Tag Archives: failure

an awkward answer

The more time that’s passed since I last saw Lee, the more the anger has dissipated. I’ve been meditating more again, trying to connect to the unified field and focusing on opening my heart to genuinely welcome my true mate.

Interestingly, when I closed my eyes and imagined him (this elusive life mate) walking toward me, taking my hands and standing face to face, it was often Lee’s face that appeared in my mind. One day recently, I was listening to an audio program about how to spot a conscious man (because “conscious” manifests differently in men than it does in women), when my son walked in the room. He listened for a moment to the ways the interviewee described a conscious male and said, “Lee.”

So my heart has been softening, fond memories resurfacing and, every so often, I’ve imagined what it would be like to see Lee again.

Today that happened.

Let me pause and share that my imagined reunions included a warm exchange of greetings followed by a long embrace. Have you ever watched a daytime drama? You know, where people greet each other with a dramatic and meaningful:

How are you?

And then they really listen for an answer. That’s how I imagined it would be, I guess…that we’d recognize that we cared for one another, that we shared fond memories, that we once meant something to one another.

That is not remotely how our meeting went.

My son and I were on a popular local walking path when I saw someone who looked vaguely familiar walking toward us along the path. As the distance decreased, it looked a lot like Lee. My heart skipped a beat as I realized it was Lee walking with a colleague I’d recognized from pictures. I’m sure my jaw dropped and I was ready to share a moment as he nodded, said “hello” and kept walking…

I turned my head and body around as he walked by, lowering my sunglasses and looking at him quizzically. Sensing that our now awkward interaction was not yet over, he turned and asked, “Doing well?”

“Yes,” I stupidly answered, though it was clearly a lie — at least in that moment, “You?”

“Doing well,” he answered, his body still facing the opposite way, willing him to get the hell out of there as quickly as humanly possible. Meanwhile, his confused colleague and I clearly were not going to be introduced.

We turned and kept walking, the distance between us growing, no longer possible to bridge.

Just a few days ago, as I dipped a toe back into the dating scene, I wondered whether Lee ever thought of me… I guess there was a part of my heart holding out hope that he might come back, thinking that he might be my unicorn.

Now I know for certain he’s not.

It’s only after an encounter like this that I wish I would have had the presence to be truly genuine, to answer transparently:

“No, actually; you broke my heart.”

The only minor satisfaction I get is knowing he had to explain the awkwardness to his colleague afterward… and noting that, like me, he hadn’t managed to drop any of his winter weight.

Beyoncé, where are you with that Lemonade when I need you?!

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how men and women reacted differently to this news

As I mentioned, I was confused, hurt, angry and more about Lee’s text telling me he needed some time. For a while I was convinced that he’d chucked me, then I was hopeful I’d hear from him after a few weeks. I also thought ahead to what might happen if he did want to come back into my life:  it would be difficult to regain the trust I’d had for him after a move like that…if it was possible at all.

Colleagues and friends asked me how things were going and, after catching them up on recent happenings, I noticed a trend in the way men and women responded to the news:

My girlfriends:

It’s not you; this is all about him.

When God closes a door, he opens a window.

This one’s not meant to be. Something better is just around the corner.

Move on. Get back on the horse.

He wasn’t the one for you. The one for you is looking for you now.

In other words, the women’s advice was largely something like, “let it go; move on.”

My male friends and colleagues had a very different response to my story:

You deserve an explanation.

You need to call him and demand answers!

Something had to have happened, and you deserve to know what it was.

Why?

You need / deserve closure.

My response to these well-intended gentlemen was this:  What reason could possibly be good enough? Particularly given the way he left things. Had he met me somewhere and sat down and actually talked about his feelings and asked me for understanding, this situation would look much different than it does. As it stands, there is no possible explanation that could suffice for what he did and the way he did it.

One male friend actually said:

This is a good thing. You need him to finalize his divorce, so that he can be available to you. And don’t worry:  there are not trainloads of women looking for a man like Lee.

Perhaps the most hilarious response came from a girlfriend with a penchant for calling while consuming wine. She is often slurring by the end of our conversations. She told me how nice it had been to meet my boyfriend and went on to say how comfortable he seemed amidst the chaos (of the fish fry, at which all of our children were present)…

She went on until I cut her off with:

We’re through. He needed some time.

She said:

You should keep that door open. He seemed stable, kind and well-adjusted.

