wasband fail

I’ve had the kind of morning (on my day off, no less) where the heavens have opened once again illuminating the brightly shining truth that my ex is an even bigger jackass than I thought. I need to vent, and I’m not sure who to turn to but my community here. Thank you in advance.

Eleven years ago, for Mother’s Day, he bought me a motorcycle — a beautiful, used classic bike. Now, I’m no tattoed, leather-wearing woman and I certainly have nothing against those who roll that way…but I was an expectant mother at the time, five months pregnant with our first. I had grown up with minibikes and motorcycles and have a fondness for putting around local streets and the idea of running errands with them — neither speeding down freeways or taking long road trips to Sturgis or other places.

Wasband wouldn’t let me ride the motorcycle because of my pregnancy and because it needed some work. He also failed to bring a title home with him — the seller was going to send it once he found it.

Various times during our marriage, I attempted to get him to have it fixed up — it was always too expensive or something (keep in mind I was the sole earner so, while we had little, I was inclined to think I should get some say in what “too expensive” was).

Finally, I am in a place where I have some free time to ride (every other weekend) and a cash flow that will support something a little beyond the bare necessities, so I’m raring to get this bike fixed, registered, my license, etc. I had planned to go down to the government center and begin the process of forcing the title. But, first, why not call?, I thought.

Then the voice over the phone gave me some very, very bad news. The registration shows up in “the system” from many years ago, so they can’t begin with “no proof of ownership.” Thus, my only hope is to track down the complete stranger from whom my ex bought the bike in order to have the title transferred. Apparently a decade is not enough to force such actions.

The voice ended the call with a cheery “okay?” to which I could only reply, “No, this is not okay.” It’s not okay to receive a gift that is little more than a heap of useless metal taking up space in my garage. I’m sure I could come up with yet another way to make this tale a metaphor for our entire relationship, but…

The day is sunny and I’m in no mood to give up — I’m going to get cute, run down to the government center and see who I can sweet talk in to some leads and options. Wish me luck!


I started writing this post well over a month ago:

Every so often, I still catch myself in that contracted state of responding from a place of fear or lack, as though I’m in a full-on life flinch, constantly anticipating another of life’s right hooks. And then, moments later, when I realize what I’m doing, that the proverbial perceived threat was only imagined, I relax and wonder at this baffling behavior…

Often this realization hits me while doing the most mundane of all activities, such as grocery shopping. I’ll neglect to buy ingredients for some fabulous meal I’d love to make because my children wouldn’t appreciate it, or it’s too much work for just one, or for some other reason that ends up sounding much more like an excuse. Banal example though it may be, it’s symptomatic of the recent phase in my life spent focused so much on making others happy that I’d forgotten to take care of myself.

Sometimes this divorce-recovery stuff seems like a slow climb out of the bomb shelter. Imagine me stepping up and out cautiously, feeling a bit leery, eyes squinting against the brightness of daylight.

Today, I can happily report that I bought old favorites like Brussels sprouts and Swiss chard and more while grocery shopping. I intend to make the foods I like and, if my children won’t eat them, I’ll take the leftovers to work. I also enlisted some help and cleaned a bunch of junk out of the garage. For the first time in nearly a decade, I can actually park my car in it!

In other words, I’ve successfully taken another leap or two in relaxing into this new position of President and CEO of my own life.


a different tune

It’s interesting how completely different the messages I’m getting from my current beau are from the ones I received from my ex.

I hear:  “You’re a really good communicator” and “You’ve got to tell me what you want, Lady!”

This sort of feedback is so completely refreshing after a few years of tension, silence and walking on eggshells! So…is it me who’s different? Or is it that these men are so completely different? Or is it that we create each other in relationships?

we were married to the same man

Over the past two years or more, I cannot tell you how many times I heard, “Sounds like we were married to the same man!” I found women at work, women at the salon, and friends I’ve known for years who all expressed the same sentiment.

I guess what it comes down to is that there are a finite number of reasons that relationships don’t work out. And, as it happens, I’ve found several women who share a story not entirely unlike mine. Several, it seemed, had some sort of midlife crisis and then…

In one particular example, a high-end builder with an exclusive clientele just decided he didn’t want to do that sort of thing anymore. After bumbling about for a few years, taking some classes and trying to figure out what he wanted to do when he grew up, he ended up in retail. Because he was more mature than the high-schoolers reporting to him and had a bit of know-how, he was quickly promoted to supervisor. Cheers to the family dental plan…and a couple of hundred dollars a week in income! Sure, it was a contribution, but nothing like supporting a family with the income to which they’d become accustomed.

His wife was a trooper throughout this transition, but finally opened herself to the possibility that she didn’t have to be responsible for him financially or emotionally or otherwise. He had become another child to a woman weary of parenting.

Another woman’s husband spent much of his time lying about on the sofa watching the television when he was meant to be looking for a job. He racked up credit card debt and lied about money issues.

Here’s where the relationship rubber hits the road. We’re here to love and support one another in ways, as long as we agree to what those ways are. (Most, but not all of us, know what we’re getting into before we marry.) We’re not here to parent our spouses or support behaviors that don’t nurture us or our commitments. We’re not on this Earth for another lesson in co-dependence.

