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Archive for the ‘divorce’ Category

Too Much Stuff

I have been thinking about stuff over the past couple of days. Stuff and things that matter in life – very heady topics. The catalyst is a book I just started reading, “No Baggage: A Minimalist Tale of Love & Wandering” by Clara Bensen. I will provide no spoilers since I’m not even halfway done, but it’s a charming memoir piece about a young (very intelligent) woman who is emerging from a 2-year despair of immobilizing anxiety. She falls in love with a guy who she meets on OK Cupid. This man values his freedom and avoids attachments yet he invites her on a three-week journey from Istanbul to London. The catch is that they have no luggage – only the one set of clothes each is wearing and they are using couchsurfing.com for accommodations. So far, that strategy is working beautifully for them, but I’m sure havoc will ensue.

As I began the book, I had a business event that the Hunter forfeited to Robin (a night full of my frenemies did not entice him, although when he saw the menu he had regrets). In any case, it was one of those evenings that the ½ of the 1% are familiar with: very expensive dinner (probably about $200 – $250 per person when you factor in the private happy hour complete with piano player) and great gift (another $50-$100 each) with other odds & ends including people flying in, so I’m guessing the evening for this group of 2 dozen cost about $15,000 to $20,000. Over dinner, the conversation was about how one guy bought used 3 engines for his boat because at the time he didn’t have the $30k to replace them with new ones; trips to exotic locales, multiple homes – you get the drift.

The next day, as I sat with the Hunter over a nice homemade pasta dinner, I began my rant against Stuff. I ranted about how complicated the lives of the ½ of 1% really are and how money of that nature usually makes life so complicated because you keep accumulating more Stuff which then requires more responsibility. “Enough!” I said. From now until the end of our lease on this current abode, I want to shed unnecessary belongings. I want things that bring me joy and don’t burden me. I want less living space so I have less to clean (I am in the middle of my Pre-Thanksgiving heavy-duty house cleaning which always brings out the Grinch in me).

The Hunter piped up that he wanted to accumulate things because he has spent years on the other side. His Wish List includes tools for a workshop, various recreational vehicles , another dog to keep the Kracken company. I paused and then amended my rant. “OK, if you are getting things that you will USE – not just sit around for a once a year use, then I would be OK with that. I’m talking about houses chock full of STUFF. So much stuff you don’t even know what you have.

I was guilty of the too much Stuff in my previous life. I walk the dogs around our neighborhood and shake my head at the number of homes that have garages so crammed with Stuff that they can’t even store a car in the damn garage. When my Ex moved out of the house (I left him with all of my Stuff because I realized I wanted very, very few things), he tried a garage sale and then literally threw all the Stuff to the curb. It was a mountain (I drove by). It was a shame to see my previous life all piled up on the curb. I told him to hire an estate company to liquidate it, but of course, he couldn’t take a good idea from me.

When I liquidated my mom’s house, I realized how much stuff she had crammed into an adorable 2-bedroom house. It was too much for one person. I vowed not to do this to my kids. I vowed that I would only have things that I use and bring me happiness. I have wavered intermittently because old habits die hard, but I have done much better. It is time to cull things back again. I want less Stuff in my life, but more experiences. Next up is the question, “What experiences do I want?”

Icebreaker

I just re-joined my Toastmaster club after a multi-year hiatus. Some of my best friendships grew out of this club and it’s great for tuning my communication skills. Anyway, I just gave the classic first speech, the Icebreaker, and realized that it makes a great post (once I discreetly filtered out a few specific details).  Here we go into the history of Maggie……

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be. — Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy  

Today is a momentous anniversary for me and it’s fortuitous that I am doing my Icebreaker on this special day. I’ll tell you more about this anniversary later. I believe that life should be a journey of constant growth and exploration. Oftentimes I take lessons from people of how NOT to do things, so let me explain how I have applied these lessons in my life.   

I was born and raised in North Carolina. I consider myself a Southerner although somehow I lost my drawl along my travels. My parents divorced when I was 6, and my mom went back to school. My dad, who is a great guy and I love dearly, has never been a father figure for me.  He has been merely an interested observer of my life. Between my mom’s education pursuits and impulsiveness, I lived in 9 towns in 12 years. I graduated high school at the age of 16, went to University One for a year, then University Two on the other side of the country (which I consider my Study Aboard year because a Southern girl in the Pacific Northwest is a story in itself) I ended up in our fair city at the age of 19 and sank my roots. I finally finished my communications degree at University Three.    

