Not a day over 40

I am 58 years old today. That doesn’t seem possible. How is that in two years I will be sixty? I swear to god that just yesterday I was graduating high school. Only a few years after that I was a brand new dental assistant, already coming to understand what working for a sexist a**hole was going to mean.

My children are adults, like real adults, not just beginning the “newly out of college phase” but actually marking their own year by year climb up the age ladder. Okay, I have to give Alison a little leeway- she’s only 24 so still just a toddler in the adult world. I can remember every moment of labor with each of them. How can I be almost 60 and remember those events, but forget where I put my phone only seconds after setting it down?

I have two grandchildren. Aren’t grandma’s supposed to be all round and cushy and wearing a full head of white hair while carrying around lined faces and crepe-skinned necks and saggy jowls and chicken wing arms? Alright, I will admit to a degree of round, but hey, I carried and birthed 3 children remember. I do have some crepe-ish skin, somewhere under my drooping eyelids, and I will admit to a few fine lines, but those are mostly on my well-worn hands. Chicken wings for arms–yeah, it doesn’t take much to get some flapping to occur under my arms, but white hair- no way! Garnier Nutrisse 5RB will never allow me to look like a snow queen.

I wonder, on the day I turn 68 and realize that at that time I am just two years shy of seventy, if I will finally be able to acknowledge feeling mentally the same age as my body tells me I am. My head consistently tells me, on these annual birthdays, that I am somewhere around 25. I used to say 18, but that’s pushing a bit these days. I’ve had too many life experiences to claim to be the mental age of a naive 18 year old.

I wonder when the mental clock will finally catch up with my chronological age. Perhaps we always imagine ourselves to be younger. Maybe it’s some sort of self-preservation mechanism, a way to stave off our mortality. If that’s the case, then today I’m going to hop back to about 40. I think that was a pretty good year.

Am I the only one who experiences this? How old are you- in your head anyway.

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Closing Scene…

Open on a shot of a nondescript courtroom in Pierce County Washington.

A few dozen people sit on uncomfortable benches, waiting to stand before the court commissioner.

One by one each player is asked to come before the court, paperwork in-hand. Each scene unfolds with alarming regularity. Each player is found to have some issue or other that causes the commissioner to send them away to either fix or add to their pleadings.

Some are even told that their case will not be completed because they are too far off the mark with their attempts at supplying the correct legal documents. Some should clearly not even be in the courtroom.

The cameras, as they are lurking in every corner of the room, all pan towards me- The Petitioner in case 17-3-01458-2, Dissolution of Marriage. I begin to worry that after countless hours and checks and rechecks that I may have forgotten something, or left something out. I wait as each name is called, equally anxious to be done but also dreading that I may be one of those who is sent away with unfinished documents. My brain cannot grapple with the fact that I may have to return to this room another day.

My case is called, and like everyone before me I proceed through the swinging gate and step to the microphone in front of the clerk and commissioner.

“Please raise your right hand and repeat after me…”

“Right? Which one is my right?”

“State your name.”

“Already too many questions. Can’t he see that I don’t want to get sent away. Just sign      the papers, please”

Most of the rest is a blur. I was asked basic questions about the marriage. I was asked numerous questions (probably about 4 actually) about the division of assets. I was not scolded about my paperwork being messy or inaccurate. I was not sent from the room to add to or fix anything. I watched the clerk place a large letter G next to my name on her list. It only struck me later that she was signifying for her own notes that my decree had been granted.

Pan to the commissioner’s desk. One by one he signs off on all 5 documents that I had put in front of him. He announced his signature with each one, and as those before me had done, I politely said “Thank you, Your Honor.”

With the signing of the final decree it was announced to the room, “You are now divorced. Thank you and have a good weekend.”

The lights begin to dim as I collect my notebook and purse and move back through the swinging gate, already forgotten by the commissioner and those players still waiting for their turn in the spotlight. I exit the courtroom with the realization that I am now divorced.

