Monthly Archives: February 2012

Courage and Cravings

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
― Maya Angelou

Blogging can be lonely as hell.  So can marriage.  Let me tell you, I don’t know what keeps me writing or fighting sometimes.  Is it courage?  Or insanity?  What makes me so scared to start saving money and making this divorce happen?  What makes me believe that there could still be hope?  I feel these days like I’m slowly coming apart at the seams despite my incredible determination not to.  I believe it’s just exhaustion… shear exhaustion.  Exhaustion from years of trying to explain myself and the problems to my husband.  Years.  YEARS.
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” ― Dale Carnegie

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.”
― Mary Anne Radmacher

“Things don’t go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all that you were intended to be.”
― Samuel Johnson

He is trying.  I can tell.  In the last few days there have been some signs of a fundamental change.  I know it will not happen over night.  The only problem with it is that it is so incredibly late.  I want to feel grateful and relieved and “back to normal.”  I want to crave him… but I don’t.

The only thing I crave these days are my dreams.  I’ve been having recurring dreams of the one that got away; rather, the one that almost was.  The one that was my best friend.  The one that wouldn’t leave the room unless he knew that I felt at least better… until I felt understood and heard.  The one that could hug me and make the world disappear.  In my dreams, he’s been doing that.  He’s been hugging me, and I’ve finally been able to feel his intimate touch and his lips against mine.  It has been my saving grace in the middle of the night… compensation for the lack of affection and security I feel with my husband.  A good friend told me that he is showing up in my life to remind me that it is possible for me to be loved that way – that it’s out there.  Of course, I spend a lot of time (too much time?) imagining that he sometimes dreams of me as well… that he wonders if he made the right choice.  I wonder if he thinks about me and longs to know what it would’ve been like to grow and travel the world with me.  It seems like he’s living the life I was meant to live, somehow.  Whatever the reason he has come back into my life, even if only fantastically, I am so grateful for it.  I am grateful for those dreams that feel so real I wake up feeling comforted and loved.


Flowers and Jewelry (and a little hypocrisy)

Our latest argument was about money.  We argue about money quite a bit.  Mainly, this is due to the lack of money we generally have to do things that we have to do – such as grocery shop or pay for our newly established gym membership.  Last week we were too tight to pay the gym membership so I told my husband we needed to put it on the credit card until payday, when we could pay it right back.  His response?  “That’s not our money.  I don’t know what you’re going to do b/c we aren’t going to be able to pay it for another two weeks.”  Obviously, this meant I couldn’t go to the gym for those two weeks and he knows I am currently trying to lose weight (and doing very well!)  This absolutely infuriated me.  In my mind, it is just another way for him to try and control me.

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day.  He spent the day with a mutual friend of ours who I decided to clue into the recent (ha, recent) drama in our relationship.  Essentially I chose to let him in on the fact that I really believe that my husband is clinically depressed and needs a mentor or at least a friend to force him out of the house.  I knew this friend would be asking him what he was planning on doing for me for the big day in February that I’ve just grown to hate.  Excuse me for not sounding like a very appreciative wife here in the next paragraph.

I got a phone call towards the end of my work day.  He asked me to pick up the little guy even though he could’ve done so easily.  I figured that he could probably use some more time alone and as usual, held out a bit of hope that what he really needed the time for was so he could go home and prepare a romantic candlelight dinner, ya know, as part of his “I’ll do anything” campaign tour.  In my drive home, I tried to talk myself out of these expectations.  After all, I’d gotten him a card (because that was seriously all I could afford) and figured he’d probably done the same for me and that would be that.  I actually found a very appropriate card this year.  It essentially gently reminded him that I do love him without indicating that he’s this gigantic support system for me/the perfect man/my soul mate like most of them do.  I felt he needed that assurance because he seems to be convinced that I don’t want to be with him (although, I realize as well that this is a tactic part of his denial that our problems are real and therefore fixable if we just try to fix them).  I’ve somewhat shifted from anger to compassion as I’ve realized that his depression is real and true.  It’s the fact that he’s in denial and has always exhibited emotionally abusive behaviors that tips the scale to anger on some (okay most) days.  I can’t exactly use his recent depression as an excuse for that behavior, can I?  No, unfortunately.  Because, that would probably be easier.  Sigh.  I feel like I will never get to the end of this paragraph.  I think I have to start a new one now.