I met my husband when I was 19 years old. We married when I was 23 and our marriage lasted 25 years. We had two wonderful children and many happy times. Today’s anniversary is the second anniversary of my divorce becoming final. Before you assume that this is a sad day for me, please don’t. I celebrate this day because it represents an important transition in my life. You see I consider my marriage a success, but a chapter in my life that had a beginning, a middle and an end.   

I just read a quote the other day that personifies my parenting style:  There are two things we should give our children: one is roots and the other is wings. I was able to take the lessons learned from my parents about what NOT to do and apply them my marriage and raising my children. These lessons were: Create roots for my children and be actively present in their lives for all their pursuits.  

Raising my kids was an incredibly busy, rewarding time of my life. Their father and I kept them close to their aunts, uncles and cousins. They grew up in a very stable, two-parent household and I am thankful they had the childhood I didn’t have. My children are perhaps my greatest success. 

My mother-in-law passed away in January 2013. Her death caused me to reflect and once again I took away several valuable lessons of how NOT to do things. I loved her dearly. She was a wonderful, smart woman, but she also sacrificed for everyone and never put her needs first.   

As I approached 50, I suddenly realized that my life is halfway over if I’m lucky or more than halfway over otherwise. It was time to get serious about living the life that I want to live. This led me to divorcing my husband because it was time for me to live my life on my own terms. My children were out of the nest. I won’t air the dirty laundry of our marriage, but suffice it to say that from the outside our marriage looked perfect, but inside it was not.   

I have been stretching myself outside my comfort level. I went to Jamaica by myself, I tried online dating (huge waste of time). I joined a hiking club, thanks in part to our fellow Toastmaster, P. This hiking club has pushed me outside my comfort zone with canoeing and hiking. Through this hiking club I met my boyfriend, The Hunter. Any man that would date me after seeing me with no makeup, sweating is the right man for me.   

For my next push outside my comfort zone experience, I am bravely moving and leaving our fair city after 30 years for a new one an hour away. Yes, by summer I will be living in a beautiful house on the water with a fruit tree. It felt like home the moment I drove up.   

This chapter of my life is amazing. I know that I am living my life on my terms. I was so incredibly flattered by the note my daughter wrote to me on her wedding day this past February. She described me as fearless. How flattering. Particularly since she’s seen me react to cockroaches. 

There you have it, Dear Readers. Quintessential Maggie in a nutshell. By the way, I got an awesome evaluation and then retreated to a nearby bar with two girlfriends and drank the afternoon away with rounds of prosecco to celebrate my anniversary. What an outstanding day!

I Shot the Sherriff

Freedom came my way one day
And I started out of town, yeah!
All of a sudden I saw sheriff John Brown
Aiming to shoot me down,
So I shot – I shot – I shot him down and I say:
If I am guilty I will pay.

Bob Marley

A client just reminded me that three years ago we did the biggest project of my career. It was a game changer for so many reasons, but the biggest one is that it caused my marriage to crash and burn. I was scrolling through my blog (which I should get better organized) to see if I ever wrote about this time. The closest I came was this post, which really sums up how things were going at the end. It is a beautiful post, if I do say so myself.

But what is funny is that when the client reminded me of my career best, I immediately thought of my divorce and how that project lead to my separation. The money enabled me to buy my freedom on my own terms. My Ex’s reaction solidified my understanding that he would never appreciate me or my success. He shat all over my success. He tried to rob me of my happiness at what I had done.

What the fuck did he do? He basically told me that he thought he was going to be sued for a mistake and that my earnings would have to pay the settlement. He actually came up with two mistakes with two separate clients over the course of a couple of days, so these settlements could potentially suck all my money out. He even made the mistake of saying that perhaps I should leave to protect myself and the kids. I got myself to a great, expensive divorce attorney who promptly said, “We are filing in 48 hours, go tell him.” She saved me, my money and my life. I adore her feisty, no-nonsense style.

My Ex was so shitty to me. Trying to rob me of my glory and bring me down a notch. He never had any appreciation for my profession and bad-mouthed my colleagues at every turn. Man, I am soooo happy to BE FREE!!

Little Lies

Tell me lies
Tell me sweet little lies
(Tell me lies, tell me, tell me lies)
Oh, no, no you can’t disguise
(You can’t disguise, no you can’t disguise)
Tell me lies
Tell me sweet little lies

Fleetwood Mac

I promised you the story about how I caused some pre-wedding drama between the Ex, Taz and the now In-Laws. Right before the wedding, I made a whirlwind visit to Taz’s city because she was getting an amazing award and she wanted me and the Ex there. My daughter is incredible and this achievement is an incredible honor. It was a lovely ceremony, lively reception and then off to dinner with Taz, Hubby-to-Be (H2B), In-Laws and Ex.  

