An End and a Beginning

In summer of 2008, just before our son’s second birthday, my husband and I split up after nine years of marriage. Our marriage had been over for a long time and we’d come close to splitting a number of times over the years, but for some unknown reason we just kept beating that horse until it was dust on the floor.

Finally, with a few months of therapy under my belt and a therapeutic dose of antidepressants in my system, I found my strength and independence to utter the words.

“I think we should split up,” I told him one day before work.

“Yeah, me, too.”

The decision was made in a ten-minute conversation. We would separate and see how things went from there.

Only a couple of weeks after that, I was living in my own apartment – for the first time on my own – with Jack and my two cats. And I loved it! The moment I set foot in my apartment I knew I’d made the right decision (and soon after, I knew divorce was absolutely the right choice). Naturally, it took some adjusting. It takes a while to unravel yourself from an eleven-year relationship, but I’d been emotionally preparing for the separation for years. Even when the adjustments were difficult, I found them easier to cope with than fighting for a long-dead marriage.

I talked to my friends every day and wrote my heart out both online and on paper. I wrote pages and pages about what hadn’t worked in my marriage and then I wrote more about what I really needed in my life. I asked for advice and guidance from my closest friends and they were more than happy to give it – even when it wasn’t pretty and even if I didn’t always heed that advice.

And then, after a few friends suggested I try dating since I never had before, I put my profile up on match.com. Writing a profile for a dating site may seem like an easy task, but I was in a very strange place in my life. I had ideas about what I was looking for but I had trouble putting them into words. Describing myself as an individual – outside of my marriage and being a parent – was quite a challenge. I really had to look at myself in new ways and figure out what made me who I am.

I rewrote my profile a bunch of times before coming up with what turned out to be the perfect thing. Even after that, I took it down completely in a moment of self-doubt, but I did end up putting it back up. And thank goodness I did because I met David and he changed my life.

This is the profile that landed me my perfect match.

***

I am always seeking out new points of view on life from others to test my own opinions. I like to examine the differences and similarities in all people. I love to bounce ideas and theories around. I am playful and not afraid of embarrassment, although I dislike being the center of attention. I am a no-nonsense type of girl who goes for what she wants and I’m passionate about the things that are important to me. Yes, sometimes I argue my point even if I suspect I’m wrong. I don’t give up easily!

I often get so enraptured with a subject that I will read everything I can get my hands on about it until I’m an expert. It’s typical of me to read all of the album lyrics and notes prior to listening to a new CD. I am a master googler. I love imdb and wikipedia.

I’ll know I have reached the ultimate in life when I acquire a maid and a cook. I like it when I can pay someone else to do things I don’t like to do; I feel like I’m helping the economy.

I am somewhat impulsive but I usually spend a lot of time planning. I’m contrary sometimes.

I can be reserved at first but if you’re shyer than I am, I might do something outrageous to get you talking. I’m honest to a fault and will answer any question. My answers will probably surprise you.

I hate to wonder if I’m missing out on something that has the potential to be awesome. I am independent and enjoy time alone, but also love the energy of a group gathering. At a party I’m likely to be found in the corner of a room observing interactions or engrossed in a conversation about the merits of various toothpaste flavors and consistencies (cinnamon gel is my favorite).

I’m not much of a cook but I bake fairly well and often. I’ll make you some peanut butter brownies if you prepare the main course. Or you can give me cooking lessons… Dining out most nights a week is perfectly acceptable, as well (as long as it’s not fast food).

I have an amazing 2 year old son who fascinates me with his passion and his unbridled sense of discovery. He is inspirational and brings out the kid in me. He makes me a better person every day.

I’m looking for a creative, funny, yet intense man. Someone who feels equally comfortable discussing the state of the world as he does chasing me around the house or taking care of a pesky spider (they have it in for me!). I want someone I can rely on and who takes the time to get to know what makes me tick. I will offer the same in return.

