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There are times in every person’s life that are transforming.  They can be triggered by emotions, events, or age-related milestones – read, desperation, death of a loved one, or turning 18, for example. When these milestones appear in our lives – or we draw them to us – we have a lot of choices.

We can choose to cave in and cower.  We can choose to run away.  We can choose to adopt a victim mentality that may well define the rest of our lives. We can choose to make dramatic changes in our lives in terms of our location, relationships, and direction; sometimes those changes are well considered and sometimes they are knee-jerk reactions. I think regardless of how we approach those changes, they are essential to the process of completing whatever transformation we are undergoing.

Most of the time, we do not experience this transformation in some sort of isolation chamber.  As we are struggling through it, and gasping for air, our inner panic (or lack of peace), and flailing through life will impact those around us. We may hurt people we love by whacking them with our wildly revolving selves.  It’s not intentional, but yes, it happens.

And here’s where we can still have conscious choices, no matter where we are in the transformation process.  When we hurt someone, they have every right to say something about it, even if they understand what we are going through.  They may even say something that hurts us in return – not because they want to hurt us, because remember, they love us, but because they are speaking their pain.  If we care for that person, we listen. We have a dialogue. We do not just turn and say, “How could you say that?  Don’t ever speak to me again.” In short, we do not burn our bridges. That is, if we are seeking the path of wisdom, which I am.  Which many of us are.  We do not turn away from those who have long shown their humanness and devotion, from those who have shown themselves worthy of being a part of our lives, standing by us through thick and thin and all the meat-slicer settings in between.

As part of the path to wisdom, we apologize.  We explain. We ask for patience. We take off our own blinders of pain and shame and guilt and anger at who-knows-what, and know that when we do so, our true friends will be right in front of us, arms extended, there for support, because we are not alone in this journey.  Even though in some ways, we always are, and in other ways, we must be. 

Again, it’s a choice. Leave the blinders on. Put the old life in a trunk, wrap it in chains, and send it to the bottom of the sea.  Start over pretending you have a clean slate.  I’ll wish you the best of luck, because you’ll need it.  Or leave the doors open.  Be gentle with yourself and others, because we’re all human. Take breaths and realize who is true to you and worth your spirit.  Go back to the rules of kindergarten.  I think one of those was “Don’t play with matches.” The adult version is, “For god’s sake, don’t set anything on fire.”

Transform, yes.  But not by the light of the bridges you burn.

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.

When driving Kelsea to school today, we were talking about this and that, and the subject of her dad came up.  She started listing all of his wonderful qualities, and I am very glad she loves him so.  But…     she said how proud she is of his being an inventor and how hard he’s worked to get his product going.  And that was too much for me. 

I told her in no uncertain terms that Dad hadn’t been working for almost ten years.  That I’ve worked two and three jobs and supported our family on my own for a decade.  That we might even still be married if he’d listened to me and taken action when I tearfully told him (on several occasions) that I was literally working myself to death and needed him to take some of the burden off my shoulders. 

Then I felt bad.  I told her that I shouldn’t have said that, and that I don’t want to bad-mouth her Dad.  I’ve never bad-mouthed him to her.  I told her that she was entitled to her own feelings, opinions and relationship with him, and that a marriage relationship is nothing like a father/daughter relationship.  She told me that I was entitled to my opinion, and that she wants to hear my opinions, but they won’t change how she feels about her Dad.  She said she was proud of him for pursuing his dreams.  I refrained from saying that I had never had a chance to pursue mine because of my marriage, but I hope she knows that I have dreams too.

I still don’t think it’s right for me to voice my opinions and feelings around the injustice in my marriage to our daughter.  She and I are good friends in addition to being mother/daughter, and sometimes I let my boundaries slip.  I was thinking last night, as we were putting up our little Christmas tree, that she and I are doing things that usually two parents do for kids.  And since I’ve always had Pat to direct the tree erection, this was a learning experience for both me and Kelsea.  More like two roommates trying to figure it out.

I suppose one of the reasons the conversation turned as it did on the ride to school this morning was because I was thinking about how Pat is moving on.  He’s not moving on by dating someone, but by a more active pursuit of his business dreams.  It doesn’t bother me (other than the nagging notion that he just wanted me for convenience and now he’s using the money I worked for to live off).  I really do want him to be happy.  I really do wish him well.  I am moving on myself, with Mr. GF, with plans for my own future. 

So why do I still feel so resentful, so cheated? 

Guess it’s going to take some more time.

October 2020
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