Long (years) after I’d asked my wasband to go back to work, he was still protesting that “we’d agreed that he would stay home with the children.” In truth, we’d “agreed” because he’d lost his job and it seemed like our best option at the time. Like a toddler on the verge of a decade-long tantrum, he’d dug in his heels and was not about to budge from his position. He changed his internal script to, “I gave up my career to be home with my children.” And he seemed to believe it!

Relationships must change and evolve. They require communication. Agreements made must often be renegotiated. And it takes two committed adults to embark on that sort of work.

a few recent discoveries

There are those who say we learn something new every day…I don’t know about every day, but my mind is always open to discoveries. Here are a few recent ones:

  • Justin Vernon, a.k.a. Bon Iver, was a huge X-Files and Indigo Girls fan. That dude and I would get along just fine!
  • When I was younger, all the males in the family and neighborhood helped shingle our church’s parsonage. Therefore, I always thought roofing was something anyone could do. Thus, it pissed me off that there was a man in my home who was home all the time and our garage didn’t have a decent roof — it’s not rocket science, after all! If my brother could do it, so could my mate, right?! Well…now I’ve seen a master at work, and roofing done right does take a little more skill than some young teenage boys hammering nails into a roof. In the end, I’m happy to have paid for this incredibly high-quality work.
  • My sister-in-law recommended I see Crazy, Stupid, Love, which she described as “hysterical.” I couldn’t agree more — the film captured several of the complex issues of marriage, infidelity and maintaining our identities within relationships, making for some poignant moments and a lot of laughs. Highly recommended!
  • Finally, my @failedatforty Twitter presence won me a free copy of Marriage Confidential by Pamela Haag, a brilliant, thoughtful and well-researched examination of modern marriage. While I’m only half-way through the book, I’ve discovered that I was a workhorse wife with a Tom Sawyer husband. It’s a thought-provoking read as we consider the history of marriage, in which roles were once so clearly defined, compared to the present, wherein we look to a spouse to be our everything — a best friend, soul mate, co-parent, earner, lover and more. That’s a lot to ask of one other person, and I think this book could provide the foundation for many great discussions among couples who are married or considering marriage.

one big happy modern family

So this is what’s up:

My children left with my ex for the cabin this weekend. No, we don’t have a cabin; my ex’s friend has a cabin. (He lets his buddies go to stay — they just have to clean up before the next guests show…and, apparently, I’m “not allowed,” which is super hysterical because I just don’t have the energy to have such animosity toward anyone.) And both of my (divorced) parents are there…which kind of makes me feel bad for my mother, who will be caring for the children, cooking and cleaning all weekend.

A year ago, I was trying not to be bothered by the same situation…um, hello, boundaries? But now I’m glad things worked out this way; I’m glad that my ex can continue to have a relationship with my parents — and I’m glad that my children will be made healthy meals and be given a little more attention while they’re away.

We’re one big freaky modern family — keeping the fun in dysfunction. And I get a weekend to myself!

buying newer car induces emotional drama

Who would have thought that buying a new (and by “new,” I mean different) car would bring about such challenging emotions?

Let me explain:  The last time I shopped for a car, I was already driving an amazingly cool sports car. I started shopping for my “winter beater” and ended up instead with a fantastic, luxurious sedan that drove like a dream and had nearly every feature I could have imagined… For at least the first six months — and maybe then some — I rejoiced every time I got in the car to drive it…but that was more than a decade ago.

This time, I found myself driven to practicality:  low gas mileage, cloth seats (at the children’s request, because leather is too hot), older than I would have liked… And, here’s the truth:  I resent it. I resent being in a place where I have to focus more on needs than desires, where I don’t have the financial freedom to buy the car I really want, where the cost of a gallon of gas matters, etc. I’m perfectly certain I sound spoiled for saying so. I know there are zillions of people for whom financial realities preclude the thought of vehicle ownership. I know I should be grateful for what I have. But…

As always, when I’m feeling resentful, my thoughts veer back to my ex and our failed relationship, key reasons for my financial situation. Yet, as I continually remind myself, I made these choices. I made each and every single choice that has me where I am. I settled for a house I don’t love because my wasband liked this one the best; I stayed in a job I didn’t love because I felt trapped under the weight of having to support my family single-handedly; and now I’ve settled for a car I don’t love because it seemed like the most practical thing to do.

Yet in the larger scheme of life, I’m trying to stop settling for less than I truly want. I’m working hard emotionally and otherwise to ensure that I can not only provide for the desires of myself and my children, but also allow for them. It’s okay for me to have what I want. When I shop for clothes, I don’t buy it unless I love it. Like just isn’t good enough. I want to use my resources to surround myself with that which I truly love!

To that end, in this old house that wasn’t my first choice, I have transformed spaces and made it warm and inviting, and a safe place to land. Similarly, I will ultimately reconcile myself to the fact that this car is safer for me, more comfortable for my children, road-trip worthy and, ultimately, provides freedom that I haven’t felt for some time. No longer will I literally fear driving out of town.

And so I try to balance, to reconcile, and to heal the rift between what I need and what I desire, between good enough and my ideal, between resentment and gratitude, between failure and success…and I know that this is just another step along my path. And, even when it doesn’t always feel like it right away, I’m pretty sure it’s a step in the right direction.