I got home.  No candles were lit, but I’d convinced myself not to expect that, right?  No, it couldn’t be that simple.  The house wasn’t picked up, but there were a dozen roses, two cards, and gift box on the table.  It was sweet, unexpected, but still fell short.  He knew what time I got home – I walked in the door to a mess and he was sitting on the couch talking on the phone.  It was almost like…. “See, I did it.  Here’s your freakin’ Valentine.”  See what I mean?  I sound a bit like a spoiled brat.  But that’s the thing – I’m NOT.  So what if I expected that he’d maybe have dinner ready?  The table set for us all to sit and eat together?  Maybe a frickin’ candle?  Instead, a box, that I knew would have jewelry in it, because he still thinks that I need things like this.  He is so convinced that if he buys me expensive things like jewelry, I’d feel better.  You can probably understand per the first paragraph why I felt like strangling him with whatever piece of jewelry was in that box before I’d ever seen it.  Seriously?  You got me JEWELRY?  You can buy me jewelry, but you can’t borrow money from the credit card to pay the gym dues so I can keep working out?  Oh, I see – what YOU think is important and not completely wasteful and unnecessary is acceptable, what I think is important is just little woman talk.  So, we opened each others cards and decided to save the jewelry for later.  When I opened it, I started crying.  As is the story of my life – I wasn’t crying tears of frickin’ joy – I was crying because the man is just so utterly clueless it literally hurts me.  It was a fancy, and beautiful choker (HA, the irony kills me).  It was great!  It will sit in the box it came in on top of my jewelry box and I’ll wear it maybe once a year; I don’t have clothes nice enough to match the damn thing for god’s sake!  I don’t care about expensive jewelry!!

I just let it go, though.  I said thank you, we watched a show, we went upstairs and finished every married couple’s Valentine’s Day ritual.  It was the first time I’ve ever gotten through it with the constant thought… “Is it over yet?”

Is it?


Spoken words

Spoken words.

Watching these poems makes me feel alive again.  This is who I used to be.  I had no fear.  I wrote these types of words.  I performed them, in coffee shops, on stages.  Me.  I did that.  I can do it again.


The Sentimental Drunk

Every day, it gets easier for me to call things like they are.  I really only see my mom these days when there’s a birthday or a holiday involved.  Lots of people are around to keep things traditional and wonderful and we appear from the outside to be as close as ever.  My family has always been all about appearances.  It took me years of therapy to realize this and I’m still learning about the depth of denial and vanity that exists in our family.  But, it is what it is.  I have learned, for the most part, to love my parents for who they are and I choose regularly to remind myself of their good traits.  I do the best I can to keep those forefront in my mind and to be thankful for ways in which they help when they are here.  I know that no parent is a perfect parent.

With that said, let’s get to the truth of the here and now.  I worked hard in therapy to forgive my parents for many things.  At one point when I was exploring why they are still able to have such an impact on my emotions on a semi-regular basis, we discussed that this is not a situation in which I have to muster forgiveness for something that happened years ago and the effects fade (for lack of a better term) or at least improve over a period of time.  It isn’t something I can exactly “put behind me” when “it” is a series of behaviors that still happen on a very regular basis.  As in, every time I see them.  On the rare occasion that my mother is able to visit on her own, it is maybe once a year that she stays for more than 24 hours; she cannot leave my dad for more than that.  During those times, and on the occasional evening phone call when my dad is out of the country, I feel like I have a mom again.  She listens, she responds, and that “mother” voice that offers unparalleled comfort, is alive and well.  If my dad is in the house, even if in a different room, her voice is that of a distant and removed mother.  She doesn’t listen, she hardly responds, and if it is, it is not a response that she would typically offer, but instead one that my dad would approve of overhearing.  It truly is sickening.  It’s heartbreaking for those who hear about this dynamic for the first time… everyone has sympathy and wants to talk about how “wrong” and “abnormal” this is, but then we always finalize the thought process with the age-old understanding that every family has its dysfunction.  I realize this.  And, this happens to be my family’s (ha! one of them!) and it so happens this is the one of them that is particularly affecting me lately.

