Reflections From Year One

Today marks 1 year since a judge signed my divorce petition and my marriage was legally dissolved after 33 years.

Yep, 33 years. Not all bad, some actually good, but the reality screams that with all things considered, the end should have come at about year 20.

Do I want to re-hash the good, bad, and ugly of all of those 33 years? Not here, not now. I’ve done that already. Do I want to reminisce, or blame, or post some sort of list on the “what-if’s” and “why nots” and “how comes”? Nope. I do have some reflections though.

I know the man that I am no longer married to. I know just how much he struggled in life, and continues to struggle because of the circumstances surrounding his life. I know that he never had the ability (or perhaps even the real desire) to move beyond those circumstances. I also know that I married this man for the wrong reasons. Did I love him? Yes, I did. The love I experienced was not false, but it also was not the correct reason to marry. I married the image of the man I believed he could be. Despite what many believe, love was (is) not enough. I believe I loved him more for the potential I thought I recognized than for the real person he is. Marrying someone for the person you believe they are, or for the person you believe they will become, is fraught with all sorts of issues. Marrying someone when you are still unsure of who you are, or who you will (or want to) become is also not the best recipe for success.

I chose to overlook a lot. I chose to believe that I had some ability to mold, change, or guide this man into the person I believed he could or should be. I was wrong. And because I did not have the ability to achieve those goals for him… goals that he didn’t even know existed… I became filled with doubt, self-blame, regret, anger, and finally over time, a deep loss of respect for both him and myself.

Please take note of that line: “because I did not have the ability to achieve those goals for him…”

Yep, I was completely invested in helping him achieve goals that I believed he needed, wanted and would buy into. The problem then, only realized by me much too late, was that his interest in these goals was riding at almost zero. And yes, I believed that my role was to bend over backwards to help him achieve something he didn’t know he wanted. The sun would shine, rainbows and unicorns would fill the sky and life would be perfect. If only…

The inevitable if only I could enable him…change him…perfect him. Create a perfect man.

Have you heard this story before? How many of us, as women of a certain era truly believed this “I can change him” garbage? How many women or men of today still believe this, still put all their hopes and dreams into the ideal that we must take responsibility for shaping someone else? How many humans feel that the only way to validate themselves is to lose your core self by focusing solely on achieving the perfection (the fixing) of another?

Those delusions of grandeur are not attainable. They are not even highly recommended as viable in my opinion. An adult must “adult” for themselves. They must take responsibility for themselves. I’m not saying that an adult cannot change. I believe change is possible, if one wants change. I am saying that one adult cannot and should not feel responsible for bringing about change in another adult. The man that I was married to is a human who will allow others to be responsible. He will advocate for change in others, but facing his own challenges and then making attempts to address them was never something he desired to do.

I certainly am not blameless. I am flawed. I have my own past and circumstances. However this idea of responsibility has loomed large in my world for as long as I can remember. Somewhere I learned that I had to be responsible for myself. I know that conceptually I believe that responsibility begins at home so to speak, within the individual. I am still trying to come to terms with the fact that I allowed that belief to be almost completely overshadowed in my marriage. I allowed myself to take on the responsibilities of another capable adult. I have used excuses to justify my actions…

His job takes him away so often…

I just can’t always wait for him to get this done, or take care of that project, or make that decision…

He isn’t here enough to really take part in all the kids activities…

It’s just so much easier, faster, better if I just do it…

I allowed the patterns developed early on in my marriage to continue year after year, right up to the time that we agreed to divorce and I once more took on the sole responsibility to get the job done and move the divorce ahead. As I write this now, I am truly embarassed to admit that even in those final months my role did not change. I can easily use the excuse that I simply wanted everything to be over, or that I wanted things to be done right or that I feared that the process would drag on or run into issues if I didn’t handle it all. We did agree that we wanted to avoid lawyers and their fees if possible, but rather than expect him to step up and handle half of the process I jumped right in with both feet and did it all, and he willing let me.

Why take responsibility when you have been taught that someone else will do it for you?

On the morning of July 21, 2017 I watched a judge sign a paper that in essence was to legally give me my freedom. Once signed however, I turned and walked out of court knowing that I must respect myself enough to take back what had been mine. The weight of responsibility for another adult was gone. Freedom to be the person I should have been all along waited on the other side of the courtroom door.

