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Poison and Lies

You fed me.
You fed my soul.
You turned my head.
You twisted my heart.

You spoke such honeyed words
of futures and dreams and forever
with all the sincerity of a true love.
And yet it was all a ruse.
You had cultivated your ability to deceive
For years
and years
and years.

Your artistry is superb.

You use the same words
To the next woman.

“Ain’t gonna happen.”
“If we can make it through this, we can make it through anything.”
“Never before, never again.”
“I’ll never hurt you again.”

By now, you are lying to the next woman –

The one after me –

About the current one –

The one after her –

Only she doesn’t know it yet.
Just like I didn’t.

“We’re only friends.”
“I’m not a man women want.”
“She needs someone to listen.”
“I’m not good at cheating.”
“I’m hanging with the boys tonight.”

You did some things well.
But lying and cheating  –
Those were your specialities.

You spoke the truth only once that I can be sure of.
That last night,
When you said:
I know how to make people love me so they will give me what I want.

What kind of a man lives like that?
A man who blames everyone else for his own failings
While bemoaning the loss of his honor.

Not a man I want in my life.

I do not wish you happiness.
No.
I wish you the poison
And lies that you fed me.

As you know, I love my daughter to  infinity and back again an infinite number of times.  We never fight.  We just don’t.  We have what I consider an unusual relationship for a teenage daughter and her mother.

Given that, I’m not accustomed to getting angry with her.  I do know that happens.  And I am committed to my role as a mother, in which I teach my daughter self-discipline, self-worth, self-respect and how her choices impact herself and others.  I’ve tried to do this all along, and feel I (and Pat) have done a good job.  She’s a lovely, considerate, thoughtful person.

Today, we’re going to the auction, and taking Uber-Cool Will with us.  I’ve been looking forward to it since the last auction, and I know Kelsea has too.  We scoped out the goods yesterday, and have our eye on a 70-year old upright icebox that Kelsea can use as a dresser, since she doesn’t want an ordinary one.

We had dinner at my niece’s last night, got home about 10:00 and to bed about 11:00.  She was going to Skype with Will for a little while – they talk constantly.  I was fine with that.  I understand that she’s a night person, and I understand the teenagers have different circadian rhythms.

I woke to the sound of her voice, so I went to check on her.  She will still Skyping with Will.  When I asked her what time it was, she said, “Not too late….only about….3:40.”  3:40?????  I told her to sign off immediately.  Five minutes later, I could hear that she was still on.  And I got mad.

I went in and turned on her light and told her to shut it down that minute.  She’s not accustomed to me getting mad, so I guess she knew I meant business, because she did.  And then I chewed her out. 

She had struck a nerve, and I recognized that.  As I was laying in bed, listening to her still being up, I felt exactly the same way as I used to feel when I was married.  Pat always did this same thing.  We would have plans to do something special and he would stay up (or in his case, out) until the wee small hours and then be sluggish, hungover and too tired to be a happy participant in whatever our special plans were.  I could feel the slow boil inside of me as I was laying there, something I had never thought I would feel again.

So when I began the chewing-out, I began by telling her that I knew there was a certain part of projection occurring on my part, because of this memory.  However, I told her it was inconsiderate of her to stay up so long that she would be too tired and grumpy to share in our day tomorrow, and I was disappointed – which is one of the worst things I can ever say to her.  She tried to interject with a couple of “Buts”, “but” I told her I really didn’t want to hear them.  I told her I was understanding of her rhythms and feelings, “but” that this kind of behavior wasn’t taking care of herself and wasn’t respectful of others when she had plans with those others (a.k.a., me). 

I pointed out to her that I was using “I” statements, like her school counselors have coached all the kids. I didn’t raise my voice.  I didn’t tell her that her behavior was wrong.  I just told her how her choices are impacting me and my feelings, and how they will likely impact her.  And that this is an area where she needs some self-discipline.

We had been talking about this sort of thing on the way home earlier in the day, about how she tends to live exclusively in the present, with a “cross that bridge when we come to it” attitude.  I generally support that attitude, however, I told her, she must learn to have a broader vision, incorporating the lessons learned from her past experiences and her insight into how the present can alter the future, for good – or bad.  I reinforced that message at 4:00 am, when she reminded me of that conversation.   But other than that, she was silent – as she should have been.

