Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I hate myself now

My sister is a very successful and well off Pediatrician. When my mother blew through Dad's massive inheritance and my father could no longer financially catch my brother everytime he did something stupid, he started going to my sister as if she was an open wallet. She finally had to get really harsh with him when she purchased family heirlooms from him and he attempted to get her to purchase them twice before giving them to her.

Then, everything happened in my parents marriage and my mother deliberately used money to cripple my father. Once again, my sister had to rescue a family member. The financial support she has provided my father has been insane. And everytime she thinks its done, there is more. She has actually written a legal IOU that Dad's attorney has submitted in the divorce proceedings. If mom is not ordered to pay it back, then sis intends to rip up the IOU and not require Dad to repay her. However, legally mom should be required to pay her back since she has withheld all financial support to Dad and the minor children in the last year.

However, I have often heard resentment from my sister about the money.

Until today, I have never asked my sister for help. Until last December we were fine. II made no where near what she made, but we were comfortable middle class and were going to do FINE getting through on our own.

Today, I don't have rent for December. The astronomical electric bills on this house have eaten every bit of the my rent money for that money ($2000 in four months, that's insane). II works IT consulting. I do data entry. He also does programming jobs when he can get them. He hasn't been as deligient at hunting those down as he should be. He's spent nearly a month trying to get a minimum wage job, and he's overqualfied. He actually had to search online for what the "correct" answers to the personality tests are because he was answering them like a manager.

Yesterday, we hit bottom in fear. He went out and in an hour in person secured a job as a pizza delivery drivery. However, he can only work 3 nights per week. If he's going to throw away his grades and his dreams for a job, he might as well go back to his career and make far more than minimum wage. They hired him on the spot and did orientation without warning...and he missed a Physics assignment because of it.

So, we went with plan B today. He's going to devote hours to intentionally securing programming work and we're going to squirrel every dime he earns into the December rent account. In theory, if he pushes it, he shouldd be able to earn the $1200 we need for rent. Once we get to January we're okay again. If he doesn't secure the work...then we're homeless, plain and simple.

Today, I wrote my sister and let her know if we can't save up the rent in the next two months, I will ask her for help. I hate myself for asking. I know how she feels when people ask her for monehy. I know she thinks I don't have any purpose for her anymore, but the reason I haven't visited was because I couldn't afford gas money and refused to ask her to pay my way there--like my brother and dad still do.

I also know she has the money, and I would rather destroy our relationship entirely than have my kids homeless for Christmas.

We have to get to January. In January, we get financial. In February we get our tax return. By March we will have my Federal grant money that the school refused to award me at the start of school because I have to have an income tax return to prove my current income. They assure me that my priority date continues to be when I filed my FAFSA this year, so the priority for the grant money will be hire and I'll get everything I'm entitled to recieved based upon our below poverty income level now. In June, he'll be done with his classes and done with his MCATs. He can work full-time from there onward, even if he does have to take a minimum wage job. Its getting through December that is scary right now. So I did the humbling thing. I warned my sister I might have to ask. As much as I hate myself, we both know she cannot and will not let her nieces and nephews be homeless. I just hope she believes me that we're doing everything we can to avoid having to ask.

The biggest challenge is that I cannot tell her what II did. Without that HUGE piece to this puzzle, she doesn't understand why we walked away from everything and put ourselves in this position to begin with. And, she feels rather smug in being judgemental of what we're doing. She needs to support me because she loves me, not because she knows II nearly destroyed this marriage even though he was taking care of us financially.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Unexpected Anti-versary

Of all the things I expected to feel or desire as I journeyed through this week, a voracious desire to make love to my husband was not one of them. The urge to do bodily harm, yet. The desire to claw his eyes out, absolutely. The temptation to throw him out and file for divorce, definitely. But, the deep, primitive need to connect through the very intimacy he had betrayed--never.

My intention for "The Night" was to go to bed early, in a drug induced haze to force sleep upon my body. However, I remembered that this very night is the night I had wanted to watch Dave Letterman. Still, I thought I had sufficient time to get to bed before 1:07am fell upon me. The moment I realized I forgot to do homework due in the morning, I knew I was doomed. I finished the work at exactly 1:07...just my luck.

No medication was going to take away this confrontation. Instead, we lay in bed and reflected upon the year we have survived. Neither of us expected to be married today. The truth was when I went to bed that first night, I knew it was over. He wanted to know why I gave him a chance to try again.