Taz had told me something prior to the trip that wasn’t sitting well with me. The Ex was suggesting/encouraging the Happy Couple to go ahead and get married at the courthouse when they went to get their marriage license. The reason was so his law partner wouldn’t have to bring her notary seal to the ceremony to properly witness the marriage license. Taz said they wouldn’t tell anyone they had really gotten married two days prior to the wedding. 

Well, apparently this was bothering my subconscious more than I realized and it bubbled out of me during dinner as we discussed wedding logistics. H2B was telling his mom that he was jonesing for a particular restaurant that he wanted to hit for lunch upon his arrival in my fair city. Taz was reminding him that they had to go together to get the marriage license. I spoke up and said something to the effect that if they were getting married at the courthouse, I wanted to be there. That, my friends, stopped the show and all civilized hell broke loose. 

Taz sent me horrific death ray looks. The MIL asked what the heck was I talking about. The Ex began explaining and the MIL had questions because obviously she couldn’t believe what she was hearing — this wedding was going to be a fake because the kids would already be married. Taz and H2B left the table because apparently H2B wasn’t up to speed on this idea and Taz was upset. It left us parents at the table unwinding this. Rather the Ex trying to provide some rational explanation for his idiotic idea. I sat back and watched.  

Then Taz returned, absolutely furious with me.  By this time the Ex had apologized and confessed that he had given the kids “bad advice”. I explained to Taz that the Ex had explained everything and admitted his mistake. Then the In-Laws left the table which freaked Taz out because she didn’t want them upset. Everyone was way too polite to really let loose and say what was on their mind, but the end result was everyone agreed that there would be no courthouse marriage. Dinner was over and the evening ended on a bit of a sour note. I felt awful for being such a killjoy but secretly happy to have aired this dirty laundry. Actually I was surprised that the In-Laws didn’t know about this. Taz had told me 4 days prior and the MIL is a divorce attorney –I assumed they knew. Anyway, I was staying with Taz and H2B which made for a bit of awkwardness when we got home. 

Taz and H2B spent about 30-45 minutes in their room. I retreated to the guest room and was prepared to call it a night. Then Taz called me down because they had made a fire. We all chatted and everyone was relaxed. Then I learned of more wedding drama — family friends were asking for plus-1’s. This created stress between Taz and H2B because he had cut cousins and friends from the guest list only to now be asked to include perfect strangers.  H2B and his kin would cut off their arm before asking for the favor of a plus-1.  Our neck of the woods apparently hasn’t read enough etiquette books to know that it’s rude to ask and ruder still to ask inside the 10-day window. We chat some more and I headed to bed only to be surprised by having Taz follow me to apologize for being mad at me. I was pleasantly surprised and relieved. 

When I returned home the next morning, I immediately called the MIL and apologized. I didn’t say what for and I guess I was apologizing for creating drama. She apologized for leaving the table and her behavior (which I had no problem with -I thought she had handled it well).  She had apparently texted Taz that night to apologize. What a class act.

Then I called my BFF and asked for a reality check. My BFF is from the same area as H2B so she was mortified with the plus-1 BS.  She was equally horrified with the courthouse marriage idea. As I told her, I got angrier as I thought about it. My damn Ex. What an asshole and here’s why:

  1. He was basically advising the Happy Couple to begin their marriage by lying to all their closest friends and family. “Come witness our exchange of vows” but the joke’s on all of you because this is just pretend. Why the fuck are we even flying in the minister? Why are we spending $50k on a wedding? There is no way that could have been kept a secret and imagine the explosion when the truth emerged? 
  2. Start your marriage with a lie so my law partner and I aren’t inconvenienced. Seriously? If that was my responsibility and I thought she was too flaky to remember the damn seal, I would have brought it or asked other guests who are notaries to bring theirs. It’s an honor, not an imposition. 
  3. The whole plus-1 situation was bubbling up from the Ex’s side. Control your damn guests and tell them NO and don’t bother Taz. She’s got enough on her plate without having to be the bad guy. YOU be the bad guy. They should know better. 

I ranted to my BFF and then got another rant with the Hunter. He plied me with wine and weed which softened my anger.  He thinks I did this on purpose and perhaps he’s right, but it wasn’t pre-mediatated. My rants did give me a whole new perspective of what Taz had been dealing with, although she later brushed it off when I later mentioned it. Perhaps I over-reacted because it’s simply my Ex being his usual douchebag self and I’m still sensitive about his shittiness. 

