another wtf?

I wish I knew what to say, how to say this thing that has now reared it’s head.  I wish I had the words to make something ugly and painful at least sound beautiful, or eloquent, or something different than what it is, but I just can’t.  I came home from work, looking forward to a nice three day weekend, and while I guess the weekend is still here, there will be nothing lovely about it.  Long story fairly short, Steve broke up with me tonight, and though for a variety of reasons that make sense in context we are going to try to fake it through the weekend, he will most likely be moving out Sunday or Monday.  I am-well.  I am many, many things, but “okay” is not one of them.  Not by any stretch of the imagination.

Obviously I am hurt, and yes, stunned-though I didn’t think things were perfect, because I don’t think they ever ARE “perfect,” this is obviously not what I was expecting.  He has been some distant the last little while, so I went through a little bout of insecurity, but then I figured that he was simply being a guy and was trying to work some things out on his own.  We haven’t been fighting, we have still been okay in the bedroom, we have been laughing and were, I thought, okay, for the most part.  Clearly my bout of insecurity was warranted, as clearly he WAS working out some things on his own.  Working out how to tell me that the final straw for him was having Hannah get pregnant, how he moved in not because he loved me but because he needed me and thought it might work out, and that the kids are a big part of the problem.  You know, those pesky little kids that I have had since long before I met him, right?  It’s not like he moved in and was here a month and then I said,There is something I need to tell you; I have four kids, one of whom is yours.”  Bygones.

I am hurt, I am sad, I am all of those things you would expect me to be.  I am afraid, and I am angry-because he has been here a year, you guys.  Long enough for all of us to get used to having him here, to relying on him, to trust that he was actually going to stay. I am confused and uncertain, and suddenly this life I thought I had, thought I was working toward, has been ripped out from under me in the space of a few minutes.  I did the right thing and let the Idaho Housing Authority know he had moved in, so I got bumped off the program, and now if I want to reapply there is another 18 month waiting list-longer, probably, due to the enormous budget cuts here in Idaho recently. The increase in rent to the full amount has been fine, since there were two incomes, but now suddenly it is NOT fine; I can’t live here on what I make, not by a long shot-especially taking into account that I am going to have to pay the monthly bills he was paying.  There is no way I can go on vacation now, no way at all, and I don’t know how in the flying fuck I am going to support Hannah and her baby while she finishes high school.

And while the financial implications of this are overwhelming, they are but a drop in the bucket.  They are what I pick to write about because it hurts me too much to talk about how I really feel.  It hurts to admit to the world what a stupid, stupid girl I have been, it hurts in a place so deep down inside me as to make me want to scream with the rawness of it-to talk about how my kids have loved him, and now he is leaving not just me but them, to write down in black and white how this completely fucks up everything I have been trying to learn how to do, shakes whatever belief I have tried to foster that love really is possible. 

I am just too tired to start over.  And yet I have to, because just like so many other times in my life I have.no.choice.  right now, I am just going to get through tonight, and I will get up again in the morning, and that’s as far ahead as I am willing to look right now.  I am sure there will be many more days pf processing that you will all be subject to, but right now, this is all I’ve got.

The only thing I have to do today is not drink

Fucking Idaho weather.   I could deal with the snow and rain and cold yesterday, because it is May in Idaho so 1.the weather is fucked up and 2. I knew the snow wouldn’t stick, and of course it didn’t.  However, what pisses me off is that it froze last night, which the forecast did NOT predict, and killed off most of the flowers I planted in my planters on Mother’s Day.  I am a little bit pissed off about this, because they were beautiful, and I don’t really have the money to replace them.  In fact, the only reason I had flowers to plant anyway was because I got a gift certificate to a nursery for Secretary’s Day.  I am feeling a little disgruntled and out of sorts, and the flowers are just kind of a metaphor for it all.