I’d like to take any new relationship slowly, although I suppose I may budge on the relationship if I meet the right person. After all, they say you find the one when you least expect it. I’ve never actually been on a real date, so this should be interesting!

for fun:
I love doing just about anything with another person – life is always more fun with friends. Board games, dining out, travel, BBQs, bocci ball… I like dancing around the house (but I’m a terrible dancer) and pondering the oddities in life.

my job:
I’m an executive assistant at a software company. I like the exposure I get to various types of work, the details about the inner workings of a company, and I learn new things all the time. The money isn’t bad, either.

my ethnicity:
I’m so pale I glow. I’m mostly German with a spattering of British and a little part of every other European country that ever existed, except Italian.

my religion:
I’m highly skeptical of organized religion. I focus on being the best human being I can be and don’t feel that I require a set of instructions in order to do that. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is great, though.

my education:
I could never decide what to major in (Sociology, Psychology, Art, Finance, English…so many choices, so little time) and the classroom is set at too slow a pace for me. I prefer to read a book and learn while doing.

favorite hot spots:
It is my goal to eat out at every restaurant in the bay area. Okay, I can skip the seafood but I’ll take everything else! I enjoy museums, aquariums, botanical gardens, coffee shops…the Bay Area is a great place for all of those.

favorite things:
I’m an indoors girl generally, but will venture outside for walks or a hike with the right company. I like to bowl. I’m currently having a lot of fun decorating my apartment (retro yeah!). Wine is tasty. I miss the 90s music scene but am adjusting.

last read:
Lately I’ve been reading any vampire book I can get my hands on (anything from I Am Legend to Twilight). Patricia McKillip is my favorite (fantasy) author. I write and read blogs. I eat up Augusten Burroughs. Click Clack Moo gets a lot of play, too.

***

Hey, look! I’m participating in NaBloPoMo! You can, too!

Truthiness Day 4: Forgiveness

Day 04 → Something you have to forgive someone for.

(I have a problem with this “have to” business.  I don’t have to forgive anyone.  I prefer “like to.”)

There is still many things that happened during my split with Joe that I haven’t quite gotten over.  I got through that time the best way I knew how – by tucking in my chin, locking up my feelings, and focusing on all the tasks that needed to be completed.  It felt like everything was up to me – the living arrangements, the care of Jack, the financial obligations, the paperwork, the communication with family and friends.  It was overwhelming and shutting down emotionally was the only way to get through it.  Sometimes I didn’t keep my emotions under wraps – I cried in the bathroom at work, suffered from additional migraines from all of the stress, took anti-anxiety medication to ward off panic attacks.  Joe pretty  much went into a downward spiral, so I had little choice but to try to do damage control there so as to give Jack as much stability as possible.

According to some family and friends, I didn’t react as expected.  I seemed cold and unfeeling.  Because Joe was floundering, and I seemed to be getting by just fine, it appeared to some that I had planned everything.  It seemed like I was intentionally making things harder for Joe.  It was thought that perhaps I was happy about the whole situation.

It hurt me deeply.  I am a very sensitive person, although I mostly try to hide that so that I don’t get hurt.  Dealing with anger from Joe was expected, but I did not think that people who had become my family, people who knew about the problems in our marriage and had discussed separation with us even, would judge me or say that I hadn’t tried hard enough.

And I know – I know that Joe and I weren’t the only people involved in this and our separation affected more than just us.  Our family and friends had legitimate feelings about such a huge change and it was scary to them.  I want to be able to respect their feelings instead of feeling hurt by them.  I want to forgive them for caring about us so much that they were hurt by our actions and they hurt us back.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Separate but equal: living arrangements

Parenting in a non-nuclear family is a mix of good and bad, it seems.  It’s nice when one parent is sick and we don’t want to pass it onto our kid – Jack usually stays with the healthy parent while the other convalesces.  When all parents are sick, it gets more complicated but we usually figure something out.  On holidays when daycare is closed, we have four parental figures and chances are that at least one of us is taking the day off or working from home.  Things get sticky when each parent has different rules, but we are navigating this as we go.

Custody and visitation have been fairly easy for us to work out up to now.  We try to maximize Jack’s time with each parent based on work schedules.  We get as close to 50/50 as we can; it usually ends up closer to 60/40, though.  A potential challenge we’ve run into recently is the prospect that we might not all continue to live in the Bay Area.  The economy has been a crapshoot for quite some time and all of Jack’s parents work in different markets and areas (public & private sectors).  Some areas of business are doing okay, while others continue to struggle.  It’s quite possible that this geographic area can’t sustain all at the same time.

