, that would have taken two people changing and in the equation I found myself in, one person (not naming names) wasn't willing to change. The justifying part of this is that, to this day, he still hasn't changed so my bet was right and, in the end, I did the right thing for my kids.

Other divorces, my own parents, was a very integral part in why I decided to end my own marriage. My parents were married for 33 years when my dad had had enough and left and then 34 years when the divorce was finalized. I lived my childhood in a house that was cold and void of true affection. My parents went throughout their days playing the part of being married and being parents. I don't know when they quit being in love or honestly - if they were ever in love. I do remember, at the age of 13, writing a letter to Ann Landers telling her that my parents were obviously not in love with each other and how should I go about getting them to see this and move on....divorce and just move on. I never sent the letter.

Ten years later, I am pregnant with my first child, about to have a baby shower at my parent's house, and my mom calls to inform me that, as soon as the party is over, my dad will be moving out. Oh, did I mention my husband was in the hospital for agoraphobia?? Yeah, great timing. So there I am feeling relieved that my parents were finally going to separate and find themselves again and yet I was about to have a baby and my husband was in lock-up. It's all a distant memory now, but the whole situation had a huge baring on my decision to file for divorce. I was not going to live a life of unhappiness just to keep the family together. I wanted better for my kids. I resented my parents for putting us through the facade of their marriage. I didn't want my children to ever feel the same way about me.

Do they resent the divorce? You will have to ask them. As they get older, we talk about it and, for the most part, I have been told they understand and do see things are much better than they would have been had I stayed. Do they wish we were all still a family? Again, you would have to ask them, but I would assume yes. I mean, really? Who wants their parents divorced? I wish my parents were still together and happy and that we were the Brady Bunch forever, but that's not what happened. I am happy where I am. I love my dad and my stepmom. I love my mom as much as I can considering the current situation. I wish she had found someone to take care of her. I wish she had found out how wonderful it can be to have the companionship of a man that isn't your son. But she seems to be happy so good for her.

So for anyone out there who is thinking about divorce, knows someone who is thinking about divorce or is going through a divorce, just know that it's a life-changing decision. And while things can certainly be better, that's not always the case. I most definitely feel very blessed that my kids have come through amazingly, but that doesn't always happen. I feel I went through the things that I did to be able to "counsel" other people who need someone to share their feelings with, so if you want to talk, I would love to listen. You may not like what you hear, though. Just know that I speak from my heart. I do not mince words and I will most likely tell you to work as hard as humanly possible to make things work before you bail.
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

And how is it supposed to go exactly?

(Warning: this isn't exactly a happy thought blog)

When you are born, you come into the world with absolutely no expectations - even the expectation to be fed or clothed or taken care of. That's just something you are given without the care-taker expecting anything from you in return. It's called parenting. Even if they aren't the biological parent of that child, people have an instinct to nurture and care for another living thing - usually. Sometimes though, that person,  even though they give birth to a baby, doesn't have the ability to nurture. Sometimes they can only nurture one person even when they are a parent to more than one.

Ask yourself if you were born into that family? You know, the one where one or both of the parents isn't exactly equipped to love you or your sibling (s)? You won't know this at first because you really don't know any different. Life is what it is. You see little things here and there but you don't really put them together at the time because, well, you are just a child and children only know today. They don't know about the past and certainly don't contemplate a future. They just wake up every morning and start the day new.

When does that change? It can be different for everyone. It all depends on your life experiences. If you have trauma in your childhood, it will most-likely happen sooner than someone who lives a pretty care-free childhood. Or, there's that person who learns very early on to shove those scary feelings to the back of their memory and act like nothing ever happened. It will eventually come out, of course, but they adapt very well to the world of "let's pretend that didn't happen". This practice is one that is pretty hard to break because it's a self-protection mechanism. It isn't until you are willing to face the truth and trust that there is something better on the other side that this practice will stop. There is that occasional lucky fellow who has two loving parents who seem to know exactly what the heck they got themselves into when they had children.

And how do people who are raised in the family with "non-functioning" parents actually survive that childhood to become half-way decent parents? How do they instinctually know how to love multiple children when the home they were raised in was so shut down from anything remotely similar? Isn't it possible that at some point in their adult life, they will come to see the truth - the truth about how their family was and still is to this day? Isn't it possible for them to still love the unloving parent or parents and yet make a choice to distance themselves from that parent - after giving said parent multiple opportunities over many, many years to make a change, to "see the error of their ways", show repentance and become the parent that child needs? If they were unfortunate enough to have two parents who basically checked out during the child-raising years and yet, by some miracle, one parent eventually came around and is doing better, they should consider themselves very lucky.

It is still sad if the other parent, or the one parent who was just not able to care for them, never came around and then started to loose their memory, slip into the old age memory loss called dementia and be forever gone into the bliss of never being able to say they were sorry. It's sad, but is it survivable? Yes, it is. You won't look very good to your peers, unless said peers lived through what you had lived through with their own parents or saw what you had been put through, so that's just a consequence of moving on. But if the child left behind is ever going to be good to anyone, to the children they are raising, there comes a point in time where that "child" has to make an emotional sever in their heart. It's not that the adult child does love the parent, but rather, can't spare the emotional conflict that comes with knowing the past, present and future. Knowing that the continued inability to love will always be present, you have to decide if you can live with that or not. Some people can and some can't. It doesn't make you a bad person if you can't. It changes you forever but you will survive.

This is for anyone out there who may stumble upon my blog and be in the same or similar situation as above. You aren't alone. We were all born into dysfunctional families. On some level, we are all a little messed up. It's the fixing it part that is hard, but totally worth it in the end. Stopping the pattern for your children is so much more important than trying to love the unloving parent. Love them on your terms, but do not forsake your own happiness for something that may never happen. Thanks for reading. I feel better now.
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