So Dear Readers, what are your thoughts?  Man, I am so glad I only have one Type A daughter to get married. Another would send me running for the woods. 

Where Have I Been?

I have to thank Dawn for stirring me to write. Life has been galloping along and there is so much to do much less think about and process. First, the wedding. It was a nightmare the week leading up to it, but the actual day was a dream come true. 

Taz runs at warp speed and the week leading up to the Big Day was packed with hair appointments, nail appointments, dress fittings, shopping for a variety of things, more shopping …and she had 30 pages of essays to write. I had 40 goody bags to make and deliver for hotel guests, people to pick up from the airport, Taz and her errands, menu cards to design and print — it was absolute insanity. Fortunately, my son arrived early and was my able, happy-to-help assistant. I had moments of eye-twitching, trying to breathe and control the stress. I had a meltdown or two. It was tough. I won’t kid you. 

Then the wedding day came and as I later described it, the rollercoaster began rolling down the peak without any ability to control it. I released my worries and stress and enjoyed the day. It was beautiful. The venue was amazing. It looked like a fairy tale. So romantic and dreamy.  The night went off without any drama. We have beautiful memories to fill a lifetime, stories to become family lore. 

The Hunter was by my side through it all.  He was awesome. My friends got to know him better.  Even though big parties are not his scene at all, he was with me for the rehearsal, the rehearsal dinner and the wedding. I have come to realize he has a bit of social aniexty, so I appreciate him stretching beyond his comfort zone. The day after the wedding was a brunch, but he skipped it due to a class he is taking. That was fine. 

That night he generously made dinner for my parents because he couldn’t afford to go out to a restaurant. It was a lovely evening.  He later thanked me for giving him that out instead of being embarrassed at a restaurant. I was touched. 

What made me chuckle is that all the Ex’s family and the Marriage friends were just as chummy and nice like the good old days. Not that the past was so great for me all the time, but they treated me like they use to. I discovered that I could care less and while it was nice to see everyone, they can still go fuck themselves. 

The happy couple took off on a two-week honeymoon. It took me about three days to recover from the wedding. I was exhausted — both mentally and physically. But I pulled it off. Now, how the hell am I going to pay for it?  LOL. 

The Wedding Approaches

It has been an interesting week. Taz was here for three days for wedding planning. Man, this young woman can be tough for me to handle. She is so much like her father and it brings up some strong emotions in me at times. Before I rant, know that 70% of the time was fine. She had a couple of times when she snapped at me and I was dumbfounded because it was completely out of line. I swallowed my hurt and anger but became a bit cool. She calmed down and realized she overstepped, but the damage was done. Just like her dad. 

One interesting thing is that perhaps I have been able to be a strong positive influence on her. I like to think so. On one ride home, we talked about her high school counselor, a man that I am forever thankful for being in my daughter’s life. She has stayed in touch with him and by some weird 6 degrees of separation, he is somehow related to a dear friend of the groom. We are talking a thousand mile connection – bizarre, but I digress. 

Anyway, during Taz’s senior year of high school, she was a handful. Too smart for her own good, strong alpha personality, the rigors of all AP classes, the pressure of college application process and a host of other things in her life made her a force to be reckoned with. My Ex and Taz were clashing regularly and both expected me to resolve it. I was stuck in the middle with my Ex bitterly complaining about her, directing me to correct her and then furious when I apparently “failed”.  Taz was simply growing to hate her dad for all his controlling actions. In steps the high school counselor who wisely told Taz that her dad was never going to change — most adults don’t, so she needed to decide if she could accept her dad for who he is. He told her much more, and she listened to him. Heaven has a special place for people like that counselor. I begged him not to retire until my son graduated and fortunately my son was also able to benefit from his wisedom when I moved out of the house before my son’s senior year. 

But returning to the present, Taz really churned up some emotions in me. They weren’t all happy thoughts either. She said some really sweet and loving things but then she zapped me a couple of times. The Hunter has gently asked if I am over-reacting.  Perhaps, but I know without a doubt that she will not be my caretaker when I get old and senile. She’s too tough. She is headed for a glittering, successful career at the top of her profession. She will be a rock star and I am so proud of her. I just hope that the success doesn’t come at the sacrifice of her loved ones. 

Then after the highs and lows of Taz’s visit, I ran into a colleague at a cocktail party. She told me she ran into my Ex at the bar of her neighborhood restaurant. She told me that he’s excited for the wedding, worried about walking Taz down the stairs in her dress and then she told me that he looked so woebegone. That it is glaringly apparent that he pines for me. WTF. I told her that perhaps if he wasn’t such an asshole we would still be married. 