We pondered this question earlier this week when the subject of one of the family segments moving to southern California came up.  The implications are mind boggling.  None of us wants to see less of Jack; each home is open to being a primary residence.  A drive between the Bay Area and SoCal is 6-8 hours…that kind of commute for visitation exchanges would no doubt suck for all of us.  A flight is quick but would grow expensive over the year(s).  The 50/50 arrangement would definitely not work (especially once kindergarten is in the picture); we’d all be missing Jack for weeks or months at a time.

I have to say, this is the most difficult issue I’ve faced since the separation.  With effort, we can generally make most things more comfortable and harmonious than when we were married…I don’t think that this is one one of those things.  I can’t help but worry about the impact on all of us.


The ending

It’s been over a year since Joe and I split up.  I was chatting with him recently and we agreed that it seems like a lifetime ago that we were married.  So much has happened in the past year that our previous life together seems unreal.  I can’t speak for his experience in all this, but I thought I would write a bit about my perspective.

The hardest part about a divorce, especially after 9 years of marriage, is figuring out the relationship with in-laws.  Being married at 18 means that I grew up with these people.  I spent every Christmas of the last decade with them.  I’m godmother to my niece Emily.  Joe’s mom was there for Jack’s birth and I work with Joe’s brother (which was a little awkward at first but is totally fine now).  I have struggled a lot with the question of whether divorce means that I lose these connections, if I give up the right to know what they are doing.  I am still hopeful that that is not the case.  How does one divorce a person without making their whole family feel divorced?  I still have no answer.

Another difficult aspect of a divorce, at least one with a child involved, is the part where you still have to deal with many of the issues that were there in the marriage.  A procrastinator spouse may be (endearingly) annoying, but when that person becomes your ex and you are suddenly dealing with waiting to hear back about a custody schedule change or something, it becomes a giant bone of contention.  After divorcing someone you end up dealing with the bad stuff without enough of the good stuff to balance it out.  That came as a bit of a surprise to me.  I did not realize that separation and divorce are not all that separate.

All in all I think our split has turned out better than anyone could have expected.  Jack is still the well-adjusted funny little kid he was before but now he gets dedicated time with each parent.  Both Joe and I have met wonderful people who make us fantastically happy.  Jack has four parents now to teach him and care for him, and we all bring different strengths to the equation.  When Joe and his girlfriend moved last month, David helped them.  It was surreal for me, having my boyfriend help out my ex-husband, but it is how I hoped things would be.  I feel very lucky be surrounded with people who want everything to go as smoothly as possible and recognize the importance of one another’s roles.  I feel lucky that everyone is moving on and finding happiness instead of continuing to struggle with a marriage that just wasn’t working.

Our divorce paperwork is in the final stages.  The papers are all filled out and in proper order but the courts are not making it easy on us.  The papers have been rejected twice and the second time was completely unexplained.  This last technicality lingers before I can have a final resolution to that story in my life.  I’m very much looking forward to the future.

Life is measured by details

One of the things about the separation that I haven’t totally worked out is this: I will become responsible for both daycare pick-up and drop-off.  At first I thought I could just work longer hours on Mondays and Tuesdays (Joe’s current days off, when he has Jack) but as of mid-September, Joe will have a different job and schedule that gives him Sundays and Mondays off.  In order for me to get Jack to daycare and drop him off, that means I would have to cram an extra 2 hours onto Mondays to make up for the time I’m taking off the rest of the week.  Daycare has strict hours and it takes me an hour to get to/from work.  Also, Jack is currently enrolled 3 days a week, so I HOPE that they can take him on Tuesdays.  Fingers crossed.

Somehow, I know it will work out.  Things usually do.  It’s just a bit anxiety-inducing in the mean time.

From the land of cute – last night as we were heading to bed, I told Jack to say goodnight to his grandma.  “Nigh-night, Grandma!”  Then he added,  “I love you, Grandma!”  Awwwww.  Love those unprompted expressions of emotion!