I could really use a mother right now.  This morning, my mom took care of my little one while my husband and I slept in.  That was very kind!  I got hope and went down to see what kind of schedule they were on in hopes that just maybe, they’d be willing to stay for a full 24 hours and let my husband and I have lunch together, outside of the house.  I, for some reason, am still a little under the impression that if we had more alone time, things could be better – even now.  I was about 90% sure that my dad would be ready to leave as soon as he could – but there’s always that psychotic hope in me that they’d be able to chill out for an hour or two more.  I didn’t even have a chance to ask if they’d be okay with this because after about 3 minutes of sitting on the couch with my mom, my dad said, “So, are you ready to go, hon?”  And, there it was.  It didn’t surprise me at all, but it still stirred up some anger and disappointment.  I didn’t bother asking anyway, because, I’ve done that before and it almost always makes it worse.  My dad went to pack the car, and my mom and I had about 2 minutes of bonding time.  Here’s how it went:

“Your eye looks swollen honey.”

“Well, I’m getting old (half joking)… it’s just bags.”

“No, they look bloodshot…”  This was followed by a look of concern.

“Yeah, they always look like that in the mornings lately.  I’m tired.”

Here, I got the mom stare… the inkling of engagement and concern.  I’ve learned not to latch on to this, but my tears apparently haven’t learned that kind of self control yet.  Because, as soon as she looked me in the eye and said, “Are you okay?”  I couldn’t lie without them falling out!

“I’m okay.”  Not sure why I can never leave it at that, tears or not.  I tried to think of a way to sum up my life for her in the 45 seconds left of our bonding time.  So, I just said,  “I’m stuck; but I’m okay.”

And, my favorite part is next:

The concerned, sad look came over her and she said, “Oh, honey.  We’ll have some alone time in a couple of weeks where no one can interrupt us.”

Now, let’s talk about how many times I’ve heard that promise.  There was absolutely no reason we couldn’t have had some uninterrupted mother-daughter time right then.  No logical reason, anyway.  But, my dad was tired and ready to go and that’s all that ever matters.   I may have already posted about this once, but about 10 years ago my mom wrote me and my siblings a letter that very clearly laid out the emotional map for our lives.  She said a bunch of things about how wonderful and loving my dad is, about how much he had done for her, and then, proclaimed from the codependent hilltops (I am not exaggerating here), “…so I hope that you can understand that if given a choice in life between you and your dad, I will always choose your dad.”  This is not word for word because I don’t think it’s in my best interest to actually dig the letter out (I’m not sure why I haven’t burned it by now), but this is what it said.  I didn’t believe it either at first.  What mother would ever say that to their child, even if she had the thought?  What mother would feel like she had to choose between her husband (the father her children) and her children?  If a woman feels that that is a choices she has to make… something is VERY wrong.  Tragically wrong.  Well, welcome to my life.  This is how my mother lives hers.  It isn’t as if she had a moment of insanity and didn’t mean it how it came across.  It was clearly well thought out, intentional, and prophetic.  What is still amazing to me is that I’d pretty much been watching the transition from her “choosing” us and “choosing” him for years, I just didn’t think it could be a conscious one.  Up until that point, I’d started to really see my mother submit to my dad in ways that went against her basic self-worth.  My mother used to be a strong and independent person.  She used to do what she had to do to make things happen for her children.  I saw her stick up for us and for herself many times throughout my childhood.  I watched her continue her education amidst teaching my dad that just because she was far surpassing his, this did not mean that she was going to leave him in the dust.  The last true moment I can remember of my mom talking about her fight to stand up for what she believed with my dad was when she got her doctorate degree and he was having a moment where he felt the need to ask “Why is this so important to you?”  My mom explained to me that my dad was insecure in this area of his life, but that she was not going to let that hold her back or stop her from pursuing her ultimate dream of obtaining that degree.  I could not have been more proud of her.  After a series of events, however, all of that changed.  Every year, I see less and less of that strong woman my mother used to be.  All my sister and I see now is someone who has almost no individuality and certainly no strength left to hold my dad accountable for his own issues.  Instead, she takes his on.  She chooses to sympathize and explain away his alcoholism, his selfishness, and his denial (which is the cause of it all).  It truly does not matter how hurtful this behavior is, because in her mind, my dad is the most selfless, loving, sensitive man she’s ever known.  So much of my anger is towards my dad, and I suppose at least 2/3 of it can be attributed to the resentment that has built up over time for the fact that he stole my mother from us.

