Oh, the insanity

Back in February, STBXAH took a trip to Thailand by himself. I would have to say this is a bit of a trigger for me. He had formerly been to Thailand when he was in the Navy. He visited there again with a friend, maybe the 2nd year we were dating. Prior to him leaving on his trip, I recall finding that he had been searching the term “blowjob bars” in Thailand. Of course, he had some excuse, like he was “just curious.” Gawd, I was naive.

So, fast forward to his latest trip. Last Friday night, I was at home alone because he had the kids. Around 10:45, he posts a photo on Facebook of him and some Thai girl in a bar in Thailand. The worst part is that the bar appears to be a strip club, with a stage with girls and poles. (The girls were clothed and I don’t think it really was a strip club, but still.) And his photo had some bizarre caption that made no sense.

In that moment, my codependency kicked in and I was embarrassed to even be remotely associated with him. This guy is 38 years old with two young kids and he’s posting photos with some foreign girl in what looks to be a strip club. Seriously?

The next day, the kids and I met up with my sister-in-law and my nieces. My younger niece was dancing in a dance competition. My older niece, who is 20, asked me if I had been on Facebook lately. Of course, I knew what she was referring to. I then found out that not long after his return, STBXAH has posted a screenshot of a private conversation with this same girl. She had said “love you” and he was mocking it, saying how he had to close down the conversation asap. Apparently, he deleted it though, because I never saw it. But my niece had taken a screenshot it.

Again, why would he post something like this on Facebook? He’s also just been obnoxious on Facebook…checking in every time he goes to the gym and reciting some type of rap lyrics. I don’t know if he’s lonely or what.

Oh, funny thing is, he also deleted the photo in the strip club, although it took him longer to do so than I thought.

not this

(Reprinted from the Elizabeth Gilbert Facebook Page)

Dear Ones –

Most of us, at some point in our lives (unless we have done everything perfectly…which is: nobody) will have to face a terrible moment in which we realize that we have somehow ended up in the wrong place — or at least, in a very bad place.

Maybe we will have to admit that we are in the wrong job. Or the wrong relationship. With the wrong people around us. Living in the wrong neighborhood. Acting out on the wrong behaviors. Using the wrong substances. Pretending to believe things that we no longer believe. Pretending to be something we were never meant to be.

This moment of realization is seldom fun. In fact, it’s usually terrifying.

I call this moment of realization: NOT THIS.

Because sometimes that’s all you know, at such a moment.

All you know is: NOT THIS.

Sometimes that’s all you CAN know.

All you know is that some deep life force within you is saying, NOT THIS, and it won’t be silenced.

Your body is saying: NOT THIS.

Your heart is saying: NOT THIS.

Your soul is saying: NOT THIS.

But your brain can’t bring itself to say “NOT THIS”, because that would cause a serious problem. The problem is: You don’t have a Plan B in place. This is the only life you have. This is the only job you have. This is the only spouse you have. This is the only house you have. Your brain says, “It may not be great, but we have to put up with it, because there are no other options.” You’re not sure how you got here — to this place of THIS — but you sure as hell don’t know how to get out…

So your brain says: “WE NEED TO KEEP PUTTING UP WITH THIS, BECAUSE THIS IS ALL WE HAVE.”

But still, beating like a quiet drum, your body and your heart and your soul keep saying: NOT THIS…NOT THIS…NOT THIS.

I think some of the bravest people I have ever met were people who had the courage to say the words, “NOT THIS” outloud — even before they had an alternative plan.

People who walked out of bad situations without knowing if there was a better situation on the horizon.

People who looked at the life they were in, and they said, “I don’t know what my life is supposed to be…but it’s NOT THIS.” And then they just…left.

I think my friend who walked out of a marriage after less than a year, and had to move back in with her mother (back into her childhood bedroom), and face the condemnation of the entire community while she slowly created a new life for herself. Everyone said, “If he’s not good enough for you, who will be?” She didn’t know. She didn’t know anything about what her life would look like now. But it started with her saying: NOT THIS.

