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It’s hard to even wrap my head around the struggle. What is breaking me most? The loss of my pets, my slightly neurotic big old dog and my seemingly immortal tiny, cuddly cat? The guilt that I wasn’t there to save them because I moved out over a decade ago?

The loss of my past? Of the things I had saved in that house for my daughter? For when I had a steady place to call home that I could take them to? Of the things that I treasured there, kept there because they seemed safe?

The loss of that cozy little house that felt like home for 18 years? Which means the loss of the concept of home, a concept which I have struggled to understand for most of my life?

The loss of the sheltering cottonwood trees and the 10 foot tall lilacs? Of the greenhouse that my ex built for me, from glass-fronted doors salvaged from a long gone saloon? Of the vague trickle of the creek and the scream of a fox on a summer night?

The loss of my daughter’s childhood? The wall above her bed where she tacked concert tickets? The journal by her bedside where, at ten years old, she recorded the exact time of her grandmother’s death? The little back deck where she would call for the bats at twilight and laugh when they would come to flit around her head?

So many losses that I don’t even know where to start to grieve. And yet, grieving I am, though neither day nor night will stand still enough to allow it. While, I fear if either did, it would swallow me whole.

The reality of divorce takes a while to sink in.  It hits at odd times.  Like today.  Kelsea is sick and I am taking her to the doctor this afternoon for her annual appointment, which is kind of a happy (?) coincidence.  She was supposed to spend tonight with me, but since she’s sick, I thought I’d give her the option of where to stay.  She wants to be with me, but she said she’d rather stay “home”.  Yes, it is her home.  My cottage is not her home.  It’s where she stays with me.  And whenever you’re sick, you want to be home. She’s always been a Daddy’s Girl when she’s sick – I remember when she was little-little, she would snuggle with him for eight solid hours when she was sick – she just didn’t want me.

I regret more and more not making Pat move out.  At the time, since I wanted out of the marriage, it didn’t seem right to do so.  And it would not have been easy had I stayed and he left, because he would not have had a place set up nicely for Kelsea, nor would he have taken the dogs, and so I’d have to arrange for dog-sitting, etc.   He’d have had even less responsibility and he’d have been angrier and he’d have taken more things from the house than I did.  But I am resentful at him for letting my home go to seed.  And I am still paying half the mortgage.  I miss my garden, now that I might have time to have one again.

On the other hand, I needed a fresh start.  I am about to make another one, working for myself, but I get more freaked out daily about not being able to do so.  So freaked out that today, I was looking at jobs in New York and DC with a couple of companies that I’m pretty sure would hire me right away.  I might be able to telecommute with the DC job, so I’ll have to think about that. But working for someone else is not what I want to do!! Still, you do what you have to do, right?

I was talking to a friend last night about wanting to take a few weeks off, when I have my severance going, and just get things back together.  Strategize for my own work, spring clean and de-clutter the house, get myself into a comfortable routine of exercise and meditation and creative work.  The mere idea of doing so makes me feel guilty.  It’s me —  ME —  the one who ALWAYS works, and always has.  It sounds so terribly slack.  But it’s not like I’m saying I want to sit at home and eat bon-bons (not on the Atkins Diet) and watch TV for a few weeks (though a couple of days like that sounds appealing).  And I still have my half-time job, which I’ll be getting extra hours from in March.  This is where the work ethic of which I wrote a week ago starts looking more obsessive than positive.

My first unmarried Valentine’s Day in many years has come and gone.  I had a nice weekend and didn’t really think about it.  Pat said that it was now just another Hallmark day for him, and he was glad he got to spend it with Kelsea. 

Yes, life is feeling a little overwhelming these days.

Today is the one month anniversary of my divorce.  God, it feels so strange to say that.  The words “I’m divorced” float around in my head like a detached cell, drifting, twisting, odd.

I am still going through a lot of the same emotions that I have been all along:  sadness that I couldn’t just stick with it, wishfulness that he would have tried harder, anger at him for his lying, drinking, subtle abuse, and total unwillingness to accept his responsibilities to me, wistfulness for dreams we had that are now dead, longing for things we never got to do, missing my dogs, my cats, and my old home, guilt for making him feel so bad, for abandoning him when he was content enough (or so he thought), shame that I failed, responsibility for everything except world hunger… you know, the usual.

I will say that some of these feelings have lessened.  Thankfully.  I will own up to feeling more clear-headed than I have in a year.  Still not razor-sharp, but at least my mind has returned to its customary sieve-mode, as opposed to last year’s total fugue state.

There are still details to be taken care of.  I still need to sign over more money to him.  I still have to pay child support every month, and the mortgage every other month, since we are both keeping the house he’s living in.  But he’s paying the other bills now.  Most of them are out of my name.  I still have to transfer titles to two of the cars to him.  And we still have to get along.