Last night, I threw a party for my little guy’s birthday.  After everyone left and we were cleaning up, my dad broke into his fairly regular routine of sitting back and reflecting on how proud he is of his children and how happy he is about, well, pretty much everything.  But, it usually centers these days around how proud he is of his children.  This is a very strange and confusing thing for me.  Up until last night, I guess I’ve been thankful for these moments.  Regardless of the fact that he’s drunk as hell every time he has them, I generally welcome the compliments that come my way.  My dad and I are a lot alike and I like to think I got most of his good traits (sigh).  He also has a strange distrust and underlying frustration and anger towards me because as far gone as he is in the denial department, I think he senses that I can see right through him and it makes him nervous.  Perhaps that is why he can particularly never relax when I’m around.  I can’t relax when he’s around either, so we’re even, I guess.  Last night, he called me over to him for a tearful hug and it felt more like a routine than it has any other time.  I went through the motions: hug him, let him hug me tighter, hug him tighter back, let him cry and tell me how wonderful I am.  For some reason this time I asked him what was wrong (ha!) and he said, “I’m just happy!  Nothing’s wrong,  I’m crying because I’m just so happy.  I love watching you and your brother and sister living your lives and being such wonderful, happy people.  You know how wonderful you are, Karen?  I’m so proud of you!”  He tried to lock eyes with me this time and get me to enter this drunk, happy world with him, and instead, I just disengaged and told him, “Thank you, dad.”  I continued cleaning, he didn’t miss a beat.  In his mind, we’d just shared a father/daughter bonding moment.  He felt even better and even more accomplished as a father.  I’m not saying he never did anything for me – I know he worked his ass off so I could have anything I wanted as a kid… but those were just things.  I’d much rather still have time with my mother today, perhaps some detox for him?  Perhaps some compliments instead of insults when he isn’t drunk?  Perhaps some anti-anxiety meds for him?  Sigh.

I think this most recent visit from “The Sentimental Drunk” angered me because he felt so proud in that moment – through that lens of denial the alcohol gives him – that allows him to sit back and pat himself on the back and feel like he’s accomplished as a dad.  Last night, I really felt like telling him that he could thank my therapists for my wonderfulness.  I am finally realizing just how fabulous I am.  So, when my dad asked me how I liked the flowers on my table and I replied, “They are very pretty, Dad…. kind of like me… ya know?  I’m just sayin’…”  He turned to my brother and said, “See what I mean?  That kind of confidence you all have makes me so proud.”  Ha!  It actually made me laugh out loud that he thinks he can take credit for that.  It actually makes me want to tell him that he’ll need to write me a check for about 10,000 dollars, which is probably low-balling it for how much all my therapy and trips to the hospital have costs before he can take even partial credit for it.

Confidence is something that I’ve only known in the last couple of years.  I may not sound like it now, but I have more of it now than I ever have.  That is why I am so lonely lately.  I finally have boundaries and walls built around me that I never had before.  I’m finally protecting myself.  And, I know these are healthy and necessary walls.  I have even returned to the gym and am getting physically stronger as well.  Man, does it feel good to take a boxing or weight lifting class!  I think it was the missing element for quite some time!!  Also, I have this blog that allows me to lay it all out there and feel accepted and understood in a small way!  I know I don’t have many followers, but every comment and every “read” validates and excites me!  And, that is something!  The point of this blog was to do just that!  I’m currently not in therapy, so getting all of this out of me is important.  I’m proud of myself for finding a way to do it.  And, it is working.  So, if you are reading I can’t thank you enough!  Even if you don’t leave a comment, it really encourages me just to know that people are popping in and out from time to time.