I think of my friend who took her three young children away from a toxic marriage, despite that fact that her husband supported her and the kids financially…and the four of them (this woman and her three children) all slept in one bed together in a tiny studio apartment for a few years, while she struggled to build a new life. She was poor, she was scared, she was alone. But she had to listen to the voices within her that said, NOT THIS.

I think of friends who walked out of jobs — with no job waiting for them. Because they said NOT THIS.

I think of friends who quit school, rather than keep pretending that they cared about this field of study anymore. And yes, they lost the scholarship. And yes, they ended up working at a fast food restaurant, while everyone else was getting degrees. And yes, it took them a while to figure out where to go next. But there was a relief at last in just surrendering to the holy, non-negotiable truth of NOT THIS.

I think of friends who bravely walked into AA meetings and just fell apart in front of a room full of total strangers, and said, NOT THIS.

I think of a friend who pulled her children out of Sunday School in the middle of church one Sunday because she’d had it with the judgment and self-righteousness of this particular church. Yes, it was her community. Yes, it was her tribe. But she physically couldn’t be in that building anymore without feeling that she would explode. She didn’t know where she was going, spiritually or within her community, but she said, NOT THIS. And walked out.

Rationally, it’s crazy to abandon a perfectly good life (or at least a familiar life) in order to jump into a mystery. No sane person would advise you to make such a leap, with no Plan B in place. We are supposed to be careful. We are supposed to be prudent.

And yet….

And yet.

If you keep ignoring the voices within you that say NOT THIS, just because you don’t know what to do, instead…you may end up stuck in NOT THIS forever.

You don’t need to know where you are going to admit that where you are standing right now is wrong.

The bravest thing to say can be these two words.

What comes next?

I don’t know. You don’t know. Nobody knows. It might be worse. It might be better. But whatever it is…? It’s NOT THIS.

ONWARD,
LG

and so we meet again

So, here I am, back on the blog. I don’t even know where to begin since the last time I wrote.

In December, DS6 and I took a vacation to Mexico with my brother, sister-in-law, their kids, and another family. We had a blast and I can’t tell you how nice it was to be on vacation and not worrying about STBXAH’s drinking. The end of December was a bit of a whirlwind because once we got back, we celebrated Christmas and I was left with the task fo catching up on work.

The new year began and started off with DD2 getting sick, which led to me getting sicker than I have been in years. Honestly, it was probably a good 4 weeks before I actually felt 100% healthy again.

February came. Back in June of last year, when I decided to start taking on some family law cases, I took on a pro bono case. I had always thought the case would settle. After a failed attempt at mediation, it started to look like the case was headed to trial, which was set for March. So, I began furiously working my way through preparing for trial, which was difficult, because I had no idea what I was doing! Luckily, I had a co-counsel and a mentor who were helping me along the way.

February was also the month that STBXAH had decided to take a trip to Thailand for a week. Mind you, he booked this trip in December, without even consulting me on the dates first. So, with prepping for my first trial and having the kids for 11 days straight, I was stressed to the max. February also marked one year since I had told STBXAH that I wanted a divorce.

On March 4, I turned 36 years old, which was pretty uneventful.

So, here I am today. I just finished up my trial yesterday and I can’t tell you how thankful I am for it to be over. It was definitely an amazing experience, and one I am grateful for, but most likely, will be the last time I take on a pro bono trial. It was hours and hours of work!

Sometime in February, I decided I was tired of being stressed out about work because I never seemed to get things done and always felt disorganized and overwhelmed. I took some time to re-read Getting Things Done and started using Remember The Milk and was able to finally implement a system of productivity. (Which I plan to outline in a future post.)

I’ve been re-reading Codependent No More and, even though I’ve read it 2-3 times before, this time it really seems to be sinking in. Maybe it’s because I’ve had time to reflect in the past year…I’m not really sure why.  (Again, I’ll write more about this in a future post.)

