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Author Topic: My Story Trusting I am on the right path

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My Story Trusting I am on the right path
OP: February 06, 2020, 04:29:45 PM
There are certain things I know.

For instance, I know that had I not realized I was at 150 on the last thread, I can count on certain people to tell me that I have hit my limit - LOL

I know that the dog will not leave my side all weekend, as long as I am under the weather. Unless, of course they tempt her with things like biscuits, cookies or a ride in the car, then all bets are off.

I know that there are certain bills that are going to show up in the mail this weekend.

But, there are things I just don't know. In the past, when I was in high school and early on in college I worried about grades the future to a degree. Somewhere along the line, I had a strong sense of trust and faith. Some of it was having supportive people around and some of it might have been my temperament, but I know that along the way that was nurtured. Even after having a meltdown, I could have a moment of knowing that somehow things would be okay and I just had to have some faith that things would work out.

That didn't mean I didn't have fears. But, it had been a long time where those fears overshadowed that sense of faith and trusting my instincts.

MLC and Xh's crisis really blew that to smithereens for a long time. Finding my way back to trusting my gut, that has been tough. I still have moments of self doubt and fear sets in. And it bothers me that I still have those moments. Perhaps because they often come during a trigger or when I am wishing for my life to somehow be normal again. But, it is not a desire for normal, as in what was. I have accepted that path has sink holes in it that can never be back filled.

The new path is terrifying at times. Yet, more and more, I am finding if I stop and just pay attention to little things, I feel a sense of this is where I am supposed to be. To many it sounds incredibly crazy because they interpret it as if I am somehow saying it is like some psychic ability, and that isn't it. It is a strange sense of calm and just trusting myself more.

This week I felt it after my last class at the university. Even when I wasn't feeling physically well, I felt a weird sense of belonging in that setting - that room. It was the same sense I had when I chose the university I went to myself. I had visited many spectacular programs and beautiful campuses, but that one just had a feeling for me.

Today, I saw a woman at the grocery store while I was waiting for my prescription who I haven't seen in months. She had been a student of mine at the community classes. She cried when she saw me and gave me a big hug. I haven't seen her since classes ended and she had lost her oldest child several months ago, very tragically. We talked for long time and out of the conversation came some things that made me realize she and I were supposed to see each other today. She said the same thing. She is a very spiritual person, and it is not something she shares with most people. I needed to see her because it reminded me of the conversations she and I often had about trusting our gut those conversations are in part what helped me to find my way back to that mentality and my own sense of faith. She gave me another hug and said I had no idea how much seeing me brought her comfort today, as she was really struggling.

Because it has been several months, people have put her on a time line for grieving. The false idea that she shouldn't be still crying at times. I understand completely what had set her off. She is still dealing with several items from her S's estate and had to get his death certificate out. I told her I knew what that was like to a degree having had to pull open the dreaded divorce box myself, as it brings that to the surface. As her tears rolled down, it dawned on me who could help her with this estate issue and I shared one of my guarded contacts. A sense of relief came over her and we agreed to get together soon and have coffee, an addiction we both share.  :)

I am not sure what the path ahead has in store. I have moments of questioning if it is the right path. I have fears that bubble up, and often they are the fears of what if this is it - I am going to just be that woman who pours herself into her work and her students? I have friendships and a full life, but I crave more. I have moments of not knowing and there seems to be a heavy mist covering the path so I don't know what lies ahead. I trip up and fall on this path, and that makes me question if I am heading in the right direction. It isn't always clear, yet it comparing it to where I was when I was trying to follow the path the MLCer was on, it is so much better. I just have to keep trusting my gut and not questioning when things feel strangely right.

https://mlcforum.theherosspouse.com/index.php?topic=11183.new#new
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« Last Edit: February 06, 2020, 04:32:09 PM by MourningDove »

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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#1: February 06, 2020, 11:41:25 PM
Attaching - now, get off the PC and go to bed!

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Me - 56, xW - 50
Together 19 years - Married 17 at separation
S - 13, D - 9
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BD#1 - August 2015
Atomic BD - 13 Dec 2015
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#2: February 07, 2020, 12:29:42 AM
Quote
MLC and Xh's crisis really blew that to smithereens for a long time.

Sometimes, Mourning, you write something that is exactly what I think and it helps me realise that I think it.  ;)

Like you, whether by nurture or temperament, I had lived my life before with faith, instinct and optimism. I felt the world was a pretty benign place and i had not experienced living with fear. I knew who I was and felt safe to make a lot of assumptions about how life worked.

Looking back, it seems to me that surviving this experience meant pulling life back to a moment at a time and small tangible things that I felt I could know. Life was on a very small canvas. Bc the bigger canvas was frightening and impenetrable. And then healing came from slowly stretching the size of the canvas. Soooo slowly. In that process, I found some things again but also found that I can't entirely live the way I used to live. Not sure if that is good or bad, permanent or temporary. But there are strange gifts in living on a smaller canvas. More appreciation of the moment, more ease with the unknowable things, a default tuning into my deepest instincts when I am unsure. I am not yet quite where you are with that feeling of 'rightness' but I have glimmers of it which are nice when they come. If only bc living in a life that feels 'wrong' is so uncomfortable lol.

When you talk to your friend, if it is appropriate, I' d recommend three resources that helped me very much. CS Lewis's book 'On Grief' bc he finds words that describe things we feel but can't always describe, makes you feel less alone. A website called https://www.refugeingrief.com bc it is the most honest about how messy grief is and validates that in a way which RL often doesn't. And maybe for when she is ready, a book called Second Firsts about the process of moving from grief into a post-grieving life in very honest practical ways.

Cuddle the dog. Keep hydrated. Get well soon  :)
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« Last Edit: February 07, 2020, 12:31:17 AM by Treasur »
T: 18  M: 12 (at BD) No kids.
H diagnosed with severe depression Oct 15. BD May 16. OW since April 16, maybe earlier. Silent vanisher mostly.
Divorced April 18. XH married ow 6 weeks later.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#3: February 08, 2020, 12:21:19 PM
Treasur - The desire to pull in and put a protective suit of armor on when MLC hit was overwhelming. Understanding the difference between boundaries and out and out impenetrable walls that no one would get through was a tough one to figure out. The desire to just keep from ever hurting again was sometimes overwhelming.

I have been thinking back to my youth. I was never a kid that was sheltered. I won't say my parents didn't keep certain things from me, but I knew about life and death to a certain degree. Sad things as well as happy. From a very early age there have been stories I have heard. But, I also was exposed to people who overcame those horrible things and kept living. I believe this has been my saving grace.

But, finding that inner strength was not easy and still isn't sometimes.

At one point in time, I was a person who watched the news faithfully and was involved in a job that required I deal with politics to a large degree. I had more than one person push me to run for office, only because I would on occasion dare to speak up. It has never been a desire I had, and now I find it really funny. I avoid the news often, as it is too much. But, I don't avoid everything. I have narrowed my field. I check in with the world, but I am surrounded by things that are often not always pretty and happy. I reevaluated what I want now. I have no desire to change the world, as it is too big of a task. I have found that I want to control my own life to a degree, as much as life allows. I have found a great joy in giving other's tools and perhaps being the one that helps them see that pebble that they can pick up and throw in the pond to create ripples.

I am rediscovering my own desires and joys. My world is expanding again, but looking back one of the things that got out of whack for me personally was in fact just as MLC rolled in. During an attempt to find myself, as I was slowly losing myself in Xh's MLC and with FIL living here, I was in fact pursuing opportunities professionally that were not making me truly happy. They gave me a really kick ass title and power, but I was hollow and drained. It took me too far from who I was. Being a person that craves those inner connections most, having lots of "friends" really did nothing for me. So, now, I am not so much guarded as I am perhaps selective, because I need that energy for my own self and for those who are allowed into my world. And, that was something that was there for years before MLC. But, those inner circles were never there like a forcefield keeping life out. That for me has been a hard thing to untangle - understanding what is protective and what is my "normal".

Today, I am feeling 1000% better - the antibiotics and rest helped. Having had a snow storm that prevented any travel yesterday helped. LOL. I spent most of Thursday sleeping and fighting whatever it is has been that has ahold of my body. Yesterday, I made up my mind to just embrace the storm, not to shovel and spent the whole day snuggled on the couch reading books. It was so bad that the dog, who views snow as the best thing ever gave me a look of "no way" when we did go out. It was because it was icy that made yesterday dangerous. But, it was also one of the quietest days with no traffic. I had heat, food and a dog who wanted to stay snuggled at my feet with the one cat. The television stayed off and D admitted she was enjoying shutting out the rest of the world as well. She now understands why I removed the TV from the living room. We have a media room and TV's in other rooms. I wanted a space where we can just talk and spend time without the temptation of just turning on the TV. Sometimes the kids bring their laptops, but they now see my long term plan. My only complaint yesterday was not having budgeted to have the fireplace addressed. A roaring fire in the fireplace or a gas insert would have been perfect. Something to plan for in the future.

Today, it cleared up and S went out of state for the day. I am not thrilled, but there is no stopping the stubborn young adult. D, she too went out for the day. She is not traveling as far, and the she needs practice driving in the snow. Both kids were laughing as we have had a very easy winter so far, so this is Mother Nature telling us she determines the weather and how long winter stays, not some groundhog.

My problem this morning was because I felt so much better, the desire to go full tilt kicked in. I am holding back and making myself rest, as the doctor told me I would no doubt feel better with the antibiotics, but this stupid flu like ailment will take several days to really work out of my system and not to over do it, or I will be down for the count. So, I am behaving.

I did however dig out the dreaded divorce box. It doesn't really matter why other than I did it in hopes of finding something that might help someone else. There was so much I didn't share on HS, that I documented in detailed journals that sit in that box. I will admit, I felt sick after seeing some of the contents. And it was not from my ailment. No antibiotics are going to cure that feeling. I opened the journals and can so clearly recall the moments as I read them. The times I was so angry and wondered why I was being forced down this path. Knowing how stupid spending the money was when it could be put towards better things - how perhaps therapy for Xh, paying off the house, investing, travel - anything other than where it was going. Frustration with the process and feeling like it would never end. Having to fight Xh about wanting to subpoena S and my parents for ridiculous things that had nothing to do with custody, because Xh had already won the battle with me to not push for child support for S. Navigating with my attorney to make the best of the situation. It was never a win, it was how was I going to sometimes just survive and protect myself.

Being angry that it was going to fall on me to be the stable parent and Xh in reality was going to not only going to avoid coparenting, but he was going to go off and leave me picking up all the pieces. He was going to put me in a position where I wasn't going to have a life of my own.

I felt shackled so many times in the process. And yet, somehow I got through it. Protect myself and kids. That was written in my journals more times than I care to count. And many times it felt like the system would fail me. In some ways it did, others it didn't.

How many calls to my attorney that I had to chase her. I was lucky, as she had a fantastic paralegal. But, the best times I made some headway, I met with the attorney face to face and felt like I was being heard. But, the process dragged at times. Xh escaped paying any bills and support. His attorney delayed. I had forgotten having to chase after the sale of the house. His attorney went on vacation putting me at risk of having to sell the house. I needed to clear Xh's name off the deed and buy it before July of that year and they dragged it out to where I was under the gun, having to go to my parents for a bailout in order to make it happen. That came with some real feelings of inadequacy and guilt having to ask my parents to help me out.

And then came the biggie that has been a tough one to deal with today. That feeling of being disposed and undesirable. Probably where the biggest trigger that made me feel sick came from.

But, I took a deep breath and put the box back. I can't get rid of some of the things in that box as until D is no longer part of the CS equation, I have to have certain things. But, the box is back in it's rightful place.

I have no regrets looking at it, as I believe it holds some answers. And perhaps after hammering some nails out of boards and doing some productive, yet physical things, I feel better.

I am past that part of my life. Yes, at the time all of it seemed just all consuming and there were no clear answers. That path was so covered in fog, I had no idea if I had been mislead down the path. And often there was so much fog, I wasn't sure if I took another step if I would be on solid ground or falling right off of a cliff. I still have those fears at times, but they feel more like getting tangled in some random vines on the path as opposed to finding myself in quicksand.

I have to embrace all of the things in my life and find the positives. I have no choice. I could complain about the horrible snow and weather, blah, blah blah. Yup, there was a time in my prior life when Xh would be booking our trip to go hang out for a few weeks in the warmth and that is wonderful. I could do that now, but that would mean my summer plans might not happen. It might mean not having my fireplace later, which I am embracing more and more.

I am coming to realize more and more that with every decision there is a give and take in life. What am I giving up to gain? I lost a MLC Xh who is a monster. Sad and unfortunate in the grand scheme. Complete waste of energy and money, when I see what could have been. But, now that I am beyond that dreaded divorce, and see my Xh is still swirling in the madness, I am taking the things I do have and I am making the best of it when I can. I have gained more personal peace. I have more of myself back, and enough that I can see sharing it with someone else now. I am no longer afraid of so many unknowns, at least not in the sense that they keep me shackled.

It seems like a lifetime ago now.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#4: February 08, 2020, 10:35:00 PM
Glad to hear you are feeling better. Sounds like the universe gave you a time out day just when you needed it  :)

I ignored the news for a long time and even now i pick and mix tbh. Lots of things I don't care about, lots of things that are just too depressing. And journals? My word, that was a brave thing to do but it sounds as if it was cathartic. I have mine from the WTF years. Can't read them, can't burn them yet, not sure why. Perhaps I am a bit afraid of seeing the woman I was then knowing now what was coming. Idk. But I do think there is a point of picking things up to lay them down and I am doing the same here today with old photos, a really big cull.

I remember that sense of wasted money and energy though. I think I even said to my xh once that if he could just take a breath and talk to me rationally, we could both save thousands that could be spent in much nicer ways. That it would be cheaper and more fun to go on a round the world trip than do what we were doing lol. Waste of breath of course, made no difference to his desire to slash and burn and do things that made no sense even if I was wearing my big brave practical pants! Dealing with him at that time really was insane....very difficult to explain why it was that way to others in RL who couldn't understand it either....it is exhausting and bewildering when another person seems incapable of being rational isn't it? Or why they seem to hate you so much when they are apparently getting what they say they wanted. I remember quite a few conversations with friends who would say 'but why is he/whycan't you ask him to....' when tbh the only sane answer was 'bc he doesn't want to and doesn't care'  ::)

But both of us can take comfort in the fact that the worst of times is well behind us.
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« Last Edit: February 08, 2020, 10:39:10 PM by Treasur »
T: 18  M: 12 (at BD) No kids.
H diagnosed with severe depression Oct 15. BD May 16. OW since April 16, maybe earlier. Silent vanisher mostly.
Divorced April 18. XH married ow 6 weeks later.
Healing and growing found here https://littleplotbythesea.wordpress.com

"Option A is not available so I need to kick the s**t out of Option B" Sheryl Sandberg

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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#5: February 11, 2020, 09:46:45 AM
Treasur - I am feeling better, although, I am mildly frustrated, as I am still not back to my normal level of energy. The doctor warned me that because of the drop in my blood pressure and such, it would take a few days to bounce back. I am being well behaved and making sure I am keeping hydrated and have been going to bed at a reasonable hour. It is not easy for me to no longer have any of the other symptoms and remind myself that I am still not 100%. I am such a bad patient. LOL

D has been in a miserable mood the past couple of days. She has her reasons and like Xh, often my best approach with her is to let her process and know when to back off. I did get her to laugh last night when I attempted to steal her cookie, which she knows I wouldn't really do to her. She had a hard time not laughing and admitted it was hard to be annoyed with me when I was being funny. LOL

Yesterday, I had forgotten to turn my phone to vibrate and it notified me I had a text. I carry my phone on me at all times, which I kind of hate, but my administrator was fine with it, when she realizes I am not in one place where I am easy to reach. And the administrator and students know I am it as far as my kids are concerned. While I don't share a lot, I have shared with the students that sometimes you have to know who you can count on and my kids know I am the one who will drop everything if need be. For many, it is a good thing that I share this. I don't bash Xh, but many of these kids come from situations that are similar in terms of not having two parents who are involved. Some have no parents at all who know what is going on, nor do they care. They all know I won't answer my phone if it is a non emergency, but I do carry it around just in case.

But, yesterday when the phone made an audible sound. I turned it over and my one very perceptive student smiled at me. She said to me later that clearly that was not a kid texting me. I told her no, it was not and it meant that I have plans this weekend. She didn't press, but said she was glad.

This particular student is probably one of those kids I wish I could just take home and give her an opportunity to fly. She is rough around the edges, but has a huge heart. Her dream is to go into the field of designing prosthetics for children. I have known her 2 years now, and she asked to be in my class again, even though she gave up a study hall and doesn't receive any credit that will benefit her in many ways. She is a talented student yet sometimes, I know for her, it is she needs a positive female role model and she knows I care. Last week her F, who clearly has serious mental issues decided to pop back up in the picture. He contacted her after months of nothing and told her he was off his meds, and suicidal. She didn't share this willingly at first, but I could tell she was struggling. We had a long conversation about boundaries and I sent her down to the counselor. Her M, well she moved across the street and left the daughter to fend for herself, yet again because M is back with the boyfriend. How this kid even gets up and functions is beyond me. But perhaps, as I told her today, she is a warrior. She struggles, but she is bound and determined to not be a victim.

I wanted to cry today. She buys her clothes at thrift stores and has a lovely sense of fashion. She always looks fantastic. Today, she came in and her clothes smelled of cat pee. And she knew it, I could tell. I didn't say a word to her. She is usually very stoic and she said she came home last night and her clean clothes weren't in her closet. Her M has a habit of coming over and raiding the closet. She teared up and said to me quietly all she wanted to do was come to school, as she has an exam today. I winked at her and "accidentally" got paint on her sweatshirt. None of the other students knew what was going on. I told her to go down to the office, as I know they have a couple of sweatshirts for emergencies and I would take her sweatshirt home and wash it since i made a mess. The other students really thought I was that clumsy and she came back and thanked me. Inside, I was fuming. This kid has been dealt a horrible situation and she didn't need this. And, CPS has been called several times, but there is not much they can do at this point. She is old enough to be on her own and she is not in any danger, as the M provides shelter and food (from time to time) ::)

But, I cannot fix it. I can only let her know she can count on me to kick her butt and to care. She knows I will do what is in my power to help her succeed. A couple of weeks ago, she happened to be showing me her family tree and ancestry. I asked her about one specific line on her chart, as it listed Cherokee. When I pushed she seemed perplexed. I asked her if anyone had informed her of scholarships, etc. No, as she never thought about it being important, other than she is pretty proud of her heritage. I called my coworker over and he sees her more, so they are going after the necessary documentation, and applying for scholarships. When someone thanked me and started to gush, I told them that I did nothing more than point out something, it is in her hands to follow through. And it is not something she would have known, as she has no one guiding her at home.

So, yesterday, I know that when she told me she could see from my smile that the plans this weekend are truly making me happy, I know she understands.

And this morning, in the midst of being frustrated with many of my students in general, I was reminded that for the few that really are disruptive, I have a constant handful of students who make every aggravation worth it.

Two of them came into my classroom this morning. They left their study hall and came into my other class, which is small to ask me for advice on their projects. But, they come in for more than that. The one young man laughed because he said he went back and stood up to his F, after  his F wanted to pull him out of classes to go away for 2 weeks. The kid missed several weeks after an accident that required multiple pins being put in his leg. He can't afford to miss anymore school. He cannot afford to miss the college level courses he is struggling in. I said I would talk to his F and his M. His M is reasonable, the F takes some maneuvering. But this young man said he wants to learn how to talk to his F like an adult and to advocate for himself. This morning he was as proud as a peacock. He said he is of course disappointed he cannot go on vacation, but he told his F his reasons for staying behind and his F gave in. The kid is a senior and is afraid he won't graduate high school if he misses more school. He told me he was grateful I was willing to back him up if need be. And then he asked me about his next project.

The thing about that kid was, last year he was one of the kids I wanted to string up by his toes half the time. He is talented and bright. He would bounce off the walls most days and argue. And sometimes with me. He finally realized that I was not kidding when I said I would give my students double what they gave me. Once he figured out that when he worked and showed me he cared, did I start giving him more. He too signed up for the additional class this year. And, today he joked that he is one of my favorite students. I told him that was in fact true now, not so much last year, but mainly because I knew what he was capable of and it was frustrating. I told him he earned my respect and the amount of growth is to be commended and rewarded, hence why I allow him to come into my other class to check in.

And my last student. OMG, she is an odd combo of how I was as a kid and how D is. She wants to go into the same field as my nephew, the one Xh has pretty much adopted. I told her today that I would reach out to him and see if she and her parents can talk to him, as she is looking at the same college he went to. She stayed in my early class as well. She is often just working in my room. I know for her, that it is a place she feels safe and can confide in me. Her problems are not with her parents. She has awesome parents and siblings. She suffers from insecurity and shyness. I was shy, but insecurity was not an issue. She has horrible OCD and anxiety which D can have when she is stressed out. Today, I found out that she shares the same birth month as D. I was kidding her that it explains so much.

Before I left the young man I gave the camera to a while back caught up with me and showed me his latest batch of photos that he has taken. He is getting better.

Those little interactions today make up for all of the other nonsense that goes on in my life sometimes. And in spite of being still tired from whatever it was I had, I feel strangely energized.  :)
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#6: February 12, 2020, 03:10:08 AM
Dove,

2 things... OK, maybe 3....

1) Being strangely energized is great but don't let that fool you - take care of your self and pace yourself, hard as that might be....
2) Steal the cookie... There are certainly more where that one came from... If not, then don't...
3) Enjoy the successes with the students- They will remember that you were there for them for the rest of their lives... I most certainly do...
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Me - 56, xW - 50
Together 19 years - Married 17 at separation
S - 13, D - 9
2 Dogs
BD#1 - August 2015
Atomic BD - 13 Dec 2015
House sold & separated - Mar 2016
Divorce final 30 August 2019

Survival Instructions for Newbies
Site Map
 
A "friend" will not "stand by you" no matter what you do. That is NOT a friend. That is an enabler. That is an accomplice.
A REAL friend will sit you down and tell you to your face to stop being a firetrucking idiot before you ruin your life and the lives of those around you.

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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#7: February 12, 2020, 08:04:36 PM
UrsaMajor - No, the one thing I am learning as I get older is that I need to listen to my body and my doctor - LOL. I have been making myself go to bed earlier and have been monitoring the blood pressure. It has leveled back out. I am behaving myself - which is no small feat when it comes to not pushing myself.

That said, contrary to what most may think, I do love to just relax and be. I like running around some times, but then on the flip side, I can easily drive to a lake and just sit for hours watching the things around me. Or I can sit at home, cuddled up with a book and just reading. I don't always have to be doing something that has me running around. A perfect quiet Sunday would be to open a glass of wine and cook a nice meal, and have no plans to do anything other than to enjoy the day. Of course sometimes that doesn't happen with the additional kids at my house.

I am going to get back to to stealing the cookie - that is actually a good segue.  ::)

My students - they may remember that I was there for them, and that is always humbling when they do, but I get great pleasure from helping them see they have it in them to do great things. I liken it to the pure sense of joy I saw when my kids were little and perhaps took their first steps. Witnessing that moment where they realize they did it on their own is priceless.

Tonight, I heard back from my nephew. That was not an easy text for me to send. Ever since Xh posted the picture of his "family" at Thanksgiving, it has been tough. And I haven't seen my nephew in over 3 years. My niece, in over 4. I have heard from them sporadically. Their M, I haven't wanted to see, but I have never voiced it. I know the divorce made things weird for my niece and nephew.

But, I decided for the sake of my student, I would suck it up and reach out. I hope to reconnect with my nephew, but this opportunity provided an easy conversation. My nephew is so thrilled I thought of him, as he used to be a student ambassador for his alma mater. My SIL and FIL had given my nephew a hard time about his choice of higher education, believing he was wasting his time at this place and his choice of studies also was a constant complaint that came up. So, having me suggest a student talk to him about his experiences was well received. And ironically, that "poor choice" my nephew made - yah, he landed a job in his field, and has done exceptionally well, having landed a dream job. He did okay. LOL

My nephew was so excited and said he was really touched that I thought of him. We had a nice conversation, reminiscing about when he and I would spend Saturday nights in my kitchen when he would visit. The rest of the family would be outside or watching TV and he would sit in the kitchen at the bar while I cleaned up or was cooking and we would put on the radio. Often they would play music from the 80's and 90's. When he was younger, he was always amazed I knew all the words to the songs. He loved the dance music, I had to confess that I used to go to the dance club with my friends on the weekends, although I never went every weekend. I liked to dance, and was not big into drinking so I would be the designated driver. I quit going when my friends started going not only every Saturday night, but then it extended into Thursday and Friday nights as well. My nephew always loved that era of music, but he was also surprised because he was used to hearing my very odd mix of music, which doesn't typically include throwbacks of dance music. No one else wanted to hang out with us in the kitchen and we were more than happy to just sing and dance while the rest of them did whatever they were doing.

I told my nephew, he was of course always welcome to come and visit any time. He is going to let me know when he is back in the area. Work takes him all over the place, and he always piggy backs his travels with things like rock climbing and white water rafting, or some other adventure. Coming to dance in my kitchen is not exactly high on the adventure scale - LOL

So, as for stealing D's cookie. "Steal the cookie... There are certainly more where that one came from... If not, then don't..." . Under normal circumstances, I would agree. D had started the week off on a bad note. Things were not going her way and she had an immense amount of homework and stress from school. Pile on her week is jam packed with places she needs to be. She was on overload. When I mentioned I was having company this weekend, she got annoyed. And it wouldn't have mattered if I had someone coming or not, she was just in a foul mood.

Her BF has a tournament all weekend and she doesn't really want to go along with his family and sit all weekend. S has to work part of the weekend, so she was thinking she was going to be alone all weekend. And normally, she would like that. It didn't matter this time, as she was just cranky enough that nothing would have made her happy.

The cookie - well, that was a situation where, yes, there were in fact more, but I had gotten them for her for Christmas. I had a couple of them and she was joking with me last week that those were her cookies. I told her that if she wasn't going to share them then she needed to hide them. And this is a joke we all have with each other, as I have shared many a special gift with them. They can always hide things.

But, the other fact is, Xh was always stealing things out of our hands or off our plates. It was something he thought was funny and it was something they did in his family as a sort of joke. I never minded when someone perhaps asked for a bite or sharing with someone, but I often found this little game annoying at times. And it was quite frequently not that they even wanted what you had, it was the challenge and the competition. He learned to not do it as frequently here, as I said while it was funny at times, I didn't want the kids going around stealing food off of people's plates, as not everyone finds it amusing.

And there were some classic moments, where I will admit it was funny. The one time the kids like to recall was we had ice cream cones with chocolate in the bottom. There was one left and no one else wanted it, so I was eating it. The neighbor stopped over and as I was standing there, Xh came up behind me and just swiped the cone right out of my hand and before I could scold him, it was gone.

Teasing D was a funny thing and she laughed, but I think if I had actually swiped it, I would have been in serious doo doo because that was always Xh's bit. And until tonight, when Xh reached out, D hadn't heard from him in a month. I had no idea, as I don't push. D keeps every text from Xh, and she says it is to remind herself that she is not being over sensitive - he doesn't reach out or ask about her day, etc.

Last night, D was marginally better. Today, she was in a great mood, until she and I had to meet up to drop off her car for a recall. She was on her way to meet me at a midway point. I was trying to get out the door and told her I would be there as soon as I could, but I was in the middle of a huge project that needed finished. There was no appointment, as we are leaving it overnight for them to work on today and Friday. But, D is very prompt. I get it, but I knew I was cutting it close. I called and told her I would be 10 minutes later than I planned. That pushed her buttons.

I had concerns that maybe D was aggravated with my company coming. I had spoken to S and he was excited for me. For one, I know he likes this person and told me he was glad I was going to have some fun. He told me I deserved to be happy. He ended up calling D and having a discussion with her, because part of my fear was D having a problem with her abandonment issues. S told me tonight that he talked to her and assured her that I was not going to do the same thing Xh did. I am always there for both of them and she needs remind herself that if I am not around, there are plenty of others who are here for them as well. But, I am not about to start just forgetting they exist.

And then D shocked the daylights out of me. Out of the blue she had suggestions of places I should take this person this weekend. Many places she and I have gone, which says a lot. She is not one to just share those things. As she chatted along she stopped and then wondered why this person hadn't come in the house last time they were here. I reminded her that she was in a very bad place that weekend and I didn't want to add to her anxiety. She laughed and said looking back, yah she was in an awful mood that weekend and she apologized. It was determined she was more than receptive to letting me have company in the house.  ::)

She and I had a long talk and I just have to remember to reach out to her and let her know where I am. She is much better than she was. She told me she wants me to be happy.

My plans for the weekend are to not run around like a mad woman and cram the schedule full. I am looking forward to going a couple of places, but I am really wanting to relax. It dawned on me a little while ago that I have access to my parent's house if there are too many kids running around here. I can easily use my parent's kitchen and have an escape from the madness if need be, so opening a bottle of wine and just cooking a meal is a possibility.  :) The perks of being the one to watch my parent's house. LOL
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#8: February 13, 2020, 12:36:37 AM
OK, so maybe REALLY swiping the cookie wasn't such a great idea....

But I could see the whole thing ending up being a laugh fest, say if you kept subtly reaching for it repeatedly, maybe as a kind of challenge.... You can always give it back if you did manage to get it.. .Just DON'T take a bite (you might act as if... THAT would get you the "WTF" stare I am sure.... )  I mean, velociraptors have to take as good as they give right? ;-)

Sounds like you are planning for a nice time with your company. That is good. A little adult companionship can often be a good thing to have.... Talking to our kids is great but there are just some things that need to be discussed among adults.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#9: February 13, 2020, 03:11:49 PM
UrsaMajor - LOL. Yah, I know better than to actually swipe D's cookie when she is in a mood. I kept trying to distract her and would reach for it. It made her laugh. And, the steal the cookie thing, that was never my game anyways.

D and I were talking about a funny thing on the way back from dropping her car off. She was thinking about how Xh started to just go off in a different direction all the way around. He would sometimes buy me funny gifts, but typically, if he bought something for me it had a lot of thought in meaning in it.

Right before he went off the rails, he dragged me to a winery one afternoon. I was a little annoyed, as he said it was for work and it was on a weekend when I wanted to garden. While I love spontaneous trips, there are times when I am tired of running around and just want to chill at home. This had been one of those weeks. It was not that I was opposed to going to the winery but it was more the way he presented it, which was he was going down to meet the owner and then coming home. He finally wore me down and I rode along. When we arrived he then informed me that he was really going to pick up a piece of custom made jewelry and having it delivered there for me. It was a stunning necklace. He had been planning it for months.

Flash forward to MLC and a Christmas later my gifts were very odd. He clearly didn't know me at all by then. He bought me jewelry, but it was not at all my style. Then came the pajama pants. I only wear pajamas when I am sick and I am not one to wear pajama pants with giant characters on them. I have no problem if someone else likes them, but it is not my style. These were magenta fleece with giant monkey faces on them. Now of course, the correlation of MLC rolling in and receiving monkey pants is really rather amusing to me. LOL

Well, when I got those pants, D was mortified. S laughed. Xh somehow thought it was a great gift. The thing is, I am not always the shy one now a days and I informed all of them that if they kept it up, I would in fact wear those things out in public, just to embarrass them. I put them in a drawer and didn't wear them for a very long time. Until one day when Xh and the kids were being funny, and the kids had friends coming over. I decided to remind them of my promise. They were not so amused. LOL

D was simply saying last night that it becomes easier to look at those events and see the insanity unfolding. Ways to mark the moments.

My high school class was quiet and it would seem my one student was pretty angry with me. She crossed a line with me and now she is upset that she was shown that I am not always easy going. I have one rule in the class in terms of the materials. That is to understand that the materials in the cabinet are in fact my own materials that I have brought in. The rules are pretty simple. Ask to use them, put them back and make sure things are clean. I have allowed them to use some materials they would have never had access to. Basically, it is they are to respect the materials, etc. I haven't had any problems up until this week. The student, a young woman who turned 18 and has gone from being a fantastic student, to having a new attitude - one of - "I am an adult now, FU".

She has been doing some painting and I gladly let her use the paints - in class and in study halls. When I came in on Tuesday, she was not in class and my paints and all of the brushes were missing, as was the canvas she was working on. And, she chose not to come to school on time, rolling in at noon, because, well she is an adult now  ::) When I had 6 students open the cabinet, hoping to finish their project, I was informed the paints weren't in there. Not a single tube. I didn't accuse, but the students as well as I knew what had gone on. So, I went after class and let the principal know my theory, but we both agreed that the best way to handle it was to simply ask the young woman. That said, the principal was ticked. She said this young woman needed to be shown that her sense of entitlement was not okay.

Today, one of her friends rolled her eyes and said the young woman was upset with me. I said that first of all, had she asked, I might have loaned her some other paints she could in fact take home. Secondly, she was lucky I didn't actually press charges for theft, as she is now an "adult" and she in fact took about $500 worth of supplies. The friend, the young woman who is wanting to talk to my nephew, agreed with me. I told her I didn't care if this young woman was upset, as those were the rules I set early on, and she broke the rules, end of discussion. The friend agreed and said I did set very clear rules and expectations.

Then the young woman I contacted my nephew about sought me out. Out of the blue she asked me about going to art school. You could have knocked me over. We talked at length and I asked what brought this on, as this was a new one on me. Yet, she is incredibly talented. The more we talked I got her to see she could combine her majors, something she had never thought about doing. I gave her my other work email and told her to contact me next week and I would meet with she and her M to discuss some of the options.

And then I had a hiccup in my day. It will work out, but my stress level went out the door. I went to use my bank card at a store and it was declined. I thought WTF, as I had just put a check in and the colleges had paid me, or so I thought. I hadn't checked my account recently, it dawned on me. I usually check it faithfully on Fridays. Having been sick, I didn't bother this week, and forgot. Yah, good thing I did, as luckily all of my bills were paid and checks cleared, but it would seem the one college messed up my check completely and the university, yah, that wasn't there at all. Oh yay. LOL

Thankfully, I have a small savings set aside and transferred money. But of course, Xh is late with support, so that doesn't help and D's car, well when we dropped it off for the recall, the check engine light went on. Yah, the dealership told me what code it was and I immediately knew. It was the same problem I had with that model car when I owned the previous one at around the same mileage. So, D's car is in the shop and I could feel myself starting to feel overwhelmed.

As I drove to work, I realized that it was okay. I had the money to cover it and the colleges all are resolving it. I have been in tougher situations the past few months and I had an emergency stash. And it is more than enough to get me through the next week. I am okay. I think it was a little trigger- that feeling like this was the ground falling out from under me. But, the reality was it is just a pot hole. I am okay. I am not destitute and I have play money and enough to cover my bills. I realized, I was okay and not to over react.

And, if Xh sticks to his usual "schedule" he should be sending a check this weekend - LOL Add to it, D was quick to remind me she has money and it is her car, we had agreed she was going to help pay for these things. That was true.

By the time I reached work, the stress rolled away. I've got this.  :)
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#10: February 14, 2020, 12:22:22 AM
And the suspense grows....

How with the check be made out this time?

What color will the ink be?

Will the envelope be decorated?

Will his signature be legible?

Those entitled ones are just a joy to deal with aren't they? Sort like like a root canal... ::)
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#11: February 17, 2020, 07:43:52 PM
Ah yes, the check…funny that ::)

The check is neatly written, black ink and accurate. Sure only 15 days late, but whose paying attention to that? LOL Fortunately no decorative flourishes nor references to any pet names, etc. LOL. But, clearly not the usual "angry or confused" checks.

Progress? IDK, but it does not change my path.

I do know that Xh is still creating serious issues and it falls on me to help keep things stable.

After not contacting D for a month, Xh decided to reach out to S and invite him for breakfast. Unbeknownst to S, he didn't realize D hadn't heard from Xh. And of all the weekends to stir the pot.

I had company all weekend visiting and things were fine until D found out S was invited for breakfast. It was a huge trigger and of all the things the normal backup support wasn't there. My parents are traveling. D's boyfriend was away. S was working. My sister was working. D's friends were at college. And her insecurities bubbled up.

It had little to do with my visitor. This happens when I am working at times. But, she also added a level of testing not only me but my visitor as well. Friday, she was grouchy and needing to know where I was, when I would be home, etc. Saturday mid afternoon she called and seemed annoyed and informed me where she was and her plans. It prompted a change in plans and meeting D for coffee and going shopping. There was a noticeable change in her later. And, this was not about control so much as she was clearly making sure I would be there for her if need be. But, it was also a way to test how this person was going to behave. Was he going to try too hard to somehow be her buddy? Was he going to control me? Or was he going to prove to be an understanding person who gets that I have kids.

Saturday night, I didn't get an annoyed text from her wondering what time I would be home. Nor did she squawk on Sunday morning.

By Sunday, D had eased up a little. I had wanted to cook a nice meal for my guest. D changed up the plans a bit and went full on velociraptor on me most of the afternoon.

She did tell me S, who I had only seen for about 5 minutes on Saturday, was leaving to return to school earlier than normal. So, I made the decision to meet up with S to at least give him a hug and check in with him before he left.

Tonight D told me that S was struggling this weekend. He doesn't usually have a hard time. D said they are both very happy I am moving forward and they like this person very much. D recognized she was a bit intense, apologizing to me, but she said she was having a hard time when she realized S was struggling. It was in part because S experienced more loss with Xh this weekend. The realization that Xh wanted something in exchange for the breakfast. And S didn't want to interrupt my weekend.

I spoke to S at length today. He is better. We didn't discuss Xh. I kept it as normal as possible, as we only discuss these things when he brings them up. D on the other hand, launched a couple of Xh comments out into the open this weekend.

And my poor guest. He was beyond understanding and patient. My entire plan for the dinner was hijacked. The house was a disaster - not how I keep things normally. He never complained. Earlier we had a conversation about my situation. He was incredibly understanding and that is huge. So much so that both kids made mention of the fact that they picked up on it. It is part of what is so special about this person. I have kids. They don't always take center stage, but not everyone gets that it is a delicate balance at times when I know the kids are dealing with triggers and the residual trauma. Not many people would be so patient -- some would say "no way".

It is hard at times. I so wanted to have a weekend where I didn't have to play M. Just one weekend - LOL. But, I don't always get to check out of that role. MLCers do that.

That said, the moments I did get time where that M role was in the background. And, the reality was I found myself letting my guard down more and more. A comfort that has been there for a long time, strangely. And it dawned on me at some point on Saturday, there is a very strange sense of security I always feel. When I found myself expressing something I have felt for a long time, there was no fear. It was so incredibly odd in that I was not afraid of some horrible MLC rejection. I did not need a response, I simply wanted to express my own feelings and felt secure enough to do so.

I had off from work this morning. I did go to the millwork, where I was stopped by my boss. He and the head of the mill were saying how much they love having S there on the weekends. S comes in and gets things done and thinks out to what has to happen during the week so that he can continue his projects on the weekends. Both men said it is really remarkable to witness someone that young be able to think in that manner, as it comes with maturity quite often. Then my boss made mention that he asked S how I was, as the boss had been on vacation. We haven't seen each other much in the past month. S told the boss he hadn't seen me except for 5 minutes that morning. Of course, my boss, who loves to kid with me wanted to know who my mystery man was. That was kind of fun, as he didn't get much out of me. He did tell me S made a point of saying he and D like my choice of company. Luckily a customer came in and saved me from a true inquisition - LOL.

And then the rest of the day went a little insane. D came home and she and I had a good talk about her trigger this weekend, but she noticed I was on edge. She asked what was wrong. I hadn't wanted to alarm her or S, but this morning, I had 2 calls that are weighing on me. One from my sister. She wasn't feeling well earlier in the week, but by this morning was at the doctor's office. She is very weak and sounds really bad. They have her diagnosed with the flu and the doctor is concerned with the possibility of pneumonia. She asked that I downplay it with my parents at the moment.

Then my M's sister called, asking that I keep from my M, that she had to call the ambulance to take my uncle to the hospital. They are running a battery of tests on him and he had major surgery a couple of weeks ago. I have been getting updates all day, and it isn't looking good.

The funny thing is, I was saying this weekend how I sometimes don't tell my M all the details so that she won't worry. It is much harder when she calls, like today and specifically asks if I have heard from my sister or aunt. It is much more difficult than omitting certain details when it comes to making sure she doesn't worry.

D made the comment that she realizes how I am the reliable one that people count on. She surprised me mid afternoon by calling me from school and picking up my computer which the IT people had finally repaired. And she had dinner all cooked by the time I got home from the millwork. The discussion came back up about my weekend and my guest. D said she hoped I knew that she and S are not looking to sabotage things by any means and they hoped my guest realizes that. Her BF came through the door and I found myself alone in the kitchen with the dog. I had to laugh - the dog, she tested things a little as well, but she seems to have accepted the "new human" in the mix pretty quickly and it didn't require bribery with a biscuit.  ::)
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#12: February 17, 2020, 11:42:37 PM
Kids.... Harumph....

Sometimes, you want to hug them. At other times, you want to hang 'em by their toes form the ceiling fan and play 'em like a Piñata, especially when they decide to try to "test" people that are involved in our lives.... When it is REALLY fun is when BOTH "parents" have kids and BOTH sides decide to test ... at the same time... ::)  It is one thing to be dealing with one's own triggers but the purposeful "Let's see if I can get a rise out of them" stuff is... well....



As far as the check goes, hey, what is half a month in the grand scheme of things, right? I am sure that xH's creditors are more than willing to wait for him to get around to pay them too so .... What a tool....

When I read that xH "invited" S to breakfast, my first thought was "Wonder what xH wants this time?" Poor S is having to learn that lesson repeatedly that xH is only interested when it is to xH's benefit somehow.... What DID xH want this time? More driving? Help with his umpty-leventh broken-down vehicle?

I am REALLY glad that you had a nice weekend and that your visitor could go with the flow in terms of changing plans and teenage mood swings....
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#13: February 18, 2020, 08:13:45 AM
UrsaMajor - Yah, and I am having a very hard time finding that balance of how to navigate this new path. D was better once I had let her spend time with my visitor again. I had tried to avoid that aspect a little only because my kids and all the potential other kids around can be really overwhelming for me, let alone someone else.

And, I should have known from S's goodnight text on Saturday night something was bothering him. He was in bed early and sent me his usual goodnight text, but the wording was his key. S would never tell me to come home or play the same cards D does. He has said to me countless times I have every right to be happy and his only requirement is whoever I am with treats me well. S has told me that Xh didn't know what he has and he hopes someone else who comes along does. Knowing that he told D he was having a hard time is rough on me. I missed that cue. And it all went back to Xh and his games. I am glad S and I were able to connect and D let me know he was leaving earlier than usual.