Every one of these things gives me strength.  Ya know, I am wonderful, Dad.  I’ve worked my ass off to be this wonderful.  🙂


“I’ll do anything.”

I’ve been waiting to hear these words for quite a long time.  Writing my last post was pretty important for me.  I needed to release all of that tension and call it like it is, if you will.  Since then, things did get better for a few days and then, of course they went back to what has become our “normal.”  I never remember what argument triggers it because it’s not the argument, it’s the communication pattern we’re stuck in.  We ended up having another talk about the state of things, which started out cordial and ended in tears.  I said the same things I’ve said a million times, again.  I don’t know why I keep repeating myself.  I think it is because I feel so stuck that it only makes sense to keep trying.  Perhaps… perhaps I’m just a good example of insanity!  I walked away from the conversation when he started to get extremely aggravated that I brought up counseling again.  He is adamant that he will not go and has been since I’ve known him.  This has always been a problem of pride also tied in large part to his culture.  Of course, I know that in general, men have a hard time with it.  I finally told him that we should just call it like it is and accept that things can’t change because we both aren’t committed 100% to doing whatever it takes.  I told him that I would clean out the guest room and move my things and we’d just be as friendly and accepting of each other as we could be until our financial situation changed enough for us to separate.

I went to the guest room and ripped it apart.  I put my favorite pictures in it, I removed things that had been driving me crazy since we moved here; I bought myself a new comforter.  I made it my haven.  It is my haven… I walk into it and I feel relaxed and comforted by my artwork on the walls, my intention in the air.  It’s my space and I have needed a space that is mine for quite some time.  Of course, there is more I want to do and it’s depressing how much I’ve been sleeping here, but that was the plan.  It’s depressing because that evening as I was preparing dinner, he approached me and finally said the words I’ve needed to hear for so long.  He put his arm around me and said, “Honey, I don’t want you to leave, I don’t want us to separate.  I want to be married to you for the rest of my life.  I’ll do anything.”  Again, tears.  I really hate my tears these days.  I told him, “Anything?  I don’t think you mean that.  What is ‘anything’ to you?”  He proceeded to tell me he’d take me on dates and try and bring some romance back, pay closer attention to me, etc.  I did tell him that was one thing I thought would help us earlier, but that isn’t all.  Maybe I should’ve been happy with that.  But my heart is so hard and I have so much anger built up in me, and resentment that I could not just fold and tell him, “Okay, I’ve waited so long to hear you say that…”  It just isn’t that simple anymore.  Nonetheless, we ended up having a good couple of days again, until the next argument when we started from zero again.

I guess I still have a bit of hope because he seems to respond and listen better since I made the solid decision to sleep in the guest room when I need to.  He doesn’t understand and still repeats the same things, but not as often.  He still says that I think counseling will fix everything, but it won’t because I’ve been wanting to leave him for years.  I can’t really go into everything he told me because I am exhausted.  I am sick of being so exhausted.  I get up in the mornings and muster every bit of strength I can to let the sadness drip out of me so I can get through my work day productively.  I am taking care of myself by exercising and keeping up with my doctors.  I know how important this is and I take pride in doing it and knowing that.

Last night, my son was going to sleep and was particularly clingy.  He did not want me to put him down and he clutched my neck and seemed to be somewhat scared and insecure.  I was pretty sad last night and I think he could pick up on that.  I’ve had enough training in child development to know that he is already affected by all of this.  And it kills me.  I promised myself I would never put him or keep him in this kind of tension.  It is not fair to him.  I pointed this out to my husband this morning – maybe he heard it, maybe not.  But this is one of the reasons I have to do whatever I have to do to bring back peace in my heart.  I owe that to my son.  He does not deserve to already feel that he has to comfort me.  I asked him, “Do you want mommy to rock you a little bit longer?”  He has just started to appropriately answer, “Yes” like a big boy.  “Yeah,” he said.  It broke my heart and comforted me at the same time.  We rocked for about 5 minutes and then he went right to sleep, secure again.

And, so did I.  In my “new” bed, under my new comforter.  Life is strange and hard, but I’ll make it through this.  I know I will.  Thanks for reading.