Sunday, May 31, 2009

Two Sides


I was in no mood to go to church this morning, but I decided to go anyway and I'm glad I did. My daughter still won't go to Sunday School so she sat by me the entire service, which went a little long today. Nonetheless, I left feeling much better than when I walked in. There are some great service projects going on there and I'm very excited to get my kids involved.

I feel like there are two very distinct sides to me. On one hand, language is everything and I am very careful with my speech, especially around my kids. This comes from my dad's side of the family.

On the other side, when I'm angry with my husband and his family there seems no better way to express myself than to cuss it out on the computer. I get this from my mom's side of the family. I have to say that I don't think any less of them for it. They swear, but it really doesn't mean anything. The cussing is just built into their speech. They are kind hearted people and they don't belittle people with language like my husband's family does.

So, I don't know how to reconcile the two, or even if I ever can. I do have a very spiritual side to me, and I hope that I can always remain true to that. But I also want to be real and not have to sensor myself.

Getting Even

It seems like my husband and I aren’t able to get along anymore even while separated. I am angry that he is not keeping his word regarding our financial commitments. The stress of that, keeping a job and a house up and taking care of two children 24-hours a day who are in a more fragile emotional state is a lot to manage – even without having to deal with him.

Yesterday, I was trying to get the house cleaned up before we had company over for dinner. I had a million things to do. I was worried he would not show up for my son’s play because of past experience. I had also texted him several times in the morning and I had not heard back from him.

Then when he does finally feel like calling, he wants me to drop everything and visit with him. I told him I was busy. He didn’t like my tone with him, so he hung up the phone on me. I was outraged. He sent me a text after and said, “Now we’re even.”

Even?

We will never be even.

The fact that you could even say that is laughable.

Maybe if I went to rehab for 150 days and still pulled the same shit.

Maybe if I didn't come home all night – night after night.

Maybe if shit and peed all over you and just expected you to forgive me again and again and again.

Maybe if I no-showed for your grandfather's funeral.

Maybe if I no-showed to any one of our kids events.

But the fact is that I am there. I am here. I have never missed anything. I am the one who does absolutely everything.

And you're right. Marriage counseling is a waste of time. I do hate you. How could I not?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Male Supplements


I met with my son’s counselor several days ago for a short session. She said he seemed to be doing better, which is what I had thought too, but I didn’t know if that was my own prejudice. Things are more peaceful around the house without my husband stomping around – and arguing.

I realized the other day at taekwondo class that I am buying male-time for my son. I think it also helps him get some of his anger out. He gets a lot from his taekwondo teacher in terms of what it means to be a man and how to treat people.

I was thinking along those same lines yesterday when I went to visit his school for next year. It is so expensive and I don’t know how we will swing it, but I feel like the extra attention will be so worth it. I am looking for a lot of supplements for his father. He has a lot of women around him, between me, my mom and my sisters. But really there is just his dad, and my dad in terms of men that are here on a regular basis. I always worry that it won't be enough.

I remember reading something while we were down at Betty Ford for the marriage seminar weekend about how the end of the extended family is hurting our children. It used to be if there was one dysfunctional parent, it wasn’t that big of a deal because the extended family was so involved with raising the child. But now, parenting is largely an isolated event, and one dysfunctional parent can be extremely detrimental for a child. There are not enough other people around to round things out. Not enough other influences anymore in children’s lives. That makes a lot of sense to me. I know my grandparents on both sides were very involved in my life growing up. And I was better for it, especially with divorced parents. I am very lucky that my family is so involved with the kids.

The counselor reiterated that it was important for the kids to have their dad in their lives. She said if he disappeared all together that would be more traumatic than what we are experiencing now.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Wisdom from Anaïs Nin


We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are. -Anaïs Nin

Everything is starting to make more sense to me now. I have always had family as my number one priority. For my in-laws, it is money. That explains the disconnect. It seems so obvious now.

I could never understand why they put more value on me bringing in a paycheck than raising our kids. For me, your kids are only young once. You have to spend that time ensuring that they are well taken care of.

I remember once I told the fourth wife a quote I had heard from Dr. James Dobson about how a children’s personality and entire being is shaped by the time they are 5-years-old. She strongly disagreed with me. Oprah reiterated that a couple months back on her show and I found myself hoping my in-laws were watching. (They often watch Oprah and Dr. Phil together.)

I feel that the best thing you can do for your children is to have one parent stay home and nurture them. I have always felt that was extremely important. And I told my husband I was willing to do with less to make that happen.

I could see my worth going down in his eyes as I began to bring home less money. The way he drilled me about when I was going to have a check again.

My husband always gets irritated with me when I talk about my passionate views on literature, politics, the war… I could never understand why he didn’t like to discuss these things with me. I see now that he has never been interested in me or my opinions. I was just supposed to be someone pretty to smile and stroke his ego.

I tried so hard to push a family on my in-laws.

I remember my first Mother's Day, about a month after my son was born, I had a special function for everyone at my house. I had included the fourth wife and had a gift there for her, as well as food prepared for both of them. They didn't show up. They didn't call. I was so offended.

It turned out they had wanted to play golf instead. Since they play golf at least 3 times a week, I don't know why that was so critical. They could have at least let us know they weren't coming. I was working 60+ hours a week and taking care of a newborn, but I still managed to pull this event together.

I remember once at my in-laws house in the desert, she started talking about a certain country club down there and I mentioned that my uncle was a member there. The fourth wife narrowed her eyes at me coldly, and said, “What uncle?” in a tone that could only be recognized as – who the hell in your family could ever belong to any country club?

I felt my face get hot with a blush as I explained which uncle it was and rambled on about how he was also a member at our club at home.

The thought of the scene now makes me angry again.

I have never felt like any less of a person because I did not share their wealth. And I have always felt very proud of my family. Because we are a family. We support each other. We love each other. And all the money in the world can not buy that.

I have been trying to interpret my husband’s family as I see the world, and not as they are. And it has been killing me for 7 years.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Why We Don't Count


I’ve come to a new conclusion this morning about why my in-laws don’t care about my husband’s behavior towards me and the kids. It has been puzzling me for some time. I would be outraged if my son did these things to his family.

It doesn’t matter because I don’t come from a rich family.

If my parents were playing golf at their club and talking about this with their rich friends – people that my in-laws value because they have money – my in-laws would be embarrassed. And then my husband’s behavior would have to be stopped. And I know my father-in-law has the power to intervene because he has before. He shuts off the fountain. And it is very effective.

I once told my father-in-law that I had no power over my husband and that I was giving up on him. I told him he had all the power because he had all the money and the kids and I meant nothing to him. That’s how my husband was bred.

The next day, complete turn around.

My in-laws are safe because my family and most of my friends lie squarely in the middle class. So we can rot slowly in hell and it won’t affect them in the least bit. We are invisible. We are worthless. To them.

Now I know why my husband has such a hissy-fit whenever I post some of my true feelings and statements about what is really happening on our family blog. Someone who matters might read it.

Many years ago I started printing our family blog address on our Christmas cards every year, so people could keep up with us if they wanted to. Many of my family and friends that live out of town check the site regularly. I never thought about anyone on my husband’s side doing it. His friends and family all seem so self-absorbed. My husband doesn’t have a lot of middle class friends. It seems he only is interested in a friendship if it can get him something. I think I was only interesting to him when we met because I am beautiful and because I was making good money at the time. Money that carried our family through until my son was about one and I couldn’t keep up anymore.

I have often commented to my husband that his friends only call when they need something. When he is deep in his relapses or we need help with something, no one ever seems to be around – other than to drink with him, and let him make a fool out of himself.

I have several male friends who have tried very hard to reach out to my husband. Compassionate, educated, interesting men. Some of the best friends I have known. But my husband is never interested. Not that he would tell them that. He is always cordial enough and can put on a good show for anyone. But at home, he doesn’t care about these men. And I’ve always felt it was because they didn’t come from money, or didn’t have enough of their own for his standards.

Part of me feels very sickened this morning and part of me feels relieved. It’s nothing personal; we just don’t come from money. I think I finally get it.

Today's Horoscope

The big changes right now are going to be those that affect your pocketbook. You know you need to make some changes, and one of those will be more philosophical than material. You need to find a way to make a living that feeds your soul as well as your bank balance.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rage and Sadness

I feel nothing but pure rage this morning.

My husband is not providing for us. He has not been. He gives me little bits of money here and there, but not enough - and not what he commited to.

Probably another sign that he is using again.

