Saturday, October 27, 2012

More non deep thoughts...

Last night I took my kids to their school Halloween party.  Their costumes were great and they were excited to go.  My older two told me I was basically their taxi. Seeing them with their friends was great and to see how different they were from a few short years ago was so cool.  My oldest used to be so shy and wouldn't run around, dance etc when we would go to these type of things and last night he was the big kid.  I almost choked when he was on the dance floor with his buddies and dancing up a storm.  My daughter was fantastic.  She was dancing with her friends then she would go off and dance by herself.  I love seeing how comfortable she is in her own skin.  My youngest was feeling a bit out of his element.  He stuck by me the whole time (except for the last 15 minutes) and even held my hand.  He is at that stage where he is aware of himself and his environment and how it affects his feelings.  I could tell he was embarrassed sometimes bored and happy all at once.  Eventually he did get out there with his friends and play/dance around.  There were a few moments that tugged at my heart because I could see him wanting to be independent but also needing me to be there and comfort him.  He of course is the 'baby' of the kids and again is at the point where he wants to fly but not too far.  I so loved watching them in all their glory.  I can not believe how much they are growing yet stay the same.  If you are a parent this may make sense or maybe I need more coffee.
When I was drinking, before it became a daily need, I had a hard time enjoying moments or events with them.  I wanted everything to be perfect for them.  I would build up everything in my head on how the situation would go and if it didn't go that way, I was disappointed.  Even if they were completely happy, I felt as if I had not provided a perfect experience.  The reality is, kids do not care that much.  Perhaps when they become teenagers, but not so much at this age.  Yet again, I would put so much pressure on myself to make sure I controlled every detail so it would turn out the way I thought it should.  After time, this self induced pressure became too much and I would drink more so I would not have to feel as if I had to make things perfect and would end up eventually, not participating.  Last night I did not have to do that and it was wonderful.
When I reflect on my years of drinking, I see how much I did not 'show up' for life.  Somewhere along the way of growing up, becoming an adult, becoming a parent, my reality became skewed.  I began to try and live like others instead of living like me.    I think admiring others and how they live or carry themselves is a great thing but when it becomes internal it becomes destructive.  My whole life I have compared my insides to people's outsides and they never matched up; they never will.  The saying 'never judge a book by its cover' is an example of what I have been doing.  I will judge the outside and think that if it is 'pretty' on the outside then the inside must be the same and that just is not the truth.  How many times have we witnessed a person behaving a certain way and we assume we know why?  How many times have we met people who live a seemingly blissful life?  You know the people in the nice homes with the kids dressed like they just stepped out of an LLBean catalog, not a stain or wrinkle on them, their hair perfectly placed and the mini van has the stick figure family on the rear window?  We don't know that inside that nice home there isn't denial, emotional abuse or anger romping about.  You could walk into that home and within a few short minutes be able to tell if there is that underlying layer of love and compassion or hard, cold loneliness.  You can feel disconnectedness whether you can identify it or not, you can feel something just isn't quite right.  That is what my home started to feel like before 'the husband' left.  It was so present when I look back, but I couldn't admit it.  I knew it was there but I think I thought it was temporary. 
