New Year’s Day: A Divorce History

On New Year’s Day 2011, the year I discovered that my NPD/sociopath ex-husband was living a double life, I woke up at a friend’s house with a hangover and the discovery that my her sweet puppy had died during the night.

After hot coffee and tears, we all trudged out into the January rain, probably a dozen of us, to bury the dog in a field behind the barn. I had no proper shoes with me, and my toes froze, and red Virginia mud covered my fancy party boots.

It was a grim beginning to a grim year. Back in the city, my ex-husband would become more elusive abusive and stranger than ever, disappearing on business trips where hotel operators could never locate his name on their guest lists. Distracted by my two little children, I couldn’t keep up with all his lies. By September, things would reach a fever pitch, until the day I opened up his secret email account and everything became perfectly clear.

2011 was not a good year, and it was followed by several agonizing ones.

***

But by 2014, things started turning around. On New Year’s Eve, a friend turned to me and announced it was going to be a good year. I smiled. “Perhaps,” I said. “Life is mysterious.”

Several hours later, at midnight, this friend received some big news. Her 47-year-old bachelor brother had gotten engaged that night. This was an event no one predicted. “Life is mysterious,” we laughed.

For him, I suppose, it was a year filled with love and light. And for me, it was a good year, a good start to a good new life.

***

This year, New Year’s Day didn’t start out well  – my brother and his family left for a tourist attraction without us. I was packing our car to drive 250 miles home, and I took too long. They did not offer to help as I took trip after trip up and down the stairs of my parents old colonial, carrying my children’s suitcases and toys and hair dryers and stray boots. It took me forever to load our little SUV, and I got angry and raised my voice and said a truthful but not very kind thing about my brother.

And then I couldn’t fit everything into the car. I started to cry.

But then I looked at my children’s faces, teary like mine, but because they were missing this precious time with their cousins. So I took a deep breath and pulled everything out of the car. I placed suitcases and winter coats and piles of gifts on the snowy driveway and slowly started all over again until everything finally fit.

We salvaged the day by skipping the tourist attraction and meeting my brother and his kids after all – for lunch in the city before setting out for our long trip home. I did not say a negative word to my brother. I knew it wasn’t worth it.

***

The drama wasn’t over. As we pulled into our driveway in the dark that evening, I noticed a light in our garage.

And then it went out.

We all gasped. We had been away for a week, the house should have been empty.

Very reluctantly, I called the police. On New Year’s Day, I thought. What did this foreshadow for 2017?

One officer arrived, listened, and told me that others were on the way. Out here in the suburbs, the officers park up and down the block, no flashing lights,. I started adding them up then lost count. They brought a dog. They fanned out across the yard and finally went into the house. I sent my children to their friend’s house. And I sat in the car alone and watched the flashlight beams in my house. Ah, they’re up in the attic, I thought. They’re in the basement. My bedroom. My closet.

And finally, laughter, as the officers came outside, ducking under the plastic sheeting protecting the newly painted door from the rain.

Was someone in there? We don’t know. The officers said it could have been my painter, and I could have just missed him by a moment or two – the light stays on for exactly 4.5 minutes. Or it could have been a thief who slipped out the back door and jumped over our fence and into the darkness.

I thanked them, and it was over. My children came back, a friend came over, we poured wine and ordered pizza, and somehow the evening was saved in our bright, warm house. The first evening of 2015.

 

 

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Judging Divorced People: Just Don’t

 

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The moms were bored. They were about 20 hours into a 36-hour Girl Scout camping trip, an experience that was incredible and life-changing for the little girls.

For the moms, its was the old familiar mix of joy, laughter, hard work, responsibility – and lots and lots of sitting-around boredom.

And so it started.

“Oh, I feel so sorry for this dear friend of mine. She’s divorced….”

And the story unfolds. I try not to bristle. The friend cheated on her husband and has spent the last four years trying to win him back, unsuccessfully. And now he’s getting remarried to someone else, and she’s falling apart.

Oh, and she’s an alcoholic.

“It’s so sad, but I won’t let my daughter go over to her house anymore….”

I sigh to myself. The biggest alcohol abuser I know is a married mother down my block, and everyone seems to allow their children to go to her big old fancy house….

The story leads to another one – divorce and alcohol and heartbreak.

And then a third one, the best yet. “My husband and I just went to a funeral this week of an old college friend who died from drinking. Of course his wife had to divorce him, and that made it worse….”

At this point, I got up and walked away. It was abrupt. I didn’t look back, but I know they all must have looked at each other, shocked and guilty. None are bad people. They were just caught off guard; they forgot they had a divorced mom in their midst.

But it was the tone of over-the-top sympathy that got me. I don’t know the private lives of these particular women. But I know enough about the lives of our peers. Enough to know that feeling sorry for others must make at least some of these women feel better about their own problems, marital and otherwise.

When one of them came up to apologize later, she obviously felt awful. And she’s a nice person. Really. I looked at her and told her my truth: “Oh, don’t worry, I’m not upset. Frankly, when I look around, I don’t think that my married friends are any happier or unhappier than my divorced friends. But I did feel that it was gossipy.”

I paused.

“And I wouldn’t want anyone talking about me that way,” I continued.

“Not that I ever did anything wrong.”

But for some reason, my voice sort of trails away with these last few words. I think I’ve crossed some line.

And I walked away, from her, from the group – feeling proud and ashamed, independent and pathetic, filled with anticipation and regret – another few steps away from my old life.