There is not enough money to pay the bills, even with me being back at work.

I am tired of asking him.

I want to file for divorce, but I don't even have the money now to pay for basic expenses, so that will have to stay on the back burner.

Now his excuse is that he has to pay for 2 sets of expenses, so he can't give us the money he has promised.

I know damned well that his dad has never charged him to stay in that condo. So he is really full of it. There may be a few additional expenses, but not many.

I confronted him on that and he said he was done arguing. I said, that's because It's true and you have nothing to say!

I always thought that a promise was a promise and when I gave my word I did everything in my power to keep it. Now I'm seeing that when you are married to an addict who has no concept of reality or truth that sometimes keeping your promises and commitments is impossible.

I have already pared down our expenses numerous times. I am going to have to sit down and do it again. I feel so trapped. I know I am capable of making good money, but I don't want to do it at the expense of my children.

I don't know what I can count on from my husband anymore, if anything. If I were to file for divorce I could at least get a judgment for child support against him. But if he doesn't pay it, he doesn't pay it, and then I'm still stuck.

I don't think we can sell our house in this market. We have tried on and off for years. The lady next door has had her home listed for more than a year. Same with the guy around the corner.

I allowed myself to cry the few blocks in between my kids school and my office and that was a mistake because now I just can't stop crying and I need to work but I can't keep pushing everything back inside me.

All the way to school, I was quiet, which isn't like me. But I knew if I opened my mouth that I couldn't stop the words from coming out, which would damn their father. Just so I just kept my mouth shut.

I was telling my dad's wife the other day that I always wondered why my dad was so quiet growing up, and now I know. He was miserable with my step mom (his 2nd wife). And I never heard him say a rotten thing about her or anyone else, including my mother.

I remember someone saying that if you speak ill against a children's parent, you are criticizing their own DNA. And it is painful. I remember my step mom called my mother a whore once (which wasn't remotely true as I came to find out later). It affected me in a way that I will never forget.

I have been so upset that my husband and my father-in-law have treated me so poorly all these years and I am come to realize that I need to value myself more and not worry about what those motherfuckers think. Because they are not even human beings. They are a whole different bread of people, if you can even call them people.

Hope Does Kill

This is the letter I sent to all my family and friends last year, after visiting J at Betty Ford and attending a week there to learn about his "disease".

I just got back from spending a week at "Family Week" at Betty Ford, where J has been for the last 50 days or so.

As some of you know, I wasn't sure about even going at first, and then had reservations even after I agreed to go. It seemed as though our marriage was in disrepair. When J came home for a visit several weeks ago though, I sensed that he was coming back to be the J that I knew and loved. And he has continued to grow and heal.

I can not begin to describe what this program has done for me. Growing up around alcoholism, I had many unresolved issues and wounds. And of course there were also many things to deal with in my marriage as well. Being in a room of people with similar experiences coming from all over the country was empowering and healing. I was in a group with a woman who I closely identified with almost to a "T". But I was also in group with a recovering alcoholic with a son who was an alcoholic - who reminded me a lot of my father-in-law. It was good to see and hear all the different angles. The disease of alcoholism is so isolating and shaming. This was a remarkable program because I was able to see how our stories are all so similar. Without going on and on, I can only say that I am so glad that I went. I feel that I have learned things and tools that I can use throughout the rest of my life. And I feel a lot of joy, peace and hope that I did not feel before.

I have an enormous amount of gratitude for the Betty Ford Center and to Betty Ford herself. I was thinking today about the courage it must have taken for her to come out - as a woman (with all the double standards towards women who are alcoholics) and being the Presidents wife. And yet, she did it. And it is really a tremendous place. I only hope that someday I can give back to her program in a profound way. Because I feel she and her center have touched my life - and so many other lives - profoundly.

I also wanted to say thank you.

So many of you have told me that you have been praying for me and J - and I appreciate that. Thank you for checking in on me - even when I isolated myself. Thank you for being there in my darkest hours. Thanks for listening.

Thanks to my mom and my sisters for watching the kids while I was away. Thank you for being wonderful, compassionate, loving friends and family. I love you all very much.

Love,
Sula

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

K-1

I finally just got the K-1 from my father-in-law so that we can file our taxes. I see from the email my husband forwarded me that he received the information 12 days ago and managed to forward it to my brother-in-law instantly. Our extension is up in about 2 weeks and our taxes are fairly complicated, so hopefully someone can get them done for us.

I am too embarrassed to go back to my long-term CPA after the lecture I got from him last year. I am a smart woman, with an MBA no less, and I can not believe I am in this financial situation.

Let this be a lesson to anyone who ever even thinks about getting involved with an addict, past or present. Addicts relapse. More often than they recover. And they will FUCK you over - and not give a damn.

And if you have rich in-laws like mine, who have nothing better to do than mess with you, don't get me started....

Thoughts from Last Summer


Its summer and the kid’s days are filled with activities. Tonight we have soccer again and I'm apprehensive because last week I noticed that most of the fathers were there too and I wonder if J noticed it too. I'm angry that I'm alone again. I know long-term this is better and no one will ask me, but I wish we were just like the other families.

Mostly I'm angry at J's dad for setting this whole thing up this way. For setting us up to fail.

I remember the words of the man in my family group at Betty Ford who says you can only be convicted of a crime once. This helped me for a few weeks but it has become less and less comforting. When did he ever serve his time? I decide to try him. I collect the data. It seems an overwhelming task. So I just stop.

They ask you to do the impossible - forgive and trust someone that could relapse at any time - and in my case already has.

Since it seems so much of modern writing is taken up with vignettes of miserable childhoods, wouldn't it make sense for us to devote more of our time to ensuring our children had better childhoods? Work a little less, not have that second (or third) glass of wine, really listen to and enjoy our children

Could we put a little more into our marriages (and a little more thought into who we marry) so that there are fewer divorces?

Re-Reading Sula

I have gone back to my habit of reading a lot. The kids are older now and much more self-sufficient. Re-reading Sula was amazing to me. It is a short book, so I was able to finish it in a few hours.

Several scenes captured my attention at this reading, which I don’t remember much of from before.

Sula’s grandmother, Eva, actually burns her son to death because of his drug addiction. It is a frightening but real scene.

Later, she explains why to her daughter:

He give me such a time. Such a time. Look like he didn’t even want to be born. But he come on out. Boys is hard to bear. You wouldn’t know that but they is. It was such a carryin’ on to get him born and to keep him alive. Just to keep his little heart beating and his little old lungs cleared and look like when he came back from that war we wanted to git back in. After all that carryin’ on, just getting’ him out and keepin’ him alive, he wanted to crawl back in my womb and well…I ain’t got the room no more even if he could do it. There wasn’t space for him in my womb. And he was crawlin’ back. Being helpless and thinking baby thoughts and dreaming baby dreams and messing up his pants again and smiling all the time. I had room enough in my heart, but not in my womb, not no more. I birthed him once. I couldn’t do it again. He was growed, a big old thing. Godhavemercy, I couldn’t birth him twice. I’d be laying here at night and he be downstairs in that room, but when I closed my eyes, I’d see him…six feet tall smilin’ and crawlin’ up the stairs quietlike so I wouldn’t hear and opening the door soft so I wouldn’t hear and he’d be creepin’ to the bed trying to spread my legs trying to get back up in my womb. He was a man girl, a big old growed-up man. I didn’t have that much room. I kept on dreaming it. Dreaming it and I knowed it was true. One night it wouldn’t be no dream. It’d be true and I would have done it, would have let him if I’d’ve had the room but a big man can’t be a baby all wrapped up inside his mamma no more: he suffocate. I done everything I could to make him leave me and go on and live and be a man but he wouldn’t and I had to keep him out so I just thought of a way he could die like a man not all scrunched up inside my womb, but like a man.

Eva couldn’t see Hannah clearly for the tears, but she looked up at her anyway and said, by way of apology or explanation or perhaps just by the way of neatness, “But I held him close first. Real close. Sweet Plum. My baby boy."

Another thing that struck me is how Sula’s family is more like my mom’s side of the family and Nel’s is more like my dad’s – and how that has always seemed sort of polarizing. But near the end of the book, you realize how they were so similar and they really complimented each other. Sula’s grandmother tells Nell, “Just alike. Both of you. Never was no difference between you.” She even calls Nell Sula.

I really liked Sula’s question near the end when she asked her friend – “How do you know who was good. How do you know it was you? …I mean maybe it wasn’t you. Maybe it was me.”