After I left I called a girlfriend to discuss the conversation. Why the hell did my colleague feel the need to share the conversation with me?  She could have simply told me that they ran into each other and left it at that. As I told my girlfriend, part of me wanted to tell my colleague not to have pity on my Ex because he hates her and always called her a dyke when we were married. But there was no upside for me to do that. I simply had to listen and then retreat. My Ex also talked shit about all my business colleagues. He had nothing nice to say about any of them. It always pissed me off because if he was insulting/belittling those in my trade, wasn’t he also doing the same to me?  I asked him once and he kinda of laughed and admitted that I was right — he didn’t have any respect for my work. 

In any case, it feels good to write this and get it off my chest and out of my brain.  Today I feel fabulous. I figured out some complex financial stuff, cleaned my office and flirted with the Hunter.  I broke my alcohol-free January a bit early and feel great about it. My positive affirmations are working and I see a very bright and happy future before me. I found my dress for the wedding and Taz said that it was the most beautiful dress she has ever seen me wear. Let’s leave it there – happy. 

Post Christmas Thoughts

I know that divorced families have to negotiate the holidays and oftentimes it can be a minefield. I came from divorced parents who needed a judge to determine the holiday schedule and it was still a stressful time. I think that gave me a little PTSD when it somes to holidays. 

I planned to have my kids over for Christmas Eve. The Hunter invited Niño and his girlfriend, I had Taz, her fiancé and my son.  My thought was to have them on Christmas Eve and then they would spend Christmas Day with the Ex and his family. That worked out fine, but my Ex was a bit tricky because he caused my kids some guilt because he was spending Christmas Eve alone apparently. I tried to mitigate it a bit by inviting him to church, but he refused and things sorted themselves out.

I have learned that I still have lingering bitterness and anger towards my Ex.  The Hunter is encouraging me to let go, but I am grimly, doggedly hanging onto those emotions. I have done the horrible thing of “keeping score” and I need to let go of that mentality. I am hoping that since I recognize it, I am on the way to healing. 

Here’s an example of my score-keeping:  I had Taz and the fiancé over for Christmas Eve. They hung out for about 5 hours. My son is staying with me while the Happy Couple stayed with my Ex.  On Christmas morning, my son headed to my Ex’s for Christmas breakfast compliments of Taz, then on to the Ex’s family (2 parties), back to my Ex’s and he spent the night (under duress — both Taz and my Ex pressured him into staying).  On Christmas Day, I got no phone call from Taz and only a response to my Merry Christmas text. WTF. I was hurt. 

Then she had plans with her girlfriends and so I didn’t see now hear from her until Monday because we had a dress fitting. Then we spent a lovely day together and the fiancé joined us for a great lunch.  I had Taz all day, but I was still grumbling to the Hunter that the time spent with me is all wedding plans and errands. I don’t get “fun” time. 

He chastised me by  telling me that I am lucky because she knows I can get that stuff done and trusts me. OK, OK, I get that, but sometimes I want to be the fun one!  He replied that I need to stop keeping score and just ignore the Ex’s existence.  Easier said than done, but he has a point. 

One thing that dawned on me as I bitterly counted up the hours they are spending with the Ex versus me, is that baring an unforeseen calamity, I will outlive my Ex easily. He’s almost 56 to my 51 and as I mentioned in my previous post, his three decades of smoking is beginning to haunt him.  He was hospitalized briefly and although Taz says he’s fine, I am not so sure. The Hunter, when he first met him, noted that his color was bad and that he looked sick. I agree. Plus my Ex’s dad died at age 62….

Anyway, that morbid thought has put things into perspective.  Also, I know that he whines to the kids for more time. I sit back and don’t guilt them. My son appreciates that. My daughter prefers the Ex’s faster-paced neighborhood and lifestyle. That’s fine too.  I just don’t want to be taken for granted and ignored. I don’t want them to think that simply because I have the Hunter that I don’t want them around. OK, I am getting horny and fooling around with my son here is a bit tough since our bedrooms are side-by-side. LOL. 

But I like seeing my kids and spending time with them. I just need to perhaps come up with more activities.  I know that visiting my dad was dull because he never knew what the heck to do with me, so I need to apply that lesson to my own kids. We have invited my son to go camping with is over New Years. Once again, he is mindful of his dad and may only join us for a night or two. Damn, I guess I should be proud of the thoughtful son I have raised. In the meantime I get to take Taz and the fiancé to breakfast and the airport. Lucky me!

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