As I reflect on this past year, the image that has headed my blog since I decided to divorce in late 2016 cannot be more true.

cropped-dbe00fa2ba4378b539a45186f3348374.jpg

I really don’t know what the future holds. I do know that my life is much less stressful. I know that my responsibility lies only in making decisions for myself. I know that distance is imperative and healing and welcome. I know that there is no reason to continue to look back. I know that I am strong.

As I move past the end of this first year, if I was to say anything to my former husband, it might be these words, also by Iain Thomas:

You were a dream. Then a reality. Now a memory.

 

 

Advertisements

I Saw An Interesting Bird Yesterday

I was almost home from work, just two blocks from my apartment. I rolled slowly up to the stop sign. No cars on my left, but an older pickup truck was coming from the right. The male driver, wearing some sort of reflective safety vest, had no stop sign of his own, and therefore the right of way.

I sat patiently, ready to give my usual nod and smile acknowledgment that we tend to use around here. We are a polite group in this little town, and more often than not we give a courtesy nod or wave or smile when we encounter other drivers or walkers.

The truck approached and I noticed the drivers window was down about 4 or 5 inches. Then I did a double take, and my mouth fell open. Clearly, and may I say rather artfully arranged, was  the drivers left hand, flipping me the bird! If you are unfamiliar with that phrase I will provide a non-human visual aid:

download
techcrunch.com

In that moment of realization I actually tried to rationalize what I was seeing.

Could his other fingers have accidently slipped from the door frame at the precise moment he rolled past me? 

Could he be unaware that he is passing another driver, one who clearly was waiting patiently for her turn?

Does he have his polite “I see you there index finger wave”  confused with the meaning of the middle finger wave?

In the few seconds that my brain was attempting to make sense of all this I watched him slowly remove his hand from the window opening.

I saw intent there, so I think I must assume intent in the gesture as well.

Clearly this driver does not understand the rules around here. I might even assume his name is Dick.

Self-Renewal

I am relishing the fact that spring has come to my part of the world. The sun is out, the temperatures are verging on hot, at least during the daytime, and my entire outlook is bright. Oddly, even working the same amount of hours and spending the same amount of time on errands and other things that I have to fit around my schedule, these last few days seem to be endless. There is a sense of calm, a sense of relief, a sense that not just the plants are awakening, but that I am as well.

The amateur psychologist within me is wondering if I might have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). So of course, I googled it.

The National Institute of Mental Health states that:

“To be diagnosed with SAD, people must meet full criteria for major depression coinciding with specific seasons (appearing in the winter or summer months) for at least 2 years.”

I checked the symptoms of major depression and added my personal analysis:

Symptoms of Major Depression

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day — Not at all
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless — Nope
  • Having low energy — Well do get up at 4:30 AM and often chase a 2 1/2 year old around so…
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed — No
  • Having problems with sleep — I’m nearing 60. I think I read that it’s common to wake up at night, and take naps during the day. Also see the low energy answer.
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight — No, and my weight has held steady for quite some time now. A nice surprise at my last medical checkup.
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated — This one’s a no as well.
  • Having difficulty concentrating — I can concentrate just fine, I just don’t always remember things after I’ve concentrated on them.
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide. — I will admit that hearing that Barbara Bush just passed at 92 years, and that the Queen of England just turned 92 has made me quite aware that I am closer to those numbers myself, but I plan to stick around for some time yet.

I would have to say that I don’t really qualify for the major depression diagnosis. As to the winter symptoms associated with SAD (plus answers again):

Symptoms of the Winter Pattern of SAD include:

  • Having low energy — I think we covered that one above.
  • Hypersomnia — While I have never fallen asleep while driving, or dozed off while screening a baby, I can easily fall asleep during toddler nap time after lunch.
  • Overeating — Don’t think so, but where does having a strong desire to visit the snack chip aisle in the grocery store fall? I admit to giving into that urge a few times too many. By the way- Lays Kettle Cooked Olive Oil and Herb chips are excellent!
  • Weight gain — No, really I have not gained weight so I think you need to stop asking.
  • Craving for carbohydrates — I always crave carbs. Winter, spring, summer, or fall I do not differentiate with any season regarding my carb craving… ever.
  • Social withdrawal (feel like “hibernating”) — Maybe when the thermometer says 20 degrees, but I got a nice new down jacket this past winter so I was pretty toasty warm.

Apparently I appear to be fairly stable in the depression arena, and based on subjective opinion, may or may not have some of the symptoms of the winter disorder, but given the definition above, I don’t think that I qualify.