The thing is, both kids know I cannot just sit and wait until they have their own lives completely. Neither want me sitting home crocheting doilies and waiting for life to start back up. But, it is an adjustment for them as well.

That said, hard to know what is normal kid stuff and what is MLC related at times. And, I am trying to find out the best way to deal with it. What is fair to the kids? What is fair to the person I am with and what is fair to me? I felt a bit like I was asking an awful lot from the person who was here visiting. And part of me was really upset with D and I can't really be upset with her to the extreme. But, I wanted to scream "when do I get my release papers"? And like it or not, D is just being part teenager, part MLC victim, but it also sets off tiny triggers in me. Triggers that I have to keep in check. D is just enough like Xh at times when he was in MLC - which makes some strange sense, since D is in fact a teenager and Xh thought he was. I have to take such a mental step back and think about my own reactions.

This $h!te isn't easy. LOL

I never did figure out what Xh was up to this time. Who knows? I didn't ask S. I didn't even make mention of the support check, as S knows how I feel about Xh using S as the Pony Express. I know there are some who think it is no big deal to give S the check, but it bothers me. I never wanted the kids in the middle of any of this. Add to the mix, Xh made sure he told S he was not going to pay support on him and would have him legally emancipated. Then Xh had S served with a subpoena, along with my parents, a move that was beyond appalling, as it was not about custody, but a tiny bit of money S made working along side my F. And Xh knew that money had been documented for the project my F was working on - it was on the up and up and documented for tax purposes. It was just a power play to squeeze me. One that worked to a certain degree. My protective side conceded to keep S and my parents from having to come in to a courtroom and argue over a measly $600. So when Xh plays this game, S is always hurt with the support check as it brings up many emotions.

My sister called. She is out of work for a minimum of a week. She sounds better, but very tired.

My uncle they admitted to the hospital and are running tests.

My M keeps checking in. I am pretty sure she suspects something as my aunt, while she told me to say nothing, she has been nervous and chatting with my M and is very "cheerful". Toxic aunt is usually calling to gossip. That said, for all of her toxicity, the one thing I will never say about her is she doesn't love my uncle with all of her being. He has been a saint putting up with her, but she does express her love for him. So, I feel for her. She has her children, but I am not sure how she would function without my uncle and it is not because she needs him, it is because she truly does love him. She sent me a picture of him in his hospital bed. I told her to tell him that I think he needs a refund on his vacation accommodations. She sent a reply and said my uncle thought that was funny.

In the meantime, my parents are blissfully unaware at the moment of the things going on around here. Once my M gets wind that she has been kept out of the loop, I am going to get an earful. But, the reality is there is nothing my parents can do anyways from where they are.

The house is quiet this morning. I am not sure that is a blessing or a curse, TBH. I am in think mode. I am replaying the weekend in my head a little. How I should have handled things differently. And it is a combination of how moving forward I need to deal with D. What upsets me the most is I didn't stay out all night. I came home and waited at home for longer than I wanted to. I was often awake at 6 am and would have been out of the house earlier. But, no, I waited until there was movement in the house to reassure the kids. I should have done what I used to do in the past, when I travelled for work, which was to leave them both little sticky notes around the house where they would find them.

And so much that happened is playing in my head and while I expressed my own feelings, I am being struck by a little bit of fear of OMG - wanting to make sure there is no pressure for anyone involved. I need to get out of my own head because I am wishing things had been different on Sunday afternoon and that is not like me - that would have, could have, should have train of thought. I only want to be there long enough to see where I can do a better job next time. Have to find that balance with my kids in the mix without sacrificing my desires all the time or the needs of anyone else I let into my life.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#14: February 19, 2020, 12:43:14 AM
Quote from: MourningDove
In the meantime, my parents are blissfully unaware at the moment of the things going on around here. Once my M gets wind that she has been kept out of the loop, I am going to get an earful. But, the reality is there is nothing my parents can do anyways from where they are.

And this is EXACTLY the tack I'd take when Mom starts in on you... "What would have been the benefit? What could you have done to help, Mom? How would that have affected YOUR vacation with Dad? There was noting you could have done from where you were so why spoil your time away?"

Oh yes, if we only could have squashed the "coulda, woulda, shoulda's" syndrome.... (see what I did there?)

So, xH wanted to have breakfast so he could use S as a delivery boy for his late check?


I'm thinking that S may need a little bit of an alternate D. A. R. E. theory (Dumb A$$ Resistance Education).  I guess that I am not surprised S wanted to get away early. That way he can tell xH "Sorry, I am not at home right now, please leave your message after the beep."

However, unless someone has died and granted you the power to read minds, you can't be held responsible for missing an unvocalized clue.

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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#15: February 19, 2020, 09:22:59 AM
UrsaMajor - I saw what you did there - LOL. And, yes, that exercise is rather pointless most of the time. I think for me, when I do that, it is find if I look at it as a way to improve in the future - that is, to see things and perhaps at times handle things differently, not so much as a regret, etc.

My parents are better off not knowing any of the things going on at the moment. I am only 8 miles from the hospital and all I can do is wait for updates, as they are running multiple tests to try and figure out what is going on with my uncle. It has not been easy seeing him in a bed, unable to walk, when I have grew up believing he had superhero-like strength. But, true to his nature, he is keeping a positive attitude. Toxic aunt is showing her true weakness and fears. My aunt, for all of her drama that she creates, underneath it all is a very frightened person. I am not sure she will know how to function if something happens to my uncle and not because she relies on him to take care of her in any way. As I have said, for all of her faults, she truly loves him and she actually takes good care of him.

I am not sure what Xh's game is this time. Maybe nothing at all, but unfortunately in regards to Xh all I can come up with is a cynical view right now. Xh hasn't given me any other positive actions to prove me wrong. TBH, I wish he would. It is not easy watching my S now have to see his relationship with Xh deteriorate more.

And, no, I can't read minds, but I think sometimes when it comes to S, I assume too many times that he is okay. But, I know with S, he just needed that hug on Saturday. I met him at a gas station when I found out he was leaving early. And then I talked to him on Monday at length in the middle of the day. And, because S is so much like me, I know that sometimes all I need is a hug and an "I love you" to make it all right. Life gets busy and sometimes I have to stop and remind myself of those little things.

There was a change in my schedule today, so now I have the full day off. I spent some time on the phone with my sister this morning, checking on her. She sounds a little better. My nephew was in the background and he wanted to talk to him. He and I laughed a lot. He asked me some art related questions and I suggested a couple of artists for him to look up. I told him one of these weekends I would come and get him so that I could have a date to one of the art openings. He was excited and then paused, concerned that meant he would have to get really dressed up. I wasn't sure what he was getting at, and then I remembered the last big event he went to he was dressed in a tux. I assured him as long as he wasn't in pajamas, we were going to be okay.

The sun is streaming through my new kitchen windows and it was a good reason to put on a fresh pot of coffee and soak in the day.  :)

Now that I have the day off, I am going to tackle some of these lingering projects. I am so tired of the chaos that is going on in my downstairs. I have a need to accomplish something other than the mountain of prep work for college and other paperwork.

D won't be home until late afternoon. As long as the dog behaves, I may actually be able to make noticeable progress.  :)

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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#16: February 19, 2020, 05:57:22 PM
I received a post card in the mail from S's school, announcing that S has been chosen to be inducted into an honor society on campus. I called S and it seems Xh was downplaying the invite. D and I are both encouraging S to pursue it, as they listed several scholarships. I called S to talk to him but he was having dinner and then was off to work on a paper, so the conversation was very brief.

While I was on the phone with him we discussed the Facebook post he made earlier. It was a photo of bridge that runs to Key West. It is a trip we have taken several times over the years. The last time was not great, as that was a MLC trip. D posted that she wanted to go and I should drive. She informs me she has spring break coming up and I laughed at her. Yes, the college has off, but I do not. I will be at the high school that week. In the midst of this Facebook conversation, it would seem Xh saw S's post and felt he should comment. Both S and D were quick to tell me that they would like to go down there again, but sans Xh this time. I told them I didn't think that was going to be a problem, as I have no plans on inviting him on a road trip of any kind.

As S talked about his day, he asked if I knew of anyone looking for a dog. I laughed as our dog barked. I told both the dog and S that I didn't need a second dog. S said he was glad, as this dog is not one he would want, but he felt bad, as the owner, Xh's neighbor past away and they need to find a home for the dog. S went on to tell me that Xh had taken the neighbor out for breakfast, as he often did and it was a couple of hours later when the man's sister found him. It was Xh's only real friend now. Xh blew up his friendships with the one's that really had his back. He has his younger crowd, but this man really was a good friend. D heard the conversation and said right away that this is not a good thing - more death surrounding Xh and he hasn't dealt with the last few deaths well. S agreed and they are waiting to see if Xh goes deeper in the hole, or if this will shake him up in a different manner.

And, there is a little bit of compassion I feel for him. He has pushed so many people away over the years. Both kids noted they didn't know what Xh is going to do now that his neighbor was gone. Xh spent many an afternoon at this man's house or they went out for a beer regularly. The kids said this man was the only friend Xh seemed to have.

It will be interesting to see if this prompts Xh to move out of the cottage. I am doubting he will move out of state or out of the country now. That was his dream at one point in MLC. I don't see it now. But, he had expressed wanting to have a house of his own now to S. S joked that there is a building Xh had eyed years ago in the town over that is now up for sale. D and I had the same response - "oh, please, no". S laughed and said that would be too close for comfort for him as well. Sad statement, but it is the reality Xh has created.

Actions and consequences.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#17: February 20, 2020, 02:51:26 PM
It's your family and your choice as to what you tell or don't. I know I get angry when people decide what I "need" to know or not, for "my own good". Isn't that for ME to decide? And how can I decide without all the information?  Think about it, what if Uncle were to die, and your mom didn't even get to call and say how much she appreciated him?

I can only go with my own experience last year when it didn't look good for my mom. I called both kids and said "You need to do whatever you need to do, just in case". D called my mother, S came home. I'm not sure S would do that again, as the end was beyond horrible,  but they at least got the opportunity and when it went south quickly, no regrets for either. 

A different perspective to consider.

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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#18: February 20, 2020, 05:56:58 PM
OffRoad - I am with you on this and it is why I struggled. On the one hand, I was okay with my M not knowing for a short time, as there was nothing anyone could do. That said, I don't like when people decide what I do or don't need to know - so, it did play into my thoughts. I was respecting my aunt and more my uncle's wish that my parents not know at the time. It was not an easy place to be put.

Tonight, I told my parents. My M was mildly perturbed that no one told her. I explained her sister made us promise and I was going to be in a boatload of trouble as it was now revealing the news.

Sometimes it is a fine line with family to know what is a confidence that needs to be held. And there are things that I have never shared, but those are perhaps secrets that don't affect anyone else, as in it is no one's business. My sister and I were discussing that today, as I don't go around betraying confidences, but this was a tough call.

D called me mid afternoon to share her day. She was approached by her English professor, who is so impressed by her ability to grasp literature at her age. D said she attributes much of that to the fact that Xh and I read to both kids faithfully every night and they were reading novels by an early age. D laughed and said she told him that we were the parents that dragged their kids to cultural events and S's favorite author in 6th grade was Hemingway. She recounted that when she was in 3rd grade she recalled going to Key West to see Hemingway's house because S wanted to go. She said of course, she liked all of the cats - that was her big take away from the house.

D then told me she reached out to Xh and gave her condolences about his friend. She said he thanked her and said he would like to see her. She has accepted a date with him on Sunday to have coffee and she will meet him at the coffee shop. She tells me that gives her an opportunity to get a free cup of coffee and to escape if need be.

I won't lie. I am not thrilled. I have apprehension and it is based on the last time D saw Xh. I got to pick up the pieces then.

And then I was mad at myself for being upset in the first place. This is what I have wanted for D and S - a normal relationship with their F. And in my heart of hearts, that is what I want, but I am not trusting this encounter. Xh has given no reason for me to believe it won't be more of the same.

And, what if it is genuine? I know I don't want him back, nor do I want to play "hey we are buddies now". Civil is going to take. getting used to. Coparenting is out the door as the kids are adults.

I mentioned it to my sister who point blank asked me if he got his act together and worked on things if I would go back. I wondered if there was something wrong with me for not wanting that any longer He is not the man I recognize as the man I married, first of all. Secondly, I pushed him out of the inner circle and that is a deal breaker. Once someone is out of that ring, there is no coming back to it. And the truth is, I like the path I am on now.

We will see what Sunday brings. I hope it is not disappointment for D.

I will be in a couple of towns over enjoying a brunch with a good friend of mine. I am glad she and I decided on that place and not the coffee shop D and Xh will be at - that was one of the options. That would have been all sorts of awkward.  ::)
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#19: February 21, 2020, 04:10:20 AM
I really hope that, for D's sake, xH behaves himself.....

I can also see moms' getting annoyed. That IS a hard line to walk, between respecting the wishes of aunt and uncle balanced with the needs of your mom to know about her brother in law.... I hope that they can figure out quickly what is going on.

The invite to S is GREAT, especially if it opens a door tr two towards some financial aid. That will be good news for him and for you.

All in all, sounds like a good way to kick off the weekend....
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#20: February 21, 2020, 05:55:30 AM
Is there a tiny message in recent events maybe that there are some bits relating to xh/kids that it could be time to begin to let go? To ease back a little from feeling the need to protect them as you used to have to do as both your son and daughter grow into how to navigate it and protect themselves? Could be wrong, jmo, but just wondered as I know sometimes being the only grown up is also wearing for you....
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#21: February 21, 2020, 09:39:58 AM
Treasur - I know it is based on what I write in regards to my protectiveness. I am protective when it comes to the situation with Xh and the aftermath. And how to balance that part of being a parent and letting them falter.

When it comes to everyday things and the kids, I am not overly protective, in fact quite the contrary. I worry at times, but I am not a helicopter parent by any stretch of the imagination. My kids knew that I was there for them, but they were taught from a very young age they should learn to advocate for themselves sometimes. They have never feared talking to adults.

Sometimes they need backup, like S wanting me to go with him to the bank to just sit with him in case he didn't ask all the right questions, but he knew I was not going to hold his hand during the process. They do know that if they try and get shut down or need backup, I am there and would have easily gotten in the car and sat in the registrar's office to get to the bottom of things for S, but only after he had exhausted all of his options.

But, when it comes to Xh, there is something that really comes into play. That is I am uneasy because while I would love it if Xh could find his way to be a sane adult again and ease my sense of needing to protect them, the truth is, he in fact often creates the problems to begin with and then makes it even harder for me. My radar is up and on high alert based on the recent past of his MLC laden history. I am bracing myself for fallout.

And, I am all for them figuring out the situation with their F. There is a lot I don't involve myself in with regards to Xh - much of which I don't post about. I don't ask the kids about Xh. I only hear snippets from both kids when they offer it up. Both kids know that I am not going to intervene with how they navigate their relationship with their F - they are adults. But, like it or not, Xh's MLC affects the kids and they need the support I needed for a time to adjust.

That said, yes, the observation that being the only grown up is really wearing on me. I am tired of it, and I am working to figure out that balance. I want certain things in my life and I am making changes. I just feel I have to be mindful of the rate at which I make some of those changes. I can't pull the rug out from under the kids like Xh did.

D and I have had some conversations as of late about what my future holds. She understands I am not going to sit at home just waiting for she and her B to move out and then start living my life. It is not easy for the kids to completely wrap their heads around. They too had an idea oh so many years ago that life for my Xh and I would be more like it is with my parents. That is not the scenario. I am not going to be growing old with my Xh by my side. They are okay with that, as am I, but it does change the story and they are adjusting, just like I am. In reality, in many ways, I have had more time to really detach and do that. Xh's antics with me allowed me to get to that point.

Both D and S were getting to that point and now it remains to be seen if this is a "touch and go" with D or if this is a legitimate attempt at repairing things. Both kids have experienced this with him before and they witnessed it happening to me. So, my protective side, yes, it is in fact probably heightened a little right now as I am just mentally preparing for the aftermath of a simple cup of coffee.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#22: February 21, 2020, 10:14:42 AM
I hope you know that there was not a whit of implied criticism in my comment?  :)

But bc I have followed (and enjoyed) your family story, I suppose I could see the inherent tension as a parent vs a person. Tbh I think it is useful for others with adult kids that you share your experience of it, of how all of you are continuing to adapt to a life that turned out to be rather different than the one you all, kids too, probably your parents as well, imagined. The ripples of this stuff are wider and longer than we might think at first aren't they? I bet you are not the only person who sees that here.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#23: February 21, 2020, 12:18:33 PM
Treasur - Even if there had been a criticism there, it is not something that somehow offends me. Something that makes me stop and think about the perspective is not always a bad thing.

Part of why I keep journaling and posting here is that MLC didn't just up and magically disappear once the ink on the divorce papers were dry. I may not be standing any longer, but that is simply my situation. In my day to day "RL", there are very few people who understand or struggle with the same issues. I have plenty of people who divorce and maybe don't co-parent, but in those situations, at least the one's I know of, that other spouse was not involved as a parent to begin with. It has some similarities, but it is like comparing a whale and a cow. Both are mammals and share some similarities, but their situations are vastly different.

And right now, my own struggle is where my needs lie as a woman and still being a M. That role as a parent is always there, but before MLC hit, I had a reliable partner. It would be tough if my Xh had died and I was left alone to raise the kids, but instead this warped version of Xh reappears and we all have this hidden hope that this time he will be on his way to recovery. So far, it has lead to disappointment.

And, for me, I know my kids want me to be happy. They have expressed that they don't wish for Xh and I to reconcile. They see I am more of a complete person again and more like the woman they remember before all of this. They are okay with me moving on and changing.

But, I would imagine it is going to be difficult if Xh gets his $h!tee together and suddenly there is some semblance of the F that was. I am no longer interested in the man that was. I have grieved him and hold the happy memories where they should be, in my past. I am no longer holding on to those memories the same way. Seeing pictures of him from even our wedding doesn't bring tears now. But, for the kids, what is that going to be like if he "returns". I am not sure that is going to be easy for anyone. Do I hope for it - yes, for his own sake.

Had Xh gotten therapy all along, or was in therapy now, it might have been different. The problem is with me. Once that level of trust is broken, I am very protective of myself. He had plenty of time to try and work on things. I gave until I felt as though I had no soul. I can't let that happen to me again and I just don't feel secure around him.

I know most people see me as fiercely independent. That has been there since college. I walked to my college classes across campus and I know I gave off the illusion of being very confident and secure. It happens now more so. I have had to be more self-sufficient. But, underneath that armor, is a woman who secretly loves feeling protected and likes having a man who wants to hold the door for me. I crave that sense of security and Xh will never give me that again.

And that knowing my children, I know that is something they are fearing as well. Both have said that if Xh had gone to therapy, and gotten help, they would feel better. They are afraid to trust him again. Even S, who may seem to give into Xh's whims, he is much more guarded around Xh than he ever was prior to the introduction of the MLC distorted version of Xh. The kids are always waiting for the other shoe to drop. And witnessing it, now that my vision of the situation is much clearer is excruciating to watch, and often I know all I can do is let it unfold and let them learn the hard lesson on their own.

This morning, my class went well. One of the students dropped out of all of her classes, so we are down to a group of 6 and they are so close knit. It truly is a fantastic class. Their critiques are so much more vibrant than my classes yesterday. The groups at the university are not used to true art critiques and it is in part due to the nature of the group, being a mix of majors and non-majors. There is an art form to a proper critique and I demand a certain level of etiquette.

D and I stopped at the grocery store and went to the cafe area to grab lunch to go. I was standing at the counter and placing an order when I looked over to see D with a giant smile on her face. Before I could ask her what, I heard a deep voice say "I wasn't going to let  you get away this time". It took me a minute to process and I burst out laughing. The kid behind the counter was clearly concerned, as this was one of the head chefs and anyone that knows him is well aware he has a W and 3 kids. I played along and said that I have been very upset with him that he hasn't been by to visit lately. Then I turned to the young man behind the counter and informed him not to worry, I used to babysit this man when he was a kid and his parents live next door to me. He and his family often stop by to visit and the daughters play with my dog.

We had a nice visit and he told me he has decided he is going to make a career change and is going into carpentry. He waited for my shock to set in and it didn't. He told me about his home projects and the furniture he is making. I had to laugh knowing his enthusiasm for woodworking really took just before Xh went into MLC full tilt. He came with some reclaimed wood to the house and asked Xh if he could help him build a giant farm table with copper touches. Xh was working at that time on his own projects around the house. They spent weekends building this table and after it was completed we were the first to have dinner on it to celebrate. Since then, he has been building all sorts of beautiful pieces that have caught the eye of a friend of his who is a well respected carpenter in the area. As we chatted, I asked him if he had any interest in helping me with a cherry dining table. I could see his eyes get big and the creative wheels turning. I laughed and said I knew he was never a trouble maker growing up, just a kid with creative side waiting to escape. I told him to bring the W and kids by and we could conspire on this table.

Funny, I had been thinking about this cherry table again and was designing it in my head, but had hit a creative block. I needed someone with the creative mind and the woodworking skills to make this come to fruition. And while I know people, like the master carpenter at work, they are either too busy or would cost me an arm and a leg. My former neighbor, he needs the project to build a portfolio and I told him I would help him build a portfolio in exchange. I am so hoping that we can make this happen. I needed a creative boost right now.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#24: February 22, 2020, 07:10:25 PM
Last night when I came home one of S's friends was waiting in the driveway. It had gotten colder out and I wondered why this kid was not in the garage or inside the house, as D was home, but he didn't see her car in the driveway, so he assumed no one was home. He is a very respectful kid and said he wasn't going to just let himself in. I told him I appreciated that, but I told him now that I was home, he was to come in and not wait outside in the cold air. He came in and stopped in the living room. He right away exclaimed that I have clearly been really pushing myself this week. Then he saw the kitchen and said the place is really looking awesome.

I started to cry. He stopped and asked what was wrong. I thanked him. He had no idea how much that meant, considering he was around even last weekend, so for someone to even notice was a big deal. He had noticed right away that I had sanded and painted some more of the walls and the chaos that still was lingering last weekend was gone.

The thing is this kid, I would adopt in a heartbeat. His F left long ago and he has virtually no contact with him. He is the youngest of S's friends and has yet to turn 21. His M died a couple of years ago and he and I have spoken at length about how life kicks you and it takes time to sometimes get back on your feet. He comes to me for advice quite often and he lacks some of the basic skills sometimes that would have come if he had a good role model. I told him I hadn't forgotten I owed him cheesecake for paying off his car loan. He thought I was kidding and I told him that would be cruel, as I know he loves cheesecake.

Then I mentioned to him that I heard what he did last weekend. He downplayed it, but he went out late at night to rescue a young woman he and S are very good friends with. She is tough, but had gone out on a date with a guy and for her to say she was outright scared of this guy says it was a bad situation, as this young woman is fearless. This kid got up and drove an hour and a half away to pick her up, no questions asked. He said to me that he would do that for any person he cares about.

He sat in the kitchen and D came downstairs when she heard him. She spent time with him until S came in the door and they were off. D commented she was glad S had such good friends.

It was a quiet night and I fell asleep on the couch by 8 pm. I woke up long enough to drag myself upstairs to bed, but I was wiped out.

This morning, D and I went and picked up her car. I knew she was nervous about tomorrow, so her mood was up and down. We didn't discuss it, but she had an edge on her. We stopped on the way home at one of her favorite country stores and I followed her home. I had my own car back and while my parent's SUV is a nice change, I have missed my little "roller-skate" as S calls it. D got way ahead of me and called all worried. I laughed and said she got through the 2 stop lights and I hadn't, gaining 7 cars in between she and I after having been right behind her. And the traffic was very slow. So, she said she would meet me at home. Secretly, I was grateful and I turned onto the backroads got out of the traffic. The sun was out and the temperature was significantly warmer, so I opened the sunroof and turned up my radio.

I came home and started working on some things. S came in from work and D came downstairs. I am not even sure what the issue was, but they had a disagreement and it was escalating to a full on argument. They both asked for my opinion and I was beyond annoyed. I picked up my house keys, grabbed my coat, the dog's leash and poured my cup of coffee into a travel mug. I turned and looked a the 2 of them and said they needed to resolve this on their own, I was going out for a very long walk and they were not to call me, even if the house burned down.

It seems like forever since I have had a good walk. The dog was clearly thrilled with my decision. I needed the change and by the time I started to loop back, I realized how much I need these walks.

By the time I came home, the kids had figured their issues out and were joking with each other.

D asked what my plans were for the rest of the day. She and her BF were going to go out shopping for awhile. I told her my loose plans and said I was going to go back out at some point to wash my car. We had made plans earlier in the day to make one of D's favorite things, Cuban sandwiches, which she said we haven't made since Xh moved out. I wasn't going to debate her, but it has been a long time.

As I was working away, I realized that this weekend there was an art opening that I had wanted to go to. I started to talk myself out of it, because I really didn't want to go by myself. But, I had wanted to not only see this particular show, I knew many of the artists in this particular exhibit, including my colleagues. I went upstairs and put on a kick a$$ outfit and walked out to the garage. S and his friends stopped what they were doing. S said I clearly had somewhere special I was off to. I told him I would be home later and was off to an art opening.

The opening was in the town where D's BF lives. I had figured D was out and wouldn't be back for a bit anyways, so why would I have to let her know, as her B knew where I was. I was not going to be gone for long, so why did I have to check in. I ran into some friends outside of the gallery and didn't hear my phone the first time. One of the friends was my coordinator's H. He said the whole department was inside and they were all going out to dinner across the street and I should come along. I would have gladly gone, but I didn't even get a chance to consider it. I was inside the gallery door and talking to my other colleague when my phone rang. I excused myself and walked back outside. It was D. She went on a rant about how I hadn't told her I was going to the gallery and she happened to see me as I was going in. And who was I meeting, because I was all dressed up and she thought the guy I brought to the house was someone I liked. She was all over the place. I was seething by then. I told her we would talk about it when I got home, but I was going to be about an hour so she needed to suck it up.

I made the rounds, but I lost my enthusiasm for the whole event. I had already been wishing I had someone to enjoy it with, but the truth was, this was an important event that I really shouldn't miss. I had just forgotten to put it on my electronic calendar. I needed to be there to support my colleagues.

D sent a text wondering if we still were having dinner. I sent back a very curt response and said that was in fact the plan.

I washed my car and then went home. I came through the door and D could tell I was really not happy with her. I went into my room and barely spoke to her as I changed back into the clothes I had on earlier, so that I could continue working on the home projects. I started to go down the stairs and D made a comment that sent me over the edge. I informed her that I was not her F and I was not leaving. I told her that she could have stopped at the gallery, considering she has been there dozens of times and she might have had a conversation with me instead of getting snarky on the phone. She might have realized that I went in part because I need to be supportive of my department and while it is genuine support, it also shows I am interested in being part of that team, which helps to keep me employed, etc. She started to say she didn't realize and I told her there were a lot of things she didn't realize and jumped to conclusions. I told her I turned down several invites to make sure I came home to make dinner and as tempting as the invites were, I had made a promise to come home. I reminded her that last weekend I made time for her when she asked as well.

We had a full on get it all out on the table argument. It was not a bad thing. It needed to happen. The air needed to be cleared and I told her that I listen to her more than she thinks. She started to cry and said she is nervous about tomorrow and just needed me. I told her that had she said that to me instead of jumping all over me about where I was and what I was doing, she might have gotten a different response.

We settled down and made dinner and talked. I tried to explain to her that I understand more than she knows about needing time alone to decompress sometimes. I understand that she has anxiety and I try to be very mindful of it, but she needs to understand that in order for me to have patience and understanding there are things I need as well. Sometimes those needs are I have to have time to myself or to be around people my own age. We talked at length about how she and S sometimes don't think about the fact that I am almost always home. They go off and do their own thing, and remarkably, I am at home. Did either of them ever think that maybe the reason I am home is I don't go anywhere too often and maybe I need that, just as they do?

It came down to the final part of the discussion being about how we are all trying to figure this new life out. D admitted that when I stay out late or do things on a whim, it is a trigger. I told her I understood, but she needs to work on that, because it is not doing either of us any good. I asked her if I have ever just never come home and not let she or her B know where I was and with whom. She admitted that no, I have never done that. I told her that I will do a better job of reassuring her if need be, but she has to give me some breathing room. I told her I certainly have no interest in going out and picking up men while I am out. She laughed and said she knew better than that, as I have only ever let one man in the house for any extended period of time, and that was last weekend's guest.

I know tomorrow may be difficult for D. Part of her issue today is nerves. She says she is fine, but I know she is preparing for things to go badly. I so hope that is not the case, but who knows. Maybe Xh will shock us all. He is popping up on all the Facebook interactions with his B and S this week, so who knows. D laughed and said to me she isn't even friends with Xh on Facebook, how weird is that? My response to her was that sadly, it isn't that weird, considering the circumstances.

I am hoping maybe something positive will come out of this blow up D and I had. She and I in particular need to find some middle ground.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#25: February 22, 2020, 11:47:09 PM
As my gran used to say 'better out than in'. For both of you tbh.
Your daughter's future relationships need to be free of this kind of anxiety need placed on someone else, so better she learns to manage it with you of course. And I'm sure she will.

And coffee with xh? Well none of us have high expectations do we? But who knows? Either way I suppose it will be useful information to help your daughter continue or adapt her approach towards The relationship. A kind of fact finding expedition lol. Bc whatever he currently is, is what it is as you know.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#26: February 23, 2020, 11:18:05 AM
Treasur - We both needed a good "purge" of emotions. I don't always view arguing as a bad thing, as long as some ground rules are in place. We never call each other names and it might get heated at times, but it is a rare occurrence. It helps us flush out some of the emotions and D in particular needs to release these feelings instead of bottling them up like Xh does. She knows I won't put up with being yelled at in general, and we don't stay mad once it is out in the open.

So, D woke me up this morning. She was up early and wanted me to get up and talk before her coffee date. I really would have liked to have stayed in bed a wee bit longer as the sun was coming in through the skylights and windows and hitting the foot of my bed. The house was very quiet - I was enjoying the peaceful moments. But, I got up to make sure D was feeling secure.

She texted me after going for coffee and said it went okay and she was on her way to stop and pick up the cheesecake for S's friend. Then she informed me that Xh was on his way here to see S. He was going to pick up lunch for S and he was coming to help S clean out the garage. He told D that S seemed down lately. Uh huh. Hmmmm. Projection?

I had mixed emotions, but said okay to D. I took the dog for a walk and by the time I was at the top of the hill I could see a different car than normal pulling in, so I assumed it was Xh's new car. And just as I came upon the driveway, the cars started pulling in. The usual friends of S's who were there to help S work on his truck. I got hugs and hellos from the crew. Xh was in the garage, pacing.

The dog at first went rushing to him and he fussed over her, but she was not with him long, as she went to S's friends and stood next to the one who she likes the most.

I was suspicious about this whole visit from Xh. On the one hand, was it to see what is going on close up, as he was making comments not too long ago about the house. Was he looking to get something out of the garage. That has happened in the past. Was it him looking to be the "good guy" and show D that he was on top of this.

Or was it genuine. I stayed around because I wanted to keep an eye on things and to make sure Xh realized that he doesn't get to just show up now and invade what is my space. If he is genuine, than, yes, he can come and see the kids - within reason, but I am not sacrificing my needs for his needs - been there before.

I talked to him about teaching a little simply because I did feel a little bad about how uncomfortable S was with the 2 of us near one another. I wasn't there to torture Xh. And there was no need. He was clearly aware of how out of the loop he was.

S's one friend works for a beverage company and had given me a bottle of wine not too long ago. He asked if I had tried it yet, as he could get more for me at cost. I answered him and said that we in fact drank it last weekend and it was really very good. S's GF asked if it was as good as the winery. The other friend asked which winery and I said I had taken my company last weekend to such and such place. And as Xh was standing there, my S said that yes, I had been gone most of the weekend contributing to the delinquency of someone in law enforcement. I turned beet red and he came and gave me a huge hug and said he loved me, all the while laughing. I told them on that note I was going back in the house. I caught Xh's expression - I am not entirely sure he was processing.

Xh left shortly after that. D expressed what I was thinking. That was Xh is being shown what he has missed. If he wants to make amends, he has to realize he has missed out on a lot.

I feel a little bit of compassion for him. He has made a mess and has missed out on some of the best parts of the kids growing up. Some of the best moments have happened while he has been off living his "new and improved life". The kids that come here, most are people Xh has never met. And he brought lunch for S, but he didn't ask D if she wanted anything. He has no clue that D has developed lactose intolerance in the past couple of years. He has no idea that she rarely eats bacon, which was her favorite food growing up. He wouldn't know that now loves turkey chili and is a huge fan of anything whole grain. There is so much he has missed.

She mentioned that Xh said he heard her BF was a great guy from S. D's BF was here when Xh showed up, but he didn't go outside. D told him to stay inside and she was not ready to believe her F was genuine in his visit. The one time Xh "met" the BF was when he sought him out at the home improvement store when BF was working and recorded meeting him and sent it to D. BF has been very uncomfortable since then and D is incredibly protective of her BF. So, he was inside with me and we had a good visit. I told him not to worry as he was not being rude. Like it or not, Xh is going to have to do more than buy D a cup of coffee and bring S lunch to fix this. He is going to have to show consistency and go beyond "buying" their affection back.

And another nugget came out that had D annoyed. She mentioned at coffee, Xh gushed all about niece and nephew and seems to know all about their lives. She was not angry. And she said Xh asked a lot of questions about me.

That said, both kids' moods are noticeably a bit somber at the moment. It wasn't easy for me to see how much distance has occurred between Xh and the kids. I know how it used to be. I am not upset or rattled. In fact, I looked at him and saw a man I really no longer recognize as the man I married. No rush of emotions. It was almost like talking to someone new in the neighborhood. Very odd.

It is sad in the general sense - that this crisis, if Xh is somehow progressing forward, he took so long to even get here. But, it doesn't change my path. I no longer see him as part of my path. I am just looking at it now from the perspective of he has made such a mess of his life and I don't know if he has it in him to even try and repair things with the kids. Today had to be incredibly overwhelming, but that was reality slapping him in the face. There is no other way to fix it than to keep making efforts no matter how uncomfortable it is for him. No one is trying to make it difficult for him either, whether he realizes it or not. I could have just said he was not welcome to come here at all and made a big proclamation. It is all on him what he does with that little bit of safety net I threw him. And he had best realize that that life line was only for the kids, I want no part of going back.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#27: February 23, 2020, 04:54:39 PM
I am still processing some of the things that came out of Xh's mouth in the short time that I saw him.

He mentioned seeing my uncle's widow where he teaches. How she is a brilliant woman, but he hasn't seen her in awhile.

Hmmm, no, but I see her quite often and she said she sees Xh in the hall, but really doesn't speak to him. She has very little interaction with him, nor does she really have anything to say to him. She knows the story. If he did talk to her at any length, he would know she is in the midst of planning for a large exhibit and has been visiting my cousin on the west coast as much as she can.

But, clearly Xh was trying to find something to connect with.

I told him I had his former student. At first he couldn't place her and then when he did, he gushed about how great she was. He said she was very timid and incredibly talented. I said I hadn't really encountered her timid side, perhaps she has blossomed. He mentioned she worked with a friend of his as an intern. He of course didn't say who it was, and I said I heard. I could see he was fidgeting. Yah, he should feel uncomfortable - it isn't tough to know it was OW  ::) He then perked up and told me if I had any students that were good students to send him his way, he is looking for interns. He made the comment that I always found him really worthy interns in the past who had been my students - they were always well prepared.

I am not used to Xh being complimentary. I am suspicious now of his nice comments. Throughout the MLC they were followed by gaslighting and manipulation.

Do I think there was a little sincerity - yes, because it is in fact the truth. His best interns came from my classes in the past and I knew which one's were not only talented, but could handle Xh's high expectations and temperament. But, that was before MLC and when he and I had actually not only worked together in life, but career wise as well. We complimented each other's styles and somehow worked.

Will I send him students now? I doubt it. If they somehow come to me and say they crossed paths with him, I won't steer them away, but I am not desiring to go back to working with him even in a professional manner. I don't trust him on that level either anymore. And, frankly, I am very guarded about my marriage and the destruction there of being part of my professional life. In many ways, I just want to move away from MLC more and more. It is my history and I don't want it jading my future.

But, it was odd that he acted like nothing has happened between us. His conversation was as if we have somehow moved on into some new realm that I didn't know had happened. And it is not that I expect an apology or acknowledgment, but I didn't exactly get the memo that "oh, yah, that MLC thing, forget that happened - it's all good now". Hmmm - not ready to jump into believing I am seeing some big turn around.

And again, for the sake of the kids and for Xh, I hope it is. But, today just made me see how I am content with where my path is leading in comparison to where I was.

Once he left, I went back to painting the living room and thinking about some changes I am going to make. One of the first things I did was paint one of the walls a much darker color. It is the same color I had painted on the wall where the fireplace is positioned and at first it shocked D when I put it on the wall adjacent to the fireplace. That wall has always been painted in lighter colors. I wanted a cozier space and the living room is quite large so it can easily handle a darker wall, especially when the room has windows and french doors letting tons of light in. The first stroke of paint, I questioned my decision, but I held to the plan and once I had the door trimmed in and some paint on about a third of the wall, I was satisfied. That wall has always bothered me, as it has a large open area just screaming for something. As I was looking at it, I remembered years ago we had a very large antique school clock that hung by the door. I loved that clock and the kids faithfully used it as they could see it from the kitchen. I can't remember why it was removed, but it dawned on me, it is hanging in my art studio now. I may move it back to upstairs, but maybe something else will end up on the wall.

And I realized that I have several pieces of art in storage that may now be perfect in the living room. One being the last painting my friend started and never finished before she passed away. I am going to be bringing some of my pieces upstairs to see what makes sense.

What also is going is the buffet that Xh and I bought years ago. It no longer makes any sense in this room. It is an antique, but I am ready to repurpose it. It was from the 40's and is solid wood, but the sides were veneer. I am tired of the piece, but not so much that I can't see it becoming something else. It is not something with a huge value to it, so I am not destroying a valuable heirloom. Instead, I am thinking of bringing down one of the 2 antique pieces I refinished and updated that have been in storage.

D has been baking all day and made dinner tonight. I would have been just as happy with a salad and a cup of tea.

The dog and I came back from a very long second walk. My legs are feeling it, but it is a good feeling. I need to get back to my routine. I need it physically as well as mentally.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#28: February 23, 2020, 05:40:17 PM
Only my kid - LMAO. Some kids go off to college and try and grow marijuana plants in their dorm. Nope, not my kid. He has no interest in that, instead he and his roommate came up with a brilliant plan to grow corn in their room, to give as gifts to their professors at the end of the semester. They thought it was an appropriate gift being an agricultural program.

So, this past Monday, they bought the little starter cups for seedlings and were so proud of themselves, as they had gathered field corn from across the road from our house the weekend before. They have the perfect dorm room conditions this year. When S told me, I laughed and said I couldn't wait to see how this turns out. S started to noodle through this weekend and he realized they might have to think about how to transfer these plants, as the root systems get to be about 3 ft in length, not to mention how tall they get. But, you know, they have time to think about that - LOL.

Ah, well, S just got back to his dorm after being home all weekend and those little plants popped right up alright, he said some are already close to a foot tall and corn can grow pretty rapidly. He is laughing saying they are going to have to move the plants to the middle of the room. He and I spent a long time coming up with marketing ideas. A new "green" dorm room privacy screen. Corn mazes were in there. He realized he should have thought about planting popcorn variety instead of regular field corn, although he said with the heat still on for a couple of months that could have proven to be a bigger problem.

He and his roommate will figure it out. We have had a very good time laughing. He informs me he shared it with Xh, but Xh doesn't quite see the humor in all of it. S asked me what happened with Xh, he used to laugh a lot at some pretty stupid things. He then thanked me for still laughing at such lame things.

I am not sure if that is meant as a compliment - LOL
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« Last Edit: February 23, 2020, 05:41:51 PM by MourningDove »

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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#29: February 24, 2020, 08:08:27 AM
I had incredibly weird, vivid dreams last night. All pretty disturbing and unsettling, although I don't recall much of the content, now as I didn't write anything down. I just know my blankets were off the bed and I woke up multiple times during the night. Most mornings I can crawl out of bed and just tidy up my bedding because I am not usually restless.

It made it tough getting up this morning. The sun was out and it is supposed to be nearly 50 all week with one drop midweek, but back up again by the weekend.

I had a hard time kicking my brain into high school mode this morning.

My students were all having similar issues. Fortunately, it seems like the illnesses that were lurking before class are gone, so the break helped in that regards. But, none of them were even remotely enthusiastic this morning. I gave the first class an in class assignment. An easy one to just warm them up. The second class, that was a bit of a challenge. I gave them their "marching orders" and some did the work, others were zoned out. I just let them do their thing today and tomorrow I will apply the pressure to get back into the swing of things. As it is my Monday class is never the full class anyways, with some of the students in other college courses. Giving the new assignment today would mean going over the information yet again tomorrow, so the Monday after a holiday is always a challenge. Normally, Mondays are the day they all have to work on projects or to catch up.

It was nearing the end of the class period when In strolled my coworker. He chatted with a couple of students and I gave him a look of "what's up" because he usually comes through and looks at all of their work, giving them feedback. Today, he didn't spend the time doing that and just sat down next to me. I joked with him that he must have heard I was giving out cheesecake yesterday, which prompted him to say that he was upset I hadn't brought him a slice. I asked him if he had paid off his car loan yet. He laughed and said that would be one expensive slice of cheesecake.

The students were gone and I asked if he was okay. He said he was going to ask me the same thing. I told him my Xh showed up yesterday and it was just odd. My weird dreams and lack of sleep were throwing me off a little. He informed me that he is being offered that job they wanted him to interview for, but now they want him to possibly start ASAP. He has mixed emotions. He said he would be moved to a different location, not sure where at this point. It might mean leaving his students midway through the year and that bothers him.

