Forgiving Yourself for Marrying a Man Who Cracked Up

f7a5ba1dbfb77428d3bf123eccb54542

What would I say to a friend?

You were young. You didn’t know. You couldn’t possibly predict the future. Yes, there were signs, but you were also hoodwinked by a pro. You had noble and honest intentions. You thought it would work out. You tried your hardest. You never gave up until you needed to walk away. You worked so hard.

It’s okay. It really is. 

You are moving forward. His power is diminished.

It will be even more okay. It really will.

Advertisements

Children You are Loved: The Gift of Divorce

I always teach them that they are loved and chosen, no matter what; that God’s got it, no matter how hard and unfair things seem; that all we have to do is take care of the poor, the hungry and thirsty, including ourselves, and give thanks for the tender mercies of our lives. -Anne Lamott

These are Anne Lamott’s beautiful words yesterday. I’m taking them a bit out of context because she is referring to three children that she teaches in Sunday school. Two of them have brain cancer, an extraordinary coincidence in a class of three children, within a church of only thirty regular parishioners. Imagine that. Two little children out of three with brain cancer.

It certainly puts divorce into perspective.

Lamott puts into words the things that children need to know while going through divorce or other difficulties: you are loved, you were chosen. No matter what, God (and at least one grown-up) is in charge, even if it doesn’t seem that way sometimes.

Yet life is sometimes hard and unfair. And so we must keep moving forward, laughing as much as we can, loving each other, while we wait it out.

And sooner or later, things will get better.

These are the lessons my children have finally learned this year, after the three-year divorce from hell. They waited it out until things got better, much better, finally blissfully better once again. Perhaps not perfect, but my children know that life isn’t perfect. It’s up and down and wonderful and secure and joyful and sometimes scary and sad. pst people are good but some may disappoint you, and some could even hurt you.

And as my little ten-year-old told me, “If you don’t know what sad means, you don’t appreciate happy.”

When I grew up, bad feelings were not allowed. We were the perfect family, on our way up in the world. Of course this was an illusion, but one that was highly encouraged in my world of country clubs and sororities and The Preppy Handbook. And thus I learned to stuff down any unpleasant feelings or doubt or hurt – anything less than perfect. And that left me looking great on the surface but woefully unprepared for the world. It allowed me to ignore the red flags flapping all over the place before my marriage. It allowed my ex-husband to gaslight me for years while I ignored my instincts and looked the other way. I thought everything was perfect: I did not know any better.

Now when I see my children, I realize that they are way better prepared for the big world ahead of them: the good, the bad, the joy, and the pain. The honesty.

Are there easier ways for my children to learn these lessons than through a three-year divorce? Of course, and just writing these words fills me with sadness. But in some ways, this a gift nonetheless, and I’ll take it.

Happy Valentines Day, Fellow Bloggers!

A quote (or two) from Anne Lamott:

“You are lucky to be one of those people who wishes to build sand castles with words, who is willing to create a place where your imagination can wander. We build this place with the sand of memories; these castles are our memories and inventiveness made tangible. So part of us believes that when the tide starts coming in, we won’t really have lost anything, because actually only a symbol of it was there in the sand. Another part of us thinks we’ll figure out a way to divert the ocean. This is what separates artists from ordinary people: the belief, deep in our hearts, that if we build our castles well enough, somehow the ocean won’t wash them away. I think this is a wonderful kind of person to be.”

****************

“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.”

Happy New Year: Hope after Divorce and Dealing with a Crazy Person

I hope it’s okay, on this New Year’s Eve, to cut and paste words from the brilliant and so-lovable Anne Lamott:

There was a cartoon in the New Yorker decades ago, that I’ve never forgotten, of two men chained at the wrists and ankles to the wall, off the ground, in a jail cell, in a cave. One man turns to the other, and says, “Okay, here’s my plan….”

That’s how I feel about the last two weeks of holidays, the days of death by cookie, bad nerves, tight smiles and overwhelm. Doomed, like a prisoner, or space alien, but you know what? Also full of hope.

Hope? What a nut huh?

What a nut. Yes, that’s me. When I tell my story, and people praise me for being strong or brave or positive, I know the truth. I had to be dragged into my battle, kicking and screaming while pretending that nothing was wrong – my marriage was perfect. But opening my ex-husband’s secret email account finally showed me the truth – my marriage was a sham –  2,000 pages of the most awful, perverse, and graphic words in front of me. Words that made divorce attorneys divert their eyes from mine. I couldn’t deny the truth any longer. My ex-husband had been lying to me and gas lighting me for years.

I had to stand up and walk into the light. And then I had to fight for three long years to divorce this man. I had to fight to protect my children from him. I didn’t do it for myself. I did it for my beautiful, innocent children.

And finally when the battle was over, the new crazy started: a new boss, a three-week deadline to fix up my home and sell it, two weeks to find a new home, and then the move, all in the middle of a family wedding and the holidays. At moments, I wanted to quit my job without notice, laugh in the face of my sanctimonious and childless co-worker, send my kids far away to boarding school – or give them away to the first interested person – scream at my real estate agent, and get out of my car at intersections ask drivers why they think it is okay to ignore stop signs. And then climb into bed until it was all over.

