It's not for the faint of heart.

Welcome to my slightly silly, often odd, and mostly messy life.

Monday, December 27, 2010

It was easier and harder than I thought it would be, the 13 hour drive, and other fun stuff.

I dropped the kids off at my in-laws house on Christmas day.  It was harder than I thought it would be. My cousins didn't even come out to say hello.  My in laws didn't help unload the car - they made it very apparent that I wasn't wanted there.  Every single person I would call "family" for the past 15 years, excluding my parents and BLT, were in that house opening gifts, having the traditional stockings and nerf "war" I had always participated in...  and I wasn't welcome.  My own brother was there and he didn't even call me or talk to me on Christmas day.  I cried all the way home.  I was depressed and stayed in bed for most of the day.  BLT napped and in general tried to leave me alone in my misery. I assumed this whole thing would only last 3-4 hours....  7 hours later I still didn't have my kids back home.  So I've already decided we're not doing that again next year.  I'm sorry, but I was miserable, and it's not okay with me that they expect to have the kids for the entire day - I missed out on the whole Christmas day with them, so next year I'll avoid all this stress and drama and make other arrangements!  On the plus side my former Mother In Law - Drama Momma didn't pull any inappropriate stunts and kids had a good time.

Finally I was able to go get them around seven at night and things started to improve.  We packed the car up and headed south to stay with BLT's family for a week.

We got up at 3 am, loaded up the kids and the car and headed south.  13 hours later we had driven through every possible weather condition known to man including winds that felt like a damn hurricane blowing the car all over the road, blinding snow, hail, bright sunshine, and a patch of fog as thick as potato soup.  BUT...we arrived!  Now we get to relax for the next four days with his family before heading home for the New Year. 

Blue puppy was a raging success!  Monkey Pants looked at me and said, "I TOLD you Santa was magic!!"  All the extra effort was definitely worth every minute!

I decided to give BLT his ring in private after the kids opened all their gifts and we were able to get a few minutes alone. I explained my worries and he was very sweet about the whole thing.  He loves the ring.  He showed it off to his family and he's been wearing it ever since.  I'm really happy he likes it - and he completely understands the spirit in which it was intended - so all my anxiety was for usual!

Happy Holidays dear friends and readers.  I hope the next week is fun, relaxing, and enjoyable for all! No more posts from me until I get back home.  I'm spending time with my man, my kids, and new friends and family.

Friday, December 24, 2010

New Traditions

Things change.  Change isn't always bad, but it can be hard.  This will be the first year in my children's entire lives that they haven't spent Christmas Eve with their Great Grandparents... my X's family... for Christmas Eve. 

I know it's always been their tradition, but I allowed them to go last year and I was miserable.  I can't stand being away from my kids on the Holidays, and well... I'm being selfish this year.  I'm having my parents over for holiday meal tonight - the first time I've spent the actual holiday with them in over 15 years,  and I'm keeping the kids here to spend the evening with us.

We'll eat, open gifts with the Grandparents, and then set out cookies for Santa and shuffle everyone off to bed after we watch a holiday movie.

Once the kids are all asleep BLT and I will fill stockings and set out Santa Gifts.  We'll nibble the cookies and drink the milk, and try to get a few hours of sleep before the kids get up at the crack of dawn, as kids tend to do on Christmas morning.

It might not be what we're used to doing... but I'm excited to spend Christmas Eve with my girls in our own house, together with BLT.  Sometimes change is good. 

Merry Christmas to everyone who stops by to read my simple words. I appreciate each and every comment, and if anything I've ever written has either helped someone else, or made someone feel less alone; shoot even if something here made you see things in a new light then I feel very blessed.  Have a safe and happy holiday season - I hope you're all surrounded by love and warmth and family.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What is a "good father"?

I've been thinking about this a lot.  One of the things that keeps coming up over and over in the book I discussed in my previous post is that women will often stay with a man who is unkind, and even down right abusive, if he is also a "good father" to their children.  Basically - treating me like crap is fine, as long as you don't beat the kids.

But the weird thing is that if you think about it a man can't be both.  He can't be an abuser and a good father.  How we live, how we treat those around us teaches our children more than the words we say.  How can you tell if a man is going to be a good father? Had I known the answer to this question 15 Years ago I could have saved the five of us so much pain and suffering.

