Friends, Lovers et. al.

It has been a strange, trying and even sometimes miraculous few years. My world turned inside out, upside down and sideways. I lost myself, struggled to find the way through to a new normal and all too frequently wondered just what in the hell normal really was.

I find, my new normal isn’t normal at all. In fact, I find my new normal is constantly shifting under foot and I am frequently reevaluating to test theories. Just when I think I have it down, when I think I am settled on the answer for what ‘normal’ needs to be I prove myself wrong or slightly off center and must try again. So what is it, is it me? Is it my expectations? Is it the world we live in? Really, what is it? I surely wish someone would let me in on the secret, this constant shifting of the sand under my feet, it is making me dizzy as hell and I am tired.

The past week has proven to me I am not who I believe myself to be, at all. Most days I think I have a larger portion of bitch than most, you know tough girl bitch. Been there, done that and come out the other side, bitch. Not mean girl bitch, simply not going to take your shit, bitch. Then something comes along to prove me wrong, someone meanders through my day and I am pulled up short, set back on my heels and sent searching my soul and asking my monsters, ‘hey, wtf, where the hell did you hide my bitch!’

It isn’t that I pride myself on bitchiness. It is simply life has taught me I need some of this to protect me from harm, from the hurt the world and other people will do if I don’t surround myself with12341638_10208005258989848_2508813082028178841_n a hardened exterior. But I am weak, I am soft. I am figuring this out also. I forgive easily and I don’t like hurting other people. I have a difficult time turning my back on those I love or have loved even when they have broken me, even when they have consistently placed themselves and their desires ahead of me. Still, I have a very difficult time saying, ‘get the fuck away from me’. I don’t do ‘No more’, easily. I don’t draw boundaries easily, I don’t like to feel as if I am the source of other people’s pain.

Now, just how truly stupid is that? Really, how truly stupid can I be that I fail to place boundaries and walls that will protect me from future hurt. Even when those I am trying to prevent from hurting have proven they do not, will not and have not in the past shown the same consideration, the same concern.

Well the other side of this failure, I own my heart and forgiveness often leads to unexpected releases of held pain, even pain I did not know I still held. Despite my natural tendency toward isolation and introversion I reach outside of myself, leaving doors and windows open for people both old and new to sneak inside, around edges and corners leading to friendships unlooked for. Doors swing wide where I thought I had slammed them shut, where I had turned my back and wept my tears of hurt, frustration and pain. At the slightest breeze, the quietest knock I open the door and allow myself to be drawn back, without hesitation or trepidation even knowing how much pain the last encounter caused.

11210400_10207936403708509_5830202822718948331_nAm I an idiot? Perhaps, certainly I open myself to more pain. Surely I open myself to being hurt again. These relationships, these friendships are not always healthy and often difficult to sort out. This is especially true where the relationship wasn’t a friendship but a lover or a spouse. It is hard as hell to change the boundary, draw new lines in the sand and not rehash old hurts. It is difficult not to ask, ‘Why the fuck did you do this to me, do you know how badly you broke me?’

Yes, it is likely the other person knows. It is likely, both of you know the content of the ending. Whether short or long-term, whether lover or spouse one of you left, one of you ended the relationship. It is never mutual, no matter how you might portray it to the public. One of you was ready for it to end and the other was left in pain and wondering what happened and why you are alone and in pain.

Do you wonder what in Hades I am babbling on about today?

I have had a strange week. I am trying to sort relationships. Trying to not hurt those I care for. Trying to regain balance, take back my life and make healthy choices for myself. I recognized many things about myself over the past year, things I needed to understand about what I needed from relationships and from myself. I also realized just how easily I sometimes allow myself to be manipulated, not because I am weak but because I am by nature kind, beyond my kindness though is a history of not standing up for myself within ‘love’ relationships. This history goes back 40 years, is grounded in brutality, fear and force. I realized over the past year I haven’t shed some of my history, it remains rooted inside of me, a dark part of my make-up easily called up and easily taken advantage of; one of my personal monsters I clearly haven’t danced with in the light.

As I have struggled toward enlightenment, toward taking back all of me and all of who I want to be I have also fought to let go of hurt. Perhaps it is simply providence, this shedding of anger and 12507215_10208294405378327_4514737177470774775_nhurt this not holding on that out of the blue as I come more to peace with myself, the one person who had so deeply hurt me reached out to talk. Yes, my ex-husband sent a friend request on Facebook and we talked about God and being better people than we were before. We did not talk about why we failed, I don’t think for either of us it was relevant.

That, that one forty-five minute chat allowed me to finally let go.

So despite I ask my monsters to stop hiding my Bitch, maybe it is fine they leave holes in the wall for people to sneak through. Maybe, just maybe this is how I find myself and find peace. There is no going back, no true second chances. There are though opportunities to learn, to forgive and to forge links in the chains that bind us to the world and our own humanity.

Stuck in Bad Blues

blueWomanMy absence, my inattention, my sporadic visits to your and even my own blog to read or write have been growing lately. It seems I am unable to keep up with life these days. What is it they say? Oh, right it isn’t you it is me. This is has been all too true lately, it is me. My inner demons along with my real live get the hell over here and be quite introvert, they have been playing havoc with my world. On the one hand, I have allowed everyone to dance to the music without interruption, I suspect it is what I have needed. On the other hand, well I think I may have done myself a disservice, now I am finding it hard to reenter life, any life at all.

