There Are No Tears For You

This morning I buckled down to go through all of the court papers, emails and bullshit of the divorce settlement that has dragged on for two years as my ex sporadically hires an attorney to file motions when his obstruction and non participation don’t work. I long ago decided not to spare another tear for him, and I’ve remained stoic each time a roadblock has been placed in the way of selling our properties in New Hampshire or getting money the court has ordered him to pay. When I left, I had no job, a $500.00 bonus check from work, a cashed in investment and the belief that anything was better than remaining near him.

Eventually, I thought, we’d come to an agreement to split what we’d both worked hard for over the years and I would have the money to buy a house, fix it up, take my daughters on vacation, have some fun.

It hasn’t worked out that way.

And I am crying today, not because of the thousands in legal fees I’ve had to pay while he’s ignored the court and made excuse after excuse not to do the right thing. I’m not sobbing because he ignored my pleas when he wasn’t paying the mortgage on our NH home which jeopardized my ability to buy a home here. I’m not even weeping because he told me “no one died on his watch” and I am responsible for the death of my daughter.

I don’t cry for him.

I cry because the last weekend of my daughter’s life, when she needed me, I was too busy going through the last minute papers he’d filed with the court for an upcoming hearing. Instead of having a little patience and time for her, I was sucked into the giant fucking abyss of his trying to get out of splitting our marital property when I should have been with her.

That is why I break down and dissolve into tears. Every court notice, response, email, and summons is a reminder that I wasted the last few days of my daughter’s life worrying about this man who lives on spite.

Alana and I dreamed of the day the divorce would finally be over. She talked about finding me a man who loved and respected me and twirled me around a dance floor. We fantasized about the trip we’d take to Key West, the place we had the best vacation ever, and the things we would do. We’d straighten out her school loans and get her back to college. We’d live the life we deserved, away from the belittling and bullying we’d lived under in New Hampshire.

Our lives, already better in South Carolina, would only get better.

And now, every moment spent on fighting my ex is a reminder of all the things Alana and I never got to do because, as the Taylor Swift song Alana said reminded her of her father goes, “he’s just mean.”

So today, through the blurriness of my tears and the despair in my soul, I dive into the dirty business of my divorce and pray that this will be over soon.But make no mistake, I don’t cry for my ex or what he has done, I cry for my daughter.

 

 

 

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Birthdays, Love Them or Hate Them?

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

Candles spell out the traditional English birthday greeting (Photo credit: Wikipedia) If my cake isn’t vanilla, don’t be surprised by my bitter disappointment.

I think my birthday is pretty special.  So special, in fact, that during my working career there has only been one year that I worked on the day of my birth. Every other year I have indulged in a minimum of my birthday off, though most of the time I extend it into a long weekend. (How, you ask.  A Monday birthday requires the previous Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off as well as the subsequent Tuesday. A Tuesday birthday requires the weekend, Monday and Tuesday off. A Wednesday birthday rolls into a premature weekend starting on that day. Get it? Good.)

On particularly significant years I like to spend my birthday on vacation. One milestone birthday was spent in Key West, last year’s festivities included a trip to Ireland. My birthday is probably the one time of year I indulge myself without guilt. It’s like I’m two years old again and the world revolves around me.  Makes me think of my nephew, Jack, who, on being told he was loved one day, said “Everyone loves Jack,” as if I was stupid for not knowing that fact. That’s how my birthdays feel. Everyone loves me and I can do whatever I want.

But, much as I love to pamper myself, I hate any sort of celebration initiated by others. I’ll tolerate a small family birthday party with a cake (but please make it vanilla) and a few presents (but, trust me, I have myself covered birthday-wise, there’s no need for anyone else to even try). I’ll smile and make nice if someone slips and tells the waiter or waitress it’s a birthday celebration, but don’t expect a tip if I get the birthday song or a lone candle on my desert and the attention of other diners.  It makes me uncomfortable.

If you check my Facebook page,you won’t find my birthday listed. I love the option of wishing my friends a happy day, but not so sure how to respond when I’m the one getting well wishes. Do I thank everyone individually? Post a group thank you to my timeline? Graciously accept like the Queen, but make no mention of the fuss? With so many questions tormenting me, it’s easier to let it slip by unnoticed.  Those of you who know when it is, your use of private messages rather than wall will prevent me from having to decide any of the above questions. Thank you.

I  make no judgement on those of you who like a big fuss on your birthday. I know people who do the slightly embarrassed, yet grateful “you shouldn’t have” when entering a surprise party. I’ve worked with those who are genuinely surprised and pleased when a birthday cake appears at the monthly staff meeting. I’ve watched fellow diners react with delight when the entire restaurant staff appears table-side to sing birthday greetings. None of those people are me.

I think of birthdays the same way I think of births. I prefer a quiet, private affair with attendance limited to those few who are directly affected. Though I admire those people who love the public hoopla of birthdays, I’m not one of them, and at this stage of the game, that isn’t going to change.

Key West and The Voices in My Head

Old painting from around 2001 - "Voices i...