My mom called yesterday and of course I didn’t answer the phone.  She had made an offhand comment when my sister and I met her and my grandma for the play right around my birthday about having thought about calling me on my birthdays, but then she just didn’t.  No reason, mind you, just,”I thought about it, but I didn’t.”  So the 38 year old instinct to protect my mom from any legitimate emotional pain kicked in and I said, “oh, yeah, it was no big deal, my birthday is just another day, don’t worry about it.”  In return, she made the comment that by god HER birthday and Mother’s day were coming up and it better NOT just be another day for her or she will be pissed-so of course I “thought” about calling her on both days but “just didn’t.”  Talk about passive-aggressiveness!  Anyway, so I didn’t answer the phone, but then the old guilt thing kicked in, and the message she left was rather cryptic so I started to worry that something had happened to my grandma, and long story short, I called her back.  and somehow got sucked into agreeing to let her and grandma come over to take us to lunch today.  Of course Sam and Owen are thrilled, because they think that The Grandma’s are coming in honor of their birthdays, but I quickly had to dispel that notion-it would surprise me to no end if either of them even remembered that both boys were born in MAY, much less know that this weekend is the closest one to the actual dates.

Blah.  family shit just makes me crazy, and I hate feeling this way.  I hate hate hate that I am still so afraid of my mom that I get sucked into the old roles every single time.  My sisters and I have discussed this, the propensity to, when she is getting too close to OUR personal lives, throw another of the sisters underneath the wheels of the bus, which is something we all hate about ourselves but seem powerless to stop.  Whichever sister(s) is not around is the one we toss to her, because of course then she can be bitter and angry about the absent one while said sister is actually safe from her wrath. 

We are all planning this vacation for ourselves and our families this summer, and our dad is also part of it, and I made the mistake of referencing the vacation when we were with mom and grandma.  Baaad shiiit, let me tell you.  I knew better than to EVEN bring it up, but it slipped out.  So she went off on this  tirade about how she wasn’t invited and she doesn’t understand why “the other sisters” don’t want to have anything much to do with her, and I swear to God I wanted to SCREAM.   I wanted to yell, THIS is why.  This is why we none of us are close, why we have to sneak around behind your back and plan to get together, why we all try to keep our relationship with you superficial.  Mom had a year of therapy and some exposure to a 12 Step program 20 years ago and thinks now she is an expert, and she says things like,”I don’t have any control over what any of them think, and it is their problem, not mine, I know I was a shitty mom but there isn’t anything I can do about it now, I was just so crazy back then,” and all of that is TRUE, but what good are amends if they are made with a blanket,”I am sorry  I was a bad mom, but let’s move on,” without any kind of real and true effort to move forward in a different direction?  Maybe I ask too much, but I don’t need to hear that she was a bad mom-hello, I lived it-I know well the ways in which she was terrible to live with.  What I need to hear is the specific ways in which she was a bad mom-not to beat her up with it, but to have her acknowledge the ways in which she fucked me and my sisters up.  Because we can all do the blanket “I am so sorry I was so awful,” but unless we are given specific examples, there is no way of knowing whether or not true remorse exists.  When my mom says shit like that, I think she is simply parroting back something her therapist told her all those years ago, giving her a lifeline and the opportunity for forgiveness and redemption, but she got to the “I was and am a terrible mom” part, took the bit about making amends, and skipped all the “what do I do now” stuff.  Infuriating.  I want the,”I am so sorry that I made all of you girls believe you were fat and ugly and worthless, I am so sorry that there were times when you had to sneak into the neighbors house for food, I am sorry I left you girls with a man who was fucking his own daughters while I went to find a place to live.”  I want her to enumerate the myriad ways in which she let us down, over and over again, by participating in horrendous acts of abuse perpetrated by her string of husbands, by taking out her own helpelessness and fear on the four of us girls, for standing by and watching when we were beaten and humiliated and shamed for simply having the misfortune to have been borne to her.  Maybe I do want her to say those things out loud, want to say them out loud to her, to hurt her.  I don’t know, don’t know, don’t know.