This time last year is when the avalanche of my world started.  This time last year, I knew something wasn't quite right with me and that is when I checked into a psychiatric hospital and found out my anti-depressants were not working. We went away for Thanksgiving, then my middle child had her breakdown and ended up in a child psychiatric hospital, I relapsed a few times then 'the husband' left.  October into the holidays has been my favorite time of year since moving to NE and today it holds recent memories of heartbreaking pain.  Today, my week in the psychiatric hospital was used against me in the court documents submitted to the judge in regards to the custody/placement motion.  Although it had nothing to do with drinking and was a pro-active move so that nothing bad would happen, 'the husband' and his attorney put a spin on it to try an establish a pattern of behavior in an unfavorable light.  How horrible to have something that was done to take care of myself be used against me? I have had enough 'patterns' that were unfavorable that were used there was no need to pull that into the mix.  I believe this is why people with mental illness do have a hard time asking for help, because when they do, there is always a section of  people that are ignorant and want to use your illness against you.  Can you imagine if I had a spinal cord injury and I went to a rehab hospital for 30 days or even just a week, if they put that in a motion to try and establish that my physical disability prevented me from being a good parent?  I hope one day the prejudices against people with mental illness' wains.
Besides 'the husband' walking out the day after Christmas, the other painful moments came months later when in a couples therapy session when he finally explained some of why he left.  I had made some comments when our middle child was out of the residential part of the psychiatric hospital and was attending the day program.  The comments I made he internalized and came to a conclusion; I was a bad mother.  He never asked me what I meant and why I said them.  He never even brought them up to me.  I never had any clue that they disturbed him so much or that what I said led him to believe I was a bad mother.  I still have not recovered from hearing that statement in therapy.  I don't know if I will ever recover from that.  I have accepted that is how he felt and may feel that way today, but I don't know if I can ever forget hearing those words come from his mouth or hearing his explanation of why he felt that way and knowing that he chose not talk to me about what was going on and what he was feeling.  That is so terribly painful.  The therapist later told me that was more likely than not a way for him to rationalize and justify the decision he had already made in his mind.  The therapist in treatment said the same.  Of course I tried to defend him by gushing all my wrongs and everything I put him through and the therapist wanted to know why I was trying to be responsible for his actions. And I don't know.  I am still doing it and I have to stop.  Guilt and shame are beasts.  It is what I am doing today that counts. 
I have been rambling.  Processing I suppose.  Like I said, this is a sad time of year.  Spending so much time at the house this past week (kids were sick), was a real mind fuck too.  While it was so awesome to be able to be with my kids and take care of them it was difficult being in the house for an extended amount of time and doing my typical thing.  I did not have to do anything but take care of them, but it was hard not to help out a bit with laundry etc.  I know 'the husband' is working a lot and taking care of the kids and I just wanted to do a few little things to make life a smidge easier for all, but in doing so it put me back in a role that I don't have today.  I do not live in that house.  I am not a stay at home mom today.   I was in the kitchen at one point and all that was playing in my head was the day he said he wanted a separation.  It played over and over and over.  I could feel that repeated punch in the gut as I was standing there.  I went to cuddle with the kids in the bed and knowing she had slept in that bed and they more than likely had sex in that bed made me so uncomfortable.  If not in the bed, somewhere in that house.  It is just wrong.  Being in the house was hard and it took a lot out of me emotionally.  It is weird to have feelings of relief knowing I am no longer in a relationship with him, that it is over, but also still grieving.  I have to keep remembering that the end of this relationship played out like an unexpected death.  It was like I knew the person was sick but it wasn't life threatening, but in the middle of the night something went horribly wrong and they died.  No matter how I feel today about moving on, I still have to process all of this or it will catch me later and I am not willing to do that today. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Meeting of the minds?