Old painting from around 2001 – “Voices in my head” (Photo credit: jelene)

 

There was a time when the voices in my head delivered a running commentary on my performance as a human being. Most of the time the consensus was I did a pretty crappy job. Now, the voices weren’t the auditory hallucinations of mental illness nor were they the intercepted signals of aliens being broadcast through my fillings. No, they were my own tortured mind.

 

 

 

What did the voices say? Most of the time they kept up an incessant barrage of all of the things I had or would do wrong on a variety of topics. They were well-informed and knowledgeable about proper social behavior, normal parenting skills, and health and beauty concerns. It was a little like having the entire editorial board of a women’s magazine in my head, constantly pointing out my shortcomings. The voices seemed to enjoy their full-time job as the background chorus of my life.

 

 

 

I maintain there is only so much second guessing one can do, but the voices never tired of it. The comment made at work in anger? The voices would chew that like a juicy morsel of steak, deriving every last meaty bit of satisfaction before letting it go. Going to a conference? A scathing look at my wardrobe, my weight, and my inability to have a “look” occupied the hours it took me to pick out an outfit. Social cues? The voices assumed I had Asperger’s syndrome rendering me unfit to make friends or attend social events. If there was a fault to find, the voices found it.

 

 

 

Surprisingly, I put up with this for a long time. I would have put up with it for my entire life. But then Key West happened.

 

 

 

If you haven’t been to Key West, go. Now. Don’t wait. Stay at the Southernmost Hotel on the Beach. I’d tell you to say I sent you, but they’d only look at you blankly. Go anyway.

 

 

 

Southernmost Hotel in Key West

Southernmost Hotel in Key West (Photo credit: MarkelConnors)

 

Because in Key West, the most amazing thing happened. The voices stopped. One minute they were there, chattering away in the background, the next minute gone. In retrospect, as soon as we got off the plane in Key West they started to quiet. Maybe it was the view from the tarmac.

 

 

 

Key West Airport

Key West Airport (Photo credit: Wikipedia) The first thing I saw in Key West after getting off the plane

 

Or maybe it was the Gay Pride parade, or the frosty drinks, or the drag queen show, or the roosters, or even the sunset. Whatever it was, the voices chilled. Day by day, they had a little less to say.

 

 

 

gay pride chickens frosty drinks gay pride parade itty bitty key west sunset

 

 

 

And then, on our third day there, we went on a snorkeling trip. Imagine being piled onto a boat with a group of strangers and the promise of diving in the cool offshore waters and seeing all variety of marine life. Exciting, right? Even better, on the way back to shore the crew would provide all the beer or wine one could drink. Who wouldn’t enjoy this experience?

 

 

 

My voices, that’s who. Yes, what should I wear that would be appropriate to snorkel while hiding the parts of me that needed hiding? How was I going to see the shark that was sure to attack me when I had to take off my glasses to put on a facemask? How could I breathe through a snorkel when my gag reflex kicked in every time I put the snorkel in my mouth? What if I got separated from the group and was left in the ocean? What if  I couldn’t follow the directions on jumping in and everyone laughed at me?  By the time I got to the boat in my carefully picked out bathing suit/shorts combination with strategic coverup, every scenario on how to die or be humiliated snorkeling had been painstakingly considered and accepted. I walked up the plank as if I was, well, walking the plank. And then we were off.

 

 

 

Glancing around the boat, I noticed a couple animatedly chatting in German. He was tall, dark haired, great looking, and, when he removed his t-shirt, I saw he was incredibly well muscled.  She was short and squat. Her hair was cut indifferently and held back with an elastic band. She wore a shapeless white cover up that contrasted nicely with her sunburnt face. Then she pulled off the cover up.

 

 

 

She wore a one piece cut high on the thighs, low on her cleavage. Her skin had the porcelain whiteness of someone that didn’t get a lot of sun exposure. She had fat rolls. Not to be unkind, but to report the facts,  she had back rolls and side rolls and thick, chunky thighs. Thick, chunky, white thighs.

 

from website c'mon fatso

 

http://cmonfatso.com/2011/06/22/fat-girl-in-a-swimsuit/

 

The voices in my head, coming out of their heat and/or alcohol induced torpor, tried to chime in, but for once, I shut them down. And, without the voices giving their opinion, I thought, why the hell not? Why shouldn’t she relax on a boat in her swimsuit when the temperature’s over 95 degrees. Why shouldn’t she be comfortable in her own skin. Why shouldn’t she enjoy a day on the water with a man who obviously adores her.

 

And with that, the voices in my head disappeared, never to be heard from again. I spent the rest of my time in Key West wearing what I wanted and doing what I wanted. I was finally free. Not only that, but the voices kept gone even after I left Key West and returned home.

I am sure there are all sorts of rational, science based explanations for the transformation I underwent, but I give the credit to Key West. There are sacred places in the world, full of magic and wonder. For me, Key West is one of those places. Some nights I imagine the voices, seven miles off shore under the white sand of the ocean floor, making nasty comments to each other to pass the time while they wait for me to return and retrieve them.

Their wait will be in vain. There’s no room in my head for them any more.