Bottle of Worry

I wonder how much I could have accomplished in my life if I took all that time wasted, worrying, stressed, self medicating, and actually applied myself to doing something positive. I am pretty sure my life would look pretty different. As much as that might sound appealing, I do have an amazing son, I have learned a lot of life lessons, and I have some pretty special people in my life that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Where did all the wasted time and worry come from? I learned from an early age how to worry. My grandmother and my mother were chronic worries and they showed it. This is not to say they aren’t wonderful people. My grandmother practically raised me and I miss her every day. My mother and I haven’t always gotten along, but she is definitely a good person and always there for me when I need her. With that said, there was always a tone of worry in their voices. I used to hate it. I felt like if I ever hinted that something was wrong, I would get a full inquisition. This lead to me be the kind of person who keeps things to myself. I can bottle stress up like a pro, but I also eventually explode in a blaze of mind boggling self destruction. Not healthy…haha.

It is hard now, being in a loving and supportive relationship where I can be open with my partner. I am not used to it, and sometimes I fall back on my old habits of bottling things up. I’m trying to relearn how to live happily and love without fear. It is both extremely freeing and utterly terrifying all at once.

With my ex, the abuser, nothing was discussed on any deep level. We were both very closed off, and something as small as deciding what to eat for dinner usually turned into an all out brawl.  I lived in fear of those fights, so I almost never attempted to talk to him. I learned from the few times I did try, that anything I had to say was taken immediately as a personal attack on him; even if it had NOTHING to do with him.

So, I bottled up my emotions and had many disastrous self destruction events. This did not help the dynamic of our “relationship.” I would have my melt down and then he would forever have more ammo to throw in my face at any given time. He has a file folder in his mind of every little thing I had ever done wrong. It could have happened 6 years ago, but if we fought, it was today’s mud to sling.

It was ugly. Everything about being with that person was ugly. I ignored so many red flags. I blindly trudged down the path I thought I was supposed to follow. Engagement, buying a home, marriage, having a child, etc. I lost friends, I was isolated and miserable, but worst of all, I thought I was completely trapped in this ugly world. I thought I had no choice but to remain in it.

I have a wonderful, caring, insightful counselor these days, but the marriage counselors I saw with my ex seemed to be hell bent on “fixing” the marriage no matter what. As a very skilled sociopath, my ex always seemed to have the sympathies of our counselors. I was just open and honest and came off as “harsh” according to them. Of course I was harsh! I was like a trapped animal doing anything to stay alive. They didn’t see him for what he was. No one did. The only other person to recognize just how dangerous he was is his ex-girlfriend. She contacted me after it was over (for real) and apologized for the part she played in my misery and flat out said he was a master manipulator and hurt a lot of people.

No relationship is perfect, but I am very grateful to have a truly caring, loving, amazing person to share my life with right now. It’s easy to forget how good you’ve got it when you get caught up worrying about all the stressful things going on in your life. Life isn’t ugly, and with the right person, it can be beyond beautiful.

Purpose

I hate feeling like I have nothing of value to say. I can vent about the nasty divorce I am going through or complain about how mind numbingly bored I am every day at work, but what is that really good for?

I suppose writing here is a healthy outlet for the many frustrations in my life; a safe space to just get it ALL out. As a reader, though, what good does this do for you? Is it for sympathy, empathy, comfort in knowing you aren’t alone; maybe. Although I am going through some very engaging life challenges at the moment, it is never my goal to be some base form of morose entertainment.

 I have always had this fundamental presumption that any content that I write should serve some real purpose. So I ask, what can I do for you and in return for myself through writing? My experience can serve as a cautionary tale. My growth can serve as a guide for someone else. My failures can highlight some of the many pitfalls to watch out for in life. But is this enough? I don’t feel like it is.

Feeling like I have no control over my life during this divorce and having no real passion for what I do 40 hours a week; I am left with a giant hole to fill. I try to take care of myself and my son. We eat healthy, exercise, and usually get enough sleep. I see a counselor and a psychiatrist to keep myself mentally healthy. Still, there is this gaping hole in my life. It is a painful darkness that leaves me agitated, lost, and hopeless.