But, I could tell he was troubled by something else. We rarely talk about personal things at work. He told me he is really trying to adjust to being a full time dad of a 3 year old because his STBX was fighting for full custody at first, but now she switched to 50/50, but he said all of February, she has only had the kid for 2 days and 2 hours. I knew about the 2 days earlier this month, as that would have been the weekend he went away with his friends skiing. I picked up on the 2 hours. He said yah, she was supposed to have him this weekend. She picked him up and took him to a museum, one he loves going to. She Face-timed my coworker as they were eating lunch and she had ordered something for the kid to eat and he didn't want it. She was angry with him for not eating his lunch. My coworker said that he told her that the kid got sick after the last time he ate that particular thing, and while it was a stomach virus, he now associates getting sick with that particular item. She should know this. He said she ended up dropping him off back at my coworker's house after 2 hours and said he could have him all weekend, she had things to do. He said he has no problem being a dad, but it is bothering him that he has to fight for custody now.

We talked about how it is tough when you loved someone and now you are gathering "evidence" to essentially use against them. It is not an easy pill to swallow.

And then I made him laugh when I pulled something out of my bag. He was ready to steal it from me, but I told him I would pick him up a copy. I had brought in a bunch of books that are "design wise" incredible books to show examples of typography and design. There aren't too many of my students who have seen some of these, but I should have known my coworker would know "The Stinky Cheeseman".

He thanked me for making him laugh and was off to his classes.

On my way home, I thought about this insanity when it comes to the kids in some of these situations. I will never understand in my situation how Xh could walk away from the kids in essence. Or how he favored one over the other and then comes back like it is no big deal. Nor will I ever understand how people use kids as if they are bargaining chips. In my coworker's case, it is clear his STBX has never really wanted to be a mom. She wants the money, but not the responsibility, nor does she really want to handle the day to day parenting stuff. She wants the fluff, if that. So, why not give the kid to the person who does want him and visit the kid? Why disrupt the kid's life that way? As a M, I just don't get it, at all. It is probably the part of these situations that infuriates me the most. And while I don't like the idea of a parent abandoning their kids, I am not sure the in and out of their lives is a better solution. I just wish those people with all of their issues would quit using the kids as emotional battering rams. The level of self absorption is sickening. Anyone on the outside can see how F'ed up that is to want custody, but only on paper.

In my coworker's case, it is a huge change in his life. And he said awhile ago, it isn't easy when he wants adult interaction, as his priority and responsibility is to take care of his son. I told him it is not easy being the only sane parent, and I suppose I am fortunate my kids are older. It would have been so much tougher if they were younger, IMO. I guess for that, I should be grateful that if Xh was going to go into crisis, he waited until at least the kids were more self-sufficient.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#30: February 25, 2020, 03:21:09 AM
OK.... Last in, first out....

Mid-Lifers favoring one child over another (sounds remarkably familiar) or just running away from the responsibility of being a parent (also familiar but at least not happening to me) seems to be part of the script... Just as much as Mid-Lifers trying to weaponize the kids against the LBS even if they don't want the responsibility of the kid(s). It really does point to a massive lack of emotional intelligence or empathy while int he tunnel and it is hard on the remaining sane parent.

Af far as growing corn... Hmmmm ... I wish him luck. As far as I understand, it takes a certain amount of corn growing in order for it to bear ears due to cross-pollination but, as an ag student, S will know that.  There was corn planted in a field near my apartment a couple of years back that I kept track of on FB, partly as a joke... The "Corn Pictures" became pretty famous among my friends to the point that, when I went of vacation, people were asking where the Corn Pic of the day was....

xH missing out... Yep... Well, those are the consequences of his actions.... I guess he will have to get used to it... Also, I expect he is Monkey-Braining his little heart out about the comment that "you are corrupting someone in Law Enforcement...." Velociraptor mode ACTIVATE!  And combine it with a truth spear to the forehead... That will mean that, combined with the upgrades to the house, you are no longer sitting in your pretty gilded cage waiting for him to maybe get his head out of his ..... fog...

The dust-up with D was, quite honestly, a long time coming.... and your putting it to her bluntly that you are NOT her F and haven't left them alone without a trace, that you also have a right to having a life, that you also have the need to have time to yourself and decompress, it was all completely appropriate. D is now of the age where compromises need to be made in order to have a harmonious living environment and that there are other peoples' needs to consider other than her own.

That being said, I am sure that she had a massive case of the nerves before her coffee date....

Interesting that xH was asking lots about you.... Too bad that it is no longer any of his concern... by his own choice...

Weird dreams?  New Moon was the 23rd.... Blame it on the moon....
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#31: February 25, 2020, 04:40:31 AM
Quote
Xh left shortly after that. D expressed what I was thinking. That was Xh is being shown what he has missed. If he wants to make amends, he has to realize he has missed out on a lot.

Well, that is just the reality of life isn't it? One can have disinterested (guarded) compassion for how uncomfortable that might feel, like being an outsider I suppose who no longer knows the 'in jokes'. But he won't repair his relationships with the kids unless he accepts that as reality when you disengage from people. Sounds like your kids dealt with it well though, and actually the only person who felt out of place was your xh. There was a time when he was like Mr Bertie Big Pants and the rest of you like nervous cats on a WTF hot tin roof....so nice to see that it isn't that way any longer.

Completely get your errrr, nope reaction to sending him worthy interns  ::)
I have always placed great weight on how I share and offer my network with others bc it is also about my individual relationships. It's an act of trust really, quite an intimate thing.  And your xh is not predictable as he was is he even if his technical abilities are the same? No way you want to muddy that metaphorical (broad) moat lol. Not sure i'd trust your xh with a hamster right now  ;) ( and what did happen with the anxious chewy dog?)

I have found myself musing on corn offerings, devices and creations....MLC corn dollies? Woven shelves? Burglar alarm alternative? Trimmed and shaped big pictures like a corn mural? You may be laughing, Mourning, but a) I've been to Iowa and met people who are obsessive about corn lol and b) remember the whole tiny cow idea..... ;)
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#32: February 25, 2020, 04:51:49 AM
Thinking about the Corn Offerings jogged loose a memory....

What ever happened to "The Hand" that was kept in the closet? Wasn't it something like....

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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#33: February 25, 2020, 08:20:23 AM
UrsaMajor & Treasur- The funny thing was no one tried to make Xh feel out of place. It simply happened because those kids have been around me, most of them at least for the last 3 years. They have come to me for advice, for needed hugs and they are here most weekends. During the summer it was sometimes daily for some of them. So, it is natural for those little jokes and things to occur.

It had to be an odd thing for Xh when the youngest of the neighbor kids came over. He was only 8 months old when he moved in so many years ago. He has been like a 3rd kid over the years, as he spent countless hours following S around. He is now a senior in high school and in the past 2 years, he has grown much taller and is a very brawny kid. Xh did not recognize him at first. That had to be a complete shock for him. I am betting he hasn't seen him in at least 2 years.

But, it is Xh's choice what he does with the time he had and the realization that this is not going to be easy. Even if the kids roll out the red carpet for him, he has a lot of work to do to regain any sort of real access to their lives.

As for the corn. Corn is big around here as well, although not as hardcore as Iowa. LOL. But, it is one of the main crops in the area. Our road goes from some alternating between some years having alfalfa or corn. Yah, I remember the tiny cow idea - LOL. And so do the kids. From time to time, they send me a picture of a tiny cow with big brown eyes. Cute, but no. LOL

As it is we have an overabundance of chickens and ducks it seems running about the orchard. The neighbor's original chickens multiplied and went from 16 to 6 after the Red Tail Hawks picked them off, to now being a group of 32 chickens. This batch is smarter and stays out of the woods. The ducks are not nearly as prolific and they went from 2 back to 4 or 5.
At least they are staying in the orchard at this point and are avoiding my front yard and the back deck.

As for "The Hand". This summer, D came out while I had a fire in the fire pit. She came out with "The Hand" and asked me if it was okay if she threw it in the flames. I told her she didn't need my permission. She sat and watched it for awhile and then left. I was out there for a long time that night and it took quite a long time for it to finally disappear and become unrecognizable ashes. Since then there have been a few things D has thrown in the fire. I don't ask why. But, she has held on to some of her favorite memories and there are some lovely photos of she and Xh from a photoshoot. They needed a little girl for one of the magazine layouts and D is not only very photogenic, she is a ham in front of the camera. These are candids of she and Xh that Xh's business partner took during the break. She was only about 3 or 4 and they captured the pure joy and laughter between the 2 of them.

As for sending Xh interns, no, I don't share my contacts easily and the reality is I don't know his current skill set. And, I guard my networks as well. I am not about to go on history in this case. In the past, I knew which students I could send Xh's way or to his contacts because I knew how he operated. I just don't know now and am not about to sacrifice my own contacts. Besides, even recently he had no problem doing some character assassination of me, so I certainly am not about to just open up the gates and let myself be subjected to that type of response.

I am having a bit of an odd morning. My classes went well, and 2 of my students came to see me this morning during my one class. They come for advice and just to pop in to see me. It is funny, out of all of the students, if someone had asked me last year which 2 students would be at my door nearly every day and the one's that had blossomed, it would not have been these 2. They were surprises. They were always talented, but they both latched on to me this year for some reason. And I think it is because I kicked their butt last year, but in a very nurturing way. They both knew I cared and wasn't going to put up with lame excuses from either of them. Most of their excuses were because they didn't know how to do something. Both are incredible athletes so I used to just push back and say that wouldn't fly on the field, it wasn't going to fly in my class. They make my morning now when I see them, simply by just popping in to say hello.

I am struggling a bit with my emotions though in general. I am not sure what I am supposed to be doing at the moment or where I fit perhaps. It is a passing feeling and I have had it before, where I feel as though I am standing looking at a path and having fears, full well knowing I have to take a deep breath and just go with my gut. I know it is not going back with Xh, but his appearance and timing is just helping to throw things off even more. Having just unloaded my emotions the weekend before, I was already in processing mode. And life has been throwing other things my way as well. I need a good long walk, but that isn't happening today.

And, I will admit I saw something posted on Facebook that didn't help. A friend of mine, who has been married to her H since she graduated high school posted the loveliest birthday wishes for her H. She never posts things and her reason for this particular public post was because he just lost his sister. She wanted to make sure people didn't forget that he was having an extra hard time with the birthday wishes.

And the truth is, I know both of them well. They are the epitome of what a partnership should look like. They have had hardships, but there is no doubt how much they work at their marriage. And they have such mutual admiration, respect and love for one another.

I was happy for the two of them and yet there was this pang of envy. What is that even like to have someone care that much? There was a time when I had that in my life, and seeing that post made me realize how much I miss that type of relationship. And it is not the public acknowledgement aspect. It is the knowing someone has your back. On the flip side, I am so grateful they have each other and they truly were made for each other.

I have been thinking a great deal about my own independent side as well. I have had to become self-sufficient. It is not easy to now add a man into the mix and perhaps give the perception that I have a need to be in control or don't like being cared for sometimes. It makes me wonder at times if it makes it seem like I don't want or need someone.

When it comes to my independence, there are also times where if I care about someone I put their needs before mine and it might seem like my decision is based on my need to be independent. And it is in part due to a conversation that my coworker and I had yesterday. He made the comment that I go places by myself all the time and I am fiercely independent. I don't think most people realize that I am not so fierce. When I walked into that art opening last weekend, I was okay once I saw my colleagues, but had I not seen anyone I knew, I would have looked at the work, and enjoyed it, but would have been shaking on the inside. If I have someone with me that I feel secure with, then yes, I will be more bold. It takes a lot for me to enter into places by myself. It has been something that I have had to navigate after MLC and BD. People forget, that in the past, I had an Xh who liked the spot light, I don't. And I would prefer to not have to be so "independent".

The gloomy weather is not helping me at all. Fortunately, I am supposed to meet a good friend of mine for dinner tonight. She and I try and get together at least every 6 months to really blow off steam.

I looked at the calendar this morning for one of my high school students as he was asking about a day off in March. I laughed and said I don't get that day off, but I did notice both of the colleges are off the same week this year, so that is a good thing for me. As the colleges take up the bulk of my day, that will be more like a break than this past week from the high school.

Maybe mid-March will really give me a proper time off to reboot. IDK. I need a couple of days where no one "needs" me. It was part of the discussion D and I had. I tried to explain to her that all week long I have people who need me and ask for my help. There are times, I sometimes just want a bit of breathing room to rest up before the next wave of "needs".

Fortunately, D is going to a basketball game this weekend. She asked me if I wanted to go and I was torn. It is at my alma mater and it would be fun, but I decided that I would rather not go this time. It may give me some time to do something I want to do. We will see - LOL
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#34: February 25, 2020, 08:34:25 AM
You used the word 'somber' I think to describe the air for a moment after xh left. One of those 'gosh reality' breaths that we all feel sometimes. Perhaps that is the true karma, Morning, the real consequences which are not designed or engineered by anyone, they just are. As true for us as the MLCer I suspect, those small moments. Not necessarily good or bad, just different. Like a parent suddenly realising a child is beginning to be a young adult maybe. Or a mundane moment that suddenly seems like a tremendous blessing. Tbh more and more I think that is where life really gets lived.

We get those moments too don't we? Like your friend's FB post. A quick gulp moment with a bunch of different feelings and thoughts. I have had that too...it isn't envy I think, but just a little marker that I miss something that mattered to me and I can only miss it bc I genuinely know what it felt like to have it. And I no longer have it.

We're all allowed those moments aren't we? And as we learn, they do pass. But I hope you get some breathing space for yourself, my friend. And that the universe does not send either more chickens or tiny cute little cows with flirty eyes lol.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#35: February 26, 2020, 04:53:11 AM
Well, let's see....



and, for the chickens and ducks?

and

Seems a pretty fitting demise for "The Hand" especially after D has been talking to it wrt her F for a while now.

Yeah, sending xH interns... Yeah... right ... sure thing buddy... Probably around the same chance as a cold day in a very hot place... or if you hate them...

The odd mood? I sent you a PN...

And, last but not least, those couples that are together since God was a baby and made dirt and are still going strong... There is most certainly a bit of WTFery that goes on but, the bottom line is that we'd planned on being one of those couples too until we weren't anymore because one half of the couple decided that, for whatever reason, MLC or otherwise, they didn't share that same vision with us... and so they blow everything up in an "if I can't have it, no one can have it" fit of adolescent pique so, yeah, maybe a bit of jealousy but not of the kid that says "since I don't have it, you shouldn't either" (like some of the Mid-Lifers we see discussed here) but rather the kind that sighs wistfully and wishes we were still like they are.. .

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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#36: February 26, 2020, 06:41:51 AM
Treasur - Somber and perhaps sobering - witnessing the reality of how Xh's physical and emotional distancing has affected the situation. But, that is in fact the consequences of his crisis. It isn't like he was left out on purpose. S's close friends know the pain S and D have gone through, so they certainly aren't about to just gush over Xh. They were guarded, but Xh was lucky the one friend was not there, or he would have been hit with serious truth darts.

Oh, UrsaMajor - that cow is really cute. Not helpful - LOL.

As for my neighbor's poultry, they joke about just that. There is one chicken in particular that seems to like to perch itself on top of their gas grill. We keep wondering if it has some sort of wish to become a sacrificial chicken or it is protecting the others from a grilled fate. And the reason they got the chickens in the first place was the W wanted fresh eggs. And she figured she could sell them. Problem is, we live in farm country and fresh eggs are rather plentiful. She can't give away those eggs. And now that there is only one kid living at home, she can only make so many egg dishes. They never anticipated having so many chickens. LOL. The one good thing is my orchard is going to be bug free at this rate.

The hand, yes it seems like a proper send off. It really was such an odd thing. Very different than the things he used to get for her. He knew her aesthetic before MLC. This was not only something she wouldn't like, it was a true WTF is that supposed to be. It wasn't even good folk art. It was just plain odd. But then, he also bought pin-up girl paintings that trip and he gave S one, which was actually tastefully done. Strangely, he kept the painting that actually looked like his M, which my SIL, the one with a Phd in psychology, and I plenty to think about. All very bizarre.

I am not sure I ever had what my friends have in terms of marriage. I had a good solid marriage, but this couple has one of those that movies are made of. And it is not a fairytale by any stretch of the imagination. But, a true love story for sure. And I am happy for them. I love that there are really stories like that in a world that is so messed up.

My college class was out early last night. Xh's former student had a meltdown last week about her senior thesis project. She was walking out the door and I noticed the stress hanging on her. I stopped her and simply asked if she was okay. I told her she didn't need to share, but I was there if she needed someone to vent to. She full on bubbled over. She had an amazing idea about her senior project, but wasn't sure she would make the deadline and then she tried something and it didn't work, etc. I told her to stop a minute, take a breath and we were going to shake this thing out.

The longer I teach, the more I realize that I was very lucky to have been raised in the household I was. I had parents that didn't let me hang out there to figure everything out on my own, but they also didn't hover over me. They helped me problem solve, usually prompting questions that helped me untangle things. They guided me. More and more, I find students have great ideas but get caught up in how the final should look, but they don't think about structure or what if that doesn't work. They get caught up in the fact that their original idea isn't working.

I spent a lot of time last week with this young woman talking about backing off the final idea a bit and talking about the structure that was going into this. She is building sculptures, something she has never done, first of all. I told her that first of all she shouldn't beat herself up, and in any of those cases, you seek out someone who has worked in that medium for guidance. I laughed and said lucky for her, I have a little bit of exposure to sculpture.  ::) When I explained she needed a skeletal like structure to hold it together, especially since these are relatively large structures, I could see the wheels turning. We talked about the need to sometimes step back and think about the "boring" parts - the guts, even in a magazine layout. I told her it was much like wanting to frost a cake and decorate it before letting it fully bake.

Yesterday, she came bouncing in and after class showed me her structures. She said it came together so much better. I said it was a fantastic step and then asked her what the one figure was going to be doing. As we were talking about it, I could see she realized that the wire she chose was not going to hold up to the potential weight. She started to say she was going to have to pull it apart, until I told her to stop, breath and think it out. She came up with winding more wire around the existing structure. In this case that was a good solution. Before she left, she thanked me for last week. She said it really helped her immensely.

It made me think about my own problem solving. It took me a long time to find that skill and I am not always good at it. I have my meltdowns and certainly can mind firetruck things. But, when Xh was at home and in full on MLC, I lost that skill. Even basic things I couldn't get my brain to connect the dots at times. Nor did I trust my solutions. Everything I did was going to be wrong in my mind. And it could be something I had expertise in and had done for years. I questioned everything. I still question myself, but more at the right times now, because I certainly don't know it all in any area of life.

I met my friend for dinner last night. She had to teach until 6:45, so it was a late date. Her D showed up and hung out with us. I had to laugh because they had secured a spot at the bar, because her D works at another restaurant and knows the other bartenders in the area. The restaurant was very busy for a Tuesday night, but then it is a popular hang out for many of the college students and professors in the area.

We laughed most of the night. My friend and I met several years ago. She had a similar upbringing to Xh and he was hitting his MLC just when she and I became friends. We had an immediate connection and she was there when I was teaching during this whole mess. She watched me hold it together for my students and at work, but knew I was just existing. It would be a couple of years later that she admitted she was on the verge of a MLC herself and while her marriage isn't perfect, she sought out therapy realizing the hell I was going through. She didn't want that for her kids or her H. We talked about it at length last night. I said the difference was she sought help and that is what most MLCers don't do. Although there are a few who do. I told her last night that had she gone MLC, I wouldn't have been hanging out with her now. She laughed but knew what I meant.

Whether it was timing or fate, who knows? What was funny was how our lives intertwined though in odd ways. And she and I have more than that in common, fortunately. Yet, our paths have crisscrossed at times when we didn't know each other. Last night, her D happened to bring up where she works. I laughed and said she probably waited on my Xh and his schmoopie several times. When I told her who he was going out with, the whole crew on a certain night a week, she said "OMG" and then asked me if I remembered her BF. She said, "yah, the one woman who was with your Xh and his friends put the moves on my BF. The woman was relentless, all the while her own BF was standing right there". She said it was a constant problem, as her BF is a bartender at this place.

I laughed and knew who it was. It wasn't the OW, but her good friend. I laughed because my F always says it in Dutch "soort zoekt soort", which is translates literally to "sort seeks sort". I described the woman to my friend's D - her eyes got big. I said, yes, I have her to thank for getting my Xh involved with her merry band of misfits. She was the hygienist who was fired for taking men's names off the charts and contacting them, one being my Xh.

My friend said she cannot believe how much happier I am.

When we left, her D walked her to her car. I had been fortunate enough to get a space right in front of the restaurant. It was late and the idea of walking to my car alone was not appealing had it been a block or 2 away.

This morning, I had a feeling of insecurity as a car slowed down while I was out walking the dog. It was not someone I recognized, nor a familiar car that comes through that time of day. The dog's hair went up and that did it for me. She too seemed to realize something seemed out of place. It was one of those moments I felt strange and I found myself checking to see who else was around today. My neighbor was home, so that eased my nerves a little.

Today, I pick my parents up from the airport. I am sure they will be anxious to get home and go to see my uncle. It will be good to have them back home. I am preparing myself though for the return of the daily early morning texts from my M. LOL
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#37: February 26, 2020, 12:48:34 PM
There was an update on my uncle. My aunt has been talking to my M now, and my sister and I are no longer in the loop. It is not because she is upset with either of us, this is just my aunt's normal routine. When my M is not available, my sister and I get countless calls. Once my M returns or is back in rotation, my sister and I cease to exist. Which is fine. It seems the family GP, who is the head of the hospital, came to look in on my uncle and he called a meeting with the other doctors. Seems, when my uncle had his procedure a few weeks ago, the dosages and medications were changed. They had not been able to find any signs of stroke, but since the GP has been the family doctor for years, he knows the different histories and right away began looking at the medications. The issue was the blood pressure was way too low and they have now figured out that it is most likely either a drug interaction or dosage issue. It is unfortunate that it wasn't figured out earlier, but it is also a blessing and I told my M that I hoped my aunt sees it as such and doesn't go all negative. But, knowing my aunt, this will give her fuel for her toxic side. I hope I am wrong. My M agreed.

I had a nice quiet morning and a plan in place before I was to pick up my parents. I had checked their flight a couple of times for arrival times and it was on schedule to land on time. My M had told me last night to just pick them up outside and not to park, so to plan on giving them about half an hour after their flight landed to pick them up. I was going to just go there when the plane landed, as the weather was good and figured it would be a bit early. No problem. I was stopping at the bank, going to the car wash and putting gas in their car. I had plenty of time. Yah, that did not happen. I got a call from them as I was leaving the house with more than enough time to get to the airport. Seems the pilot made fantastic time. They had already landed, nearly an hour and 15 minutes earlier. They told me not to rush, they would get a cup of coffee and watch the planes.

None of my original plans worked out. Oh well. LOL

When I picked up my parents, they were at the curb waiting, and before I could even get out of the car, they were loading up their things. I noticed my M looked "off". She winced when she got in the car. I took one look at her and asked why her cheek was swollen. Seems she tripped and fell a couple of days ago on a cobblestone sidewalk. She is feeling "old". I told her anyone can trip and fall. My F said she didn't want to worry my sister and I. I laughed and said "gee and I wonder where my sister and I get that from"  ::) And so I got the full accounting. My M said her friend they were visiting said she is probably just bruised. I looked at my F and he confirmed what I thought, she didn't just hit her cheek, she went down and stopped with her wrist and hit her ribs. I reminded her that my F broke his leg and walked around on it for 10 days before going to the doctor because friends said it was just bruised. She knows she is not going to win this battle and I told her that not only will I be hounding her, I have my sister on board, my F and now both of my kids will be after her. She laughed and said there was no defeating D and S - grandchildren will win that battle for sure. I told her if my 2 needed reinforcements, my sister's kids will pile on. So, today, she was going to go home and rest and tomorrow will call the doctor.  ::)

We stopped along the way and picked up lunch. My parents were so grateful I had been able to make time to come and get them. They told me about their trip and I was glad they had at least been able to do some things that have been on their wish list of places to visit.

They asked about the kids and I mentioned Xh. My M's comment was, that he truly is not well and is really such a lost soul. Yes, he is.

They asked me about the weather and what the forecast was. We got on the subject of snowmen, not sure why it came up now, but I took them home by what had been an enormous snow man. The height was still there, but seems with the warm weather, the snowman has been on an extreme diet. Although my F and I noted that the way the ice melted it looks like a strange homage of a combination of Edvard Munch 'The Scream' and a Giacometti sculpture. I didn't have time to stop and take a photo. Perhaps this weekend sometime, as the weather is going to be cold enough to keep it in it's distorted shape. By next week, it will be a puddle with warm weather returning.

D called and is stressed out. Oh yay - I can hardly wait. LOL

I know what part of the stress is, and it is normal. I told her she needs to find a way to work through this somehow. It used to be running. She has to find a physical activity that gives her that release she had when she ran. She is not going to respond to yoga, she has tried that. The issue is her ankle and the continued nerve issue that flares up. She said she needs to start trying some things out, because running is what helped her manage this type of anxiety.

I know that part of what is hanging over her is the encounter with Xh. She is processing. And, I am reminded of when Xh used to pull "touch and go" with me. I don't know if this is a legitimate attempt at reconnecting, a check-in, lip service or if it was legitimate, will he do the work. None of us have the answers, and I suspect not even Xh knows himself. The problem is, I can only be here for D and it may mean letting her vent and take out her frustrations to shake out the emotions. It is not a green light for her to make me the whipping post, it is just realizing she needs to shake out the feelings. And that alone is not an easy thing to be around. While D operates very differently from me, I see now how tough it had to be on the people that loved me and supported me to go through similar situations and have to wrestle through it.

I am so looking forward to the day when we can look back and say "glad that is over". Right now, it just seems to bubble up still. That said, I will admit, it is a 1000 times better than it was.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#38: February 27, 2020, 12:49:19 AM
At least your parents got back safe and sound... an hour and  a half early is VERY impressive. the pilot must have caught the jet stream in the right direction... There have been cases where a commercial aircraft making 600 knots has a ground speed close to 1000 knots because of the tail wind...

And getting mom to a Doc is probably a good idea...

As for xH being a LBITG (Lost Ball in Tall Grass), yeah, mom's got it pegged....

Now if D would just find an appropriate outlet for her stress, life would be good...
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House sold & separated - Mar 2016
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A "friend" will not "stand by you" no matter what you do. That is NOT a friend. That is an enabler. That is an accomplice.
A REAL friend will sit you down and tell you to your face to stop being a firetrucking idiot before you ruin your life and the lives of those around you.

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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#39: February 28, 2020, 09:46:25 AM
UrsaMajor - I was talking to my parents about their flight. I think there were a combination of factors. They said the whole flight seemed to just line up. They took off a bit earlier than anticipated, and the weather cooperated, clearly. They landed and were able to get to the baggage retrieval without delays, etc.

My M is avoiding my sister and I. We have been very nice about it, but trying to convince her to go and see a doctor is tough. She keeps saying she is fine, and her ribs aren't broken. I am not worried about her ribs, tbh. I think she did more than sprain her wrist. She told me the swelling is down, etc. I haven't seen her in a couple of days and D is going to take a stab at getting my M to see the orthopedic. When I picked them up the other day, we stopped to get groceries. My F had to carry her purse and she could barely barely lift her cup of coffee. I gently reminded her that my F didn't think he had a broken leg either and walked around for 10 days on it. It is going to take a little encouragement to get her to go. She is a wonderful caretaker, but a lousy patient. LOL

The weather took a bit of a turn and yesterday's commute was really rather dicey. But, as I had explained to someone recently it is an odd area I live in. The microclimates make it so very strange at times. What made it tough yesterday was not the snow falling. It was the high winds blowing across the open fields and pulling up the light dusting of snow, white outs, combined with the rain that had fallen the night before, that was freezing. The patches of black ice combined with white out conditions was a challenge. I left the high school and decided to go into the university early, figuring on a long commute.

The commute was a little unnerving at times, I will admit. I had packed a bag, just in case I found myself needing to stay overnight.

The traffic was light, and the wind was howling, but it was strangely quiet most of the way there. I was at a 4 way stop, when I heard a faint sound, and looked across the field. With the wind and snow, I couldn't see it at first, but there were thousands of snow geese. I smiled, as I have been waiting to see if I was going to see them this season. I get such a sense of peace when I see them now.

And, true to how things are in this area, I arrived at the top of the hill leading down to the university, and the snow just stopped. The ground was mainly green and the wind was still blowing, but the sun was shining. The lake had been like glass the other day, and yesterday, the surface was being disrupted by the wind. But it was beautiful out. With the good weather near the college, I had more than 2 hours before my class, so I drove out a couple of miles and went to a restaurant and had brunch and sent D a picture of the beautiful latte the young woman made for me. I rarely take pictures of my food, unless it is for a client's project, but this was too pretty to not share. Besides, I knew D would appreciate the sunlight hitting the burnt orange coffee mug.

The drive home was like a completely different day. The weather cleared up, but the snow geese had moved on. That simply means, I am going to have to go out driving this weekend in search of my elusive geese.  ::)

S is bringing his roommate home for the weekend, but they are off to go to a car show or something of that nature tomorrow. D is going with her BF to a basketball game and will be gone all day as well. So, tomorrow, I am alone most of the day. My plan is to put the final trim on the windows in the kitchen and finishing the upholstery for the corner.

I am thinking a nice afternoon, cooking a midday meal, pouring some wine, putting on some music and just tackling some of these projects sounds perfect.  :)
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Trusting I am on the right path
#40: February 28, 2020, 10:28:52 AM
The sound of geese always feels like an encouraging hug to me. Not sure why. Just does.  :)
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#41: February 28, 2020, 01:42:44 PM
The sound of geese always feels like an encouraging hug to me. Not sure why. Just does.  :)

Treasur - I get that. When it comes to the sound of the Canada Geese, it signals Fall and Spring are arriving. Although, they stay a bit longer in my area due to the weather patterns. As for the snow geese, it is a special event. They are only here for a short time and are only in certain areas. They can be rather elusive. There are people who share on social media where they have been spotted in the area and you can come upon people pulled over just to catch a glimpse of them. Catching them taking off is an incredible thing to witness. For me, yesterday it was such a nice surprise, as they were well camouflaged - the only thing that made me pause and realize what was going on was I heard them and then caught sight of the sharp contrast of the black on their wings.

There are many spiritual references used with the goose. I spent quite a bit of time researching their significance back at the height of the MLC madness. They often represent loyalty and courage. There are some cultures that believe a goose is a sign that you are finding, or nearing your purpose in life, or that which makes your heart full. The more geese there are in a flock, some believe you are closer to your heart's desire.

Now, how much truth lies in any of it? I have no idea. I know for me they bring the sense of calm and direction. When they fly over my house, I will stand and watch them change formation and it never gets old. I have often thought how fascinating it is that they take turns and change formation in such a well choreographed manner.

Now, on the ground, they do potentially come to be a little bit of a problem. They are ultra protective and surprisingly big. LOL.

My toxic aunt and my uncle once owned a goose. That darned goose loved my uncle. No one was able to get anywhere near him when he was outside. She imprinted herself on him and she would attack anyone who tried to get his attention. If I recall, they finally had to give it away when it attacked the kids. My aunt, now laughs about it, but she hated that goose. LOL

My sister called and D was sitting with me at the gallery. D shared with my sister what I was wearing. I had put on a pair of my leather leggings this morning. My sister likes to just bust my chops, as does D. The pants are a cordovan color and I admit hanging up they look very different than on. My sister saw them hanging in my closet one day and asked where my cape was. I gave her a look and she told me they looked like superhero pants. Once she said that, and D heard, I know every time that I put them on I am going to hear it.

I get compliments on this outfit all the time. The truth is I know in both of their cases, my sister and D would never let me go out in public if they thought something looked bad. So, the trick with dealing with both of the comedians is to play along. I told them that yes, I needed to dress the part today, as it was critique day in my design class and I needed to be prepared to fight design crimes this morning.

In reality I was stopped by a couple of people who told me how much they liked my outfit. One of my closest friends at the college saw me and laughed, telling me she is always amazed how I can take something that could go very wrong and make it look classy. I told her the trick today with wearing them to work is to not have a full leg of leather - long sweater and high boots that broke up the leggings was the trick today. The truth was it was really cold out today and those pants are insulated inside. Besides, I was really tired this morning and they were the first thing I saw.

D stayed with me at the gallery for a long time and then her BF picked her up and they are off to go shopping. They asked if I wanted to tag along, as they would wait for me. I happily told them to go have fun. I am looking forward to meandering home and checking a couple of potential snow geese hang outs, although, based on their location yesterday, it might be a few days before they strip those fields of the fallen corn kernels before they make it to those spots. 

The truth is, it is an excuse to just take my time and to decompress before getting home. Tomorrow might be quiet at the house, but I am betting tonight I will be greeted by additional guests when I get home. S's roommate for sure, and I can guarantee at least S's GF will show up, as well as S's friend, who will be getting out of work, so he usually pops in.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#42: February 29, 2020, 07:03:31 PM
I had a slow start to my day. I had a night filled with very vivid dreams. While they weren't unpleasant, I felt melancholy this morning. They had nothing to do with Xh. They were just perhaps dreams about things I would like in my life. Things that just seem so out of reach right now.

It was not enough to completely throw me off though.

D had gone out early with her BF to get breakfast. S was off to work. The house was quiet for a long time. Then I heard voices. S's roommate was up, S's GF showed up and then I heard 2 other voices. I crawled out of bed and came downstairs to be greeted by 2 of S's other friends. They were all saying "good morning M" and I thought to myself "when did my life become this?". Not that it was bad, as they made me laugh and I am grateful they feel so comfortable. And the truth is, aside from S's GF, the other 3 come from homes where there is a M missing. Two of them have had M's that died a couple of years back. The other, her situation is just messed up all around. I know that they really do come here for an occasional kick in the backside from me and other times for a genuine hug. Their morning greetings were heart felt and it was nice to be wanted and not needed this morning.

D popped back in and got ready for the basketball game. We were laughing as she got ready, as I wanted to know if she was digging out the cheerleader outfits from my alma mater, we bought she wanted when she was about 3. She rolled her eyes, but laughed, knowing that it is one of the things I have saved in what the kids deem the "baby box". The box is more of a cedar chest and it holds things that they asked be saved for their own kids someday. S asked me what D was going to wear, I said I had no idea, as she didn't ask to borrow either of my team t-shirts I wear in the summer. And then down the stairs she came in a hat I forgot she owned and a baseball style shirt I haven't seen in a very long time. It was a shirt Xh had owned. He wore it years ago when he followed basketball. Right before he moved out he gave it to D as a sleep shirt. She has only worn it a couple of times that I can recall. S and I just looked at each other and S finally said "I haven't seen that in years". D shrugged and said she was wearing it today, but she was planning on buying a new shirt, as this one is really needing to be retired. Funny thing is the shirt is in really good shape. We told her she looked cute and she was out the door.

She sent me a cute picture of she and her BF at the game. I was glad she was having a good afternoon.

S and his friends were gone all afternoon as well.

I worked at trying to get some of the loose ends tied up on some of these projects. I had made a huge amount of progress and was happy, but I must admit, I had a couple of moments of wanting to just run away. I was falling into the trap of starting to go into thinking mode. It was the dreams popping up. I was trying to make some sense of them. But then, I realized I needed to hold to my plan today, or I would be upset with myself for running away from the projects. I need to see some big changes.

S called on his way home and asked if I had a plan for dinner. I hadn't planned on having anyone here, but S said he and his roommate wondered if I wanted them to stop and pick something up to grill. I told them not to stop at the grocery store, as I had food D would want no part of during the week, and I had things in the freezer. I suddenly felt the urge to make a full meal. It is what I had wanted to do a couple of weeks ago for my guest, but that whole idea didn't come off the way I had wanted.

For one thing, the kitchen is back to a point where I have counter space to really work. Tomorrow my F is planning on coming to help finish up the trim on the windows. I have the corner I am working on to reupholster. My kitchen is starting to feel like the way I envisioned it.

S came home and fired up the grill and his roommate, who loves to cook joined me in the kitchen as we seasoned the chicken and steak I pulled from the freezer. S was laughing asking who else was coming. I rolled my eyes and said it was Saturday night, when have there not been some of his other friends who have popped in. Besides, S loves leftovers.

As he was outside grilling, I went all out and made mashed potatoes, corn and then made something I haven't made in a long time, one of S's favorites from when he was a kid, homemade applesauce. And, sure enough, a couple of other friends showed up, and I threw some frozen french fries in the oven, just to make sure I had enough. We all sat around the kitchen and the kids had a great time. And then out of S's mouth came "you can ask my roommate, but I was sad the other night realizing my parents would never be in the kitchen cooking together again". I stood there speechless for a second. S was light about it and he said he missed the family dinners we had and Xh and I made some killer dinners. I said I was sorry, it wasn't what I ever envisioned either.  S was quick to smile and say it really was not even the cooking together, he just misses coming into the kitchen and seeing me happily cooking for the people I love.

I was surprised he was so open in front of all of his friends. He told stories about different meals I used to make and how I would make cookies or baked goods on the weekends. How I would make snacks midday for the family. He and D used to come and cook with me at times. The more S talked the more he processed. He then asked if we could work on making time to cook together again, or to have these types of meals. I said we could certainly work to do that.

We finished dinner and the friends thanked me for dinner and all went out to the garage. S came back in and gave me a hug. He said he liked seeing me enjoying cooking again. I had enjoyed making a nice warm meal and spending time in the kitchen, just relaxing. He said he isn't upset about the realization that Xh is not part of the picture, it is just that it struck him the other day that he missed the time together in the kitchen and home cooked meals.

I need to start just cooking for myself like this more. That is pouring a glass of wine and enjoying the process. My meals are often just without much thought and a necessary evil. I need to take more pleasure in even preparing a salad and having downtime. Everything has been a chore as of late. 

And I need to find a way to do this with D as well. Her diet is different than S's and maybe we need to figure out some new recipes. It makes me wonder if we need to go back to a game we played when they were kids in order to get them to try new things. We used to pick a new place to learn about in the world and we would cook something from that part of the world. While it might not be the same, maybe D and I need to do some experimenting and cull the many cookbooks Xh left behind.

S will be an easier one to cook for. There aren't too many foods he doesn't like.

I guess I am struck by the fact that I sometimes forget that some of the things I miss might also be things the kids miss. I didn't always like making meals during the week, because often we were all running around, but on the weekends, I liked taking time and cooking for those I love. Something I need to work on reintegrating.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#43: March 01, 2020, 03:17:51 PM
This morning, I was up fairly early and somewhere I found the energy that has been alluding me. It might just be a temporary thing and tomorrow I will be dragging, but today, I was on a mission.

S and his roommate were outside all day working in the garage, and D spent time with my parents, helping them with some projects, before she took off for the afternoon.

S's roommate had found a painting on a canvas some time ago that he really liked. It was thrown out during a move by someone and it had some dust and mildew on the back, but not anything major. I told him I could clean it up for him. He was shocked when he saw I not only cleaned it up, but had framed it for him.

S was shocked when he came in late in the afternoon and saw I had done several loads of laundry and had put away most of it. I had put another coat of paint on the one wall and was in the process of marking up the walls to install the new smoke alarms I had gotten.

D came in and she was laughing, saying they should all stay out of my way, because I was on a roll and asked if I had taken a break. I paused and said, I sort of did when my F popped in. I made him a fresh pot of coffee and was washing dishes as he and I visited. I guess I hadn't really taken any breaks much today.

I decided to take time to enjoy the sunshine and go outside for a little bit. I stepped out onto the back deck and I could hear the geese flying in to settle in the fields behind my house. And then I realized it wasn't just the regular geese I heard. As they came closer, sure enough, the snow geese were part of the mix. The sky was filled with thousands and it is incredibly loud. They will no doubt hang out in the area for a couple of days, as the fields were planted with corn last season.

D is not nearly as impressed by the geese. She is sort of the mind "whatever". S was gone by the time the geese had arrived. It is okay, I will enjoy the moment while I can.  :)
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#44: March 02, 2020, 04:08:53 AM
The Cooking bug must have been in the air this weekend.... Actually, I have taken to cooking on Saturdays again for "all" of us... That "all" can range anywhere from 4 (R, RD19, RS17, and myself) to 8 (the first four plus S12, D9, R's oldest S - 30 and his GF)... This Saturday it was the latter crew.

RS30's GF is an American getting her Ph. D. in Neuroscience in Mainz so I think (A gentleman NEVER asks a lady her age) around 28.  They walked in from visiting his Grandmother and I asked if they were hungry.. Of course, HE was hungry but she had this doubtful look on her face as apparently they had just had the typical German weekend afternoon "Coffee and Cake." so I wrapped my arm around her shoulders, walked over to the oven, pulled aside the dish towel hanging there and said that what I had made would warm her American heart.... She peeked in and squealed "It's a Meatloaf! I haven't had that in AGES!"  Needless to say, I was her best friend... So, a cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped meatloaf, Spinach salad with warm bacon dressing (you know, you can NEVER have too much bacon) and made from scratch mashed potatoes...



Although it was later than I had expected because xW was 2 hours late in getting the kids to me <grrrrrrr>, everyone else took it in good humor and was OK.

So, I fully understand that "cooking therapy" can be just as good... (well, almost) as wind therapy, especially if there are appreciative eaters in the group...

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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#45: March 02, 2020, 09:44:17 AM
UrsaMajor - I am thinking that Saturdays really make more sense for cooking. I feel lately like Sunday's are rushed later in the day. And then Sundays allow for just easing back into the impending Monday start of the week. I find when I cook on Saturdays it is more relaxed.

apparently they had just had the typical German weekend afternoon "Coffee and Cake."

This made me smile. I recently was talking to someone and they mentioned 3 o'clock being time for coffee and pastries. I asked if they had European ancestry. They were surprised and said yes and how did I guess. I told them for as long as I can remember, my parents have always stopped and had their afternoon break with at least a cookie and a cup of coffee. It wasn't until I lived in Belgium as a kid that I realized that was the norm. When I came back home I started taking note of that tradition being prevalent on both sides of my family.

When my M's F finally retired, they would take a drive on Saturdays or Sundays around 3 pm and would come to visit. My grandparents never expected you to sit and visit per se, the only requirement was you said hello and acknowledged their existence. But, most of the time, even as teenagers, my sister and I would take the time to sit with them. When Xh came into the mix, he asked me about the coffee at 3 pm ritual. I explained it just was part of what carried over from their traditions I suspected. He quite liked that and when we got married, he made sure we adopted that rule, especially on the weekends. In fact, Xh actually liked going out and buying my grandfather's favorite cookies and he would pop in to visit my grandparents during the week, even when I wasn't around. Of course, all of that stopped when FIL moved in and MLC came right on the heels of that change in our lives.