I turned off the light and went back to bed, still slightly fuming, now moreso at the thought that on this, my one night to sleep in, I was now awake at 4:00 am.  One of the things I realized, as I lay there in the dark, was that I want to spend my time with people who take care of themselves, as that’s a sign of valuing oneself.  And I want to take care of myself, as that’s a sign that I value myself.  And I want Kelsea to learn, understand and know that lesson in her heart of hearts.

I did get back to sleep for another few hours.  It’s now 9:30.  She’s got another hour or so to sleep.  I’m not mad any more.  But I am curious as to what she’ll say when she gets up.

I know I’m right.  I know she knows I’m right.  It’s just interesting getting mad at her.

Cautious Experimentation

A Perfect Plot

Her designs were
                intricately subtle
And oozed
                an innocuous innocence
As she lay
                a patient snake
                in secret garters
Awaiting her so-well-cultivated prey.

She flickered at the
                raw edges of his
                                trampled consciousness,
Flitting forked tongue
                and rattled tail
                                in and out
                                oh so gently
Casting herself
                as
the betrayed angel with the broken wing.

Yes,
Once she set her slit-eyed sights
                on him
She wove
and spun
                in shameless
                patient
                sweetness
Until it seemed to him
                a refuge
                                a rescue

Her sympathetic syllables
                laced with the merest touch
                                of undetectable
                                                strychnine
made him doubt
                his soul-full
                                feelings.

Poor man,
Deceived by honeyed
                insincere
                                independence
Blinded by sleek
                silvery
                strands of
                artfully crafted
                artifice
Until it is too late
                for him.

Today, I went to get gas.  And I am saying enough.

ENOUGH.

I have adjusted to being raped at the gas pump – a tank of gas costs as much as a week’s worth of groceries.  It’s ridiculous, but short of taking the bus or siphoning gas by mouth out of other people’s cars in the dead of night, there’s nothing to do but pay the price.  And now, I am being subjected to the ultimate insult at the gas station. 

Each pump has, sitting on the top, a little TV constantly blasting ads at the pumper.  The same ads, over and over and over again.   And I say NO.

I hate going to the movies, because I hate that I am paying to be subjected to a barrage of ads prior to the screening of the movie I paid to see.  I’m a captive audience and I feel like I’m being taken advantage of.  That pisses me off.   There are ads EVERYWHERE now, even on the movies you rent.  Even on LOLCats videos. 

I never even thought about my frame of mind when I get gas.  I sometimes do calf raises (in which I stand on my toes, not pick up small farm animals) while the pump is running.  I never, until today, recognized the zen mental state that I achieve during  the pumping process.  But that’s what it was like.  I would think.  I would calm my mind.  I would just let things go, almost as if troubles (and money) were flowing into the tank along with the gas.

Now, nevermore.  Those days of zen are gone at my local station.  I am forced to listen to Tom Selleck saying two lines about parenting and eggs, over and over and over again.  I don’t even remember what the ad was for, just how angry I was at this intrusion into my world, my space, my mind.  I’m stuck, pumping gas, listening to this blasting crap.  I can’t get in my truck to shut it out because, remember, re-entering your vehicle while gas is pumping can create static, so you may blow yourself up.  I can’t run into the store because I’m not to leave my vehicle unattended while pumping, because if I do, gas may overflow from my tank and who knows what disaster would befall us all.  

So I am trapped in the freezing cold, standing by my truck, being fiscally and aurally assaulted.  And I say ENOUGH. 

This gas station has just lost my business as will any gas station that forces this stuff on me, even if I have to drive ten miles out of my way to get gas.

ENOUGH.

Even though there is no Thursday Poet’s Rally this week, I am continuing to post an original poem each Thursday.  Here’ today’s contribution.

A New Eve

Deceit slips from between your lips,
Tainted honey guided by your
Printless fingertips
To weave between your aging breasts
Trickling to your hips
and dripping just below
to the hollow you now dully use
as a place to hide your madness.

Your clever brain creates the lies
you use so well
to rationalize
your defiled honor and the shame
of love that dies
at your own hand
while your own lips
declaim all blame.

Passion now is false and flawed
Another lie coaxed into life,
Those charming lips conceal a fraud
Who can deceive with words and looks,
Who life reveals as viley clawed
Yet impotent when faced with truth,
Eyes blinded by bright swaths of gold,
less precious than the sun.

In the 1987 film Wall Street, Gordon Gekko (no relation to the Geico Gekko), portrayed by Michael Douglas, intones the following line:

“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.”