If AA taught me anything, it was that this hole is best filled with “God.” I am not religious, but the concept of spirituality in a very basic sense is intriguing to me. Finding a sense of self and purpose in a realm of pure energy and good intention sounds great. But how the hell do you do that?

AA lesson # 2, helping others helps you. So, I want to volunteer and help other people or animals or the environment, but when do I have time for that? I’m up at 6:30 am with my always way too energetic three-year-old, breakfast, get dressed, drop him off at daycare, and then get to work. I get to squirm for 8 hours of boredom. By the time 5 pm comes around, I’m exhausted and just want to curl up in bed. Instead, I drive in traffic, pick up the little man, go home, figure out dinner, bath time, maybe a few minutes to mess around on my guitar, then bed time for the kiddo. He’s out by 8 pm, and I’m lucky if I make it to 9 pm before I call it a night.

Lack of time, lack of energy, lack of money, lack of purpose; no wonder I’m having a hard time finding joy, spirituality, and satisfaction in my life. I’d love to get out of the office setting. I’m considering instructing Yoga classes, but certification is costly and time consuming. I got certified as a personal trainer about 4 years ago, but found out I was pregnant the same night. Since then I have lost interest in that path. Nutrition and wellness coaches are becoming popular career paths, but again, it is time consuming and costly to get certified. So, I’m left theoretically pulling out my hair.

Perhaps, I need a life coach. Or maybe I just need to stop thinking about myself so much and start giving the little free time I do have to others. The only thing I do know for certain is that I am need of a complete life redirect. So, one way or another, I have to find a way to make it happen.

Gloves Off

I don’t know what I expected. Nothing was ever easy when it came to dealing with my husband. I was hoping he wouldn’t be a complete a$$hole when it came to getting through this divorce. That was a stupid assumption.

The judge has appointed a GAL for our son, which is not inherently a bad thing, but I have literally no money to pay for this third lawyer. $5000 retainer off the bat. I have to come up with half of that, and I cannot even pay my own lawyer. I’m not sure where the judge expects me to get this money. You could turn me upside down and shake me to see if any change fell out of my pockets, but it would be a waste of your time.

As I have said, my credit cards are maxed and closed out. I make just enough to pay for the mortgage, association fees, car payment, car insurance, and my son’s daycare. I buy clothes at Good Will. I shop for super clearance items as Big Lots and Jewel. I spend very little on anything besides the bills I absolutely have to pay. I am constantly searching for a second job, and I’m just flabbergasted at this point. My husband lawyer proposed he only has to pay $98 in child support a month… Um what?! I take care of our son 99% of the time. How did his lawyer pull that calculation out of her backside? My lawyer estimated $610. Something is severely off about both his lawyer and this judge.

I have been trying my very best to compromise, against my wishes. I do not want to drag this out, but you can only push a person so far. The gloves are off. Let’s go to trial. I will be in debt for the rest of my life, but I’ll be damned if I am going to let him/his lawyer go about this like he’s some poor, mistaken father that everyone should feel sorry for. He is an abuser. He is a master manipulator. He thinks the world is out to get him and he has never done anyting wrong in his entire life.

No. Just No! I’m not going to just take it for the sake of getting the divorce over with. I have way to much self respect these days to let that happen. I don’t know how exactly I’m going to fight this, but I will find a way.

Court: Money for Justice?

Today is yet another court date. There is always a 50/50 chance whether or not opposing counsel will show up, or the judge. My attorney is always there, which is good, but it also means I get charge regardless if anything gets done or not. Every phone call, e-mail, court appearance, proposal drafted, motion created/submitted, all of it I gets charged. I absolutely think that my lawyer should be paid for her hard work. But some the charges seem like I’m being taken advantage of. What can I do though? I absolutely need her services.