He said to me the other night, when he was slightly in his cups, that he felt I was being short with him.  Snippy.  That he was over the anger and was trying to approach our new relationship from a good place.  I told him that I still had a lot of emotions around it, and that while I wasn’t angry, I just wasn’t where he was in the process.  He told me that didn’t make sense, and that unless I could help him stay in this ‘good place’ that he’s been able to make himself go to, he’d go to a not-so-nice place.  I started to try to argue, to say that his feelings belong to him and don’t have to be dependent on mine, but I gave up before I even started.  The reason that I wanted to get divorced was staring me right in the face.

I am perfectly entitled to all my feelings.  I am being perfectly civil to him.  On past occasions, when I have inquired into some of his actions, I’ve been rebuked with “We’re not married anymore so I don’t have to tell you anything.”  He told me the other night that I didn’t seem to care about what was happening with him; I chose not to remind him of the scoldings I’ve received for asking in the past. 

What it comes down to, is that I have to roll with the punches.  He’s as inconsistent as he’s ever been, due to his drinking, I believe.  You’d think I’d be used to it after all these years, but I’m not.  And now, I don’t have to take it to the extent I used to, but for Kelsea’s sake, I do have to keep the peace.

It’s odd to still love someone, even after you start to see all the pain they’ve caused you, all the damage and injustice you’ve experienced at their hands, whether they were conscious of it or not.  It’s almost as if love grows into something cellular, and the death of love is like cancer, only you can’t cut it out.  It’s a fading flower on a vine, blooming, withering, dying, falling, and with hope, being replaced by fresh blooms the next spring.

Pat is in China.  He needed to go to get the theoretical business moving – again.  So I am staying at his house – my former home – sleeping in our former bed, taking care of the dogs, the cats, Kelsea, and my two jobs, and making sure my own house stays in order.  I know that there are women out there who deal with this kind of challenge every single day – they do it and they do it with grace.  At least my situation is temporary.  After all, Pat will come back.  But I have a new admiration for single mothers.  It is not easy.

Strange how you never hear about men who are raising their children on their own, taking care of a house, working two jobs, etc.  I wonder why that is?

What is hitting me so hard is how he’s let everything go.  The house is a mess. It was bad before, because I never had time to clean.  And Pat seemed to have convinced both of us that he couldn’t clean because the house was too cluttered with my stuff.  Well, I’ve been out of the house for, as I said in  previous post, almost 11 months.  He can’t use that excuse anymore.  When I find junk mail that’s been sitting on the kitchen table since July, spills on the kitchen floor that have been there since January, the vacuum cleaner sitting in the living room, which looks like it hasn’t been vacuumed in years, I can see that the mess wasn’t entirely my fault.   I was ready to go out and buy a new living room carpet today, just so Kelsea can have a passably respectable place to live.  But after vacuuming for 20 minutes, then shampooing the rug, then vacuuming again, it looks somewhat better.  I figure I’m staying here for 8 days, and there are 8 rooms in this house.  I can probably have it whipped into shape that meets my standards (which admittedly are not as high as most people’s) so that he has no excuse other than his own sloth for not keeping it livable going forward.

In a way, I feel like I’m doing the wrong thing by cleaning his house.  But I just can’t think too hard about that.  I’m angry, I’m hurt, I’m confused, I’m sad.  I’m paying for this place any way you look at it.  And so I’m cleaning.  Better than crying. 

Kelsea and I made a start on her room, which, as she is living by example, is a disaster area.  Of course, one can expect that of a teenager anyway, but there’s a limit.

She can see the pain that I am feeling. Perhaps I shouldn’t show it to her, but that’s not me.  I need her to know that I really did try.  I really did keep our house – in fact, both of our houses at one point when she was a baby – clean and in good working order, until I had to work so much.  Makes me wonder where it all fell apart.  Was it through my neglect?  No.  There was only so much I could do.  I know I wasn’t blameless, but once we got out of balance, it seems we could never regain that equilibrium we used to have when we would share responsibilities – one of us would give the baby a bath while the other one tidied up the house.  One would cook, the other would clean up afterwards. That was when he was working in the casino – a unbeknownst to me, running up gambling debts that it took me nine years to pay off after he lost his job.

I don’t want to bash him.  That’s not who I am – though I guess I’ve been doing quite a lot of it in my writing here.  This is my space to express my feelings to the universe, so I can say what I want.  Unfortunately, I have yet to find the words to convey all my emotions in one tidy package – love, anger, bitterness, hurt, guilt, resentment, loneliness, wistfulness, failure, freedom, hope….so many more. 

Time to feed the animals. And sweep away some more cobwebs.


January 2022


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