And we close the scene at 10 AM July 21, 2017 on what was just over 34 years of marriage.

Curtain.

**This process was probably the most surreal experience I have ever had. The reality for me is that this entire marriage was truly over so long ago that this was a formality. The emotion levels of this process have come and gone, climbed up and down, and been a constant presence in my life for so long that earlier today, and even now almost 4 hours later, I feel emotionless. It is just another day and nothing feels any different. I wonder how long this will take to really sink in. Maybe when I move into my new apartment and can just sit, quietly and alone and reflect. Or maybe this is all there is. Maybe there will never be anymore to care about or reflect upon. Maybe I can just move ahead now because this is finally, unquestionably over.

Thank you all for reading, and supporting, and being willing to stick through this process with me.

 

 

Divorce Stories

Since I have all this time on my hands I’ve decided to share some of an interesting/disturbing/disgusting incident surrounding this divorce process.

It was right around the time that I was finally prepared to tell my spouse that it was time to end our marriage. I had made an appointment with our long-time financial planner so that we could get our taxes prepared- close to the end of March it must have been.

I sat down and before anything else, told him that we had agreed to divorce. The man nearly became unhinged. Now this was a person who had come well recommended years ago. We began our relationship with him when both of my parents passed away within a few months of each other and there was inherited money that needed to be dealt with.

We have kept that relationship going for 20 years or so and have had no complaints about how our money has been managed, or how he has helped us navigate through things like college student loan issues for our kids as they all moved through higher ed. This person has always been soft-spoken, knowledgeable, sort of nerdy, definitely focused on facts, and never pushy about any decisions we have made.

I’m not sure that I can even begin to describe the person who presented himself to me on that day in March. It was not the man I had known for 20 years. I understand and acknowledge concern. I comprehend shock over the news that I had just shared. I can even accept, to some degree on his part, a sense of disappointment or failure that the future we had been growing was going to undergo a significant change. I am still in disbelief that I became the victim of a tirade for most of that tax appointment.

I listened to him tell me, over and over, how he had seen the lives of clients fall apart after divorce, how the process would be contentious; how it would be a struggle at best; how it would go on for a year or more; how no matter what we may believe there would always be something that would come up to cause disagreement or even open warfare.

He stressed, almost vehemently, just how much attorney’s set out to line their own pockets, caring little for their clients, and how they clearly delighted in pitting party against party in a divorce.

He felt the need to assure me, repeatedly, that there would not be enough money to live. I assume he was speaking about me (rather than us) with that comment because of the fact that I no longer work and my spouse has an income.

He felt the need to tell me the story of his own parents horrid marriage…tell me 4 times that they were married for over 50 years and readily admit that the marriage should have ended decades earlier…except that they would never have been able to live. They stayed married, living in separate areas of their home until his mother died.

He liked to stress that line, “you won’t be able to live” along with his constant observation that “I’ve seen this so many times” or that “it always happens this way.”

He shared the horror stories of just how much healthcare would cost me each month, based of course on the fact that he supports a family of 4 and that I had only 3 choices of plans. It made no matter to him that neither of those facts applied to me.

He encouraged, between the dire warnings, that my spouse and I go to counseling. Again, it was no interest to him that with each cajoling plea to seek guidance I stressed that we both clearly know our own mind and our decision would not change.

Intermixed throughout all of this was the clear insinuation that I would do myself a great favor if I simply settled in for the long haul, forgot about my own happiness and needs and rode out the rest of my marriage until, like his parents, one of us passed on. He even, without any subtlety or grace, noted that my only alternative was to find myself “someone with money to take care of me.”

**I must inject a note to my dear blogger pal Alice at this point– calm down dear. I have ranted and raged over this man enough for both of us since this day happened. I am almost to the point that I can find a pitiful sense of amusement in the story now. Don’t waste your time or energy.