The bacon comment made me laugh. Bacon is not in this house much anymore. At one point, D was a bacon fanatic. Every Saturday she had bacon. When we went to the local diner, the owner would see her coming and he would have bacon on the griddle right away. D went so far as to write up a legal contract for Xh to sign, when she was 4 to make sure she had bacon on the weekend. She wrote it out on several pages and made Xh initial it. I remember telling him we were in serious trouble with that kid, and she was way too smart for her age.  ::)

Now, bacon rarely passes D's lips. She is such a health food junkie, that bacon is a rare occurrence. Now, if it is here, then she will partake, but not like she used to.

I awoke to the sun streaming into my skylights in my bedroom and I could see the geese were flying overhead. The first batch were the usual Canada Geese. But, it was shortly after that a small flock of Snow Geese flew over. I suspect the small group were scouts, looking for fields. It was a good way to start my morning - with a smile and a sense of comfort.

I was off to school where I was greeted by the young man who I gave the old camera to. He had driven to school and he was beaming. He just bought that car on his own a short time ago. He caught up to me and we talked about his photos and his weekend. His mood was pretty contagious. He is a kid that has so little and yet has such an incredible outlook.

I walked into my classroom and the room was completely pulled apart. That meant readjusting my plans on the fly. And it was fine, but not how I had envisioned things this morning.

My second class was off. That is, there was a strange vibe going on. The kids who are normally upbeat, were in a funk and the crew that normally are my problem children were really quiet. It was like a shift in the universe. Threw me for a moment. I went around and discussed the next project with each student, trying to figure out where they were at.

I finally came over to my student who last week was completely out of sorts. She was back to her normal self. She was put together and had a big smile on her face. She is a tough nut, but this is my second year with her. I remember the first week I had her in my class and she told me she hated art because she failed it in her other school. I told her I was not basing my assessment on what had been or anyone else's experience, just my own. I happened to know who she took classes from and that is a person who shouldn't be teaching at all - any subject. She went into teaching for all the wrong reasons and doesn't like people to begin with. Not sure why she does it, tbh.

This student ended up being an amazingly talented kid, but she had a wall up. It has taken a lot to break through that wall and get her to trust not only me, but others. She has grown such a huge amount in the past year and a half. I had a bit of time before the end of class and I said to her "okay, clearly this week is better, care to tell me what last week was about"? She said last week was rough and she blurted out all that had gone on. I looked at her and laughed, and said "well last week sucked". She burst out laughing and her reasons for being so miserable last week were certainly valid. She had a bad week. But, she shared what she did to get past it all. A really good cry, a lot of sleep and she said she reminded herself that she is in control of who she is - what her true core is. Last year, she had trouble because she was often reactive and I called her on it, countless times. Today, I smiled and told her she is a strong, young woman and it takes a lot to own your own faults and to fight like hell to stay true to your character. She said she realized she didn't want to be bitter. She then reminded me of something I had said to her last year. It is in those moments where sometimes you don't always realize something simple can stay with someone.

I have written about this poor young woman before in terms of finding out she had been raped at 14 and her M refused to take her to the doctor. It had explained so much about her trust issues. I was sensitive to this situation, but I didn't let on that I knew, nor did I let her in class just use that excuse to be a victim mentality. It was not always easy to not want to just protect her. Knowing what I know, the one day last year, she was in a foul mood and she said her grandmother made a flip remark about how her M should have aborted her when she had the chance. Now, I know, kids can push any of our buttons, but to say something so vile is beyond my comprehension.

Today, she reminded me and I had to leave the room after class to collect myself. It was said at the time to get her to focus on her work, and not fall victim to those horrible words. Today, she said that moment last year was when she decided not to be a victim. She recounted how it went down. She was understandably angry and didn't know I was in earshot when she was telling her friends. She was working on a self portrait and struggling with it. I walked up behind her and helped her with the portrait and then had said to her "for the record, I for one, am very glad you are on this earth". She said she knew I was sincere because I didn't harp on it and gave her my time to help her.

It's funny, after she said that, I hadn't really thought about it. There was a significant change in the dynamic she and I had. And, man, I have kicked her in the butt since then, always so aware of how delicate she is, yet puts on this outer suit of armor.

I told her today that she makes me so incredibly proud. She is dealing with her demons, and goes to the counselor regularly. And today, she happened to mention her best friend's name. I stood back and wanted to fall over. She has gotten rid of her toxic friends and the one young man in class that 2 years ago she would have never spoken to is her closest friend. There is not a romantic thing involved, and I smiled and told her it makes complete sense. She said once she let go of some of the bitterness and started to let people in, she felt an odd connection with this kid, one he also feels. I laughed and said, I know that type of feeling and knowing both of them incredibly well, I can see where it makes sense. I told her that he will be the type of friend who will be there for her all the time, but he will also be the one who will kick her butt when she needs it. She laughed and said that yes, much like I have.

I thought on the way home, that she could have easily given into the bitterness. She has made a choice, one I hope she keeps making, to be happy and to fight to stay true to her innermost core. Not everyone has seen that inner sparkle in her. And, I thought about my own fight back from my situation. Being bitter and vindictive would have been an easier path to follow in so many ways. Fighting that urge to just give in and let the situation drive my emotions was very difficult. Taking the high road was not fun and it was exhausting. But now, I am so glad I did. My student reminded me today of how difficult that fight was, but seeing that light in her was so rewarding.  :)
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#46: March 03, 2020, 02:06:04 AM
Quote from: MourningDove
"for the record, I for one, am very glad you are on this earth"


Fourteen words......

Fourteen little words

that is all it may take....

Fourteen words.....

To change someone's life for ever for the better.

Never believe that words don't matter..... don't have power

Both to hurt like the words at BD or to help....
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Trusting I am on the right path
#47: March 03, 2020, 03:04:12 AM
Someone said to me once, at my lowest moment, "Well, I know you matter". Five words. Just enough at the time. Never forgotten them.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#48: March 03, 2020, 08:48:36 AM
UrsaMajor & Treasur - It is amazing that sometimes the smallest things can make such a difference.

I cannot think back to a time when I was so beaten down by words prior to MLC. It is not that I didn't encounter my moments here and there in my adolescence, as kids can be cruel. But, those were countered by the fact that I had people who I loved and trusted in my corner. It wasn't until MLC that I felt the words cutting me to the core. The reality was the words were coming from someone I had once trusted and who had been one of the people I thought had my back.

The strange thing was I know that having people who supported me that I trusted was important, but sometimes the things that had a huge impact came in those types of moments when simple words were uttered at a time I needed to hear them. And often the person had no idea that I needed to hear them in that moment.

Today, the same student was in a bad place. Her M had shown back up at "their house". I allowed her one friend, the young man who I gave the camera to, to come sit with her. The conversation was one of letting go and needing to find a way to move past some of the hurt. I smiled and said sounds like you need a bonfire. The young man knows about my bonfires, as he and I had a conversation last year about "the 3 drawers".  He right away said "yup, sounds like a 3 drawers moment". She gave us a look of WTF. He shared the wisdom bestowed upon me by my very wise professor and she smiled saying she liked that idea. She said it sounded like a good graduation plan. He and I looked at each other and said "oh, hell no - this is something you need now". He said that was it, he had this weekend off and he and his family were going to their cabin this weekend. As she started to say she didn't want to impose, he gave me a look and I said to have at it. He used his phone to call his M in class. Permission granted and he is planning on picking her up this weekend and they are going to have a cathartic bonfire. I hope it helps her.

The funny thing was, I was having a strange morning myself. My classes were going well, but I felt very odd. I had gone to bed early, but had a less than restful night's sleep, although I am not sure. I had gone to bed in a good mood. When I woke up this morning, I just couldn't get out of my own way.

I think it was in part having pulled out several pieces of artwork to put on the walls of my living room. I have more than enough works to pick from, but I chose some that I thought belonged in the living room. And much like setting up a portfolio, I edited and tried to make it somewhat cohesive. I haven't done that since my first apartment. It wasn't based on some desire to stage it, but it started because of one piece in particular.

My uncle and his second W were both artists. When Xh and I got married they gave us a piece they collaborated on. It is one of my very favorite pieces. It represents how different their styles were, but how well they worked together. The middle piece of the 3 sections is my uncle's photography. With his second W, he found his passion for doing his own art again. My uncle, was someone I absolutely adored. And, it is not the fact that this was a wedding present, it was seeing something in that piece that was my uncle's heart filled. He had lost his passion for creating for awhile. It was something that always made me smile when I would see it hanging on the wall.

And for a long time, it was something Xh loved. But, when MLC hit, he wanted it removed from the house. I put it in storage and recently had it on the wall in a hallway. But, not too long ago, I removed the oversized mirror from above the fireplace and decided to put that piece up above the mantel. It was originally because the colors and size made sense. The kids came in and smiled when they saw it. They like the piece, but didn't know the story behind it. They said it is a special piece, about being individuals but in some places blending their lives.

It never was something I equated with my own wedding. It was a wedding gift but it is funny, when Xh wanted that off the wall, he made some comment about it no longer having any significance and now I realize that was part of the whole crisis -- remove traces of the life that had been. It was a reminder to him. For me it is not a reminder of my marriage, but of my uncle. But it is also a piece that I simply like aesthetically. That said, it is more abstract and not an easy one to just hang things around. It is a pretty bold piece. But, I was determined to keep it there.

I started to pull out some other pieces and found some that I had inherited from my friend who passed away nearly 2 years ago. He had collected artwork and my sister and I kept some of the pieces when we inherited the estate. I haven't looked at some of them since having them shipped here. I unwrapped the pieces and put them along the wall, and strangely, there were pieces that just fell into place. And then came out a couple of very significant pieces for me.

I have my own paintings, which I don't often hang my own work. The ones I have on the wall represent my fight back from that precipice that I nearly fell of at BD #2. They are pieces that genuinely make me happy. Reminders of the mountain I had to climb. The other pieces that have come into the mix, though, that was rather shocking. One, a landscape I bought right after BD #2. I found it at an estate sale, hidden on a corner wall on the last day of the sale. I took it to the cashier who said it was a shock that no one bought that, but she was sure it was something people didn't see in that little alcove. She sold it to me for $20 and she smiled knowing what I had. It was worth a whole lot more than that. She said the directive from the estate owners was they wanted it all gone by the end of the day as they didn't want to deal with any of it. It was 3 pm and they closed down at 4 pm. I had stumbled upon that sale and she said to me that the artwork found the right owner. I pulled it apart when I got home and paid to have it properly reframed. It would be the first piece I purchased for myself. It would be followed by a photograph of a swamp which is part of the gallery of work.

And I have 3 pieces that people always ask me where I got them and it makes me laugh. The 3 pieces are D and S originals from when they were in middle school. Gifts to me for Mother's Day.

Rounding out what I have right now though is the final unfinished piece my friend started before succumbing to her terminal illness. What struck me last night was the pieces I had chosen were significant to me personally. None of these are chosen because they match the decor. They are very emotional connections. And, perhaps what hit me was the reality that the 5 pieces I had against the fireplace, just organizing all are from people I loved who are no longer with me.

It is not that these pieces will make me sad all the time. On the contrary, they will make me think about fond memories. But, seeing them all together made me pause and I could feel a tightening in my throat, that feeling like the tears were going to come rushing out. They didn't last night. I had a wonderful distraction that came at the right time.

But, in the light of morning, I came down the stairs and there were those pieces. I cried on my way to the shower. And it wasn't so much a sadness of what is no longer, but maybe a reminder of all that has been lost in the last few years. I showered and wondered if I needed to rethink my choices of artwork.

With all of my pondering and feelings welling up, I was suddenly realizing I was running way behind. I had to just throw together my whole wardrobe, and didn't have time to do a proper job with my hair. Contacts were not an option today. I was able to get my makeup on and my hair dried enough to pull back into a more professional ponytail. I grabbed jewelry I had put down the other day on the cabinet. I was out the door feeling less than put together.

I flew into school getting there just in time. I was with my students and had my moments of happiness, but this feeling of "meh" was lingering and I just felt less than attractive this morning.

And as I was getting ready to pull out of the parking lot, I got a text from my coworker. He said he was supposed to let me know that my one student told him how special I was. He said he would relay the message and he agreed. And he added that I looked sexy and beautiful today. He made sure that I knew that was his assessment and that was not a message from the student. It made me laugh and I know if I looked like a mess, he would be the first to ask me if everything was okay because I was not pulled together. I wanted to know what prompted that and he said he said so many times I give of myself that he doesn't think I hear these things often enough. I joked that if he was buttering me up, that no, I had no desire to babysit his S this weekend.  ::)

I am not sure of his assessment, but it made me feel better. I needed it and it was enough to shake my odd feeling. When I came into the house to switch gears, before getting ready for the university, I stopped and looked at the artwork again. I was ready to consider putting away everything if I felt the same sensation. But, as I looked at the setup, it all gelled and the pieces relate to one another in their colors and certain aspects. Today, the fact art the 5 are connected to people that are no longer with me physically, they are in fact part of my very happy memories. And were important to my own support system. So, today, the same pieces together are not making me sad, but are bringing me comfort. And, it is not to say that 6 months down the road, I don't switch it up and change the work that hangs on the walls, as I often swap things out, but for now, this seems to be symbolic for me.

And, in many ways it was that little text that changed my whole mindset. I am not sure if I would have come to the same conclusion had I walked in the door with the earlier mood hanging over me.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#49: March 04, 2020, 06:49:58 AM
A friend of mine and were talking last night and both of us were talking about this odd mood we seem to be in. I have had some good days and it is not a depressed feeling. It is more like autopilot, but not.

In class, I am able to pull from my inner energy and I am genuinely happy. And it is not that I am unhappy, it is this odd feeling in my down time that something is missing.

It is in part just tired and some of life catching up with me. Maybe this is "normal" and I am not used to what that is like.

And, I am not of the mind that I somehow have to be "on" at all times. I like my down time. Certainly, if I look back to the last few weeks, I have had some wonderful times. This is a different feeling. A longing for something else. A combination of bottled up passion and desires that I can't seem find an outlet for. And those passions run the gamut, it is not just one thing I am searching for.

I have to get out of my own head. This is not helping me. Time to switch gears and see if I can shake some of these thoughts loose and unravel them.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#50: March 04, 2020, 07:49:49 AM
Autopilot -



So, what's it going to be? Backroad driving or at gallery opening?  ;)

Or maybe a winter time Bonfire?
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Trusting I am on the right path
#51: March 04, 2020, 08:18:50 AM
Any possibility that the feeling is bc you are finally 'safe' enough and ok enough to breathe out after a few exhausting years? Or a subconscious prod that your bucket needs to be topped up bc it has been watering a lot of places for a while?  :)
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#52: March 04, 2020, 08:38:20 AM
LOL - Yes, UrsaMajor, that about sums up how I feel the past couple of days in particular.

Let's see, I did the responsible thing and chased down a couple of things that needed to be addressed that I have been avoiding for a few days. In part my procrastination was because the last few times I have spent hours on these 2 things and have gotten put on hold for what seems like eternity, only to have it not resolved. Today, I decided to just take another stab at it. Both issues easily resolved this time, which is rewarding, yet aggravating at the same time. My biggest question was if it was this easy this time, why did it take so long to resolve. Both were insurance issues for D. It boiled down to, IMO, finding the one person willing to take the time to actually correct it. You know, being billed continually for something that should have been covered by D's insurance.

I am going after the university next about my paycheck. That too is one of those things I have to chase it would seem. Computers and technology are great, but this system of sending things off to another department and never checking what happens to it, is mind boggling. They check and see that an email sent, but never follow up and make sure the next department really got it. The last time I had this happen, it was because the other department had a change in staffing, so the emails were going to a defunct email, and no one thought to forward those emails. The other department was unaware of the staffing change. So, you call the one department who says "we sent it, not our fault" and the other says "we never got it, not our fault" and no one bothers to pursue it. Maddening.

But, I am on a roll, so who knows, maybe this week, I will actually get paid and for all of my retroactive paychecks. That is not helping my mood. I am not liking dipping into my savings. However, I also know it will get resolved at some point.  ::)

Hmmm, gallery openings - none today that I know of. Gallery stop...perhaps, but I don't think that is really what I am needing.

Backroads? Maybe, but don't think that is going to do it either. I am going to go chase something for awhile and hope that does it for me. I heard there is a flock of about 100K snow geese in an area near my cousin's farm. I may go chase them for awhile, and no, not as in running into the muddy fields type of chasing.  ::)

It will satisfy part of me, but I am in a very deep thought mindset. I know I have said I need balance a zillion times. The thing I am realizing is those things that made me feel balanced are not necessarily filling my soul the same way. I need to readjust something. For one, I know that I am having moments of being mildly annoyed that my students come to me for guidance and it fuels me, but I don't have enough left for myself at the end of the day. I have witnessed a couple of my students blossom and there is this desire for a time when I was creating and not pushing others. I have to figure out the best way to go about doing that.

For a non-creative person, there may be this myth that you just make time. It isn't that simple. Creativity doesn't just ooze out of us at all times. At least not most of us. My uncle's widow and I have talked about this. She has a beautiful studio in her house, but when my uncle died, she said she couldn't create there anymore. It was too quiet in the house. She has opened up a studio in a loft with other artists. I am not sure that is what I am needing. For me it is more of a mental shift and "allowing myself" to grab time when it strikes me. I am not sure scheduling the time will work for me.

And there are other things rolling around in this head of mine that I just can't seem to make any sense of. I think I just need to tune out the daily noise and allow time to not be responsible for a couple of hours.

LOL - Treasur, I was just hitting post when your response popped up. I think you hit the nail on the head.

Yes, "the bucket needs topped off" is exactly what I am feeling. I am no longer continually plagued by MLC garbage. It floats by less and less. It so filled my time, that now, I find the time I suddenly have is making me keenly aware of how drained from this experience I have been and I want things now. There is an odd emptiness and yet I see things I crave to have in  my life. However, I am fearing some of the things are mirages, so perhaps there is a little bit of fear involved as well.

But, there is only one way to find out if it is real or if it is an illusion.  :)
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« Last Edit: March 04, 2020, 08:48:13 AM by MourningDove »

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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#53: March 04, 2020, 08:51:04 AM
I saw this elsewhere and used it in my Theology class last night.... It sounds as if it fits EXACTLY...


Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
patiently,
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own
cupped hands
and you recognize
and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worthy of rescue.
-Martha Postlewaite
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#54: March 06, 2020, 01:58:34 PM
Darn you, UM - way to make a girl well up. LOL

Okay, I have no desire nor am I of the mind I can "save the world". In fact, I am not really of the mindset, I can save anyone or fix them. But, Xh often accused me of having a huge heart and having faith in the human race as a whole. I am not so sure I fit into that category completely, but I will admit to believing some people do have it in them and I am protective of those I have faith in.

It is a double edge sword for me. Giving to my students and pushing them, often fills my bucket, but the truth of the matter is, I have really had a big leak in that bucket for a long time. I patched it up and made it stronger, but it isn't quite as full as it should be. I will also admit, that I have continued to let people dip into the bucket and have failed to keep myself in mind at times.

IDK, looking back, I had a better handle on what was "selfish" and when it was okay to allow myself to have time to fuel my own soul. I think subconsciously, I am still hearing Xh's MLC voice in my head at times. I allowed his words to filter into my head and during the periods of gaslighting, I convinced myself I was not good enough and I didn't deserve. I also took on that anything I chose to do for my own sanity or my own growth was in fact selfish. I can't even begin to count how many times I was told I was a thoughtless, selfish woman - words that had never been uttered before the MLC. And, I had the pleasure of having an OW who felt it necessary to help Xh along, by sending him articles about mental disorders and things like people who were passive/aggressive. I remember going to my IC at the time and just wanting to fall apart, because I didn't know what to believe anymore about myself.

I recall my IC kind of laughing at me and saying that we all have issues, and yes, I probably was human and had moments of being passive/aggressive, but it was not a diagnosis she would attribute to me. In fact, this was all prior to joining HS, and it would be the first time I had ever really understood what the terms "gaslighting and projection" really were.

And, yes, I need to stop worrying about "the world" all the time. I need to stop and ask myself if I am letting myself fall victim to those quiet words in my head that no longer should be there. It is okay for me to ask myself if this or that is selfish, but I have to stop falling into that trap of stopping myself and not being okay with thinking about my wants and needs. I have to keep my own bucket topped off, or it will run dry and I won't have anything to give to not only myself, nor the people I care about.

Wednesday I had a long list of things that should have happened, or could have propelled me forward in some areas. In fact, even after I posted, on Wednesday, I was talking myself out of going on an adventure. That would be irresponsible. And then, I walked outside and had left my phone inside. I was going to the mailbox when I spotted a very large bird in the field. At first, I thought it might be a Turkey Vulture due to the size, but it looked more like a very large hawk. Then I saw the bright white tail feathers, and realized I was looking at a Bald Eagle. I stood there for the longest time, and it turned and clearly knew I was there, but didn't move. It was in that moment I decided to just say "F it" and I blew off all responsibilities that I had lined up and I didn't tell a soul what I was up to. I wouldn't have lied if they had asked where I was, but I didn't offer it up either.

So, I made the childish decision to go chase Snow Geese for the afternoon. I figured I was too late to see the flock of 100K, but I would go to that general vicinity and just see what I could see. I never once took out my phone or my camera, and instead pulled over several times to watch countless flocks fly overhead and land. I drove all over the place. And, backroads were involved, many I had never been on. The only calls I received were from D, wondering what time I would be home and one from my M, who asked me a quick question. I had no reason to lie, and no need to give out any information as to my whereabouts. I was truly in the middle of nowhere.

At one point, I stopped at a convenience store. It is a well known stop for truckers and tourists and is actually spotless and known to have decent coffee. I was getting ready to pay for my things, when I realized I had my keys in hand, but my wallet was locked in my car. I set my things on the counter and ran outside. When I came back in this gentleman about my age, who suddenly seemed very familiar to me nodded and smiled. He held the door and said to enjoy the rest of my day. I went inside and the young woman at the counter had a smile on her face, but she clearly was very confused. When she told me the man had paid for my things and she recounted what he said, hence her confused state. She said "any woman who chases Snow Geese wearing heels deserves to have her coffee paid for". I looked down and laughed. I said, well that is why he looked familiar. All afternoon he and I criss crossed paths and he had commented about my heels and that I didn't have a camera with me. He was shooting photos and I said I was simply taking it all in. As for the heels - I thought my "emergency boots" were in the trunk, but I forgot I had loaned my car to D and she had cleaned out the trunk awhile back. I wasn't going to let heels stop my fun.  ;D

I have paid for my playtime, but it is okay. I have had to hunker down and do all of my online training courses for work the past couple of days. They are not due until the end of the month, but I am just pushing through them. It is valuable information and I don't discount the importance, but I have to do these same training modules for each educational entity I work for. Sitting through the same, or similar training on Title IX and FERPA laws, etc is mind numbing. And there is no way around them, except to sit through them and answer the questions.

I have been thinking about the word distraction. I thought about my Snow Geese. It was in a way a distraction, but not a way of avoiding. It was a way to allow myself some time to just be and to refresh. My text from my coworker, that was a distraction in that it came in at a time when everyone had been tugging on my "apron strings". It was not so much what he said, it was simply he distracted me from the feelings of everyone "needing me" and it was just a "hey". But, it was very different than my "distraction" the other night. That text was one that was a pleasant point in my day. One that maybe the word distraction takes on a different meaning. It did distract me from what was going on for awhile, but in a good way. It was easy and it made me laugh. Perhaps distracted me enough to fill my bucket a bit.

And then I have thought about distraction - the MLC variety. And I think the trick is when is it okay to allow for distractions and when is it something we see MLCers doing as a way to cope. They run chasing the next distraction to avoid their reality and the things that roll in their head.

Chasing Snow Geese and driving to the university yesterday gave me time to use the time I spent distracted to good use. I have been thinking about being creative again and perhaps part of it is I haven't been sure what I want to do. I haven't had the energy or the desire to really pull everything out so I can create. Strangely, today, my friend the Philosophy professor made reference to the paintings I auctioned off. He said he is so intrigued by them and cannot quite get the one out of his head. And, I know why that is. He was shocked it was my piece. I am known for more realistic, yet impressionistic landscapes. This was very abstract for me. No one realized it was my work. It was such a risk for me to put those in the show. I am used to having the pat on the back for my work and people responding to my landscapes. These were frightening for me to share. I doubted myself because they were extreme. My gut said one thing, but fear held me back some. Putting them in the auction, I figured was a way to test the waters. I never anticipated they would go for as high as they did, nor did I expect a bidding war.

The things I saw out on my little adventure were making me think of those paintings and seeing new ones unfold in my head. Once I get past the "responsible things" this weekend, like filing my taxes and spending time with my accountant, I am going to make time to sketch out some ideas.

And, today to push myself some more, I signed up for 2 classes for myself. The one is with a painter whose work I admire and want to see his techniques. The other is with a friend of mine, who it will just force me to paint on a designated night. Add my figure drawing classes that start up again in a couple of weeks and I may find a way to refill that bucket a bit more.

But there are other things I want and those are out of reach right now. In time, perhaps. For now, I shall have to keep pushing myself to find some more distractions that propel me forward.  :)
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Trusting I am on the right path
#55: March 07, 2020, 11:03:35 AM
Attaching

I had gotten behind but all caught up now.  I am glad that you continue to journal here.  I definitely find a kinship with your writing.
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"Sometimes - some things have to break apart so better things can be built."

"If we don't take time to heal, we will bleed on people who didn't cut us."

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Trusting I am on the right path
#56: March 07, 2020, 11:56:40 AM
Creativity. I used to get my best ideas while traveling to a Renaissance Faire (where I sold my stained glass). Hours on the road, with the music cranked up, lent itself to allowing the creative part of my brain to roam free. BD ended all ability to allow my mind to wander for the longest time. All that monkey braining, you know. And then one day the ability to think in a creative way was just there, but I was almost afraid to tap into it. Afraid I'd start something and lose it part way through.

Some days, my legs hurt so badly it's hard to function at all. One night, I was assembling a large wooden DVD case and was having trouble getting off the floor. I could not stand up. I looked around the room, crawled to the fireplace rolled up on the hearth. Leaned over to the mini trampoline that was a little higher and slid onto that, but still couldnt get up from there (normally I could). Grabbed the tiki torch i have in my tiki corner and used it to bring a large exercise block closer. Rolled forward onto the exercise block and pushed myself to standing. The creativity was there in its own strange format and it set my mind free. Whether it's fixing the door handle lock by using new handle parts and old handle parts to fit my "special" door, creating a new stained glass piece, or making new things from various old things, creativity is back. It comes when you have the bandwidth to allow it in. Sometimes, using a bucket analogy, we have OVERFILLED our buckets so there is no room for anything else to be added including our own creative thoughts, imo.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#57: March 07, 2020, 03:26:36 PM
FaithWalker - That is a very sweet thing to say - thank you.  :)

OffRoad - I would agree, BD was the big change in the game. But, like you, I do find my creativity is coming out in other ways, like repairs on the house or solutions for things. I have to remind myself that those are in fact creative.

As for the bucket, yes, I think the problem is understanding what to fill the bucket with. When the kids were little, the diaper bag seemed to always end up in my possession, and everyone put their things in it. Then when I carried a purse, the same thing happened. I finally decided when the kids were in middle school that I would carry a really small purse as, Xh and the kids would always be dumping things in my larger purse. I felt like the pack mule.

I am thinking, that in this bucket scenario, I am allowing people to put their things in my bucket too often. I need to quit hanging on to everyone else's things. LOL. In other words, they need to get their own bucket.  ;)

Today, the day started out on a good note. The sun is out and what little snow fell last night is gone again. Tomorrow it will be a start of a very long stretch of very warm weather. But, I am not falling under the "spring is here" spell just yet. When we have had really mild winters, where the temps were more spring like, March has a tendency to show us at least one good storm. And, maybe not. Maybe it will be warm from here on out. I am just not gambling. I will put away my heaviest sweaters and get out some clothes for layering, but I am not buying into this quite yet. But, I will certainly enjoy it while it is here.  :)

Last night, I was feeling good that my university paycheck nightmare seems to have been resolved. Finally, I found someone who followed the trail back and found the problem. It meant having me send email copies to her office and having some additional paperwork to do to resolve it, but at least someone kept on it. She went so far as to walk the paperwork across campus and hand deliver it to the other office, to make sure it was received. That is not a short walk and it was really cold out yesterday, so I appreciate her efforts even more.

My frustrations were pretty low and then I went out to get the mail. I was working on my taxes, and my accountant and I rescheduled due to a piece of paperwork that is missing - one that I have to track down on Monday. And, for whatever reason, I never received it. I keep a basket in my office where during tax season, any tax related mail goes in that basket as it comes in. It is right next to the folder that houses all of the yearly tax things that have been collected. I culled through all of the other bills and so on before I made the proclamation I didn't have it. It is not a big deal, as I know the person in that office and she will just send me a new copy if need be. So, it would seem my "Friday night date" at the start of my college vacation will be with my accountant next week. Usually, she and I joke when we see each other out at the grocery store on a Saturday night. I am not sure what I should wear for this occasion  ::)

As I went through the mail, I did have a check from the high school. That is good. I had some other pieces of mail and then  4 things from the health insurance. Three were bills. I laugh when I get those because D and S, although on my account, and I am the policy holder, the insurance company, due to their ages, sends out separate invoices. I had pre-paid all of the premiums for this month, the checks cleared, so I wasn't too concerned about those. Except the next letter was a letter informing me that my insurance has been cancelled as of the end of February. Yet, remarkably, I have a new invoice and a credit on that account. I would say they passed in the mail, except I prepaid that back in the beginning of February for both months, so hmmmm. Needless to say, I tried to call and of course, no one is there until Monday.

In the meantime, I got a couple of texts late this afternoon. One was from my department coordinator. She was checking in with me. She said how much they miss seeing me at school and I bowed out of last night's event. I had left the gallery, tired and the weather started to change enough that when I couldn't find parking nearby, I just said to forget it and came home. S stopped and picked up takeout for dinner. He and I spent a couple of hours just catching up. He told me he decided to sign up last minute for a trip next week with one of the clubs. I was glad to hear he is doing something social and he will be gone for the weekend. His break is the same time frame as D's and mine for the college, so he will be around on and off during the week. He and D have plans to do some things together, which is good.

D, she eased up, but she and I had another go with her anxiety and abandonment issues. She quizzed me yesterday about my plans last night and for today. I told her to stop as did her boyfriend. I said I may or may not go out to the gallery opening and I might even go out for dinner with my colleagues. I would let her know where I was. Her BF asked her why she was so insistent upon knowing, considering they were going out for his B's birthday and wouldn't be home, and today they were going to a lacrosse tournament and then a banquet afterwards. It wasn't like she was going to be here anyways. She teared up and said she wasn't sure why she gets this way at times. She admitted it is in part the Friday night triggers in particular.

S and I talked about it and at least it is not in regards to who I may be hanging around. It is clearly an issue of D needing reassurance. She eased up considerably when I didn't dismiss her feelings, but told her she needed to stop obsessing. S reminded her that I haven't gone anywhere and I have even disrupted my plans to come to her if she needed me. S told me he is going to help her with her anxiety.

Another friend of mine texted and we chatted for awhile. We were discussing this "bucket" concept. His assessment was I need to be the center of attention. At first I was annoyed, as it was sounding like he was saying that was how I am. He explained that no - I am the center of attention during the week and people are always "needing" me. I said that was true. He said what I need was to have someone want me and have their attention focused on me. I was very honest with him and said I really wasn't sure what that was like anymore, at least not in a consistent manner. I did a very poor job of explaining it, mind you, because he called me out on a couple of things. But, what I was trying to tell him was I don't always feel like I deserve that or when I want that, I feel selfish. When I do get it, I think I often dismiss it in my own head, because why would anyone be paying that type of attention to me. He said he was going to get in his car and come hit me with a 2x4. He told me I clearly need some time out with friends who genuinely like spending time with me and he will arrange it so that I am adored by all in attendance. I told him I was going to drive over and smack him, because he of all people should know that is the last type of attention I like. He laughed.

It felt good to laugh. But, I am feeling a little bit that way this week. And, it is silly, perhaps. It is Xh's MLC words swirling in my head. It happens when I am just feeling beat down by life. These stupid things that are really just everyday nonsense sometimes wear me down enough that I fall into that trap.

And, I will work my way out of it. I know that I cannot allow myself to become victim to Xh's words. Those words were uttered from a man I don't know, one I would have never listened to in the first place. A MLC madman.

I think it goes back to gaslighting and how damaging it is.

This morning, I had to really push myself to not go down the road I was on. Prior to MLC, I kept the house tidy and every morning my bed was made, no matter what. I had always been that way. I reminded myself today, that I am making progress and I am still that person at heart, who took pride in what she had. I neglected those parts of myself and gave up during MLC. It was easier sometimes to just give up or to do something because it was easier than fighting with Xh. I have crawled back and I just have to be more patient with myself.

It is why I think this stupid paperwork set me off today. It falls on me to run after these things and it is like tripping over a root on the path. I fall down and I can see the clearing ahead, but now, I have to untangle my feet, dust myself off and pick up whatever has dropped before I can take any steps forward. I am frustrated, that is the reality. And some of that frustration is, I know I have made progress and sometimes I am not sure if it is just life or MLC vines tripping me up.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#58: March 07, 2020, 08:44:39 PM
Triggers and sometimes just things that lie below the surface that bubble up aren't always easy to figure out. I know there have been little feelings nipping at me and I haven't been able to put my finger on what is causing this uneasiness . That is until tonight, when I found myself alone and then it just hit me like a wall.

Both kids were out for the night and the dog and I were outside in the moonlight. I felt this rush of feelings just bubble up and tears running down my cheeks. The air was so cold but my tears were warm. The dog was giving me a look of "wtf is your problem, it is gorgeous out here". And it was. Any other night like tonight and I would have been outside and had a fire in the fire pit. But, it wasn't something that appealed to me. I felt deflated and just had nothing left for the night.

I came inside and realized that a big part of my problem has been that for the past few weeks I have not only seen Xh, but I have had to put on my professional hat more than once and take the high road in terms of xh. It has been tough. Having a student who had him as an instructor and hearing her gush about him is not easy. Hearing OW's name is not easy either. The student worked as OW's intern and so I have heard about that job as well. Fortunately, OW's name has not surfaced often.

And, some would tell me to just put it out of my head. Or others would say to tell the young woman you don't want to hear his name, etc. But, I am helping her build her portfolio. I have to remain neutral. I have to look at the body of work she has completed and the reality is, some of her best pieces were done under Xh's tutelage. The reality is, Xh was and still is a very good teacher and amazing designer. He is still able to be charming and charismatic in public. I cannot dispute any of that. She learned from one of the best. His talents have nothing to do with my personal feelings and experiences.

But, tonight I realized it has been a bit of a trigger for me. The continual exposure to this student and those feelings of me being less than were creeping in. In part because having to behave and take the high road in this situation is very reminiscent of how many times I bit my tongue when Xh and OW had a full on smear campaign going on. Hearing how wonderful Xh was from people was not easy to stomach. I kept a lot of pain hidden in those moments.

I don't regret my behavior and how I conducted myself. Nor am I going to change how I am dealing with this student. I just need to find a way to release the feelings after each interaction, now that I know they exist.

This has nothing to do with some desire for Xh back. This has to do with the many moments I was put down. It is playing on my self confidence. And then other things are happening that are playing off of that. Stupid things that normally don't bother me.

I talked to a friend of mine, who gave me the full on 2x4 that I trust her to do. I am always so grateful for her.  :)

And my coworker called me and caught me off guard. I had texted him earlier to ask about a specific student we both have. I had asked him to give me a call as I have been having some difficulty knowing how to deal with this kid. He is on the spectrum for many different things and he used to have an aide last year to help him. This year, his parents decided against it and it is an adjustment. My coworker's desire is to teach history, his passion, but he is has a background in special education and taught at a school for high risk youth prior to this job. I needed his advice. The kid is a good kid, but complex in how to navigate his issues. My coworker called me and laughed when I said it seems this kid is on the spectrum for a lot, his response was the kid is the spectrum. But, my coworker genuinely cares about this kid and helped me immensely by giving me some pointers, as the biggest thing is this kid doesn't always know his boundaries in terms of he is not the only student. He follows you around for attention and in that particular class, I have 25 students. I can't always accommodate his needs immediately. It was a very helpful conversation.

Yet, my coworker picked up on my tone. He asked what was going on. I played stupid for a brief moment, but he could hear it in my voice. Out it tumbled. All of it. And he felt so bad for me, telling me he hated hearing me cry and no one would ever believe I could be such a hot mess. I laughed. Yah, who knew  ::) But, out of his mouth came the words it was okay, feel, let go and detach. I knew what he meant and he is right. He said the only way to move past this is to go through the pain.

I was grateful for my friend and my coworker. I need to learn to let these feelings go when they start to arise. I need to not let them fester and create the issues where it plays on my self confidence and lets those ugly words MLC Xh said to me resurface and mess with my head. I am going to have to find a way to still help my student but be aware of my own internal reactions It is not that I have to behave differently around her, this is not her problem, it is mine and I need to find a way to cope with it. Considering Xh is back to teaching this may not be the only student I ever encounter that will have had him. And, I am not about to change how I behave in terms of keeping true to my values and somehow tear him down. That is not going to lead me down the right path or solve my issue.

Whether it is on the longer commute home I find a playlist that somehow changes my thoughts or something else, I just have to find a way to work through the emotions it brings up.

After getting off the phone with my coworker, I sat down on the living room floor in front of the couch. The dog was perplexed, as I normally would sit with her this time of night. All I could think of was just wanting someone to simply hold me and let me cry it out. No questions, no judgements, just a feeling of being secure and maybe just hearing, "it's okay - let it out".

The dog, she cuddles, she doesn't hug. So, I just sat there and did what my coworker said - I let the rest of the pain out and am working on detaching. In the meantime, he sent a text and said "by the way, your Xh is a complete idiot". My response was to laugh and say, yes but, unfortunately he is still a very charming, talented idiot.  ::)

I feel better knowing I got to the root of some of what has been bothering me. Earlier, my emotions had me feeling like I was just going down the rabbit hole. Not a good feeling, especially when I couldn't figure out what was messing me up. The pain wasn't any easier, but maybe by deciphering it, it will help me to push past it.
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Trusting I am on the right path
#59: March 07, 2020, 10:59:23 PM
What OR says about creativity rings true to me too.

And gaslighting? It's an evil insidious thing for any human being to do to another. Even if we rationally accept, as I think we must, that it is not always done with the primary intention to harm us. Bc we were dealing with people whose own reality was fractured, who often didn't know their own truth tbh, who were frankly sometimes delusional or in the grip of denial. But of course, after gaslighting comes self-gaslighting and both are 'sticky' aren't they?

With time, I wonder if the triggers change slightly. If it becomes less about the people or events and more about that echo of who WE were at that time. There's maybe some shame involved in recovering from being gaslighted. Maybe about our view of ourselves then, maybe about what others might think about us then. And loss. And regrets. More and more, i see it as a process of slow unraveling tbh, from someone's else's distorted reality and our own, a kind of bit by bit untwining of the sticky tendrils of it. Takes time. Difficult to explain to anyone who hasn't experienced it imho.

As a small contribution of reality lol, I'd like to challenge your statement about your xh....charming, talented idiot. Well, idiot for sure looking at the fruits of his actions. Talented? Maybe, I'm in no place to judge. Charming? Hmmm. Can he wear a superficially charming social mask? Yup, maybe. But a lot of his behaviour as you have described it is far from charming actually.....he is a user of others who throws childish tantrums, has no close relationship with his kids or in-laws, takes little responsibility for his behavior, lacks grace or kindness.....doesn't sound very charming to me. And if he is so charming, how come your house and life is full of kids and laughter and nice people and his seems not to be? If he is so charming, why is he a man living alone in a lake house with a disordered dog and no close friends and no miraculously revived business earned through his charm? Just sayin'.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#60: March 08, 2020, 08:35:15 AM
Treasur - Funny, I came to the same conclusions last night, as I was trying to force myself to go get some sleep. I was staring at the ceiling, just processing.

First of all, Xh's ability to perhaps "perform" in public is probably accurate. Prior to MLC, he was in fact charming and sincere. I suspect that in MLC it was some distorted version - the ability to be charming remained, but not nearly so sincere. And, yes his reality is very different from the mask he wears in public. He is alone for all intensive purposes, with his crazy dog. And my house is bursting at the seams with kids most of the time, because this is where they feel comfortable and loved. They don't go hang out at the lake with Xh and he has access to a very lovely lake, which the kids have always loved. We used to vacation with my parents when the kids were little on one of the lakes, so theoretically they would want to rush there whenever possible. It doesn't happen. In fact, often when S in particular wants to go to a lake, they choose a different lake than the one Xh lives on.

The truth is the triggers are not the same. That assessment is accurate. These triggers seem to be more about me. The parts of me that distorted. The fact that I let myself become a victim. The ways in which I twisted myself up and how I am facing the destruction that happened because of my reactions to Xh. I can trace much of it back to the gaslighting, but I am facing some unpleasant realities and they can be overwhelming at times.

Before MLC, I won't say that I kept my house spotless, but it was neat and organized. I did the dishes every day, laundry wasn't behind, the house was dusted and vacuumed. And Xh and the kids would laugh every fall and spring I went into a frantic mad cleaning - the traditional seasonal deep clean - walls washed down, things scrubbed. The kids used to joke that if you sat still and didn't get out of my way, you might be steam cleaned.

And I did this while still teaching, volunteering at school and working with Xh in addition to balancing it all. It was never perfect, but I did a pretty good job of keeping things in perspective.

The house was lived in but not chaotic. Part of it, I have to remind myself is the projects going on, but I am being hit with some hard truths. And, it is not the house, because if I moved I know the same triggers would arise. There are just remnants of the MLC time period that come to the surface. Those moments where I am hit with how far down the hole I allowed myself to fall. I know I have climbed out, but knowing how I let myself get so lost is hard to wrap my head around.

I know, be kind to myself. However, I have to deal with the triggers and feel the pain. Grieve the time I wasted in some ways, by letting myself spiral in that vortex. Seeing my kids now and realizing that I didn't have it in me to really see their pain at the time is not easy. Seeing my own pain so clearly is not pretty either.

And when I feel those triggers coming on, there is this moment where I fall victim again to the insecurities. And then the vicious circle starts to form.

