Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Lawyer Bike

Anyone who has been in the wrong relationship, particularly for decades, may hear something familiar. The negative messages, the ridicule, contempt can't help but sink in. If you care, if you give of yourself, if you keep trying and take it on yourself when things are difficult, you will start believing the bad things said about you and soaking in the bad atmosphere in the home. I certainly did. The trick is to un-hear, un-absorb, to un-believe the attack-ads played non-stop in the home. Easier said than done.

When my spouse and I were newlyweds, we went to Bath Cycle and Ski. I wanted us to have mountain bikes. I was not a securities lawyer. I represented poor people. I gravitated to the entry level Treks. When the salesman found out somehow that I am an attorney, he said something like "oh, you're an attorney, come over here, these are the lawyer bikes."

We got the cheap ones. They are both still running. I ran mine hard. On stream beds, logging roads, and trails, on the back streets of Augusta as an escape from cublicle land- I wound my way through the Augusta streets to get to the former mental hospital where I worked. The bikes migrated to the island and are still going today.

Jump forward 20 years from the remarks by the salesman. It comes up in one of the break-up arguments. "Remember the guy in the bike store? These aren't lawyer bikes. Here we are all these years later and it's still the same."

So I didn't buy the lawyer bikes and it is still a sore point. I've worked hard, been straight with people and not particularly financially successful. My bike is good and so am I. So is the one we bought for her.

I hope she gets her lawyer bike someday. I hope I stop feeling like a failure about stupid stuff someday.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Staying on Long Past Time

I'm in the dining room. There is a fire in the wood stove. The stove with the damper that never worked and the handles that were broken when we arrived. The brokedown stove that kept my children warm so many nights after wet snow storms when the northwest wind came in behind, frigid, dry, bitter, relentless. Exposed to the elements in a way that the mainland suburb that my Maine has turned into would never feel.

The kids are in Portland, not here. I am wrestling with whether to take up gear or keep hauling. Cold rough weather presses in, but there are lobsters at a sweet ass price.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Big D, Part 1 - the Rudolph Nose

The real question is whether, after falling in love with someone, what happens when you get to know them? When the love and lust goggles are on, we don't get a true understanding of who we're dealing with, and we might just spend the next 22 years trying to make something fit while the truth slowly pulls us apart like continental plates.What if when we get to know each other, we don't make each other stronger, we don't become more respectful and grateful, we are battered and eroded by challenges instead of made stronger? The more earnest we are, the harder we try, the worse it all gets. If you are a trusting, persistent, forgiving person, those very traits may only make a bad situation linger.

I could not be myself in my marriage. I had to guard against my nature and keep Me in check. If I did not, if I began to expand and feel at ease, big trouble would surely follow. I'm not talking about being me as in bad behavior like screwing around, using drugs, compulsive gambling, or anything else like that. Right there! I just fell into an old trap of comparing my true self to something bad. It is no accident. It is a conditioned response. It is a product of trying to keep the peace. It is the result of years of conflict, berating, ridicule, name-calling and other ineffective ways my partner tried to tell me how I should be. I think she was trying to tell herself we weren't a good match, but it was reflected outward at me. I believed it.

Now having been separated for 3 years I am slowly learning to be at ease in myself. There are, however, still countless times when I may be struggling or have some external setback and I'm instantly back in the cesspool of high volume contempt, ridicule, criticism and controlling behavior that defined so much of my marriage. It is a slow process to recognize and unwire those little bombs in the brain.

Now, I can be myself. In my work, at my home, with my children, in a partnership that every day gets stronger and more joyful. There's still lots of work to do, but at least the work is about being a better me instead of trying to be someone else, trying to wear the black Rudolph nose. I do not have to keep a lid on my nature in order to avoid interpersonal combat.

The divorce process has dragged on. On the eve of trial one year and one day ago, our counsel advised the court that a trial was not necessary because an agreement had been reached. The endless combat, dodging and weaseling have added an unnecessary year to the process. It is an extra year of limbo for the kids. It is an extra year chock full of reminders of my spouse's bottomless well of dissatisfaction with me; chock full of criticism for how I live and work; chock full of contempt.

I am starting not to believe in those demons. I like my nose the way it is.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Just Doing It

Guys can fake it. I can recount that I have done it after working a full day, cleaning the meantime mess enough to do supper, made and cleaned that up, reading to kids and supervising teeth brushing. I did it even though reading a few paragraphs and falling asleep would be a much bigger turn-on. I've done it to keep the peace. I've done it to avoid the calendaring of "how long it's been since last time..." Yes, guys can fake it. Just because it stands up and stuff comes out does not make the other person a sex goddess. It doesn't take a lot of skill to complete the male cycle. A pile of cold rocks can pretty much do that when the hormones are upswinging.

But then there's love making. There's connection. AND there's physical arousal and intense pleasure. There's doing it not to pass a particular obligatory female neuro threshold, but for no purpose whatever except to do it.  Just doing it. Especially post-vas.

There should be more of this for everyone.

The Strange Dream

A couple of nights back, I dreamt of a white winter ski hat that I recall from family life. It got passed to different kids grabbed occasionally by an adult, but was always there in the winter accessory bin. In the dream I was working to fasten the hat onto a trapeze-like swing. It was winter. The swing was set up behind a snow bank at the edge of a parking lot.

The literal reading of course makes no sense. What the dream was about was the intense sadness of identifying what I took with me when I exited the marriage.

In parking lots or in-laws driveways or any other place where we were without money and needing to have fun, I could find a way to make that fun for the kids. This was my gift. I didn't do well with money. I wasn't much of an authority figure. I could, however, make fun out of nothing.

This snowy swing, behind some parking lot was my gift to my family. I took it with me. It's not that I can't still give this to my kids when they're with me, but things have changed.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Watching the River

2:00 to 4:00 a.m. is a time period that I never knew much about until the last two years. When I was younger, I only visited that neighborhood while carousing, romancing or driving home from distant gigs. Lately, that time of night brings a wreath of unpaid bills, litigation, Chapter 7, angry words, family conflict, scheduling and logistical snarls, fear, frustration, shame and confusion which then rotates around my head until an hour or so before I need to go to work. Then there is a blissful hour of sleep followed by an even crueler few minutes of getting vertical for the day. I have experienced what seem like hundreds of those nights.

The loud and painful events bark for attention and lend themselves well to writing, but there are profound moments where relief is quietly realized. It sneaks up, especially after a great ordeal or a couple years’ worth. The alarm and vigilance don’t let up right away, so peace can come as something of a surprise.

I’m looking out the office window across a parking lot, past an iron rail and lamp post on the bridge and into the leftover glow from the sunset reflecting off the Damariscotta River.  The river usually races by, switching directions every six hours or so.  Right now it is still and silvery burnt orange.

I am ok. That is an incredible thing.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Strange Gifts

This week, I've spent a lot of time dealing with unexpected financial bombshells, some from faceless entities far away, some motivated by personal animosity very close to home, and no, I don't mean spouse or family. I've listened to rusty-hinged grating rude voices on the phone, experienced sophisticated manipulative behavior and general nastiness.

The lightbulb moment today was that the most recent assault propelled me into a place where I didn't crumble or fight. The person was a complete stranger who seemed to take in instantaneous disliking to me. She has that right. I don't need everyone to love or like me, because the ones that do are plenty. In any event, after 10 minutes or so of pointless friction, I thanked the person for her time and stayed true to what I thought was the right course of action. If I had not been in that uncomfortable place, I would not have found the strong, gentle core inside. Thank you, teacher.