Don’t misunderstand, it isn’t I don’t have anything to say. No, I have plenty of thoughts running through my head, plenty of emotions dripping through my heart. The world is a terrible place and it makes my soul scream on some days. There are days frankly I simply do not have the heart to pay attention to all the terrible things happening around me, days when I have to turn the world off simply so I can find peace. Add to this bowl of misery, this miasma of wretchedness; well, somedays I fight to get out of bed and be productive at any normal level.

It is a terrible thing, this feeling of dejection, of simply not having the energy or hopefulness to want to do more than make it through another day. This though is how I have felt. I know some of it is very personal, very internalized. I know this is how I have handled the shit storm of my personal relationships, ignoring many of what was so close to the surface even stuffing it into boxes marked ‘Do not fucking open under any circumstances’. I understand I allowed myself to be dragged into the undertow of pretending I didn’t feel disconsolate and rejected by a bad divorce. That I didn’t feel horrified and afraid by ‘alone’. That I wasn’t petrified as my savings dwindled and my bills mounted. As I always did, I put on a brave face pretended none of it hurt, none of it mattered.

It all mattered and two years later it still matters because I am still paying the price.

I want to stop, I want off the whirl-a-gig that is the price paid for other people’s choices and my own unwillingness to say ‘no’. My nature, beaten into me from an early age to always defer, to stay spinning-carnival-rides-at-the-kansas-joel-sartoresilent in the face of other people’s needs and desires has taken its toll. My innate generosity, my desire to help and insure that others have what they need, what they want even when I cannot afford the giving leaves me without, leaves me paying the price. Ultimately, leaves me alone, lonely and hurt by the trust I have placed that is nearly always broken.

Thus, I retreat to lick my wounds and salve my pride.

I wander my huge home, the one I am incapable of maintaining on my own. The one I wish every single day I could rid myself of. The one I once thought of as a place that would hold love, memories, friends and dreams. I wander this monstrosity and weep, there are days I cannot do the simplest tasks. My body betrays me, my heart betrays me and I live with messes I cannot clean; I dread some days even coming home.

So I retreat even further into my journals and into my head.

It isn’t that I don’t want to live, I mean fully live within the world and all that this means. It isn’t that I don’t want to repair the damage to my heart that I don’t want to fix all the bad that fell out of divorce and financial ruin. Believe me, I truly do and I am working on it, at least I am trying it is simply that over the past two years, I was vulnerable to my own demons first and to those who saw me as easy prey. I wanted so much, so much of everything really. I wanted to be seen as complete and whole. I wanted to be seen as strong and capable. I wanted to be seen as undamaged, as worthy and of value. I didn’t want anyone to see the chinks, hell the great huge dents in the armor I had so carefully forged and wore with such certainty I was protected from everything. I wasn’t though, I was vulnerable and easy.

I was blinded by the need to be loved, to be seen. I was vulnerable to anyone who would pretend for a minute I mattered and pay attention. I was starved. I didn’t know it. I didn’t know my years of famine would leave me so needy. I had been without emotional sustenance for so long my ultimate retreat into myself felt natural. Finally, there was no one else but me, yet the minute anyone came along with a story to tell I fell head long and with an open heart.  I recognize the problem of course, I only understood one way of loving, one way of being loved and that was if someone needed me or needed from me.

I had taken care of everyone else for so long I did not know any other way. When I figured out it hurt, that I wasn’t getting anything back, nothing in return I poured my words into my journal as I struggled to breathe and find peace. I poured myself into myself, into my isolation which became more closely guarded every single day as each person who spoke love felt like a liar and hurt my soul, driving me further into myself and further away from the world.

Now, I don’t know how to move. Each day feels like something to fear, what new hammer will fall? What new lie be uncovered? I feel so petty in the face of it all, thus my voice screams in my head stop whining you twit. Still, I find it nearly impossible sometimes to even get out of bed and face another day. I know, this too shall pass. This ennui, this case of the blues. This too shall move out of my way as it always does. But for now, forgive me if I don’t visit as frequently, I haven’t the energy to face the day sometimes and it is all I can do to face the world. I will get there, I will. Somewhere in my soul, hope resides and is likely dancing in the glen with the monsters I manage to keep contained most days.

Stepping into Who I Am

Linda1My dear friend over at Single Working Mom inspired me to write about how we, as women, seem to lose ourselves in our effort to ‘fit’. Visit her post, which inspired this one here.

Stepping into who I am, I think that is what I have been trying to do for more than a year maybe even more than a decade. I simply didn’t know this is what I was doing. All the small acts of rebellion, the tiny bits and pieces I kept trying to reclaim, that was me saying to the world and those who wished me to be otherwise; really, just leave me be to find me in a world I never truly fit or that never fit me perfectly.

I fail to understand why it is so difficult for women especially to claim ourselves completely, to step into the space we occupy without apology. It seems though, there are very few of us who are not in some way apologizing for who or what we are on a daily basis. We bow to the whims of those who dictate to us the terms of beauty and desirability allowing our self-worth to be undermined by how others define it and thus what we see in the mirror is far too often unacceptable, unbeautiful and unworthy of love.

Far too many of us, reshape ourselves to be what others want of us and accept harsh judgment as truth when we fail to meet standards which are either impossible, not our choice, even sometimes ridiculous. We shrink to take up less space, we speak softly or not at all so as not offend, we apologize for our opinions and our needs and do so without thinking in doing so we are apologizing for ourselves, for our very being. We accept harsh words as truth and demands to change ourselves, make ourselves different so we might fit another person’s fantasy, simply so they will touch us in the night, with the light off.