This morning, I am exhausted from the mental gymnastics. But, I am going to push myself today to get some things done. I have someone who doesn't really understand me, who will tell me I should just take it easy. Their lack of understanding is I have to push today because I lost yesterday to stupid mind firetrucking. This is not about being superwoman today, I will rest when I am worn out, but I need to see some progress somewhere that is visual. Not paperwork or something of that nature. It has to be something where I can look over and remind myself that I will get there.

And part of me has to accept that I have changed and I need to find where I am at least content living a certain way. What is going to give for me to gain, yet where I can find a sense of peace.

And some of it is a distorted reality of my own and perhaps on the flip side really seeing what I was like in that time period. I am not proud of how far I let myself fall. The part I keep forgetting in those moments of those triggers is to hit myself with a 2x4 and tell myself that it didn't happen overnight, so I cannot expect an immediate recovery from any of this. And within that 2x4 is a good solid smack of "but look how much stronger you are now and it took great courage to claw your way back". And, one thing I have never been good at, is patting myself on the back. I have always been my own worst critic, which I think people don't realize. My outer confidence doesn't always represent what is going on inside.

Today, I am going to claw my way back and make some headway on reclaiming the parts of myself that I am missing.
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Trusting I am on the right path
#61: March 08, 2020, 05:38:59 PM
Anyone that hasn't dealt with MLC would not understand the everyday little minefields of triggers that we have to navigate.

It's understandable why things with this student would be a trigger.  Hang in there MD, this too shall pass!
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Trusting I am on the right path
#62: March 09, 2020, 12:59:29 AM
Gosh, there is a lot of wisdom and realism in your post, Mourning.
It's funny but I have often read you posting something that just puts it's finger on something i am tussling with but can't quite put words around. And all of them are about the reality of how it is to rebuild inside and outside when the worst of the storm has passed.

I would bet quite a few bucks that you and me are not the only ones who experience these different kind of triggers and try to find our own way to work past them. The damage of that time does not magically disappear when the MLC spouse does lol.....would that it were so!

Quote
I am not proud of how far I let myself fall.
Gosh, me too. Sometimes I even find it almost as shocking as what my then h did. I can intellectually understand it, but I hate that I became what I became at that time. And truthfully, now, more of my life and spirit repair work is about that than anything to do with my xh at all. My journey was a PTSD/Grief one not an MLC one if I had to label it. I was talking to another LBS yesterday about how hard it can be to stay on the right position of the slippy slope between self-compassion and self-pity/blame when you also feel instinctively that looking at some tough realities is the door to your own rebuilding.

Quote
The part I keep forgetting in those moments of those triggers is to hit myself with a 2x4 and tell myself that it didn't happen overnight, so I cannot expect an immediate recovery from any of this. And within that 2x4 is a good solid smack of "but look how much stronger you are now and it took great courage to claw your way back".
Also me too, also rationally true.
But exhausting too.
I just about remember when my life did not feel like a marathon or a series of steps with stops to breathe and start again. I remember when I did not have to exercise such conscious control and intention over my insides lol. Mental gymnastics, exactly.  I liked it, it was a nice way to live lol. I quite often wish I could go 'ta-dah, magically fixed  :)'.....even at the same time as I see the many bits I have fixed. I too have often found a real power in the tangible, even if it is small, just as you say.

No magic answers lol, just wanted to say that i think you are being very honest about how things evolve as we recover. Which will probably help someone else reflectbon their repair honestly too. And that not all of that is about our MLC ex/spouses and the triggers a few years on are probably directing our eye to unfinished personal business. Our collateral crisis perhaps rather than someone else's?


And Snow Geese Chasing in Heels feels to me like it absolutely is part of your essence!
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« Last Edit: March 09, 2020, 01:19:34 AM by Treasur »
T: 18  M: 12 (at BD) No kids.
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Divorced April 18. XH married ow 6 weeks later.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#63: March 09, 2020, 04:32:41 AM
Ah yes, the infamous "landmine du jour." No, I have NO idea what that is like... <snort>

My favorite is hearing from someone things exactly opposite of what I heard form xW for the entire MLC time.. like being complimented for being neat and orderly when, if one listened to xW like I did, I was a slob on the order of Pig Pen from Charlie Brown...

Quote from: MourningDove
I have someone who doesn't really understand me, who will tell me I should just take it easy. Their lack of understanding is I have to push today because I lost yesterday to stupid mind firetrucking. This is not about being superwoman today, I will rest when I am worn out, but I need to see some progress somewhere that is visual. Not paperwork or something of that nature. It has to be something where I can look over and remind myself that I will get there.

Maybe turn it around in your head and do YOUR kind of "taking it easy" like whittling a few things off your list. That is also relaxing at times... the Germans call it the "Salami-scheiben Taktik" or "Salami Slicing Tactic.... cutting the big thing into bite-size chunks and knocking those out... After all, how DOES one eat an elephant? One bite at a time...   The person in question doesn't have a lifetime patent on the term "take it easy," you know?  ;)  YOU get to decide what that means to you... and what is good for you....
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#64: March 09, 2020, 09:00:29 AM
FaithWalker, Treasur, & UrsaMajor - I find the fact that I even have a trigger shocks me. I have to remind myself that it is okay and "normal" under the circumstances. I bounce back much quicker, but my patience for myself isn't always there. I find myself a mix of emotions when they arise. I am a combination of frustrated, sad and angry that I am somehow not beyond being bothered. And at times, I fear I will never get to a point where they cease to occur.

That said, after "feeling and letting go", I spent yesterday digging my heels in and getting some work done. Therapeutic for me in many ways. I put one project to bed and I spent time fixing some things that had been thrown in a basket in my sewing room during MLC - quite silly, TBH. They were Christmas decorations of all things that had been favorites of the kid's. They were gifts from my Xh's step M for the kids and both kids were upset because Xh was just going to toss them. Two took me all of 5 minutes to fix, requiring only to be drilled out and glued. The other was a challenge. At first, I considered just giving up, but D spotted me fixing it and her eyes lit right up, saying how much she loved that decoration. I decided the twinkle in her eye was enough to motivate me to figure out a solution. It took a half an hour, but I found a way to repair it in a manner that is sturdy and looks like it was supposed to be that way.

My F showed up in the late afternoon. He looked tired, but it was a good tired. The type of look I haven't seen in awhile. This was the tell tale sign of he had put in a good creative day. And, I was right. He has been spending countless hours in his studio working on a sculpture for a show in May.

I was rather surprised to see my F yesterday. I knew he had been working away and it was not a Sunday 3 pm visit. He had come to see S before he left for college. He was disappointed when he found out S had left for college already. Normally, S stays until about 5, but he had homework he wanted to work on back at school. My F had seen S on Saturday and S told him about his trip. My F wanted to hear more about this trip and I am pretty sure my F was going to give S spending money. But, no matter what, my F was down about having missed S.

He was going to leave, as he commented I looked rather busy. I told him that was nonsense and I offered him coffee at first, which he sort of stuck his nose up at. That made me laugh, as I don't get my love of coffee from my M. My F is a coffee fiend. So, it dawned on me, he was just done working in the studio and this was more of a beer moment. That seemed to appeal to him and I brought up my selection of beer. We settled on Guinness and had a nice visit.

Earlier in the day, S was in the kitchen with me and he got a phone call. I had just given S a plate of food to grill for he and his friends. I overheard the entire conversation and then S told me about it afterwards. But, I never asked S. I just listened. So, Xh had asked S to drive down to Xh's cottage. There had been some miscommunication and S thought Xh said he would call him if he needed him. The phone call to confirm never came, so S went on doing what he was doing. Xh didn't invite him down for breakfast for to visit and the phone call was because Xh was all put out because he had to pay someone to help him. S rolled his eyes and said that Xh basically wanted S's muscle and not so much his company. I simply said "his loss" to which S's friend, who had just come in said he agreed.

It was late last night when S texted me. He was back in his dorm room and wanted to let me know he appreciated the impromptu meal for everyone. He then told me my F called him and how much it meant to him. He remarked that he was so grateful to have my F as a positive male role model in his life.

I had mentioned it to someone offline earlier and they noted it was Xh's loss. It is. And it is really such a testament to how screwed up Xh has become. On a day like yesterday, he and S would have been outside in the garage working away together all afternoon. Xh and S worked on projects together nearly every weekend. And D sometimes would be part of that as well, but she had little interest in life in the garage. But, Xh made time for her as well.

One of the things that surfaced yesterday as I thought about my trigger was my reaction now to things like mud in the house, etc. I am very relaxed about certain things. I am not a tyrant about taking one's shoes off at the door. I never was, but looking at my new rug as I was vacuuming it and thinking about why I just gave up at times and I no longer cared was right where that new rug lies.

One day my SIL came in and decided to take a nap on my then new sofa. She put her muddy feet up on the couch because she didn't want to take her shoes off. Xh didn't want to upset his sister, so he got angry with me for being so uptight. I ended up having to scrub the couch and the rug next to it, along with a whole lot of mopping. On a room I had just cleaned the day before. No one seemed to care.

The funny thing was prior to MLC, it was Xh who really was a neat freak about the house and about himself. He would press his jeans to have a perfect crease for the longest time. Until MLC rolled in and he looked like a Kurt Cobain wanna be.

Then FIL broke my coffee table. Shattered the glass. He and Xh tried to hide the table and pretend nothing had happened. Never offered to replace it, just laughed about it. Again, no one seemed to care. And it was never about the table, because how they broke it was rather amusing, but the way they hid it from me and didn't seem to care how I might feel never entered their mind.

Next would be the rug in the living room getting ruined because FIL refused to take off his shoes after being in the garage. He said I was being ridiculous. Xh told me to get off their back. All I asked was for them to wipe their feet and make sure there wasn't any oil on the bottom of their shoes. Now, FIL, he was fighting back because my MIL never let him relax in his own house in order to keep it spotless. I was keenly aware this was a power play, but I didn't think it was unreasonable. But, sure enough, the next morning, I found my carpet had oil and grease stains all over it. I tried to clean it, but it was destroyed.

The final straw was when my good flatware started disappearing. FIL would use it in the garage to mix epoxy or as screw drivers. I had saved up when I was first married to invest in a really good quality set of flatware. I know how hard I worked to save up for that and I was proud of myself at the time. The first time it happened, I simply asked that they use the plastic spoons or I would invest in some inexpensive spoons for the garage. I got the obligatory "sure", but basically it was a big F U.

And this is not about keeping score. It simply dawned on me yesterday that part of the reason I quit caring was because I worked my a$$ off to keep a neat house and no one else seemed to care. Even when I did a good job, I heard all about my failures during the MLC time frame. And no one cared how I felt, so why bother.

The problem is, I cared. I was raised in a household and taught to appreciate things. Both sets of grandparents came from poor beginnings and worked hard to get where they could own their own homes. They sent their kids to college. I was keenly aware of how they cared for their homes. They took pride in them. And that is how my sister and I were raised.

When Xh and I bought the house, it needed work. It still needs things. But, it was a source of pride. At one point, the gardens and the inside of the house reflected who we were. Looking yesterday, it dawned on me that my trigger was about how bad I let it get. I quit caring.

I don't want to be like my MIL and screaming at the kids constantly. I don't need the house to smell like bleach, nor do I want to spend every minute of my day obsessed with the house. My MIL, before she died told me not to live my life like she did. She waited for FIL to return, became bitter and solely focused on keeping a clean house. She told me it was sad that her kids will remember her for keeping a spotless house. The sad thing is, that is often the first thing her kids would say about her right out the gate.

I don't want to live like that. The take away I had from that trigger is I have to get back to where I am happy and take pride in what I have. I want to share my home with others. I want people to feel welcome and comfortable. So, I am not looking to make it into Architectural Digest, but I do want that sense of pride back. Not to hear it from anyone else, it is not about the accolades. It is about my own needs. I just realize it may take awhile to get back on that track.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#65: March 09, 2020, 05:51:06 PM
I decided yesterday to try a new way of approaching some of these tasks that are building up. I keep lists and have in the past had success with checking them off. This last round of stupid health insurance mixups and the university paperwork made those lists daunting.

Most times, I can look at the list and prioritize and I can let go of the stress, for say something like the health insurance until the weekend is up. The mindset I had always followed was one of "well, I can't do anything about it on a Friday night, as they aren't open until Monday, so I will table it and attack it on Monday". But, I was just bogged down with all of these things that need to happen. I felt more overwhelmed than usual.

If I put them in my phone, it too can be overwhelming to see the lists for classes, the lists for D, the lists for home. I have them and they are organized, but I needed to try something new.

I had a decorative clipboard that Xh had gotten me before MLC. It was supposed to be for my college office that I had, but now while I have an office I share, I find most of the time, my meetings happen in my classrooms, as students need help on projects. And if we need privacy, there are other rooms which usually are more conducive than my shared office for those talks.

I found the clipboard and decided to pull the offending paperwork out, that is all of the latest documents, the backup data I would need and put that on the clipboard. Then I decided to add 2 more things to that clipboard. Things that were priorities and needed followed up on or ignited today, so that I could make headway. It was not nearly as overwhelming. I looked at that clipboard when I came in from the high school and sat down, knocking off my 3 tasks. It helped that the rep at the insurance company was on top of things and wanted to help me resolve the stupid hiccup, but I felt this huge sense of relief as I pulled those papers off the board and filed them.

I never used to operate like this. Yet, I am realizing more and more I need to find new solutions at times in order to not go on overload. MLC really over-tasked my ability to sometimes roll with it. I can only handle so much at once and it sometimes frustrates me that I can't just juggle like I used to.

And maybe that skill returns. Perhaps it doesn't and maybe that isn't a bad thing.

So, tonight I put 3 more things on that board and hung it up. Just 3 small items that perhaps I can check off my list. We will see how I fare tomorrow.

I am looking forward to the next week off. D has me roped into a tour at my alma mater next Wednesday, but beyond that, I have left my schedule wide open for the most part. I was so energized by my little accomplishments at home, that when I went to the millwork today, my boss was laughing. I not only pushed through today's work, I was able complete all of the upcoming things as far out as Thursday. He was laughing. I came up with a very effective system to gain efficiency today. It won't always work, as things don't go this smoothly every day, but today, things just fell into place.

After work, I was outside and the weather was gorgeous. It topped out at 67ºF. D called and instead of asking me where I was, she told me she was at her BF's lacrosse practice, as his coaching gig started. I was on my way home, but decided to take a drive to a couple of my favorite spots. When I was at the millwork, I had a job that required multiple copies. I spent about half an hour waiting by the copier and watching the sunlight travel over the fields. It made me think of an idea for a painting.

The trigger this weekend sucked, there is no other word for it. The positive side is they rarely sideline me the same way as they did in the past.

When I arrived home, I sat in the driveway for a long time and just looked at the house. The crocuses are coming out and instead of focusing on what all needs to be done, I spent some time reminding me how much I have done the past few months. The new windows in the kitchen, while not quite done, they are in and the kitchen is warmer than it ever was. It was a project that was on the list before MLC and Xh burned through our house account.

The roof is done and that was a big accomplishment. Another project that MLC derailed. I have to remind myself that some of the issues that I have to repair are because of the roof needing replaced. I have now addressed the root of the problem and can quit putting bandaids on the inside issues, which was the MLCer's solution.

And then there is my front storm door. It makes me smile. It is so stupid in the overall sense. It is a door. But, it goes back to that whole sense of pride. I scraped together extra money and upgraded to the door I wanted.

The good weather made me want to go outside and rake up the winter debris, but tonight was not the night to do that. I had other projects that needed addressed. But, the whole week is supposed to be gorgeous, so I am going to put that on my clipboard list - at least an hour or 2 outside during the week.

I spent about 15 minutes sitting outside and reminding myself that I can change this situation and regain my own sense of pride. It's just going to take time.  ;)
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Trusting I am on the right path
#66: March 10, 2020, 03:21:48 AM
I wonder, Mourning, if the simple fact is that extended trauma resets our 'to do' cut off level for a while. I used to be an infamous multi-tasker lol; now I am grateful when I can just task! The gift is that we learn to appreciate the storm doors and crocuses of life. The challenge is I think that we can't approach things always in the same way we used to do maybe. And I don't like it much, feels like another loss sometimes. I've no idea if that is a permanent thing. Bc of neuroplasticity, I suspect it probably isn't. Or not to such an extent. But it is a thing, I think. And I absolutely recognise and nod along, so at least this is how it is for two of us  :)
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#67: March 10, 2020, 04:03:48 AM
So, how DID that first few bites of elephant taste?  ;)

One thing at a time, slicing the salami into bite-size bits...

It's a shame that xH continues on his path of alienating his kids... I mean, I figure by now, D is pretty much done and dusted so he has to have a new punching bag... You are gone, D is pretty much over it all so S is all that is left from the old life...
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#68: March 10, 2020, 08:13:50 AM
Treasur - I think part of it is MLC threw things into such chaos, there was no possible way to multi-task, yet IDK about most people, but I still tried to function at that level, all the while changing other things. It is a recipe for disaster and burnout. And then I just collapsed. It played on my my physical health and mentally, for so long, I felt like I failed on so many levels.

Looking back, I somehow found the mental strength to function at work and to survive. But, the simple things were exhausting.

When someone throws too much at me now, I think it is at times a knee jerk response and a mini-trigger, fearing my world is going to go into hyperdrive again. And the truth is, it is in part wanting so much to focus on getting myself back to who I was or a new, improved version sometimes gets derailed by everyday things that seem to be such a waste of time.

And, in part, I feel like MLC created so many levels of things wasted. My tolerance for wasting time on BS is not there.

It frustrates me, because I was always such a patient person. Maybe I was too patient at times and now I am finding ways to push back a little more. Not all of it is bad. Practicing a certain amount of assertiveness is not bad. Yesterday, I approached the rep for the health insurance in a kind manner, but simply phrased the problem and wanted to know how we can resolve the issue. No blame. No complaining. Just, "let's get this done and not waste either of our time". And, it was not a simple fix, but the rep kept on it and got it done. I made sure I filled out an optional survey about my customer service for her. I hate those things, but she deserved my feedback.

UrsaMajor - LOL - "Tastes like chicken".   ;)

Yes, I think slicing things into small pieces is how I have to approach things for now, at least when it comes to certain things.

As for Xh - well, he is losing ground with S as well it appears.

I am not looking at Xh's coffee date with D as any type of movement. It was one day. If Xh thinks that is what it takes, he is seriously delusional. And there are some people who would say it is Xh reconnecting. I have accepted that to believe any "reconnection" would be something I would only know down the road when the actions have been consistent and measurable. The problem is time. The more time Xh spends in this crisis, the more damage he has done. The trust is not there with D.

I look to my friend whose F was in MLC and has come back around now, consistently, for the past couple of years. It took him 30 years. My friend is one of the most forgiving, loving people I know. She has accepted her F back in her life, but she said the damage is difficult to overcome. She has forgiven him. She trusts him on some levels, but she said there is always this hidden fear that he could take another nose dive into a new crisis.

She and D have spoken at length about this and I am grateful, as it does not dismiss D's feelings. People who haven't experienced this just think Xh can waltz back in, say he is sorry and it is a clean slate. Forgiveness is not the issue. D has forgiven Xh. She has not forgotten and I suspect, like my friend will always have a little bit of that protective layer ready to be thrown up even if Xh were to come around and do the work.

I had a horrible night's sleep last night. The dog was up all night in "full-moon mode". I had a collection of very weird dreams, none that I documented, just know every time I woke up I sat up and did a "WTF was that about" and tried to go back to sleep.

I am listening to the news and wondering if my plans to go to Europe are going to be derailed. I have my tickets, but at this rate, things are up in the air.

The colleges and schools are preparing us for the possibility of going online. It sounds like a good solution, except having designed online courses this is not a "cure all" for most classes. There are so many variables that factor in there. But, we will see.

Our high school has decided if need be, we will shut down for a time and pick up more weeks in the summer. That would really derail my plans for going away.

Things out of my control. That is frustrating me a little bit. And that is just life.

It has put me in a bit of a strange mood. I am not sure of so many things that are in play and uncertain. I keep trying to make sense of some things that really I have no answers to. Wanting to know what lies ahead perhaps. Just gnawing thoughts at the moment and wishing for a little bit of security and direction.

I've promised myself not to get hung up on these thoughts and will focus on the things I have some control over. And it is not a need for control, it is more that I know where my energy is better spent. It is not on "what if's" and replaying things in my head, unless they are good memories or something of that nature.
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Trusting I am on the right path
#69: March 10, 2020, 09:50:24 AM
Ditto on your first four paras.  :)
Just got back from a walk with a chum who asked me if I think PTSD ever completely goes away. I said that idk. But I see scientific reasons why it could. And experiential reasons how it does slowly. She said maybe it works like grief, it mostly does but there is a tiny bit of residue that you just learn to live with or around. Maybe so. Idk. Time will tell as OP might say.....

I read somewhere that one can forgive the person but not forgive the behaviour if that makes sense.
Perhaps that is how your friend feels about her father? Idk. And perhaps that is why the more time/damage there is, even if one forgives the person, any new relationship with them includes that damage as part of the bigger picture. Maybe one can forgive the person without them knowing or asking for it, but forgiving the behaviour needs something from them.....bc there is an inherent risk in that perhaps which there isn't in forgiving the person in absentis?
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« Last Edit: March 10, 2020, 09:52:11 AM by Treasur »
T: 18  M: 12 (at BD) No kids.
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Divorced April 18. XH married ow 6 weeks later.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#70: March 10, 2020, 05:50:10 PM
Treasur - oh, the dreaded word - "time".  ;)

My friend and I have talked about this at length. She said she can forgive her father and some of his behaviors, as they were what he was like during his crisis - logically. It is the emotional part that is a bigger hurdle and the trust doesn't just come back. She said if her F had done any therapy or anything of that nature, perhaps it would be different. And like it or not, that dreaded word "time" does not fix this. She said in fact, it makes it hard to look and see all the time wasted. Her children are old enough that they did not get to experience knowing their grandfather. She is struggling with him missing out on so much of her life. And the truth of the matter is, he is not well now, so she struggles at times with being the one to have to care for him, as he needs her, as he has no one left. She is a very giving and caring person, and she said she often struggles with the resentment of him coming back now. She is compassionate, but I sometimes see her crying in her office, trying to make sense of it all, and trying to be a good daughter while juggling the needs of her core family. She told me that it is not like a Hollywood scripted movie having him return to her life after 30 years. A great deal of damage has been done and she had moved on. I think in part is she had grieved having lost him to a crisis and then he came back. It dredged up old feelings and she said the reality is, that now with him sick, she finds herself knowing she may have to grieve the loss of him again.

On the flip side, her M, remarried and is living a very happy life. My friend has said her M met a wonderful man and it wasn't easy for her M to move on. Her step F is who her children call "grandpa", not her F. She said she is now closer to this man than she is to her own F, and he arrived in her life when she was an adult. It was not like he raised her.

I am grateful to have her in my life for so many reasons, but it has been such a blessing for D to have this woman wiling to talk to her about things I cannot quite understand. I know what it is like to lose a spouse, but not a F to MLC.

I left the college this afternoon and the weather had an abrupt turn. The storm clouds were pushing through and the wind picked up. I didn't stop to take pictures, as the wind was gusting, but when I came home, I pulled out some paper and did some quick sketches of what I saw. They have inspired me to revisit a painting I have struggled to make work. I think I found a solution for the area that has bothered me. And, I have some new ideas more along the lines of the abstracts that I had recently produced. All in all a good ride home.

And then came an amusing text. Yesterday, D had texted me, concerned there was someone at the door. A mini-van she didn't recognize and she wasn't sure who was at the door. I get it. I didn't press her to answer it, but I got thinking about who it might be, or if it was just some random person. I had my guess that it was one of the neighbor's Ss, but not the one I see out and about. I should have put money on that. It was later today when S texted me. He said the neighbor's 3rd S contacted him via Facebook and wanted to know if I was planning on keeping the sand that the truck dumped in September. S laughed and said no, we have use for a little bit of it, but hardly a full dump truck full. In fact, S and I were just talking about that being a big part of the corner project that we need to address. One of the things that has been on my list of wanting to address.. The sand removal is no small task.

So, S told me he gave the neighbor's S permission to take whatever he wanted. The guy is thrilled as he needs it for the base of his driveway he is installing. He was saying it might take him some time to get it out, as he is doing the driveway by himself. But, S said he figured I would be happy. I am. The sand will be put to use and it is going to solve a problem for me. Essentially, help I hadn't planned on.  :)

Tomorrow, the plan is to work on the kitchen windows and trying to finish putting up the trim. If the weather cooperates, I will be trying to sneak in another snow geese excursion. The wetlands are brimming again according to the snow geese junkies. We will see what tomorrow brings.  :)
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Trusting I am on the right path
#71: March 12, 2020, 07:05:31 PM
Yesterday, I was in panic mode. S called me mid afternoon to tell me his college was closing and he was having a bit of a meltdown. He said the plan was to go all online learning. He does not learn well online, nor are most of his classes really conducive to an online situation. I calmed him down and the next call came.

It was D. She asked me if I had seen my college emails. I had checked them earlier, but nothing of any consequence. Within an hour time frame we went from a short term plan to suddenly being closed down and supposedly for the rest of the semester with online as the solution. Then back the other direction based on the direction of the government officials.

I was prepping for my university class when those emails came in. More uncertainty.

I have worked in an online setting. It is not that which scared me. It was the variables and taking these particular classes online that had me nervous. It is not a cure all. And, I get it, nothing will be a perfect solution. It was an overwhelming thought, the idea of having to revamp all of my classes for the semester into a different format and teaching style.

This morning, I had calmed down, the panic gone. And after my high school class, I began to sort out the tangle of thoughts in my head. As I drove to the university, I made a decision. I was not going to somehow give the students some party line approach. I was going to make it a teachable moment. I realized that these students have never experienced something that shook the country.

When I was in college I was affected by the bombing of PanAm 103. Later it would be teaching the night that 9/11 had taken place and I walked into a classroom of students who were just shell shocked. And I had my own personal experience with MLC which so turned my life upside down.

It is not to say these kids haven't had tragedies and the like, but this is a big WTF is happening event for most of them. And it is not a debate about whether it is rational or not, it simply is a big event for many of them, one that is shaking them up and completely out of their control.

I wasn't sure what I was going to encounter. I was nervous and not sure of my plan. And then the door opened. In walked a friend of my F's who happened to be on campus as a consultant. He came and gave me a big hug. We laughed saying that well, that was probably a bad idea under this current circumstance, but I needed it.

He has been through a great deal himself and he knows my situation well. I felt a sudden confidence in this is what I needed to do. I needed to just address this and go with my gut.

I prepared a whiteboard with my game plan. My students walked in and many were clearly dazed. They looked at the whiteboard which made little sense to them at that moment. I started by telling them that a couple of personal stories. I did not mention the MLC, etc, but I started by writing on the white board the process that happens. Panic sets in, and people in panic get reactive. As I was writing, I thought about MLC and BD. This was coming to me easily, as I wrote out the feelings - disbelief, etc. And then I put the word "choice". I said that this happens on big scales and smaller scales, like when a client changes a project midway.

First panic and then there is a choice to be made. You either get consumed in the panic and spiral, or you step back and assess in the hopes of finding a possible solution. So, I looked at them and said that I felt like my job was to help guide all of us to the latter choice. They started to relax a little as I told them, I was not going to sugar coat anything, and I was going to be asking them to participate in this, because it does affect them.

I flipped the board over and they saw I had written, "knowns, unknowns, concerns, and solutions". We started with the knowns. I told them we were not dealing with the solutions until we shook out most of the other categories. I told them the knowns, we have no control over changing and they are the parameters we are working with. The unknowns were things like we don't know for how long we will be closed, etc. Most of those, they realized none of us have control over at all in terms of we just don't know. I said that we can consider the unknowns, but frankly, obsessing over those is a waste of energy we can spend on putting towards solutions.

The list of concerns, that was a good place for venting. They started to realize that they all had some of the same concerns. And, as they brought up concerns, I stopped them and thanked them, as these were not only some of the concerns that I have, but it gives me data to go back to my department with. Things like many of them do not have the necessary software or some don't have WiFi at home where they live (something people don't think about). Some don't learn well online. The list went on. The common denominator was though, they wanted to be able to complete their studies.

At first, they hesitated about solutions, as they were overwhelmed. So I told them we needed to break this all the way down to what we know we have. The one big concern I had was we had just switched this year to a new online system and I was concerned that it might be a nightmare for the IT people as it is going to mushroom. It was not something I expressed at first, but one of the students who takes an online course mentioned the hiccups they are already working on. So, I said what if we didn't have that option. And when we were all done, we decided as a group that all the students have email access, consistently. They all have texting capabilities. And then they came up with the idea with perhaps starting up a Facebook group only open to the class.

It is not a perfect solution, but we agreed as a group that it was a solution that they felt took the stress off some of the areas. I told them I was really proud of them for embracing the exercise and it is not a perfect plan, but we have at least a place to start and we will test it out and adjust.

The class thanked me for approaching it this way and after class 3 students stayed after. One had a meltdown and was embarrassed. I assured her we were going to stick together and she should let those tears out, because it was more than okay to let the feelings out. She smiled and said she felt better. The other 2 stayed to tell me I was the first professor all day that handled their fears in this manner and they appreciated that.

The next round of students came in and their fears were similar, but slightly different. They have a different class and different needs. We came up with some solutions and some of their concerns are related to software. I told them I could see what we can do, but no promises. When one of the students made a comment about a concern that what if they don't give them credit for the class. I told her that in fact would be a huge mistake, as a university would be putting themselves in a very bad light if they did that, and it is in fact a business - they cannot afford to do something like that. And then I laughed and said besides, you can ask people in my inner circle - that is when the claws would come out and I would be having to go into protective mode. They laughed and I said no one messes with my students or their education. Nope.

When they left, I was sitting in the room with the one remaining student. He asked if I was still up for the interview. It took half an hour and he really asked some very in depth questions. Good, thought provoking questions that had to do with my career and it had to do with communicating. While he did not know it, his interview, while beneficial for him, was really an eyeopener for myself. I had to honestly evaluate my own growth and I realized that MLC did benefit me in some ways.

Today, I am not sure I would have come up with my problem solving approach without having had my own life altering "panic" time period. It took me a long time to get past the panic stage - I stayed stuck there way too long. In a strange way, that whole exercise made me think about how much I have in fact had to adapt and problem solve.

Today, one of the comments I made to the students was that in these moments we sometimes see the flaws in areas and it gives us opportunities to do a better job.

On my way home, I thought about how while I would not wish MLC on anyone, nor would I choose to go through it again, it has provided me with ways to perhaps make good out of the bad. Knowing what it is like to have life throw you into a tailspin and how to understand what you can control and what you can't, has been something I learned through the MLC.

I have to go through the exercise again tomorrow. I am mentally drained, but I am not nearly as stressed. I am anticipating more stress to come with this, as it will not be perfect, but at least I feel like I convinced the class to jump into the life boats and we can all row together. Hopefully, things will go back to normal soon.
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« Last Edit: March 12, 2020, 07:12:38 PM by MourningDove »

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#72: March 13, 2020, 12:33:56 AM
Quote
they saw I had written, "knowns, unknowns, concerns, and solutions".
Not a bad framework for any LBS post BD really  :)
And what a great opportunity to teach so much more than just your subject matter.

Find myself wondering if the gift of MLC/trauma....once we get our own marbles back....is that we may now have an LBS superpower in dealing with inconceivable WTF and uncertainty we can't control and periods of limbo.  :) All those things we are forced to learn.....living in the day, controlling what we can, life triage, breathing through tough stuff, acknowledging our thoughts and fears without letting them take us over, finding 'good enough for now' creative solutions, finding joy in unexpected places, grace and respect and kindness.
And a world in which perhaps we are not the only ones being treated as if we have invisible cooties lol. While the coronavirus probably puts some practical limits and real consequences on MLC Replay in some cases......hmmm if only we were able to treat MLC like a pandemic eh?!
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« Last Edit: March 13, 2020, 12:37:10 AM by Treasur »
T: 18  M: 12 (at BD) No kids.
H diagnosed with severe depression Oct 15. BD May 16. OW since April 16, maybe earlier. Silent vanisher mostly.
Divorced April 18. XH married ow 6 weeks later.
Healing and growing found here https://littleplotbythesea.wordpress.com

"Option A is not available so I need to kick the s**t out of Option B" Sheryl Sandberg

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#73: March 13, 2020, 09:43:35 AM
Treasur - I do think that for at least some of us, the ability to keep much calmer in a storm does prevail or become a "super power". I have always had that ability to monitor and adjust, but I lost that in MLC for so long. It has slowly come back, but I do believe it is a skill that MLC actually now helped me hone.

But, for anyone who is in the newest stages of MLC, it is not something that happens over night. It takes so much work to regain our footing. It takes so many moments of reminding ourselves and at times "fooling ourselves" into believing what we are telling ourselves. I remember struggling to just find something on a daily basis to be grateful for. It is much like exercising and realizing that it takes time to build muscle. You don't go to the gym once and come out with a toned body. It is the same with the mental shift.

Today, my class was much calmer. In part because they have been dealing with this since Wednesday. It has had time to set in.

I have spoken to some of my colleagues and we were discussing coping techniques and such. Understanding some people need to hear cheerleading and a bit of "it's all going to be alright" without any reality. The preverbal "blow sunshine up your backside" approach. I do believe there is sometimes room for that, but by the same token, I am not about to tell my students some fairytale. I was not doom and gloom, but I was honest about not having answers. As we discussed it, I realized as we talked that for me, now after MLC, I want a balance of positive, but I need to know the reality as well.

We discussed not being obsessed with checking the media and to just live our lives to a certain degree. That is, not to ignore things, but to keep a balanced approach at each step. Reminding ourselves what is in our control and not in our control and where to make the adjustments.

I suggested that all of them do an extra assignment, not to be graded, regarding their current experience in this world of unknowns. I had done one in college and it was probably one of the best pieces of work I turned out in my senior year of college.

One of my colleagues expressed that one of the administrators assured everyone there would not be problems with the platform we were using. I laughed and told my colleague that I am not going on those types of promises, because we don't know as the system has never been tested this way. To say with absolute certainty that it will be fine is the mentality they took on the Titanic. He laughed and said that was true. With that in mind, I said I wasn't jaded and dismissing it, but I was building a safety net of a system of options and not relying on one solution, because the reality may be much like MLC - we don't know and it is beyond our control.

That mentality of living like they aren't coming back, applies to many situations. I have to approach the remainder of this semester as if this semester is not going to return to normal. I have to adapt and come up with solutions that not only make some sense for me, but for my students, much like I had to with my own children. I wish this hadn't happened this way. The sunshine, fairy tale version is this situation will all just blow over and we will be back on track in a couple of weeks and we will just pick up where we left off. I would be setting myself up for great disappointment and failure if I buy totally into that mentality. I prefer to keep a healthy balance of reality and knowing I can't sit waiting for it to happen. I have to adjust my approach, all the while, keeping a positive outlook for what may come out of the rubble known as this blown up semester.
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#74: March 13, 2020, 06:49:12 PM
Apparently, my children have said I know how to have fun on a Friday night  ::)

At the end of my college day, D and I stopped to pick up lunch and to run a couple errands before heading home. D had mentioned this morning that the dryer was not working as of last night. I came home and did a full cleaning on the venting system before I attempted to use the dryer. I keep the lint trap and such clean, but it had been awhile since I had really pulled apart the outdoor venting. But, that was not the issue. So, S came in. I watched him in pure amazement as he pulled apart the dryer and found the tech manual inside the dryer. He ran the electrical diagnostics and it took an hour to pin point the issue, but it is looking like it is a $10 part that would have easily cost me $150 to have diagnosed and replaced by the repairman. I knew S was very good at reading diagrams and technical data, but his understanding of electrical systems was impressive. He has had that skill for a long time, but I had never really watched him in action. He did declare that he has no desire to become a licensed appliance repairman - LOL. Hopefully this takes care of the issue and I am not looking at a bigger issue. No matter what, we know what things are working based on all of the tests S did, so we narrowed it down.

After a full week of WTF and mental exhaustion, I decided to just continue with that theme tonight. I had an appointment with my accountant. There had been a document from the IRS regarding last year's taxes, which I had a good chuckle over as the wording was that they were "proposing" I owe a certain amount from last year's taxes. The wording made me laugh because I told the accountant it sounded like I really had a choice. She said it was a good thing I had a sense of humor about it all, as most people freak out. I shrugged and said that let's just resolve it and move on. We amended last year's taxes, because yes, I did make a mistake and it was all on me as I forgot about the one job I had early on that I no longer had and neglected to add that income in. I had already put that on my list of things to fix, when the letter came and she and I had a good laugh about the letter.

Xh and I had originally agreed upon the "every other year" claiming D on our taxes during the divorce decree. It is one of those things that have contingencies, etc. I have to sign off on it.

Does Xh deserve to claim D? Not really. But, we ran the numbers. I am losing only a little bit. Hmmm, do I retain my attorney and pay her now, or perhaps later, or not at all? Right now, after seeing the numbers to fight Xh on this is going to cost me money and it boils down again to getting basically potentially nothing out of it, or minimal. It seems so unfair, and yet, I laughed and said to my accountant that I just don't care. If it means I lose money, so be it because I am just not wanting to lose more of my life wasted on fighting MLC madness. Yup, gonna cost me money for peace. And, as my accountant so wisely has advised me in the past, she said add it to the potential "hit him later if I so chose" box of evidence.

She is right. I don't have it in me to fight that battle because it really only gains me money. It is not a battle worth fighting in my own mind. I would rather fight for other injustices or protect other things, like my peace of mind. When I thought about the amount of energy it took to fight Xh in court the first time, I just don't want to go back down that path. I would rather put my energy into continuing to build a new life. I have no problem fighting for things that matter, I just no longer care to engage in that battle. I did ask my accountant if she thought I was crazy. She has been there for all the years of insanity and she has helped guide me through this minefield. She knows the amount of time and energy I have spent not only trying to save my marriage but then how to untangle from it all, while dealing with the monster. She said I seem happier and much more at peace. I am.

And, I am so grateful for my accountant. She adjusted her hours for me and worked late, knowing my days were full of insanity with the uncertainty. After an hour and a half, we had the amended taxes filed and this year's done, which included both kids' paperwork as well.

I am feeling this odd sense of not sure what to do next. The taxes done, and some of the other things marked off my list seem odd in that I feel like I am missing something. I realized that this is the first year that I feel a strange sense of calm. I know things are going to be weird for a few weeks and the finances are tight this week because I am waiting for the college check to catch up and such. Yet, this year I feel like the finances are finally feeling mildly normal. That said, I am terrified of what might happen in the Fall semester, as this pandemic scare could be a game changer. But, for the moment, I feel calm about the finances.

I came home and decided to pour a glass of wine. D was laughing at me as I swirled the glass and watched the wine on the sides of the glass. S's GF was sitting there watching and clearly was confused. D explained that I was going to be smelling the wine and she was guessing I was assessing the fact that this particular wine seemed thin and I was checking the legs. D then explained to S's GF, who was not around when Xh was part of the family, that D used to watch him shoot his recordings for his client with his friend who was a sommelier. D doesn't drink wine, but she said she paid attention to the process and picked up a few things. She was right. It was a new brand of wine I had purchased awhile back. I poured it and it seemed thin for that variety of wine. I was swirling it for those reasons. I took a whiff and then a sip and told her it was a decent wine, but it lacked body. D cracked up and handed me a piece of chocolate and asked if that helped. It didn't hurt - LOL.
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#75: March 13, 2020, 11:36:36 PM
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As I drove to the university, I made a decision. I was not going to somehow give the students some party line approach. I was going to make it a teachable moment

And this is just one reason why you are a remarkable woman.
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#76: March 14, 2020, 10:27:21 AM
Reinventing - you have no idea what how much your post meant this morning. Thank you.

I had made the mistake last night of checking my emails and the group established by some of the instructors to deal with all of these unknowns. I was reading all of these good ideas and high tech solutions and I found myself feeling like an idiot. I was questioning everything about how I approached this situation with my students. And it overwhelmed me. It was not panic it was doubt. And in the light of morning, I was weeping, in part due to this doubt and some because it suddenly was a moment where I had time to just breathe and let out all of the built up feelings. This week has been a lot of running around and putting out fires and there has been little time to really, truly process and let go.

And then I pulled up my thread. While I don't necessarily take compliments well - it has never been something I feel comfortable with in all honesty, your words calmed me. I realized after reading them, that I need to give myself time to step away and normalize myself as well. So for the next couple of days, I am not going to be part of this discussion group for work. I will check my emails to make sure students are not left hanging, but I am not going to problem solve at the moment. We are technically on Spring Break this week and I am going to give myself time to regroup. I have the high school still and that is then next moving part in the unknowns.

I needed that reminder that I did the best I could under the circumstances and it made me not question how I approached it. I don't have to compare how I did it to the people making tech decisions that seem like a good idea. I thought about the makeup of my class that afternoon. They didn't need me to come up with some technical solution at that moment, they needed some reassurance, and to be brought out of panic mode. That moment was not about trying to find a new way to patch a hole in the boat, we were going to use what we knew first before trying out some new method. I needed to get the hole filled and the water bailed first. So, I after those kind words, I realized I did what was best in that moment for my class - my own special group of students. And, it might not be a perfect, pretty solution, but it did solve the immediate problem, which was to calm them down and for them to have a voice.

I was able to let the tears out and just decompress and then came downstairs to refocus.

The house was quiet, as S had gone out early with his friends to see if they could get parts for one of their trucks. D and her BF were off to go pick up supplies to make Easter Baskets. In the meantime, I realized it was my BIL's 50th Birthday. I called my sister and she said my BIL was in fact home. I talked to him at length and they are having a nice quiet day as a family.

I had my coffee and felt calm again. I have some final documents to get to my accountant in terms of support documents, but that is essentially done. Looking at the clock, I remembered that the local appliance store was open until noon today, and they typically have parts in stock, or I can order them. I could have easily ordered them online and had them overnighted, but realized that these places have been good to me over the years and might be caught up soon in this mayhem. I arrived there to find the place was a zoo. The woman behind the counter was frazzled. People picking up things that they had ordered and sat on, in no rush were panicked and suddenly needed their new dishwasher. It is never that busy on a Saturday morning there.

I walked in and while I was technically next in line, I told her to worry about the other people who were there with kids in tow and pacing. I said I would look around and I had enough fast paced things this week, the wait would do me good. So, I strolled around the store and made note of some of the things they have. It never dawned on me that they carry certain items and I can order from them. And the prices were in line with the bigger box stores. And, I solved a couple of issues in regards to figuring out the proper set back for my range, which I had argued with my Xh was wrong - it is supposed to set out, but not nearly as much as he installed it. I should be able to gain another 3 inches of floor space, making the traffic flow easier if I reset the range. And I discovered a couple of other things to put on my wish list, things I can start saving for.