Perhaps seeing my garden bloom, the birds flying past my window, planning out delicious recipes that highlight all the upcoming spring and summer vegetables, looking forward to getting outside more with the granddaughters, and sipping some chilled wine while relaxing on summer evenings on the front lawn means nothing more than my life is normal. It is falling into place. I am settling in and settling down while moving forward. Perhaps the residual stress of that long journey that I was trying to endure at this time last year is really no longer a part of me.

The road ahead is open and I don’t think that I have to look back anymore.

Momentous Day

You all know that I’m not here much, writing anyway. I read your blogs without fail, and comment on most on a regular basis.

Because I am so random in the writing portion of this blog, I have also become incredibly lazy when it comes to checking most everything to do with my blog. All the background stuff like those hilarious spam comments trying to sell me Viagra or sex toys, or even my stats-which to be honest I don’t care about in the slightest because that’s not why I blog.

It seems that I will garner two or three new followers every few months or so, usually around the time I actually publish a post. A fellow blogger just noted that he has been getting some new email subscribers with the possibility of some sketchy addresses. Nothing like that here, but that issue led me to zip over to my admin pages and do some looking around.

I have, for years, desperately wanted WordPress to allow bloggers to remove followers. The trolls, the sites trying to sell you something because you happen to have a tag that relates to their product or company, the new bloggers who follow everyone but never make an attempt to engage. Even those who have been a part of the loyal followers group, but who haven’t blogged themselves in years and have almost assuredly let their blog die.

What a glorious surprise (thank you WordPress) when I opened my followers statistics and saw that WordPress now allows me to remove followers. When did that happen??This is a grand day indeed and I quickly set about clicking remove with abandon. Just like with stats and views and all that, the number of followers I have is irrelevant to me. Click after click after sweet click quickly took my 450+ followers down to 42. Yes folks, those are the people who engage, who comment, who at the very least like a post every so often. Those are the folks I am keeping in my list. Goodbye to all the rest.

Please know, that if you find yourself suddenly not in the newer, greatly compacted following group, but really, really REALLY want to be, then please click that follow me button again. I may have inadvertently clicked you away in my zeal. But if you have never engaged beyond your initial follow click (and you are likely not reading this anyway) you are no longer on my list. Thanks for stopping, but you just took up too much space for my sensible, organized brain.

Stop-Following-Me
http://love.catchsmile.com/stop-following-me/

I will now also excuse WordPress from trying to maneauver me into paying for their services with email after email telling me how great my blog “could be” if I gave them money. I can overlook their promotions a lot easier now that they have finally listened to me. I have power, and I am deeply enjoying that control.

Closure

As a point of reference, this post from April 8th regarding work and vacation scheduling, now has a definitive ending…sort of.

If you’d rather not read the link, that post involved my query of co-worker motives when it came to choosing vacation days. I was bewildered regarding intent, and for those of you very wise readers who commented along the lines that many things can change in the coming months, well… you get the virtual Smartest Blog Reader Ever blue ribbon. personally delivered by me.

download

I went into work this morning for a short training meeting. As I chatted with my co-worker while waiting for our coordinator, I was told that she (the co-worker) had just given her 2-week notice. Her reasons revolved around the fact that after recently earning a second degree her next goal was to enter a Master’s program. She had applied, along with about 700 others. The program chose 24. She was not among the chosen.

Her original commitment to our coordinator when she was hired had been for two years, the length of the Master’s program. Now, without admission to a program she had truly expected to enter based upon her 3.9 GPA, she has to find an actual, full-time job that allows her to live. I learned that she has a teaching degree, and is now scrambling to try to get hired with a few of the local school districts.

I can understand this. Eating, paying bills and rent- those are important things and the wages from our job, even working 7 days per week, just don’t adequately cover those needs. I am also left pondering though, how someone in the competetive world we live in, might assume that they have any guarantees regarding things like acceptance to university Master’s programs who only submit a very select number, no matter what the GPA is. She was clearly counting on this happening, and I do understand the stress she now faces, but I am still left with questions after the following:

She made an interesting comment after sharing this news with me. She has children, although I don’t know their ages, but likely at least late teens. In saying how hard it was to now give up her original goal, and how stressful it is to now have to secure something other than a part-time job, she also clearly spoke about her desire to not disappoint her children by being away from them at holidays, specifically Christmas. While that’s not a direct quote, it seems rather significant to my earlier puzzlement over her choice to volunteer to work every holiday but Christmas.

Of course I let it go, as any issues she may, or may not really have with working holidays really don’t matter anymore. I did find it odd though, and so very specific to my questions about motive.