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When I read For Me and For Her it got me thinking about all the things I had done over the course of my nearly 15 year marriage that I resented and how I have slowly begun to shed them. It also got me thinking about the shell I have slowly started to crack open around me, about as I said how I am beginning to step into myself into who I am, perhaps who I was meant to be. I am certain I have a very long way to go before I am fully in the moment with myself, nevertheless it is a starting point and one I believe I should own with pride. I think it is difficult when we are in the middle of hurting to realize how much we give up, so someone will love us. Sometimes how much we lose of ourselves so the person we promised to love will continue to love us.

I am finding I don’t want to be loved if it isn’t for the me that is real; hardheaded, opinionated, pragmatic, softhearted, introverted and creative; someone who has lived life fully and been down a few dark alleys. I don’t want to be touched if it isn’t touching me with the lights on, seeing all of me; scars, dimpled flesh, imperfections, tattoos all of me. I don’t want to be made over. I don’t want to be hidden.

These words hurt me, still hurt me on some level and I am still fighting to breathe through them and find me behind them.

“You are more beautiful as a blonde that as how I met you and that is how you should stay.”

“You are too pale, I think you are more beautiful with a tan. You look too White without one.”

“I hate when you let your hair grow. You look better when it is short and I am not as attracted to you when it is long.”

“If you get a tattoo I will divorce you.”


Here is the thing about all of those, they all represented ‘things’ that were not me.

  1. I am a natural brunette. My natural color is damned near black, though now days it has a great deal of grey.
  2. I have pale olive toned skin. I love my complexion, though I tan easily for years I have protected my skin. Further, tanning is dangerous this didn’t seem to matter so long as I wasn’t too White. What the hell did this mean anyway?
  3. The first time I cut my hair it was down to the middle of my back. I cut it because I couldn’t brush it, I cut it because I was recovering from gunshots and I needed to make life easier for myself. I never intended to keep it short and certainly not that short. Yes, it was funky and fun, especially the pale blonde, but it was hard to maintain. I never felt like me.
  4. When we met I had Tattoo’s, it wasn’t a secret I didn’t hide them. I also made no secret I want more. Why did I ever allow myself to be bullied into a corner?

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Worse, yes even worse than being bullied into a corner. Why did I allow myself to feel unlovable, undesirable and without value simply because of cruel words and the lack of touch. Now, a year later I am beginning to figure some of it out, some of the hurt is falling away and letting me see what is beneath. I don’t love what I see, but I do love that I am able to reach into the hurt and find me.

It is these slow and careful steps we take, these questions we ask that allow us to walk into the world fully owning the space we inhabit, not asking for forgiveness or how we can mold ourselves to fit another person’s desires. I want to be desired, loved and wanted for me, just me. I want to be chased around the room and thrown on the bed, because I am me not someone else but me. I want my words to enflame passion, my heart to sooth, my body to excite and my soul to provide a resting place. I want all of that to be just me, without a demand for change.

So I will continue to step into who I am and tell those who think I should be otherwise to take a flying leap.

Memories in a Box

Sleeping BeautyYesterday I started boxing up memories. This means preserving them, but putting them away so they don’t hurt my heart anymore when I stumbled across them. I have seventeen years of memories; they twine through multiple homes, various milestones, holidays on different continents and of course the lives of my children. It is difficult to box memories, impossible to pretend there aren’t happy, even joyful times preserved in those pictures, impossible to pretend they did not happen. Yes, they happened and I was there, that smile was real and those times were not false, they simply didn’t lead to the ending any of us wanted.

It is difficult to forgive yourself; your failures sit on your heart. Eventually though, they open the door to what isn’t yours, what you don’t own and how you didn’t fail. As I began to sort through hundreds of pictures, some in albums and some loose I realized there were two of us, not just me. Two of us who journeyed, two of us standing before the minister making promises, two of us living under the roof of our various homes and yes two of us fighting the battles. The problem was there was only one of us leaving, twice. Only one of us ultimately unwilling to fight for our marriage. Only one of us so angry they were willing to throw everything away. I realized looking at those pictures, both of us were wrong, both of us did wrong, both of us failed; not just one and finally I forgave myself and refused the entire blame.

Like many of you, I choose love. Always, I choose love when I can, when it is offered and I am not petrified, I admit I am often petrified. I also often choose to love the unattainable, the unlovable, the out-of-reach, those who do not wish love or stand beyond love. I think I know why I do this; it is honestly safer isn’t it? Because as I said, I am petrified, of love of being loved, or maybe of not being enough to keep love and being rejected, shoved aside and turned away from.

I have a friend, someone who has known me for more than thirty years she says on the face of it I am a romantic; I like the idea of being loved and in love. The other thing she says is I choose men who are ultimately not worthy of my love, men who will walk away or who I will walk away from. She says I will always love men who will remain out of reach, either emotionally or literally unattainable and in this way, I keep myself shielded from any real hurt or invasion of my personal space.

Is she right? I truly do not know the answer to this, on the surface it seems she might be. If this is the truth, it would seem I have another thing to forgive myself for.