I let him stay because of the kids. He assumed that meant because we had these children, I tried to save their family structure. That is fundamentally inaccurate. It wasn't because we have children. It was because of who he is to them. I have never known a father more attached, more enmeshed, nor devoted to his children. He isn't just a goo father, not even merely a great father. No matter what he did to me, he is the most amazing father I have ever known.

If he had been a lousy father, I would have walked away. If he had been a normal, decent father, I might have tried but likely the pain would have been too overwhelming. I knew in that first night, and again a week later when I learned the whole truth, one basic thing. Before I took away their hero, before I made them statistics, before I plunged them into poverty, I needed to be able to say I had done everything in my power before I walked away. That we had children did not give him this one chance. That the one thing he did 100% right was to love and father his children was the only reason I let him stay.

One year ago, the realization that I would walk this path with a sex addict was devastating. I could not fathom a lifetime of struggle, recovery, and sobriety. This was not my life, not my struggle. I was not an addict an I resented his bringing that into my perfect world and destroying everything with it. I gave him one chance and for six months he squandered what I offered him. He maintained his sobriety but he only displayed sporadic, sloppy, and inconsistent attempts to recover.

Until one day, he hit bottom. He realized he was an addict. More than that, he needed to fight for his health and healing. The day he hit bottom (really it was a process over several days), he started fighting for recovery. The truth is that for the last six months, he has continually put one foot in front of the other. It hasn't been pretty, he's often fallen down; yet, the fundamental reality is that he has worked his recovery for those six months.

It was in this realization that I understood today I want to be with him. I want to reach him in every aspect of our intimacy. I'm glad I gave him this chance. I don't regret fighting for this year. I don't regret that together we have fought tooth and nail to restore this marriage. Whatever the future brings, I will never regret that I gave my whole heart to this year, that I was totally vulnerable to the intimacy with him.

As we drifted to sleep, he said to me, "We have survive a year. Perhaps we will survive twenty more."

The only response I had for him was, "Let's just see if we can make it one more year for now."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

This is very bad

My grandmother is coming to visit. There are simply no words to describe this woman. The best way I can truly describe her is that when I was thirteen, she once informed me that she had gotten too old to care what other people thought about what she said. She said she didn't have enough time left on this earth to be polite, so she would speak her mind and if other people didn't like it, they could just get over it.

As jaw dropping as the statement was, its even more flabbergasting when you realize two facts. First, she was in her mid-50s when she made this arrogant declaration. Second, this was not actually a new decision she had made. In fact, it was merely a justification for her behavior she had displayed for as long as anyone can remember her being alive.

Granny lives in Hawaii and spends 80% of her time in Southeast Asia now. For a 78 year old great-grandmother of 16, that's quite an accomplishment. Every two to three years, Granny breezes through the mainland to grace all of us with her glory.

This year's self invitation went like this, "I suppose you have outgrown me or just don't want me in your life anymore. But, if you want to see me, I'll be coming to the mainland on these dates. Please work the details of where I'll be when out amongst yourselves." This was aimed at my sister, my uncle and I. My brother refuses to play the passive-aggressive bullshit games and doesn't speak to her anymore.

I try hard to tolerate Granny's behaviors and remind myself that I actually love her. My children ADORE her for some crazy reason. Even so, the last time she came to the mainlain, M had been home merely a year and I flat-out refused to let her stay at our house. There was no way M could have handled her, and no way she could have handled him. The time before that, she rudely informed me that 3 of my children had SERIOUS speech impediments. One of my children has a speech issue. He has Childhood Apraxia of Speech and he's extremely sensitive to comments about it. Her rude remarks were devestating to him that visit. The other two children in question were normal and healthy. One of them was four and wasn't suppose to be fully intelligible yet. The other has English as his third language and was speech delayed from normal orphanage delays. You'd think someone who spends the bulk of her time teaching SE Asian English would have better sense AND manners. But, she doesn't. She truly does not care who she offends, hurts not demeans.

I was already dreading her visit this year. I'm not a stay at home mother anymore. I don't have the time to entertain her for a week. I don't have the tolerance nor patience to listen to her nasty poison. I don't want to hear one WORD about my parents' divorce from her, and I know that is all she is going to want to talk about. The worse though, will be holding my tongue while she fawns all over II and his parenting abilities while she acts like I don't exist and make NO impact on the lives of my children. This is NOT the year to have someone praise II.

Then, last night, it dawned on me. She's coming on September 17 and leaving September 23. Sunday will mark exactly one year since the last time my wonderful husband cheated on me--the day he blew off his daughter's birthday celebration to shove his body parts in some nasty stranger he found through an adult hook-up sight. The 23rd is my anti-versary.