On the outside my X probubly did look like a good father. He was a good provider, bringing home a nice big pay check which allowed me to stay home with the kids. We were fed, well dressed, the kids were involved in tons of activities (none of which he bothered to attend) and were generally in good spirits.  The thing is - behind closed doors he was rude, abrasive, demanding, demeaning, and generally uninvolved. He did not make requests - he made demands.

Had I known what kind of father he would be I would have made different choices - at least I would like to think that I would have... the truth is I had four children with a man who was uninvolved from day one.  That's a choice I'll have to live with.

If I could make a laundry list of "good dad" traits I would have to start with:

An interest in knowing who my children are as people
A good sense of humor

Is that asking too much? Is that unrealistic?

I know there are men out there like that.  My father is one of them.  He doesn't say much, but he tells me he loves me.  He shows me in a million different ways.  He can be hard-headed, but he's fair.  He's hardworking and he's honest. 

I'm hoping that one day my children can say that they've had that kind of father figure in their life as well.  Things with BLT are still new - and while he has all of those qualities, I'm not foolish enough to assume that we'll be together forever. I'm not sure "forever" exists, I want to believe it can - I just don't know for sure.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men.

I'm reading this book as a part of my therapy.   In all honesty I started out doubting that this book really applied to me.  You see I knew my X was mean to me. I recognized that he treated me very disrespectfully- but he didn't hit me.  I didn't identify myself as a "victim" or an "abused woman".

Part of what I'm struggling with, emotionally, is that I feel this need to prove myself right or correct.  I give detailed accounts and suffer a great deal of anxiety when I feel like people don't believe me - or if my version of events is questioned.  I can't figure out why its so important for me, why I have a desperate need to be approved of and believed.... my Dr. believes it's a long standing issue developed from having to constantly stand my ground with my X and argue my worth in an effort to gain respect - which I never managed to achieve. 

It's becoming clearer to me that manipulation and mental abuse is just as dangerous to a person's well being as physical abuse.  If you suffer a bruise or a broken bone there are people all over the place who will encourage you to leave him - to offer support and assistance. When your abuser uses words, intimidation, financial pressures, and disrespect it's easily hidden and many will tell you to "work it out for the sake of the kids" or if he's truly manipulative he'll seem friendly and generous of spirit to those outside of his marriage and they simply won't believe he's capable of being abusive.

How many women hear "He's such a good father, you're so lucky" as though that's an excuse to bully, disrespect, and hurt you behind doors.  One of the chapters in this book deals with the "good father" who is abusive to his wife - and how many of us will overlook our own hardships for the sake of our kids.... but it's all a big lie.  Because a good father treats his wife with respect at all times. A good father is a partner and a supporter to showcase to his children how they should expect to be treated in their adult relationships.  Plus, kids see and know more than we give them credit for. They wake up hearing angry voices at night, or catch glimpses of tears when we don't know they're looking.  My X left my girls with a horrible example of how a man treats his children and his wife.  All I can hope is that I do better by them in the future and I find a masculine roll model that shows them love, respect, patience, and strength at ALL times, not just when life is easy and there isn't any kind of stress or conflict.

I think BLT is that kind of man.  All of the warning signs identified in this book are exact opposites of his daily behavior and choices.  He's kind above all - even when other's aren't looking.  He's mature, respectful, patient, generous with time and open to laugh - even at himself.   He accepts responsibility for his actions and apologizes if he's in the wrong.

My goal is to identify how my behavior changed over the years in response to mental and emotional abuse, and then figure out WHY I do the things I do so that I don't repeat the mistakes I've made in the past.  I think a large part of it is simply accepting that I was in fact mistreated, and then accepting my own value so that I don't allow myself to treated this way again.

Now if it were just that simple... but I'm trying. I'm growing.  I'm learning.

Blue Puppy Success

I'll have to post a picture when I can get a good one.  The puppy turned out perfectly!

Two adults, one bottle of blue dye, a hair dryer, and 45 minutes later... voila....  a perfectly baby blue Go Go Puppy for my Monkey Pants.