My divorce, yes I finally said it, draws to a conclusion, the final decree being signed by both of us and presented to a judge sometime in the next week. I look down a future of alone and realize I am building around myself a640px-Aurora_and_the_forest_of_thorns protective tower, like Rapunzel or Sleeping Beauty, no way in or out. No one is doing this but me, for now I think this is the safe choice. I might wish otherwise, maybe a knight willing to brave the wicked witch that is my alter ego or the protective thorn forest that is my history; yet, I have to wonder does that man actually exist? Is this simply my romanticism attempting to convince me to at least leave a light on, a way in.

For now, I think I will keep the lights off, romanticism held closely at bay no matter my instinct to reach out, choose love. Memories to box both tangible and in my head, fortunately I have the practice to be successful at both. The ability to express love, desire, fear and all the other emotions of our humanity will find outlets in other forms; thankfully, I have given myself permission to open new doors both those which I have always followed but kept secret and some new.

So for now, I wait to see what is next. Tomorrow is a new day; I find I am not as afraid as I was last month. Sure, there are still things that make me catch my breath and want to scream, not as often though. Certainly, there are things that make me want to fling myself to the floor and have a tantrum like a two-year-old, not as frequently as last month though.

For now, I will simply try to find small pleasures; perhaps they will grow and untangle and maybe someday I will put the light on.

Future Performance Anxiety

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are days we can be overtaken, we feel paralyzed by a single emotion and can’t move. Usually when this happens the emotion simply rolls over us, doesn’t really matter whether we are prepared, it comes in and takes over, intelligence is locked up, pragmatism sent to sit in a corner with dunce cap on; we are reduced by our feelings to a primal state.

Do you know what I am talking about, those feelings we get every now and then in our lives? They don’t have to be the terrible ones; just the ones that make us stop everything. As a woman, I suspect I give in to these moments of madness more easily or maybe, it is I admit to them more openly. I am not ashamed I have an emotional life; my heart still beats and still bleeds. It is my hope because I can still be hurt I am also able to feel great joy and someday perhaps great love as well. I am grateful (I think) I live alone right now; this way when I am paralyzed no one is here to witness; that is unless I tell them. Usually I tell, admitting to weakness because I need a good, swift kick in my hindquarters.

Even when everything feels done, it isn’t quite over. Does that make sense? It is the absolute truth. On 13 December last year, my husband walked out of our marriage for the second time. Without a note, a backward glance or a goodbye, he had his reasons and whether they were good, bad or true they were his. At that time, on that day I was paralyzed by grief.

For weeks, I was paralyzed by grief. I mourned the loss of the future I had planned with him, a future I though we had both planned. The sad reality was of course, we were truly traveling on very different courses.

Then I started to see the truth. The truth of our marriage and that future, my grief changed and with it, my paralysis lifted. I started to breathe again. I won’t say it was immediate, I still had days of sadness, moments when the grief would settle on my shoulders. Those days though, they became fewer and the weight of the grief became less.

I rejected his assessment of blame. I rejected his harsh judgment of me. I rejected his assessment of our marriage; it was a false vision of all three. It was in fact self-serving, selfish and cruel.

I did all of those things through pragmatic reason, setting aside my emotional response to the blame game he played and I all too easily fell into.

Until last night, when I asked him to sign divorce papers, divorce papers that would sever our marriage both legally and financially. Allowing each of us to retain debt and assets that were individually ours, no division of any property. Asking him to do this without a fight so our marriage could finally end, using only one attorney which I would happily pay for.

The blame game started up again. Despite where I thought I was emotionally, it hurt. I don’t know why it hurt, my heart cracked a little again and with it, the grief came roaring to the surface. Perhaps it was the memories of before, of those early days.

Maybe it was the memory of the dreams, or maybe it was simply this wasn’t where I wanted to be and now I have to learn all over again how to live in this world without the safety net marriage creates. I admit, there are things I miss and maybe this is part of my fury, part of what I grieve for.

I miss arms around me in the night, holding me as I fall asleep.

I miss someone to talk to after a hard day, someone who listens to my rages and laughs at me.

I miss going out to dinner and talking.

I miss someone to share coffee with in the morning.


I miss cooking for someone who appreciates that I have taken the time.

I miss having a travel partner.

I miss someone to dream big with.

I miss laughing over stupid jokes.

I miss someone to share the hard stuff with, whether it is my physical limitations or simple household stuff.

I miss someone who makes sure I don’t fall out of bed during a seizure, worrying about me when I travel alone.

I miss phone calls just because.

I miss someone telling me I am beautiful even when I am at my worst.

I miss being loved, being made love too and knowing it is real and more than just that minute, just a nut.

The funny thing is, I have been missing all of those things for more than two years. I have been missing every single one of those things not just some of them since the day he walked back in the door from the first time he left the marriage, blaming me for every failure.

I am stubborn and hardheaded; I wanted my marriage to be forever. I wanted to fix what was broken. I did not want this ending. Unfortunately, this is the ending I have written because I am stubborn and hardheaded and I deserve joy, I wasn’t joyful, not for the past two years. There have been brief moments, but not moments of paralyzing joy. That is what has been missing, all along that is what has been missing and until now I couldn’t see it.

So, he has agreed to the divorce. We will proceed and it will be an ending. I was paralyzed this morning. I wept. I suspect those won’t be the last tears. Grief is a strange thing isn’t it. I don’t grieve because our marriage was perfect, I grieve because I dreamed and wanted the dream. Now, I think we can both move forward to different lives, different choices.

285This morning though, I was briefly paralyzed and in pain. Now, it has to be about moving forward again and getting to happy.