She could not have choosen a worse time to come here. God help me cope.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dear Fellow Classmate

Please go away. No really, please go away.

My frustration with you began on the first day of class. I realize that the professor made concessions for a parking situation and expected straglers would be late to class that day However, you arrived 20 minutes late, well beyond even the latest of the our fellow classmates. You arrived reeking of ciggerette smoke. Clearly, even late you felt entitled to stop and have a last smoke before entering the building.

What truly set my opinion of you was not your tardiness nor your clear preference to char your lungs. That distinction was set after class when you insisted upon getting my phone number, in case you ever missed class. Having never heard of such a request on the first day of classes before, I was startled into comlpying with the request. You may feel free to lose my phone number now.

I don't miss class unless it is 100% unavoidable. That would consitute a medical emergency which I could not plan for, or a specialist's appointment that could not be scheduled any other time. Unfortunately, yes, my son's Heptalogist trumps even my coursework. Otherwise, I will be in class. So, no thank you, I don't need to participate in a mutal contingency plan. I don't plan on missing class, therefore I can find someone to assist as appropriately if the situation should arise and prove to be unavoidable.

You have now missed 5 classes out of 9 which have been held In case you cannot do math, that's greater than 50% of our classtime. Additionally, your syllabus clearly points out that 5 is the maximium allowable misses before being withdrawn by the professor.

I can only imagine that your continued sob story to the professor is the only reason you managed to drag yourself back to class today after not only missing all of last week but failing to complete both the first major paper and a take-home quiz. For the record, we had a student whose wife went into preterm labor the day the major paper was due. He managed to arrive to class and turn his in before rushing to meet his wife at the hospital.

I realize you have likely told the professor the same story you continue to pepper me with as you continue to request I provide you with all class notes and relevant information. You continue to insist that you are sick, that you have had doctor's appointments and that the medication you have been prescribed makes you sleepy.


Your story continues to change. You stated you missed one Thursday for being sick, and went to the doctor the following Monday. You stated you missed the next Tuesday because your medications made you sleepy, and then stated it was because of another doctor's appointment.

In every class you have bothered to grace us with your precense, you have reeked of smoke to the point that I find it nauseating and difficult to concentrate sitting behind you. You have been late every class you have attended. The real climax of your attendance record would be the day you honored me not only with your smoke but with your scent of stale alcohol. Were you drunk or merely hung over? I cannot say, and I truly do not care. You did not belong in class in that condition, and likely didn't belong driving either.

Here's the reality. You cannot possibly provide me with a sob story greater than my own life. You cannot woe me with your illness and your struggles. Firstly, I truly do not care. Secondly, I lost most of my compassion a year ago when my own husband desecrated my compassion for his own selfish behaviors. Thirdly, I have attended class with pnuemonia, with sick children, with my life falling apart around me. I attended class with a sprained foot, and with the persistent respiratory sickness that has plagued me for nearly a month as I gasp and struggle to cross campus when I forget my inhaler.

If you cannot commit to being in class, owning your own responsibilities and doing your own work, then please leave. Really, no one wants you here when you cannot pull it together to actually be here. We wish you luck, go reclaim your health and perhaps things will go better for you next semester. I will NOT provide you with every classroom note I have taken for every class period. I will NOT provide you with a full summary of the film you missed. I gave you the name, find it online or at the University Library. Is it your responsiblity to find the film and watch it on your own. Perhaps you truly are sick, though I deeply question the legitimacy of your story given all of your other behaviors. I am not your personal assistant. I come to class to LEARN. If for whatever reason you cannot do the same, then please either face the failure you will surely face...or withdraw from the course.

With deep frustration,
Your grossed out and sincerely irritated classmate who was shocked to see you show up after 5 days absent.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Roller Coaster

Recently...okay, most of the summer honestly, I've been ready to give up on this roller coaster that is supposed to be a marriage.

I'm weary. I'm coming into the anniversary of when my world fell apart and too often its like he still just doesn't SEE me. If I get upset, he's still standing around not understanding why I'm upset. There's only so many times I can once again try to explain what I'm thinking and feeling without him hearing me. I'm so tired of him admitting he's clueless but not doing anything to change how he interacts with me.

A few weeks ago, he regressed. He went back to ordering me what to do or how to behave. That went over well for him. Actually, it resulted in my informing him he should just go somewhere and die.