Checking in.  No job. Yet.  I keep plugging along and I know something will come because I am doing the next right thing.  I could really rock a job right now, but what can you do?  PRAY!

The apartment is feeling more and more like home.  My kids came to see the place with their father and they really liked it and can not wait to spend the night (kiddos, not 'the husband').  I can not wait for them to either.  Hopefully in a week or so I will be able to have them for an overnight visit.  Their father and I are cordial at the moment.  I gotta tell you this 'situation' is fucked up.  I know there isn't a 'normal' family these days, but mine right now is wickedy whack. 'The husband' and I are still legally married. 'The husband' has had  the girlfriend for a lot longer than he will admit (at this point why keep lying about it?), and I met said girlfriend (we all know how that went) and now he is going to meet my boyfriend.  Did your hair just curl?  I know right?  Yeah, it would not be happening but it is important at this time for each of us to meet who our children will be around.  So yeah, the two men are meeting tomorrow.  I need a reality show.  Who does this?  The blessing is that I have no reservation about the two men meeting.  The man I am dating has been in my life as a dear friend for a while.  He is one of the people that saved my life.  Strange feeling to be with someone who knows your crazy, happy, sad, insecurities, demons and joys and wants to be with you regardless and can empathize.  That is what I thought marriage was supposed to be and maybe it is, but it was not that way for me.  Meeting this man and not being under the influence of any mind altering substances (not like the conditions I met 'the husband') is a water ride in the summer fun!  I am not questioning nor do I regret my time with 'the husband', I had three wonderful children with him.  We had many, many wonderful times together and made lots of beautiful memories together but I have been struggling to go forward for far too long and couldn't and today I can.  Have you ever thought about or been in the position where you have put so much importance on what your partner thinks and feels about you?  Have you ever put so much stock into those thoughts and feelings you turn yourself inside out trying to be what that person wants you to be?  I think he had this ideal in his head he hoped I would be and when I didn't match up to that ideal he took off.  However pitiful, it happens all the time. Carrying out unconditional love is not easy.  We put conditions on everything and don't even know we do it or recognize we are building these ideals in our heads.  Aren't our vows we take in marriage conditions?  What do we do when the other can't meet those conditions?  Do we pack it up because it wasn't what we thought it would be?  Sickness and health.  Do we get to add a clause to the vows? Are vows just pretty little sentences we say because they are flowery and sticky sweet? How do you know when you exchange vows the other is going to uphold those vows?  You don't.  When I got married, boy did I believe in those sticky sweet lovely words.  I put everything into that moment.  One lesson I have learned and am applying it to the relationship I am in now, is 'this too shall pass'.  Listen, it isn't being negative nelly at all, it is being rita the realist.  I have learned in recovery that 'this too shall pass' applies to the good times too.  Ebb and flow baby.  Ebb and flow.  I think 'the husband' has found someone who will co-sign his bullshit.  Validate what he needs validating and step into his 'ideal woman' shoes.  I can not express the relief I feel knowing I don't have that on my shoulders anymore.  He never understood that while he thought I was neglecting him in my recovery, I was trying to get better and be who he wanted me to be.  I didn't quite understand that was what I was doing until it was pointed out in treatment.  I wanted to be in recovery, however, I was not focusing on me, I was focusing on how to make him happy with me in recovery and that just does not work.  I don't have to do that anymore.  The man I am sharing this time with just doesn't care who I am.  He respects my recovery and we both know recovery comes first over anything and if we feel this relationship or the other person could jeopardized this amazing gift, we walk away.  We don't owe each other anything.  We do owe ourselves a life of recovery.  He digs my spirit and he doesn't co-sign my bull shit.  I don't co-sign his either and we call each other out on the crap and we have a good healthy argument.  We did that when we were friends too.  We are quite different and drive each other crazy.  We are in different times of our lives as well.  His children are grown and mine are small.  He has several continuous years in recovery and I am starting over again.  He is all about results and I am all about the process.  He is direct and I am not usually.  He is so comfortable in his skin and I am learning how to be.  Because he is comfortable with himself, there isn't this unhealthy co-dependency going on.  I am overly cautious of this and tend to over do it with establishing my boundaries but I am lucky because he is ok with it and likes my independence.  Again, he is able to accept where I am.  Am I comparing the two? Fuck yeah I am.  How do you not?  The key is not to get so wrapped up in the differences to where that is all you do is compare.  Being aware of the differences is fine, but constantly comparing is not healthy.  I know the meeting between the two will go just fine.  To bottom line is this; it doesn't matter if 'the husband' likes the boyfriend or not, he isn't dating him.  Never thought I would write that sentence!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Financial responsibilities is for I thought

Financial insecurities are in the forefront of my mind.  I have been paralyzed by these fears my whole life.  I always wanted to blame my parents for my lack of financial responsibility, but it is not their fault, but mine. 

When I was a kid, I never worried about money.  It wasn't a topic that was discussed on a regular basis.  I knew you didn't charge anything unless you could pay it off at the end of the month (which always and still does baffle me), you balanced your checkbook every month and you lived within your means.  Now my dad was a spender but my mom was thrifty.  If it were up to my dad we would have had all the toys and no place to sleep.  Luckily my mother reeled my father in when he was 'money philandering'.  I saw the financial scope growing up but could not put it into practice once I was out of the house on my own.  