I walked around for about 45 minutes, when everyone else had been taken care of. The woman behind the counter smiled and thanked me. She was clearly frazzled. And then she asked "so what can I do for you young lady". I burst out laughing and said I was betting she was much younger than I was. She gave me a funny look and she hesitated, I think concerned she might offend me. I told her how old I was and she said there was absolutely no way. And she was sincere. She said she was sure I was in my 30's. I personally don't believe it when anyone else says it, but it makes me laugh. And I thought about how much Xh used to get so upset when people said that to me in the MLC time frame. It so bothered him because no one ever told him he looked that much younger.

And, I really don't care or think about it much. Maybe it was a good night's rest. IDK. But, in that moment it was me wondering if it was the fact that I was strangely relaxed as I walked around. I wasn't pacing and stressed. I was not worried about anything in that 45 minute span.

She had the one part in stock and if it doesn't work, then I am going to have to call them in to repair the dryer, but a $10 part was not a big risk to take.

I came home to find S in the driveway with his friends, working on one of the vehicles. The dog loves me, but if there are men around, she is beyond thrilled. I took her out and put her on the lead next to the garage. It is not something I put her on unless people are outside. She was getting her attention fix and has happily settled on the ground watching S and his friends work. I tried to get her to come back in with me, but she firmly sat her backside down and did the toddler style dig her heels in stubborn bit. I told the boys to bring her in if she got restless.

Aside from perhaps going to chase snow geese, I have no plans to go anywhere this weekend. I am quite content with the idea of staying home and perhaps working outside if the weather cooperates. I am giving myself permission to not worry about the college things for a couple of days. I needed to remind myself of what I wrote on that whiteboard the other day. I cannot control certain things and I cannot get caught up in "should haves" or doubt my gut reaction. I did what was best for me in that moment.
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#77: March 14, 2020, 01:51:10 PM
S came in to give me a "head's up" that Xh was stopping by to drop something off.

Now, I am not noting this in order to somehow read into any of it, in terms of he is somehow making progress and trying to reconnect, etc. He may be slowly attempting those things or maybe this pandemic scare has him thinking. IDK.

What I do know are these things:

S announcing Xh was on his way didn't upset me, or make me react in any other way than a simple "okay". It felt a lot like if S said Fed X would be dropping something off. It's perhaps sad in the grand scheme, but I think I am somewhat relieved it doesn't rattle me or upset me in the same manner. It didn't stir some desire or longing. Emotions that took so long to get past. It didn't make me angry and in some ways it should have in terms of he is late with support and because of the tax thing. But, it really was just an "okay, whatever" response. No ill feelings, just "eh".

The thing Xh dropped off would indicate that Xh is in clean-out mode again. This has been his typical pattern for years. February brought stress for years. It is the month that for as long as I can remember, Xh would be in overdrive for his one client, as it is gearing up for their big trade show and annual sales meeting. He put in ridiculous hours in the past. Since that one client still remains, those dates haven't changed.

I also had found out after FIL died, while cleaning out his room and paperwork that Xh had left behind belonging to FIL, that February was the month which FIL and MIL started the path down their nasty divorce and put Xh in the line of fire. He was their pawn.

February was always when Xh would get really down and very cranky. He started to take impromptu trips for a couple of weeks by himself in order to reset. The kids and I would hunker down when February rolled around. We just knew what was coming - the dark cloud.

And then like clock work, Xh would go into a frenzied clean out mode in March. This behavior didn't occur until MLC though, at least not this type of clean out. The past it was just a spring cleaning. In MLC the clean outs were always major hauling out of things that suddenly Xh didn't need in his mind. Things he had to have and now weren't making him happy. Or last year when he did the frenzied clean out because his life was changing again.

The difference this time was he brought S something he was cleaning out. A piece of equipment, that strangely, he had to have in MLC. It left the garage and now Xh wants it out of his way. The thing is I can tell Xh is in his manic cleanup mode because S said Xh mentioned this equipment last night to S and it is no small thing. It requires some big space, so it was said that Xh just suddenly wanted it out of his way. It is very much reminiscent of the times where Xh was so stressed that in cleanup mode in the past he would strip the garage completely clean without thought, getting rid of everything in his path.

In a longer conversation it now makes some sense. Xh's life is being subjected to lots of things out of his control. Like my colleges, the college he works at is shutting down and changing direction in light of the pandemic. That would certainly set him off. But, it would also seem that my eldest XBIL is not well again and this time, that BIL is cleaning out his things. Big things. Like a motorcycle that S and Xh rebuilt for him has come back to Xh. XBIL has been sick for a long time and I suspect this means he is in a bad way. So, the sudden need for Xh to take control of his life and clean out yet again is making sense - at least in terms of this is how the MLCer now operates.

I think the feeling I had earlier was really of indifference. Which is not to say there isn't compassion for Xh. It is just seeing the MLCer from a very different perspective than I did months ago.
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#78: March 15, 2020, 05:01:45 AM
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the group established by some of the instructors to deal with all of these unknowns. I was reading all of these good ideas and high tech solutions and I found myself feeling like an idiot. I was questioning everything about how I approached this situation with my students.
In this time of stress giving your students time to talk about this and be part of the solution is invaluable. Laying that foundation, and now with you finding out about some high tech solutions that you may choose to run by your students you may find out whether they have the literal bandwidth (hardware and the internet/phone service bandwidth) to abruptly use these technology solutions. Does the student who needs a sweatshirt from the "spill" supply have unlimited data on her internet and phone plan? Or does the tech solution not require videos and other things that use bandwidth?

Right now everyone can use some semblance of control over their lives and you got that in the mix when you worked with your students and that in and of itself was both providing a stable role model and mentor.

I have no doubt that if some of the high tech solutions do fit your and your students needs, you'll find a creative, student-centered way to use them.

One note that I heard recently is that if video is part of the solution, creating a closed YouTube group and posting the videos there can somehow (I dont understand why and assume this is true) make watching the video not take up as much bandwidth for students. They do see commercials based on their browsing history, so you would need to alert them to that if you go down that pathway.
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« Last Edit: March 15, 2020, 05:04:37 AM by Reinventing »

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#79: March 15, 2020, 04:08:34 PM
Reinventing - thank you, yet again.  :) Your words help immensely for me to put it back into perspective.

There are so many unknowns right now that stepping back and stripping it down is where I am comfortable at the moment, and I have to remind myself of that. I also had to remind myself, that my classroom was what my experience was, and I dealt with it the best way I could at the time. I was not in the other classrooms to know if the high-tech solutions were good or not. They sound good, but IDK how the students felt after that situation. I know most of my students were grateful for being able to voice their fears and concerns. So, no matter what, I did the best that I could in that moment and I have to move forward from that. I can always adjust as we go.

It dawned on me that these are things I just didn't know how to do any longer at BD. In that moment and the months that followed, I kept trying to lasso that tornado known as now as my MLC Xh. Until I let go of the notion that I had any control over him, I was wasting a lot of energy. It is not to say I didn't do things that later benefited me and maybe deep down affected him in a positive manner, but I can't speak for him. I know in my attempts to control his desire to leave, I worked on not being reactive, something that had started when he went into MLC. Looking back now, it was something that ultimately helped me get back to being a more patient person and certainly after I have my initial panic mode, I step back and try to look at things from all angles.

Last night, S had fixed the dryer. It was in fact the correct diagnosis, so he was very proud of himself. I too was thrilled to have avoided a $150 service call and equally impressed with his ability to figure it out.

S's friends were here last night for a small get together. They are scared and mainly because there are so many unknowns and so much uncertainty right now. There was just the small core group and later one of the girls told me that she was so grateful that I was here last night. Some of them kept coming in the house to talk to me as I was working away in the kitchen. The one girl thanked me for being calm and rational.

After they left, I realized a couple of these kids don't have adults in their lives that they can turn to. They are technically "adults" themselves, but at 22, they are very green and if people my age are struggling to comprehend this, how can I expect them to some how grasp it.

S, he was stressed, but he is taking a calm approach. He will have his moments, but he was determined to spend the day outside in the fresh air and proclaimed this is why he is grateful to live in the country.

Two of his friends showed up and it is in part because they are not sure what they should be doing. They have been put on skeletal hours at their jobs and working every other day. They seem a bit lost. So, normally they are working on their vehicles, but it wasn't long before I heard a buzzing sound. I looked out and saw S and the 2 friends trimming the ornamental grasses, raking the yard and picking up sticks. They hauled 2 truck loads down to the property line where S has a compost heap started. S came in and said he figured it was good exercise, and it needs done.

D was much more stressed out again. She is having a hard time with this uncertainty. She is worried about her college plans. She finally took my advice and took the dog for a long walk and visited my parents. She spent some time with my F in his studio watching him weld his sculpture.

My F had been here early in the morning for several hours. We had a good system going, with him taking measurements and marking up the trim pieces, while I worked outside in the fresh air with the chop saw that S set up for me. By lunchtime, we had the windows essentially finished. That project alone is going to allow for so many other things to move forward.

As of this morning, the schools are closing down all around here, so from what I gather this will be the next round of unknowns. I will go to my meeting and then I am anticipating having another round of feeling completely exhausted.

It dawned on me that in part, that all of this is playing on fears and the realities of life. I cannot protect the people I love completely and keep them safe. It is something I have to remind myself. And the truth is, I also don't want to have anyone I love not living life either. Wrapping them in bubble wrap and sheltering them from getting hurt potentially is also no way to live.
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#80: March 15, 2020, 07:56:09 PM
As it is the schools are closing right and left, the high school where I teach has yet to send me a formal email. I am in such a strange situation in that respect. It has been something that I have complained about for some time and clearly needs to be addressed. But, fortunately I have friends I work with who have my back - LOL.

In the meantime, I decided to check in with my emails for the colleges, etc. to make sure I was informed of those updates. And, they were all there.

The first batch were all about the updated protocol in terms of being on campuses. No problem, I had already addressed getting my materials needed before leaving for the week. I was set.

The second was on the university's email - coming in from one of the professors, who wanted to alert people that the system we use deleted a bunch of his files and to make sure we backed up. Thing is, this gentleman has been using this platform for a long time and he is the go to person. Hmmm, it made me realize maybe my gut isn't wrong and going simpler for now, was not such a bad idea.

I was starting to feel a tension headache coming on. All of this stress from the pandemic and dealing with the changes on top of new emails was making me tense up. I was going to just forget the remaining email, figuring I could read it tomorrow. But, am I glad I opened it. It was the assignment I had assigned before all of this mayhem broke out. And one of my students who was so panic stricken and who seemed to struggle the most the other day had clearly been listening to me. I had told them at one point to focus on some normal things. I told them to try and find joy in their artwork or going out for a walk - something to ease their mind. This student is an amazing photographer and she only had about 10% of the project done by Thursday's class. I had told them to stop where they were and I would adjust the assignment. But, tonight, there were the finished pieces for this project, all 10 of them. And they were absolutely stunning.

I sent her a reply and told her she had no idea how much seeing those pictures meant to me. I told from the work, it looked as though she enjoyed them, because they were truly beautiful. I told her I would be looking at them again with fresher eyes in the day.

And, she had used such a basic way to get them to me. It wasn't flashy or a high tech way. It got the job done and it is what I would do with a client in the real world if our other methods failed. For now, it showed me the simple way will work in the short term. Once we test that and stabilize, we can add new methods.

I needed to see that email tonight, for I needed mental refueling for what awaits tomorrow morning. I have no idea what to expect there.
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#81: March 16, 2020, 08:54:16 AM
I walked into school expecting to only find skeletal staff and wasn't sure what to expect in terms of students. So many of the schools have closed. Those kids who actually have parents that even pay attention to them brought some of them to school, as there are very few schools busing. Out of our small just over 100 student population, there were 30 kids that were there. And it was a sickening feeling to be honest. For the reality was that in most of these cases, while some are not great students, they come to school because that is where they get their meals and have people that care about them.

I had one student in my first class. His mom brought him in because she said she wanted him to get the run down of what was needed. His M is a nurse and she has told him that this could mean she won't be there for him as much for help with his homework and she wanted him to have the right support. He has a positive outlook on life overall, but he has concerns. He is worried about his M and his step father who has a job that others rely heavily on so his step father will be called to help as well if need be. This student has family support, but he was still stressed about the many unknowns and now being the person who his younger siblings will be relying on.

My second class was more sobering. I had about half of the students that came at all today. Many of them, have bad situations. And these are the students who won't necessarily vocalize what they need or what they don't have access to.

I was in the middle of going around one on one and talking to each student when one of my colleagues came in. He hit a serious nerve. He and I usually get along fairly well, but he thinks my subject matter is fluff. He is a big, strong guy and has made comments at times and I rarely try and have debates with him, because he is one of those that has his opinion and that is that.

He made a joke that made me unleash my very sarcastic side. I know I have a sarcastic sense of humor, but this was very clear to him and to others that I had no patience for stupid today. He said it must be nice to not have to really do much in light of this situation. He went on to say I just have to have students draw something and that would be that. And he got a very rapid response from me that I think must have felt like a whip being snapped. I said that no, in fact, I have it tougher than all of them in reality because, I have to alter the high school side as well as now the college side of this particular class to make sure I meet the state requirements for the curriculum as well as the college credits. And furthermore, the supplies in the cabinet - yah, I brought all of them in. I will be lucky if my students have access to pencil and paper, let alone computer access due to no WiFi. And I went back to what I was doing. He came up to me later and apologized and said he had no idea. I said, no and I am not complaining and accepted his apology, but I made it clear I did not come into his class presuming I know the content somehow and think it is a breeze, because I could have easily come in and said "lucky you - you only have to sign them up to read the text book and give canned assignments". I told him assumption is best left when you have more details to make a hypothesis from.

He and I are good, but I have heard this my whole life. The argument that art is frivolous, and so on. I don't usually argue that. My bigger beef was the fact that he did it in my classroom while I was talking to students. Students, I should hope he knows that have so little. Pencil? Heck, I am not sure some of these kids have food in the house right now and that is a normal day.

When the study hall that comes in after my class arrived, I was packing some things up to bring home. Supplies I might need. A group of 3 students started talking about the whole situation. One girl started crying. She had been the one that dressed like me last year. She is an only child and she said she doesn't know if she can handle the solitude for such a long time. She needs people around her. By then the PE teacher came in. As he walked in one of her friends snarked that this is all blown out of proportion which set off the whole group. I stayed and the PE teacher and I calmed the group down and out came my exercise that I did last week. We told the group whether or not it is blown out of proportion remains to be seen, but the truth is we are dealing with what has to happen based on the directives.

Then the one kid who was always so quiet in my group last year, and had one of the worst home situations spoke up. He said his biggest fear was how to shut the negativity off. He said he is considering getting rid of his social media and going to a basic phone that allows him to talk to people. He said he is getting bogged down in the sadness. The PE teacher and I looked at each other and I think we had the same desire, which was to cry. He and I made suggestions for the group to find things to do in the fresh air as all of this particular group live in the country. And we talked about reaching out when they needed others.

The PE teacher and I discussed with them the ways to exercise that positive thought brain.

After the study hall let out, he and I said that this is certainly showing the cracks and where problems lie.

As I was making my way to the front of the building, I ran into my coworker. He smirked and said one of the students said I showed my not so "chill" side. He said the student wasn't criticizing me, in fact he was rather glad that I snapped back because he saw so many of his classmates were just shell shocked and while it may have been a joke, it was ill timed. As it is my coworker worked with me in a classroom and we have known each other awhile, he laughed. He wanted to know what level I hit, because he said was it just sassy or full out "snap the whip". I said it was perhaps the latter.  ::) I admitted I was not necessarily proud of my behavior, but I really am in no mood for BS.

The principal stopped me before I left, as she was alerted to the fact that she never realized I didn't have access to certain things, as she is new this year. She said that makes no sense, and she was going to rectify the situation as fast as she could. She then asked me how I was holding up with all of the college changes and she is aware I have college age kids at home. I told her I had shut out the world for a bit this weekend, and that helped. I expressed my concerns to her about a couple of my students and she thanked me, as she would follow through with them.

I came home and at least the dog is behaving normally. It was the first time in the past few days that I actually was grateful that she came rushing at me as I came through the door. I haven't had the capacity to deal with her excitement. and this weekend I was fortunate that the kids' friends took turns walking her. Today, as I came through the door, it least it felt normal.

This uncertainty, and the moving parts is bringing up some feelings for me that are somewhat uncomfortable. It is reminding me of BD and while I am coping with it and doing my best to keep it in perspective, I know there are going to be tears shed sometime this week. The difference is I have more control than I think over certain aspects of my life and I am going to let those tears come if need be, but I am not going to let myself let panic and uncertainty rule my actions.
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#82: March 17, 2020, 08:37:36 AM
This whole situation is a new one for almost everyone. While it seems that the virus is not as virulent as, let's say SARS, it is more than the "normal" flu. The bigger problem is the infection vector. Whereas the flu has an infection rate of about 1:1.2, this has a rate of between 1:2 and 1:4... Between that and a 2-14 day incubation period, it is pretty nasty stuff.....

You did well dealing with the kids, trying to keep their feet on the floor while realizing that some of them may not have the appropriate support systems to get through this easily...

It is teachers like you that keep the kids interested and willing to learn.... Mr. Shock Jock is one of those that often get the students to just give it the "Firetruck it, why bother" attitude....

Snapping the whip is nothing to be ashamed of... It is called "Establishing a Boundary."
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#83: March 17, 2020, 09:58:40 AM
I am worn out. I have tomorrow "off", which is good. I plan on taking tomorrow and truly treating it like a day I wasn't scheduled to work simply because I need the mental break.

Last night, I came home and spent time trying to do normal things. Making dinner. Doing some laundry. Nothing exciting and certainly necessary, but I should have probably been jumping on the work I am going to need to do to figure out my game plan.

I had left school and was going to the millwork when my phone rang. I could hear my coworker from the gallery on the other end of the phone. She is a stoic woman in her 70's. I could hear her voice quivering. I have known her for years and this is not her usual spit fire self. She was trying to send out a mass email and was getting calls from the owner, who was wondering where the email was. Miss Management was hounding her and she was trying to explain that there was a technical issue. Miss Management didn't offer to walk her through it, or come there, even though she was only a short distance away. Instead, she kept hounding my coworker and I heard the stress in her voice. I tried to figure out what was wrong, but it sounded like a bigger issue. I told her I was going to call the millwork and shuffle things around. She told me not to go out of my way, but I insisted.

When I arrived, I could see my usually calm coworker just so overwhelmed. I am not used to that side of her. I told her to let me take a look at it and see if I could figure it out. And she was right, nothing worked. The screen was not frozen, but it wouldn't move. I did some trouble shooting and then walked over and grabbed a different keyboard from the other computer. That was going to send Miss Management through the roof, but I didn't care. I plugged in the keyboard and that was in fact the issue. I looked over and there were tears my coworker was holding back. We joked and have decided to not tell Miss Management I came over, because it will be more fun to let her think my coworker fixed it. Miss Management is always picking on this coworker for her lack of computer capabilities, yet, she is what really keeps the gallery going. My other coworker and I have countless times said it is not computer smarts that sells the work, it is people.

I don't need the pat on the back. I didn't do it for that reason. I did it because it was the right thing to do, as I told my coworker. I said we are in this mess together, and while it meant me driving over I don't regret that drive. I had to stop at the home improvement store anyways to pick up a light switch.

Then my coworker relayed what had happened to her earlier. She was low on some groceries and thought she should at least go pick up some supplies. She said she did pick up toilet paper, because she needed it, no other reason. She said she got up early, when the stores reopened and picked up a few things, including the second to last package of toilet paper. She started crying as she told me that as she put her things on the conveyor, she reached back only to find someone had stolen the toilet paper out of her cart as she was cashing out. She said the funny thing was, she would have gladly shared it with someone, but she was mortified that someone stole from her. The manager noticed her crying and came over. He scoured the store, with the help of his employees. She said her faith in humanity was restored when one of the employees went home and took some from their own home and brought it to their manager, who called her and let her know they were delivering it to her house.

She was so grateful I had taken time and had driven the 20 minutes to come help her out, when I had no idea what was going on. I told her the only way I see how to get through this is by pulling together.

As I drove home, this whole situation and had a laugh about the concept of social distancing. It is not funny, in the situation we are in, but my humor is in the reality that perhaps, we as a society have been practicing a lot of social distancing all along and not in a healthy manner. The self absorbed behaviors we see in our MLCers is extreme, but I notice it in my students at times. I wondered about some of the good things that maybe might come out of this madness.

Is it possible that once some of the panic dies down that we see people working together? Is it possible we find more balance in our lives in terms of being mindful of our time together and find simpler ways to find happiness? It certainly won't work for everyone, but I do ponder these things. Maybe I have to because I am trying to see the positives.

I needed the positives to keep me going today. There are times we have to deal with some heavy realities or potential things as educators. Today, we had a staff day for part of the day at the high school. People were surprised to see me, as I am not the core group, but they were glad to see me. I was the only college level instructor who showed up. I cleaned out my room to make it easier for the cleaning crew to sanitize the space. I had a lump in my throat as I was picking up the projects that were underway and carefully putting them away for when the kids return. It was a very different feeling than when we are at the end of the year.

We had our meeting and one of the topics that came up was how we need to possibly handle a student dying. I don't think any of us had a dry eye. Hopefully, it doesn't get to this point, but the reality is we don't know so many things. And while it may be blown out of proportion, we said it is not even the idea they may die from the virus, it is the reality that some of the kids are very fragile. So, the decision was made that as a faculty, we will be taking turns reaching out to each student, keeping tabs on them, letting them know we care. And it is the little things. One faculty member brought up that the one kid was really sad because tomorrow is his birthday. He was looking forward to the school birthday wishes, something he doesn't get at home. We all decided to text bomb him tomorrow morning.

I searched for normal on the way home, because that was a very odd morning meeting. A very draining one.

I went to check on my parents, and they were going to take a drive to pick up their necessary medications and offered to stop and pick up the part I ordered the other day from the appliance store. I had a quick cup of cocoa my M made for me and we visited.

When I came home, D was up. S was at work. I told D I was on my way to take a little walk and to clear my head. She was going to tag along, but I think she could sense I needed time to just be alone for a little. I did.

Last night, I was talking to a friend of mine. I was having a mini meltdown late at night, when things finally hit me. That fear of having to be the strong one and wishing I had someone to just hold me tight or reassure me without words. That need for security. I have felt it recently, but was craving it in particular last night. I had said I need to find ways to keep my head straight and look for normal.

On my walk, I found my calm, at least for now. The normal was seeing the farmer is keeping to his schedule. The fields needed turned over and he is going to move forward with his crops. Seeing that little bit of routine was a huge help.

I returned home and announced that the kids were going to have to put up with my silly moments, because I am planning on a lot of dancing and singing. My sister laughed and sent me the "Carlton dance". I laughed and said I wasn't thinking along those lines, but it might be fun to throw that into the mix.

And my next thought is about Xh. He "socially distanced" himself months ago from the family. It is what he said needed to happen. Now he is really very alone. I think in some ways, in MLC he subconsciously thought we would be here right where he left us. Now, he is going to be at least for the short term stuck in a way none of us saw coming.

It is not that I see this making him progress or any other thing like that. I think it just struck me as he is really getting what "he wanted" and I wonder how he is going to handle it. I feel alone right now, but I have support. He, on the other hand, is really very alone, by his own choices. I don't see how he will navigate this. Perhaps it is what he needs to figure himself out. I hope so for the kid's sake and for himself.

UrsaMajor - you were posting as I nearly hit post. : )

This whole situation is a new one. And, I am glad I went with my gut. It would seem the first order of business this morning, was the fact that reports were coming in from some of the school districts that the software and hardware issues were not going smoothly, as these things have never been tested in this manner. The sudden influx is overwhelming the IT people at the moment. And the ugly realties of some students just don't have access or the necessary support at home to deal with the tech issues. For some, it is because they don't have a parent there at all who can or will help them. The assumptions that were often made were wrong and we are facing the truth that it is not as easy as just one solution.

I have to believe there will be good things that come out of this. If I don't focus on that, I will find myself falling down the rabbit hole, much like BD and I won't allow myself to go there again, if I can help that. It is way too scary and lonely in that pit.
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#84: March 17, 2020, 10:49:59 AM
Not all MLCers are alone, of course, just 'socially distanced' from their old family system I guess.
I think most of us really value whatever way a family can pull together in these uncertain and anxious times, that feeling that we have each other's backs even if things become very difficult or someone gets ill.
We all know how hard and exhausting it can feel to be dealing with tough things on your own don't we?

I have no idea how the MLC folks will respond. Ha ha, I guess it is like a huge global science experiment.  :).....and a lot of their 'toys of distraction' will be rather limited....but we can probably rely on the fact that most of them will be pretty self-centred lol. Like the rotten people who stole your coworkers toilet rolls from her cart (I have a mental image now of MLCers running round stealing toilet rolls and pasta  :) ) Or will feel pretty sorry for themselves if they need support but realise they fired their old reliable support team. Perhaps they will all just distract themselves on social media with lots of meaningful memes and ow wearing 'isolation chic'  ::) Could be wrong but the kind of characters that can be ow don't seem likely to me to be the kinds of characters who you would want to trust your life to in a crisis, do they?

Completely get what you say about that pit. Yup, I'm not going back there either....and I can see that events would make it easy to do so bc there are a lot of unknowns one could worry about or try to game. I suspect if things continue for quite a while given human nature there will be a lot of unintended social changes....and like you, I hope some of them will be positive ones. As an aside, there is a lot of info suggesting a huge reduction in air pollution in various spots bc of less human activity.

Your walk sounds perfect, all those signs of the normal ongoing rhythms of life. I will be doing the same on the allotment.
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« Last Edit: March 17, 2020, 10:55:40 AM by Treasur »
T: 18  M: 12 (at BD) No kids.
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Divorced April 18. XH married ow 6 weeks later.
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#85: March 18, 2020, 07:50:29 PM
Treasur - Funny, but not in the "haha" sense, but someone this evening asked me if I was angry with my MLCer in light of the world events going on, with his lack of checking in on any of us. I had to admit I was mildly upset. And, it was not as if I was hoping he would come back and rescue us somehow, or protect us, but yes, maybe a little less self absorbed behavior would have helped right now. At that point in the day, I was just shaking my head in disbelief, yet, also wondering why this would surprise me, as it shouldn't.

S has been under immense stress this week. He was put in charge of the mill side of things. The staff has dwindled down to less than half, as if anyone is showing any signs of sniffles or anything, even allergies they are being sent home. Which is of course wise. The general layout of the work space allows for distancing, and our boss has always been fastidious about keeping things sanitized. So, S is now working on not only projects but managing the remaining staff. It is a lot of pressure on him.

Today, his GF came here and her truck was in need of repairs so she can return to work. S helped her out, but nothing was going right. He was tired. And then came the ill-timed email from his college that said everything would be going completely online and he will need to drive the 6 hour round trip at some point to pick up his things.

My very calm S, had his second meltdown in a week. He feels defeated and sad about not seeing his roommate again, and on and on. The email is still vague, as the school admitted it is still working out the details of this. The unknowns creating panic in my S. And in that moment, the exercise I did with my own students wasn't going to work, because, I wasn't even sure what to do. I know panic wasn't going to help, but I was still in shock from seeing S fall apart.

I had made a regular meal tonight and had spent time focusing today on "normal things" in the hopes of making our lives as normal as possible. And it felt good. I was enjoying cooking. I was thinking about the things I would try and accomplish and realized some of the things I already have in my possession that I can fill my time with.

And then S fell apart. Followed by informing me that Xh called and instead of asking how he was, Xh instead had his own meltdown about having to work from home and the uncertainty. But, in the next breath, because he lives in a village that is a seasonal community, the small grocery store has been handling the traffic just fine. Well of course, there aren't too many residents there right now and the ones that do live there year round, would know enough to stock up as it is. So, clearly Xh is all safe and good. Bully for him.

This started to infuriate me. I won't lie. And F MLC. Whatever - crisis or not, these are his kids, but no concern about them because, well,  frankly, MD has it all under control, just like always. Or the other thought is MD's parents are nearby, it is all good. Well, it isn't. Because then the next wave of stress rolled in.

D came home and has left the house for the night. She came in and when I mentioned S was super stressed, she snapped and said so was she. I said I realized that, but we aren't used to seeing her B like this, and I was just alerting her that he was on edge and maybe we all need to take a step back and try and regroup. Yah, I apparently didn't handle that one well. D informs me she is ultra stressed but knows I have a lot on my plate, etc. And her tears rolled out, as did some pretty sharp spears.

My response was I was doing all I could to try and make life somewhat normal for them. In fact, I had so hoped that school and their lives had settled into some sense of what a normal life should be like for them. With that came the mother of all truth darts that pierced my heart. D said that life has not been anywhere near normal for her or any of us for the past 6 years. The 6 year mark is right when MLC rolled in and life started to fall apart completely for all of us.

She is right. And, nothing I can say or do is going to fix that. While I know my job isn't to fix it, my desire to try and help all of us navigate this and adapt. We have all been accepting some of the changes and many, up until this latest out of our control life event, have been some good changes.

I am not going to lie - I am terrified. I don't like being at the helm all the time, trying to keep this family afloat. I have a support system, I know. But, at times, it doesn't feel like enough.

And, cheerleading is the last thing I need right now. If I am told by a single person I am strong and have been through worse, I am afraid my normally calm demeanor might be on vacation. I am not feeling strong. Yes, I have been through things and survived. I am sure I will do my best to get through this and somehow find positives, etc. I am not going to allow myself to dive into that pit.

I spent a good amount of time just crying. It seems to be a common theme for me the past few weeks. If I were to say that to the average person they might think that is me being depressed. Strangely, I have been in a relatively good mood, in spite of all of this insanity. I have been trying to keep my sense of humor, but I know underneath the jokes, I am also very troubled. I keep kicking myself along the path, trying to move forward.

I keep wondering if this is some cruel joke. I make progress and find happiness, only to be derailed again by some crazy thing. And, I know it is not just me - that would be a very selfish belief. But, the mini pity party snuck in.

I thought of my grandmother tonight. I suppose it makes me admire her strength all the more. She survived the Great Depression. Lost her mom at a young age and raised her siblings. Raised her own kids. Survived cancer only to have my grandfather die that same year. There were other tragedies along the way. And even when Alzheimer's took her ability to recall her life, she always smiled and laughed. Even in her last days. The last interaction I had with her, was about a week before she died. She couldn't really form a sentence. She was no longer eating. She recognized my F but as it had been for nearly 5 years, she only knew he was familiar. She didn't know who I was, but as long as I was with my F, she warmed up to me. She reached over and held my hand and kept feeling the knit sweater I had on. For the whole time we sat there, she just rubbed that fabric and smiled, saying one word "nice".

And, I wasn't really sure why I thought of that moment again. I think it is I feel like it has to do with she spent many years alone after my grandfather died. Several years later she met a man she fell in love with. They were engaged after 5 years and he died shortly after that very tragically. She kept going. I keep thinking tonight, "how the hell did she do it - just keep picking herself up and finding the courage and laughter along the way"?. I remember her being sad at times, but my most vivid memories of her are her smiles and laughter.

As I was having a moment of falling apart, S asked me why I was crying. I didn't want to say because I am scared $h!teless - it's okay if the kids know I too am afraid, but tonight he didn't need that extra stress. And, it wasn't a lie that I told him. I was thinking about a lot of things. One being my grandmother.

S was 5 or 6 when my grandmother went into the nursing home. He remembers her when she was still lucid. He smiled at me and said he loved going to her house with my F. My grandmother would make sure she had homemade cookies on hand for S and they would all sit at the table together. S also recalled one time going there with my F and I. I remember this day as well. My grandmother, well into her 80's by then, got down on the floor and rolled the ball back and forth to S. They sat on that floor and giggled non-stop. The fact, that S remembers that and very vividly.

S commented tonight that he thinks that is how I am going to be when I am that age - laughing and having fun.

I just don't know. I hope he is right. At the moment, I am just not sure what I am doing. And, it won't solve itself overnight, nor will I have any answers. Right now, I feel like that vision I saw down the path that looked like "normal" is looking a whole lot like a movie set and I am not exactly sure if a path even exists at the moment.
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#86: March 18, 2020, 08:49:21 PM
I hear you.  I can relate to so much of what you’re saying.  Keeping the family afloat.  Alone.  It is hard.  So. Very. Hard.  Sending lots of love your way!
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#87: March 18, 2020, 11:50:17 PM
Crying is a strange thing isn't it? Lots of emotions get to come out through tears, I think.

No fake 'rah rah' from here, Mourning. None at all. It is hard being the only sane grown up left standing. And regardless of the reasons, there is something repulsive about self-centred people who don't seem to be concerned about others right now isn't there? It's a sort of basic humanity thing, I think. And equally heartwarming when we see folks who do the opposite...who create those moments of kindness or the cookies of life that give us all a bit of encouragement.

I hope that the spirit of your grandmother is one that sustains you. I'm sure that she must have had her times alone when it all felt too much too.....but she had a soul that kept choosing 'nice' where she found it. That's a rare and lovely thing that can be just as contagious as a virus imho. And you are your grandmother's granddaughter after all.
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#88: March 19, 2020, 03:27:06 AM
I have (or am forming) a theory that, despite our LBS SuperPower of being so darn flexible that if we were any more so, we'd all be green, our heads would be slanted, and we'd all be named Gumby, the fact that we have lived for so long with so much uncertainty (Limbo, anyone?) means that we are sensitive to the mass uncertainty that is currently going on in the world. There are SO many uncertainties in the world right now and we each have our own plates (especially those of us with "other" responsibilities like kids or aging parents) that the added dump truck full delivered by the Virus tends to overload even our abilities to keep all the plates spinning.

At those points, it can be helpful to have a cry (or other emotional outlet) to relieve the pressure/stress a bit.

Also, if I may say so, D's comment about nothing being normal for the last 6 years was not, in the conventional sense, a truth dart that was aimed at you but rather a factual (from her perspective) statement that wasn't assigning blame to you.... Probably more a "shot in the dark" against xW but you were the one to hear it....

As for the Rah Rah squad.... Here you go!  ;D

(Admit it, you laughed!)

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#89: March 19, 2020, 08:32:49 AM
Thank you, Gracie. I saw your post very late last night, and it helped immensely. Just kind words reminding me of the kindness "strangers" and the goodness around me. I so appreciate that right now in particular.  :)

Treasur - Crying has always been a way I release emotions. It isn't always easy keeping tears in. I have welled up more than once in front of my students when they tell me something sad or when they are happy. Xh often accused me of feeling deeply. It is something many people don't realize about me in RL, unless they have been around me enough to be let into some of those rings. Even those in my innermost rings are sometimes shocked the first time they witness actual tears. I am known to cry at sappy commercials and I can feel it coming on. But, last night was all about a whole tangle of emotions. It was easier to cry and let go than to carefully try to untangle the mess in my head.

And, thank you - that was the best kind of cheerleading. It was sincere and while I have friends who are sincere, some do not understand I do not respond well under pressure to the "you can do this" type of cheering. It actually gives me what I can best explain as "performance anxiety". I was thinking about it this morning. My nephew and I are very much alike personality wise. He plays baseball and is very good. However, when there are bases loaded, the score is tight, he goes up to plate, the minute anyone yells out "J, you can do this" he can't shut the noise out. His whole body tenses up, and he usually fails. It is too much outside pressure and has the opposite effect for him. I behave the same way.

Having someone there, quietly supporting me, knowing they are there and believe in me is much more effective than having someone say things like "you can do this" or other sentiments. They mean well. It just doesn't work for me and quite often rubs me the wrong way. And that is when I know they really don't understand me, when they continue to do it. And it isn't any fault of theirs. It is much like not understanding other people's love language.

UrsaMajor - LMAO - yes, that in fact did make me laugh and well...because you know why. LOL.

I do think you are on to something with your theory. Frankly, I am ready to graduate from throwing glassware to perhaps moving on to dinnerware. LOL.

Last night, when I went upstairs and realized the window was still open from earlier in the day. The cold air was rolling in, but the smell of the air was sweet and I decided to turn the heat off, and just put another blanket on.

When I crawled into bed, I put my head on the pillow and started to overthink. I thought of Gracie's post and decided to make myself laugh and sat up, picked up my pillow, shook it out and flipped it over. And started laughing, telling myself that silly me - I was sleeping on the wrong side, as I used to do when the kids had a nightmare. It fooled them. When I put my head back down and snuggled up under the blankets, I quietly said my prayers, as I often do.

This morning, I felt wiped out, but not nearly as heavy hearted. I thought about D's truth dart. I knew it was not meant to be directed at me, and it was more of a synopsis of what life has been like for all of us. For D to scream it out loud was a big moment. I told her I was not going to dismiss what she said, because it was important to acknowledge that this has been life. What struck me is her picking up on the 6 year mark. BD#1 was 2014, and now I have to think about it, in terms of the date, unlike years ago when it happened. I remember the month and time frame, but the date is no longer seared into my head or my heart. It has been nearly 6 years.

Before this pandemic, life was creeping towards a new type of normal. I had hoped college would be that bit of normal for the kids. The hiccups we have had were manageable. This is just such a huge thing and they know it is affecting others. But, as I said to both of them, I do understand, and it is okay to admit their fears.

I got up this morning and immediately put the radio on, the minute I heard the news come on, I changed the station. Not this morning. I wasn't ready for that. I am going back to managing my media exposure, and control what I can for the moment. I found the radio station that is always switching it up and this morning the DJ announced he was going to play dance music for about an hour, with the hopes that we took the opportunity to actually dance.

S was getting up and saw me dancing and he started laughing. And the music the DJ had on is not my normal "fare", as it was full on retro disco mixed with some more current dance music. S wanted to know if I planned on going clubbing. I smiled and said that no, I may actually decide to learn all of the various line and group dances during this crisis. He was clearly thinking I had lost my mind. He is used to seeing me dancing around, but this was not my normal. I said I was preparing for the day when we could have a bonfire and have a party when there is some happy news.

S, being S, wondered if my dancing will include the Hokey Pokey, Chicken Dance and Baby Shark. I told him if it comes to that, the prior rules apply which he laughed and said "ah, you are either drunk off your a$$ or there are toddlers to entertain. Got it". I told him I was still going to be true to myself, so that line in the sand will still exist.  :)

Perhaps, a little bit of normal this morning.  :)

And with that, I came up with an idea for my high school class to at least launch my projects, until we get some news on what each student has in their possession for materials, etc. I have decided to have them keep a sketchbook/journal and going to run it by my coworker to see if we can work on a virtual collaborative publishing project. Still have to shake out all of the particulars, but I have to find a way to put some positive back into this situation.



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#90: March 19, 2020, 09:15:14 AM


No other words needed
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#91: March 19, 2020, 10:10:49 AM
Oh, UrsaMajor - what am I going to do with you? LOL -- Thanks for that. All the more reason my rules apply. LOL

Just to add to complete full crazy, I received my live check, from the university. Yay, resolved. Sort of. But, no. It is only for the current pay period - LOL. So, in these crazy times, I sent out and email thanking everyone that helped resolve this and then saying, "um, but do we know how the retroactive pay will be handled"?

No stress in this household - LMAO.  ::)

And for more crazy, Xh sent his support check. Fortunately, since only drive through service is available, if at all, he made the check out to me - full name and actually legible. Small miracle, considering it would be very difficult to deposit a check if it were like the previous months of "WTF checks".

I am trying to keep my sanity. You know I would say I would run away, but there isn't anywhere to go.  ::) Apparently the dog has ideas though, as she is barking at me to take her back outside for a while. LOL
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#92: March 19, 2020, 04:16:26 PM
The checks that arrived were in fact paper checks. I decided it was best if I made the trek into town to get them into my account today.

I had put on a work outfit and minimal makeup earlier in the day as, I am trying to keep myself in the "work" mindset. But, I was looking a little rough around the edges. Between my crying last night and my eyes being puffy and seasonal allergies that were making me sniffly, and sneezing, I figured it was best if I didn't go into the pharmacy today. I opted for the drive thru window at the bank and thought about how completely insane all of this seems. I have always been one to be contentious about washing my hands and the like, but wow, I found myself feeling almost excessive. Hand sanitizer before grabbing the tube that goes to the teller, after sending it to her and then after retrieving it and putting it back.

The town was quiet, but it seemed like a Sunday morning with the little bit of traffic. I haven't gone into a grocery store in over a week, so I am sure I will be shocked. I will deal with that tomorrow and only because I need to pick up a prescription.

I focused on the people outside and enjoying the air. I am trying to look for things that seem like regular routines to keep myself grounded.

The dog has kept me busy. She clearly is enjoying everyone being home and did not want me working at all. She found ways to invade my work space, by nudging her head under my laptop or by hitting me with toys. When I gave her some attention, she played the toddler game of dropping the toy on the floor and stupid me, I fell for it one too many times, before I realized she was messing with me.

By the time I came home from the bank, she was ready to go out again. And, not because she had to, but she clearly felt I needed a walk. I finally gave in, mildly annoyed because today had been a lot of tying up some loose ends and reading countless emails, which started to all jumble together - policy changes that keep changing in minutes. My head was already spinning.

So, I threw on a sweater that was laying on the freshly washed, folded laundry and I had already put on lounge pants and a t-shirt to tell myself mentally that my work day was done. On a normal day, I would have gone to find a pair of jeans to throw on for the evening, but I was spent. The outfit made little "fashion sense" but I just didn't care by then and I highly doubt that too many people would care in light of the situation at hand. Of course, D who laughed at me when she saw me and said it was not one of my better combinations. I guess I shall strike if from the "runway"  ::)

When I went outside the first thing I noticed was the mourning dove on the wire across from my house. I haven't seen a dove there in a long time. And I always look, as it was something that I noticed after BD#1 - a dove was always there for every morning. It brought me such peace. And it would return every day until only a few months ago. I smiled and felt some calm coming over me.

As I walked, I felt the stress start to slip away. I walked during MLC for many months. It was what saved me at times. Escaping just for a bit. BD#2, I was beyond a wreck and it was my way of keeping the kids from seeing me fall apart. During those months, I walked the dog faithfully 3-4 times a day and averaged anywhere from 4-6 miles in all sorts of weather. The only time I didn't walk was if there was lighting, but beyond that, I was out there. And then I stopped. IDK why.