I don't often wish him dead anymore. I tell him so even less frequently. However, ordering me how to behave or feel is a very deep trigger for me. I spent years being told what was acceptable behavior and how I would destroy his life if I behaved in an unacceptable manner. Do NOT subvert me ever again. It ends with me wishing you dead...again. Hey, at least I haven't reverted back to praying for his death, which is what I did for months after I found out what he had been doing.

Anyway, I really started visioning how to seperate, how to split this family and how to walk away. Its an exercise I haven't honestly permitted myself to have before now, for fear I would take that route and never give this a fighting chance to be restored.

I thought I was done by this weekend. I'm just tired. Tired of fighting for us. Tired of hurting. Tired of waiting for him to get better. Except I went back to reading about recovering from addiction, recovering from infidelity in a marriage. I'm not supposed to feel better at a year. Nope, it takes 2-5 years to get to a better place.

I don't WANT to take another 1-4 years. I want out of this nightmare NOW.

Yet, the way to walk away involves simply going somewhere different for Graduate School than where he goes. That involves at least one more year together.

If I'm stuck here for at least another year, and we really have set everything here up to be interconnected, then what have I lost by waiting until I start applying for Graduate programs to decide where I'm going? Nothing except a bit more of my sanity and self-worth. But hey, my husband slept with 40 other women and I didn't skin his hide to make a lampshade, so what self worth can I possibly have left now?

At the end of the day, I have to look eight children in the eye. I have to look at them and tell them that I didn't everything I could to keep their world safe. I need to be able to tell them that I gave everything I had to keeping their family intact, and their beloved father in their lives full-time. If the end is coming, and I'm not sure whether it is or not still, I need to know that I only walked away when staying was something I had not one more moment I could put towards that effort. I need to know I gave everything I had, and everything I didn't know I had to this effort.

So, my anniversary "gift" to myself is one more year on this roller coaster ride. For better or worse, I've made the committment that baring something significantly egregious (like cheating again), I am taking the idea of walking away off the table for one more year. If I get to the end of this next year and things are no better and I'm no less hurting and weary, then I have decided it will be time to walk away from this. Until then, I'm not going to live with one foot on each side of the door. I know I can walk out, but I'm going to commit to staying and giving this one LAST effort.

He is better. He hasn't cheated on me again. He gave up all addictive behaviors and never looked back. While he stumbled several times in his recovery, he IS in recovery for his addiction. He's in a 12 step group. He's made far more than due deligience to find a therapist without luck, and he's accessed all the help he can find through other sources to get through this. He's facing himself and his past, and he's starting to heal himself. He's just no closer to ME than when we started. Absolutely everything I've read about addiction recovery says the addict cannot work on relationships with others until they have worked on themselves, and getting to that point in their personal recovery usually takes about 2 years.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Shades of Strength

Two things happened this week that have made me pause and realize I am finding myself again.

Yesterday, I attended an informational meeting for Graduate School. I miss teaching. I still teach my elementary schoolers some, but I miss full-blown, die-hard teaching. Consequently, I've made the definite decision that I'm going for the PhD in Sociology. May the good Lord have job opportunities available as I'm coming out of my education and training because I'm never going to get paid anywhere near worth what it will take to get there. However, going I am, and I'm dearly excited my future and my prospects with this.

Even so, I have some questions and some concerns. When I saw the Department was holding an informational meeting, I knew I had to be there.

Turns out, there were 2 Professors and exactly 3 students. Since Criminal Justice and Social Work are headed by the Sociology Dept, there was obviously room for variety in the room. Of the three students, one girl is looking for a Masters in Social Work. The other is thinking about....maybe considering...either Masters in Counseling...or Criminal Justice...or hey listening to others talk about PhDs in Sociology interests her as well.

I was there on a mission. I know what is required. I've talked with at least a dozen different PhDs in fields from Theater Arts to Biology to Music to Rhetoric and even Sociology. I was a teen when my father earned his PhD and had the privilege of being his research assistant on his Doctoral Disertation. Okay, I was unpaid but the experience he gave me was invaluable for me.

Still I have questions. And, those questions led to myself and one of the Professors talking long after everyone else left the meeting. It led down the path of both of us talking about our personal lives. Turns out he and his wife(female partner, not sure if its legally marriage and didn't pry) intend to adopt in the future.

Seriously, this man was a kindred spirit. He went into PhD not for the research opportunities but to TEACH. And, that is exactly the path I feel motivated to pursue. He was 30 when he went back. He's been out for 4 years now. He did his training in the same town we lived in 5 years ago. I actually already knew that because I looked at the program in that town and discovered he and his wife had moved from there to here.