The line has been summarized as “Greed is good” and has been used by Australian prime ministers, Italian cardinals, and characters in Fallout 2.  While it meshed well with the strong economic times of the 1990s, it now represents the high price that our society has paid for the actions of a covert few over the last ten years.  The irony behind it seems to strike more and more people every day, like a dead fish in the face. 

In the 1990s, I made more than I was making when my job left me at the end of March.  I worked with ad agencies and pharmaceutical companies that had money to burn.  This was back in the days when Tyco executive Dennis Kozlowski was spending $6000 of the company’s money on a shower curtain.  Everyone seemed to be flying high on the proverbial hog.  And then it all fell down – literally.  September 11 changed things.  Our soft underbelly was exposed, our humanity, our faith, all shaken.  For an all-too-brief time, we put aside our differences, our desires, our classist distinctions, and acted like a bunch of good people.  People who put others before our selves and our own needs.  Do you remember? 

Our economy took a dive.  Executives like those at Tyco and Enron were exposed for who and what they were and shamed for the damage they did.  Their victims were never compensated, but at least there was national, if not worldwide shame.  Then came the War on Terror – GWB always made it sound like “the War on Tara”, as if we were attacking the plantation from Gone With the Wind – and like confused children, we were hoping that things would get back to normal, that our world would make sense again.  But alas, that world was also gone with the wind.

(Please note that the opinions expressed here are just that – opinions – and my own.)  Instead, we’ve been sucked into eight years of bloodsucking, fiscally exhausting conflict that has apparently done nothing but fill with impunity the pockets of a few very special cronies of the past administration.  We all know it.  We just can’t do a damn thing about it.  Those of us who aren’t in a position to benefit from someone else’s power plays are resentful.  In fact, we’re sitting here watching what little savings we have left rise and fall according to the temperament of the stock market.  I swear, if I didn’t need my “assets” to be liquid, I’d be invested in real estate.  Maybe that’s not a bad idea.  As liquid as they are now, they’re getting pissed away.

And so, the point of this post….greed.  It magnificently and unjustly benefits a few.  I had lunch today with a  friend who is going through a divorce (join the club.)  Her “wasband” is trying to take her for everything he can, because he’s angry that she wants a divorce.  Her lawyer says he’s never seen anything like it.  And because she made more money than he did, he’ll probably get it.  Is he deserving?  No.  It’s nothing but greed.  Greed.  One of the seven deadly sins.  The question is, deadly to whom?  To the one whose soul is consumed by it?  Who has deluded oneself into thinking that things, money, revenge will soothe any pain that exists in the depths of the heart?  To the one who is now rich is assets but poor in spirit?

I have committed some of the 7 Deadlies myself.  I’ve been able to rationalize my actions – to delude myself, just like people who are guided by nothing but greed, into thinking that what I was doing was okay.  I’ve suffered the consequences, justifiably, and come out the other side.

I now comfort myself with the knowledge that those who are consumed by materialism, covetousness, and selfishness, deserve my pity.  And I know that they’ll get their comeuppance.  Greed may be the new black, but it will go out of style again.  It always does.  The richest people are the ones with their love of life and others intact. 

He who dies with the most stuff doesn’t win – he still dies.  Maybe one day, the people who live their lives driven by greed, will see that.  But I’m not holding my breath.  Then again, thank heavens, I don’t have to.

Over the course of the last year, I have read several blogs written by women who were the “Other Woman”.  If you’ve followed me for the last year or so, you’ll know that I was one.  I’ve wanted to write, wanted to respond, but I know that some of my ex-MM’s relations still read my blog, and don’t want anything I say to be misinterpreted by them.  I hestitated to post this, but I feel I must speak my mind.

I spoke with my ex-MM the other day.  It was a nice conversation.  He’s doing well.  He’s in a relationship – he and his wife actually did get divorced.

When you are the OW, you are consumed and enflamed by your own feelings.   As I read what these other women are thinking and feeling, I can feel the pain that they are going through.  I remember conversations with my ex-MM that sound exactly like the ones they are having with theirs, after their affair was discovered.  I remember thinking, in the heat and darkness of my broken heart, “How could he have turned on me like this?  How could he have said those things and then gone back to her?  Was it all just lies?”  After the affair, every OW thinks that it was all just lies, all those sweet words he said to her, all those promises never to hurt her, never to leave her.  Maybe those words are lies for some MMs.  But not for all.