The Flu

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, redeeming about influenza.

It can kill you. And even if it doesn’t, it makes you feel like it is.

Seven days of this. SEVEN. DAYS.

I’ve been too sick to eat for seven days. And I just stepped on the scale to discover I only lost four pounds.

There is nothing redeeming about the flu.

In The Eye of the Beholder

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Me: “Oh, for wacky tacky day at school next week, you can wear your new pettiskirt!”

My DD, 8: “MOM, pettiskirts are NOT tacky!”

It makes me so nostalgic for the good old days when I dressed her in little smocked dresses with peter pan collars and big hair bows . . . . my baby is growing up, and sometimes I don’t like it.

Resilience is Resilient

An unremarkable day except that I asked my babysitter to stay late, until 5:30 pm, so that I didn’t have to rush out of work like usual, leaving deadlines unmet, which makes me worry all night.

The extra 90 minutes made the biggest difference. I got more done at work. I am calmer. My children finished their homework before I got  home.

I don’t want to do this every day, but once or twice a week is going to be a necessity so that I don’t go crazy from the stress.

It’s past 9 pm here, and I just realized that my children didn’t fight at all this evening. I allowed my son to stay awake to watch the end of the SU/UNC basketball game, and then he went to bed relatively easily, after halfheartedly trying to convince me to play Blackjack with him for a few minutes.

My son called his grandfather tonight and told him that our new house is “great.” That we have two stoves, which is cool because “his mom” cooks stuff in both of them at the same time. That his room “is coming along” with a new bed and bureau, and some NY Giants fatheads on their way to our house. That he’s had lots of friends over to visit, and there’s lots of space here. Interestingly, he didn’t complain that the blue I chose for his walls doesn’t match the Giants shade exactly, or that his bedroom is smaller than his sister’s room.

My daughter made her own lunch tonight, carefully washing each raspberry individually, before tucking everything into her lunchbox. She agreed to try out again tomorrow for Ballet III, exhibiting her typical resilience that has only wavered a few times during the hideous divorce. Each time, I worried it was gone for good. But as a friend says, “Resilience is resilient.”

Now it is snowing lightly with a high probability of a two-hour school delay tomorrow morning. The storm of the century missed us, which is very disappointing to my children, but they are upstairs quietly reading in bed, and all is warm and peaceful in our home.

I’m not used to peaceful. I like it.

My NPD Ex is a Complete Shithead

There’s is no way I can do that in time. Sorry

This is the reply I got from him yesterday, asking him to sign a piece of paper this week so that I can sell an asset – one that was given to me in our court order after I had to pay him 1/3 of its value.

He happily took the money months ago. Now he knows that unless he signs this piece of paper (in front of a notary public), I’m stuck with a huge, huge problem that is not my fault. He knows it will become a problem at COB on Friday if not handled.

He knows I’m desperate. And he loves it.

I’ve written here before that he is a borderline alcoholic, an addict, and a narcissistic-personality-disordered individual who “engages in sociopathic activities” according to the expert.

He’s also a complete ASSHOLE.

I’ve been able to detach so completely from him lately that I nearly forgot all of this. Anything to do with him is so upsetting and traumatizing that I prefer to dwell on just about anything else in the world.

But I’m thankful for two things: that this asset is the only legal thing left linking us together (uh, except for two beautiful children); and that this is exactly the reminder I needed of how much better my life is now that I have divorced him. The chaos, the manipulations, the game-playing, the lies, the abuse. Now I remember it all, more clear-eyed than ever before. I remember that he never paid anything on time, or met a deadline, or did anything properly or by the book. My life was always like this, running after him, trying to head off problems and sweep up his messes while other people proclaimed him a “boy genius” without irony.

My little kids today pointed out just today that I am a “big rule-follower” because I didn’t want to park my car facing the wrong way on the street, even though many others seem to do it around here. I agreed with them and said that rules exist for a reason, and unless a rule seems really rotten or unfair, we should follow them. Most rules, like them or hate them, are what make the world work, like Stop Signs and telling the truth on a resume.

But my Ex is too good to follow anyone else’s rules, and too vicious to help me stay in compliance with the law.

I’ll have to pay my attorney again to send him a letter. But then, finally, I know that we won’t even have this one last asset together anymore. I also know that part of his refusing to sign the letter is because he knows he can’t control or influence me in any other way anymore. And it drives him crazy.

So, deep breaths. Onwards and upwards.

Je Suis Charlie 2

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My children came home from school today with lots of questions.

My son: Mom bad men killed cartoonists, like Charlie Brown.

Me: Well, the people that were killed were not cartoonists that made cartoons for children, like Charles Shultz. He was the cartoonist who created Charlie Brown. But the cartoonists that were killed made cartoons for grown-ups.

My daughter, surprised: Grown-ups like cartoons?

Me: Yes, for newspapers, and these cartoons were like stories about current events – about things going on around the world. And the bad men didn’t like the cartoons. They got mad about them.

My son: So they KILLED the people who made the cartoons?

Me: Yes.

Stunned silence in the car. My children had no more questions. They just needed time to digest the insane world of grown-ups.

We didn’t have to get into the politics of the events in France. Those questions will follow, I am sure. For now, my children are just trying to get their minds around the fact that two very bad men were so mortally offended by a few cartoons that they executed 12 people in cold blood.

Oh, in the name of god. That’s going to be a little difficult to explain.