So we do this slow, painful, stress inducing dance called divorce proceedings. I have broken down in to tears countless times in frustration and feeling powerless. The judge has made it clear that since there was no direct abuse by my husband to our son, he should keep his parental rights despite never exercising them. Never mind that he fought with me in front of our son as I constantly begged him not to; hours on end, almost daily. Never mind the knife he brought in the room with us. Never mind throwing my phone against the wall. Never mind trapping me in his car, or the bathroom, or the bedroom so I couldn’t move freely and was forced to engage him. Never mind threatening to kill himself in front of our son and I so we could “watch,” and then deny it to anyone else.

I have hours of phone calls with this asshole recorded so people would believe me. None of it is usable in court. His ex-girlfriend even reached out to me on Facebook, completely unsolicited, to apologize and detail how she had no idea how manipulative and dangerous he was. Again, it is not directly connected to my son. So, according to the judge, none of this matters.

I wish he would have been physically abusive instead of committing so much emotional torture. At least if he hit me, everyone could see with their own eyes what a piece of shit he is. Oh well I guess. It is what it is, and all I can do anymore is try to take the best care of myself and my son as I can.

Cubicle Prison

Sometimes, I feel very disconnected from the world. I’m like an actor in a play who never got the script and has no clue what lines to say. Quick to smile and even quicker to walk away; I’m not one for prolonged contact with strangers. I have to wonder if I was always like this.

To an extent, I think I can say I’ve never been much of a people person, but that hasn’t exactly kept me down. I aced my honors speech course. I was a student aid for my professor in college helping freshman with literary analysis.  I’m not one to wait a stupidly long time for the waiter to come back to tell them something is messed up with my order. I don’t avoid interactions in which I need to do or say something, but other than that, I couldn’t care less about basic human interaction. Give me a book, a bottle, or scalding hot bath, and I am completely content to not deal with anyone.

What the hell does that say about me? It’s not that I implicitly don’t care about other people. I do deeply care about most people. But in my daily life; the boring monotonous drudgery that is working in a cubicle for 8 hours a day in a state where going outside in the winter months can literally hurt you… I could not care less about the people around me.

“Stay warm!” “The day is almost over.” “It sure is cold out today.” “Boy, he is getting so big! How old is he now?” “It’s almost the weekend!” “How are you?” “Fine.” “Good.” “Did you have a good weekend?” “How was your vacation?” “Oh my gosh you looks so good! How far along are you?” “Good morning!” “Good night.” “See you tomorrow.” “Drive Safe.” And my new personal favorite… “Happy Friday-Eve!” All of this, I am happy to live without. I smile, I nod, exchange pleasantries, pretend to care, but really, if I disappeared to Alaska tomorrow, I would feel no sorrow. I would not miss this congenial pergatory.

I do understand that there are many other jobs out there that are perhaps worse than mine. Physically demanding and/or dangerous jobs, far more monotonous, thankless jobs, or no job at all could all have any person worse off than I. I’m not asking for pity. I am simply stating that this kind of job, for me, slowly kills my soul day by day. If I do anything else right in my life, it will be to get the hell out of this industry and find a job I actually give a damn about.

From Fear

I realized a couple days ago that I am starting to move past the fear I used to live in daily. I accepted a friend request from an old friend without a second thought and then it dawned on me. I would have never done that a year and a half ago. It would have incited such a terrible fight it would have felt like the end of the world. Under his reign of terror, the smallest thing could light the fuse.

I make no excuses about the fact that I am imperfect and played a part in all this, but I did not twist my entire way of thinking into something so grotesque all by myself. I thought I had to get permission to go out with a friend. I was isolated and had very few people I could talk to. Even those people, like my mother and a handful of friends, he treated as enemies. If I ever went out, which was rare, I was under extreme anxiety the entire time wondering just how angry he would be once I got home. I cut plans short or cancelled all the time to avoid this. I even had to be careful what I posted on social media, because if it was negative in any way, he took it as a personal attack on him. Poor, poor him! He would ask how I could treat him like that. Didn’t I know that I should shut up and be grateful for all the long hours he worked? Didn’t I know this was a complete and sufficient contribution to our family? Screw that!