STBXAH moved into a larger apartment last week. In a couple of weeks, we will be starting our new schedule for the kids, which will be fabulous.

Overall, life is going well. I’m slowly accepting my divorce. STBXAH has the kids all weekend, so I’m looking forward to being productive. I’m also looking forward to being back in this space regularly.

i hate my mom

narcissistic-mother

It’s finally time that I discuss my parents on this blog. And there is SO MUCH history, it will have to be broken up into multiple posts. However, the basic point is that both my mother and father are narcissists. What’s interesting is that they show their narcissism in very different ways, which I will get into later.

I remember in college, a couple of my best girlfriends and I would go to my best friend’s parents’ home to visit for the weekend, as her parents only lived about 20 minutes from our sorority. When we were there, we’d all drink wine and my friends and I would tell my friend’s mother hilarious stories about our crazy drunken nights in the bars. And my friend’s mother would just laugh. I remember thinking, “wow, how amazing would it be to have a mother that I could actually talk to and share my experiences with?” My relationship with my mother (both parents, actually) is the complete opposite of this.

As some background, I was adopted from an asian country when I was 2 years old. My mom and dad already had two boys and wanted to a little girl. I grew up in a small town. My dad is a farmer (a very successful one) and my mom has always been a stay-at-home mom. My grandfathers on both sides were alcoholics, so when my mom and dad got married, they decided they would not drink.

I remember growing up I felt very self-conscious because I was one of very few asian kids in my town. I remember kids would make fun of me, by pulling their eyes back so they looked “slanted.” I also remember feeling very self-conscious because my mother and I looked so different.

My parents were SUPER paranoid, protective and controlling. An example, my mom would mention to me that she didn’t want me to walk to the store with a friend when I was 12 years old because I could get kidnapped and held for ransom. So early on, I learned I had to be careful about what I said to my mom because she was so paranoid.

What I now realize is that my parents both suffer from codependency, which is a result of growing up in alcoholic households. They have a need to control and even though I am now 35, they still try to control me.

I don’t want to make this post extremely long, so over the next few weeks, I’ll release different painful moments from my childhood. But what prompted this post was an incident that occurred tonight.

Back in 2000, near the end of my freshman year in college, the right side of my jaw locked up. My parents took me to see a dentist who specialized in TMJ issues and he made me a night guard to wear at night, to help my jaw. I wore it pretty religiously throughout college, but over time, I stopped wearing it. Then, 3 years ago I got veneers, so the old night guard no longer fit. I’ve been meaning to get a new one made, but you know how that goes…

A few days ago, I started having some throbbing pain near my joint, which was then shooting to the top and bottom teeth at times. I called my old doctor, and he referred me to someone new in my area. I went in today and the doctor ran a bunch of tests and determined that the pain was not necessarily from my jaw joint, but rather from extremely tight muscles in my face, which are probably a result of clenching. He said my face muscles on both sides, as well as my neck and shoulder muscles were extremely tight.

I called my mom to tell her about this. I said, “I’ve been having bad jaw pain.” A normal mother would probably respond with “Oh no, that’s too bad” or maybe even “Oh, what’s going on?” But not my mother. The first words out of her mouth are: “Well, that’s no surprise since you never wore your mouth guard.” First of all, my mother constantly says things that are untrue, such as this statement. Secondly, she always finds a way to point out something I did wrong or make everything my fault.

Like I said, there is sooo much more to this story, but I don’t want this post to drag on forever. But a big part of my recovery is grieving the relationship I never had and will never have with supportive, loving parents. And sometimes it makes me feel like I really hate them.

 

life has a way of showing us

universe

Ugh. Again, I’ve gone so long since posting. I hate when I do this because I feel like there’s so much I want to say.

I’ve always been one to believe in things happening for a reason…whether you want to refer to it as karma, the Law of Attraction or even the Secret. Nowhere has this been more evident than with a prospective client I met with yesterday.