She will be the MOST excited little girl on Christmas morning!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Rethinking his Christmas Gift

I'm seriously rethinking one of the gifts I got for BLT.  I bought him a ring.  When I saw it my only thought was that it looks very much like the watch he picked out for himself.  It's made of Tungsten, which is supposed to be harder and more scratch resistant than Silver or Titanium even, so he can wear it at work. It has a center ring of black carbon that looks so cool.  It's very masculine and fashionable.

I just thought it was a really attractive piece of men's jewelry that he could wear on his off hand and it would look great with his watch....   but I don't want him thinking it means something other than that, or that it's some kind of passive aggressive non-verbal expectation for him to buy me a similar type of gift.

Honestly, I have gift "issues" related to my disastrous previous holidays and birthdays with my ex husband.  I have all this anxiety about whether or not he'll like it, or if there are expectations about how much we should have or shouldn't have spent?  What if I spent way more than he did, or vice-versa, and the other person feels awkward afterwards?

In my past, gifts were tools of manipulation. Used to "buy" desired behaviors or withheld to punish.  There were expectations and strings attached to EVERYTHING.  He would give me a trip to Vegas with my best friend but then for months afterward would tell me I was a selfish person and a horrible mother for going.  He would give me a gift certificate to a salon and then complain about having to watch the children so that I could use it, so it would sit useless until it expired. Then there was the banner year that he gave me a bathroom scale for Christmas... I had just had a baby in November...

Mostly we just didn't exchange gifts.  We had gotten to the point in our marriage that we bought things for the children and then just bought something for the house that everyone could use - like a TV or a Wii or something like that.  It was just easier that way and less stressful.

But now, BLT and I are starting our own traditions, and we're celebrating holidays doing things our own way.  This means I don't know what to expect. I don't know what his expectations are...  I don't want to either disappoint him or make him uncomfortable either.  UGH... I hate this... 

So I've pulled the ring out from under the tree... I'm not sure if I'll give it to him or not.  I just don't know what to do.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

He RAN to the store

BLT went to the store for lunch, and before he went he asked me if there was anything I wanted.  My reply was the standard, "just a Diet Coke please".

BLT took his car and went to the market and got his lunch. When he got home he said it was pouring outside and the roads were very slick and dangerous.

After about half an hour I asked about my soda.  He looks horrified. He had forgotten.

I told him it wasn't a big deal.  I put it out of my mind.

10 minutes later he comes over to my work station SOAKING wet, teeth chattering.  He had run, physically run, the 3 blocks and back in the pouring rain to get me a Diet Coke from the little market down the road from our office.

It was dangerous to drive, so he ran to the store for me.  When I asked him why he would do such a thing all he said was, "you ask very little from anyone but you go out of your way for everyone."

That may be the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The things we'll do for our children...

I prepped the kids for at least two weeks before we went to see Santa on Friday night.  I thought I knew what they would ask the big guy to bring them.  See - I made the mistake of setting it up so that each year the kids asked Santa for the one thing they wanted most, and I made sure they got it.  In the past it's always been easy to obtain items for the most part.

This year the Chef asked for art supplies.  Lady Bug wants an electric guitar.  TNT took my suggestion and asked Santa for a surprise ( because "Santa" found a screaming deal on a huge, soft Teddy Bear so this works perfectly).  Last but not least was Monkey Pants who was saying for weeks, and being encouraged by mommy, to ask for a Silvermist Doll - said Silvermist doll being already purchased and well hidden. 

The kids hop up on Santa's lap and sure enough - "art supplies please", "an electric guitar would rock!", "I love you Santa, bring me a surprise!" and then it's Monkey Pants' turn.  What does the kid ask for?  "Santa, I was really good so I want a Go Go Walking Puppy, a blue one!"

WHAT?  That wasn't the plan!  I've spent my allotted holiday budget and I certainly did not purchase a Go Go Walking Puppy! What's a mom to do?  Of course I go online and look for the Go Go puppy.  Target, Walmart, and Toys R Us all sold out.  Perseverance pays off however and I find one at a local Walmart store.