Something else that really stung was a dialoge between the friends, after Nel confronts Sula for sleeping with her husband.

“I was good to you Sula, why don’t that matter?”…”It matters Nel, but only to you. Not to anybody else. Being good to somebody is just like being mean to somebody. Risky. You don’t get nothing for it.”

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Bed


I've been sitting here reflecting on our evening last night.

It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't good either.

I found myself wondering whether my husband would show up around 3:30, when I hadn't heard from him for a while. We did, and that was alright, but I have that feeling of dread around him again, like we just can't count on him.

When he did arrive, about half an hour late, as usual, we went to dinner at a family Italian restaurant down the street. They know our family well there and its always nice and comforting to go someplace like that.

Dinner was fine. I found myself getting aggravated at the movies however. My husband has this way of trying to slide under the radar and get away with things. Our daughter just turned 3 and she looks like she's 4. He only bought 1 child ticket, for our son. My husband and his family always say I'm judgemental, and perhaps I am. But I think you should be honest even in the small things - and even more diligent with children watching.

I don't understand wanting to cheat people. He doesn't look at it that way, but I do. But its a major difference between us and something that I don't think we can ever come to terms with. It seems to me that if you aren't honest with the smallest matters, you can't be trusted in the big ones. That certainly seems to be the case with my husband.

I asked him about it and he said he didn't know. Well, in my mind, if you don't know, you ask!

Then he said he forgot she was 3 now. Well, that makes since since you skipped her birthday!

Once in the theatre, my daughter got a little restless towards the end. We had got them some popcorn and at one point he yanked it really roughly from her hands, out of annoyance. That's another big difference between us. I try to never act in anger towards the children. I certainly never yank anything the way he did, right out of her hands. Later, he said she was pouring popcorn over someones head, but I never saw that. It also seems that if she had done that, the person in front of us would have turned around, maybe said something, or at least given us a dirty look. But there was nothing.

The ride home was silent for the most part. My husband does this thing my mother used to do when I was a child that drives me nuts. He lets out huge, irritated sighs. Thankfully my mom doesn't do that anymore - but now my husband does. My thought is, either say what is on your mind or just keep quiet. It really grates on my nerves.

I noticed this morning that there is a peace around the house when it is just me and my kids. My husband has a lot of negative energy that he carries around with him. My father-in-law has that same vibe but around 10 times stronger. I really want to protect my children from this. But I also know they need and want to see their dad. I don't know what the solution is. I don't want them around their dad alone. I can't be sure he is not drinking. But I also don't like to be around him. It brings me down.

I also noticed that he doesn't seem so upset about missing his family. What I hear him saying at least 10 times a day is that it is so hard for him not to sleep in a bed. He is always complaining about not having a bed or an office at the condo and how hard his life is over there. Every once in a while he says he misses us, but the bed is mostly what he talks about.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Peace and Quiet


We have had a nice and very peaceful weekend. We had a great time with my sister yesterday - and today I have enjoyed a day alone with the kids. We went to church in the morning, then the swimming pool. I had a nice walk at the gym and my daughter fell asleep on the way home so I was able to read most of the NY Times.

My husband is headed over to spend the evening with us. We are going to dinner and a movie. In small doses, this seems fine. Actually, I hope that whatever happens that we can end up being peaceful with each other. It is just so much nicer to live that way.

i carry your heart with me


i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

-ee cummings

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Going to the Pool


It's Memorial Day Weekend. The day started early with my daughter and dog ready to wake way before I was.

My daughter hit her head on the stairs pretty hard, and while I was dealing with that and calling the doctor (I'm paranoid) my son threw up all over upstairs. LOL while I was trying to clean up, they started coloring on a height chart on my daughter's wall...which is now ruined.

My husband stopped by in the morning to pick up his sunglasses. He is going out of town to play golf. Last night I guess he finally noticed that I had de-friended him on Facebook last Saturday - and I woke up to 5 text messages about it, mostly accusing me of trying to date now.

LOL, as if I even had time for that.

Anyway, he apologized and left on a good note. I accepted his friend request but sent him a message saying that I confirmed you as a friend but I don't have any other friends who would skip out on their daughters birthday party or not come home to their families all night long or do any of the things you have done to me and your kids over the years.

I finished re-reading Sula this morning and started Song of Solomon. I have a trilogy of Morrison's books that includes these two and Tar Baby, also a favorite. I don't think I have read Song of Solomon since high school, so I am enjoying the read with new eyes.

The kids are taking it easy and enjoying some time on the back deck in the sun with me.

Everyone seems to be better now and the kids are begging me to go to the pool. It seems to be more of a fluke, one-time throw-up so I am going to take them.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Remembering my Dad


Today is “my day” - where my mom takes the kids all afternoon. And I did go to my Al-Anon meeting and a nice lunch with my office mates, but here I am on the computer searching for a bed and sheet set for my husband because I feel bad he has to sleep on the couch at the condo.

What is wrong with me?

He said he would have to get some furniture this weekend, and I said that was ok. But if he takes a bed, that means that I won’t have a bed. I have been sleeping with my son and daughter anyway, but still the idea of not having my own bed – a bed that I carefully picked out and spent months finding the right bedding for – seems terrible to me. I guess there are worse things.

Today, I drove by a school and saw a father dropping his daughter off. I see that every day at my kid’s school, but it was mid-day on the way to my meeting and the image stayed with me. The father was so playful and loving with his daughter – the way my dad used to be with me. He was laughing with her and then pulled her up onto his shoulders. It brought back a lot of memories and emotions in me.

My kids don’t have this with their dad, and it breaks my heart. I feel so sad for them. My dad comes every Sunday, but it’s not that same day-to-day bond that kids normally get with a dad that is really close to them and attune to their needs.

I can not remember a time when my husband has every taken the kids to school. I suppose, to be honest, he has offered a few times. But I never felt like he really wanted to do it, and it just seemed like it would be more work. He’s picked my son up from school a few times and taken him to lunch. But it has been because my son has asked to him. Usually multiple times.

There is no equality like I have seen with other families at the school, where the mom and dad help each other out. My husband doesn’t take them to birthday parties, or doctor appointments, or counseling, or taekwondo, dance, soccer – any of it. Everything is on me.

I have loved being with my children. It’s not that I don’t love doing all of this for them. I just feel sad that they don’t have that in both parents. I see the dads at practice and at school and I feel jealous. I feel a sort of longing for that level of commitment from their dad.

I remember once, at school, one of the mothers' asked me pointedly why she never sees my husband. We have been at the Montessori for nearly 3 full years now, so it was a valid question. Her husband is one of those dads who is there at least 40% of the time, doing his part. They both work. I felt a stabbing in my heart. It made me realize he should be there. It shouldn’t all be on me.

But when my husband has been using, I have always been scared to let him alone with the kids. I never want to take the risk of him driving with our kids in the car.

I remember once last year, he had been drinking and I went into the other room to put our daughter down for a nap. I shouldn’t have left our son alone with him I suppose, but I had no inkling that they would go anywhere. When I came out after getting her asleep, I could not find my son anywhere. I was panicked. My car was gone (his didn’t have any car seats even at that time). I called my husband in an absolute freaked-out rage and told him if he didn’t get home immediately, I would call the police.

It turned out he had driven down to the park with our son. The park is about 4 blocks away. Why he felt the need to get into a car with our son after drinking – to drive to a place he could have walked to, I will never know. Why he left without telling me, I can not understand.
Sometimes I just feel completely exhausted by all of this. I feel like I am trying to control my children’s safety and well being in a situation where I have absolutely no control.

I have tried to control everything in our life together. I think a lot of the reason I have stayed in this marriage is because I felt like I would have more control over my children. But the reality is I have no control over the actions of my husband. None. And it scares me to death.

Finding Peace

I found a passage I wrote last year, and once again, it struck me how things are still the same.

There are so many things I want to do with my life, but I seem forever paralyzed. Do I need to just take a step of faith and leave this marriage? I feel so dead inside. I have put up with so much and it’s not me. The only way is to feel nothing. And other times I feel so much it is unbearable. The alcoholic has become all-consuming. Yesterday, I shut him out and he became irrelevant to me. I had a good day. But I still had to come home to the kids and the reality of my life, which is him coming home today. He tried to say that my happiness is so important to me but he doesn't get the same. Insanity. My happiness has never mattered to him. It only matters to me now because I have become conscious of it. Because I am demanding it, and grabbing it.