She came into my office for a divorce consult. She sat in front of me telling me how she had been married for 30 years and had two kids. She said that she knew she wanted to divorce her husband, essentially, from the first days of their marriage. She described him as a very mean, angry a$$hole. However, she said there always seemed to be a reason to put off divorce. Either because of the kids’ ages, or the financial strain a divorce may cause. And now she said, here she was, looking back at the last 30 years of her life with such regret.

It was almost as if the universe was talking to me in that moment, telling me I made the right decision. I felt such pain for her. What an unbearable thought it must be to look back and realize you spent the majority of your life feeling miserable. They have 2 kids, ages 22 and 18. She also told me she regrets not leaving because her kids are now “messed up” from living with such an angry man their entire lives.

Since my last post, where I wrote about asking, “When I am going to be happy?” things seem to have leveled out a bit. Most of my days, I don’t give much thought anymore to the what-ifs or question if I should move forward with the divorce. I think I’ve finally accepted that it is happening. With that said, I haven’t quite found my joy yet, but I can say I’m no longer miserable/sad all the time.

I guess that’s called progress.

changes

change

This week has brought so many changes. Changes that I feel like I’m not ready for.

First off, DS5 started kindergarten this week. His preschool teachers gave him a copy of Oh, The Places You’ll Go and wrote messages inside. Reading them made me emotional. I think the most emotional part of it was not that he was starting kindergarten, but that I’m going through these milestone moments alone. I feel like these should be exciting times for me, but instead, there’s a little gray cloud hanging over everything, reminding me that STBXAH and I are no longer together. I still hold this image in my mind of all of us being a happy family, even though I know that image is an aberration and something that never really existed.

The good news is that DS5 loves kindergarten. But of course, there is now a change to our daily routine. Luckily, his school provides before and after school care, but now I have two drop offs. A new daycare just opened up close to our house and logistically, it would make more sense for DD2 to go there, since it’s so much closer to our house and DS5’s school. It would likely shave 30-60 minutes off our daily car rides.

After visiting the new daycare, I ended up enrolling her. She starts on October 10. This is another change that is going to be very difficult for me. DS5 has attended the same daycare since he was 6 months old and DD2 has attended since she was 3 months. I absolutely love the daycare and all the teachers. Honestly, the daycare is more like a family to me. DD2 loves her teachers. It’s really breaking my heart to have to move her, but I know it will be better for her to not have to be in the car for so long and it will allow us to pick DS5 up earlier from after-school care.

Each time I face the prospect of something changing, it’s as if there’s an attack my “safe place”. My safe place right now is my routine and knowing what is going to happen. I guess I feel this way because there is so much in my life right now that is a question mark.

I’ve also been battling a bit of a head cold this week. In the beginning of the week, my energy levels were so low. I could tell I wasn’t just “tired,” but that my whole body felt exhausted. I’m on the mend now, thankfully.

So, overall, just taking it one day at a time, dealing with these sad moments that seem to come and go and can be triggered by anything. I know it’s all part of the grieving process, but I find myself wondering when I’m going to feel “happy.” Over and over I read stories of divorced people who swear there is light at the end of the tunnel and that I will find happiness again. I’m waiting…

I’m also contemplating the point of this blog. In the beginning, I was dealing with the effects of my husband’s alcoholism and infidelity. Now that I’ve been able to detach and separate from that, I’m focusing more on my experience with divorce. I’m wondering if I should continue referring to him as “Alcoholic Husband” (AH).

through the pain

cureforpain

Obviously, it’s been quite a while since I last wrote! So, what has been going on?

There have been no more conflicts between STBXAH and me, which I guess is good. We’re on a pretty good schedule where he picks the kids up after daycare on Mondays and Wednesdays. I have them Tuesdays and Thursdays. We then alternate having them Friday and Saturdays overnight.