Well last night Monkey Pants informs me, very seriously, that she asked for a BLUE go go puppy, and that Santa is magic and can do anything.  GREAT... okay...  So here's my plan;  said Go Go puppy is going to be smuggled to work with mom on Friday after I drop the kids off at Daycare.  Grandma and I are going to get a misting bottle and some pretty blue Rit Dye.  We'll mist down the doggy and fluff with an ionic hair dryer on a cool setting.  Then a big blue satin ribbon tied around it's little electronic neck and Voila... Blue Go Go Walking Puppy.

Whew... the things we'll go through for our kids.  I'm bringing a teddy bear from the house this week to practice my misting technique on before I try my hand at coloring her Santa gift.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I thought we already dealt with this issue...

The past three days my TNT has had a REALLY hard time at the day care center. Her teacher said she was weepy, and anti-social. TNT is normally very social, but the past few days she has refused to participate and spent the whole time (two days in a row) crying and hiding. Then Monkey Pants, being protective of her sister, got into the act too.

I sat TNT down tonight for a long talk to get to the bottom of this behavior. It turns out that TNT and Monkey Pants decided that BLT left and would never come back. She said, "BLT left and HE'S NEVER COMING BACK!" Monkey pants said, "I miss his hugs, I'm sad."

You see, when my X lost his mind and brought that gun to my house he first tucked the kids into bed at his house, and then he never came back. He was arrested after a six hour stand off with the police, and they haven't heard from or seen him since - as he is now a guest of the state.

In their world, when someone leaves while you're asleep they just don't come back. BLT had to leave for the airport at 4:00 am, so they woke up to his absence. Instead of talking to me about it TNT got sad and then defiant. I didn't put the two together instantly because we spent months working on their separation issues. It took a long time to convince them that I would ALWAYS come back, no matter what. I thought we had worked through those fears, but apparently there are still some lingering doubts in their mind, or some fear of being abandoned.

BLT called tonight, and after I described her behavior, and what she said to me he asked to talk to both of them - he assured them that he was coming home. He told them that he missed them. It was like all the sadness just disappeared in an instant. Tonight they are painting pictures and so much more settled and content.

Apparently I'm not the only one missing him.

I miss him

BLT has been gone two days now on a business trip. He will not be returning until Sunday. As silly as it sounds, I miss him terribly. I feel like a little part of myself is missing.

For the entire length of my marriage I carried the burden of the house, the kids, the bills, the auto maintenance, the pets, the yard work, and the misc. familial obligations like birthday parties and sending holiday cards. Eventually I couldn't carry that burden any longer. I vowed I wouldn't put myself in that position ever again.

It's been seven months since BLT moved in with the kids and I. Since that very first moment life has been better. Days don't feel as long, and troubles don't weigh as heavy on my mind. He helps me with kids, he cleans up the house without any nagging on my part - simply because he notices that something needs to be done. He is considerate, he is pro-active, shoot he's an actual, self sufficient grown up!

I know I'm strong enough to do this whole parenting thing on my own - but I've come to realize that I just don't want to. Especially not since I've gotten a taste of how good life can be when you have a partner beside you who supports you in all the right ways.

Hurry home baby!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Need a Silent Night Amy Grant

My current favorite Christmas Song. I feel all this pressure to give the kids a good holiday, and I have no time, no money, no inspiration. I need a little peace.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Two sides to every story...

One of the things I'm working on in therapy is remembering that there are two sides to every story. There are multiple viewpoints. There are past experiences and relationships that influence people's decisions.

It's not easy, because everything from "them" feels like an attack. Everything feel like there are ulterior motives. It's hard to be open minded.

I'm trying... for my kids sake. Not in regards to the X - he's dog meat as far as I'm concerned and crazy dog meat at that. I'm talking about the family - cousins, sister in law, friends etc. I'm trying to be open to hearing their side of things - but it's hard.

Just having these conversations makes me extreamly anxious.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Letters, Ground Rules, Good Friends, and the Holidays

Letters: Drama Momma (former mother in law) sent the kids cards. I assumed they were Christmas cards and let the kids open them without looking at them first. A mistake on my part. They were "wish you were here" and "miss you so much" kinds of things that just made the kids feel bad. I'm sure she meant well - but she just never thinks about how her actions effect the kids. What a dolt...