It would be a piece of writing that prompted me to get back to walking. Something, I have said countless times saved me. And at some point in all of the craziness with the kids' getting ready for college and other things, I kept shoving it to the background and not walking nearly as much. I recently started going more, but it has not been nearly as "committed" as I once was. And, I wondered why. I felt better mentally when I walked. After BD, I lost weight due to the LBS diet, but there was a point when just walking every day melted the weight away for me without a whole lot of effort. I found my spiritual side during those walks, so the more I walked today, the more I realized it is something I need to grab ahold of again and it is really not something I should sacrifice. It will take some time for me to get back into the routine, but maybe right now is the time to do this, while life is on a bit of an odd pause.

I had found myself earlier today so wanting to go to the city and go to a cafe or to a museum. The weather made me crave one of my favorite spots in the city, where I can sit outside and drink a cup of coffee. It is not possible. It seemed strange to not be able to go there and just enjoy the day.

I often joke about the city and pick on the people who live in the city not being able to survive out here in what some like to refer to as where us "bumpkins" live. One of them being my sister, who lives in suburbia. I like to kid her and ask her how things are on Wisteria Lane, especially when she actually lives on a Lane.  ::). But, I must admit, there are in fact things I love about cities - the energy and such. I often wonder what if I decided to move. I have lived in cities and adapted. IDK. Today, I think it was the idea of the city, because this isolation seems really very odd, yet, it isn't any different for me than usual for the most part. I am not seeing the same things most are in terms of people not around. I live on a road with 4 houses on it, so my neighbors are pretty spread out.

It is the idea right now of feeling isolated.

S came home and his GF called. He had repaired the brakes on her truck yesterday, but today the starter went on it. It was a truck her uncle bought for her at auction and S was not impressed with his purchase. It has been going along okay up until now. His GF called, crying because she couldn't get anyone to tow her truck right now, as everyone is panicked. She was stranded in a parking lot and S knew the part would be hard to find without ordering it.

The neighbor called and asked to borrow a tool from the garage. We were kind of laughing because this kid has been like my 3rd S and I have never known him to call, he often would just come to the back door and walk in. It has been that way since the first time he snuck over when he was 3. He is now 17 and this is the first time I have seen him do that. It was so odd. But, necessary under this situation. As they were talking on the phone, the neighbor right away reminded S, that in his garage was in fact the same type of truck and they are planning on selling it at some point, but right now is not the time. He called his F and they went and pulled the starter off the truck and brought it to S. S asked them how much and they told him not to worry about it, because out in the country we stick together in times like this. I wanted to hug him, but instead I told him when this was over both of them are getting a giant batch of tiramisu, which is their favorite dessert.

I am reminded of how very grateful I am for the people in my life.
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#93: March 20, 2020, 05:10:43 AM
I REALLY hope that, when this all finally ends, there is a lot more of that "We stick together and help each other"spirit and less of the dog-eat-dog, elbow-my-way-to-the-top mentality that we are experiencing.
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#94: March 20, 2020, 12:14:05 PM
UrsaMajor - I am with you on this. I am trying to look to the positives.

I went out to the store for the first time in over a week. It was a strange experience, I must admit. I did notice the way certain places are handling things and I must say the one grocery store always amazes me. They have always made continual changes over the years to do what is best for their customers, but also for their employees. The fact that this employer consistently takes their employees' well being into consideration is all the more reason for me to support them.

There is so much uncertainty, so being kind is even more important right now as far as I am concerned. I could have pumped my own gas, but I went to the local gas station and supported them instead of the chain. I try and go there as it is, but today they weren't really in my travel plans.

D was with me, as she had the shopping list for my parents. She had done an inventory on their things and wanted to make sure they had their prescriptions and the like. We did a divide and conquer approach so that we can avoid going out for a couple of weeks at least.

And then I stopped by the bank. D was shocked to see me get out more money than usual. She wondered what that was all about. I told her this is something I have done for a very long time during the winter months. I know when we have storms, which are rare, I keep cash on hand, just in case I need to pay someone to plow out the driveway or emergencies. She gave me a look and then looked outside. It was sunny and warm. I told her to look at the forecast, to which she replied "I thought you were avoiding the news". I said I was on a media diet, yes, as I need a mental break, but I do check the weather, as it is still March and we had an exceptionally mild winter, which usually means we get one big storm in March right around St Patrick's Day time frame. She pulled up the forecast and smiled telling me I was clearly a country girl at heart and they are calling for a severe drop in temperature and a wind storm today. But, the temperature is going right back up. So, then she said there was no snow in the forecast, so why the extra cash, as we can go to the ATM. I said to her, what would happen if we are without electric right now. She processed and realized that as a whole we are very reliant on technology and maybe I was wise to have at least a little cash on hand. And it wasn't much really, just enough to heaven forbid pay for an emergency repair if need be.

D laughed at me and said I was much smarter than she gives me credit for some times. LOL

When we came home, D set out to put away our groceries and then came out to thank me. I had to ask for what. She simply said to "for being here for B and I" and how she knew it isn't always easy.
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#95: March 20, 2020, 02:19:12 PM
I think back to when I was in college and before MLC, and I was not one to panic easily. MLC turned that all upside down. It has taken me awhile to get back to any semblance of not being nearly so reactive. I find I cannot handle overload as easily as I once did though. That skill is probably not a bad thing to have shaken off though, considering if anything, I tended to go full tilt until at times I hit a wall. It was just before BD #1, I had realized I was needing to change that about myself.

I still fall into that mode at times and have to stop myself. That is not to say I am going full speed all the time, because I really do relax. And, I have learned that after MLC, I have learned to say "no" and to manage myself much better. I do know that at times though, I can fall into not being able to turn my brain off. I go into hyper creative brain, which is really not always effective because it can be like a mental traffic jam where I can't really see the clear path. And it happens when I am stressed out.

Today, D was trying to help me by sending me links for my students and such. And I did appreciate it, but when we were in the car, I told her I didn't want to talk about anything virus related for at least an hour, as I needed to have a mental break from all of it. D stopped and looked at me and said that actually sounded like a good idea.

It would be when she was at home, she came in and announced that she found a way to be useful and keep her brain busy. She designed a spread sheet to use for my parents and for ourselves to inventory what we have in stock. To track things. I am not really too worried, but D likes to organize things.

D was talking to my sister who is at her wit's end with her younger kids, and my sister said they should as a family reorganize the kid's closets and clean out perhaps. My sister said that was a good idea, to have them "help" out. Later I talked to my sister and she said her kids were feeling "useful" and felt like they were somehow contributing to pitching in and pulling together.

I have put D in charge of reorganizing the kitchen and purging the cabinets, reorganizing and making it more efficient. I have made some changes, but I told her to go at it. She is excited about starting this this weekend.

I felt a sense of calm and my creativity kicked in. The stress is not there right now, and taking the dog for a walk helped. I suspect the stress will return from time to time, as S is on his last day at work starting tonight. It is a necessary evil. And he has to go to pick up things from his dorm, a six hour round trip he is dreading.

But, I was feeling something I haven't in awhile, a change in my mindset. Creative solutions and ideas creeping in. When my sister sent me a photo of a drawing my nephew did this afternoon from a drawing that hangs in my sister's bedroom. It is a portrait of a woman and my nephew's rendition is quite good, although a bit more graphic in terms of the line treatment. It looks like the woman, but the shading and shadows are more geometric. I can see why he interpreted it the way he did. So, then I suggested perhaps my nephew do family portraits and then it dawned on me, while it would be cool for him to work from life, he and I could do a project together. I am having him take photos and I will put them in photoshop and play with the contrast, etc and make the shadows and high lights have sharper edges, etc. My nephew was squealing on the other end of the phone, asking me if  this is how I work with clients. I paused and said that is in fact sometimes how we work in terms of sharing ideas over email, etc. He and I are both excited about this fun project.

It fueled my own creativity both personally, as well as, to come up with some ideas for my students. Things they could do with their limited supplies.

I had quieted my mind enough to not worry about the outside world and blew the dust of my creative side. It makes me realize I need to allow for time to do this under more.

S came home from work and said he is processing all of this right now, as it seems surreal. We talked awhile and he is just relaxing right now. He asked me about what I was doing for work, and I told him I too would be having to work on school work from home, so perhaps we could all have designated work time and set up an office to work in. He liked that idea. As he talked I said maybe we should do like we did when they were kids and all work in the kitchen together. The kids did their homework and Xh and/or I would have our own work to do often whether it was the bills or office work.

Now, if only the dog could find some work to keep herself occupied  ::)
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#96: March 20, 2020, 02:56:31 PM
Surely the dog's job is to be your personal walking motivational trainer and to check progress on alfalfa growing?  :) (Grace the cat has asked me to remind you though that while dogs have jobs, cats are entirely decorative.)

Love the sound of your project with your nephew, and finding ways to encourage everyone to find their own ways of coping and contributing. And, like you, I am feeling a bit of creative sap rising here too...perhaps it is a quiet act of positive rebellion to find light in dark times.
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#97: March 20, 2020, 03:49:02 PM
Treasur - LOL. I just saw a couple of quotes about cats, and they certainly describe my two cats.

“Thousands of years ago, cats were worshiped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this.”
"Dogs come when you call. Cats take a message and will get back to you".

Yes, the dog is my motivational trainer, and you might be right as the alfalfa is sprouting across the way with the warmer weather. The deer and other wildlife are very active as well, so keeping in line with her lineage, my chocolate lab's nose has been very busy. Tonight, she was trying to convince me that we really should crawl into the fox den and have a visit. Not one of my more relaxing strolls with her, I must admit. It might be part of the training - working out my upper body strength, as I had to pull her back out. It is remarkable how strong that 90 lb dog is when she digs all 4 feet into the ground. And she gave me such a look when I finally got her out. It was clearly letting me know, I was "Betty Buzzkill". I had sucked the fun out that adventure. The rest of the way up that side of the road, she was clearly sulking. When we turned around to go back, she spotted S's car driving in the driveway and picked up the pace.

I said to my sister earlier that the phrase "careful what you wish for" stuck in my head. I had said over the summer right before school started that I would like just a couple of weeks where I could just lock out the world and not have to go anywhere so I could get ahead on some of these projects.

Of course, I don't have those superpowers and I certainly wasn't exactly thinking this type of insanity. But, I thought about it and said to myself that maybe that is what I just need to do. Yes, I still have to work remotely, but I am not going to really be able to go anywhere. Or a need to at the moment.

So, I suppose, if in fact I was granted my wish, I should use it.  ::)

Putting life on pause like this is scary, but maybe it will be a good thing for many of us in the long run. I keep hoping that is the case. I can't focus on some of the realities, to be honest. I know this is not a pretty situation.

Which was actually something S and I talked about at dinner. My parents have a very good friend who was alive during the second world war, living in the Netherlands. She talks about that experience and she rarely talks about the ugly, she said there was plenty of that. She tells the story about how her M would make tulip bulb soup because they had no food. She would season it different ways for each meal. She laughs now when she tells that story. Or how her M snuck out to the country to get meat from her family. There was a shortage, and she would take her F's violin case. No one would question it, thinking it there was a violin inside, but she would return with meat in the darned thing.

S said he realized tonight that she is in her 90's and has such a positive outlook, and she had to have witnessed some pretty scary things. He decided humor is not a bad thing. I told him that I am going to embrace that as well, as best as I can. We collectively said we were going to strive to find the good and the positives when we could right now.

How we react is the only thing we have control over at the moment. That sounds way too familiar. I suppose time and patience apply here too.  ::)
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#98: March 21, 2020, 09:03:39 AM
D was sending me links to different things available in the community for my students. She was being very helpful, but I finally had to tell her that I was not going to look at them right away, as it was overwhelming. They are all positive things, but I told her that I think we all need to perhaps schedule this a bit more, that is, to not be obsessive and maybe we treat it a little more like work time, play time, etc.

I think she was confused for a minute, but the more we talked, she realized I was trying to balance this all out and show her while it is important to help one another and focus on good things, we also need to have some sense of routine and non-virus life in the mix.

I have told both kids we are not going to hover over the news and we need to limit the media coverage because it is going to drag us down and physical health is very important, but so is our mental health in this situation.

We agreed to stick to this and then both kids wanted to reinstitute our practice of saying what we are grateful for each day.

S sat down in the living room last night and he share something about our tiny school district. Because it is a smaller, more rural district it is often the butt of jokes by the larger school districts and even by the students themselves. It is comprised of a relatively low population, but geographically covers a remarkably large territory. The surrounding schools are in more condensed areas, and have more students and easier access to things like villages. But, S said last night that he felt really proud of how our small school is handling this right now. It seems the school board voted that in order to make sure the students who normally rely on their meals still get their food from school. Many of the schools have adopted a pick up service at their schools. Our superintendent and the board decided that was not sufficient and to keep those students fed, they would deliver the food with a drop off method. They then made sure that the bus drivers willing to do it, would be paid to make those bus runs. One of them, is my neighbor's sister. She said the kids seeing her as a familiar face and stopping to make sure they were fed, was reassuring to them.

As of yesterday, 700 meals had been distributed. My S said that the football team may not be as good as it used to, but we should be really proud of how we are taking care of our own in our small school. Of course, that made me cry, as those things do. He teared up as well and then we both laughed.

I asked D earlier in the day if she had heard from her F. Not really. She said BIL has been texting more though. I am wondering if he is back to realizing the reality of the dynamic between Xh and the kids, or if this is just my BIL being the protective uncle he is. My BIL is very good at staying calm, but this has to be tough on him being stuck inside and not on the ground helping, as he had in his days in the military. He is used to being in the middle of disasters and trying to organize people. He has to feel quite helpless right now, as this is not like earthquake relief or something you can see. And, I know he has many friends abroad that he is concerned about as well, considering he spent years stationed in Europe.

I then asked S about his F. Something, I don't ask either kid normally, unless it is brought up. S shrugged and said he hasn't heard a thing from his F in a week, other than a quick response to S asking if he was okay. He said Xh simply said he had plenty to keep himself busy and that was it. No "hey how are you and your sister making out". S said Xh never asked about college or his job, nothing. He has no idea that S has to make the trek to school tomorrow on his own and pick up not only his things, but his roommate's because his roommate cannot make the trip. The school will hold his stuff, but they don't know for how long. The roommate asked if S could bring it home and store it here, which is not an issue, but S is overwhelmed by it all. Yet, S said his F has said nothing or asked a thing.

Last night, after that talk, S decided to go out and ride around on the tractor. I told him that was a good idea. And then I heard a crunching sound. It startled me, until I looked outside and saw my S tearing out the damaged corner property from the tractor accident. He removed all of the shrubs and pushed the debris out of the way. He came in and asked me to come outside and look. I didn't say anything negative, as it wasn't exactly what I had in mind originally, as it opens that corner up more than I want. I smiled and knew he needed to do that. I said it looked like a good clean slate to start over with and I will put in new trees and shrubs. I could see he felt better having been outside.

And, the more I look at the corner, the more I see the potential. :)
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#99: March 23, 2020, 04:26:57 AM
One day at a time, right? Being able to have the time to prepare and organize things is a blessing in disguise though....
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#100: March 23, 2020, 10:39:03 AM
UrsaMajor - That is the blessing in disguise - time to perhaps get some things done.

It is a very odd thing, having to rewire my brain right now and not rush around trying to get things done. Not having to run to the grocery store and get the week's supplies and such on Sunday was a little odd. It took me a little time to stop my pace of rushing around last night at dinner time, as that has become the last few months before the work week. I have tried to make time for myself on Sundays, but it hasn't worked.

I was thinking back to when things were more relaxed in my life. At one point in time it was something we had down to a bit of a science, and Sundays were really time to be outside working in the gardens and we eased into the week. I think so much of that changed when Xh's business started taking off, and it fell on me more and more to deal with the everyday life. The kids added chaos to the mix, but most people who have kids know that is how it is when each kid has homework or activities for school. Rushing around is what happens. But, even back then, we tried to make at least Sunday evening a time for slowing down.

FIL moved in and that added a different dynamic. Xh went into MLC. The kids were into more things and it is just seemed to mushroom.

Yesterday, I caught myself a couple of times picking up the pace at home for really no reason - there was no emergency going on that required running up the stairs. All though I must admit it is good exercise  ::) It dawned on me, as I stopped myself that even when Xh moved out I kept up some of this frantic pace sometimes when it was not necessary. And, I don't mean work wise, just sometimes flying around the house trying to catch up on things. What has struck me is some of those times I was flying around were on Sunday nights and maybe that is often why I dreaded Mondays so much. The reality that I didn't let myself completely just have time before Monday to switch gears.

On the flip side, I like doing things and making progress, so laying around all day, day in and day out is not going to help either. So, yesterday, when the house was quiet, as both kids were still asleep, I started staining the window frames in the kitchen. I didn't have enough of one stain color and didn't want to risk going out just for that reason, so I used my skills and came up with more than enough stain to complete that task. In a couple of hours, I had them all done and can move on to the trim, which I plan on painting an accent color. There was something very relaxing about the process, as I decided not to tape anything off and rely on my artistic skills and practice keeping my hand steady and understanding how to control how much stain to put on the brush. I could have had it done a bit quicker had I taped it off, but there was something very therapeutic about having to pay attention and concentrate more.

I worked on some laundry and had a relaxing day for the most part.

This morning, I wasn't really sure what to do with myself. I have to work on my student's work for the high school and for the colleges. But, I woke up and felt like I needed to be somewhere. There was a slight moment of panic that I had to rush around. I paused and went about my morning routine, all the while, making it as normal as possible.

It is snowing outside after a very warm snap and it is going right back up again this week to warmer weather. The dog, when I took her out was very excited about the snow and wanted to run around and chase the big flakes. I wasn't dressed for that type of recreation, so she wasn't too happy with me.

S picked up his things from college yesterday. He was a little down about the whole trip, saying it was rather surreal showing up to a campus to be greeted by security in masks and gloves. He had to load his entire room and brought home his roommates things as well. He joked when he got home that we are all set, as he and his roommate both had stockpiles of junk food and paper supplies, which he knows I am not worried about either.

D is going to be the difficult one to deal with in all of this. She is fighting the anxiety and is in need to control mode. She is micromanaging everyone at times and I told her she needs to really reel it in. She is a combination of my M and Xh for sure. I realize this dynamic is going to be a challenge for the two of us.

D's stress is in part to S having to bring in his things from college and we just needed to get it unloaded last night, so it is in a pile. Any disruption to D's routine throws her off, including unexpected "messes" like S's pile which included his roommate's things. S assured her he was putting it in storage, once he cleaned out a part of the garage to put things in, but last night he was just wiped out after the 6 hour round trip and loading and unloading the SUV. He had put in a 10 hour day when all was said and done, without any breaks. I told D she needed to take a step back and figure out a way to cope, because it is going to be tough navigating this time together.

I do know I am going to have to find a way to get that library back in order first and foremost, as I am going to need a place to do work that allows me to shut the door and indicate I am working. It was what we had to do when Xh first started his business and worked exclusively from home. The kids were little and we had to make it clear that they couldn't be in the office. We had glass pocket doors and if the doors were closed they understood there was a meeting or something going on. If the doors were open, it meant they were free to roam about and come visit. And we made sure the doors were open a lot. Right now, I am thinking I will have to do the same in this case, because I need some space to get away. Once the weather gets warmer, I can escape to the back deck and sit outside.

Today, cold and snowy is not the day to be on the back deck working - LOL
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#101: March 24, 2020, 04:55:27 AM
Yeah, I hear you... Here it is just cold (NOT snowy - Sunny in fact but still cold) and the issues of trying to keep 3 teenagers focused on school is a challenge to say the least. I would kill for a library that I could walk into and close the door behind me.....
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A "friend" will not "stand by you" no matter what you do. That is NOT a friend. That is an enabler. That is an accomplice.
A REAL friend will sit you down and tell you to your face to stop being a firetrucking idiot before you ruin your life and the lives of those around you.

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#102: March 24, 2020, 01:03:33 PM
UrsaMajor - The snow is gone and it is back up to spring weather. A bit gloomy, but not too terribly bad.

I did not sleep well last night. I tried to get back in the habit of going to bed at a reasonable time and was in bed by 9:30 pm. I read awhile and thought I would fall asleep. That did not happen. At midnight, I was still lying in bed, unable to turn my brain off. I was awake until well after midnight, and this morning I was wide awake again at 4 am. I forced myself to relax and I was able to sleep until 7:30 am. I stayed in bed though until well after 9 am, just not wanting to face the day. It was odd. I wasn't really down, nor was I in a "meh" mood. I think it was a bit of an overwhelmed feeling of what I need to deal with for the colleges and high school. And, in the mean time, I have some of my own household paperwork to deal with. One of which is a blessing, but a bit of a headache in the midst of all of this madness in terms of getting it done as I have to get something notarized. Under normal circumstances these things are much easier. But, I will just tackle it.

S went outside to work and D is working on her room today. She put a second coat of paint on the bottom half of the bathroom for me this morning, thereby helping me out immensely. I will begin dealing with the trim and such later this week. And as I was pondering the desire to pull the bathtub out, S mentioned my neighbor across the way bought a brand new tub not too long ago and his W changed her mind. He has it sitting in his garage and wants to get rid of it, as he bought it on clearance. She is often doing these things where she sees a deal, buys it and then changes her mind. Who knows, it wouldn't be the first time we have gotten a deal on something he picked up for her. It's a good thing he is so easy going. LOL.

I am taking it easier today than yesterday. I don't want to burn out my energy and enthusiasm for my projects, as I fear I am going to need things to keep me occupied. The forecast is calling for rain for a couple of days, so working outside is probably not going to happen.

The large gates that I had a buyer for, never were picked up and I am thinking currently the timing is not great for selling those. I am considering using them myself. As I was organizing some of my papers not too long ago, I came across the blueprints of the property, along with copies I made that we used to design the additions to the house. There is one where  I had started to sketch out the gardens. I may revisit those thoughts, and make the changes I want to happen now. That newly cleared corner is going to be a bit of a challenge, but maybe in a good way. I also have a sculpture of my F's that needs to be placed somewhere on the property. He also told me I could have another one that sets in his studio to put outside at some point. My sister won't be able to put it up where she lives with the rules of her development. I, however, have plenty of property and places to put up my own little sculpture garden.

I was outside looking at the back yard and my fire pit needs some attention. Maybe I will be able to get the pond in order to accommodate goldfish and koi sooner this year, if the weather cooperates.

It is these little things I am shooting for.

I have kept the news off most of today, as it is too overwhelming. D and S mentioned a couple of things that they heard and I didn't stop them from discussing it. It is not that I want to avoid all conversations about this, but I also don't want to be weighed down by the heaviness and the uncertainty.

Being kept from people with such uncertainty right now is so odd. You can be kept apart by distance and life in general and you somehow manage. You make it work. This new restriction makes it so much harder to sometimes cope. And it is not a desire to give up, it maybe sheds light on you realize how much those people mean to you.
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#103: March 25, 2020, 12:10:17 PM
When I have worked from home in the past doing freelance work, or when Xh and I worked together, it could be a bit of a struggle at times. It wasn't always easy to get into that "work" mindset, but once I did, it wasn't too bad. And the kids were respectful of the work time.

This time, it is very different. I am mildly overwhelmed by the reality that in my situation, due to some of the dynamics, that it is not as simple as a typical online course. I know these students well. I know the home situations and that is in some ways a plus, but in other ways, it weighs on me when I don't hear from them.

And, just getting motivated is not as easy in the online environment for me. The creative energy is often found in that environment of sharing in the same space - the energy bounces around the room with the enthusiasm. That energy is not there and I don't care if people say you can video chat, etc. It is not the same.

I know it is a temporary thing, perhaps long term, but I am truly seeing I am not wired to "distance" myself in the long term. Yet, on the flip side, I also need the mental break in the form of being alone and shutting the world out just for a little while.

I spoke to my department coordinator yesterday, and she too is overwhelmed, yet positive. She has kids at home and juggling the new workload including, essentially homeschooling her kids and having to find solutions for this semester is not easy. Add, like in my situation parents that are older, she understands where my head is at. We talked at length last night and again this morning. We are both grateful to be there for each other.

I am managing overall, but at times I catch myself feeling like I am not doing a good enough job. I am not performing at my best level as a teacher. I have to remind myself that it was just a week ago that I was sitting in the classroom with the other high school staff and being hit with the realities of the situation. I cannot expect myself to just flip a switch.

I am having a moment of feeling like BD aftershock. Not quite to that degree, but a little bit of a numbness at times. It is not as debilitating and I am not a puddle on the floor, but I am having moments of finding myself, at least while I am working on the school things, just on autopilot. I will work my way through it.

It is not helping that D is chatty today. My sister is bored and my M wants to check in every hour. I feel a bit like a b!tc# when I tell them I can't talk right now, but that is the truth. I have to re-establish a little bit of a work schedule from here on out in terms of not accepting calls and such. Getting the library back to where I can use it solely as an office is within reach, but probably not until next week.

For now, I have to set those boundaries and take my mental breaks as I need them.

On the plus side, I have space to roam and things that allow me to be outside. I heard from my coworker, and he has landed with his son full time. It is a blessing for him in many ways, as it would seem his STBX is far from doing the "adult" thing and following the rules. His F is working from home as well. He said that it isn't easy keeping the 3 year old busy as he is trying to teach his classes and his F is also busy. In the past, he could have had a babysitter to drop his S off at, but that is not an option. To add to the mix, he lives in an area where there is little space to run and play. The playground was their go-to and that is closed down. He said, short of driving somewhere, he is stuck. He is making it work, but it makes me grateful my kids are at least older and have been finding things to keep themselves busy for the most part.

They have been working on their school work. S has been working outside on projects. D has been painting her room, so that is progressing, which hopefully will move the library project forward, as she gets the remainder of things of hers out of the library. She also has been doing a ton of baking. She loves to bake when she is stressed. I keep trying to convince her to make things I don't like, so as not to be tempted. But, no, today she made 2 batches of cookies and I am practicing not only social distancing, but cookie distancing now as well. Coffee, however is not being kept out of my reach today.  ::)

I thought about today how at one point I was questioning myself about splurging for the roof and windows when I did. Right now, I am convinced the timing on those 2 projects was right. The rain they are predicting in the next few days would have really put that roof to the test and I could have had so much damage. I was reminded of that when I looked in the library and recalled the ice had dammed underneath the older roof and caused a leak into the house. I can now repair that and not be as concerned about a repeat performance. And, the kitchen is so much warmer and it has become where I am setting up the "office" for the time being. I had wanted to originally use the dining nook as that space, but currently that is housing S's and his roommate's college things until we find a place to store those items. My art space, would have worked, but I decided it best to not mix my work for school into my creative sanctuary, because I know myself well enough to know that I would be working on school work all the time and never give myself permission to do anything in that room for myself.

So, until I can get back into the library, I am in the kitchen, and it seems more like a cafe lately with both kids at home. There is always someone sitting at the bar or making food throughout the day.  ::)
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#104: March 25, 2020, 02:09:22 PM

This time, it is very different. I am mildly overwhelmed by the reality that in my situation, due to some of the dynamics, that it is not as simple as a typical online course. I know these students well. I know the home situations and that is in some ways a plus, but in other ways, it weighs on me when I don't hear from them.

And, just getting motivated is not as easy in the online environment for me. The creative energy is often found in that environment of sharing in the same space - the energy bounces around the room with the enthusiasm. That energy is not there and I don't care if people say you can video chat, etc. It is not the same.


MD - I sure hear you!  It's been a rough two weeks trying to get ready for this "distance" learning. 

We're great at what we do and we'll get it done in the best possible way, of that I'm sure!   
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#105: March 26, 2020, 07:12:01 AM
I feel for your colleague as well as for you... OK, I am not a teacher but dealing with teleworking in an environment where you are normally face-to-face, where you get up and walk down the corridor to chat for a minute, etc., is a hard shift to being isolated...

Plus riding herd on a bunch of kids that would really rather be thinking of this as a huge holiday.... ::)

Cookies? Did someone say Cookies? I have to admit that the isolation has been good in that I have lost about 7 lbs in the last 2 weeks since there aren't colleagues to meet with in the coffee shop....
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A "friend" will not "stand by you" no matter what you do. That is NOT a friend. That is an enabler. That is an accomplice.
A REAL friend will sit you down and tell you to your face to stop being a firetrucking idiot before you ruin your life and the lives of those around you.

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#106: March 26, 2020, 11:08:15 AM
stillbaffled & UrsaMajor - the shift is really very dynamic. I am sure there are those students who do treat it like a holiday. There are others who I know look to school as the only normal part of their day, where they can be a kid. The learning environment is for some where they not only shine, but where they are safe for a time. Even with the college students. And for some just having the social skills become important. Some of the nuances in how to interact with others is not always easily learned online, such as how to read body language or the inflection in someone's tone.

The creative aspect is also a little daunting. And I am rising to the challenge, but life has a way of tripping you up along the way.

I have some outside pressures that are much harder to escape. I am going to have to get creative in how to make a space that allows me to shut off the other part of my world as I work. In the past, when I was at work, those things in life might be lapping at my feet, but for a few hours, I was in work mode, so it was easier to switch those things off temporarily or mute them.

But, right now, that is not nearly as easy.

I was presented with what is a blessing in disguise, yet, it brings up those old feelings of benefiting from my friend's death and right as the second anniversary of that is upon me. There was apparently another part of a small death benefit that didn't go through the estate. It is time sensitive, as the state it is drawn from (and it is in fact a legitimate document) claimed they sent the information 2 years ago. Neither my sister nor I received the information. Suffice it to say, it required all sorts of legal stuff done and one was getting something notarized at the bank. Well, that was an interesting process, as now they have shut down the lobbies, etc. Apparently, I was the test subject since they just shut down today. The gentleman behind me in the drive thru was not at all patient and kept beeping his horn. And there were other lanes open, but apparently he wanted the same lane I was in. After a long wait, that was accomplished and then off to the post office to have it sent certified mail.

Again, it is a good problem to have, but the online website wasn't working properly last night. The phone wouldn't connect to their offices because of the volume of phone traffic. Meanwhile, the dog was barking at my heels.

To add to my fun evening, I was firming up the supporting documents so that my accountant can push my taxes through and finish that. But the technology was misbehaving as well. I was up until 1 am working to finish that.

With the paperwork mayhem came news that my uncle, who has not been well is dying. I have never been close to him, but, it is very surreal realizing he is now in a hospital where his own family cannot sit with him. He will in fact die essentially alone, although in his case, it seems rather fitting, considering how he lived his life. That said, no one should ever have to die alone. And there will be no funeral because of it. Perhaps a memorial service down the road, although I don't see my bitter aunt putting any effort into that down the line. No matter what, it is a heavy feeling, realizing that life is still going on and he is not the only one in this situation. Rather sobering.

On the bright side, yes, D has been baking cookies. I too have lost weight in all of this because I am getting more exercise again. I am behaving even with the temptation in front of me. I kind of wish D wasn't any good at baking, but she has clearly inherited that skill from both her grandmother and great grandmother.

One of my students texted this morning from my college class. She sent me a picture of a painting she did. Very whimsical and happy. It made me smile immediately. We chatted for a bit and she is struggling with all of this. Very nervous about it all. I told her I too was nervous and it was okay to admit that. She was grateful that I was honest with her and I said knowing we are all in an unknown area is tough, but we are going to help each other out as best as we can.

I keep trying to find the glimmers of good here and there. And reminding myself about what I have control over.
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#107: March 27, 2020, 01:58:09 AM
Is this uncle the H of "Toxic Aunt?"

I think that, regardless of the distance that some people choose to implement and the ways they behave, it is still difficult when someone we know or are related to is dying.

The "bittersweet surprise" is ... well.... Bittersweet... And the impatient man behind you .. was it xH by chance or just some random Richard Cranium who couldn't be bothered to move to a different empty lane?

I made the discovery yesterday that one reason I was ending up daily with headaches was that, at the office, I have a 1.5 liter bottle that I fill with water daily and by the end of the day, it was empty. When I am at home, I didn't have that visual reminder so I wasn't drinking enough (water, that is - having 3 teens at the same table would cause me to drink other things) and would end up with a headache. Now I put a pitcher of water on the table and we all use it so it gets refilled multiple times... But the reminder is there and that is good... Yesterday, no headache! It is simple but effective things like that which we are still learning as we go along in this situation...
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A "friend" will not "stand by you" no matter what you do. That is NOT a friend. That is an enabler. That is an accomplice.
A REAL friend will sit you down and tell you to your face to stop being a firetrucking idiot before you ruin your life and the lives of those around you.

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#108: March 27, 2020, 11:58:54 AM
UrsaMajor -
No, it was a random Richard Cranium, who didn't quite understand that all bank business was being done via the drive thru.

On a side note, I found really rather amusing, as I thought about the privacy laws that we have put into place over the years. Some of them that I find to be almost laughable in the extremes. So, as this idiot behind me was beeping, the woman in front of me was having trouble with the speaker system and screaming her personal information over the speaker. I realized the complete insanity of it all and had to laugh.

Toxic aunt's H is a very good man and if it were him, I would be devastated. This is the infamous aunt that took the jar off of the dining hutch my grandmother kept the money from my sister when my grandfather died.

My aunt for as long as I know has told everyone she was not able to go to college because there was no money left by the time she was college age. I think that is the only time I ever saw my grandmother breathe fire, was when my aunt dared to sell this story to me when I was in college. My normally very cheerful, docile grandmother told her that she made a choice and in fact my grandparents were quite well off by then and she chose to take her money and marry my uncle. It shut my aunt up rather quickly, as she admitted to my grandmother she had forgotten that. However, she still will tell that story to anyone that will listen. This aunt has always had a victim mentality and it is exhausting.

IDK what household my aunt grew up in. My grandparents came from the working class whose parents were immigrants. They certainly lived a life that did not judge people based on their skin color nor their station in life. It was something that carried over into my F's values and my M was of the same mind. So, my aunt and uncle go so against my core values to begin with. And, I am not sure my aunt would have had the same values if she had married someone else or not, but her values do not align with mine at all.

Strangely, she has been a good example for me to follow though, in the realm of MLC. My uncle, was a narcissist from the start. Not a good H, nor a good F. He left my aunt when the kids were little and the house my aunt bought with the money my grandparent's gave her was lost in the mess the first time he left.

My grandfather, he had a tenuous relationship with his own F, and I am just now learning more about that situation. My grandfather moved in with my grandmother's family when he was 17 as a farm worker. He remained close to his siblings, but he thought of my grandmother's F as his own. My grandfather, I never recall him being bitter about his life circumstances, which I now have learned that when my great grandmother died, my great grandfather basically abandoned my grandfather and his siblings to live with a new woman. My grandfather talked about his F, but I don't recall bad stories, just matter of fact. But, the one thing my grandfather did not have tolerance for was people abandoning their children, which my uncle in fact did. My aunt moved in with my grandparents with her kids for awhile and then bought a trailer in a trailer park. And then my uncle reappeared, moved back in. My grandfather made comments under his breath at times, which now as an adult make me realize how much he really knew about the situation. He said if my uncle were having a heart attack in the lawn, he wasn't sure he would call an ambulance. And for me, now that I think about it, that was so strange coming from a man who I knew as a man who would have helped anyone.

My aunt took my uncle back and he "behaved" for years. But, then he decided when he was 50 to run off again. My aunt "stood" because she didn't want to have the stigma of being divorced. Oddly, their relationship worked for them though in that it allowed my aunt to nurture her victim status. She became more and more self absorbed herself.

And oddly, she is the example I have followed as to how not to live my life when MLC hit. She took my uncle back a second time, and nothing changed. Neither did their work. Nothing changed. It would seem my uncle never quit spending all of the money he made and not taking care of his family. And he was very well off. Apparently, now my aunt may have to sell the house. He leveraged everything he had to fund travel excursions over the years, none his family ever went on.

They lived together again after the last "reconciliation" and couldn't ride more than 2 miles in a car together because they were both so bitter. My aunt has certainly become the poster child for bitterness and resentment. But, those were and are choices, like it or not. Yes, leaving my uncle would have been tough in some ways, as it was the dysfunction they were used to.

My aunt once told me a couple of years ago that she and I were a lot alike and my life mirrored hers. It was after my divorce was finalized. I was with my F that day and I burst into tears on our way home. My F said that my situation was not like my aunt's and my Xh had been a good man. The only similarities between my uncle and my Xh was they were incredibly hard workers and had huge FOO issues, but my Xh had been a wonderful H and F for a long time. As far as my aunt and I, he said there are perhaps talents we shared in common, but I am not my aunt. I was worried I would become bitter like her and my F reassured me that I was working very hard to not become hardened. That day will be seared into my memory for a long time.

It was that day that I vowed to allow myself to vent and get out the toxic feelings in a healthy way - journaling or some other way, but not to let it seep into my being.

I feel bad for my aunt. She is in essence facing the consequences of her choices. That will be scary at her age now realizing staying with my uncle did not give her security at all.

My uncle - he was a hard worker and he too reaped what he sowed. He didn't really soften much over the years, although once in a while he would surprise us. It is sad he is dying alone.

As I have been thinking about their marriage though and compare it to living with the MLC monster I had, I too could have ended up in the same mess. My Xh wasn't moving out of MLC any time soon. He could have easily behaved like my uncle. In his self-absorbed state he didn't care about anyone but himself. He was on a path that would have rendered the kids and I homeless. I could have easily become my aunt - bitter and full of resentment.

Yet, I also think about future relationships. I want security, certainly financially in terms of having some say in what happens. I don't want to live like I did in MLC, where I started to just let Xh make all the decisions because it was easier than fighting with him. But, I also am not driven by money. I want a partnership. I am not sure what that looks like, but I am not afraid of marrying again, for instance, as long as the financial aspects are discussed. I look at how my parents have worked as a team and more and more, I see the healthy aspects of how they have worked together, financially and otherwise.

Financially, they have their own accounts, that things like inheritances have gone into. My F has his studio account. And they have money they have pooled. My M always managed those accounts, but discussed things with my F. He trusted her to pay all the household bills, but big expenses were discussed. I don't recall my parents ever fighting about money. And they share their inheritance monies at times, but neither assumes because the money is there that the other has a say in it. It has afforded them independence and security aside from the pooled money. IDK, neither of them have ever been selfish.

And, they are that way about their whole relationship.

My kids have said over and over again that my parents have a marriage they themselves strive to have.
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#109: March 29, 2020, 08:34:52 PM
The past couple of days I have really felt the sense of isolation, even with my children here with me.

Yesterday, I went out to pick up the few things that we needed. D went with me, as I am trying to get my parents to stay in and the elderly neighbors to avoid going out as well. The neighbor's children all live out of state. The husband suffered from polio as a teenager, and is especially vulnerable to respiratory ailments now that he is in his 80's. And they have been so good to the kids and I over the years. So, I called them and picked up items they need, dropping them off in their garage afterwards.

The grocery store was very quiet mid-day. I did notice that people are really very funny now with how they shop. Apparently, some people have adopted the method of parking the cart in the middle of the aisle, halfway down and shopping the whole aisle, leisurely, and the rest of the people can pi$$ off. This was the method several shoppers were using and who is going to get close enough to ask them to please move.

D was picking on me because Xh used to laugh at me when I would stock up on hand sanitizer years ago. I always carry some in my work bag and in my car. When the sales for school supplies rolled around this year, one of the items that was on clearance was the travel sizes. I bought several and sent them with the kids when they went to college. I had some in reserve. I told D yesterday when she was picking on me, yes, who is laughing now?

My sister called and has discovered that her freezer in the basement is actually a very good thing to have. She and her H bought it years ago and never used it. She and her H have always been ones to run out and shop 2-3 times a week. She also said she and my niece were watching movies together all weekend once they had done some cleaning together. My BIL is an essential worker, so he goes to his office during the week and barricades himself inside. He said it is odd, but he is not working the late hours as much right now and admitted to me today that he is really embracing taking daily walks with my sister, something they haven't done in years. And yesterday, my sister called me via FaceTime and shared with me the cool trail she and the kids discovered near their house.

And, I am grateful for the positives. Today though, I have been in a rather strange mood. My friend texted me tonight, as I finally got out of my own head for a bit and said she knew I would totally understand, but she just really needed a hug. She is in education, a single M with her kids at home. She gets some help from her H, who she has been separated from, but when she said what she did, I told her I knew exactly what she meant. And, we both love our jobs, but neither of us even have the desire to teach right now. It just seems like too much.

I had spent today feeling like a dog chasing it's tail at times. I managed to get a few things done, but couldn't quite find a rhythm. And, sitting and reading wasn't doing it. By late afternoon, I took a walk. The sky was incredible, as there was a storm rolling in. And I would have kept on walking, but my normal hour long walk turned into a 15 minute event, when thunder clapped and then the lightning followed. Had there only been thunder, I would have kept going, but lightning was my cue to get back home. I think a longer walk would have helped.

D was home making bagels. She found a recipe for them online and told me yesterday she is finding that baking relaxes her.

And then after dinner, I made up my mind I needed to just do something physical. I found myself dealing with a project I have been dreading, which is dealing with a spot on the ceiling of the library. There had been an ice dam on the roof years ago and Xh told me he repaired it. That would have been during the MLC time period. The plaster on the ceiling had bubbled up and pieces had fallen. We fixed the ceiling and then a year later the paint and plaster bubbled again. It sat neglected and when the roof was replaced, that repair Xh claimed he made, was non-existent. My concern now, is I may have an area that may have to be cut into and a section of the ceiling may have wood rot. Fortunately, it is not a large section, or a load bearing wall, but I was annoyed to say the least. And maybe annoyed with myself for believing the MLCer. But, that is not worth dwelling on, as I need to move forward.

I scraped away the plaster that was loose and left the area open that we need to check. S told me that tomorrow he will bring in his little camera he uses on his truck to diagnose and we can cut a section into the ceiling and look at the potential damage before going full tilt and ripping out the plaster ceiling. I have already done that in other rooms, and the idea of pulling down a plaster and chicken wired ceiling is not my idea of fun. And the ceiling for the most part is in good shape. I am pretty sure the area we are talking is about a 6 inch section, but who knows.

