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.

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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

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.

the path to acceptance

I haven’t written for a couple of days. Anyways, Friday morning, AH came into the bedroom asking if I had his keys. Of course, I didn’t. He couldn’t find them anywhere. And then he also couldn’t find the spare or valet key. My thinking is that he hid the spare and valet key from me so I couldn’t get into his car. Anyways, after paying locksmith $200 to come unlock his car and then finding that they weren’t in there, he finally found them. He had put them in his backpack. He exclaimed that with all the lack of sleep and stress, he was losing his mind.

We then had a long talk. He had heard me talking on the phone to my brother and I was telling my brother that it was a bit hurtful because AH was acting like he wasn’t upset about us separating…that he was only upset about not being with the kids all the time. AH told me that wasn’t true and to please not tell people that. We then discussed how we are still having the same relationship issues that we had early on, years ago. And even when we got married, he knew deep down it probably wasn’t the right thing to do, but he had hoped we would grow closer. I told him that I was just heartbroken to be losing my best friend. We talked more about how it will be after we separate and he explained that he will still be here for me. In fact, he still plans to come over and mow the lawn, etc.

Of course, I cried and cried. Even though it was overall a good conversation that made me feel a lot better, it’s just a mix of emotions. Sadness for ending our relationship, relief for not having to live with this constant stress and unhappiness, and fear of the unknown. I also told AH that we agree to disagree regarding his drinking issues and we agreed not to bring it up anymore. I had to remind AH about this when he said “I’ve always accepted you as you are.”

Last night, I could tell he was getting agitated by the kids. He decided to go to a meeting. It was a gentle reminder to me of why I can’t be married to him anymore, although he does have many great qualities and I do believe he does truly care for me. As far as his drinking goes, he told me that he’s not drinking now and he will not be drinking around the kids or if he has to drive anywhere.

This morning I woke up feeling TIRED, even though I got a pretty good night’s sleep. I’m trying to remember that my body is using up tons of energy to heal from this trauma and to be gentle with myself. I went to get a haircut then came home and took a little nap. I’m thankful for AH that I could do that. He just left to get groceries and took DD1 with him.

I still haven’t sat down and gone over our finances. I’m hoping to rest up the rest of the day and then hit work tomorrow hard to have a productive week.