So, the search has already begun for someone to replace her and now my coordinator is pulled in 5 more directions while she covers this newly open position. I have volunteered to cover days when I can, but can’t help wondering how long the next person will stick around once they are hired and reality sets in for them.

To Bring It Up…Or Not

A few weeks ago my coordinator notified all of us that she would be putting up a “Volunteer for the Holiday” sign-up sheet at each of our locations. The idea was to allow each of us to jot our names down on the holidays that we were interested in and/or willing to work for this coming year. She’s planning well in advance and I respect that.

We screen babies 365 days a year, rain or shine or sleet or piles of snow. Everyday has to be covered and this company is unwilling to pay a coordinator (even if they want to) to cover any major holiday. They will pay one of us time-and-a-half wages, but not a coordinator.

I was surprised to see our sign-up sheet already up when I went into work just over a week ago. I was even more surprised to see that my co-worker had placed her name in every slot available…except for Christmas. We are being asked to cover 6 major holidays, plus the day after Thanksgiving. On a few lines, following her name, she noted that she “didn’t mind working this day” so I took that to mean that perhaps she was just trying to be nice. Yet, as the morning progressed and I would return to the desk to chart my screening results, that blank spot for Christmas day began to annoy me. Here’s why:

This person has always been pleasant, although we have never met face to face. We have talked on the phone, commiserated over ongoing technical issues with our software program, and have even gotten into the habit of texting each other updates or important information regarding babies status so that no one has a surprise when they come into work.

I started this job in September 2017. This co-worker started in early November, 2017. Imagine my shock when I saw her name on the vacation calender, taking time off at Christmas last year after only being on the job for a few months. Apparently she had planned a vacation long in advance. So okay, I did not begrudge her this pre-planned time off and went to work on both Christmas Eve and Christmas day. She was asked to work New Years day, which she did.

Each time I sat at the desk that day my eyes were drawn to that glaring open spot for Christmas day coverage. I just couldn’t keep myself from thinking that her nice gesture at signing up for all the holidays was in reality her way of hoping that I might jump onboard with working Christmas again. In fact, it would end up being Christmas Eve and Christmas day actually, because CE happens to fall on one of my usual work days. So I stewed about it, finished my work and decided to add my name on the days I was willing to work. You would be correct if you assume that I did not put my name down on Christmas day.

Knowing my coordinator was scheduled to work this site prior to the co-worker coming back on Tuesday, I sent an email to my coordinator. Perhaps you could call it a “heads up” or maybe, if I’m being honest, it was my way of trying to call attention to the fact that I had sincerely hoped that I would not have to work a second Christmas in a row. We talked, and I noted that I was not only confused as to why the co-worker had her name on every day except Christmas, but also hoping that she had not already planned another vacation assuming I would accept working that day again.

I have a coordinator who truly does care about her employees, and does her best to be fair. She is very fair about time off and that was her approach to this dilemma. The co-worker and I received an email later that day. It was made clear that, unless we chose to change something among ourselves, we would simply alternate holidays each year so that it would always be fair. This still allowed us to change up or have some choice, which I am very willing to do, and to be able to come up with alternatives each year by working things out ourselves if needed.

I responded with a thank you email, assuming that my co-worker would either do the same, contact me if she wanted to discuss a change, or if she wasn’t pleased, then she would contact the coordinator.

It’s been one week. No email. No contact to discuss anything. I don’t know if she has been in contact with the coordinator. There was no text update on Friday. There was no note in our paperwork box regarding babies.

There has never been a time that she has not responded to a group email sent by the coordinator, as this one was, but perhaps I should assume she hasn’t read this yet? The original sign-up sheet came down so surely she should would have noticed that. My head tells me that she has read the email. My gut is telling me that she very likely is not pleased with the decision, rather it be that I was given some of the days that she asked for, or perhaps that she was assigned Christmas this time around, or all of the above.

Alienating this person was not what I set out to do. Hoping for a fair and equitable work schedule was, and I’m thankful that my coordinator sees the need for that as well. At this point, although I want to know her views and opinions, I am laying low and choosing not to try to ask this co-worker if 1) she saw and read the email, 2) how she feels about the decision, 3) if there is a need to alter days and why.

It is not in my nature to let something like this situation (if it even IS a situation) fester, but perhaps I’m letting my imagination run wild…and life is good for everyone…

How do you read this dilemma? Am I reading way more into this than I should? Would you have been as suspicious as I was after reading that original sign-up list?

I would love some analysis and opinions, even if you think I’m crazy.