My husband is out of town on work now, and the house feels quiet and peaceful. Perhaps because I know he is far away, or perhaps because he is too busy to call and text as often. When he does, he is nice. The kids seem like they are adjusting to this arrangement now too.

It has been 2 weeks since my husband has been at the condo.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sula


I decided to use the pen name Sula because no book has ever touched my heart the way Sula did. I read the book first in college and it really challenged my assumptions about what a “good” woman was. I meant to go back and re-read the book last summer, but I never made the time. I am going to read it again now – no excuses.

There is a quote in Sula that has stayed with me all these years. “I don’t want to make someone else, I want to make myself.”

I think I have always defined myself by my relationships and in relation to others. I loved this quote and this idea of this woman who can be so completely “selfish” and damned by others for being so happy and free – and yet it is still so hard for me to break away from who I am.

Perhaps its not who I am, but it’s who I feel I am supposed to be, and I just am not able to break away from that.

Contradictions

When I thought I was happily married, it seemed I could do no wrong. Everyone told me what a good mother I was and how well I managed my home and job and family. Now people often tell me, you're doing the best you can.

When I realized my husband was a no-good-drunk who had been lying to me for well over a year and that even my own life was a complete lie, I decided I had to change. But change was harder than I thought it would be.

When you make a commitment to someone, you build a life – even if that life just consists of stories you tell yourself in your head. I became I teary-eyed crazy person that I even hated to be around. I felt like less of a person without my wedding ring on. Without a husband. I tried to read every self-help book I could find for 5-6 months, and that worked for a while. But I soon realized that nothing was changing. My life was still a mess, and no matter how I tried to hypnotize myself otherwise, it would probably be a mess for a while.

The worst part about starting over is that you are vulnerable, and everyone still feels the need to give you advice. It feels like criticism. Everything feels like criticism and you are already so raw from everything else that it is just too much.

I realized that trying to date would never work for me. My children were 2 and 5, and they still slept with me most nights. They were also anxious and upset much of the time, as I was. I quickly realized that it was going to be a long time before I was ever going to be ready to let someone else in.

In reality, I didn’t really want to start over. I knew that my husband had lied, and probably cheated, among other things. And, while this sounds terrible, I just wanted to be a wife and mother and not have to worry about money, where to live, how to live, what to do, or any of the major choices that I thought I had already made years prior. Even looking back and knowing how miserable I had been, I just somehow couldn’t get the mojo to file for divorce. I left it hanging over my head like a noose.

I was depressed and I didn’t know how not to be depressed anymore. My friend told me to let myself feel it, and I did. But I wondered how long I would feel this way and if it would ever lift. I wondered what kind of mother I was to my children and if they were suffering because I was. It was easier to be angry, but I couldn’t seem to muster anger anymore. I had decided to forgive my husband, and the only person I seemed to be angry at anymore was me.

I wanted to have a good life. I thought I had one. What happened? How did I go from one thing to another so quickly?

I had been lying to myself. I was still lying to myself. But what would shake me out of the funk I was in? Did I need to just file for divorce? Where would I get the money to live on? What on earth would I do?


Sula's Note: I wrote this over a year ago and everything is still the same.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Email of Support

I have been getting so many wonderful emails, texts and calls of support. I wanted to share one that just came through because it really spoke to me. Thank you for the many, many people who have been there for me.


Thinking about you and the kids a lot...

I want you to know, that I am truly here for you, and the kids, on any level. Even if its just me coming over for a glass of wine :-) seriously. Or just folding laundry with you guys! Lol. I love you guys and I feel like we have come into each others lives for a reason.

I support anything that you do or do not do, because I just have a feeling over the years that you know what is right for you and your kids. I want you to know, (I think you did already), that I am child of divorced parents too. Although I was 17 when they divorced... and every person/experience is different...I truly, deeply, feel that their divorce made things better for me as a woman, daughter, friend. It taught me that life is not always perfect. It taught me to love myself and be my own best friend. It taught me to truly cherish relationships and also be very smart with my commitments to others. It taught me that my parents are not perfect, but tried their best, and love me immensely. It taught me to be self-reliant and resilient to life's disappointments. Of course, I could go on and on, but instead of being about me. What I am trying to say is that, I have faith in you and J and H...that they will grow up to be loving, kind, smart, and real people, with wisdom and compassion. I know they will- regardless if you stay with J or not. I truly believe in you guys!

I can't understand

I am trying to get everything sorted out so I can feel a little better.

My husband is constantly calling and texting me, wanting to come home and work things out. I remember last time, my counselor told me to cut him off. She said his calls/texts are poison. I think she was right. It’s impossible for me to think with him always on my back. I keep telling him to give me space, but he doesn’t seem to be able to. He seems panicked.

He keeps reminding me that he has to sleep on the couch at the condo and that he doesn’t have an office there so it’s harder for him to work. I get all that, but I keep reminding him that he made the choice not to come home.

He still denies any drinking but all the signs are there. And I keep thinking that last time, he denied it to the hilt, even when it was obvious and he smelled of booze.

It’s still hard for me to understand why or how he could continually pull his life together, and then let it all go – again and again and again.

He was supposed to get on ADD medication yesterday but I asked him about it and he said he was sick so he didn’t go. I’m sick too, but I still had to get up, get the kids ready for school, and go to work.

I don’t get it. There’s always an excuse with him.

Last night, he came more than an hour late to see the kids. He said he wasn’t finished working. I always have to finish my work to make sure the kids are picked up on time or taken to whatever activity they need to get to.

The kids were all wound up and needed to get to bed on time because they are sick too. Then he acts like I’m the bad guy for asking him to leave. I kept reminding him that he had picked the time slots to visit in, and that he was the one who had come late.

It seems like he just picks fights with me all the time. I’m tired of arguing. I hate to argue. I keep saying the same things over and over. It’s like he can’t hear me. What’s the point of going over everything again, several times a day?

I’m worried about the summer. I have no child care lined up for the kids. My mom has offered to take them some extra times, so that should help. I think if our finances weren’t such a mess all of this would be a lot easier.

I also just want my kids to have a good summer. Being a kid is so magical – especially in summer time. I really want them to have fun and not worry about anything. My son offered me to give me some of his money the other day. It made me feel really terrible.

I can’t understand how someone with so many resources could squander them so much. I guess there are just a lot of things I will never understand.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

10 WAYS TO HANDLE CHANGE/LOSS EASIER

copyright 1999 by Toby Rice Drews,
author of 'Getting Them Sober
www.GettingThemSober.com
  1. Often, when we have loss or change, we don't want to hear that we can move on with our lives, when people suggest ways for us to do so. We want to be really heard -- validated -- about our pain. We rail against adapting to life as it is; we cry out, "but what I WANT is....." This is all very, very normal and a necessary stage. But when we're in the middle of feeling like that, it's hard to get any comfort. But, eventually, we do get to the point where we're almost at the end of that cycle...where we are getting tired of fighting reality and we're wanting some peace -- even if it means accepting some of the painful things in life. To help get to the point of peace, it sometimes helps to ask oneself, "Am I willing to give up the edges of my pain?" Sometimes, that question, asked of oneself, helps us to move more gently into acceptance of things as they are, when we know we cannot change them.
  2. My sister, who was an expert in bereavement, told me that Harvard University had a study that showed that the tears from the eyes of widows had healing enzymes in them that did not appear in regular tears. It helps me to know that God is on our side and wants us to heal from our grief, and continue with life.
  3. When loss leaves such a chasm, such a void, try to get replacement of those areas from others, in pieces. No one can totally replace the good you received from a person, but a piece from one and a piece from another can help heal the pain.
  4. When people give unwanted advice about healing from loss, they are coming from their own history and their own fears and agenda. Try to take what you like and leave the rest, as they say in recovery circles.
  5. When reading material that is meant to help, be open-minded, but sensible about what 's good for you; what may help someone else may be different for you. Trust your judgment.
  6. Try to stay authentic to your needs. Sometimes, when we've lost someone, we feel less than, more vulnerable. And when family or friends who are domineering give "suggestions", they often mean "do it!" You don't have to overadapt to these "helpers" for fear of losing them, too. (Even, out of vulnerability, if you do adapt to them for awhile, know that you are doing it, and it'll be easier to stop it, in the future, when you heal more).
  7. Remember there's a very, very big world out there, with lots of loving people in it who you can have good relationships with.
  8. When we're newly grieving, some of us 'hunker down' and isolate. Be careful; it's often good for brief periods, but not as a pattern.
  9. Same with "busy-ness". Staying busy is good; it helps us get through acute stages. But know you are doing it. Stay aware of your patterns. It'll help you get back into balance quicker.
  10. Pray for courage to change what you can. (I ask God to please be kind and merciful, too).