I finally got around to filing the divorce papers at the beginning of this month. Our divorce should be finalized around November 1st. At this point, I don’t feel real emotional about it being final on paper. It just seems like one more administrative task I need to get done.

Back in June, I decided to try something new with my law practice, so decided to start taking on some family law cases. Business has really picked up and this month, I had my highest revenue-grossing month EVER. I’m proud of myself and trying to take some time to recognize that that for the past 3 years, I’ve been saying that my goal was to earn X amount of money per month, but never got there (a lot of it had to do with the stress and ups and downs of my marriage.) This has also meant that I’ve been extremely busy, often working late nights after the kids go to bed. This type of law is new to me, so it takes me about 3 times longer to figure stuff out than it will in the future. I’m concentrating on figuring out a good work/life balance right now, that will help alleviate some of the stress I’ve been feeling from work.

Last weekend I had dinner with my single girlfriend. Somehow, our discussion convinced me to sign up for Tinder. I find the whole online dating thing so strange. I see these photos of men who seem attractive enough physically. But I can’t get over the fact that they’re STRANGERS. Anyways, I had quite a few matches and then multiple guys started messaging me. I chatted with a few for one evening, but this all seemed to trigger me. I became very sad about my divorce and began craving that familiarity I had with STBXAH. I woke up Monday morning and realized I am in no place to be trying this dating stuff yet. The good news about the whole experience is that I realized I’m still desirable. There are guys who are interested in meeting me based on my photos, at least. For someone whose self-esteem has taken a beaten over the course of the last 13 years, something as superficial as knowing others are a bit interested is meaningful.

Well, this whole experience seemed to quickly move me back into the bargaining phase of my grief process. I had a couple days where I was really questioning myself and even considering asking STBXAH if he has regrets? I mean, the last conversation we had prior to our marriage really ending was that he wanted to work it out. We had discussed counseling. He told me he was going to stop smoking pot for 30 days. I told him that was great, but that I still wanted to live separately for a while. Once I said this, it was like his wanting to work it out never existed. So, part of me still wonders…what happened? My theory is that the whole counseling schtick was just another example of him saying whatever he had to do to keep me around. And enforcing my boundary was unacceptable to him.

I snapped out of this bargaining phase quickly. That’s the nice thing about having a busy work schedule…it’s very easy for me to be distracted by work. Of course, I’ve been through the bargaining phase before but this one seemed to come out of nowhere. I’m taking that as a sign that maybe I’m coming very close to the final acceptance stage. It’s now been 6 months since we decided to divorce.

Right now, I’m focusing on accomplishing the things I always said I would, but never got around to. Motivation is hard to come by when you’re stuck in a codependent relationship with an alcoholic and you never know what crisis is going to pop up next. Work is going well. I’ve just got to keep moving forward.

Just a long post

Oh my goodness. My blogging intentions fail again. I’m currently reading Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You by Susan J. Elliott. In it, she discusses how journaling is an essential part of healing, so it’s reminded me to come back here and write.

I feel like that last month has brought the most change to me personally since my relationship with my STBXAH began. It’s definitely been an eventful month.

About a month ago (I think right after the last time I wrote) I was bored one afternoon at work and decided to check out match.com, just because I was curious about what type of guys were really out there. (Of course, I know I’m nowhere near ready to date, so believe me, my profile is entirely empty.) Well, much to my surprise, I see that STBXAH has a profile on there. It’s all set up with photos and lists that he’s a “social drinker” and that he loves anywhere with “live music and cold beer.” I then texted my best friend about this and she informed me that she also came across him on Bumble recently, so I guess he’s making his rounds on the dating apps already.

I honestly can say that I’m not jealous about it at all. The thought of him with another woman really doesn’t bother me. I will say that I was surprised since previously he had said he had NO interest in women or having a relationship for a long, long time.