I was not allowed to have a job other than babysitting when I was younger.  My parents wanted me to focus on school and music.  I always resented them for that rule because my friends had jobs and their own money.  I hated asking for money.  Not that I was allowed to have much of an outside social life, but in the rare instances I would be granted freedom for the evening, I had to ask for money.  One more thing my parents controlled. How dare they! When I went to college I had my first checking account.  Here I was 17 years old, a book of blank checks and a fast and furious pen.  Then began my troubles with money and the insecurities blossomed. 

After getting married and working for a bit (I was paralyzed looking for a job after moving to NE), 'the husband' wanted me to get more involved in our financials. I always used the excuse 'well, I don't know how to do bills' to run away for learning to actually do the bills.  When the kids came and I was at home, I was the one spending the money.  Budget was not really in our vocabulary.  And once again 'the husband' would ask for me to get involved with money matters and again I would run.  I had great intentions on helping and learning about bills, budgets, insurance etc., but I was easily overwhelmed and would become paralyzed.  It didn't help that we didn't think the same way so when he would patiently try to explain and I did not understand, I would react in anger.  That was the only way I knew how to react.  If I was angry then I wouldn't have to feel dumb for not knowing these basic life skills I had never used.  My lack of participation in our money matters was one of the many downfalls in my marriage.  The financial burden landed on him while I ran away.  If I did not comprehend something and it caused discomfort I looked for a way not deal with the situation and eventually would drink over it.  We're broke, I should drink.  We have some extra money, let's celebrate by blowing it all on alcohol.  We have just enough to cover bills, let's drink and put ourselves in the hole.  I'm stressed about bills, let me drink.  I have anxiety about the next time 'the husband' asks me to be involved in the financial matters, I will drink and I will be less anxious.  The next thing I would know, I was drunk and useless.  Once again I did not participate and it was the beginning of many things 'the husband' would have to do on his own. Financial insecurities and financial accountability are ideas and actions I am working on today.

Right now, I am looking for a job.  I haven't been in the workforce for 10 years.  No college degree and no marketable skills at this time.  If I could find a job that required being an ass/nose wiper, referee, short order cook, and housekeeper rolled into one, I would most definitely qualify.  I have been hitting the streets filling out applications and also online.  I updated my resume (which dates back to the 90's) and have sent that out as well to a few jobs.  I am not looking to be the Director of Human Services or Project Manager, I am looking for a simple job that does not require much thinking or has a high stress level.  For now that is all I can handle.  Going back into the legal field is a definite no.  The demanding pace, stress factor and explosive personalities would be the perfect storm for me today.  Not to mention I have been out for so long, many things have changed and I would start at the bottom.  I'm not too good to start at the bottom, but when I weigh the emotional toll that type of job creates to the starting salary, it equals misery.  Not where I want to go today.  I do know what I want to be when I grow up and have taken a few teeny tiny baby steps to start the tumble weeds a rollin' towards starting that journey when the time is right.  Being in the job market in this day and age is not easy.  The economy and lack of jobs isn't what is scary to me though.  I am terrified of rejection.  Always have been, even though I have been rejected consistently over my lifetime it hasn't gotten less shitty.  Those events could be seen as learning experiences, but I am not there yet.  Just walking into a place and asking if they are hiring is a huge deal for me.  HUGE.  Filling out an application is a HUGE deal for me.  The feelings of being less than, not good enough, stupid and useless flood over me every single time I walk into a place of business.  That is my disease doing its damnedest to get me off track and get me that much closer to a drink.  It may not happen today, but once I start feeling those feelings for a period of time, the drink is inevitable.  Today though, when I have those thoughts I tell myself that I am useful, I am smart and I am capable.  As silly and trite as it sounds, those affirmations work.  I'm no Stewart Smiley, but damn it, I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and gosh darn it, people like me! 

I will get a job.  I will work hard so that I can provide the basics and take care of myself. And if I am lucky, I will make enough to where I can help provide the best I can, for the kids too.  It won't be much but it will be what I can do and that will be enough.  I am showing my kids whether they realize it or not, that you can fall down flat on your face but if you have just a smidge of willingness, you can get back up, hold your shoulders back and stand proud and tall.  I am doing that every single day I stay sober.  Facing down my financial fears is scary, but doable.  I just may be one of the lucky ones; not having a specific career affords me the opportunity to try new things.