Cancer

I am very down today. Hard day at work. Hard day emotionally.

My grandma had a large tumor in her kidney a few months ago. They removed it and it seemed that everything was fine.

Now she has lung cancer. And it doesn’t sound good.

Cancer is prevalent in my family. Both grandparents on the other side of my family had it. It killed my grandpa. It just killed my great uncle. My dad had prostate cancer several years ago.

I just got off the phone with my grandma. I feel very sad for her. She was a very healthy woman and it just doesn’t seem like this should be it for her.

I’ve always felt like cancer hits those with a big heart. My grandma was married to my alcoholic grandpa for 36 years before he died. There was a lot of sucking things in.

My grandma is not a complainer. I can not imagine the things she endured. I can not imagine having 5 kids with my grandpa. He was mostly kind to me, but not always so with her.

I feel so conflicted about my own life. My heart is so heavy and filled with sorrow.

My husband told me he was willing to cut off ties with his dad if it meant it would save our marriage. I can’t imagine him really doing that, but the words were powerful to me.

I feel like his dad is a cancer that is eating us both us. I feel like he will destroy us both, and still not give a damn.

I feel so drawn to the nuclear, perfect family. Maybe because I never had it growing up. Both my parents have been married 3 times. The second spouse of both my parents were completely destructive forces in my life. I have never wanted step-parents for my own children. I can not imagine ever doing that to them.

I think both my parents wanted to provide a good home for me and thought that another parent would help them do that. But I think the step parents I endured were actually worse than the divorce itself. Especially my step dad.

As I contemplate a divorce, I weigh this carefully. I can’t imagine ever wanting to re-marry. But I have no control over what my husband will do. My heart aches for my children.

I also think about my own divorce. It was extremely painful to me. It still is. I have tried to heal those holes in my heart, but they are still there. And now, they only feel bigger and more alive.

Email Blessing from a Friend Today

"May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.'"

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Afternoon from Hell!


When we got home, there was an envelope in the mail from my father-in-law.

I thought it was probably (finally) our tax information that we need to file our taxes. But no, it was an advice column from Suze Orman’s January column in O Magazine about how to manage your money.

First of all, I already get and read that magazine every month and have already told him I have all her books - and have read them. Second, what does he not understand about STOP GIVING ME ADVICE?! Ugh!

Perhaps my husband should read the article. The check he wrote me last week bounced this morning. He put some more money in my account, but I am still not getting enough from him to remotely cover our expenses. Good thing I'm back at work or I would be completely screwed.

Then my husband decided to “stop by” and wondered why I was irritable. UGH. This is not come and go as you please. I think that’s completely confusing and disruptive for the children.

He is telling them things that are completely different than I am. He keeps telling them that we’re going to work this out so he can come home soon. I have made no promises to my children either way. When it is completely finished or we can come to some sort of an agreement, then we can sit down and talk. But giving them information about him coming home or not coming home doesn’t seem right to me.

It's also just disrespectful to me to stop in. He has no idea what I have to go through to work a full time job in the hours that I have and manage the kids all afternoon. I love being with my kids, but it is very stressful to manage everything.

My husband is upset that he has to sleep on a couch at the condo. Well, guess what, that’s called cause and effect.

He did finally sit down with our son, per my request, and tell him that it was not right for him not to come home. I don’t ever want my son to pull this shit with his own family – and I don’t ever want my daughter to be in my situation.

Day with my Children

My husband came to my daughter’s birthday celebration at school today. He said he got bad advice from his dad about not coming to the party.

I told him both my friend D, who was sick, and my grandma who just found out she has lung cancer the day before gave me the courtesy of calling and letting me know they couldn't make it to the party.

My husband said he was coming, then on his way and finally no-showed.

After school I took my children to lunch. I told them as we were walking in, You guys are so cute!

My son said No.

I thought he meant he was too old to be cute so I said, OK,You guys are wonderful!

No

Fantastic?!

Fabulous?!

Adorable?!

Terrific?!

No No. No. No

Finally I said, Then what do you think you are?

He said, terrible.

Oh no. Why do you think that?, I asked.

Because my dad didn't come home.

I told him that his dad had made some bad choices but they were no reflection on him.

He said, but why didn't he even come to his own birthday party?

Finally he said, well at least he came today.

When the way is lost...

The person of superior integrity does not insist upon his integrity;
For this reason, he has integrity.
The person of inferior integrity never loses sight of his integrity;
For this reason, he lacks integrity.

The person of superior integrity takes no action,
nor has he a purpose for acting.
The person of superior humanness takes action,
but has no purpose for acting.

The person of superior righteousness takes action,
and has a purpose for acting.
The person of superior etiquette takes action,
but others do not respond to him;
Whereupon he rolls up his sleeves
and coerces them.

Therefore,
When the Way is lost,
afterward comes integrity.
When integrity is lost,
afterward comes humanness
When humanness is lost,
afterward comes righteousness.
When righteousness is lost,
afterward comes etiquette.

Now,
Etiquette is the attenuation of trustworthiness,
and the source of disorder.
Foreknowledge is but the blossomy ornament of the Way,
and the source of ignorance.
For this reason,
The great man resides in substance,
not in attenuation.
He resides in fruitful reality,
not in blossomy ornament.

Therefore,
He rejects the one and adopts the other.

-Tao Te Ching 1 (38)

This is my favorite verse of the Tao and something I have been reflecting on a lot lately.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Text this am from my Father-in-Law

After my husband skipped out on our daughter's 3rd birthday party, this is what my father-in-law texted me.

"Your kids will not have memories of these troubled times unless you continue to tell them about it.
Show your current husband the same respect and love that you show your ex-husband and maybe he would be home more often."

I replied, "Regardless of how well I have treated J, he always seems to have some excuse not to come home. If throwing a birthday party for him is treating him poorly and him just no-showing for it is ok, then I am done wiht you and this family."

Credit

I'd like to give a little credit where credit is due.

I have been in a dysfunctional relationship with an alcoholic for 7 years now.

So here it goes...the alcoholic certainly is not going to be getting any alkaloids from my today. Nor are his parents, who are at the root of his behavior as far as I'm concerned.

First and foremost, I would like to thank my ex-husband, H, and his wife L. H helped me financially the first year of my son's life, when J was drinking and no where to be found. He and his wife came and helped me at the house many times. Most memorably was the night a few days after J was born when J was inconsolable. I could not get J to stop crying.

J was AWOL.

I could not get him on the phone, which has come to be a familiar pattern. Anyone who has had their first child and knows how scary it can be when the baby just cries and cries for no apparent reason can probably empathize. I was completely alone. Thank GOD L and H lived down the street and were able to come to the house and stay with me until I could get J to stop crying - sometime in the middle of the night. I will be FOREVER in their gratitude for that.

I will always thank H and L for loaning me money during that time. I received NO financial contributions from J for almost a year after J was born. I liquidated 3 retirement accounts to pay for expenses. Expenses that you would think the father would help out with.

I was ready to leave J, but then he went to rehab for 60 days. Wow - I I felt so much hope.

What a joke. Hope?

And then he relapsed.

And then he relapsed again.

And now it seems, he has relapsed again.

What a life!

My bad for always wanting to believe the best in someone.

Apparently I am the bad person, the fucked up person.

Because here we are again. H's 3rd birthday. And her dad is a NO SHOW.

And my ex-husband did the BBQ for the 2nd year in a row.

H has his own family. He has his own wife. And they are all lovely.

This goes way beyond the realm of his responsibility. He is a good man. But enough is enough.

I'd also like to thank my family.

They have stepped in, again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again.

My dad is here every Sunday with the kids. Someone has to be a man. Someone has to show them how they should behave AS A FATHER. Someone has to stop this dyfunction from going down from generation to generation to generation. My mom has been here so often it also seems like WE are the partners. That we are the ones who made these children together.

And I would just like to know, WHERE THE FUCK HAVE THE H'S BEEN?????

But lastly, I would like to say thank you to J's Aunt J, who has just about been the saving grace and the shining light in the entire Hs family. Thank you for showing me kindness. Thank you for being at H's birthday party. Thank you for caring. Because that means a lot to me.