Ground Rules: The kids will be going to Drama Momma's house on Christmas day for a few hours to visit with family that is in town and to exchange gifts. Their therapist thinks that it's a good idea to keep one or two of the kids most beloved traditions, so I'm going to allow this. I'm going to have to have a firm talk (again) with the in-laws and go over the ground rules - not that I have any faith she'll follow my requests. Ugh, I hate this.

Good Friends: I spent Sunday with a good friend. We shall call her Goldilocks. We took a long walk, we baked cookies, we talked. Goldie is great because she's very no nonsense. She'll tell you exactly what she thinks. She is also the kind of mom that makes sure her kids help clean up before she leaves. She'll wash her own dishes or bring over a nice treat...she's just considerate. I used her impending visit as a motivator for my youngest two kiddo's to get their room all organized and cleaned before the holidays. It looks SO nice and when Goldie and her kids left it was still all organized - WIN!

Holidays: I'm lacking the holiday spirit big time this year, but I'm going with the theory - Fake it until you make it. I'm hosting a cookie and gift exchange. I've decorated the house and wrapped all my holiday gifts. I'm playing the Christmas tunes... I figure the spirit has to come over me at some point right?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Just not feelin' it...

In the past I've been one to rush towards the holiday season with open arms. I was that annoyingly chipper woman with her tree up and her entire house decorated within a few days of Thanksgiving. I attended every craft bazaar I could find. I baked cookies and sang carols with the best of them.

This year I'm just not feelin' it. I've finished up my holiday shopping, but I just left the gifts in their bags and hid them up in the attic. I just can't get up any ambition. I have no desire to wrap gifts or put up a tree. I'm not in the mood for any of it.

It's not that I'm necessarily depressed, I just don't have any holiday spirit. I feel a little sad, but mostly frustrated. I'm upset with the In-Laws still and all our holiday traditions are in the toilet. Nothing is the same as it used to be... and I'm not sure what to do with ourselves.

Last year it had only been about 12 weeks since the incident happened and Christmas passed in a total blur. I don't even remember Christmas morning. I just got out of bed and tried it make it through the day. This year I'm present and I want to enjoy the holiday, I just need to figure out how to get myself into gear.

I guess the month is young...there's still time for the spirit of the season to inspire me.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

That Inbreeding Will Get'cha Every Time...

Part of the whole dysfunction that is my extended family is the result of some interesting marrying in between my X's family and my own. Not necessarily in a Hillbilly Shotgun wedding sort of way... but I'll totally admit that my Great Grandparents were second cousins. Seriously... weird I know.

Well it works like this. Mr In-Law started out as my Uncle. He was married to my father's sister and divorced for about 15 years. My senior year in high school he met my X's mother - we'll call her Drama Momma. Well Mr. In-Law and Drama Momma hit it off and several years later they were married. So my Uncle became my Father in Law, and my Cousin became my Sister in Law.
What I can't wrap my mind around is how the X commits the horrible crime that he does against me, he says and does all the terrible and irresponsible things to the children... and in the end I'm the one who's loosing her friends and family. I'm the one who gets letters in the mail asking me to beg God for forgiveness for my sins so that he'll repair my marriage because my X "is a good man who lost his way". I'm the one who's Uncle, who knew her for her entire life, chose the X's family over her. I'm the one who's cousin is barely speaking to her because, even though she doesn't like the X, she feels the need to protect Mr. In Law, her father.

All my cousins and extended family from that side are blaming me for all of this. I was told that I wasn't welcome in their home during Christmas. They said I should plan on dropping off the kids and leaving. Even though I haven't seen my cousins in three years, and they'll be up for the holidays, I'm not welcome. I can't come by and spend time with them.... I'm not wanted and it hurts.

I know that when the X and I got divorced I was also, in a way, divorcing his family. I just didn't realize I would be divorcing my own as well. Like a fool I assumed that our long standing relationship would withstand this, that I would always have their love and support. I should be strong enough and self sufficient enough to say, "to hell with you then" - but I'm not.

It hurts.

It's confusing and frustrating.

I don't think there's a damn thing I can do about it but hope it stops breaking my heart some day soon because sometimes I feel like I've lost so much I can't take loosing anything else.