Served Grown Up Please

LVal_Web_smallMy friend Red and I talk often, truthfully nearly every day. Through this recent tsunami, that has been my life I found I have no nearby support system. This has been eye opening; it has also made it very difficult.

Red gets a great deal of credit for pulling me through the worst of it, she dug in and kicked me a few times. There have been a couple of others though along the way, the interesting thing about these others?

My Friends in the Tsunami

  • They are women I have known close too if not more than thirty years, they have been close friends and intertwined with my life in meaningful and happy ways for all that time.
  • They are both in the midst of divorces from long-term partners.
  • Like me, they did not expect to be in this position this late in life.

Where am I going you might ask and so you should. I have been thinking about the position I and others are in at this stage of our lives, the odds are not with us according to all reports. I have been reading blogs by women, some younger and some my age who have been through the devastation of divorce after a long marriage and what it means to be single again. I have been thinking specifically about what it means to me, my life and my future and what I want for myself someday, maybe, perhaps and if I am fortunate.

I Want A Grown Assed Man

I have spent my entire life, every single relationship being the caretaker and provider. Begging for what I need and rarely if ever getting even one quarter of it, then calling myself satisfied. Enough, it is self-defeating and leads to misery. I am no longer willing to settle, not ever again. I don’t want to be anyone else’s second choice, booty call, meal ticket or anything else. Done with all of it, maybe I ask for too much, maybe the dream isn’t out there, nonetheless…..

I Want a Grown Assed Man and This is What He Looks Likemystery-man

He isn’t afraid of who I have been or where I have been; in fact, he is interested in my history, all of it. He wouldn’t think of condemning me for bad choices I have made because he has made some of his own.

He doesn’t shrink from the hard stuff, his own or mine. He knows life sucks sometimes and he isn’t afraid of it. He is grown; he has taken a few beatings and cried a few tears. He isn’t ashamed of it and he can bear up under the tears I might shed in the dark of night or the grey of dawn when I think there is no one there to hear me sobbing. He understands pain.

He wouldn’t think to slut shame me for what was done too me. He wouldn’t ever think to blame me for my past or take advantage of me because I have one.

He is a gentleman; he has manners not just the ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ type of manners but real manners. He knows how to behave in both public and private and it is innate to his person, rather than showmanship.

He makes plans with me and for me; he is respectful of my time and his own. More than this, he thinks ahead and thinks of more than himself and his own desires. He listens carefully to things I love and seeks opportunities for us to do them together. Even when something isn’t high on his list of ‘shit I most want to do in life’, whether it is the opera, the ballet or going to a Lyle Lovett concert, he makes concessions because he is a grown assed man.

He never fails to flirt, with me! Damn, this is important. A simple touch, a cuddle, a kiss on the back of the neck, a meeting of the eyes across the dinner table anything and all the things that send that message he wants me and finds me desirable. Stop looking at your phone for five minutes, pay attention.

He doesn’t think compromise is a four-letter word. It isn’t. Really, see ten letters C O M P R O M I S E; I counted three times just to be certain. He doesn’t beat his chest and say, ‘Me Man, You Woman’, and stomp out of the room as soon as the word compromise is introduced into any discussion, instead he seeks opportunities to balance our relationship and make it easier for us to move forward.

He traces my battle scars with the tips of his fingers in the night, knowing they are an intimate part of my being he loves them for their presence on my skin and my soul.

He never hides me away in the dark; he is not embarrassed by me or his choice of me. He takes my hand and proudly displays me as his partner no matter what anyone might have to say, he defends me in the face of condemnation.

He is not afraid of debate; he welcomes it when it is necessary and never fights dirty. Whether it is politics, religion or whose turn it is to do the dishes, he will always remember I am his partner and he loves me. He is never petulant or childish in a fight, never uses silence or past hurts to win.

He dances with me! Whether in the living room, the bedroom or at a dinner club; he dances with me. He takes me in his arms and dances me around the room. He knows how to hold me and take my breath away when he moves me. He knows how to make me feel beautiful.

He likes himself, is comfortable in his skin and doesn’t need outside affirmation of his manhood. I am enough for him. He doesn’t have to prove his manhood through Neanderthal means. He doesn’t beat his chest when asked to help with household duties, he would never think to say, ‘that is woman’s work, do it yourself or get a maid.’

He knows making love is more than wagging his appendage and hopping on! Nothing more to say on this one.

He is interested in more than himself, he is interested in the world. He reads, he explores and he is willing to try new things; at least once. His mind is a sponge that happily seeks opportunities to absorb new experiences.

He is engaged and active, whether in a single cause or broadly across many intertwined causes. He is at least putting something ahead of himself.

He has his own money. Yes, I went here I had too. I don’t care whether he has the same amount, more or less only that it is his own. I care that sometimes someone else pays, for the theater, the first class plane ticket, the groceries, the clothes, the phone bill, the luxury items. I care that someone besides me cares the bills get paid not just assumes because they always have they always will.

Finally, he loves me exactly as I am doesn’t want to subtract anything from me, doesn’t resent anything about me except I am late coming to his life, doesn’t condemn me or ridicule me, doesn’t want me changed, thinks I am sexy from the inside out and wants to see me naked from the inside out. Will sit in the waiting room when I am having surgery, not asked to be called when I am ready to go home. Will hang out with me when I am getting my next tattoo, not tell me they will divorce me if I get another.

jpgI Want A Grown Assed Man

I bet my list could be longer, I am certain of it. Red says they are Extinct. I don’t believe her, I think they exist and we simply haven’t allowed ourselves to be loved by the right man. I am holding on to hope. Lately I have been posting snippets on Facebook as I think of them, these were two from the past couple of weeks.