K, you don't send someone a card and tell them they are a "Good Man" right after they don't come home ALL NIGHT LONG.

You don't continue to reinforce BAD behavior with money.

Unless, it is convenient for you to have A DEPENDENT ADDICT as your son.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

endings

At the end of the day, you are alone.

And it does not matter what you have done.

It does not matter what your dreams are.

You are just alone.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Birthdays


I'm throwing a birthday party for my daughters 3rd birthday tomorrow. Lots of running around today but at least the weather is beautiful. We should have about 50 people at the house. My mind is fixated on the party so not much to write about.

I just got out of my Al-Anon meeting. Not feeling very inspired today. Maybe I'm just too consumed with the party but I felt like I should go.

Today is my husband's 38th birthday. I've talked to him several times and he is feeling pretty sorry for himself. It's hard not to feel bad for him, even though I know he put himself in this situation. I got a cake for him for tomorrows party. Several of his friends and family members are coming. My in-laws may be there as well. At this point, it just is what it is. There is always going to be a link to him and his family, so I am just going to try to make the best of it.
I want my daughter to have a very happy birthday.

Part of me is very excited about the prospect of starting over and part of me is too scared to do anything. I have always been a very cautious person. And it usually takes me a long time to make a decision. I suppose I worry so much about making the wrong decision that I often make no decision. And I end up stuck.

Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much


My dear friend A sent this to me and I liked it a lot.


Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much

I have options for my life,
and one option is to see options.

Today is awareness day for what I have accomplished.
Celebrations may be in order.

Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order.
I owe it to myself to find time for my creative self.

I give thanks for my opportunities to learn,
even if they don't always look like gifts at the time.

It is sometimes frightening to trust my intuition.
It is always disastrous not to trust it.

Let me not ask for anything more than to bring
what I have to each task at hand.

Sometimes it helps to know
that I just cant do it all.

-Author unknown

Thursday, May 14, 2009

PMS

I am really tired and frustrated. I didn't sleep well again last night. More nightmares.

My husband has been living at the condo down the street since he didn't come home. I asked him last night to stay there.

The kids are irritable and very emotional. They miss their dad. They ask for him all the time. I feel like I'm doing the right thing but that everyone is blaming me for it - my daughter especially. Then, if I don't leave my husband, people blame me for that too. Everything seems to be on my shoulders.

When is anything ever my husband's responsibility?

My husband is being Mr. Nice guy. This is the familiar pattern, so I have to keep reminding myself that no matter how sweet he is being now or how great he's doing with the kids, it won't last.

I told him I couldn't deal with my father-in-law right now and so he's been leaving me alone. THANK GOD!!!!

I'm about to start my period so I feel bitchy and irritable. I haven't really had periods for years because I was on some crazy birth control. I think this is going to be a MF of a period because it seems like everything just stored up on me and I have the worst PMS in the world.

I decided to go off all my meds about 3 weeks ago, so no more migraine meds either. LOL, I think it's for the better, but I feel like a raging bitch who's about to lose it at any moment.

The Big Ugly Word

I have thinking about and contemplated divorce almost nonstop. What would it mean for me? What would it mean for my children?

I had a great talk with an old friend the other night about marriage. What we as women give up of ourselves within a marriage. It's not just my marriage - that's an extreme. But I think for the most part women give up so much to take care of our men, our families and our children. We sacrifice ourselves to take care of everyone else. A man wouldn't put up with half the things a woman will. A man would walk out.

As women we weigh our choices so carefully. We think about our children. Guilt consumes us. Even when we are not guilty. Of anything.

I have come to realize that there can be no joy in a marriage without equality. There can be no attraction, no sexual fulfillment - none of the things that make a relationship really great. If you are dependent on a man for money, if only for a short time to raise young children, there can be no realistic or true love for that man. It becomes a sort of slavery or prostitution.

Now if you have a contract or a solid understanding before hand – that you both abide by - and you are still able to retain equality in your relationship somehow, that's possible. I have seen it in Muslim families. But not so much in American relationships. The woman usually ends up with the short end of the stick.

The woman always ends up sacrificing so much in the West, I think, because we place so much value on money and consumerism. If you’re not earning, you’re not worth as much.

If you are constantly taking care of someone like I have been with my husband there can be no intimacy. It's just resentment that builds up.

I wanted to adopt children in need. Not take care of a grown man who was stunted by his own parents. I am tired of taking care of him. Who is taking care of me?

I think mostly what I want to divorce is my husband’s family and all they represent. For some time, I have wanted to get rid of their name. It dies not represent me or my values. I feel like I need to wash myself clean of it. I need to wash myself clean of them.

A few months ago my father-in-law came for dinner. My daughter was wearing an Obama t-shirt. He asked my children, don't you think he looks like a monkey?

My son looked puzzled. No?

Well, I think he looks like a monkey. My father-in-law stated, matter-of-factly.

The other day when I was on my date with my son, he turned to a ball game on TV and said, I hope the white people win. I asked him to clarify and we had an interesting discussion. It’s not the first time that he has made comments that bother me about people of color. I reminded him that all people are equal in our religion and that it was not OK to say things like that.

I can help thinking this is my husband’s family. He certainly didn't get it from me. Or my family.

There are no values I admire in them. My father-in-law is good at making and holding on to money. Beyond that, what is there?

The primary people I want to divorce are my in-laws. It seems there is no getting away from them. I feel them breathing down my neck even when they are not physically here. Sometimes it seems like he inhabits my husband’s body, his very thoughts and actions. I have put down boundaries - again and again and again. They just do not respect them.

His control is total and destructive.

I feel like if my husband would walk away from them and their money, perhaps he could heal and be the good man I see deep inside him. But I feel he will never do that because of the money. If there were no money he could walk and he wouldn't put up with all of this. Because lets be clear, my in-laws are not nice to my husband either.

If I were still financially independent and my children were older I would have walked away sooner too. I could have. I feel I must weigh my choices carefully. What is more important, my independence or their happiness? I believe children need someone there to take care of them when they are young. And I have enjoyed being that person immensely.

I am now enslaved too. The difference is that I know I can take care of myself. I have done it before. I just have to get it all figured out so that my children will not suffer the long hours I used to keep.

My husband has never taken care of himself. His dad has always bailed him out.

We just keep hitting the same wall over and over and over again. So the only conclusion I seem to come to is that we need to divorce.

But divorce seems like such a big, ugly word.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My response to the fourth wife 9/6/2007

K, I probably do seem like a fragile egg to you. You are correct. I am not used to this sort of environment. I t is not an environment I would like to continue in, or that I would like my children to be around. I was not raised around cursing or yelling. I did not hide under my bed or have the police come to my house. I was never afraid of my father or grandfather. My dad was home every night for dinner. He never stayed out all night – even when he was single. He never spoke ill of my mother or had an argument in front of me. I have never seen my dad drunk. These are the values that he instilled me with. I respected everyone in my family, and they respected me. I have never in my life heard my father or grandfather curse, and neither of them has ever raised my voice at me. No one put me down or belittled me. My dad has never been anything but proud of me and completely in love with me just the way I am – and vice versa. If you think, as you say, that I have a moral high tone, you are correct in that regard. This is how I believe the correct way to live with children is. And I don’t need advice from the H’s about anything in this regard – as I already told you, so please do not give it to me again. Obviously we are all angry. I understand that you love your husband. I love J and J too. I don’t normally find the need to send out harsh emails, but it seems like in the H’s family I get steamrolled over if I don’t stand up for myself. The difference between the first email and the second for me was the intent. I did think J was trying to help the first time. But then you two came over on the day of my grandfather’s funeral to “help” and all J wanted to do was look at my computer. Then he became fixated on our American Express card and our exchange student. At the funeral, J didn’t even speak to my grandmother, the widow. The way I was raised, this was a slap in the face to all of us, let alone the part about J missing the entire service. I agree that was terrible, but it was worse that J caused a scene there. My family is quiet. We don’t do drama like you all do. There was no need to go off on either of us (again) about the American Express card of the exchange student at the service. The 2nd and 3rd emails set me off because I am sick of having my boundaries crossed. I already told you both that the exchange student was a done deal. Leave it alone. It was upsetting to me to have a sacred service upset because of more H’s drama. I can’t tell you have many comments and complaints I had about this form friends and family after the service. What a total disregard for my grandfathers’ memory. This is the complete opposite of how he lived his life and is probably what upsets me more than anything else right now. That day should have been for my grandfather and my grandmother. I don’t care if you think we are fragile eggs or not – this is who we are. And I am very, very proud of my family. As far as any financial help, I haven’t asked for any and I don’t want any. J and J have their own deal, which I do not agree with. I have been asking J and J for the terms and payoff on my suburban for months. If you think that any of that gives you the right to tell me how to live my life, you are mistaken. I was fine before I met J, and I will be fine with or without any of you.