I vividly remember the anxiety I experienced any time I heard the outside door to our condo building open and shut. Was it him? Most of the time it wasn’t, but I still felt the same fearful stab in my gut well after the plenary order of protection went into effect.

In an attempt to minimize fighting, I would try and cook or bake him things to keep him happy. It never did for long. We couldn’t go to the store together, because it always turned into a fight. Yet he would criticize things I bought as wasting money, despite spending hours combing over coupons, ads, and comparing prices and sales.

If I asked him to do anything when he got home, he would tell me I was nagging him. It was like that even before we got married. If I asked for his opinion or for help planning the wedding, I was nagging. The few dancing lessons we didn’t even have to pay for were “unnecessary,” even though I didn’t know how to dance. He criticized me mid lesson for not doing what I was supposed to. Before our son was born, I asked him to come to the store with me to pick out a color for the nursery area in our room. It was one small wall. We fought at the store and all the way the way home. Only after I had been baffled, bawling my eyes out for an hour did he turn the car around to go back and get one measly bucket of paint together.

As a single mother working full time, I understand the tiredness one feels after a long day at work. I get it. But, that is hardly an excuse to be a miserable, angry human being, taking it out on the people around you. I cannot count how many times I was called a b*tch, a nag, a c*nt, etc. Screw that!

He always had to know where I was, and if I developed any kind of autonomy as a person, he reacted as though I was having an affair. “Who is there? Whose d*ck are you sucking?” It went on like this for years. The thing is, I never cheated on him. He was the one who wound up having an affair after our son was born, because he “needed to feel appreciated.” He lost his restaurant and a huge promotion over it. Worse, he swore up and down it was all a rumor. I was supportive of him until the day I saw the proof. After years of verbal abuse, he did the very thing he harassed me about. Screw that!

We never were able to effectively communicate. I would assume he understood rational thought processes. He assumed I knew what he expected all the time. To this day this is a barrier. Even with a plenary order of protection in place limiting our communication to our son, he is still able to reach his hand into my life and shake shit up. Granted, I have grown and the extent of the damage he can cause is minimal, but it is still baffling to me. Who is this person? How could I have thought he ever cared about me in any real capacity? I think he is fundamentally incapable of compassion. I think he is completely incapable of looking outside of his very narrow view of life in which he is the center. Screw that!

I used to live in fear. I didn’t know how to be alone. I only found meaning in being with another person. “They” made me whole. This was my fatal flaw, and it nearly killed me being married to a narcissistic sociopath. Getting away from him was and remains one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I had to rip myself out of a world I thought was real and plunge into a completely foreign world called reality. It’s a world I was not used to and very uncomfortable being in. Change and discomfort aside, I am living a new life today. I am trying to thrive. I will never return to that hell I called a life; married to my worst enemy. Screw that! 

To The Future

I have an amazingly smart little boy. Yes, I know most parents say this.  I got to spend the majority of the first two years of his life home with him. Now that I am working and he goes to daycare, he surprises me with new abilities every day. We are having conversations. He can understand logic. His memory is sometimes scary, as is his ability to figure out technology. Potty training is almost conquered, and he is able to do a lot independently. He has friends that give him hugs goodbye when I pick him up from daycare. He is turning into this little person, and it is all happening so fast.

He is growing up, while I am tearing down. I am trying to get through this divorce and start life anew. I want to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. I am going to have to file for bankruptcy and possibly find someplace new to live; a prospect that is not nearly as scary as it once was. I want to do a couple things dramatically different this time around. I want to find a job I don’t hate, or at least one that is remote. I want to get rid of my car and use the money I save to start investing. I want to live each day as happily as possible. I am tired of the mind numbing, soul crushing monotony of working a 9-5. Endless days spent daydreaming about the weekend, and saying “One day…” No more of that nonsense.

I have learned to live with very little. Granted, my definition of “very little” as an American is very different from most of the world, but as a lower middle class single parent in the Midwest, I do not need much to survive. I want to find a way of living in which that allows me to thrive and create a different future for my son. Really, isn’t that all anyone wants? Perhaps not. But for me, these are my goals.