At any rate, it wasn't long before S came back in and was inspecting my handiwork. He had a perplexed look on his face and then asked me why was it Xh said I couldn't work on projects with him because I always screwed it up. I laughed and said it wasn't always that way. S said he remembered when Xh and I used to do all the projects together. S smiled and said he was really impressed by my skills. It made me laugh, because I told him it is good that the ceiling looked good, because, I was covered in plaster dust and had joint compound in my hair, so I was not looking nearly as good. He called D in and they said they thought I looked kind of cute. I made them promise not to put up pictures on social media or revenge would be mine.  ::)

Rain is in the forecast for the next few days and as long as it doesn't storm, I am going to try and make myself go out for more walks. Being out in nature is the only way I am going to survive the pressures of trying to teach under these circumstances. I know that little things are stressing me out, like realizing that if my electric and cable go out in a storm, I am going to have a hard time teaching a class. And, while our IT staff are on hand, what can they do about a student whose own electric might go out, etc. Those are not tech issues that IT can resolve. The mental well being of some of my students is weighing on me, I won't lie. And, I can't fix it for them. It is just a very different feeling, almost one of helplessness. I have to find a way to work through this.

And I have to quell these feelings of feeling so very alone right now. It makes very little sense.
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#110: March 30, 2020, 05:38:38 AM
Ah, I see (with the uncle thing)

Maybe it is cruel to look at it this way but, in some ways, these ARE the results of the choices that he made in his life..... It is a shame for everyone involved but, like you said, it is the way it is now.

It is nice that you were able to get your stuff plus the stuff for your neighbors... THAT is the positive side of the Karma bus coming to visit....

And I am glad that the damage was not nearly as extensive as you might have suspected....

As for the pictures....
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#111: March 30, 2020, 08:41:30 AM
UrsaMajor - Yup, I am feeling a bit like I am trapped in Jurassic Park right now with my 2 velociraptors. LOL

The positive side of Karma is where I am trying to stay and not with the idea that I am somehow winning points. It is simply for me a better way to live.

Shopping for that neighbor was not an easy task. The wife is rather eccentric and demanding. I had to lay down some ground rules ahead of time for my own benefit, which was to tell her to make her list as long as possible since I am only planning on going out once every 2 weeks for groceries, if I can manage. If I hadn't made it clear, she would have me running down for a pinch of salt each time she needed one.

I could not sleep again last night. And, this morning, one of my high school students posted something that I believe is part of the reason I am not sleeping. I am having a hard time not worrying about some of my students. I am worried about the educational aspects, but the thing that keeps me up at night, is knowing about my students.

The student who posted on FaceBook this morning is just recently under the care of his aunt. His brother also was moved in just a short time ago. A judge finally severed both of his parent's rights this year. I know enough to know what he endured and he is far from a victim mentality. He is a student I see such potential in and he often tells me that his circumstances are not going to define him. He is often a good reminder of what things we can control and that is who we are and allow ourselves to become.

But, this morning, when I saw the post, I had to let myself feel. "All jokes aside, let's all pray for those kids who are stuck home with no food, have abusive parents, friends and family and their only safe place was school".

I realized that I have to change my perspective a bit and be okay with my courses perhaps not being perfect and pretty. My goal is to teach and to still be there for my students. No, I cannot change their circumstances, and I cannot fix it. I wish I could change it for some of them, but I do have the power to help them still work on skills that may help them to achieve independence and a different life.

I heard from my one department chair, who is usually very stoic. She is showing a very vulnerable side and I will admit, her openness is very helpful. Maybe it is these moments that help all of us cope. To let each other know that we are experiencing some of the same emotions and meltdowns. The fears and uncertainty. And the moments we are laughing about.

It prompted me last night to share with my college students the feelings I have been feeling. The technical glitches. The meltdowns over my dog not understanding that I am trying to work.  ::) And, that is okay to not be okay at times.

I need to keep allowing myself to feel and to find those positive moments to hold on to.  :)
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« Last Edit: March 30, 2020, 09:07:05 AM by MourningDove »

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#112: March 31, 2020, 03:08:10 AM
I think that you may have cottoned on to something here in that there is a general pervasiveness of ... fear? anxiety? Angst?  I am not sure what we should call it as it has a "different" feel to it than the normal "worried/scared" stuff that happens to us all at some time or another. The closest I can recall is the feelings I had on 9/11 or when I was in the military the night that Desert Storm was launched... a general uneasiness.....

Combine that with the knowledge that you have regarding your specific students' situations and the simple fact that, despite the claims of how technologically advanced we are, we are horribly reliable on systems that we have no control over and which were NEVER designed with this kind of loading in mind.

I was telling a friend the other evening that, when this is all over, the backbone systems for conferencing and such are going to be built out to the point that we as humanity can, for the most part, deal with such an occurrence but that means a factor of 10 (at least) overbuilt for "normal" day-to-day life. It may very well be that we will have to adapt to a new "normal" too....

Having those feelings/realizations are part of the human experience that we are going through and are a healthy reaction to a very odd and somehow threatening situation. Being open with those who we are dealing with about some of those issues tends to reduce the personal impact on us. After all, a burden that is shared is born by many more shoulders than just our own. In turn, it can help others to realize that they are not alone in having these feelings, can generate camaraderie and a sense of purpose as a group - "Together, we will figure this out and get through it" kind of thing..... This is probably something Mid-Lifers never learned. They learned that either they were totally responsible for everything or they were helpless and unable to influence their own surroundings... Neither of which is really true...

Setting down some guidelines and rules is a fully legitimate thing to do in one's own self-interest. Serving others, helping others, is all fine and it is a good thing to do, to keep an eye out on those in our communities that are less able to do for themselves but not at the cost of our own well-being or that of our kids/families/loved ones or those that live with us....

I have to go into the office today shortly to pick up a couple of access devices that will allow me to continue to work from home so that will get me out of the house a bit...
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#113: March 31, 2020, 03:30:07 AM
I agree with UM. I think we all feel a bit of that 'general uneasiness'. ...and it is an infectious feeling isn't it? For sound human biological reasons. Like a pack of meerkats  :) The limits of what we can foresee or control.  And of course some WTF echoes  :)

Can't help but wonder if the dog should become a kind of online mascot though lol.....a design challenge? A model? A tik-tok star to lighten the mood or humanise (caninise?) the virtual?

How are your folks doing, Mourning? Especially your active super-organised mother (who I am sure could run an anti-virus strategy single-handed lol)?
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« Last Edit: March 31, 2020, 03:34:47 AM by Treasur »
T: 18  M: 12 (at BD) No kids.
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#114: March 31, 2020, 07:53:42 AM
UrsaMajor & Treasur - I at times want to go and burrow into the sand and hide like a meerkat. LOL.

S was offered a job where he did his internship. The boss had wanted to hire him this summer, but they are down to 2 guys working in the shop. It is an essential business, working on utility and other necessary road maintenance vehicles. I was nervous about the situation, but S's friend works there and he told me that they go in and lock the door behind them and the space is sanitized daily. They no longer come in contact with any customers and he and his coworker in the shop are very aware of how serious this is. I have known this particular friend of S's for a very long time and he was always very protective of D and I. I am still not at ease with it all, but S said he needs the money and he is aware that things might get really tight around here in the short term. The boss worked around whatever S needs for his college classes time wise.

So last night, I was in the kitchen with S while he packed his lunch. It was such a different feeling than I had when he would pack his lunch at night for high school. We were both laughing about how much his diet has now changed from back then. He used to have a standard go to menu daily for high school. D had gotten him some fruit snacks as a little joke, as those were his favorites in grade school. He happily packed those last night and said his friend would laugh. But, there was a heavy feeling that lingered. This is going to be a different experience than over winter break at that shop.

My parents are worried about the kids. They are getting a little better about staying at home and I told them if they needed to get out of the house, since we live out in the country, no one said they couldn't take a drive and just enjoy the scenery. But, it has taken a bit for them to not feel "old" and realize this is something we are all doing and it isn't a question of age. Of course, my M is also in cooking mode. She has informed me that she is making dinner tonight for S - his favorite meal that she always made for him as a kid, including dessert and will call me when it is ready to be picked up. We have not distanced ourselves from each other in terms of seeing one another, but we don't hug, etc. My M cried yesterday saying how much she is missing hugging her family. Yah, it sucks.

And, my M is having a hard time with not knowing what to do. She could run an anti-virus strategy, indeed. LOL.

Yesterday, my F had to go for his routine shot in his eye and it was a good thing he went. He had neglected to tell my M that his eye had been bothering him for about a week, and oh, he got so engrossed in his sculpture he didn't put safety goggles on. Mind you, at soon to be 83, he only needs reader glasses, so he wasn't wearing anything to protect his eyes as he worked away grinding a section of metal on the sculpture. My M said they arrived at the eye care center and he was buzzed in while she waited in the car. He came back out with antibiotics and told my M that he would have to come back for a shot next week because they found a small piece of metal in his eye. Fortunately, not in a critical area, but to remove it he said was worse than the shots he gets. Needless to say, I joked and told him that now my M would be really hounding him and he won't be able to just go down town get a cup of coffee to escape.  ::)

As for the dog - I am not sure how to fit her into the daily schedule. I started my morning working at my kitchen table. The library is coming along, but it isn't ready for me to take over quite yet. I was at the kitchen table and the minute I opened my computer to check work emails she came trotting down the stairs from my bedroom. She had clearly popped the door open and no doubt was on my bed, when I was in the shower earlier. The minute she came into the kitchen and saw I was not paying attention to her she started barking. So, outside we went for a quick walk, until she was minimally satisfied. I had about 5 minutes of quiet when she returned with not one, but 2 squeak toys that she had in her mouth and was actively sounding the alarms. I tried the normal game of throwing them for her a couple of times but that wasn't what she wanted.

When Xh worked from home, and the kids and I were at school, he often would migrate out of his office and work on the sofa in the living room. The dog would park herself next to him most of the day. Since Xh moved out, she still wants to be near people, but the routine known as "work day support dog" has not been something that she has had in nearly 4 years. I guess she is out of retirement and when I got up, she walked into the living room and kept looking at me when I didn't follow, she came back with the toys. So, I picked up all of my things, came into the living room and set up a small table for my coffee and another for my laptop. She is working very hard now, snoring away. I am guessing when I move into the library I am going to have to find either a sofa for in there again, or some other place for the dog to park herself nearby.

I am somewhat better today. I got up and told myself that each step is in fact progress, even if it is backward for a tiny bit. Movement in any direction right now is not like limbo. Yah, I am not convincing myself of that yet, but I am trying to cheer myself on - LOL

I did have a moment of WTF when one of my colleagues was telling me all about how great and easy this online stuff was. She is loving talking with the students remotely, etc. She couldn't understand how I was having tech issues and I gently reminded her that she is quarantined with her H, and he has a studio in their home for making videos, etc. His specialty and hobby is IT for recording things like news casts, etc. I told her that is not the norm and she was fortunate, when many of us don't have a sound proof room to work in, much less the equipment to do so.

I had to remind myself that she also doesn't have a dog and kids. LOL And she was well meaning. She was genuinely wanting to share how well it all went. But, I must admit, I was really quite annoyed.  ::)

Last night, S expressed some fears and D was surprisingly the one to remind all of us how fortunate we are. She went down the list of things, including being able to sit outside and to have the freedom to walk up the road or in the woods.

S then added he was glad to see the neighbor has been able to work on some of his hobbies. Normally, his SIL is there every day and has things she wants fixed and he is too nice. She is socially distancing, and it is the first time in all of the years they have lived next door that I haven't seen his SIL there daily. This morning, the old truck he has been wanting to restore fired up and I heard his S cheer with excitement. I texted S and let him know.

And we are keeping ourselves entertained with silly things. When the kids were little, they loved the game "Duck, duck, goose". In our neighborhood it seems it is "Chicken, chicken, duck". The neighbors have ducks and chickens. The neighbors across the way had ducks as well, but those ducks decided to join the other ones on this side of the road. The ducks stay close to the stream that runs behind our 2 houses. The chickens and roosters like to go all free range and will make the rounds. They have gotten smarter about going into the woods, so the flock has gotten considerably larger since last year. Out of the 32 chickens, there are about 10 that come over to my yard and will travel through the orchard and make way to my backyard. And, then at one point we realized that one of the 10 is not like the others. It is in fact, a duck. The same duck every day, who waddles along with the roosters and chickens. Sometimes, as they form a line.

It is the stupid things that are keeping us semi-sane. LOL
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#115: March 31, 2020, 09:02:55 PM
I finished my "day" for my classes at 10:30 PM, with the day starting at 7:00 AM.

I allowed myself a little time to journal earlier. A walk by late afternoon, as the dog wasn't going to let me get away with sitting around "doing nothing" or at least I believe that was her interpretation. And I spent about an hour with D working on the library. And took a phone call from a friend of mine who had a proposal for me to teach some classes in the fall for a community group. But, for the most part, I was dealing with the ongoing tech issues, countless emails and updates from the schools and students. One of the updates was to inform us that the high school "spring break" is cancelled and we will all be working. I am not sure where the logic is coming in, as most of the teachers and students seem to be just spent. I suppose I could argue reasons for canceling it, but right now I can only think about how mentally draining this is.

I assigned a reflective piece to all of my students at the college and will be adapting it for the high school students. I think it is important for them to deal with some of their experiences. It will be different for each student, based on so many factors. And I have to adapt the other assignments I had planned or scrap them. For one thing, I have to keep in mind that the level of stress for some is high. And yet, for some, it is what will save their sanity.

I did receive an email that was a shared post someone made. It was a reminder to all of us who teach that this is triage and our worksheets don't have to be perfect, nor do we have to expect the absolute best of ourselves right now. That is not an easy one for me to always let go of. My responsible side kicks into overdrive at times and I don't want to let my students down or myself. It could easily migrate into being a workaholic if I am not careful, and I know that danger. It was the very reason Xh and I moved out of the city, and sought the quieter option. And, for a long time, I was able to balance my job and my personal life - my own needs. Working solely online, could easily pull me back into that trap, and not because I love being online, because I really don't enjoy it nearly as much as working with my hands and being creative. The trick, I am realizing goes back to boundaries for myself. I cannot allow my students 24/7 access nor can I become enslaved to that little "ding" that alerts me to emails and such on my computer. It is the very reason I have never opted to have my emails forwarded to my phone. It is too easy to get sucked in.

I was thinking back to MLC and how I began to seek an escape from the insanity I was living with. I found myself on my computer for hours, working. I would watch hour upon hour of TV at night. I avoided things because the madness that was swirling around was too much. And, I was becoming a complete shell of who I was.

Why this struck me, was as I am sitting here after a long day, I cannot go back to that. Up until this week, I would be hard pressed to say when I last watched TV. This week, I watched a movie for the first time in what has to be 3 months. It is not that I don't allow myself, it is that I haven't really had any desire to do so. And, I am not worried about somehow becoming addicted to it, just by watching a movie here and there, but I do recognize how easy in light of the madness swirling around now, it would be to fall into that very trap again.

So, I am going to work on a schedule tomorrow that forces me to take time to find other pursuits. The project I assigned my students is perhaps a good one for me to do as well. Listing out in one column the thoughts that pop into my head and in the other ways I am coping. From that I am going to work on a reflective piece encompassing all or some aspect of this situation. Who knows, maybe a series will emerge. I just know I have to do something other than sit behind a computer all day, where I wait for questions to arise. It feels too much like putting out countless fires and I only have one bucket filled with water.

D and I did have some fun for that bit of time we worked on the library. She mentioned the walls needed painted. I agreed, as it is still the color my FIL wanted. It was not that it was a color I disliked, but it was FIL's color, his choice and this is now my space. I told D that I was not spending money right now on paint, nor was I going to go to the home improvement store to pick out paint. D had a swatch book from when she picked out paint for her room and she showed me some colors. I had told D that I was going to use the paint my sister had given me to donate. D laughed and said there was not enough paint in each bucket to cover the room, unless I was going to do a patchwork quilt pattern. I went down to the basement and brought up a selection of colors, some that were complete opposite of each other. Now, if I had mixed them all together I am sure I could have come up with either mud or some variation of grey. So, I assessed what I had and smiled. It was a Cheshire Cat grin from what D tells me and I bet her I could mix that selection of paint and come almost dead on to the swatch we had agreed upon. Game on.

I only wished I had made an actual bet with some sort of reward. Oh, sure my deck is now covered with about 10 empty paint cans to dispose of, but I ended up with 2 gallons of paint that fell right between the values of paint D marked. S came in and wanted to know when I bought paint for the library.  ::)

So, part of my focus tomorrow will be to actually finish the ceiling in the library and work on painting the walls. It will allow me to detach and remind myself to seek balance.
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#116: April 01, 2020, 09:59:32 AM
Yesterday definitely caught up with me. I woke up very early, but didn't have it in me to get out of bed. Thankfully, I only have a tiny bit of work today for my classes. I will focus on resolving a couple of issues, but I need the break. Tomorrow will be a busier day.

When my phone pinged I realized it was nearly 10 am and I hadn't pulled myself out of bed. In fact, I snuggled down under the blankets and embraced the sun streaming in and the warmth of the room. And, for the longest time, I just let my mind wander and didn't think about what was going on in the world or the countless emails that might await me. And, had it not been for D wandering into my room and wondering if I was okay, I might have stayed there all day  ::) And not because I was depressed or wanting to hide from the world, it was simply pure solitude, which is different than this isolation. It was something perhaps I had more control of - the choice to be alone.

Once my thoughts were interrupted, my day started and the first order of business was to make coffee. I was laughing in mild amusement at that being my biggest priority on my list for the day.

I was leaning against the counter and staring out the windows onto the side lawn and started laughing. D walked in and looked out the window. She was looking for the "poultry parade" from next door thinking that was what I was amused by. When she didn't see anything out there other than the remnants of the shrubs that were destroyed in the accident she declared she thinks the pandemic isolation is getting to me. I said perhaps it is and then told her that no, I realized it was April Fools Day, which made me think of my maternal grandfather. D was completely lost of course, as she was only a couple of months old when my grandfather died. S would know what I meant, as my grandfather liked to laugh and had an arsenal of kid appropriate jokes he drew upon. April Fools Day was one of the days he always made my sister and I laugh. And when we were little, it took us awhile to pick up on the prank. The funny thing is we let him pull those pranks on us until we were adults.

I think the first time I realized he was pulling an April Fool's Day joke, I must have been about 8 years old. Looking back, my grandfather hated the phone, and I don't recall him using it that often. He was much more of a "if you want to talk to me, come and visit" type. He used the phone to call for business or to make an arrangement, but to just talk, no way. Now, go and visit with him and he would sit at that kitchen table and give you tons of time, or you could follow him out to his garden and talk to him, but not on the phone. He felt it was a waste of time. So for him to call to just talk, I know now should have been my first clue, but I was pretty young. He went on to tell me to look out the window because one there was a deer standing in the field across from my house. Now, again, it didn't register at the time because he was clearly very excited to tell me about this deer and then he started embellishing as I was frantically trying to find the deer. When the story started to take on funny things, I burst out laughing and he said "April Fools".

They were always harmless jokes, just meant for laughter and as I got older, I would play along. It was just something that became a tradition. And with adult eyes, I thought back to how as a kid, it didn't immediately click with me that my grandfather lived several miles away and it wasn't like he could see the field across from my house.

It would be the type of stories we shared at his funeral, amongst all of us grandchildren.

Part of why I thought of him, was as I was moving things around I came across something that had been my grandfather's. Xh found it when we moved my grandmother into assisted living. She had only ever been alone twice in her 90 years. She had lived with her parents, then she and her sister bought a house, and then she married my grandfather. She was only alone a couple of times when my grandfather was in the hospital, but by then she no longer drove, so my cousin and I took turns staying with her. She didn't want to be alone in the house, and not because of fear. She liked being around people. When we cleaned out my grandparent's house, Xh went around and felt above the rafters of my grandfather's workshop. His workspace was incredibly organized and neat, as was their house. Above, there were a few items that were breakable. He had stored a box of lightbulbs up in a box, etc. But, in the rafters, there was also a ship in a bottle. It was not a kit or something he had made. I took it to the historical society, wondering if they had any insight simply due to its nature. What I had learned was most likely made by the German prisoners from World War II who had been sent to the US during the war. My F remembers the prisoners playing soccer in the yard where they were held. We don't know how my grandfather came into possession of it. Xh brought it home and S was fascinated by it. I was rather surprised Xh didn't take it with him but then he left most things associated with his former life.

That ship has been in storage in the library, high up in a cabinet, out of sight. I thought about it today that finding it yesterday was like a little April Fools nod from my grandfather.

And it made me think about my grandfather and his love for gardening. It made me smile. I had a conversation with someone else who loves to garden and we talked about Magnolia trees. My grandfather would have liked this person very much for so many reasons. And with that I turned to D and completely threw her off and said "I am thinking a Magnolia tress is the way to go in the side lawn". She gave me a clear "where the F did that come from" look and said "okay, then" and burst out laughing.

A lovely Magnolia in the side yard. I guess the trick now is how to find a Magnolia in a pandemic, lock down situation. Hmmm, I don't think that really is deemed as a necessary item - LOL. But who knows. It gives me a goal for when this madness ends. Something positive to focus on.

And, I think in honor of my grandfather, I am going to call my sister and tell her to look outside - there is a deer in her lawn.  ;D
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#117: April 02, 2020, 10:10:30 AM
I woke up in a really good mood, but I am afraid, that I am not nearly as at ease at the moment. And it all started with a couple of comments.

This is not about feeling like a victim. This is not I think I have it harder than anyone else during this situation.

For example, my neighbor, who is an IT specialist for one of the school districts is working from home. He and I had the most surreal talk yesterday, due to social distancing - as in yelling to one another across the road, I asked how he was holding up. He is at home with his 5 year old, and trying to work. He said he is fielding calls literally all day long from teachers and students having IT issues. His son is needing help with his kindergarten work, and to be watched, as he is an adventurous child and you can't ignore him. He is the kid who could quietly sneak out and would be trying to start the vehicles to take them for a drive. As, we talked he said he is incredibly nervous, as his W is an essential worker and in a field that is at risk for picking up COVID. He said the fear of that alone is frightening. I cannot imagine the stress he has.

But, when someone I know well told me, that I was lucky I was a teacher because at least I am getting a paycheck, that didn't set well with me. Yes, I am lucky in that regard. Then I got up and checked my emails for the morning. As usual there was the onslaught of emails from each institution followed by from students.

What has me wound up this morning is that people who have never taught sometimes need to be b!tc#-slapped. This is not like most of us get to throw our content up on the computer and send it off for the day. I spoke to several of my friends in the same field and the stress is the same. We aren't sleeping well. We have huge pressures on us about how to "teach" some of our content. We are met with changing policies and countless emails about how we now are doing it this way or the continual "CYA" aspect of making sure we are not breaking any education rules. Important yes, but most of us at least at the colleges have been met with "make sure you fill out this", and update this and that. Yes, are most necessary - under normal circumstances I would strongly agree. Right now, not all of them are exactly high on my priority list. What is on the top of my list and most of the people I know in education is "gosh, I haven't heard from this student at all". I don't know where they are. I don't know if they have access to the internet right now. I don't know if they are sick, or worse.

So, I think I am just annoyed with people making assessments about things they don't know. I don't presume that my other neighbor who is at home right now is having a great time with his time off. He seems pretty happy, but I know he loves his job and that he is out of work right now. I am not going to presume that his life is any easier than mine right now and he maybe isn't lying awake at night wondering if he will be able to return to work and pay his bills.

Telling me to make sure I take time for myself is not setting well with me at the moment. Yes, I get that. But, the emails coming in this morning are not like department meetings that I can blow off from time to time. This morning alone, I was met with 50 emails since yesterday from the 3 institutions I work for. Important updates, policies, oh and by the way we need you all to submit a game plan that has now yet changed again - we need you to adapt because students can't handle more than 20 minute modules right now is a bit overwhelming. Necessary to make the changes under the circumstances. But, again, for most of us, changing the content of what we teach and suddenly publishing the "Cliff Notes" version is not exactly a quick exercise.

I haven't even looked at the submissions from my students or dealt with the next assignment for the week at the college level. Add in some grading and contacting some of them to make sure they are okay, going to take up most of my day.

Yesterday, I didn't spend much time on my classes. I knew I needed the break, and I will work in my walks to clear my head.

Today, anyone who comes at me with a comment about teaching and telling me to relax probably will be met with a forked tongue. I will do my best to balance things out. This is not the same as being a workaholic or putting my job above my needs or my family's needs. I am still managing to try and keep that in check.

The person who made the initial comment. I am good friends with them and I genuinely like them. This was not a moment for me to bite back, as it is not the time or productive. But, I was ready to fire back when I know that they are "social distancing" by being out on the lake in their boat for the day. I wanted to say "enjoy your F'ing boat ride" while I make sure kids like your own are getting what they need.

I will work past this. I am just tired of people assuming and presuming things they just don't know.
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« Last Edit: April 02, 2020, 10:15:01 AM by MourningDove »

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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#118: April 03, 2020, 09:10:15 AM
Well the creature with the forked tongue, known as the monster version of MourningDove has gone back to her cave to hopefully hibernate for a very long time.

Yesterday, even I knew I was stretched to a snapping point. The trick is to identify it in myself and to allow myself to vent, and then find a way to move past it or cope somehow.

I am still worn out. And, it isn't that I somehow think I have it tougher than others, because each person in this situation has their own stresses and worries. I am not special, and some have it far worse than I do.

I know there were many levels to my frustrations. Clearly the immediate and present situation has me mentally drained in ways I never imagined. My emotions are at times very raw, especially when in the middle of the day, I get a random email from a student I know is possibly hanging by a mental thread. I can't help them or fix their situation, but the reality of knowing that right now, I cannot identify their stress and send them down the hall to see their counselor or just offer them my attention in class, to ease their concerns, is tough. To be told that I need to basically make time for myself is not always that simple. The weight of knowing some of these students are in such bad places, when they reach out, it is not as easy as saying "I will talk to them later" because the truth is, there might not be a later. I may be their life line right now. No, I am not thinking I can save them somehow, but I also can't live with the idea that simple reply to an email right now is what they need. And it is because of these extenuating circumstances.

The other aspect that I suddenly realized that it was a trigger related to MLC. Prior to MLC, Xh was quick to tell everyone what a good teacher I was. He would know, as he and I had taught together years ago. I trusted his opinion, and he was the first to critique me in constructive ways when I needed it. More often than not though, he would compliment me on a project, or this or that. MLC put the other spin we all know, the monster's view of everything wrong with the LBS, and the list was full of the now very different interpretation of what had been

When I was in the thick of this with Xh, I questioned everything about myself. I went to work and every day in the classroom I would wonder put on the tough exterior and then go home and analyze every thing I did. And every mistake that I made because a huge issue in my mind. And in the past, I would look at my mistakes as a way to improve and learn. The stress of going to work and trying to feel like I was doing an okay job was almost impossible, let alone being in the past the person who tried to bring my A game each class, because my students deserved me at my best, was exhausting. I would go and cry in my office after my night classes.

And then there was the other part that in the past Xh accepted and loved about me. I had struck a balance between work and home, but he encouraged me to be true to myself and care about my students. He in fact was the one who encouraged me to quit my first teaching job, one I held for nearly 15 years when my coordinator at the time made it clear his view (and still is I hear, although he was demoted a couple of years ago) was students were numbers and I needed to treat them as such. This came up after I issued an incomplete, which was well within my rights, because one of my students had to have emergency surgery at the end of the semester. His view was I should have failed them and made them retake the course. I fought him and he had seniority, so after I stood my ground, I knew I was in his sites. And for a semester, I tried to adapt to that mentality, and couldn't. It was in a time when we needed the extra income, but Xh said not to worry, he would not allow me to be someone I wasn't just for money. So, he helped me pack my things and I quit. Strangely, about 3 years ago, this same school was begging me to come back. Nope. Thanks.

But, my MLCer, he changed that narrative as well. I quit without telling him. I put undo stress on our family and finances. Never mind that I went and took a retail job immediately, that I hated, to keep money coming in. MLCer forgot that part and forget trying to remind him of that. He had an answer for that as well. And then came the worst part, which was to tell me I was not good at my job anyways. I cared too much. Or I put my job first. Did I? Yes, I did sometimes and I would catch myself, or wear myself out trying to make sure my family had my attention.

If anything the one who got short changed, was me. I gave to everyone but myself. I quit painting or doing artwork or anything of that nature. I didn't allow that for myself. And I should have. So, was Xh right on that front. To a degree, and that is the problem. MLCers put just enough truth in their gaslighting to make you buy into the whole yarn they spin.

What I realized though is that particular part of MLC is not the trigger as of right now. The trigger is this feeling of not having control of my life at all. The feeling of going to work and trying to teach while the rest of my life was on spin cycle. Trying to pull together projects and make sense of what I was doing.

This every changing terrain right now with the schools is shaking me to the core. I am very good at monitor and adjust, but this is not just one aspect of my life. And I know it affects others too, hence I am not presuming my situation is somehow worse.

This is about the stress I am feeling being the trigger. It feels too much like the time in MLC. And, I fought so hard to move out of that. I have just recently, after the divorce dust settled and gotten my own kids off to college, felt like my old self. Or perhaps an improved version. I still make countless mistakes and I do have to keep myself in check with how much I give of myself. It has never been how little I give to the one's I love. That is in fact my biggest fight in that I have a hard time feeling like finding time for myself is selfish. Funny, that too was something MLCer accused me of - being selfish. LOL Projection much?

Someone sent me a text mid afternoon suggesting perhaps a bottle of wine would help me teach yesterday. I laughed and told them there was actually a shot of Sambuca in my afternoon coffee by then. And it was true. Not a habit I am adopting, but I will give myself a pass for indulging yesterday with my one shot.

This morning, I heard from one of my high school students. And it was what I needed. He reached out and simply asked how I was doing. Before all of this madness hit, he had come in one day hunched over and when he took his backpack off the thud it made echoed. I had asked him what in heavens was he carrying around. He smiled and pulled out a training manual. He had been voted into volunteer firemen and had to attend training classes. The other students figured it was just going to fires to learn, but he told them all the things he had to do, including reading the 500 page manual and attending classes, that required written tests. He had just finished the history section that prior evening.

We chatted back and forth this morning, and it was normal. He asked questions about the assignment and I asked him if he was still training. He shared he can't go to classes, but has been pulled into going to emergencies quicker than anticipated. His GF, one of my other students is of course worried about him, as am I, but on the flip side, this felt "normal". A normal morning conversation with one of my students that had nothing to do with what other madness is going on.

I have multiple forms to fill out, yet again with the updated plans we are now adopting for each college. The paperwork trail, which again is necessary in that we need to all be on board, but it is a bit daunting. For those of us who were never the teacher whose approach was "just throw some YouTube videos, give them a quiz and call it a day", this is torture. I have to accept they are not getting my A game. But, I won't settle for "whatever" either. The students are wanting to learn, it is just finding ways that aren't all "online" that needs to happen. So, my task, I have decided is how to integrate activities that they can do offline, and upload the results to me, and factor in they don't have materials. It is a challenge. But, I will figure it out.
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Trusting I am on the right path
#119: April 03, 2020, 09:43:44 AM
You know, Mourning Dove, I think the truth for most of us after this kind of experience is that it leaves a little bit of residue. The residue is just different for different folks perhaps. Even when we are pretty healed and far enough down the road that our brain knows the difference between normal reality and an MLCers reality.

Some residue that I expected doesn't seem to be there. Like trust....I don't find it anymore difficult to trust other people than I did before. But I am allergic to contempt and flagrant self-centredness now, either first or second hand. And I am a little more emotionally thin-skinned about some things than I used to be. Not in a bad way necessarily; I just REALLY value things that I used to value without seeing their fragility or just how lovely they are. So, for instance, I cried a bit today - little tears not big sobs - bc of a young woman working in my local store who is frightened bc she has kids.....but she needs the money and thinks it is her duty. I was so touched by her courage and honesty that it brought tears to my eyes. Sappy right? But I just felt a thousand emotions for a moment.

When you have been gaslighted for a long time, I wonder if for some of us it leaves us with a residue that is about feeling invalidated. Even if it is casually, even if that is not someone's intent at all. Even if we know that....it's just an old sore spot. Or maybe echoes about control and uncertainty after a long time of surviving chaos and living waiting for the next hand grenade to come over the wall.

It seems normal and understandable to me that at this time when so many other people are frightened for their families that it makes me miss mine and feel just a little bit more alone than I normally do. It seems normal and understandable to me that any LBS here may find emotional echoes in events around us that feel like some of the worst times, even if we know intellectually that the situation is not exactly the same. Like you, most of us have learned to nod at the emotions as they sit in one corner and find healthy ways for them to wash through and out. But how you feel, all of it, feels normal and understandable to me and I bet that others here are nodding along too.  :)

And perhaps it makes MLC behaviour seem even more nuts and even more sad.
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« Last Edit: April 03, 2020, 09:45:34 AM by Treasur »
T: 18  M: 12 (at BD) No kids.
H diagnosed with severe depression Oct 15. BD May 16. OW since April 16, maybe earlier. Silent vanisher mostly.
Divorced April 18. XH married ow 6 weeks later.
Healing and growing found here https://littleplotbythesea.wordpress.com

"Option A is not available so I need to kick the s**t out of Option B" Sheryl Sandberg

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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#120: April 03, 2020, 01:45:29 PM
Treasur - LOL - Yah, I understand sappy all too well. I was sitting at my kitchen table reading some of my students' submissions for the first part of their art assignment. The first part is for them to weed out their emotions and the second part is to talk about some of the things they are doing to cope. The final part will be for them to visually express this in some manner. As I read through the lists, I started crying. The raw emotions these kids are expressing is rough, yet some of them are listing some of the moments of gratitude, which are so basic and some funny. It is something I hope to compile in my own process with this project. But, it was very hard to sit there and just read them without crying. D came in and just shook her head, laughing at me. It was all in good fun, as she commented if my students only knew how much I truly care and I cry at some very simple things.

I was less frustrated today, but there were moments. Little things. A new form to fill out for a weekly plan for the high school. The problem is my college course does not fit into their "charting" mechanism easily, as my class is not a day to day class. I don't meet with them in the same manner, and my projects are things that are hands on, here is the project, now we spend the next several weeks working through the projects. I am already having to completely upend my course and redesign every facet. Luckily, my college level courses at the actual colleges are a bit easier, as the students have access to either software or some supplies. Not only that, they don't require the same guidance. But, the high school has us all needing to put in the modality and learning outcomes, etc in this chart for every activity. Sounds simple, but it isn't quite that easy, when each step of my projects doesn't have a daily learning outcome per se, not in the "today, they will learn this". It is more of a today, you will complete this step in the process to get to the final step, which then will encompass all of these learning outcomes. But, they want it broken down daily. And hitting all of the learning styles, etc. I get it, under certain circumstances, but again, I am, like everyone else just dealing with emails from students and reworking my projects as fast as I can. To add another chart into the mix is mind numbing.

My sister called to tell me about her day and she said I sounded tired. I am. She went on to tell me her kids were done with their school work and playing. She has done nothing today and asked if I watched this or that on TV. She had taken a long bubble bath and was contemplating dinner. I jokingly told her she really was embracing this whole quarantine thing.

The doorbell rang and when I answered it there was a giant box outside. The mailman waved and drove off. I was perplexed at first, as the only thing I had on order was a couple of necessary items for work and they are tiny. The box, it was clearly because there is some type of shortage, and my little order was put in a box that is big enough for me to fit into. I unpacked it and left the box in the living room for now, as I want S to see it. He will find it really amusing.

I had sat back down in the kitchen and my phone pinged. I looked down and saw MLC on the screen. UGH. That is in fact how my Xh is listed in my phone. No, I do not have him blocked, simply because of the kids. He hasn't reached out since his last rant, which I only remember it had something to do with S.

The kids had not heard from him during all of this. In fact, at one point S drove down to check on Xh because he hadn't answered him. S came home and informed me supposedly Xh had been in quarantine and it was the end of his 14 days, but one of his students had COVID. S was pretty upset all the way around. I let it go, as I am not entirely sure Xh is telling the truth. If he was, I am just completely baffled as to what would possess him not to let the kids know or to not let S near him. But, then he is deep in MLC, so nothing should surprise me. There was no point in creating more stress over it. S kept taking his temperature for days and was careful.

But, there was MLC with a text asking if I had time for a quick phone call. Oh, yay. Thoughts raced through my head before I answered him. 

A moment of fear rushed over me thinking OMG, what does he possibly want from me? To move back home? To borrow money? To b!tc# and complain? My mind was racing. It made me laugh, as I realized he is in MLC and I was betting he needed something. Otherwise, he would have gone via the text bomb route.

So, I told him that sure, I was able to talk for a bit. I prepared myself mentally for what to expect - on guard in case he chose to go down his usual approach. When I answered, his first words were he hoped the kids and I were keeping safe. I bit my tongue and thought, okay, this call is not about that, and if it were, he would have called when this mayhem started if he was really concerned. But, okay. I didn't press, because frankly, the call was already wearing on me. And then it came out. He needs something from me. Of course. Why else would he call? So, he got a letter from the IRS and needs a form from me. It is fine, I will provide him with the necessary form, but I sat there and just shook my head.

I am not angry. I will add it to my list of things to deal with. It is probably going to require a call to my accountant. Whatever. Moving on.  ::)

I finally moved to the couch from the kitchen when the dog would not leave me alone. She finally figured out what portion of the couch she would claim, leaving me just enough room to cram into the corner, and she proceeded to snuggle in closer and trap me. Apparently, the dog doesn't understand the concept of "social distancing". At least she is warm.

I will be working again this weekend on my class things. I was going to keep working tonight, but I just can't find the mental capacity to do that. It will have to wait.

Today was too cold and rainy to really enjoy outside. Tomorrow, the weather is supposed to be warmer and partially sunny. Maybe some time outside will help clear my head.
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Re: Trusting I am on the right path
#121: April 04, 2020, 04:37:19 PM
I have done so very little today.

By the time last night was officially "over" and I was getting ready for bed, I had all I could do to keep my eyes open. Yet, when I crawled into bed, I was wide awake until nearly 3 am. I woke up at 7 am and fell back asleep for a bit longer. These sleep patterns have to level back out. I cannot function this way.

D went out and bought what groceries we needed. She has been enjoying the responsibility. I have no desire to go out right now, which is very odd. I have not had a huge desire for a backroad trip or to go anywhere.

I have been trying to focus today on bits of gratitude to keep myself from feeling the weight of this situation. Some of those things are coming in the form of the lists my students are compiling for their reflective piece.

Some are just simple things. Last night, it was playing a stupid game with my sister. It started months ago when she for some reason decided to send me random clips via text just because. We don't do it often, but if we get on a roll, it can be rather amusing for the 2 of us. The kids were part of the fun last night. It all started when I was telling my sister about the giant box that arrived at my house yesterday with the little itty, bitty ink cartridge size package inside. The box was enormous.

The discussion was about creative ways to keep her kids busy and I said it was too bad they didn't have the box I had. Well, that was it. I said perhaps I should have fun like when we were kids and I could play in the box. Then it was decided I might climb in the box and make that my new office at home, because clearly I can't find a place in the house right now that is really quiet enough. So, I found a couple of funny clips - UrsaMajor would be very proud of my GIF skills - LOL.  ::)

It was decided, by my children that perhaps I needed to have the box moved outside on the back deck and near the pond so that I could have a "lake cottage" like their F. My sister believes I need a pool boy and sent a selection of very funny options. I told them that maybe I would change careers and become a mermaid and hang out in the pond. The kids said will fashion a 6 ft PVC tube as a drink dispenser to send me any beverages I might need so as to practice social distancing. D was nice enough to tell me they would give me a pillow and blanket.  ::)

It felt good to laugh and it really was stupid, but I needed mindless humor.

When I finally got going this morning, I decided that I was not going to worry about accomplishing a thing today. I organized some papers and D suggested I watch a couple of movies while I did my paperwork, as I was really just putting them in the right folders. She started to suggest some movies and I laughed as they all sounded intriguing - for a different day. I finally had to tell her that I had no brain capacity for thinking today, so the movies would have to be easy to follow and light, I was not going to be watching anything that would make me burst into tears. No thrillers or edge of my seat type - just enjoyable and no big moral dilemma. She finally gave up and declared I was impossible. She clearly was not interested in my selection.  ::)

Two movies were more than enough for me and I put in a single load of laundry. I was folding the towels at the kitchen table when I stopped what I was doing and went outside immediately. The chickens had come over and were in my gardens, and there with the usual group of chickens and 4 roosters was the duck. I sat down on a chair on the deck and just watched them. The whole time all I could think about was the movie "Babe" where the duck wants to be a rooster. I took a few photos and came in the house. Both kids were laughing at me saying I have found my new entertainment. It was entertaining. It was funny to watch all of them stop and raise their heads at exactly the same time when a random car came down the road and then go back to what they were doing. It was simple and I needed that simplicity.

This morning, I was looking for my comb when I realized I think it fell in the trash can in the bathroom and probably is out in the garbage can now. D ran upstairs and grabbed one she had and as I was towel drying my hair she started to hand me the comb and then told me to sit down. She combed my hair out and we talked for awhile.

D said I should just let my hair grow out again for awhile. I had been debating. I had long hair when D was little and she used to spend hours putting my hair up and "making it pretty" - yah the 4 year old version with multiple bows and sometimes I would have to cut knots out of my hair, but she loved playing with my hair. As did my niece now that I think about it. And they would paint my nails. My SIL would grumble that they had made a mess of my finger nails, with the polish, but I would just clean them up later. Quite often D would let me work on my computer for school while she played beautician.

I did the typical hack my hair off and changed the color drastically after BD. I went through a whole slew of colors for awhile. It was probably in efforts at the time to do anything to get Xh to notice me. Then I cut it off again after the divorce. I have let it grow longer, but it has been kept above my shoulders for the most part. I have not really had it very long in quite some time. D said the delays have really made the length much more noticeable with it now several inches past my shoulders. IDK - maybe I will see what happens. Right now all I seem to do is get up and pull it into a hair clip. I have kept to putting on some make up during the week, simply because it helps me to get in the mindset of going to work.

I haven't fallen into the trap just yet of wearing loungewear all day and every day. I think it is in part because that is what I did at my low point in MLC, so I am fighting the urge to do that daily. If anything, if I put on yoga pants, or the like, I force myself to go for a walk or something to at least tell myself that is why I am dressed that way. The stupid mind games I am playing with myself to keep myself from falling into a trap of feeling blah or like I am being too lazy. It's funny - I don't think that about other's when I see them or hear that they are in their comfy clothes, but for me it is really about that time where in MLC everything, even getting dressed was an effort. S actually laughed at me the other day when I was walking around the house in full make up and heels. He said only his M would dress up for a pandemic. I pointed out I was in jeans and a t-shirt, not wearing one of my gowns from the back of the closet.  ::)

I was outside this evening when some geese flew over. I am oh so grateful that I got to see the snow geese right before all of this madness set in.
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