I said:

He ended it via text.

She said:

I hope you never speak to him again! The man’s an idiot. He has no idea how dumb a move he just made! You were totally out of his league. You look a good 15 years younger than he does. Not smart enough to know how good he had it!

But wait! There’s more to this story…I’ll fill you in soon.

 


reeling

Just over a week ago, one of the former step kids called. I’d just shared our spring break itinerary via email, so I figured the call was about plans. Boy, was I wrong! My ex’s dead body had been found in his apartment.

Let me backtrack a bit… I’d known this moment was coming since around a year ago, when I’d had a bizarre exchange with my ex that left me questioning his sanity. I remember wondering if he had early-onset dementia. Since then, his health has declined steadily; my daughter once had to call 911 after a fall and the last time the children had spent a weekend with him, he was emaciated, weak and visibly unwell. He suffered ulcers, internal bleeding and dangerously low hemoglobin.

For as long as this moment was anticipated and for as long as we’d been apart, I was completely shattered. I had to gather, tell and comfort my children, and then start telling others. I think I thought the worst would be supporting my children through their grief. Wave after wave of staggering grief washed over me. I reached out to friends, allies and colleagues, and lashed out at Brad, who responded (like everyone else) with grace, compassion and concern.

Those first days of taking the children to school late, checking them in at the office, talking to the counselor, answering the door for flower and food deliveries, telling colleagues I was unavailable… are a blur. Breathing was a struggle. For mothers who’ve just given birth, it’s like those first days of feeling completely upside down — my body felt as though it had been hit by a train, I was extraordinarily exhausted but couldn’t get enough sleep, time stretched out and compressed like an accordion, and could be measured only in “before” and “after.” For surfers, it’s like being pearled — underwater, disoriented, finally figuring out which way is up but not being able to reach the surface or catch your breath.

After a day and a half of weeping, I woke up, vomited up the previous night’s dinner and discovered I’d gotten my period. At that point, I knew things could only get better.

I have never been so grateful for the outpouring of support and love from friends, family members, co-workers, colleagues, my boss, neighbors, ex-boyfriends and, yes, even new beaus. Mr. Meltsmyheart checked in every single day. Brad has been kind, too. In the past, when others I know have lost loved ones, I’ve always felt my words, hugs, cards were feeble expressions — they never seemed enough somehow. But now I understand how much those small expressions of sympathy can mean.

I am now really, truly a full-time single parent. Full stop. This is certain to further complicate my future relationship prospects.

What’s next? Well, there are school trips to plan for, shots and doctors appointments with which to carry on, orthodontia, sports… good heavens! When am I going to schedule counseling sessions for these little ones? And how do I ensure the story they tell about their father serves them?

All this and more are yet to come. But for now, I’m still reeling.


licking my wounds

Brad’s sudden disappearance hurt both my heart and my ego. Let’s be honest: nothing sounds more hang dog and pathetic than to have been left by someone who, in all honesty, wasn’t quite in my league anyway. I don’t say so to be a pig…I was really ready to test drive “us” in a relationship. But he clearly was not equal to me emotionally, in communication skills or maturity, as demonstrated by his actions. (Jeez, that sounds self-righteous as shit, don’t it?!) And, as much as I liked the way I felt when I was with him, eventually we were going to run out of interesting conversation — he simply wasn’t all that intellectual. I find few characteristics less impressive than a person who doesn’t read.

So I got back on the horse. Right away. And I’ve had two first dates with two different gentlemen, and I have second dates scheduled with each. Both of these guys get yellow flags:  one for being divorced just two months; the other for having had a second, momentary marriage and divorce, then moving in with a girlfriend not too long afterward. I’m concerned he moves too fast and maybe isn’t measured in his thinking / planning. The first guy I connect with better, but I’m not interested in being a rebound, and I’m not sure he’s interested in marrying me, putting my kids through college, etc. Yes, that’s getting ahead of myself…but I’m going to be direct about what I ultimately want.

Oh, wait…this is supposed to be fun!

And I intend to have fun. Forever. With the right co-conspirator.

How else have I been dealing? I’ve been going out with friends, continuing to check out new restaurants, bars and haunts. I have petty moments of wanting to send photos of my outings to Brad, who loved my charming neighborhood, tap rooms and chef-driven restaurants…and I fantasize about including a certain gesture in each image. But that would be childish and desperate, and I won’t give him the satisfaction.