Here’s the deal: you need to be out of my marriage.

J’s demands on J – the long hours, never-ending phone calls and meetings, coming home late – are hurting our marriage, our family, and J’s relationship with his children. I don’t watch Dr. Phil very often, but I’m pretty sure he would frown upon reading your children’s email and getting into their financial accounts. I know what my counselor has told me, and I know what J’s counselor has told J and me. He told us J is taking his anger at J. out on me. That doesn’t seem fair to me. I also know that he has told J and J repeatedly that they need to stop working together and that J needs to go to Al-Anon. I don’t know why J and J bother to go see the counselor if they don’t listen to what he says.

My letter to J was not mean-spirited – it was a letter to set some boundaries. I was offended at J’s efforts to “define” our priorities for us – he has no right to determine what’s right in someone else’s marriage. For example – the exchange student. The decision (and commitment) was made long ago and frankly, it is no one else’s business. It is not the exchange student or the credit card that’s hurting my marriage – its J’s control over J and his unwillingness to let J go. You raise your children when they are children. J is a grown man now. It is too late to try to raise him or control him. J didn’t get the foundation he needed when he was young and that is REALLY hurting us now – but he is not going to be able to get that foundation from J NOW and that is painfully obvious.

J’s unwillingness to let J “go” is not only hurting J’s confidence, but is destroying my marriage. Our problems do not stem from a need for advice, they stem from J’s unwillingingness to let J go. J needs to become his own “man” – he needs to find his own success or failure – and whatever the outcome, he will learn from the experience and be better for it. By now allowing J to fail, J is also preventing him from succeeding. I understand that J needs to maintain a relationship with J (and vice versa) but some boundaries must be set.

J has an “obligation” to be a husband and father – and this isn’t just “supporting” his family monetarily, it’s spending time with me, with the kids, and having a home life. J has no home life. You need to give J the freedom (and time) to be a husband and father!

Please understand, I am not trying to be vindictive or mean. I am trying things my way now with my family. I tried things your way and I feel they only made the situation worse. Please refrain from giving us relationship advice, parenting advice, or lifestyle advice unless it is requested.

Love,
S


Ps You are probably tired of Kahlil Gibran, but I read this poem often about children and I thought about it as I was finishing up this email to you.


Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.



Note from Sula – my mom actually helped me draft this letter, so I want to give her credit for at least half of it! She had many valuable perspectives that she crafted really well in my opinion.

Email from my father-in-law Mon, 27 Aug 2007

I am thinking about you and your family again this morning.

I’m thinking about your priorities.

I believe that your first priority is to be the parents of your children. You made the choice to bring them into this world, it is your responsibility to teach them how to survive and thrive in it.
Your second priority is to make enough money to provide the best environment that you can afford for your family.

Everything after those are electives. Concerts, exchange students, golf, eating out, travel, etc.
I would suggest that you buy a few good books on parenting and then spend some time deciding on your family plan to raise your children. This would mean that you would talk about it together as a team, with being the best parents that you can be as a priority. Not just trying to be right or winning. I think that you are both smart people and that you bring different strengths to the table. It is important that you take the time to dialogue with each other and come up with a H’s Family Plan. It will take work but in addition to benefiting your kids, THE PROCESS WILL MAKE YOU A STRONG TEAM. That will result in a wonderful, strong, fulfilling marriage. (Take a minute to think about it. Isn’t that what would make you feel good.)
J.

Sula’s response – Is he crazy? I was at home taking care of these kids while my husband was out boozing it up. He was the worst parent himself – and he’s giving me parenting advice?

Email to both in-laws Fri 8/17/2007

I think J. is using again. That is the only thing that makes sense to me after these last few months.

He still hasn’t told the truth about the hotel or much of anything else.

He didn’t come home again last night.

He was supposed to be home at 6:30 but then it was just one excuse after another and he disappeared altogether at 8pm.

While I agreed with your previous email, I think there are much bigger issues here and unfortunately I am just out of steam. I have given J ample opportunities to be honest. He just WILL NOT do it.

I believe honesty is the foundation of all things. Without it, I really can’t see any sort of life with J. I think that I have sadly wanted to believe a lie or a portion of gray for a long time. I thought he would move closer to the truth because I loved him and I hoped for the best.

I can’t call and email you 24 hours a day. I feel isolated from my family because they would be horrified by J’s actions and he would not longer be a welcome member of our family. I don’t think I should have to feel this way anymore so once the dust settles from my grandpa’s funeral today I’m going to have an honest discussion about what has really been going on. I can’t do this on my own anymore. I need my family.

J didn’t see his counselor this week. I don’t know what he’s doing with his sponsor. Whatever it is, it’s not enough.

I can’t raise my kids like this. He has been increasingly verbally abusive and has been yelling and screaming a lot lately. J told me a few days ago he was scared of him. I think I should have cut this off weeks ago in retrospect when I told you I was filing for divorce because it has only really escalated. I can’t just have an open door policy here where daddy sometimes shows up and sometimes doesn’t. This is really terrible for all of us.

I don’t know what would ever happen if there were an emergency here. Or if I got sick. My doctor thought I was having a miscarriage a few weeks ago and told me I needed to come in. I was very upset and called J but he was golfing and I couldn’t reach him. Later I was upset that he hadn’t been there for me and he told me to “get off the cross because someone needed the wood.” And a few days later that I had probably “stated it” for when he was golfing so that he “couldn’t help me then.” This is my life with J.

Something is really wrong here. I just don’t know what to do but I know in my heart that staying with J is wrong for all of us. The kids and I deserve a whole lot better.

Love,
S

My response to the fourth wife 8/14/2007

Hi K,
I am mostly happy. It has been a very hard year and J. and I are obviously having some problems right now. I like this passage from The Prophet though:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the same well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. The deeper that sorry carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
-Kahlil Gibran

I have been reflecting a lot on life and I think that is good. Maybe I needed this year to slow me down. The last ten years or so have been so busy. I used to read, pray and journal a lot more.
I liked J’s email a lot and especially the fact that he took the time to write it. In my faith, we say, God bless anyone who shows me my mistake. It is a way to remind ourselves to stay humble and open to new ideas – and that mistakes can hurt us so people who are willing to risk scorn to reveal them to us really love us very dearly.

It is also important for both sides of the family to stick by the marriage and I felt that from his email. Sometimes I feel like I call J. a lot, but if I told my family some of this stuff they would not be able to accept it and there would be no going back. I don’t think we are quite to that point yet, but it does sometimes leave me feeling very isolated.

Thanks for your email.


Sula’s note: It disturbs me to read this now. For so long, I tried to be the “good” daughter-in-law. My in-laws knew very well that my husband was not coming home and the turmoil that I was under. I felt so alone at that time – like I could not possibly tell my family or friends what was really happening at home – who could understand it?

At that time, I was relying on my in-laws so much for support. And, you know, they should have stood up and said HIS BEHAVIOR IS NOT RIGHT.