I had a rather bad cold that day, so I think that much of what he was spouting off about actually didn’t faze me at the time, or I was just more focused on trying to breathe and not cough myself out of the chair. Believe me, I heard his words, over and over, but it wasn’t until the drive home that they actually began to sink in.

A few times during the 45 minute appointment I remember looking at him incredulously. I asked him at one point, after the 3rd time around with his parents story, if he was honestly telling me that I had two choices: stick it out and be miserable for 30 more years, or find myself a cardboard box to live under the local overpass. After a shrug, and likely his interjection of one of his favorite ‘you can’t live on that amount’ replies, I clearly remember telling him I would gladly choose the box.

The irony of that meeting is evident in the fact that nothing that he predicted, at least so far, has come to fruition. We discussed, agreed, moved forward, continue to make progress without lawyers sucking our money from us or being involved at all, have made quite equitable decisions that will allow us both to live, not in a box, but between walls and with a roof, and remain amicable.

I have had to have email contact with him a few times since that day. I remain coolly detached, ask my question, and move ahead. Today in fact, in a reply to me, he managed to throw in one of his favorite statements when answering my question- the one about how he’s seen it happen before, so many times.

My amateur psychology degree tells me that there’s something underlying these reactions. There are some deeper issues here that this man cannot move beyond, that this man must project on to others. Or perhaps he was just a misogynistic horse’s ass all along…

I have to admit that I find myself feeling rather smug during those moments when I can share with him in an email just how easy this process has been, just how smoothly we are moving ahead, just how things like his dire prediction of an $800+ health insurance bill per month will actually be a mere $25 per month- all thanks to my spouse candidly and openly reminding me that I can take advantage of the fact that I am still covered by the military healthcare system, and will be for life.

The best day, I predict, is yet to come. That will be the day when all of this is over and I walk into his office for the last time. I plan to leave him a small cardboard box and perhaps a tarp as my final goodbye gesture prior to firing him as my CPA.

Where to begin…

How about this:

If everything continues on the path that my feet have been walking over the last month or so I believe that I will officially be a single woman by August.

I need to say that again.

I have every hope, barring any unforeseen disasters, that my divorce will be complete before the summer is over.

I move ahead each day now with that goal, that magical final end in my sights, and it is amazing how that knowledge has changed my outlook about so many things.

For so long I dreaded the telling, ran from the conversation that had to happen between my spouse and myself. When the day came, and his reaction was clean and simple and as straightforward as one could wish for, I saw the tightly closed door finally begin to open.

When, after just a few short and specific conversations, we had agreed to every aspect of ending our marriage, the door opened a bit more.

There have been hiccups, because life and dreams and goals don’t always happen in a straight, uninterrupted line, but the irony of those hiccups is that they have been caused by others. My husband and I both see a clear road out of this marriage and we both have the same goal.

Our agreement and movement and determination aren’t really a surprise. I know that he was miserable. I also know that, while I spent 34 years attempting to disregard the clear knowledge that we are two totally different people, he can’t be characterized as a monster. Irony shows me that it is possible, when we find a topic that we both agree on, that we can actually move forward and get the job done. Irony is also trying very hard not to push the fact that the agreeable topic turns out to be ending our marriage…

While there’s a good deal more to tell, I will save some of the stories for another time.

It just seemed important to say (write) these words, to acknowledge this fact, and to watch the door swing wider each day.

Shameless promotion

By way of introduction:

  1. I’m a mom, and it is my duty to shamelessly tell you about all the wonderful, amazing, creative, and sometimes even awe-inspiring things that my 3 adult children do.
  2. I have the cheapest (meaning FREE) WordPress plan. I cannot download audio files with this plan so I apologize because obviously it would make this entire post much more relevant and perhaps also inspire more folks to listen without having to go to extra steps.
  3.  My son, who works in the analytics industry by day, just produced this album:

https://sayspeaker.bandcamp.com/releases

This is where I am cursing lightly under my breath, because you will now have to possibly copy and paste this url into another window to hear it. Again, I am sorry for my cheapness frugal options when it comes to working with WordPress. Most of you should be able to simply click the link obviously, but the impact with the album art IN the post would have been spectacular.