What I want….Breakfast in bed (just coffee would be good), phone calls in the middle of the day (for no reason at all), trips to the garden center, window shopping, spontaneous road trips just to take pictures….oh damn I want someone just like me. Oh well, guess I will have to do.


I want to be seen for just me, liked for just me, be wrapped in arms because I deserve it, walked with, taken out for drinks and a movie, danced with in my living room. I want to play cards and billiards, I want to laugh, I want someone to like the skin I am in without wanting to change it. Damn, I just want that.

I was inspired by this:

I realize, I want to be loved for me. I will continue to write about the mystery man I hope is out there, not today and not soon because I am not there, I am hurt right now and feel terribly unlovable and unpretty. But someday I want someone to feel me, my sharp edges, my history, my future and love all of it. I want someone to feel this and say this to me some day.

Jumping in Delicately

I have been absent lately, from my own space and yours. It is has been a tough time, I haven’t made a secret of it have I? That being said and the fact that I have shared mostly the harder parts of the past three months versus the small victories, well it hasn’t been all bad and it hasn’t been a complete and utter disaster, every day and without relief.

Yes, I really have gotten out of bed on occasion. Though I must admit, I do love my bed.

Thanks to the wonderful advice and information found at Lessons From the End of a Marriage, I have started to build up some stamina, a toolbox suggestion came from this particular posting and I am working on my own this week. I realized after reading the post and checking in at the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory that I was high up there (438), not just in the past year, in the past 90 days. Wow, that was an eye opening; guess it is time too really take steps to align my attitude with my true needs and take care of myself.

No, I haven’t found the RIGHT job yet, however, I am committed too not run scared from my plan to stop consulting, stop traveling and reinvent my career and myself. Don’t believe for an instant I am not scared, I am petrified; still I am going to pursue this change for my own good, for my health spiritually, mentally and physically. For my financial health (and so I don’t panic) I may have to modify, I may need to take on short-term contracts, but that is something I can do easily I think.

All this being said, let’s talk about some wonderful things. Things I did for myself and things that have entered my life.

First, isn’t he handsome?

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Yes, he is the newest addition to my family, born Thursday, 13 March 2014. I was there, at the hospital this time. Unlike when his big brother was born, I was there. I realized how special it was to be able to be part of momentous family events, rather than off somewhere else because of work. What a blessing this was. I am so excited with Chase Lee, he is beautiful and his big brother is happy to have a new brother. Yes, for all you who take exception, Painted (Inked) Grandma’s are the BOMB, and I say this with the very best meaning.

Last month Red from Momma Money Matters came for a visit. As most of you know, Red is one of my nearest and dearest and her visit was lifesaving, truly. We didn’t do much, a few shopping trips, a trip to the ballet, a couple of dinners out. Mostly we sat and talked sipped wine and talked. The biggest and most important thing Red did was demand my presence in life, require me to get out of bed every morning and move. I needed that more than anything else at that point. What most people don’t know is I have spent so much time on the road I don’t have a social network of friends here, where I live.

One other thing I did while Red was visiting was have new professional photographs taken. My original intention was simply to have headshots done to update my profile on job-hunting sites such as LinkedIn and elsewhere. With Red in town I expanded that to include her for our business cards and banners at RedmundPro and anywhere else we might choose to use them. But then, with her encouragement, I expanded one more time and had new ‘fun’ and personal pictures taken of just me, being well not quite me but maybe the me I hope to be sometime in the future.  This is the result:

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The photographer is Christ Hanna of Posture Studios, he does a great job and this is the second time he has made me look beautiful (when I was feeling less than). Personally, I think he does a wonderful job and looking through his portfolio, well it is eye-popping to say the least. I am not his usual subject, so I am in awe just how marvelous he made me look. The first time he photographed me the results made me cry (happy tears), it was a low point and I was stunned into speechlessness.

If you are in the Dallas metroplex and want wonderful photos of yourself or someone else I would highly recommend you consider Christ, he is wonderfully talented. I have already engaged him to take the first formal pictures of my lovely grandson; I am more than certain he will do marvelously. With a wedding coming up (youngest son) I intend to hire him again in the near future.

Finally, on a slightly more personal note I am sure will find hysterically funny. I want to relay I am not dead; I might be slightly socially awkward. For many years, I have had two modes of being, the married Val and the business Val. I do not know how to respond to anyone flirting with me other than to ignore and think they are full of it. Blatant showing interest in me whether simply to get in my bed or otherwise, tends to go right over my head. In fact, I truly do not recognize it, I am oblivious; truthfully, I can’t imagine why anyone would.

So what you should find funny, while Red was on her mission of mercy she yanked my chain; twice no less. Yes, men actually flirted with me, attempted to gain my attention and I was utterly unaware. Handsome men paid attention and I was unconscious. Probably I should not admit any of this, what does it say about me? Well, married Val still exists in my heart and brain; I suppose that is what it really says. Somewhere there is someone else, somewhere there is the other me the one who knows how to flirt back, who knows how to ride a bike, who knows how to be less socially awkward. Somewhere inside of me is that woman, maybe someday in the future she will emerge with some encouragement and enough opportunities and reminders.