Sat, 11 Aug 2007 - Email from my father-in-law

You two as individuals deserve a happy marriage.
You are both smart, kind, loving and considerate people.
I think you are both fighting for your own personal identity, space, control and/or self-worth.
I think you have both forgotten the love for each other that you felt prior to your marriage.
I think that you have both forgotten your marriage vows.
I DON’T THINK THAT IT IS TOO LATE TO SAVE THIS MARRIAGE AND YOUR FAMILY.
I think that you both love each other.
I think that you both love your family.
A good marriage requires a healthy environment.
Both of you need to quit trying to win.
The marriage and your family must be more important to you than yourself individually. (make sacrifices, be humble).
Only speak of your feelings. Don’t tell the other how you think or feel.
TELL THE TRUTH.
BE RIGOROUSLY HONEST.
DON’T LIE.
Be forgiving of each others mistakes and/or character defects.
Share your family (meaning all, J.) financial information. Make all decisions together.
Don’t say anything unless it is TRUE, unless it is NECESSARY, and unless you can say it in a KIND & LOVING WAY.
End each day by saying some prayers together. Even just holding hands and saying the “our Father” would be a good start. Go to bed together and with no children at 10PM.
Get up at 6AM together. Enjoy a cup of home-made coffee, visit, share your plans for the day.
Wake J. up at 7 or 7:30 AM (the same time consistently, every day)
J. Leave for work around 8:20 AM.
Call or text message each other at least twice a day to share a positive or loving thought.
Save daily problems or negative thoughts to talk about in person after dinner (they may not be that important if you give them some time). If there is an issue you will be able to solve it in a kind and loving way that puts the marriage and family first.
Have dinner every night at 6:30 PM.
J, you must honestly try as hard as you can to be there. (leave work by 6PM unless you are working with a live customer, no other thing or task is more important than your family and the commitment that you made to them).
S, if J. is not home feed the kids at 6:30 (consistency and structure are important).
Start your kid’s bedtime routine at the same time every night. Probably 8PM.
Check with your pediatrician if you don’t know how much sleep they need.
Put them in their own bed to sleep. Leave them there no matter what?
Enjoy each other, visit, solve family problems, plan the next day, plan the next vacation, watch television, TOGETHER, TOGETHER, TOGETHER.
Go to bed together, say prayers together.
REPEAT FOREVER.
PS It is important that your kids call you Mom & Dad or some variation of that.
Not your first names, or what you call each other.
They are the kids, you are the adults. You are the parents, they need the security of knowing the difference.
I love both of you. I love your family. If you both put your marriage and your family first you will be tremendously successful. If either of you try to win or think that you must be in control you will fail and it will be a terrible shame.
Love,
J.

Sula’s note: I received this in the midst of one of my husband’s relapses. At the time, all the signs were there, and it angers me now that my father-in-law sent me this advice about how we needed to act so specifically in our lives.

First of all, we were already doing most of his suggestions. I think in many ways these are valid suggestions. I responded positively to him, even though in my gut, I wondered, why is he telling us what to do – when he was such an awful father himself. Where does he get off?

After being sober for more than 20 years, he must have seen the signs of my husband’s relapse so much clearer than I was able to. It angers me now that instead of dealing with my husband’s addictions, he put so much blame and pressure on me.

Did he really need to give us a specific timeline of how to live our lives?

Can you say controlling?

Nightmares

I had nightmares all night about seeing my in-laws. I have a lot of anxiety about whether they will show up at the party on Saturday. Actually, just a lot of anxiety about the party in general - which is not like me. I usually love throwing parties.

The might before I dreamt of the party. That everything went wrong as I was trying to do it all myself.

Last night, I dreamt my in-laws came over and we started fighting. I just remember I kept saying that I wanted to get away from them and that just because I did not like them it did not make me a bad person. She kept trying to insinuate I was a terrible person. They kept chasing me around and I could not get away from them. They were both taunting me the whole time and trying to manipulate my children into thinking I was the bad one.

It was a terrible dream. I woke very shaken up.

I re-read some of the previous emails between us last night, and I think that's partly what got me so shaken up.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Birthday Card


The forth wife sent a birthday card to my husband.

It says "Imagine the possibilities this year has in store for you."

Then she wrote. "Good luck with everything J. You are a good man and I wish you the very best. K"

She knows full well he didn't come home all night Thursday.

If that's what constitutes a good man in his family, I get it.
Once again thy are reinforcing his behavior and undermining me.

My Horoscope Today


I thought this was great -

"If you are trying to get a handle on your love life right now, the key words for the quest are "money, values, material security". You may be feeling insecure partially as a result of something your partner says and does and partially because you are reliving a childhood insecurity. "

What is Co-Dependency

  • My good feelings about who I am stem from being liked by you.
  • My good feelings about who I am stem from receiving approval from you.
  • Your struggles affect my serenity.
  • My mental attention is focused on pleasing you.
  • My mental attention focuses on solving your problems or relieving your pain.
  • My mental attention is focused on protecting you.
  • My mental attention is focused on manipulating you to "do it my way".
  • My self-esteem is bolstered by relieving your pain.
  • Your appearance and clothing are a reflection of me.
  • Your behavior is a reflection of me.
  • I am not aware of how I feel; I am aware of how you feel. I am not aware of what I want; I ask what you want. If I do not know, I guess.
  • My fear of rejection determines what I say and do.
  • My fear of your anger determines what I say and do.
  • I value your opinion and way of doing things more than my own.
  • My social circle diminishes as I involve myself with you.
  • The quality of my life depends on the quality of your life.
I found this list a few days ago in a book I plan to look at again, that my counselor had given me when I was meeting with her years ago. The list fits me so well. It is frustrating to look back and see that I was given this all these years ago, and I am still SUCH A CO-DEPENDENT!! UGH

I can definitely see that I have made progress, but I wonder when it will all be over. I have read the books, and would definitely be up for suggestions on more, but here I am in this spot, AGAIN!!

I am coming up on my one-year anniversary in Al-Anon. It amazes me that there are people there that have been going for 20 years, and they still have some of the same issues as me.

I have been so worried that my children will become addicts someday. But I have started to wonder: which is worse? Being an addict or the one enslaved to them?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Meeting with the Counselor

The counseling session was pretty bad.

The counselor started by asking us what was going on and said that she had received my message about my husband not coming home. That seemed to aggregate him.

It seems like we spent most of the session blaming each other. Me for him not coming home and him saying I wasn't trying to save our marriage.

I don't think either of us can see the others perspective. To me, working on the marriage does not include not coming home all night long.

Especially when I have told him repeatedly that is non-negotiable for me.

I don't see what I can work on at this point. The counselor said that I seem pretty sure that I want a divorce so perhaps we should work on arrangements to make it easier on the kids.

She said it was very important for them to continue to see their dad. We made a temporary agreement for him to see the kids at the house with me there on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30-730 and on Saturdays from 11:30-3.

I told them I was not comfortable with him taking the kids anywhere on his own without regular drug and alcohol tests He got really sarcastic and angry with that and said, would you like to administer that Sula?

I said, No, I just want to protect my kids.

All afternoon he has been texting an calling, asking me to reconsider.

He wants to go to marriage counseling. He brought that up with the Counselor and I reminded him that I had told him many times to find one and he never had. I bring our son to counseling every week and meet with his counselor regularly.

He can say all he wants but I am doing everything.

As I was walking to my car he yelled out at me, you're making a mistake.

Doubt and blaming

I had a very full weekend with the kids, which was good. I think being busy and around other people takes my mind off things. The kids too. My daughter is still pretty upset. She told me she wished my friend V was her mommy instead of me. Yesterday, she wet her pants - which she was been done with for some time now.

The kids talk to their dad on the phone. Sometimes when he calls, they don't want to talk to him. But they usually call him on their own about 3 times a day.

He is still texting and calling me a lot, telling me he loves me. He says that I haven't tried everything or to fix things - that I have been unavailable to him. That I'm living in the past.

I told him, that's impossible to do when you keep repeating the same unacceptable behavior. There is no difference between past, present and future in my mind with you.

I still can't fathom why he did not come home. Both kids have asked him if he was drinking alcohol. I think my daughter picked it up from my son. They have asked me, and I tell them I don't know. That angers my husband, but all the signs are there.

I remember one of the previous times he did this, I had called my father-in-law and said I thought he was drinking. My father-in-law said he must be really, really sick. He could not fathom he was drinking either. My husband talked us both down. I think we both ended up thinking we were crazy. I don't know what my father-in-law thinks now, but I get the feeling he thinks I'm the crazy one here now.

I remember when he first started doing this, after I had our son - and we first tried to live together, I didn't know what to do. I went to my grandpa, and he said, "Well, just don't open the door and let him back in. That'll teach him." That didn't work either. It seems the only thing is just to end this and be out of this terrible, repetitive pattern.

So many times, my husband has done this, and it has always turned out that he was drinking when he did it. He always minimizes his actions. Even his drinking and drug use. After he was gone last time, I found receipts for liquor and bar receipts that gave me an idea of how much he was drinking. Even when he wreaked of alcohol, he said he wasn't drinking. He said it was mouthwash. I remember his counselor replying to him at a joint session, "That's some pretty strong mouthwash there."

I wish on so many levels that my husband would just tell the truth. I don't understand what's so hard about that.

We are seeing my son's counselor in a few hours. We already had an appointment scheduled weeks ago. I had called the counselor, told her what had happened, and didn't expect my husband to even remember, but he said he's coming.

I guess the biggest thing for me at this point, is that I don't want my children to believe his behavior is acceptable. I don't want them to doubt themselves like I have doubted myself.