Please take a moment to listen. And please feel free, if you enjoy what you hear, to also take a moment to help me shamelessly promote this site/album on any and all social media that you might have at your disposal.

I might be rather biased, but I think it’s pretty good.

Extraction

You (we) live in a world of silence. Stopped up ears that block all but the most high-pitched, whirring din. Gummed up mouths filled with cotton fluff making speech, when attempted, a dry and raspy chore. Flopping tongues, lax and numb that can only mumble incoherent phrases. 

The dark and empty cavities that fill our souls cause a throbbing ache that can’t be overlooked. Temporary numbing belies the painful neglect growing deeper year after year. We have become empty shells, ready to crumble and break. Every structure that once firmly anchored us and made us stable now stands diseased and putrid.

What little remains of our past grinds together, forcing a misery that erupts in a white-hot starburst of agony. The answer is clear. These remains must be removed, cleanly and carefully, but soon. Trying to hold these bits and pieces in place only reflects upon greater damage. 

Even with this knowledge denial remains. Oblivion must be easier, safer, maybe even less traumatic than the wrenching and twisting that will come as each hollow part is released and removed. Logic shows that the time to save is long past. What needs to be done to convince you that the only answer is to part ways with each and every offending fragment and look ahead to the day that we can smile again.

The proceeding words were not planned as a beginning to this blog post. I had intended to ask for help, for someone who might hopefully explain a mystery to me. I honestly was looking for anyone to toss some thoughts around that might help me to understand how an adult can live in a world of silence, pain, and misery and yet exhibit, time and again, no clear intent to change or evolve or leave.

Then, without warning, some weird part of my dental past crept to the forefront of my brain and I began the odd metaphorical ramble you see above. Let me explain.

I know that my spouse has no idea that I plan to end our marriage. I know that factually because I have given no forthright verbal statement of my plans. Not yet. I have to get this eye thing figured out and moving. Not an excuse, simply a necessity. That piece of my life has to be in place first.

We have lived as separately as two people can (under the same roof) for months, years really. I think that I’ve stated that before. I am still flabbergasted when, without warning, I am confronted by an offhand comment that speaks to some sort of future- as in this marriage continuing ahead in some sort of quasi-normal form.

As in planning for the possibility of a major purchase “after the house is paid off.”

As in assuming that either of us is content to live this way for another year while we await the final payment on our mortgage.

As in my brain screaming out in an imagined conversation with my spouse “are you truly fucking telling me that you have no clue how awful and stupid and ridiculous this situation is and you are really willing to continue to live like this indefinitely?”

These offhand comments don’t happen often, but when they do I am knocked flat by the fact that this man seems to truly have no idea, not even a sneaky hunch, that perhaps the woman he has been married to for just shy of 34 years is ready to up and say goodbye. Is he truly oblivious, or just the best damn actor on the planet. And, even if he believes me to be holding onto some crazy contentment in this living arrangement, it is even more alarming to me that he may very well be content to live this way indefinitely.

I know this man is broken. I know that he has long-standing emotional issues, familial issues, unresolved issues; all of which have gone a long way in contributing to the failure of our marriage. I also know how hard it can be to come to terms with endings, and change, and uncertainty. I get that. I am guilty of that and waited far too long, but even though I waited and had to work through my own steps, I was never uncertain, nor did I kid myself about the future. I haven’t spoken about a future in years because there isn’t one.

Dear readers, I am finished. I apologize for this long and likely disjointed ranting post. You have once again been my sounding board. You are all the best of friends, the ones I can call to come over, sit across from and me and listen to the latest complaint. The ones who will let me vent when this life overwhelms. Thank you for listening.