Thanks to Red and Christ, at least I know now I still look half way wonderful on a good day (Thank you).

riding a bike

Not Strong

1343863240_3320_fearIt is all I can do not to stay in bed all day every day. That seems to be the safest and most secure place in the entire world, my bed. I do not want to get up, for anything but a fresh cup of coffee and now and then some instant soup. Once a week I strip the sheets, replacing them with clean linens. I have a king sized bed, covered in pillows. I sleep on one small part, the furthest away from the door. It takes me less than two minutes to make the bed in the morning because I barely move in my sleep, barely wrinkle the bed covers.

It is all I can do not to stay in my bed all day every day.

I am on the brink of throwing my hands in the air and giving in, giving up. Just saying fuck it all, why bother.

It has been seventy-six days since my husband, the one I called Dearly Beloved walked away from our marriage without a backward glance or a good-bye. It may be more but that is how long it has been for me.

It has been fifty-eight days since I have had an income. I will admit this is my choice, but who knew it would be so difficult to find another contract. Who knew, certainly not me or I might have chosen differently. I might have chosen to continue to be miserable, bullied and treated disrespectfully for the privilege of a paycheck.

At my age, perhaps that is the best I can hope for, the market certainly seems to be telling me I have no real value and my experience is not worth a damn.

It is all I can do not to stay in bed all day, every day. Some days, I give in and I do.

I am becoming what I do not want to be, what I fight hard not to be, what I never wanted to be.




A recluse.

I am unable to find my way out of this fog. Every ‘no’ feels like a nail pounded into my body sending me deeper into hiding, into my self imposed and designed hermitage. My fear is overwhelming, some days I wander through my home and wonder, when will I lose it? When will I lose everything I have worked for my entire life? While I was busy taking care of everyone else, making certain everyone had what they thought they needed, what they wanted and then throwing it back in my face as not enough; now, when will I lose what is left?

I can’t breathe.

I am so tired of people telling me I am strong. Yes, I get it I am strong enough to have survived all the world has thrown at me. I have picked myself up and slogged through the quagmire. I have done that, often I have done it without help from any damned person who was supposed to be there for me. I did it without getting hardhearted and mean-spirited, for the most part. At least I think this is true. I have to be honest though, the next person who tells me I am strong, I will get through this I am liable to throw them to the ground and kick them till they take it back.

Does anyone understand I am not strong? I am what the world made me, but I am not strong. I am just me, weak, tired, afraid and alone. I could win an Oscar for the front I put up, making certain everyone around me sees what they expect to see and gets what they need. I have only one question…….

When is it my turn? When will someone step up to take care of me?

Okay, that was two. After all these years though, aren’t they fair?

I can’t breathe and I am afraid.

Not Enough

Hurricane Dean NOAA

Hurricane Dean NOAA

The power of ‘No’ can be compared to a Category 5 Hurricane, blows in off warm waters leaving devastation as its calling card. Even when the word is unspoken, it echoes, bouncing through heart, soul and perhaps worse, mind brutalizing with self-doubt and ‘what if’. Self-flagellation is a terrible trap; one I think might be all too easy to fall into especially when combined with ‘No’. This is not an issue of self-pity, not at all an issue of the glass being half empty or even depression creeping in and shaking me harder than normal. Though I suspect all these things are present and accounted for in my current state of mind; no, this is simply an acknowledgment of ‘No’ and ‘What if’ being part of the echo chamber.

Truly, I don’t know why the past week has been so hard. No, that is a lie and if nothing else I shouldn’t lie to myself, I know why.

It is hard because when I look in the mirror I see me, I am not overly impressed and it hurts.

It is hard because I am frightened, it isn’t a feeling I do well.

It is hard because the sound of no, even when silent is battering what small bit of ego I have remaining.

It is hard because the sound of my own voice is the only one I hear most days.

It is hard because despite my best intentions I feel myself slipping between the cracks.

It is hard because it isn’t fair, I feel childish when I say that which simply pisses me off.

It is hard because I am full of regrets, I am afraid that is what it will be forever and ever. Amen.

My husband left me; he says it is my fault. Okay I accept that, the fault lies with me. I was not enough, I did not do enough or I changed too much, or I wanted too much or something simply wasn’t right and I didn’t add up. My pragmatic self, the part of me that wants to move forward quietly says, ‘accept, allow this to flow over and past you. It doesn’t define you.’

The reality?

I am right now, right this minute defined by the pain I am feeling by the loss. I am right now, right this minute defined by the echo chamber of, ‘Not enough’.

I am not working right now. For twenty-two years, I have built a career in a field that was hard on women. I have worked my proverbial ass off. I have fought for every good reference, I have been demeaned all too often, I have been called names, I have been ignored and passed over for promotions I earned, I have earned less than my male counterparts. I have watched my industry be outsourced and in-sourced. I have been bullied more than once, with no consequence to the bully. Now, when I should be reaping the benefits of my hard work, my great references, my long hours; now I am hearing, ‘No’, more than any other word in the dictionary. Now when I want to stop travel, stop consulting, stop fighting for contracts. Now when I can make my life easier with less people to support, now ‘No’ seems to be the biggest word in the English language.


We don’t think you can make the transition.

You have too much experience.

We don’t think you will be happy taking the cut in pay.