Sometimes I think that I have come so much further than I have, I get complacent about my twisted and conflicted relationship with my mother and think there might finally be peace, but then something happens, some switch is triggered, and I am consumed with all those old feelings of rage and inadequacy, of shame and horror and god, there is no forgiveness when these things hit.  She says things sometimes about how scared she was, how she did the best she could but didn’t know what to do and how to survuve with four children and no job and whatever….but I think maybe I just think she said those things, I don’t think  I actually remember her saying them-even in my head I want to try to put myself into her shoes, to try to figure out her thought process at the time, and I stop myself because of this: I have four children myself.  I know how hard it is, I know how fucking scary it is to know that they rely on you for everything, to think for a time that you need a man to step in and save you, I know that.  I know how abusive men actively look for women like her, like me, like so fucking many of us, and I know how hard it is to break away from that.  However, I also know that when you finally break away, you get fucking help and you make a commitment to save yourselves and your children and you make for damn sure that you aren’t falling back into the same steel trap with another and another and another man.  I know that.  I know that when someone sexually abuses your child, you stand for them, you fucking do whatever it takes to make sure there is some semblance of justice, you go to hell and back to make sure your children know that they come first.  You do NOT participate in the sexual abuse, you do not leave your vulnerable children there with that man, and then you do not go find another one just like him to take the innocence from your remaining daughters.

I know that somewhere there is healing and grace; much of the time I feel it, for myself especially but for her, too, but today?  Not one of those days.  I know that I was well on the way to making those same kinds of mistakes with my own sweet children, and if I hadn’t been given the gift of sobriety AND decided to open it, my kids might very well be feeling the same way toward me.  I know that I have made mistakes with my life, my children’s lives, I know that as sure as I know the sun is shining-so who am I to make judgements?  However-we are taught in AA that even if we have visited atrocities on our children, ourselves, our partners and our friends and EVERYONE who came within our little circle of hell, no matter how fucked up and high or drunk we were, we are responsible.  End of story.  And the part of me that knows that to be a true fact is the part that gets so angry, so cold and heart and unforgiving.  No excuse, no excuse, no fucking excuse.

So this is my Sunday thus far.  I AM batshit crazy, but today there is no endearing quality to my craziness, no small glimpse of softness and kindness to buffer those sharp edges.  I write about it here so I don’t cut my own loved ones with those edges, I clench my teeth so hard that I will not be able to open my mouth all the way tomorrow without pain, because I will not be her.  I will not drink today to escape these feelings, I will not scream at my children for being too noisy or too lazy or too there.  I will again not drink today, and I will not punish Steve for being born with testicles, for needing time to himself, for not rescuing me from myself.  I will continue to NOT drink today, and will remind myself that this will pass, that somewhere, somehow, there will be one small thing that will allow grace in, one small thing that will help the anger start to fade from scarlet and black to the more muted shades of red and maybe, maybe, pink.  I will not drink today, I will not be the killing frost that will turn everything beautiful in my life to a mass of unlovely black slime.

And I know this will pass, because that is the nature of it all.  I know that somewhere in the depths of myself, there is a hurt and abandoned little girl, and this is who I speak for today.  I will not drink to drown her out, but will instead listen to her rage and keep patting her and telling her that it is okay to feel however she feels, I love her anyway.  I will feed her what she wants today, with toast and tea and lots of hugs, and if I let her speak but not allow her to hurt anyone, she will find her way through this.  Somewhere on the other side, grace waits.

Friday Fragments 05/21/10

Mommy's Idea

It’s absolutely Friday, finally, and I can’t think of a better way to end the week than taking part in Mrs.4444’s Fabulous Friday Fragments.  This is the chance to empty the mind of all those fleeting thoughts and snippets of information into one post-a little bit like grinding leftovers into hash, actually, only without the slightly moldy taste (one would hope).

