and more has been revealed

TGIF! This week was crazy, to say the least.

Last Saturday, I attended my best friend’s sister’s wedding reception. A few months ago, I wasn’t planning on going. It was my weekend with the kids and for some reason, I had just felt like staying home. Well, fast forward to a few weeks ago, and I decided, why not? I dropped the kids off at my brother’s house for the night, got dressed up, and had a blast.

I knew that same night XAH would be attending a friend’s birthday party at a bar, which is why the kids were staying with my brother.

Sunday afternoon, I was home with the kids and my cell phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but I decided to answer it anyways. I was shocked to hear an automated voice on the other line, telling me it was a collect call from an inmate at the county jail…yep, it was XAH.

At this point,  I was frantically trying to find my credit card amidst my kids fighting and my daughter crying. Once the call was connected, XAH was on the other end and told me he had gotten pulled over for DUI the night before. This was his 2nd DUI in less than 2 years. He asked me to login to his work email and let his boss know that he wouldn’t be available the next day. He also told me that “I was right” and that he “needs help and has a problem.” I agreed to email his boss for him, mostly because I do not want him to lose his job and my child support.

He called back later that evening and we discussed a bit more what happened. He then proceeded to ask me if I would ever considering reconciling. Huh? I suppose the reason he thought it was appropriate to ask was because he had admitted to me that he had a problem. (Mind you, he’s told me he’s had a problem multiple times before). My response was that I couldn’t discuss that right then.

It turns out, he tried going the wrong way on a freeway ramp, attempted to turn around, then got his car stuck in a ditch. An off-duty police officer was driving by and stopped to check on him. Then she called the state patrol.

I had done some reading on the penalties for a 2nd DUI in less than 7 years and the minimum jail time is 45 days, plus another 30 for violating his probation. I also believe he will have to have the interlock device back on his car for 5 years because he already had to have it on for one year.

The next day, I ended up connecting withe bail bonds person for him and he got out of jail around 7:45 pm. Because his car is still registered in my name, I had to take him to pick it up on Tuesday.

He ended up hiring an attorney that I share an office with to represent him for his DUI. He had his arraignment on Wednesday and was ordered to wear a SCRAM device (which can detect alcohol in his system through his skin) and also get the interlock device back on his car.

The first couple of days after it happened, I was thrown back into the chaos. I was worried about what I would do if he had to be in jail for 45 days…how would I take care of the kids on my own and still successfully run my business? And as much as I tried not to think about it, I couldn’t help but think about his remark about reconciling. Would I love for us to be a family again? Yes. Financially, it would be wonderful. My kids wouldn’t have to be shuffled back and forth to his little apartment.

But then again, there’s just been sooo much bad stuff in our relationship. Although I hope he does find recovery, I honestly don’t have high hopes. After he was out of jail, we talked a few times and he seemed a bit cavalier about his “problem.” Stating very matter-of-factly that he just needs to stop drinking. It also bothered me that he said his mistake the night of the DUI was that he didn’t take an Uber. No, the mistake was that he shouldn’t have drank 10 beers! (His BAC was .22).

One option he has for avoiding jail time and not having a 2nd DUI on his record is called a deferred prosecution. Basically, he admits he has a problem and enters an intensive 2-year treatment program. During this time, he is subject to random tests for alcohol and any other mind-altering substances (this would include marijuana). After the 2 years, his treatment ends, but he still has to stay clean for 3 more years. If he does all that and doesn’t get into trouble, then the charges will be dismissed after 5 years.

I posted on Sober Recovery about this and I’m thankful for the good feedback I get. Most people reminded me to believe actions and that oftentimes, people can be good when they’re being monitored, but then it’s right back to drinking. Another alcoholic remarked that when he was in jail, he was desperate and willing to say anything.

I attended an Al-Anon meeting and decided to get back to some reading. I was pretty exhausted from it all, but finally, last night I slept great and I felt really good today.

I’m sticking to my side of the street this time. I won’t be telling him what he should do or even asking him, for that matter. People on SR remarked that I should keep my distance so I’m not his only resource and I think that’s a good idea. And as they say…more shall be revealed.

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lightness

Gosh, look how long it’s been since I posted! And looking back on my most recent post, reminds me how much things have changed in my life.

I lived for years with the burden of an unhappy and unhealthy marriage. This coming February will mark 2 years since I told XAH I wanted a divorce. When your life is a daily struggle, filled with anxiety, resentment, and stress, you live with an incredibly heavy burden. After awhile, you no longer even notice the weight of that burden…it just becomes a natural part of your life. For me, I can pretty much say this burden existed from very early in my relationship…within 3 months. For 13 years of my life, I probably never had a single day where I was able to live care-free.

I’m not really sure where it’s come from, but I would say in the last couple of months, I’ve had a noticeable change in my daily life. The best way for me to describe it is by saying that I now feel “light” on a daily basis. Despite my most recent post, I’m very happy with my co-parenting relationship with XAH. I’ve learned to “live and let go,” which is one of my favorite Al-Anon slogans. Honestly, I have no idea if XAH is still drinking (my assumption is that he is). However, I don’t have any concerns that he drives with the kids in the car, which is my number one fear.

We currently share the kids 50/50. I have the kids for 2 nights, he has the kids for 2 nights, then I have them for 5 nights and he has them for 5 nights. I’m currently in my 5-day stretch without the kids and it’s glorious. I’m not even ashamed of saying I look forward to my time without the kids…not because I don’t want to be around them, but because I have absolutely no help while they’re with me. the days without them are necessary for me to recharge and take care of the other areas of my life that I have no time for when they’re with me.

This lack of stress has helped me start to take the little everyday steps I need to work towards goals I’ve had my entire adulthood, but could never manage to get a start on. I’ve been able to focus better at work and my law practice is flourishing. I’ve also been able to start eating a lot better and working towards dropping 10 pounds. (More on that some other time).

I was recently inspired by this post by Katie. While reading it, all I could think was “yes!!” to all of it. I remember struggling with the “emotional labor” she refers to in my marriage. I remember trying to explain to XAH how I always had one million things going through my mind and he never needed to worry about that. I also know the resentment it created, which only added to the resentment I had against him for his drinking and infidelity. It’s no wonder I was an unhappy mess of a person!

I’m also grateful that I’ve taken the steps she writes about to change the course of my life for the better. My ship had slowly been sinking over the 13-year relationship with my XAH. And countless times, all I did was “rearrange the deck chairs.” Finally, the light clicked and I had the courage to go ahead and sink the entire thing myself.

I no longer live with daily resentment. At the beginning of our separation, I still struggled with resenting my XAH when I found myself alone with the kids and overwhelmed. But over the last year or so, the overwhelm has lessened as I’ve gotten happier and healthier and I really no longer resent XAH or the fact that I am single. In fact, I’ve come to embrace it and accept it.

I still have no desire to date. I’m not really sure why…I think part of me feels like there’s still so much I want to accomplish for myself and right now, my life feels full and light, both at the same time. And I can’t imagine any better feeling.

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.