Of course, the code is you are too old. I am only fifty-six years old; I still have many years left to go. I am still a viable human being with an active brain and much to offer. Why can’t someone, anyone just be honest? We don’t want to hire you, you don’t fit the profile of what we want sitting in our offices. You are too fat, too old, whatever it is. Just stop beating around the bush just say it.

Instead, along with ‘Not Enough’, ‘No’ screams in the echo chamber, dances through telling me I am not worthy of recognition or of value on any scale I used to measure myself against. My fear beats against my chest wall, battering me, demanding the answer to the question, ‘what if everything you did was for nothing, what if all the long days, long weeks, long hours; what if it was for nothing?’

Now, today I find myself trying to make reservations to return to Seattle for what is likely the final bedside vigil of my nemesis, my second mother. I do this not because I owe her this final courtesy, I do this because, hell because I have compassion for both her and my baby brother who I love despite his lack of understanding of why this isn’t my place. I do this because no one should pass from this earth alone. I do this because I hope someday someone will do it for me. I do this because I do not want my brother’s heart to break thinking she was alone. Yet in doing it I weep tears of frustration and yes even some fury, because he doesn’t understand why he asks much of me. He will never understand why I say to him, it isn’t my place.

So my heart cracks. My eyes leak. My fury, it seems also to be present and accounted for and the echo chamber that is my mind continues to whisper, ‘Not Enough’ and ‘No’ and even ‘What if’.


Wallowing, Not

img-thingToxicity, I have had that in abundance recently and I have allowed it to color my world, including my view of self.  I have curled into myself, finding my bed and sleep the only place of safety, every place else unwelcoming and downright disturbing.

I believe the term is depression, maybe self-pity.

Here is what I know for certain, I cannot continue this way it is unhealthy and stupid.  Here are the other things I know, the things that have happened in the past 90 days, the things that are affecting my terrible self-doubt:

  1. My husband decided marriage to me was too hard and he would be better served elsewhere, without the burden or responsibilities that go with marriage.
    1. Without notice, he left, without word, without good-bye.  Damn that hurt.
    2. In October of last year, I accepted a full-time job with an organization after years of being independent.  I did this to provide a more stable income since I was the primary breadwinner.  Honestly, I think I knew this was not a good fit, something told me but I ignored my intuition.
      1. The environment was toxic.
      2. I was miserable from the very first week.
      3. I worked with bullies.
      4. December 31, 2013 was my last day.

Now to the rest, could there be more?  Yes, of course, there can be more and certainly, there is always more.  I realize I have been feeling ‘not me’ for a very long time, maybe years.  I have compromised myself, repeatedly for the sake of peace.  Some of those compromises have been small things, some though have been compromises of self and they have spread across my environment creating a true lethal combination of self-doubt and unhappiness.

What are the visible signs?

  1. My environment, where I live is truly a mess, there are layers of dust everywhere, things are not where they belong.  This isn’t the home I want to live in; this isn’t how I use to live.  I would be ashamed to invite friends to visit me and I always feel as if I have to make excuses for the mess I live in.  This was a battle I fought constantly, for help and for compromise.  I lost the battle, even emotionally.
  2. My work, what I do for a living and what I want to do for the next fifteen to twenty years has been compromised in my head.  I was once very sure of myself, of my skill, competency and capability.  I thought I was great at what I did and never sold myself short.  Now?  I don’t know anymore, I have allowed myself to be bullied and undermined, by others and in my own head.  Yes, this is a tough market and yes, this is a hard life especially at my age.  I didn’t choose easy, however, I am good at what I do and have great success at my back so what the hell is wrong with me?

I have never been one sink into dark places and stay there, never been one to dwell in caves without light.  I really despise throwing pity parties lasting for more than a day or two, so what the hell is the problem, why can’t wet_dogI seem to shake this one off like a dog shakes water after a swim?  Is it my age?  Or is it some of these issues have been building up and I didn’t really notice, didn’t pay attention instead allowing them to fester like an untreated wound.

No promises, really they are impossible.  No resolutions, I have never made them and kept them beyond the first week of a new year.  Some simple and easy actions though, things I can achieve to perhaps make things less overwhelming in the short term, make it easier to navigate what I suspect will be the challenging time ahead of me.

Here is what I know needs to happen for me to begin to feel as if I am back in control:

  1. Pick a room, any room and clean it top to bottom.  Throw away what I don’t need, organize what I do need or want to keep, tag anything and everything that can or should be donated.  When the room is done, move onto the next room.
    1. If I find the effort to daunting, hire help, it might just be money well spent.
  2. Spend a minimum of 2 hours per weekday looking for and applying to new opportunities, include both contract positions and full-time.  Reach out to industry contacts, get active on the boards and manage my own career again stop letting others dictate terms.
    1. Set rates and stick to them!
    2. Do a real search for local companies, I really would like to stop traveling and have a real life that includes staying local.
  3. Start doing things!  Do anything once a day (other than going shopping) that gets me out of the house and around people.

That is it; choice is what it really is about isn’t it?  I have a choice to wallow in my hurt, roll about in my misery, reel in my pain or I can start to live again.  So what if living again means I will do most things alone for now, I have traveled for work for the past twenty-two years and this means I have done most things alone five days a week.  Hell this means the reason most of my ‘in real life’ friends don’t live in the same city I live in is because I met them when I was on the road, working in a city I didn’t live in, so just what the hell is my problem now?

I read this great post the other day by Tori Nelson at the Ramblings, she said it all in one word Timshel.  I so appreciated her post I wanted to share it with you.

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