***I am coming down with yet another cold, but this time it coincides nicely with what is forecast to be the worst weekend of the year, weather-wise.  I plan on going to the library tomorrow and stocking up on cheap romance novels (not really) and tea and nurturing myself on the couch.  Cold or not, I can’t think of a better way to spend a rainy/snowy weekend.

***However, it is Owen’s birthday tomorrow, and it was Sam’s on Wednesday, so I might have to get up for a little while.  They don’t know it yet but we are planning on taking them to see Shrek 4  as part of their birthday celebration.  I thought the first movie was funny as hell, but after the second one, well, one I would rather go see even a Nicholas Sparks movie than watch another sequel.  However, both boys are dying to see it, so there you go.

***Anyone else been watching the Jeopardy Tournament of Champions?  Tonight is the last night, and I am pretty excited about it.  We watch nearly every night, so we have already seen all of the contestants at different times during the year, so it has been excellent to see them come back and kick some ass.  I love the guy who is currently in the lead, Vijay, because he is SO smart, obviously, but also because he has tried out for Jeopardy over and over again and finally got in.  I took the online test and it was so hard, I think I only got maybe a third of the questions correct.  However, at this point any of the three contestants DESERVE to win.

***And oh my god, am I a total nerd or WHAT?  Did I really just write a paragraph about a television show on my BLOG?  And admit that I really want to be on Jeopardy! someday?  Yikes.

***A couple of people have asked, and I thought I posted about it one time but in case I didn’t, Hannah is having a little girl.  I believe that Ms.Moon is planning a virtual baby shower for some time in August, and Hannah will be registered at Target.  We also have a Wal-Mart here, in case any of you are die-hard Wal-Mart shoppers (notice I hate them so much I won’t even link to them?).  I thank in advance those of you who have asked; you simply have no idea how much it means to us.

***I have been taking on online class this week for work, the last class I need to take/test I need to pass in order to get my CISR designation.  I have to say it is a lot more boring to take a class online than it is to go to one, so it has been kind of a struggle for me.  When I am DOING my job, it isn’t boring at all, but some of the classes really are.  Still, I will be pretty excited to get this designation; it is visible proof of the work I have done to get to where I am, and that can only be a good thing.

***Sam’s dad didn’t even deign to email Sam on his birthday.  Anyone surprised?

I am pretty sure that I have emptied my brain of enough to make it through another week, so now I will send you over to see Mrs.4444 to partake of the offerings of her other participants.  Have a good weekend, everyone!

Dinner, anyone?

Steve and I were talking last night about the old blog and he told me that I needed to tell you all a little story about why no one should ever invite themselves over for dinner at our house.  We put a beautiful piece of flank steak onto the counter last week, in a lovely soy, ginger and garlic marinade; it was frozen solid, so we thought it would be fine to leave out until Steve came home at lunch and could put it into the fridge.  However, his dog apparently thought it smelled as good as we did, and got into it.  Only, you know, it was frozen, so she could really only gnaw a little bit off of one side of it.  He came home and caught her, and end of story.  Except, of course, that we actually just washed it off and cooked it anyway.  As Steve exclaimed, “That was a $10 piece of meat!” and my thinking is that if you get it hot enough, all the germs will be killed off.  None of us got sick, anyway, and it ended up being a damn fine piece of meat.  I think it was actually a little more tender than it might have been otherwise, you know, without the gentle gnawing.  A sort of natural tenderizer, if you will.