A few of my girlfriends have asked me if I’m absolutely, positively sure he wasn’t in some sort of horrific accident. And I confess:  every so often I do imagine him coming out of a coma, calling my name from his hospital bed. But I wouldn’t go back, because I can now see his lack of emotional connection for what it is.

Any anyway, the .001% chance of that having happened, well…

My final few heartbreak recovery tactics are these:

  • Reminding myself that I am whole and healed, and that I don’t need to be exactly perfect or ideal to deserve a relationship that’s ideal for me — just as I don’t expect another person to be perfect.
  • Knowing that, deep down, my chances of success in a relationship with Brad were slim, and believing that there is a much better something awaiting just around the corner.
  • Lots and lots of Beyonce and dancing.

left on scene

On our last date, Brad and I toured my neighborhood, stopping for drinks and small plates at a few of the local establishments. As always, we had fun talking and touching. We ended our evening making out on my sofa, and he thanked me for a fun and relaxing evening once he’d arrived safely at home.

The next day, he texted me “Good morning, sexy!” Then later, one of those strangely detached messages about hanging out at Best Buy while waiting for one of his children to be done with practice.

And then nothing.

It’s been two weeks. A girlfriend admonished me to Google him to ensure he wasn’t injured in a car crash.

But I knew.

I told my son he hadn’t been texting me back. He said, “Mommy, he’s busy with work and his kids; I’m sure he’ll text you.”

I told my daughter I’d been ghosted. She said I’d been left on scene. I guess that’s what the kids are saying these days.

It’s easy to see looking back that he wasn’t really emotionally in it. It’s easy to revisit and recall the exchanges we had in which I was looking for a connection, but got detachment in return. Along the way you wonder what it means; and whether something will change and evolve. It never does. You’d think I’d have learned that by now. And it still hurts.

The worst parts are:

  1. Having to put on a sad movie to watch with my son so that it would seem normal that I was crying during our usual Friday night family time.
  2. I miss him.
  3. Dealing with the anger that’s been boiling up. Seriously, there are compassionate ways to end relationships, and this was not one of them.

everything is better and worse all at once

I could hardly wait for spring break to come:  I was going to drop my children off at their father’s for the weekend, spend a morning with the friend in hospice I told you about (Tom), enjoy a pedicure, pack and get ready for our trip west…and then sunshine!

I didn’t hear from the children’s father on Friday. My daughter volunteered at the popcorn stand in the bingo hall at the local church fish fry. My son and I met some friends there for dinner.

Saturday morning, I was nearly sick with anxiety as I drove to hospice to see Tom…I had absolutely no idea what to expect. But he had been texting and asked for a latte, so I stopped to get us coffee and treats. I walked quietly into the room where he was sleeping and, as he woke, he recognized me immediately. We sipped our lattes and nibbled on muffins while he asked me about my children, life and work. He enthusiastically empathized with my parenting stories, saying “Oh, I know!” as though he’d raised a half-dozen himself (he is childless). Not long after he’d excused himself to clean up, a skiing buddy stopped by…and then a friend from high school…and then some family members. His room was like Grand Central. And I was both uplifted and comforted, knowing that he was surrounded by love and laughter — and that he was still very much able to enjoy reliving his many adventures.

Then, having connected with my ex, I dropped the children off that afternoon for an overnight with him. Minutes later, my daughter called, upset:  there was dried blood splattered all over the kitchen. I drove back and went in. His place was messier than usual; he seemed a little more disheveled than usual…but he convincingly argued that everything was fine, that he had merely fallen down, that he would clean up. My daughter was overly tired after a sleepover. He urged her to take a nap and me to go about my day. I left again. My daughter called less than an hour later, hysterical: her father had fallen and hit his head, she had called 911 and the paramedics were there. I rushed back to collect and comfort my children, then called my ex’s eldest and met him at the ER.

Sunday we visited the hospital again, as my ex couldn’t maintain his balance, seemed disoriented and showed signs of a brain injury. Aside from visiting, there was nothing more I could do:  no one would share details of his injury or treatment with me, the non-family. I cornered a compassionate nurse and told her of his sudden, steep decline over the past few months and the symptoms I’d observed. It was a terrifying blur, and I felt helpless and heartbroken.