It was just a really motivating and inspiring conversation. What truly hit me was when it came to a conclusion. He informed me that in just our short conversation (nearly 2 hours), I struck him as one of the strongest women he had EVER encountered. He said that people like myself, but especially women, usually have no problems building the career I want, even if they start later and are a non-traditional student. He thought I will do marvelously as I go along this path and let me know if he can help me in any way to let him know.

Actually, he sponsors both Ki Delta Kappa, the Sociology Honors Society and the Sociology Club. So, I sent him an email asking how to join both of those. I also checked my schedule for the spring and I'll be taking Theory from him this spring.

Strength. In two hours of conversation with me, someone called me strong. Its something I've heard in the past. I've often never been quite sure if it was a compliment or a passive way of calling me a witch to my face. This time, I knew it was a compliment and that its a character assessment I will happily embrace.

Today, I prepared for battle, polite battle but still battle. Our Pediatrician fired off a letter to fire us 2 weeks ago, exactly one week after his partner treated baby J for Rotavirus and we admitted we don't vaccinate our children before the age of two.

This isn't a vaccine diatribe. Our reasons for delaying and selectively vaccinating are ours. However, this was disclosed upfront with this doctor. As a matter of fact, this doctor came on recommedation from a non-vaccinating friend as being tolerant and respectful. Imagine my shock and surprise after 8 months of a respectful and friendly relationship to recieve a letter firing us for vaccines. Imagine my greater surprise when the doctor cited the unvaccinated status of ALL the children as the reason for firing us.

The ONLY child not vaccinated is baby J. There are a few vaccines we don't get, but for everything else, all of the children are fully up to date on their vaccines except L. L needs one series of vaccines. We disclosed that when we started coming. Our last doctor didn't have it in stock whenever we went and we moved before it came in stock. Because of L's extreme adjustment issues to new people and especially new doctors, we all agreed she would start that series on her next visit. She hasn't had another visit, since she's one of my healthy normal kiddos.

Three months ago, getting a letter like this would have left me turning tail and crying. This time, I got MAD. I knew what was behing the threat. I knew it was the partner. I knew it was J's Rotavirus. I suspected it went against the preferences of our doctor based upon the relationship we've already been establishing this year.

I won't tolerate bullying. I didn't tolerate it in 5th grade punks who targetted E last year. I won't tolerate it in grown men who have been Pediatricians for 20+ years and think they have the right to FORCE their opinions on their partner's patients.

It appears we have worked out the issue with our doctor. Time will tell, but he set us up for follow-up appointments well beyond the effective date of our "firing" so I have to assume he means it.

Before we left, he humbly and honestly admitted to me that this family overwhelms him.

I can understan that. There are eight kids in this family, and half of them have significant medical conditions. Far more than that have extremely unusual and convoluted histories. Three of them come with HUGE gaps in their medical history that cannot ever be recovered.

What he also cited as overwhelming him though, was a strong and knowledgable mother caring for these children.

My first response to the word strong he alluding to a witch here? Then, I remembered that it took our last doctor, our beloved family doctor that I miss so dearly, nearly a year to iron out how to manage the medical aspects of this unique family. He too was overwhelmed by the children. He was also intimidated by me. My strenght and assertiveness initially took him off guard. As he learned to handle the kids issues and began to see that strong meant I expected a partnership--not a dictatorship from either side, he learned that I'm a perfectly reasonable person...and a kick-ass advocate for my children.

Today, the new doctor saw the same qualities. I am strong. I'm also rational, logical and easy to get along with. I stand my groun when I need to, but I also choose my battles.

I realized, if this doctor sees that strength, then I'm getting stronger. I haven't felt strong in a LONG time. And, I haven't felt capable of protecting myself, my children, my family. I'd like to say I did it anyway, but I don't think I did. I let 4 of my kids get seriously hurt by the school system last year. And, I didn't do some necessary medical battles just because I couldn't.

I'm getting there again. I see glimmers of strength and I'm starting to realize that other people are seeing it again as well.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Life changes

When life leads you astray
accept the detour

When you feel your dreams are shattered
find new dreams

Sometimes the details aren’t the point.
Sometimes the sadness is worth it for the change
Sometimes the things you left behind can be found
in the strangest hiding places.

I never meant to walk this path
I never meant to feel this pain
I never thought this would be my life
I never saw the rain that came

Yet even in the sadness,
good still things learn to bloom,
babies laughter fills the ears,
and children soar with joy.

the worst already happened
the shadows swallowed the monsters
the devastation has passed along the path..

There is joy still left on the path.
Do I have the courage to embrace it?