Food is a funny thing to me.  We grew up poor, so we never got to have the kinds of things even my kids get, and we don’t get a lot of shit food.  But I remember walking to the grocery store with my mom and my sisters in the hot dark night of a Colorado summer, and we only did this once a month or so, so it sticks in my head.  We could pick one thing as a treat-just one, and it could be whatever we wanted, even if it meant we had to put something else back on the shelf that we had on the main grocery list.  It surprises me that I remember this so clearly, because I couldn’t have been more than 4 or so, but we none of us ever picked candy.  I know my mom always bought herself a pound of Bing cherries, a sister always chose an orange, another picked a bag of sunflower seeds, the last sister a coconut, and a pomegranate was my choice.  I don’t know if we all craved those particular items because of a lack of something in our diet, or if we picked things that seemed to last longer, I don’t know.  I do, however, remember how wonderful it was to sit in the kitchen and know we had this one whole thing all to ourselves.  It is a good memory, one I cherish, and something I also did with the kids when we were dirt poor-they could pick the one thing at the store, or we would go to McDonald’s once a month, and I hope they remember it as fondly as I do.

Like I said, we were poor, and my mom’s family was poor, and food-well.  We all learned that there are some things you just overlook; we cut the mold off the cheese and eat the rest, as long as the bread smelled okay it was okay to eat, even if it was hard as a rock-that’s why there are TOASTERS, right?  Leftovers in the fridge for over a week were ground up with potatoes into hash,  and on one memorable occasion we had Ramen Noodles at my grandma’s that were really old, so we just picked the weevils out of them and ate them anyway.  It was just how things were, and even though it makes me gag NOW to think about it, at the time, it was eat what was there or eat nothing.

Things aren’t that bad now, and haven’t been for a long time, but some of that, what would you call if, thriftiness?  Frugality?  Whatever it is, I still carry it over to my life now.  For good or ill, I should say-because I am either really great and blase about it, like in the case of grilling the gnawed on meat, or totally weird about it-like, I won’t eat tuna fish if it has been covered up and put back in the fridge, even if it is only an hour old.  I will eat leftovers for lunch one day, and after that, no way.  I only drink out of the top half of a gallon of milk, and it has to be ice cold.  I don’t eat egg salad sandwiches or meatloaf or canned peas, EVER.   I have an unhealthy obsession with food I am not even eating (I could tell you daily what my good friend SJ eats, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, because I ASK her every.single.day.).

Sigh…I was going somewhere with this post, making some point, but said point has escaped me.  I was just thinking about this after reading Michelle’s post awhile back about her Mother’s Legacy, and as I went through the fridge looking for something to take for lunch (potato salad left over from Sunday?  Hell no.  Lunch meat that was unopened but left on the counter all night?  Perfectly fine), how food can nurture or damage, sometimes both in the same meal.  How it can be the best most wonderful experience there is, or something that you have to do to stay alive, no matter what it is you are putting in your mouth.  How food is the one constant at celebrations or life or times of sorrow or loss, how we show we love and hate.  I have such a strange relationship with food, and I know it, and sometimes I can even laugh and make a joke out of it and sometimes I am ashamed and embarrassed, and sometimes there is progress made; I can now, for example, have two foods actually touch on my plate, unless one has juice that might sort of dribble over into the other one, and not only do I not gag when I smell powdered milk, I can sometimes cook with it. 

However, I haven’t progressed so far that I can throw away a perfectly good chunk of meat just because the dog chewed on it in one spot.  And I also pick up food off the floor and brush it off and eat it, and I have never ever sterilized anything in my entire life except for canning jars.  I will still toast slightly stale bread, and yes, I actually save bacon grease to cook eggs with.  Which is why we don’t have a lot of people over for meals.