The words OWs use to describe their affairs are similar in every account.  The actions are similar.  Texting dozens of times a day.   Calls when alone and in transit.  Stolen moments meeting in various places.  Soul-level conversations that go on for hours.  The things the two of you feel together are magical.  You are soulmates.  You’ve never felt so intimate with someone on every possible level.  The sex is spectacular, magnificent, breathtaking, otherworldly.  You both feel that way.  You practically read each other’s thoughts – sometimes, you actually do.

Truly, you are both feeling these feelings.  But when the shit hits the fan, women can sometimes prove to be stronger than men.  I think, when it comes down to making that choice – which, let’s face it, for most men means losing everything – EVERYTHING – they have worked for, and their comfortable lifestyle – they panic and become paralyzed at the same time.  Their heart wants one thing, but their brain wants another.  Men are so much more used to acting on a rational than an emotional level that they are, unbelievably, able to put the emotional part aside.  They are able to lock those feelings of being truly alive with someone back up into a box in their souls and put away the key, and try to make their semi-dead life tolerable again, so no one in their immediate surroundings is making them uncomfortable and they are not faced with the daunting prospect of trying to rebuild their lives at a stage of life where they should be thinking of retiring in ten or fifteen years.

Women seem to be able to fight through it and come out the other side – often alone, sometimes with their MM, but rarely remaining in a stale, convenient marriage for the sake of keeping the peace.  We cannot acquiesce to a living death.  It seems some men can.

I never thought my ex-MM was horrible (well, maybe once or twice in the throes of the endings.)  I always saw the conflict within him, the agony and guilt he was feeling on so many levels.  It would have been easy to just focus on my own pain, but I couldn’t do that – I knew how real his pain was. I knew that ending it was just as painful for him as it was for me.  Just because we weren’t talking doesn’t mean I didn’t feel his pain.

In my case, our affair was a jumping-off point.  I discovered that I needed his support to take the leap away from my own bad marriage.  I came out of it alone, but it worked.  Perhaps he needed something similar, as he got divorced as well. 

While I struggle with visions of my future, which right now is particularly bleak due to money stuff, I would not go back to my old life.  My marriage was literally killing me slowly.  I am happier now.  My daughter is happier now.  And my ex-husband and I are actually getting along better than we have in years.

I regret the pain that all of us experienced due to our affair.  It certainly wasn’t planned, though it feels as if it was perhaps destiny.   I loved my guy madly, truly, deeply.  I will NEVER be the OW again.  The whole experience has taught me (again) that sometimes the only way out is through.  That doesn’t mean that it’s easy – it just is what it is.

Today’s guest poet – me.

Pretty Crones

They sway in a towering, tittering circle,
Their bitter souls and cold hearts naked
To anyone with untainted eyes.

Leeches,
They suck the life from you
But don’t respect you enough to swallow.

It doesn’t suit their purpose.

Sponges,
Their hollow softness soaks up
Everything you can give
and demands more.

Leaving you parched and skinned.

That pound of flesh that they extract
Is never exact
And so they return
Again
And again
Gnawing on your bones.

They gouge out the marrow
And cackle for more.

Remove the long locks,
soft skin and sinew underneath
and you will see the harridans within.

Perhaps this is more of a Mom-Rant…I don’t know.  I only know that I have some rants (or peeves) and it’s high time to express them.  So, let’s start with the pick-up/drop-off lanes at Kelsea’s school.

Why, why, WHY is this such a cluster **** every morning???

The horseshoe-shaped drop-off zone has “Hug and Go” signs from one end of the horseshoe to the other.  The door to the school is in the middle of the horseshoe, about 20 yards from the curb.  The first car that enters the horseshoe should pull up to the far end, keep the motor running, give their child a kiss, let him or her open the door, get his or her backpack, close the door, and then the parent should drive away.  Sounds so simple.  (See the picture of the horseshoe drive below?  This is Kelsea’s actual school.)

BUT…and this is a big but…

That’s not what happens.  Parents drive up to the exact center of the horseshoe so that their child will not have to walk any more than the absolute shortest distance to the school door.  And then they obviously discuss in-depth philosophical issues with said child for about 5 minutes prior to child exiting the vehicle, which in itself requires that the child open all car doors AND that the parent shut the car off and exit the vehicle to assist the child, OR (as occurred this morning) to CARRY the child’s backpack into the school WITH the child.  Additional discussions between parent and child once both parties have exited the vehicle are also required.