Well, as much as I don’t want to admit it, I have been checking his profile every so often, just to see how long it’s been since he logged in. The other night, I noticed he was online around 11PM. Well, tonight, I see that his profile is gone. I’m not sure if he actually took it down or blocked me somehow, but it’s not there.

The second incident…2 weeks ago, the kids stayed at STBXAH’s. He picked them up from school on Friday and they stayed over Saturday night. Well, Sunday, I notice that next to the bag he brought back with their clothes in it, is a receipt. I pick up the receipt and notice it’s from the grocery store from Friday evening. Not surprisingly, beer is listed on it. So, I ask my 5-year-old if daddy was drinking beer around him and he said, “No, he was drinking Rock Star.” I then ask, “Out of a can?” He replies, “No out of a bottle, but not a baby bottle.” So, I then show him different beer bottles on my phone and he points to the bottle of Bud Light as the bottle that daddy was drinking out of.

Well, the deal was that STBXAH’s wouldn’t be drinking around the kids. I guess somehow I believed him? I text STBXAH and ask him and denies drinking. I ask if he bought beer and he denies it. I call him out for lying and he still denies it. He texts me that I’m unstable. Anyways, long story short, I tell him I want him to do SoberLink to prove to me he’s not drinking when the kids are with him.

Well, Monday comes and he picks the kids up from school and I get home and want to talk to him about things and he runs to his car, shuts the door and refuses to open it or talk to me. I hate how I feel when he tries to make me out like I’m this crazy person. But I guess the truth is, he does make me crazy and this whole disease cycle makes me crazy.

Anyways, the next couple of days are pretty stressful. Finally, on Wednesday, we talk and he tells me he’s met with 3 lawyers who have all told him that a court would never order SoberLink. He tells me he hasn’t been able to sleep or eat the last couple days and wants to come to a compromise. So, we’re finally able to compromise on a shorter period of SoberLink monitoring than I had originally wanted.

The following Sunday was Father’s Day. We had planned for STBXAH to come over and have dinner…he was going to grill steak and I was going to help the kids decorate cupcakes for him. The kids stayed at his place on Saturday night and Sunday, he texts me to say we don’t have to do dinner if I don’t want to. When he shows up with the kids, all he talks about is how he’s sooo tired. He mentions how on Thursday, he went to a work event and had a few drinks, so didn’t sleep good Thursday night and then stayed up too late on Friday night. He really had no interest with playing with the kids and instead, was on his phone the whole time. So frustrating.

In my therapy session yesterday, I told my therapist about the drinking beer with the kids incident. And she said STBXAH subconsciously wants me to catch him drinking so I can shame him, so then he can see me as evil and then feel more validated to drink. She said that is why the receipt was left…of course he didn’t do it consciously, but subconsciously. And she said I fell right into the trap and was in the craziness again. She said as long as keep shaming him for drinking, he doesn’t have to deal with his own guilt and he can blame me.

She’s told me this before, but this time, it really hit home. It made me wonder…do I really want to be monitoring him and his drinking, even when the kids are there? The truth is, no. But then again, I do want to do whatever I can to protect the kids from his drinking. I’m still torn on this one…

Anyways, I’m really starting to feel at peace. I feel a calmness knowing that I am detached from him and he no longer has the ability to hurt me or cause me to worry. I’m really going to try to catch myself and avoid getting drawn into his craziness.

what’s really killing me

I’ve started watching some great TED talks and thought I’d share some of them here. This one by Anita Moorjani is pretty great. She talks about her miraculous recovery from cancer and the epiphany she had when she was very near death. I love her quote near the end, when she says she thought that cancer was killing her, but really she was killing herself. I’ve changed the word “cancer” to “marriage” and I’ve come up with this quote, that really applies to my life.

I thought my marriage was killing me, but actually, I was killing myself before I got divorced. The divorce saved my life. In the end you will always find that your challenges are a gift. And if you’re in a challenge and it doesn’t feel like a gift yet, it means you haven’t gotten to the end yet.