The bi-weekly recap

Ah, time to dust off the old workspace and get back into the swing of things, isn’t it? I have had my little break, and while it wasn’t intentional, it feels good to have taken a couple of weeks off from the blogging and the whole Internet in general. I can get pretty immersed in other people’s lives, and while that isn’t a bad thing at all, I can get too involved in the blog world and neglect the day to day friendships and occurrences. I am sure that a psychologist would have something to say about my intimacy issues and how I choose to avoid contact with people who might really get to know me, but since I already know this is a problem, it’s okay, right? Moving on…

Hannah got the official notice yesterday that she is “kicked out” of her young Women’s group because she is pregnant. They don’t CALL it that, of course. They call it being moved up to the adult women’s group where she will be exposed to her “new peer group,” but the reality is that they don’t want her to be a bad influence on the other young girls. Which is crazy in that there is one girl in particular who shows up at church activities drunk or stoned and they not only allow her to participate when she is using, they go out of their way to ask her to come back. Just more of the same judgemental bullshit that makes me hate most organized religions. The woman who was told to be the messenger actually said that if everyone’s “sins” were as evident as Hannah’s, they would have problems, so I was like,”So basically you are telling me that as long as the other young girls’ sins are kept secret, they can still take part in all the church activities?” She didn’t like hearing that, but since it is the truth, well, I really didn’t care.

But other than that incident, things have been pretty calm in general as of late. Hannah’s last OB appointment went well, although she still hasn’t gained any weight. However, her doctor told her that it isn’t time to worry yet, the baby is growing fine and Hannah is measuring right where she should, so if she hasn’t gained anything by NEXT month, they might start to get concerned. I personally think she is fine; I didn’t ever gain a lot of weight with my babies, either, and they all turned out fine. She does have an appointment with a dietitian through WIC next month, because of the lack of weight gain, and she is disappointed about that-but I say hey, you might get some really good information, just go and hear what she has to say.

The other three kids are all doing okay, though I feel really quite torn lately with trying to make sure they are not being overshadowed by everything going on with Hannah. Eli and I went driving together last week for an hour or so, and that was really nice; good practice for him as far as driving, and the opportunity to be together in a different environment. I sat back and let him drive wherever he wanted to go, and talk about whatever he wanted to talk about, and of all things, he brought up my marriage to his dad. The how we met, what it was like, why we got divorced discussion. It was really quite neat to have the conversation with him, because he is old enough to know how his dad is, so understood a lot of things that he maybe didn’t quite “get” before. Also thankfully, I really don’t have a lot of bad things to say about his dad; the hard feelings are long gone, so I could be honest with Eli without any kind of bitterness or choosing my words carefully.

We got Sam all registered for his first ever summer camp adventure, so that itself is exciting. He went to Seattle on his own last year to spend time with a good friend of mine, and this year it is camp-I am so grateful to be able to provide (with the help of others, of course) him with different opportunities like this. I grew up in a small town and was pretty clueless when it came to how other people lived, and I am glad he will have seen a lot of different people and lifestyles in his life.

Sam and Owen both have birthdays coming up this week, 11 and 4 respectively, and it just seems so strange to me how quickly the time has flown by, and how much they have both grown. When we went in to see Sam’s asthma/allergy doctor last week, he had gained nearly ten pounds in the three months since we first went in. For Sam, this is amazing and a very good thing; I credit the new regimen of medicines, because he isn’t having to take nearly as much of the ones that make him hyped up, and therefore he is sleeping and eating better all the way around. No less active-he is still very thin, but at least he no longer looks malnourished.

And me? I am all right. I say that with some wonderment, because for the moment I really am. I think it might have a small part to do with the anti-depressant, and also just a general sense of acceptance regarding different situations. Steve and I had to go out and get a new dryer on Friday, and I didn’t freak out nearly as much as I did when we got the fridge-progress. When the lady from the church came over, instead of completely losing it and sounding like a very angry crazy woman, I told her how I felt rationally and with very little display of how furious I actually was-progress. I have been struggling with some feelings of resentment and anger at certain people in my life, and I finally realized that no matter what their outsides look like, I am probably on the whole a much happier person than they are, which makes me realize how much more that is worth than anything material.

So-that’s the basic recap of the last couple of weeks, and I am glad to be back and warming up the writing part of my brain again. I have letters to write, people to talk to, and it looks as if my self-imposed period of isolation is finally coming to a close.