And the next day, I took my children on our best vacation yet! We stayed with my ex’s son, played with my children’s new niece, lay by the pool, ran on the beach, ate sushi with my ex’s daughter — and the children loved their time with their half-siblings. I am perhaps all too conscious that these former step children of mine don’t have to be so welcoming as to invite me into their lives and homes, yet they are — if not familial exactly — then warm and generous in ways that continue to surprise me. And they love my children, their younger siblings. The time we spent together as a sort of family was an unexpected blessing and I am comforted to know that this family culture, not my ex’s disease nor his slow, one-sip-at-a-time suicide, will be their family legacy.

I have begun settling into the notion that I am now a full-time single parent, with no likely reprieve nor partnership in parenting on the horizon. This may be the new normal. It is heartbreaking and wrenching to grasp that he is no longer the fun-loving father he once was, much less the man I once loved. I am at a loss for how to make sense of all this to my children. I don’t write this to elicit pity or sympathy; I state it as fact. Facing their father’s coming death, whether imminent or prolonged, is no easy feat. Imagine! This is the man I once loved.

Acceptance and peace for these new circumstances is slowly dawning. I have purpose; I know clearly my true north. I will raise these children to be compassionate, loving, functional adults. And I will not do it entirely alone, as I see how their older siblings rally around and love them. And my family and friends, too. Regardless what happens to their father, regardless of what he is doing to himself, they will be raised in a loving, stable home.


battle of the bads

Today is the sort of day that keeps me humble, where nothing happens quickly enough (especially traffic) and where I find I have to resist an urge to yell out the window at the kid crossing the street with a hand clutched at his waist to hold up his pants, “Pull up your #%*&^@ pants, you #%$&*#@ idiot!”

So let’s rewind to this morning and see if we can identify where or when this mood began…

At work I had the opportunity to sign up for a health coach. I’m always vaguely curious about this coaching business, so I signed up. Today was my first call. And it went something like this:

I explain my predicament of sudden weight gain despite a mostly organic and healthy diet, and my desire to be more active.

Coach:  So you’d like to lose 15 pounds…

Me:  Hell, I’d like to drop twice that.

Coach:  What are the steps you’re going to take to get there?

Me:  I get up, get my children out the door, spend an hour and a half per day in my car, eight hours a day at a sedentary job, rush to pick up my children and make dinner and then collapse from sheer exhaustion. Winning the lotto or being able to bike to work would help — that’s all I got!

Coach:  Can you get some activity on your breaks?

Me:  What breaks?! Salaried people don’t get breaks. We squeeze as much as humanly possible into the time we spend at our desks — and then still have to take the work home with us.

We continued to dialogue about the possibilities or, from my perspective, the lack thereof and it became more and more clear to me that a) I sound like a broken record and b) I am extremely resistant to taking responsibility for this mess that my mid-section and thighs have become.

Meanwhile, as she probed about how I could re-prioritize and take care of myself, I watched the fit, stay-at-home soccer moms out the window and became more and more emotional. And I realized that a) I still have lingering anger and resentment for the situation in which I find myself, namely cash flow negative, single parenting with extremely little support (time or money) from the children’s father and exhausted, and b) my overwhelm comes from feeling powerless to change my circumstances.

So I am being coached to take baby steps to “take care of myself” from someone who has no idea how pissed off I am that I no longer get at least two professional massages per month, no longer have an hour of yoga per day, and children who won’t eat more vegetables. I am being asked to make choices by someone who has no idea how few there are. I am being told that I can let go — of what?! — the few things that keep me going? Like writing this blog? By now, I am in full-blown tantrum mode. So let’s not stop with where I’m at physically when I can leverage this opportunity to ruminate on my piece-of shit-house, wardrobe, car and more. As you all know by now, it’s — come on and say it with me — all my ex’s fault.

And then, while at the office, I proceed to make a complete liar of myself by eating one of the chocolate cupcakes someone has brought to the office…et cetera, et cetera. And then, on the way home, traffic is beyond terrible and I’m late to pick up my children. And it’s as though there’s a poison growing deep in the pit of my stomach from which all this anger and negativity emanates.

And I realize how far I have yet to go on this journey of healing, how much resentment I have yet to release, that good and evil are having an all-out brawl in my psyche.

And, finally, I am thankful this sort of mood / attitude comes around just once a month and quickly passes, so that I can get back to feeling grateful for my beautiful life and the choices I’ve made to get here.

p.s. So, for the record, I suppose I should express that I’d be perfectly happy to have just one professional massage per month. It’s not like I’m a total princess!