Once the child has turned towards the school door, the parent (if not physically accompanying the child into the school)  MUST re-enter the vehicle, watch the child until he or she enters the school and the door closes firmly behind him/her, then check their cellphone, put on make-up and deodorant, shave, adjust mirrors, start the car, wait for it to warm up, and then immediately pull back out into the horseshoe without looking to see if any cars are in the (theoretical) driving lane of the horseshoe.

Other parents are behind, jockeying for the next closest post position, or just sitting, waiting until it is their turn to pull up to the primo spot and perform the aforementioned ritual.

I seem to have some time warp issues with getting Kelsea to school on time.  We’ve discussed it.  We’ve tried all kinds of things to resolve it – leaving earlier, getting up earlier, packing up the night before, you name it.  It’s just a maternal failing that I freely own up to.  So we usually pull up to the horseshoe with minutes (or seconds) to spare before she’s tardy.  I’m sure the front office can tell when she’s staying with me vs. her Dad, just like her friends can tell based on the quality of her packed lunches.  (They take pity on her and share their lunches when she’s been with me.)

The dialogue (or soliloquy) in our car in the morning goes something like this from the time we approach the turning into the school parking lot:

Me: Why are you going so slow?  WHY are you going 5 miles an hour?  This is a 20 mile per hour zone.  And it’s NOT a four-way stop.  Don’t be so polite! Quit waving everyone else in!  Maybe YOU don’t have to be someplace else but I do!  ****** idiots!  GO!  GO!  MOOOOOVE!!!
Kelsea:  It’s okay, Mom, I’m already late.
Me:  It’s not okay!  Why do these Rock Creek moms have to be such idiots?  This is stupid!  It’s not that complicated!  You just puuuulllll up, there you go, allllll the way up, there, see?  This guy knows what he’s doing!  He’s doing it right.  Now see, I’ll just pull up behind him.  Look, what a good drop-off parent – wait, oh no, no, he’s getting out of the car – what?  He’s going into the school – he’s just LEAVING the car there! Now I’m blocked in.  **** him!!  ******* dumb-ass!! I’m going to ….
Kelsea:  Bye, Mom, I love you!
Me:  Bye, honey, have a great day.

So by the time I do get out of there, my blood pressure has soared, steam is coming out of my ears, and (depending on the day) I’m close to tears.  I will say it distracts Kelsea from her customary morning grumpiness, so that’s a minor blessing. 

And we just have to look for the little blessings in all of those things we can’t change, now don’t we?

 

No one ever enters into a marriage with the notion that they will get divorced.  At least I didn’t.  I can still remember the day we got our marriage license at the courthouse.  I was so happy.  As we left, I remember holding this lovely piece of paper out to everyone we passed, saying “Look!”.

And now, as I said last night, I am ready to file the papers.  I am in tears.  We are doing this amicably, and we need to go to a Notary to get the damn things signed so I can take them to the courthouse.  I’m feeling so many different things.  Embarrassed.  Like I failed.  That I don’t want to hurt him.  That I shouldn’t be doing this – things weren’t so bad, really (were they?) and they were going to get better (weren’t they?).  I mean, just give him a little more time, and he’ll come around to support me, and it’ll be my turn, right?  And how many years have I been saying that?

Maybe if I work myself into a place of anger and indignation, the sorrow and pain will lessen.  But I know that’s only temporary.  The sorrow and pain will be there for a long time.  This is what I chose.  But I once chose him.  Why couldn’t I make it work?  I was slowly but surely killing myself in my marriage, working myself into an early grave, depressed, alone, acting out sexually. 

My friend Christine so kindly listened to my mini-meltdown this morning, and reminded me that I wasn’t happy, and that I still have my whole life ahead of me (ok, she gave me 30 years, but that’s still a long time).   It’s just hard and painful and there’s nothing to do but plow through it, I guess. I keep looking for ways to make it less painful. You’d think since I wanted this, it wouldn’t hurt so much.  But as Christine reminded me, I still love Pat, and I always will.  I just can’t be married to him.  If I am in a relationship with someone, I need to be with someone who encourages me to grow, professionally, personally, spiritually, and who respects me, who truly wants to be my partner.

Whine, whine, whine – would you like some stinky cheese with that whine?

At any rate – the emotions are hard, circular, mystifying, painful, sorrowful, wistful…so many more things for which there aren’t words…

Fog and Mist

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