But at the same time, something kept propelling me forward. It was knowing that I was making progress – it was hope. Hope for a better life, a new home, success at work, financial security – a new life, peace.

What a nut. Someone who is giddy with hope for 2015 as she sits alone in her new furniture-less house on New Year’s Eve after a 6 pm dinner with friends. But hope is everything – I’ve never felt anything so powerful, except for love.

And talking of love and hope, tonight my friend’s bachelor-for-life brother proposed to his girlfriend. Another divorced friend got a break, a little vacation with her children for a few days, just when she felt she might crack. My brother has mysteriously found the love of his life. A friend-of-a-friend has survived year three of the most awful cancer, the kind that requires countless rounds of chemo and horrible surgeries that remove organs – her own doctor told their mutual friends that she would not survive, but the cancer is now in remission. My own father has survived open heart surgery this year, and now it looks like he will survive prostrate cancer too. Another friend is about to offer a stranger an incredible gift that might give her the second chance she needs in her very difficult life. And my extended family, which has grown apart through the decades, came together this year, bound together first by collective grief and then by the joy of a surprise wedding.

As my friend said tonight, 2015 is going to be wild. Yes, I replied, and interesting and very very mysterious, I am sure.

Happy New Year.

Why I Love Anne Lamott

I also learned that you didn’t come onto this earth as a perfectionist or control freak. You weren’t born a person of cringe and contraction. You were born as energy, as life, made of the same stuff as stars, blossoms, breezes. You learned contraction to survive, but that was then. You have paid through the nose—paid but good. It is now your turn to reap. -Anne Lamott

This makes me remember my indomitable toddlers and how they explored the world without fear. My son hung over the edge of his stroller to catch the eye of every passerby. Then he would grin and wait for them to smile back. The world was filled with friends.

When my daughter was three, she watched a bigger boy take a truck away from my son at the playground. “You be nice to my big brother,” she roared. The boy dropped the truck and walked away. My daughter felt powerful and righteous. The world was a safe and orderly and good place.

This was before the divorce.

We just spent a week with my parents, my children’s grandparents. I was struck by how quickly my mother raises her voice at all her little grandchildren – and how they tune her out. No one likes to be yelled at, especially for little things like running in the house or climbing up on the sofa the wrong way. I wanted to tell her to stop being so critical, so mean, and to enjoy these four little cousins before they get too old and want nothing to do with her.

As adults, its our job to build up our children, not tear them down. Life will try to tear them down enough, I am sure. There is no need for us to contribute to it. Let them run, let them bounce, let them throw a pillow. Let them be like the stars, the blossoms, the breezes for as long as possible.

The same stuff as stars, blossoms, breezes

DSC_0514

 

I also learned that you didn’t come onto this earth as a perfectionist or control freak. You weren’t born a person of cringe and contraction. You were born as energy, as life, made of the same stuff as stars, blossoms, breezes. You learned contraction to survive, but that was then. You have paid through the nose—paid but good. It is now your turn to reap. – Anne Lamott

My daughter can flit and dance along this palm tree limb, as light as air.

I tried it, concentrating on my core. I fell.

“Mom, just have fun!” yelled my daughter.

I laughed, and it carried me across.

 

“I smiled back …

“I smiled back at her. I thought such awful thoughts that I cannot even say them out loud because they would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish.”
― Anne Lamott

I’ve been joking about this quote lately with some friends. Today, I really mean it.

Resolutions are Overrated

If I were going to come up with some New Year’s Resolutions this year, I would probably have to include: Blog More! Because I’m turning out to be a very lame blogger.

In my defense, I have a lot going on. The holidays, the kids, the divorce. Oh yes, the divorce. I tentatively have some good news about my contentious and brutal and interminable divorce, which has been dragging on now for more than two years: It might be over soon. The attorneys assure me that things look good this time.

Then again, they also say, “You never know for sure. Remember who you’re dealing with.”

Lawyer doublespeak.

So I’ve just decided to skip resolutions this year. They never work out for me anyhow, and they usually just end up making me stressed out and feeling like a big old failure. My divorce already makes me feel these things, so why put even more pressure on myself?

So this year I simply resolve to keep on moving  forward towards a better place. And not to lose my mind in this final stretch. To continue to take care of myself and my kids. To ask for help when I need it. To laugh. To put aside the divorce and other worries whenever I can.

Basically, I’m working on grace and dignity – and humor, for when grace and dignity fall short.

And in case my lawyers call me tomorrow and say that there has been another delay, another setback, I will keep this little Anne Lamott gem in my back pocket:

“But grace can be the experience of a second wind, when even though what you want is clarity and resolution, what you get is stamina and poignancy and the strength to hang on.”

No matter what, 2014 will bring an end. I just resolve to hang on. Happy New Year!